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My point is, if all people have the right of self-determination, then again we come together for common defense, for economic projects, for common trade. I am not only talking about India, but I am talking about all of Asia. Instead of fighting and wasting our energies. We can do more constructive things in a more peaceful way if every nation has got its right of self-determination, just like the United Nations, or the United States. Why can't we live like that? To give you an example, you have sovereign states in Russia. I was just talking outside with some representatives of the Russian Embassy. They just asked me a question. I said: "If Russia can live with 13 sovereign republics, 13 autonomous regions, and America with 50 States having their own flag and their own constitution, and they can be a great nation. Why can't India be?"
We waste all of our energies fighting about religion, and about language. If everybody has the right, then we can live all with peace, and there is no need to fight with each other. I think that this is the way that Asia can progress. Otherwise, it will be a problem to the world.
America must have this in mind while formulating the foreign policies, or other policies, in my estimation.
Reverend MATHEWS. In response to your question. I think the answer is that in effect parliamentary democracy has come to a halt in India at this present stage. I think that you have to say that.
However, the opposition parties have abstained themselves from the Parliament. It is true that Mrs. Gandhi's party has a majority by which it could carry forward its legislative program.
The problem that I tried to analyze was that by parliamentary means, the policies of government could not, in effect, be carried out adequately. I think that this hearing is a very healthy thing. I would hope that similar ones could be held in similar parts of the world.
In our kind of world, we cannot, any of us, live and ignore whatever circumstances obtain elsewhere. By the same token, we certainly cannot control the Indian situation. But I think that the very fact that it is aired and aired freely and openly, and from various points of view, is a very healthy thing.
I think the concern of our Government and our people ought to be conveyed there. At the same time, I think that this should be done with an attitude of understanding that does not attempt to categorize the present regime in a manner that is not intended by that regime, and which does not lend dignity to it, or perhaps it does not lend dignity to us if we prematurely come to a conclusion that India is not a democracy.
Mr. DERWINSKI. One question, to go back to one other point.
Bishop Mathews, you did mention again this issue of total distortion, and misleading press reports. Again, you clarify that properly by saying that you thought that this was not deliberate. What was the motive, then?
Reverend MATHEWS. I would have to say that it helped to sell newspapers, for one thing. Also, it seems to me that Mrs. Gandhi has been made a target, very often, of the communications media.
She is a rather attractive woman, if I may say so, and I notice that there is a tendency to editorialize her pictures and make her appear
in the most unbecoming fashion. It seems to me that such editorializing" with photography goes on constantly.
Sometimes it seems to me that the very fact that she is a woman, the male chauvinist in most of us gets to the fore. We rather oppose the idea that she can really be taken seriously in her role.
There seems to be a kind of a negative attitude that we have toward India in this country.
Mr. DERWINSKI. I am talking about the Indian press.
Reverend MATHEWS. I was talking of the press that we have here. When I came home, I got the impression that had already been made, that what really existed in India was a dictatorship. Some of your colleagues have told me that this is their understanding.
Mr. DERWINSKI. The censorship was imposed on the Indian press. Therefore the potitical opposition was muted. My point is, I thought that you were trying to tell us that the Indian press reporting to the Indian people was guilty of distortion.
Reverend MATHEWS. I was speaking of the press outside of India in two respects.
There were some days, before press censorship was brought into being, and then a number of reporters were asked to leave the country. They sent their dispatches from the outside of India. I suppose that they were smarting, and not inclined to give Mrs. Gandhi any benefit of the doubt, nor to analyze carefully the sort of conditions that she clearly had to contend with.
Later on, I think that this ground was made up pretty well, I would have to say in fairness. This sort of thing, as I say in my document, is now more widely known, but it is not universally known. Therefore, I thought it important to press it a little.
Mr. DERWINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FRASER. Just one last question for me.
You reported a news account that was in yesterday's newspaper about Mrs. Gandhi's statement on the anniversary of the emergency. According to her the threat of subversion and interference from the outside is increasing.
There are a number of heads of governments who have declared national emergencies and they find it very difficult for them to ever see the changed circumstances that will end the emergency.
I remember the leadership in Greece and Chile, they used the analogy of a broken leg which had to be put in a cast, and it would take a long time to heal,
You don't think that there is any risk that this is going to be the approach here, that this may go for 5 or 10 years?
Reverend MATHEWS. I don't think that it would last that long. What I would base that on-in 1971 the elections were called a year early. They are due every 5 years. They were due again this past spring, but they were deferred for a year due to the emergency.
Along about April, Mrs. Gandhi did make the reported statement that the situation had improved, and she thought perhaps the elections could be held this autumn. She did not reiterate that in this dispatch which I saw in the New York Times yesterday, and that makes me unhappy.
When the elections are held, I assume, for all intents and purposes, the emergency will have been lifted. I assume that human nature being what it is, she would want to feel pretty secure of that fact before she did so. My guess is that the emergency will not specifically be lifted by decree, but will peter out.
Already a number of political prisoners have been released in India. I don't have any idea of the number, of course. That is one of the reasons why some group like Amnesty International or some other international group, should be allowed to go into India, or some U.N. body, for example, to shed light on this subject.
I do not think that there is a kind of Gulag Archipelago situation in India, where you could say that millions of people out of the 600 million, are actually incarcerated. If there are 170,000, that does not make me happy, but I don't think that you can translate that into a Gulag Archipelago kind of a thing either.
Mr. CHOHAN. I would add, in supplement to this question, actually, if the elections are held today, or maybe after a few months, the elections will never be fair because the election law has gone. They have just wiped it out, and you cannot go to elections.
The constitution has been amended, and you cannot go to elections now. Any magistrate having 500 people voting for him is at the mercy of the government. There will be such a mockery of elections, unless and until the rule of law is restored-freedom of the press is restored. The foreign presses are free to move about and see the things. The United States should move in the United Nations that until those conditions are restored, elections will be just a mockery. The circumstances under which the elections are held, if they are held, will be of great interest, I am sure, to the international community.
Reverend MATHEWS. The past elections had 300 million people marching to the polls, yet the observers, have stated that they were reasonably fair elections.
Mr. FRASER. I think that this would probably heighten the interest as to the circumstances under which the next elections are held.
Reverend MATHEWS. They set very high standards for themselves. Mr. CHOHAN. There will be 70 percent, and there will be old people carried on other's backs to the polling station. This will be released all over the world that 90 percent voted. That out of 531 seats, Mrs. Gandhi has swept 500 seats.
There is nobody to check this, and there is nobody to answer it. There will be no poor man to go and say, no, you have just announced the wrong number. People will be done that injustice.
Mr. FRASER. We will see what happens. I really appreciate the appearance of both of you this afternoon. It has been very helpful to us. We have 1 more day of hearing tomorrow.
Reverend MATHEWS. Thank you very much. It has been a privilege to be received.
Mr. FRASER. The subcommittee will stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:30 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at 2 p.m., Tuesday, June 29, 1976.]
HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDIA
TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 1976
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS,
The subcommittee met at 2:30 p.m. in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Donald M. Fraser (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. FRASER. The subcommittee will come to order. Today the subcommittee is holding its third hearing on the human rights situation in India. One year ago a national emergency was declared and subsequently many essential human rights have been curtailed. The subcommittee has sought a better understanding of the situation through testimony by individuals representing various points of view and experience.
Today the subcommittee is pleased to hear testimony from Mr. Ram Jethmalani, an advocate before the Supreme Court of India and former chairman of the Indian Bar Council; and Dr. Charles Reynolds, International Secretary of the Ludhiana Christian Medical College Board, Inc. We will ask first then Mr. Jethmalani to present testimony.
STATEMENT OF RAM JETHMALANI, CHAIRMAN, BAR COUNCIL OF
Mr. JETHMALANI. Mr. Chairman, I am grateful to you for asking me to testify before your subcommittee. You said I was once upon a time the chairman of the Bar Council of India. The fact is that until day before I was, but my latest information from India is that the President of India by ordinance proposes to substitute an ex officio chairman of the Bar Council of India in place of an elected chairman which I have been for the last 6 years.
Like the American Bar Association, the Bar Council of India is the exact counterpart of the ABA with this difference, that ours is a body created by Parliament. The ABA is a voluntary organization of lawyers. So I don't know whether today I am still chairman of the Bar Council of India, perhaps I am not.
Mr. Chairman, I understand that it is usually for a witness to present his credentials before testifying. I don't wish to waste much of your time on that. I have a short biographical sketch written out here.
Mr. FRASER. Without objection, we will incorporate that in the record.
[The biographical sketch follows:]
Born in India, September 1923.
Obtained LLB degree from Bombay University, 1941.
Enrolled as an advocate of the Karachi High Court, 1942.
Obtained LLB degree in Constitutional Law and International Law (public and private) from the Bombay University, 1944.
Migrated as a result of Partition of India from Karachi (Pakistan) to Bombay (India), 1948.
Worked as professor (part-time) at Government Law College, Bombay and taught Criminal Law, Evidence and Conflict of Laws, 1953-56.
Published lectures on Conflict of Laws, a recommended text book for LLB students, 1956.
Taught Conflict of Laws at New Law College, 1956-58.
Teacher for Post Graduate Studies in Criminal Law at the Bombay University, 1958-60.
Elected to the Bar Council of India, 1964.
Honorary Citizenship of Dallas, Tex., 1965.
Elected Vice Chairman of Bar Council of India, 1968.
Lectured on Criminal Law to officers of Indian Navy, 1968-70.
Elected Chairman, Bar Council of India and Chairman Legal Education Committee for India under the Advocates Act 1961, 1970.
Been in active legal practice since 1942 and associated with legal education almost throughout that period.
President, Federated Friends of Israel-India since 1968.
Member of International Bar Association since 1966.
Vice President of World Peace Through Law Centre, Washington, since 1973.
Strong critic of the Indian Government's foreign and domestic policies. Resigned membership of the Congress Party in 1969.
Ordered to be detained without trial under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act for public criticism of Indian Government repression and totalitarian policies, January 1976.
Execution of arrest warrant stayed by the Bombay High Court.
Left India to seek political asylum April 30, 1965.
Currently in the United States.
Mr. JETHMALANI. That will be fine. One qualification I should mention is that you are not hearing someone who says what is hearsay. I have been a witness and a party to things happening in India. In fact, as far back as January this year under Mrs. Gandhi's direction, a district magistrate of one of the districts down south in my country issued a warrant for my arrest and detention without trial. I had gone into his jurisdiction for the first and perhaps the last time in my life to inaugurate, in my capacity as chairman of the Bar Council of India, a state conference of lawyers. The warrant was based only on my speech on that occasion. The order was so patently and hopelessly bad that I had no difficulty in approaching my home high court, the High Court of Bombay and the high court issued an injunction against the government and the district magistrate from executing that warrant.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court of India on April 28 delivered what I consider to be a disastrous judgment. By a majority of 4 to 1 it held that while the emergency declared by Mrs. Gandhi lasts, no citizen of India has any rights of any kind which are enforceable in a court, an argument which the Supreme Court of India has accepted to the dismay of all lawyers except those who work for the government; that in an emergency the executive has the power to detain a person indefinitely in any cruel or subhuman conditions. The