A.P. Shah surprised that State Human Rights Commission has not intervened

A jury that presided over a public hearing on the alleged State suppression of democratic rights on the Kudankulam issue here on Monday will petition the National Human Rights Commission against the foisting of “omnibus FIRs” accusing thousands of anti-Kudankulam protestors of sedition.

Addressing the media after a day-long hearing that featured depositions by residents of Idinthakarai, activists and journalists besides exchanges with personalities such as senior advocate Prashant Bhushan via Skype, A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of the Madras and Delhi High Courts, said he was surprised that the State Human Rights Commission had not intervened in an issue where the State was slapping charges of sedition and waging war against the State on people expressing protest against nuclear energy in a peaceful manner.

Police might

According to Mr. Justice Shah, the show of police might against people who were airing their grievance or apprehensions about the impact of nuclear energy on their habitat, life and livelihood was not in the interest of democratic principles.

Geeta Ramaseshan, advocate, Madras High Court, said it was totally unacceptable for the State to prosecute people because they were opposing a project.

The jury will submit a report to Central and State governments in a week on the outcomes of the public hearing which had raised “reasonable” demands for a fresh environmental impact assessment and public disclosure of the safety report and the primary site evaluation report as it was feared that the nuclear plant was located in a seismic zone.

The jury appealed to the State Government to drop the police cases foisted on anti-Kudankulam protestors and initiate dialogue with the activists at the earliest. The protesters too should call off their agitation and come to the table, it said.

“It is high time that the State Government and the protesters change their positions and have a dialogue” Mr. Justice Shah said.

First move

Asked which party should make the first move, he said, “If there is willingness among the NGOs, then the [State] government should have a word with them, or the government could as a goodwill gesture start the process by dropping the charges.”

The public hearing, organised by the Chennai Solidarity Group for Kudankulam Struggle, opposed official claims about zero risk of a nuclear accident, that nuclear energy was cost-effective or that it was inevitable for the country's energy security.

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