About

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) is a non-government membership organisation created to examine and address any issue related to human rights and civil liberties – and their violation – for individuals, groups and communities, within a democratic framework of secular India.

Jaya Prakash Narayan founded an organization called the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights (PUCLDR) in October 1977, at a time when the civil liberties and democratic rights of the people were taken away by Indira Gandhi, who had imposed a state of internal emergency in the country. Following Indira Gandhi’s defeat at the election and formation of the government of the Janata Party, the organization grew slack and inactive. Indira Gandhi’s return to power in 1980 created a sense of urgency. Thus, in Novembeer 1980, PUCLDR was rechristened as the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.

Ever since 1980, PUCL has been expanding its membership and has established branches in almost all the states of India. Some of them have been good at mobilizing public opinion through public demonstrations, while others have more successfully pursued public interest litigation in the courts. Their area of interest varies according to the interests and capacities of the elected office bearers and active members.

The major areas of PUCL’s activity have been:

  • Mobilising public opinion in favour of a better climate for protection of civil liberties in the country.
  • Conducting investigations into incidents of violations of human rights brought to notice by the victims, the press, a member, or any concerned individual.
  • Publishing the findings of these investigations in the PUCL Bulletin and releasing them to the press, or making them public by other means such as public meetings, etc. Many reports are published as separate documents also.
  • Filing petitions, on the basis of these investigations, or even otherwise.

Criteria of Membership

The founding conference held in November 1980 drafted and adopted the constitution of the PUCL and made it a membership organization, aiming to have branches all over the country. The Constitution of the PUCL laid down that the members of a political party will not have the right to hold any office if they joined the organization. Every adult person shall be eligible to be a member of the organization if he/she believes that civil liberties must be maintained in India, now and in the future, irrespective of any economic and political changes that may take place in the country.

The membership fee will be Rs.50 per year, to be collected once a year. Student members and non-earning members who are below the age of  25 may pay Rs.10 per year as member’s fee. The Executive Committees at every level will be entitled to admit persons from economically weaker sections of society, like workers and peasants, at a membership fee of Rs.10 per year. Those who pay Rs.1000 in a lump sum will be Life Members. Those who pay Rs.2000 will be Patron members of the organization. The National Council will have the right, by a two-thirds majority to refuse membership to any person or to remove any person from membership. The Council of a State branch will have a similar right in the respective State.

Aims and Objectives

Broadly speaking, the major objectives of the PUCL are as follows:

  1. To increase consciousness about and commitment to human rights and civil liberties among all sections of our people.
  2. To provide a platform for all groups including political parties to come together for furthering the cause of human rights, even though the groups may have differences among themselves on other aspects of social and political life.
  3. To energize and creatively use the existing institutions like the courts and the press, so that they may become more sensitive to the human rights situation in India.
  4. To intervene directly in cases where gross violations of human rights take place.

This information has been culled from the national PUCL publication entitled Know PUCL.

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