As a matter of policy, the PUCL does not accept money from any Funding Agency, Indian or Foreign. All the expenses are met by the members, the office bearers, and the activists from their pocket. For the expenses on the activities by the national office money is raised from sympathisers and members by way of donations.
Any voluntary organisation which is not ‘funded’ is always short of finances and, therefore, it cannot do many things that it would like to. It cannot pursue a matter to its logical end. In nutshell, the work of all such organisations is always, in a manner of speaking, incomplete. The PUCL believes that all such organisations have, therefore, to work in a sort of joint way. One organisation taking up a problem where the other left it. They also have to treat the Press as just another wing of the movement for civil liberties and human rights.
These are not ‘enforceable rules’, but should inform the approach of the PUCL activists everywhere. The PUCL is aware of its weaknesses and shortcomings. At the same time, it is also aware that whatever it has achieved is because of the commitment and hard work of all its members, sympathisers, donors, etc. All over the country, it doesn’t have a single paid whole-time staff member. Even the national office works with the help of a band of part-time workers who are no less dedicated. In this connection it would be in the fitness of things to mention the names of Brij Lal, Mamta Sharma, Sharif Khan, Ratipal Singh, Valsala N, BP Bhatt, Babita Garg, Kavita Raj, Bindu Raj, Pramod Kumar Singh, Ashok Kumar, and Om Prakash who have kept the National Office running despite very meagre resources. Neelofar Haram is making valuable contributions as Researcher and Reporter. Pushkar Raj helps in the editing of the ’Bulletin. Our members, Jatin Zaveri and Sunil Ashra designed the computer lists of members. P. Govind Raj and Prateek Ranjan Sengupta of Caboodle Solutions designed the PUCL Reference Library Management System. Meera created the infrastructure of the National office.
GUIDELINES FOR INVESTIGATIONS
Whenever any incident falling within the objectives of the PUCL takes place or a situation is anticipated the organisation gears up at the appropriate level. Innumerable investigations, reports, reactions, protest marches, educative meetings, press statements, memoranda, publication of literature, etc., are on record. These concern suppression of civil liberties and human rights in general or concerning sections of the society (e.g. women, children, tribals, Dalits, other deprived sections, agricultural labourers, bonded labourers, mine workers, slum dwellers, etc.).
It must be reiterated that the PUCL is not concerned with political matters, but only with the civil liberty/human rights aspect of a question or situation.
(A) PROCEDURE FOR APPOINTMENT OF TEAMS
An investigation team by a local branch can be appointed on some local issue. An Investigation team by a state branch can be appointed on some issue or incident at any place in the state. If a local branch exists at that place, the state branch takes it into confidence and co-ordinates with it. The team should be appointed in a meeting of the Executive, or in consultation with the members of the Executive (if they live in different cities and towns), after consultations between the President and the Secretary of the State Branch and the President/Secretary of the local branch concerned.
In special cases, the President and the Secretary may take the decision and inform the Executive in the next meeting.
(a) All decisions to appoint investigation teams, etc., by a local or a state branch should be conveyed to the State/National office mentioning the issue, etc.
(b) Reports considered to be of national importance can be arranged to be released to the Press from Delhi in consultation with the National office.
(c) The report, upon completion, should first be submitted by the investigation/study team to the local/State/National office bearers who examine the report and make a decision in relation to any further action required.
(d) Four copies of the report should be sent to the National office. An Investigation team by the National PUCL may be appointed on any issue or incident anywhere in the country. The state branch concerned is taken into confidence. All decisions in this regard are to be made by the National Secretariat in Delhi after mutual consultation. If the matter concerns Delhi only, the initiative rests with the Delhi PUCL. But if the issue is deemed to have possible national implications, the National Secretariat may take the initiative in consultation with the Delhi PUCL.
(B) MEMBERS QUALIFIED TO BE ON THE TEAM
1. Only such people should be appointed who are known as persons of commitment to civil liberties, are objective, judicious, and above sectarian considerations. They should preferably be members of the PUCL. 2. Lawyers, retired members of the judiciary, journalists, college/University teachers, experienced activists would generally prove suited for this type of work. In case of a journalist member, it should be made clear that the member would not write on the matter under investigation till the report is published, and she/he would not write anything at variance with the findings of the team after the publication of the report
3. Members should have team spirit. The number of members of the team should not be very large.
4. No person connected with any of the parties to the dispute/incident under investigation should be included in the team.
5. A lawyer member of the team should not accept the brief of any party to the matter under investigation till the report is published. She/he would be expected to refuse the brief of the party at fault even after the report is published.
6. It is better to have at least three members on a team. No member, on their own initiative, should meet the witnesses separately.
(C) INVESTIGATION AND WRITING OF THE REPORT
1. During the investigation, detailed notes should be taken and as many documents as possible should be collected.
2. As far as possible, all sides of the question or views of all the parties concerned should be examined or explored.
3. Preconceived notions and press reports, etc., should not he allowed to become the basis of the conclusions.
4. Wherever necessary, affidavits of the people/groups, adversely affected should be obtained. Attempts should be made to collect unimpeachable evidence.
5. Political rhetoric and unsubstantiated conclusions weaken the report and water down its effect.
6. Defamatory statements or statements which cannot be substantiated by facts should not be made. All facts and figures should be double checked. No enquiry is complete and, therefore, no report can take the form of a judgement.
7. For writing the final report all the members of the team should meet and prepare the report. It should be based on documents and on sound arguments. Conjecture and personal views are better kept out of the report.
8. Following the discussions, the draft should be finalised and signed by all the members. It is then to be handed over to the President/General Secretary of the local/State branch, or the National office, as the case may be. It is only they who can make the report public or take any other action on it.
Note: If the matter under investigation has wider implications, a report of a local branch can be arranged to be released by the State office.
Urgent action In the case of an emergency where speedy decisions have to be taken as to whether or not to commit the PUCL to any action or to take any action in the name of PUCL, the President/the General Secretary may take an action after consultations.
At the State level, if required, the President/the General Secretary should contact the National General Secretary. However, when an occasion demands immediate action at the National level, the Advisor, the President, and the General Secretary are authorised to take such action or issue such statement, jointly or individually, on behalf of PUCL as they, preferably in consultation with each other, deem fit and proper.
LOCAL PUCL JOURNALS
Any state branch, if it so wishes, can bring out its own journal, etc.
1. The decision to bring out the journals has to be taken by the local/State Executive.
2. The Declaration of the journal has to be in the name of the President or the General Secretary, as the Executive may decide, as the Publisher. The Editor should be appointed by her/him. The Editor is to be accountable to the Publisher.
3. The President or the General Secretary of the state branch would be the Printer and Publisher.
4. The President/General Secretary of the state branch would ensure that the aims and objects of the PUCL are correctly reflected in the journal.
5. It would be a good policy to carry, as much as possible, the matter published in the PUCL Bulletin published by the National PUCL from Delhi. A copy of every issue should be sent to the National Office. All publications have to reflect the policies of the PUCL. It is the responsibility of the National office to ensure this.
Maintaining records of membership, etc.: It is very necessary to maintain proper and regular records of membership as it is needed at the time of elections and Conventions. The National office maintains every address on a card measuring 4 inches by 5 inches. This facilitates arranging the cards alphabetically and insertion or removal of addresses. State offices can arrange them district wise.
If you observe the address label on the ‘Bulletin, you will see a number on top of your name [Example: 01/7/99/MB]. This number on top of every address gives us postal division into the Capital city of the State and the rest (This you do not need). This is a postal requirement for bulk mailing of letters or the ‘Bulletin). The second number is the month of joining, and the third number is the year when the subscription was paid. The alphabet(s) that follow are code(s) that denote(s) the type of membership.
These codes are:
M - Annual member of PUCL
MB - Annual member and subscriber to the PUCL Bulletin
L - Life member
LB - Life member and subscriber to the PUCL Bulletin;
P - Patron member
PB - Patron member and subscriber to the PUCL Bulletin
S - Student member or those belonging to economically weaker sections [clause 3(c) of the Constitution]
I - Institutions, Libraries, Offices
D - Donors
THIS NUMBER, HOWEVER, IS NOT THE ID OF A MEMBER. The National office sends Demand note/Reminder for subscription, etc., to every individual member. If the member does not respond to two Demand notes, member’s name is removed from the list. Sometimes, due to overwork in the office, the demand note may be delayed; consequently, the deletion of the name is also delayed.
A clarification about the three types of membership, i.e., Yearly, Life, and Patron is in order. These three types do not represent a hierarchy of membership. All members are equal.
Life membership and Patron membership simply afford an opportunity to those who desire to contribute some extra money to the PUCL to strengthen its financial position.
No membership carries any privilege. All members shoulder the burden of fulfilling the aims and objects of the PUCL as per the programme of the concerned branch. Also, the PUCL does not issue any identity cards to its members as they are not supposed to take initiative independently.
‘JOURNALISM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS’ AWARD & J P MEMORIAL LECTURE
In order to bring awareness about Civil Liberties and Human Rights to budding print journalists and also to bring to light the dedication and the work of those among them already working in the area of human rights, etc., the PUCL instituted in 1981 a prize for Rs. 20000/- known as ‘ Journalism for Human Rights’ Award. A jury of prominent persons selected a journalist from amongst the entries received for his/her work for the Award. Another person was selected for a Special Mention and an Award of Rs. 5000/- From 1981 to 1985 the entire prize money was endowed by India Today published from Delhi. Later the prize money was collected every year by way of donation from members & sympathisers. The Award was however discontinued in 2003. A list is appended at the end.