communities. Instead, by denying Setalvad the opportunity to contact the OHCHR (even in the most benign way as forward ing correspondence) the Supreme Court has unwittingly cast doubt on this. Given the contentious and emotive nature of these particular trials, this can only have been an inadvertent oversight on the part of the Supreme Court which should subject the reproach to Setalvad to its own review.
The Role of NGOs
These recent events indicate the soft pow er NGOs can wield by publicly and inter nationally bringing to light the shortcom ings of state legal processes. It is an impor tant role to play and it must be conducted to the full extent that international law and custom allow. Ironically, CJP’s actions were limited to simply voicing its concerns to the SIT regarding the safety of advocates and w itnesses. It in no way directly criticised the Supreme Court. Certainly. It is under standable that when faced with the ire of the highest court in India, particularly in
the context of the personal attacks from else where experienced by Setalvad, CJP suc cumbed to the court’s insistent demands. While appreciating the pressure front line NGOs face in balancing their general aspirations with the pragmatic necessity of seeing a case to trial, it is better for the victims of human rights abuses, and indeed, better for democracy if the NGOs stand firm against the machinations of the state where there is support to do so in both national and international law.
1 See: http://www.cjponline.org/teesta/critical hearing.htm 2 See: http://www.cjponline.org 3 For coverage of this incident see the following: http://expressbuzz.com/nation/teestawritesto sitonwitnessprotection/241163.html; http:// www.thehindu.com/news/national/article 1106115.ece and http://timesofindia.indiatimes. com/city/ahmedabad/SupremeCourtrapsTees taforreportingriothearingstoUNbody/arti cleshow/7329960.cms. 4 Ibid. 5 Vishakha vs State of...