On 14th June, the All India Council of Lok Raj Sangathan organised a memorial meeting in Delhi for Justice Hosbet Suresh, who passed away on 11th June in Mumbai. Activists of Lok Raj Sangathan met to recall the significant contribution of Justice Hosbet Suresh to the human rights movement in India, including the work of Lok Raj Sangathan.
The meeting was chaired by Prakash Rao, Secretary of Lok Raj Sangathan. He initiated the memorial meeting with a few words on Justice Suresh. He requested all present to stand in silence for two minutes to pay homage to Justice Suresh. He then invited Shri S. Raghavan, the President of Lok Raj Sangathan to address the meeting. Shri S.Raghavan recounted the life and values of Justice Suresh.
Justice Suresh died at the age of 91. All his life he contributed his might to defend all those whose rights were violated, who were victims of state organised communal violence and who suffered immensely under the arbitrary provisions of anti-people black laws. Today we meet to celebrate his life and achievements and resolve to take his unfinished task forward.
Justice Suresh became an advocate at the age of 24 at the Bombay High Court. He took the plunge to join the judiciary because he felt deeply about defending the rights of workers and working people. He retired as a judge of the Bombay High Court in July 1991. He believed in and adhered to the adage of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ and ensured that it did not take more than 3 visits by litigants to get justice. People whose cases were heard by Justice Suresh were confident that they would get a fair hearing and a just decision.
There was not one instance of state organised communal violence or state terror that he failed to respond to. In every case he responded with unequivocal and fearless condemnation. He was a part of the team which investigated the communal violence in Mumbai in the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition, and brought out the People’s Verdict within 6 months. He was a part of the fact finding team which went to Gujarat to investigate the 2002 genocide that led to report of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal. He travelled all over the country in trains, buses and whatever mode of transport available, to investigate the violation of human rights. He was part of the team investigating the violence in Karnataka following the Cauvery Waters Dispute, the drowning of Dalits by the Tamilnadu Police and the shooting of tribals in MP, to name a few. Human rights activists and victims across the width and breadth of the country recall his name with great respect – in Tamilnadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kashmir, Delhi and North-East. He was fearless in his criticism of the central and state governments and its authorities at the highest levels, for their human rights violations.
He was part of a team which drafted the Prevention of Genocide Act, 2004 which demanded that the law of command responsibility should apply in cases of state organised communal violence and no one should be exempt from punishment, even if that person be at the highest level of government. Such a law has still not been tabled by any government in parliament, showing how no government wants to end state organised communal massacres.
The key issues that Lok Raj Sangathan has been fighting for – constitutional guarantees for human rights, putting an end to state-organised communal violence and terror, and political and electoral reforms to bring people to the centre-stage of decision-making – were issues closest to his heart.
He worked with other eminent personalities to try to build a bright future for the people of India. Together with personalities like Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Shri T.S. Sankaran, Prof Rajni Kothari, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, Justice SM Daud, Justice Rajinder Sachhar, Professor Dalip Singh and many others, Justice Hosbet Suresh played an immense and unforgettable role in the building of the Lok Raj Sangathan as the instrument of the empowerment of the Indian people, the instrument for the realisation of their human and democratic rights. Lok Raj Sangathan is honoured to have had all of them as its leaders and mentors.
Following the President’s speech, several participants spoke about the life and contribution of Justice Suresh.
Speaking from their personal experience of meeting and working with Justice Suresh, they recalled his simplicity and humility. These qualities touched everyone who had had the opportunity to work with him. They recalled the role played by Justice Suresh from the days of the founding of the Preparatory Committee for Peoples Empowerment in April 1993, through the numerous conferences held in Pune, Delhi, Mumbai and other places. In these conferences the path for the empowerment of the Indian people was discussed and elaborated upon, culminating in the decision to found the Lok Raj Sangathan as the instrument for people’s empowerment in 1998. Members recalled his role in the deliberations of the All India Council meetings of the Lok Raj Sangathan as well as in the numerous public conferences organised by the LRS, upto the time of his passing away.
He inspired all the members of the organisation by his friendly countenance, his deep humility, his inspiring words and above all his disciplined work for the organisation. He served as President of the organisation from 2003 to 2007 and then became its Honorary Chairperson. He never attached any importance to his position and mingled with all members and activists with equal ease.
The meeting saluted the life and work of Justice Suresh and resolved to take his unfinished task forward with renewed vigour in the coming days.