Civil Liberties activists walk out of Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture

PRESS RELEASE              

Civil Liberties activists walk out of  Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture

New Delhi/ November 23, 2012: Civil Liberties activists who were present at the Sixth Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture walked out in protest when Nandan Manohar Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) began his speech. The walk out was a protest against Nilekani being invited to deliver the lecture in memory of the stalwart of human rights and civil liberties, Justice Tarkunde. The UID project has been challenged since its inception. The activists who walked out of the lecture have repeatedly tried to engage with Nilekani at various public platforms but he has consistently declined to answer their questions or enter into any discussion with them.

The activists circulated a Statement of Concern on UID which included demands like "The project be halted, a feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue, experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality, the law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID project), a cost: benefit analysis be done and a public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in." 

This statement was issued on September 28, 2010 by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India, Prof Romila Thapar, Historian, Late K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer, Kavita Srivastava, PUCL Aruna Roy, MKKS, Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Late S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India, Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant, Prof. Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi, Uma Chakravarthi, Historian, Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker, Amar Kanwar, Film Maker, Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan, Trilochan Sastry, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and Association for Democratic Reforms, Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, ex- Indian Institute of Management, Ahemdabad and Association for Democratic Rights, Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD and Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi.

But till date these concerns and questions remain unanswered.  

The organizers rushed to tried to take back the papers. As the activists walked out the organizers termed the peaceful and silent distribution of the Statement of Concern on UID as ‘trouble’.

The PUCL had already disassociated itself from the program. In a letter to the human rights community,  People's Union for Civil lIberties (PUCL) said,  We had issued a statement where we made explicit that our opposition to UDIAI has not changed nor our continuing to oppose the UID project. We had also spoken to and followed by writing to the organisers informing our stand on UIDAI, that selection of a person like Mr. Nilekani is  contradictory to the very ideals that Justice Tarkunde's  work and persona reflected, and therefore the demand for calling off the lecture as also that we did not want to be associated with the event.”
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Member, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660,


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