|"Many energy companies have invested in closed or repressive countries -- arguing that their investment would help develop the local economy and thereby improve the human rights situation. But in this case, Enron has invested in a democratic country -- and human rights abuses there have increased. Enron hasn't made things better for human rights; it has made things worse."||
Legal Restrictions Used to Suppress Opposition to the Dabhol Power Project
Table of Contents
V. Ratnagiri: Violations of Human Rights 1997
Appendix A: Correspondence Between Human Rights Watch and the Export-Import Bank of the United States
Appendix D: Correspondence Between the Government of India and the World Bank
The Bombay Police Act
The most common method used by the police to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in the district has been to invoke sections 37(1) and 37(3) of the Bombay Police Actcolloquially known as prohibitory orders because they permit the police to prohibit various kinds of public assembly.
According to lawyers Human Rights Watch consulted in Bombay, the Bombay Police Act is intended to deter armed gangs and prevent violent riots and other clashes by armed groups, and its provisions reflect these concerns.102 For example, among its provisions, Section 37(1) of the act prohibits the carrying of arms, cudgels, swords, spears, bludgeons, guns, knives, sticks or lathis, or any other article, which is capable of being used for causing physical violence...the carrying of any corrosive substance or explosives...the carrying, collection and preparation of stones or other missiles or instruments or means of casting or impelling missiles and empowers the police to prohibit certain acts for prevention of disorder. Section 37(3) of the act allows the police to prohibit any assembly or procession whenever and for so long as it considers such prohibition to be necessary for the preservation of the public order. However, Section 37(3) cannot be imposed indefinitely and must be renewed at fifteen-day intervals.103
The protests against the project were generally peaceful, however. This was confirmed to Human Rights Watch by the officer-in-charge of the Guhagar police, Assistant Sub-Inspector P.G. Satoshe, the commanding officer over the Maharashtra Police and State Reserve Police Force who deals with the protesters.104 According to Satoshe:
During the agitations, we asked the people to cooperate with the police... There have only been two violent agitations, on January 30 and June 2,  the rest were peaceful.105
The broad loophole of the Bombay Police Act permits its application to those who gather solely to exercise their rights to free expression or assembly. Individuals charged with violating prohibitory orders (Section 37) are arrested, and under Section 135 of the act, which authorizes arrest and punishment for violations of Section 37, they are subject to a penalty of up to one years imprisonment. Since 1994, sections 37 and 135 have been used to criminalize peaceful demonstrations against the Dabhol Power project. In this context, individuals arrested under Section 37 are released on personal bonds, but their cases remain unresolved because of delays in the judicial process.
103 Section 37(1) prohibits: (a) the carrying of arms, cudgels, swords, spears, bludgeons, guns, knives, sticks or lathis, or any other article, which is capable of being used for causing physical violence, (b) the carrying of any corrosive substance or explosives, (c) the carrying, collection and preparation of stones or other missiles or instruments or means of casting or impelling missiles, (d) the exhibition of persons or corpses of figures or effigies thereof, (e) public utterance of cries, singing of songs, playing of music, (f) delivery of harangues, the use of gestures or mimetic representations, and the preparation, exhibition or dissemination of pictures, symbols, placards or any other object or thing which may in the opinion of such authority offend against decency or morality or undermine the security of or tend to overthrow the State. Section 37(3) states: The authority empowered under sub-section (1) may also be order in writing prohibit any assembly or procession whenever and for so long as it considers such prohibition to be necessary for the preservation of the public order: Provided that no such prohibition shall remain in force for more than fifteen days without the sanction of the State Government.
104 Human Rights Watch interview with Assistant Sub-Inspector, P.G. Satoshe, Guhagar police station, February 15, 1998. On January 30, 1997, demonstrations at the Guhagar police station was met with police violence after protesters and police began to throw stones at each other and broke a water pipe leading to the project. On June 2, laborers for DPC and villagers in Veldur engaged in shouting matches and scuffles. Police dispersed the opposing parties by firing one round of ammunition into the air. As to police conduct, Satoshes comment is implies negotiations but in this sense is misleading. For example, police launched a brutal retaliatory raid against residents of Veldur on June 3 described below in Section V.