Journalist and HRDs
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on February 4, 2022 regarding journalist sent notice to submit Rs. 2 lakh in surety by police and administration of Balarampur, Uttar Pradesh for potential breach of peace.
On January 14, 2022, a notice under section 111 of Criminal Procedure Code was sent to 10 people including journalist Mr. Shoaib Qamar by Sub Divisional Magistrate, Tulsipur, Balrampur. The notice stated that based on the report of the Inspector incharge of the Pachpedwa police station, tension and disruption of peace is expected due to the future UP elections. Thus, the sub-divisional magistrate of Tulsipur orders them to be personally present in the sub-divisional court on January 22, 2022, to submit 2 lakh rupees each as a surety bond or property worth the amount and ‘jamanat’ from two people.
On January 22, 2022, journalist Mr. Shoaib filled a surety bond of Rs 2 Lakh, for without fulfilling the surety he would have faced a future arrest. As a local grassroots journalist, Mr. Qamar faced a major difficulty is gathering the sum of 2 Lakh rupees and 2 people who would give him a ‘jamanati (bail bond). Mr. Qamar has stated that there is a lot of pressure on him to not do any articles against the government or the money will not be returned to him.
We believe that this notice is a completely arbitrary, illegal, and serious violation of constitutionally guaranteed personal liberty. Its purpose is to gag democratic dissent against the government. Our Constitution gives journalists the right to exercise freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(a) of the Indian Constitution which is crucial to the work of HRDs, including journalists.