CPDR Statement condemning the dismissal of a Dalit Judge in Chhattisgarh
-- Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Mumbai condemns the sacking of an upright dalit Judge by Chattisgarh government
Prabhakar Gwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate during his posting at Sukma has been dismissed by the Chattisgarh government for being a pro-poor and pro-adivasi. A young dalit 2006 batch judge, he became known for taking on corrupt officers and for being a thorn in the flesh of the government and the police. He has now been summarily terminated "in the public interest" by the Chattisgarh government on the recommendation of the High Court. The government has stated that it is "dispensing with any inquiry since it is not possible to conduct an inquiry".
What is Prabhakar Gwal's crime or offence according to the High Court of the state and the government? A complaint forwarded by Sukma's Superintendent of Police to the District Judge after getting several letters written by number of police station officers that the CJM's method of working is to obstruct the police which was lowering the morale of the police. His dismissal is the latest in a series of attacks on journalists, lawyers, academicians by the Chattisgarh administration.
This was because this upright judicial officer would insist on asking the name, age, village, father's name and all relevant details of those arrested, mostly poor tribals and produced before him. Rather than accepting the regular practice till then of permanent warrants produced by the police that have only the name of the arrestee and no other details, Judge Gwal chose to stick to procedure. He would also make it difficult for the police by asking questions about alleged seizures including of weapons, their activities. When it became obvious that the police could not establish any crime against those arrested, he would conclude that those arrested are ordinary villagers. Judge Gwal would go to the extent of communicating directly to those arrested through a Gondi interpreter in the language which the arrestee understood.
This judge was so fearless that he would term the arrests of thousands of people being produced before him as Maoists as fake arrests; he wrote to the District Judge and even Director General of Police Kalluri that the police is implicating innocent people. He went to the extent of issuing warnings to Thanedars that he would sendthem to
jail if they framed innocent people.
In short, the BJP-led governments both at the Centre and in Chattisgarh are preparing for an all-out war on the tribals of Bastar and upright judges like Judge Gwal do not fit in their scheme of actions. Whereas for the people of Bastar, such a judge must have been a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak scenario of displacement and large scale repression, Judge Gwal is yet another blow.
CPDR condemns the unjust and unconstitutional sacking of Judge Prabhakar Gwal and demands his immediate re-instatement.
Dr. Anand Teltumbde
Date: 24 April 2016.