1. We are a group of retired civil servants belonging to the All-India and Central Services from all over India. As a group, we do not subscribe to any particular political ideology but rather, focus upon issues that have a bearing upon the Indian Constitution. We have been holding Conclaves and writing Open Letters on matters of concern since we came together as the Constitutional Conduct Group in May 2017.

  2. We write this letter to bring to the notice of the general public how the Solicitor General (SG) of India has sought to mislead the Honorable Supreme Court (SC) in the matter of Harsh Mander’s speech at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 16, 2019. (Disclosure: Harsh Mander is a member of the group but has played no part in issue of this letter.) The background is that Harsh Mander, as a public-spirited citizen of India, had filed a petition before the Honourable Supreme Court in connection with the registering of F.I.R.s against certain political leaders for using hate speech and inciting violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people in Delhi. On March 4, instead of responding to the contents of his petition, one of the highest law officers of the land alleged that Harsh Mander had made derogatory statements about the Supreme Court. When this was denied by Mander’s advocate, the SG was asked by the bench to file an affidavit.

  3. It seems that after an affidavit was filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police to the effect that Harsh Mander had not only instigated violence but also been seriously contemptuous of the SC, the SC decided not to hear Harsh Mander’s case until the matter of his allegedly “derogatory remarks” was looked into. A link was provided to the video in the affidavit and a prayer was made to dismiss his petition and file charges of contempt against him. We understand, however, that the full video of the speech was not presented before the Court.

  4. We feel that had the full video been presented, it would have clearly brought out the falsehood of the allegations that he had incited violence in any manner or been contemptuous of the SC. It is apparent that the video-recording submitted by the SG and the police was an edited version comprising selectively chosen excerpts from the recording, which had been clipped in places so as to convey the impression that Harsh Mander had both instigated violence and committed contempt of the SC. We strongly feel that the speech has to be read in context, in sequence and in full to appreciate its message.

  5. When the speech is so read, it becomes apparent that Harsh Mander meant that the fight would ultimately be decided in people’s hearts and not in any other forum. The following paragraph makes it abundantly clear:

  6. “What will be the future of this country – you all are the youth – what sort of country do you want to leave for your kids – where will this decision happen? One, it will happen on the streets, we have come out on the streets, but even beyond the streets, there is another place where this decision will take place. Which is the place in which this fight will eventually be decided? That is in our hearts, in my heart, in your heart, we have to give a response – if they want to fill our hearts with hate, if we respond with hate, hatred will become deeper”

  7. Harsh Mander further said: “If someone is attempting to bring darkness to the country, and we also do the same in order to fight, then the darkness will only become more severe. If there is darkness, then the only way that can be fought is by lighting a lamp. And if there is a huge storm, we will light a lamp against the darkness. The only answer we have to their hate is love. They will resort to violence, they will instigate us to indulge in violence but we will never carry out any violence. You must understand that it is their plan to instigate you towards violence so that when we commit 2% violence, they respond with 100%. We have learnt from Gandhi ji how to respond to violence and injustice. We will fight with non-violence. Anyone who instigates you toward violence or hatred, they are not your friends.”

  8. By what stretch of the imagination can such words be construed as being inciteful of violence when they refer to Mahatma Gandhi, father of the nation, who left us a priceless legacy of non-violence, truth-telling and compassion? By what inversion of meaning, by what distortion of facts and by what supreme disregard for the plain truth do the Solicitor General of India and the Deputy Commissioner of Police seek to mislead the Supreme Court of India?

  9. In our considered and collective opinion, there is a good case for filing a suit for defamation against both worthy gentlemen but that is a decision for the person defamed to take.

Yours sincerely,

V.S. Ailawadi

IAS (Retd.)

Former Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority

Shafi Alam

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI

S.P. Ambrose

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI

Mohinderpal Aulakh

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police (Jails), Govt. of Punjab

N. Bala Baskar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Adviser (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs, GoI

G. Balachandhran

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

Vappala Balachandran

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

Gopalan Balagopal

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Coal, GoI

Sharad Behar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

Aurobindo Behera

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha

Madhu Bhaduri

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Portugal

Pradip Bhattacharya

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Development & Planning and Administrative Training Institute, Govt. of West Bengal

Meeran C Borwankar

IPS (Retd.)

Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI

Ravi Budhiraja

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI

Sundar Burra

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

R. Chandramohan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi

Rachel Chatterjee

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh

Anna Dani

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

Surjit K. Das

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand

Vibha Puri Das

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI

P.R. Dasgupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI

Nareshwar Dayal

IFS (Retd.)

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

Pradeep K. Deb

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI

Nitin Desai

IES (Retd.)

Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI

Keshav Desiraju

IAS (Retd.)

Former Health Secretary, GoI

M.G. Devasahayam

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana

Sushil Dubey

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Sweden

K.P. Fabian

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Italy

Prabhu Ghate

IAS (Retd.)

Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, GoI

Arif Ghauri

IRS (Retd.)

Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)

Gourisankar Ghosh

IAS (Retd.)

Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI

Suresh K. Goel

IFS (Retd.)

Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI

S. Gopal

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, GoI

Meena Gupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI

Ravi Vira Gupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India

Wajahat Habibullah

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner

Sajjad Hassan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur

Siraj Hussain

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI

K. Illango

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Aviation Research Centre and R&AW, GoI

Kamal Jaswal

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

Najeeb Jung

IAS (Retd.)

Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi

Vinod C. Khanna

IFS (Retd.)

Former Additional Secretary, MEA, GoI

Rahul Khullar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India

K. John Koshy

IAS (Retd.)

Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal

Ajai Kumar

Indian Forest Service (Retd.)

Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI

Arun Kumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, GoI

P.K. Lahiri

IAS (Retd.)

Former Executive Director, Asian Development Bank

Aloke B. Lal

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General (Prosecution), Govt. of Uttarakhand

Subodh Lal

IPoS (Resigned)

Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI

Amitabh Mathur

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director, Aviation Research Centre and Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

Lalit Mathur

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI

Aditi Mehta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

Dalip Mehta

IFS (Retd.)

Former Secretary to GoI & Dean, Foreign Service Institute

Shivshankar Menon

IFS (Retd.)

Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser

Sonalini Mirchandani

IFS (Resigned)

GoI

Dr. L. Mishra

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Labour, GoI

Sunil Mitra

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI

Deb Mukharji

IFS (Retd.)

Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal

Shiv Shankar Mukherjee

IFS (Retd.)

Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

Pranab S. Mukhopadhyay

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI

Nagalsamy

IA&AS (Retd.)

Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala

Sobha Nambisan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Secretary (Planning), Govt. of Karnataka

P.G.J. Nampoothiri

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat

Surendra Nath

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

Amitabha Pande

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI

Niranjan Pant

IA&AS (Retd.)

Former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General, GoI

Alok Perti

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI

Jayant Prasad

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Nepal

R.M. Premkumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

S.Y. Quraishi

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Election Commissioner

T.R. Raghunandan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI

N.K. Raghupathy

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI

V.P. Raja

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission

K. Sujatha Rao

IAS (Retd.)

Former Health Secretary, GoI

Satwant Reddy

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI

Julio Ribeiro

IPS (Retd.)

Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania

Aruna Roy

IAS (Resigned)

Deepak Sanan

IAS (Retd.)

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

G. Sankaran

IC&CES (Retd.)

Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal 

Shyam Saran

IFS (Retd.)

Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board

S. Satyabhama

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI

N.C. Saxena

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI

A. Selvaraj

IRS (Retd.)

Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI

Ardhendu Sen

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

Abhijit Sengupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI

Aftab Seth

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Japan

Ashok Kumar Sharma

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia

Navrekha Sharma

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Indonesia

Raju Sharma

IAS (Retd.)

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

Jawhar Sircar

 

IAS (Retd.)

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

Narendra Sisodia

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI

Parveen Talha

IRS (Retd.)

Former Member, Union Public Service Commission

Thanksy Thekkekera

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra

Hindal Tyabji

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir


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