MADURAI: Raising the hackles of Rights crusaders, an activist was arrested and the outfit booked in a crackdown against organisations having the term ‘Human Rights’ in their nomenclature.
Two cases have been registered against the Citizens for Human Rights Movement (CHRM) in Madurai and Ramanathapuram.
While Madurai City police registered a case against the CHRM under the section 170 IPC that deals with impersonating as a public servant, Ramanathapuram police went a step further and arrested K Kandasamy of the same organisation on charges of cheating and misusing the emblems of India.
Condemning the arrest, noted Rights activist Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director of People’s Watch and state-level advisor for CHRM, said police should not have booked the organisation under these sections as neither was there a complaint of cheating nor did the members try to project themselves as government officials.
“Firstly, there was no complaint against the organisation. Moreover, none of the sections in which Kandasamy has been booked warrants more than seven years of imprisonment. Hence police can’t remand him,” he said. Tiphagne said he was taking up the issue with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
While acknowledging that CHRM was not registered, he said it is not mandatory for all organisations to be registered.
Police said the issue started with a complaint against an organisation in Theni in 2009-10 which was allegedly projecting itself as a government body. Following this, the previous DMK government amended the Tamil Nadu Registration of Societies Act of 1975, declaring that no organisation can have ‘Human Rights’ in their names.
In October 2014, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, while hearing a similar complaint directed the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to submit details about the action taken on fraudulent human rights organisations.
As a follow up, police are carrying out a state-level operation to get a list of all human rights organisations, their functioning, registration and their names.
A police officer said, “We have identified six organisations with such names. As of now, we are verifying their registration.”
Tiphagne added, “Human Rights’ is not just a term, it is a value and the usage cannot be prohibited. We will challenge the rule legally.”