Pandian is leading a people’s movement towards addressing human rights violations particularly in custodial situations. Through an extensive volunteer network, grassroots research and fact-finding missions, Pandian is ensuring that no authority functions above the law.
For Pandian, no authority in the country can be allowed to act with impunity. With the increase in number of people tortured and killed in custody, Pandian saw a critical need to create systems of monitoring and control, to ensure that these authorities, particularly the police, act in accordance with the law. Seeing this as particularly a rural problem, Pandian started out by travelling across Tamil Nadu state, disseminating information about the laws which protect people’s rights when in custody. He also ensured that the DK Basu judgement, which issued 11 commandments to all police stations to address the issue of custodial torture and deaths, was printed and published in each police station in Tamil Nadu. Through his travels, he established a large and dynamic volunteer network across the state, who then became his eyes and ears on the ground. By intensive training, and workshops, volunteers are equipped to identify violations in their areas, conduct initial research and analysis. Following this Pandian himself visits their areas to verify and supervise the report formulation and publication. With nearly 1000 volunteers in Tamil Nadu, Pandian has his ear close to the ground and is able to respond immediately and effectively to injustice.
Pandian started his work as a human rights lawyer and rights advocate when he was himself arrested and detained in early 1993. While he was leading a demonstration of estate wage earners, he was arrested without charge by the police, and detained for over a month. Following that, he was released without any of the judicial procedures having been followed. This experience demonstrated the critical gaps in the criminal justice system between the victims, the charge-sheeted, and the authorities. Since then, Pandian has made it his life’s mission to ensure that people are aware of their rights, and have the capacity to ensure that they do not get violated by the arms of the State.
* This profile was updated in March 2014. Please read ahead for the election profile.