The Jharkhand Unit based out of Ranchi, was established in 2007 against the backdrop of rampant atrocities against vulnerable communities (Tribals, Dalits, women, and the poor) by the corporate-state-police complex. Over the years, the unit has diversified its work and manages Legal Aid Clinics in 24 districts across the state addressing issues such as environmental degradation, accession of Tribal land by corporate and displacement of villagers, forest rights, sexual assault and exploitation, issues involving survivors and delinquents who are minors (POCSO cases), domestic violence, property rights, custodial torture, human trafficking, and refugee rights.
District Lawyers Program
The Jharkhand unit runs a District Lawyers Program partnering with lawyers in 16 districts across Jharkhand. The aim is to further litigation at the district level, reach out to clients located in and around small districts across the state, and advance the state of human rights in west Bengal. To know about our District Lawyers Click here.
1. Persecution of caste and religious minorities: Focus areas include matters pertaining to lynchings of persons from minority communities, police excesses on vulnerable persons, incarceration based on false accusations or for petty offenses. 2. Criminal Justice: Providing legal aid to prisoners, particularly female prisoners, juveniles, and those from religious and caste minority backgrounds. 3. Disability Rights: Providing legal aid to disabled persons, and families of persons with disabilities and filing Public Interest Litigation to advance inclusivity in the state. 4. Environmental Justice: Focus areas include matters pertaining to displacement of communities, destruction of forest areas, rivers, and livelihoods due to environmental violations. 5. Reproductive Rights: Protecting the reproductive rights of Tribal and Dalit women across the state and filing PILs on behalf of groups of women whose rights over their bodies were violated.
The cases mentioned are indicative of the kind of cases the unit undertook and several other cases that were filed on the same issue have not been mentioned individually.
2013-2014 With a network of 22 lawyers across districts throughout the state, the Jharkhand unit filed 180 cases during the year, among them 131 criminal cases covering bail and release petitions for Tribals and Dalits incarcerated on false accusitions (branding them extremists among other accusations) or for petty offenses (this included the landmark PIL Gulab Chandra Prajapati vs State of Jharkhand for release of undertrial prisoners who have completed more than half of their punishment and for the welfare and rehabilitation of children living in prisons with their mothers who are convicts). Several PILs were filed to combat the other violations rampant in the state including human trafficking (Gopinath Ghosh vs State of Jharkhand filed after a fact finding on missing young girls from Murhu in Khunti district for fixing state accountability on trafficking of girls, their rehabilitation and inquiry by CBI in all instances of human trafficking), environmental degradation caused by mining companies (Suresh Oraon vs UOI challenging the pollution of Damodar river by coal mining companies), for the safety and benifit of vulnerable children (Jago Foundation vs State of Jharkhand for strict implementation of POCSO Act after it was revealed that of the 40 registered cases of child sexual abuse only 7 cases were registered under POCSO Act reflecting poor implementation and Diya Seva Sansthan vs State of Jharkhand for strict implementation of Child Marriage Prohibition Act as the state records a very high number of child marriages), for the welfare of unorganized labour (National Domestic Workers Welfare Trust vs State of Jharkhand for implementation of unorganised worker Social Security Act of 2008), and against atrocities on Dalits and Tribals by the state, police, and politically backed anti-social groups alike (Ramvilas Sahu vs State of Jharkhand filed after a fact finding conducted in Kesipara for investigation and compensation of villagers whose houses were demolished and burnt by antisocial elements with police protection and Kanhai Singh vs State of Jharkhand filed to restrain the government from constructing a helipad in a school playground of Barawahdih in Latehar which is a conflict area, proposed helipad would have been used for transporting armed machinery to combat villagers). The unit conducted 11 critical fact findings which laid grounds for litigation on the rights abuses that were brought to light (On Latehar encounter by CRPF and use of villagers as human shields-a war crime- by the CRPF in an area where landmines had been planted, to recover bodies of dead CRPF constables as a result of cross firing between CRPF constables and suspected Maoists, on denial of basic amenities in several villages of Saranda forest area in Chaibasa district, on displacement in Lalpania village in Bokaro district, on water contamination due to fluoride in Godda district, and Chlorine gas leakage in Garwa district among others). On the advocacy front, several workshops on human rights were organized (attended by over 400 students) and Legal Clinics were set up in colleges in Ranchi.
2014-2015 The year witnessed a rise in incidents of police excesses upon vulnerable villagers (Tribals, Dalits) across the state. Hundreds of people were put behind bars without substantial evidence branding them as extremists (to feign success of the police forces against extremest groups functioning in the deep jungles in the state- according to the fact Finding conducted in Gutia Jamgain). Our lawyers across the state defended such persons filing over 130 cases for bail or release and getting over 110 tribals incarcerated out of prisons (Vicky Singh Vs. State of Jharkhand, Sitaram Manjhi Vs. State of Jharkhand, Nilambar Manjhi Vs. State of Jharkhand among others). PILs filed on other issues included Rajan Kumar Singh Vs. Union of India and ors. (to issue a mandamus directing the private schools to admit underprivileged children to fill the 25% reservation as prescribed under the Right To Education Act 2009), National Hawkers Federation versus Union of India & others (for proper implementation of ‘The Street Vendors Act, 2014’ and formation of a town vending committee for proper registration of the street vendors; and non eviction until this process was completed). The unit conducted several Fact Findings on critical issues such as violation of reproductive rights of tribal women (Mass sterilization of 44 women in torch light in Patthalgadda, Chatra), water contamination deaths (In Bodra village, Godda where eight people died during 2013-2014 due to heavy fluoride presence in water and the fluoride had damaged the skin of all persons living in the village, and in Jhirki village, District Bokaro where every traditional water sources like ponds, wells and boring wells were highly polluted due to continuous dust discharge from the Coal fields nearby). 16 Legal Aid Clinics were set up in districts across the state.
2015-2016 Displacement of Tribal persons for accession of their land by corporates remained a critical issue in the state and the HRLN Jharkhand unit played its part in supporting the people’s resistance by making legal aid accessible to those affected across the state (Kolhan Raksha Manch Vs. Union of India & others was filed to direct the Union Government to set up Kolhan Autonomous Council, to declare all land acquisition in Kolhan area unconstitutional, and for the survey of displaced people and a complaint, while in the case of Rahavan village from Hazaribagh District where the people were been displaced due to Jharkhand schemes, a complaint was filed with the NHRC, another PIL Ishak Dang Vs. State of Jharkhand was filed on behalf of a poor tribal to quantify and pay compensation/award as per the provisions of Section 28 and further to rehabilitate the petitioner and resettle the award as per the provision of the section 31 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act). Other important issues addressed by the unit included custodial deaths (State Vs. Sunil Kumar Tiwari where the accused police personnel Sunil Kumar Tiwari filed a discharge application and our unit challenged the application and got it dismissed), starvation deaths (the unit conducted Fact Findings on starvation death in Ganavati village and in the case of Ravi Sarbar’s death who died due to eating leaves, as food was unavailable), welfare of street vendors (Ranchi Footpath Dukandar Sangh to provide entitlements to street vendors and to safeguard their right to life and livelihood). Workshops covering the issues of gender justice, environmental right, and approaching the courts with apt legal remedies were organized in in colleges in the state.
2016-2017 With lynching incidents on the rise across the state, the unit focused all its efforts on securing justice (justice in the eyes of the law, otherwise, one is left to wonder what justice could be for someone who has lost their loved ones to the politics of hate) for the families of the deceased. The Balumath Fact Finding was conducted after two Muslim persons Majlum Ansari and Imtiaz Ansari were lynched by a mob for travelling with 8 cattle in a vehicle on 18th March 2016. In May, 4 persons Seikh Halim, Siraj Khan, Seikh Nayeem, Md. Sajjad were cow-lynched by a mob in Jamshedpur and the unit conducting a Fact Finding on the incident. Later, the Ramgarh Lynching Case (which became the first Lynching case in the country in which the accused were convicted in 2018) was filed after a Fact Finding was conducted (Alimuddin Ansari was lynched to death by a 200 strong mob- led by members of right wing political party- in Ramgarh on June 29, reportedly based on suspicions that he was carrying beef). All the Fact Findings conducted by the unit were cited in the Supreme Court case in which the landmark order on Lynching was passed in 2018. Other landmark cases by the unit included Environment & Consumer Protection Foundation vs. Delhi Admin. & Ors. (On the pathetic condition of Utkramit Urdu Madhya Vidyalaya, Wasseypur where 498 students from class 1 to 8 had to adjust in two small rooms without basic amenities and basic infrastructure like bench/desks, kitchen, library, storeroom, boundary etc.), Babita Devi & Others v. State of Jharkhand & Others (on behalf of Babita Devi, widow of Umesh Singh who was killed in police custody for protesting against heavy blasting in coal mines situated nearby his house) among others. On the advocacy front, a State level meeting, attended by 150 participants from across the state, was organized in Ranchi to address the prevailing situation in Jharkhand along with several district level meetings on the problems faced by vulnerable communities. Legal aid centers were established in 24 districts across the state.
What our clients and partners say about our work
“Last year when cow lynching incidents were on the rise, we were looking to partner with an organization that has been working on human rights issues for years and HRLN’s name came up. Since then, whenever there is an unfortunate incident of lynching, be it Ramgarh, or Godda, or Jamshedpur, the HRLN Jharkhand team has been prompt in conducting Fact Findings and have also looked over the cases from lower Courts up to the High Court. There is a dire need in this state for organizations like HRLN who work for the oppressed and partake in people’s struggles. Their work has strengthened people’s faith in judiciary, especially among persons from the economically weaker sections who earlier could not get access to justice when they were wronged.”
-Tanveer Ahmed, Social Activist, Anjuman, Jharkhand.
“We started working with HRLN in 2008 and one of our first PILs was on making polling booths accessible for disabled persons during elections. Within 8 days we got the relief we demanded from courts. Rajive Raturi has been instrumental in guiding our movement here ever since. There aren’t many organizations that work for disabled persons in Jharkhand so legal aid from HRLN has enabled us to strengthen our fight.”
– Arun Kumar Singh, Disability Activist, Jharkhand Viklaang Manch and Rashtriya Viklaang Manch.
“We work on excesses against Dalits in Koderma district. While our social campaign has been active for years, it is only with HRLN’s support that we are now in the past two years able to approach the Courts when the state machinery in the district fails us. We are also now able to tell those who try to threaten us that we have access to legal aid at the High Court and Supreme Court level and that has made a difference.”
– Manoj Bhagat, Dalit Rights Activist, Dalit Utpeedan Sangharsh Samiti, Koderma.
“My 4 year old daughter was sexually assaulted by a boy in our locality. We were distraught. We are not very rich so having Jawedji who works with HRLN in our district (name withheld for privacy) represent us without any fee. Our case was handled with care and to our satisfaction.”
– Mother of the 4 year old sexual assault survivor from the tribal community