26 September 2023

INDIA: Attorney General urged to end ‘witch hunt’

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A group of 72 former Indian Public Servants has written to Attorney General, K.K. Venugopal calling on him to halt the police “witch hunt” of people exercising their right to free speech.

The former bureaucrats, who form the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), highlighted the continued detention of Alt News co-founder, Mohammed Zubair.

“We have been watching with dismay the cynical over-zealousness of not just the Law Enforcement Agencies, but also the law officers under you, to manufacture cases day-after-day to deliberately deprive individuals, identified as inconvenient by the Government, of their basic freedoms,” the CCG (pictured) said in its letter.

“It is deeply disturbing to see the patently discriminatory treatment meted out to Mohammed Zubair.”

The former Public Servants claimed the charges against Mr Zubair “would not stand the barest of legal scrutiny”.

A Delhi court granted bail to Mr Zubair in a case related to his alleged objectionable tweet in 2018 on a Hindu deity, observing that “the voice of dissent is necessary for a healthy democracy”.

However, he remains in jail on other charges alleging he hurt religious sentiments.

The former bureaucrats’ letter calls on Mr Venugopal to advise the Government “to issue a directive to the police authorities to stop any further witch hunt against citizens exercising their right to free speech”.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Personnel, Jitendra Singh has told the Lok Sabha (Parliament) that it was not feasible to change existing provisions on the number of attempts and the age limit for the Public Service examination.

It follows a long dispute and a Supreme Court case brought by Public Service candidates whose preparations for the examination had been interrupted by two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

New Delhi, 20 July 2022

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