Public statement by former bureaucrats condemning Union Minister Jayant Sinha felicitating convict in Jharkhand lynching case

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ur group of retired civil servants has, over the past year, drawn the attention of the powers that be, particularly the Government of India, to the promotion of an environment that encourages violence, in both word and deed. Apart from reckless utterances at election times aimed at fostering a feeling of hate and enmity in the majority community about the “other”, a number of other specific instances have highlighted the horrifying apathy, if not implicit support, of various governments, at the central and state levels, to vigilante violence directed against individuals of specific communities. But what has been even more mind-numbing has been the open challenge to the rule of law by those entrusted with its protection.

The latest happening at Hazaribagh has been especially shattering for our group, coming as it did from a member of the Union Council of Ministers. Those convicted of the brutal lynching last year at Ramgarh (Jharkhand) are entitled to the due process of law, including getting bail pending a decision of the High Court on their conviction. It was, however, most unseemly of the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Shri Jayant Sinha, to felicitate the convicts as though they were some revolutionaries in a freedom struggle. His subsequent feeble justifications on social media do not hold water. If he genuinely felt that the law should take its course, prudence (if not humanity) dictated that he should have been circumspect in his actions. We strongly condemn his action, which amounts to showing contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution of India, which he is duty bound to uphold.

The latest episode comes on the heels of repeated incidents which highlight the contempt which representatives of the ruling party and their followers have for the rule of law. Whether it is the act of a Union Minister draping the body of a riot accused in the national tricolour, the instigation by ruling party ministers of Jammu & Kashmir in the Kathua rape case or the efforts to subvert due process of law in the brutal Rajsamand murder case, all such cases only indicate a majoritarian mindset that believes it is entitled to use the law to meet its own narrow ends. The larger and chilling message that Shri Sinha’s action sends out is that there is a license to kill minorities and that those who are accused of such crimes will be enthusiastically supported financially, legally and politically.

In the past, when there were protests against partisan support for such revolting actions, the central government conveniently used the fig leaf of constitutional separation of powers to argue that the locus standi lay with the concerned states, despite most of these states being ruled by the same party which was in power at the centre. Now that a Union Minister has openly questioned a criminal case where his own party government in the state had, admirably in our opinion, prosecuted and brought to justice the accused, we would like to know what stand the Government of India proposes to take.

We demand the immediate resignation/removal of Shri Jayant Sinha from the Council of Ministers and an apology to the people of India from the party he represents for brazenly sympathizing with those convicted of murder. We also urge our colleagues in the civil services to firmly adhere to the rule of law and not be intimidated by the actions of powerful and influential groups which seek to spread the poison of disharmony and enmity in our multicultural society.

1.  Salahuddin Ahmad

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

2.  G. Balachandhran

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

3.  Vappala Balachandran

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

4.  Gopalan Balagopal

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

5.  Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Coal, GoI

6.  Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

7.  Meeran C Borwankar

IPS (Retd.)

Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI

8.  Sundar Burra

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

9.  Kalyani Chaudhuri

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

10.  Anna Dani

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

11.  Vibha Puri Das

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI

12.  Nareshwar Dayal

IFS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

13.  Keshav Desiraju

IAS (Retd.)

Former Health Secretary, GoI

14.  M.G. Devasahayam

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana

15.  Tuktuk Ghosh

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary and Financial Adviser, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping & Tourism, GoI

16.  Meena Gupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI

17.  Ravi Vira Gupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India

18.  Wajahat Habibullah

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner

19.  Sajjad Hassan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur

20.  Dr. M.A. Ibrahimi

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary (rank), Govt. of Bihar

21.  Kamal Jaswal

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

22.  Ajai Kumar

Indian Forest Service (Retd.)

Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI

23.  Arun Kumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, GoI

24.  Brijesh Kumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

25.  Harsh Mander

IAS (Retd.)

Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

26.  Aditi Mehta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

27.  Deb Mukharji

IFS (Retd.)

Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and Ambassador to Nepal

28.  Nagalswamy

IA&AS (Retd.)

Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala

29.  Sobha Nambisan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka

30.  Amitabha Pande

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI

31.  Alok Perti

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI

32.  T.R. Raghunandan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI

33.  N.K. Raghupathy

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI

34.  Julio Ribeiro

IPS (Retd.)

Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & Ambassador to Romania

35.  Manabendra N. Roy

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

36.  Deepak Sanan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh

37.  Umrao Salodia

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Rajasthan Road Transport Corporation, Govt. of Rajasthan

38.  N.C. Saxena

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI

39.  Ardhendu Sen

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

40.  Abhijit Sengupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI

41.  Raju Sharma

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh

42.  Jawhar Sircar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & CEO, Prasar Bharati

43.  Ramani Venkatesan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra

44.  Aruna Roy

Co-founder, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan; former member, National Advisory Council; campaigner, Right to Information

45.  MY Ray

46. Sushil Dubey

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