Nikhil Dey, one of India's leading Right to Information activists, has been convicted of "trespass" and "simple hurt" in a 19-year-old case and sentenced to four months in jail.
Reacting to the court's decision, RTI activist Aruna Roy said, "This case is yet another reminder of the backlash and attack that RTI activists consistently face when challenging entrenched centers of power."
Dey along with three four other RTI activists, Naurti, Ram Karan, Babulal and Chotu Lal Malakar, were convicted under sections 323 and 451 of the Indian Penal Code for a incident that took place on 6th of May 1998.
On that day, Dey had confronted Pyarelal, the sarpanch of Harmara Panchayat, over charges of corruption in development works.
In a statement issued by Roy and the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, activists allege that Dey and the others had gone to deliver a letter from the Block Development Officer (BDO) to Pyarelal, and it was the sarpanch who came out and assaulted them. While the activists refrained from filing a police complaint against Pyarelal, according to the statement, the sarpanch went to the police on 8th May.
"Today, 19 years after the FIR was filed, Nikhil, Naurti, Ram Karan. Babulal and Chotu Lal have been convicted in an utterly false case filed by the a corrupt powerful Sarpanch who misused his influence and power and who had himself physically assaulted them for demanding information in a case where the activists were fighting for the rights of the poor, through means that were completely within the ambit of the law," said the statement issued today.
"The process of this case that has continued for almost two decades, and the final decision, is a body blow to the effort of citizens to fight corruption and stand up for the rights of the citizen. It is a clear case of miscarriage of justice," it said.
Dey and the four other activists will file an appeal in the ADJ Court of Kishengarh.
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ctivist Nikhil Dey and four others have been sentenced to four months in jail by a court in Rajasthan after being convicted of "trespass and hurt" in a 20-year-old case.
The sentence has been suspended pending an appeal by the five activists in a higher court.
The case refers to a row in May 1998, when Mr Dey, a Right To Information (RTI) activist, had gone to a village near Jaipur to investigate reports of corruption in development projects.