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for detention without trial to situations of internal disturbances. The third amendment to the MISA made it an offence to disclose the grounds of detention of a person detained under the Act to anyone, including the courts.
4. ALLEGATIONS OF ILL-TREATMENT
Amnesty International would very much welcome your government's assurance that it would allow independent inquiries to be made into any specific incidents of ill-treatment of detainees which are reported to Amnesty International.
Bearing in mind the prominent role the Indian Government played in securing the adoption of the UN Declaration against torture, and recalling the concern proclaimed by the Home Minister for compassionate and humane police behaviour towards suspects, I would like to ask you to inquire into reports which allege ill-treatment of political detainees, particularly those taking part in satyagraha campaigns. These reports mention specific instances in which prisoners were severely beaten after arrest on sensitive parts of the body, where prisoners had been hung upside down or by their hands tied behind their backs. In some cases, it was also reported that prisoners had been burned with candles or cigarettes and that others had been subjected to electric shock.
In a situation where the courts are denied the power to assess the accuracy of such allegations, we would further seek assurance from your government that the provisions of the United Nations declaration on the protection of all persons from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are fully implemented.
Amnesty International recognizes that governments, in the face of exceptional circumstances, may feel compelled to take short term measures which may not be in accordance with certain aspects of the fundamental rights provisions within their own constitutions. But such restrictions, when they take a more permanent form, would necessarily contravene the generally accepted international standards for the protection of human rights. In the case of India, they would affect the high standards of human rights for which it has been known internationally. Amnesty International is concerned to know whether your government would consider the restoration of constitutional safeguards for civil rights on the occasion of the anniversary of the emergency declaration on June 26. The government would fully implement the provisions in articles 5, 8 and 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in releasing, by way of a general amnesty, all those prisoners now held in detention without trial, against who no charges have been made.
Yours respectfully and sincerely,
HANS EHRENSTRALE, Deputy Secretary General.
MAILGRAM TO PRIME MINISTER GANDHI FROM MANORANJAN Dutta, PRESIDENT, THE ASSOCIATION OF INDIANS IN AMERICA, INC.
JULY 14, 1975.
The Association of Indians in America is deeply concerned at the recent developments in India which have culminated in the proclamation of a state of emergency involving suspension of certain fundamental rights. India's commitment to democracy is too great to be compromised and the association expresses its profound faith that all individuals and parties involved will rise to defend the Democratic Constitution of India. The responsible opposition must distinguish between its right to oppose and its right to revolt. The government on its part must respect the constitutional opposition. Any facts concerning widespread conspiracy to launch country wide agitation and disturbance of internal peace which would necessitate the proclamation of an emergency should as a matter of course be widely disseminated and sanction for such a proclamation being sought in accordance with the constitution insofar as the case arising from the alleged violation of election laws on the part of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is concerned the judiciary must play its independent role fully wholly and uninterruptedly with respect to the economic situation. The association strongly supports the Vigorous Enforcement of the Economic and Anticorruption Measures taken by the government on their merit.
We welcome the solemn assurance given by Prime Minister Gandhi that all emergency restrictive measures would be withdrawn as soon as possible and we urge its early implementation.
MANORANJAN DUTTA, President.
[From the New York Times, Apr. 30, 1976]
FADING HOPE IN INDIA 1
If India ever finds its way back to the freedom and democracy that were proud hallmarks of its first eighteen years as an independent nation, someone will surely erect a monument to Justice H. R. Khanna of the Supreme Court. It was Mr. Justice Khanna who spoke out fearlessly and eloquently for freedom this week in dissenting from the Court's decision upholding the right of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Government to imprison political opponents at will and without court hearings.
Indian democrats are likely to remember only in infamy the four judges who obediently overturned the decisions of a half-dozen lower courts scattered across India, which had ruled in defiance of the Government that the right of habeas corpus could not be suspended, even during the emergency that Mrs. Gandhi declared last June. But they will long cherish the lonely judge who said, in words reminiscent of other enduring declarations for freedom:
"The power of the courts to issue a writ of habeas corpus is regarded as one of the most important characteristics of democratic states under the rule of law. The principle that no one shall be deprived of his life or liberty without the authority of law is rooted in the consideration that life and liberty are precious possessions."
For his colleagues, who held the Government's actions in jailing thousands of its political opponents without trial or even detailed charges to be “legal” under the sweeping emergency powers granted by the Constitution, Mr. Justice Khanna had a tart and haunting reminder: "In a purely formal sense, even the organized mass murders of the Nazi regime qualify as law."
It is a reminder that ought somehow to force its way into the consciousness and thence onto the conscience of the stubborn woman who, for the last ten months, has behaved more in the manner of an Empress or a Vicereine than like the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. The submission of an independent judiciary to absolutist government is virtually the last step in the destruction of a democratic society; and the Indian Supreme Court's decision appears close to utter surrender.
A defeated lawyer was close to the truth when he said, after that decision: "This case was our last hope, and now that hope is gone."
11976 by the New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission.
ARTICLE FROM INDIA NEWS,1 MAY 28, 1976, ENTITLED "ECONOMIC PROSPECTS BRIGHT, SAYS WORLD BANK REPORT"
A World Bank report on the Indian economy notes with satisfaction the significant progress made by the country in 1975-76 in every field of economic activity including agriculture, industry, energy development, export performance and output in the public sector, notably steel production, reports Samachar. It praises the vigorous measures taken by the government to set up a world record in curbing inflation and prices.
The report says: "With effective government measures supported by favorable weather and additional foreign support adjustment, India's efforts have been successful. Conditions are once again ripe for an upturn in the growth rate of the economy."
The most significant facts listed by the report are:
First and foremost, the bumper harvest this year is expected to yield a record 114 million tons of foodgrains in 1975-76.
The high rate of inflation has been brought under control.
Deficiencies in the supply of electricity, which had been prevalent, have eased significantly.
Production of petrol and coal increased by more than 10 per cent over the previous year as did that of international goods like cement and steel.
Man-hours lost by strikes were considerably reduced and the public sector as a whole, both administrative services and public enterprises, reached high levels of efficiency.
In spite of a high trade deficit the balance of payments position improved sharply with an accumulation of about $800 million in reserves.
The report has been prepared by Bank officials for the guidance of Consortium countries consisting of 19 governments and financial institutions which meet in Paris on May 27 and 28 under the chairmanship of the World Bank. The Consortium will review the current economic situation in India and consider external assistance requirements of India for the term period that began on April 1, 1976. The members of the Consortium include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and the World Bank and its affiliate the International Development Association.
The report demolishes effectively the myth that India had overly relied on external assistance for development. It recognizes for the first time that India's development efforts over the years were largely self-supported. Over the past three years for example, says the report, the net aid to India has averaged $1.5 per capita or lower than 1.5 percent of the Gross National Product, while it has been 8 per cent to Pakistan and 10 per cent to Bangladesh. Because aid has never been large in relation to its needs, India has consistently financed more than 80 per cent of gross investments from domestic savings.
The report commends India's 1975-76 general budget which provides substantial increases in investment and plan expenditures. The report asks the members of the Consortium to take into account the prospects for continued export growth and import substitution. It lists the following facts:
India is exceptional among Bank members in population, 600 million, 80 per cent of whom live in rural areas.
India has eight cities with a population of more than a million each.
India has the world's tenth largest Gross National Product and is the world's fourth largest foodgrain producer.
1 India News is published by the Embassy of India.
India is a world leader in wheat research, has a nuclear research capacity and its medical research is at the frontier of reproductive biology. In short, India is an immense, culturally diverse country, rich in potential but perhaps slow to develop the potential.
The report says that the recent past has been one of the most difficult periods for the Indian economy since Indian independence but economic conditions improved greatly in 1975. Until the favorable turn of economic events in 1975 progress in dealing with long-term development problems were limited because of poor crops, the dramatic shift in terms of trade and inflation. The adjustment to these difficulties became the preoccupation during the previous years. The prospects now are much brighter.
According to the report the bumper harvest, together with continuing foodgrain imports, has had a marked deflationary effect on the level of foodgrain prices and has permitted the build up of stocks of about 11 million tons—a record figure.
Besides the weather the food increase was possible also because government policy played a crucial part especially through successful implementation of a program to stop genetic deterioration of high-yielding varieties of wheat and through reduction of fertilizer prices with the aim of promoting greater use.
The inflationary trend, which set in around June 1972, was fueled by large budget deficits, world inflation in oil and raw material prices and crop failures. It reached an annual rate of 23 per cent in 1973-74 and spurted further to about 30 per cent in the first half of 1974.
In 1974 the government decided to attach overriding priority to the fight against inflation. Its efforts to increase supplies of scarce goods on the one hand and to curb demand on the other in combination with the bumper harvest made India's anti-inflation program one of the most successful in the world and inflation is now under control. At the end of January 1976, wholesale prices were 8 per cent below the level of a year ago and are still declining.
Referring to the food situation, the report says that although the picture had been far from rosy in the past it is important to remember that on average foodgrain production in India has been adequate to meet 95 to 97 per cent of the national demand, declining to 90 per cent in years of poor monsoon and reaching 100 per cent in good years.
In the energy field, there has been a sharp rise in coal production during 1975-76, almost touching 100 million tons. At the same time progress is being made in substitution of coal for oil as a source of energy. The prospects of increased power generation are also favorable.
In the petroleum area also the government has reacted promptly and decisively by taking measures both to limit consumption and step up oil exploration and domestic production. It referred also to the offshore production efforts in the Bombay High region. It notes that the production of domestic crude is estimated at 8.3 million tons-up by 10.7 per cent from the previous year.
Improved performance in the public sector has been another feature of the economy, says the report. Probably the most important example has been the steel industry which is largely in the public sector and whose output rose by 1.2 million tons by 1975-76 (24 per cent). India emerged as a significant net exporter of steel in 1975-76.
On balance of payments position, the report says this was managed comfortably in 1975-76 and reserves have grown to over $2 billion. Because of buoyancy in agriculture and improved industrial performance, growth in the national product has been estimated at 6 per cent. This is a significant improvement; in three out of the past five years the rate of increase of the national product was lower than population growth and in one year the national product was lower than population growth and in one year national product actually declined.
Regarding export performance the report says that the two most important ways of stimulating industrial demand would be to boost investment and to expand exports. Both avenues are being pursued by the government. It notes that real export growth was 7 per cent as compared to the past trend of 5 per cent. This expectation is reasonable, especially since good prospects exist for an immediate increase in the export of iron ore and steel.