Thursday, February 28, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Mukherjee kept himself away from the divergent perceptions of president Pratibha Patil and chief justice KG Balakrishnan on judicial delays and its effects on governance. "A constant problem is that of reconciling the conflicting demands of judicial independence and tenure with the demands of accountability and essential levels of judicial competence," said Mukherjee. "In my view, constructive criticism should be encouraged," Mukherjee said in his valedictory address at the all-India seminar on judicial reforms organised by the Confederation of Indian Bar, headed by senior advocate Pravin Parekh here on Sunday.
Mukherjee also sought reducing the gap between high expectations of the people from the judiciary and the dismal achievement in certain areas of dispensation. President Patil's dismay at the dispensation system was influenced by fresh reports on the public lynching of an offender and the CJI said it was due to the deficit in governance.
SC judge Ashok Bhan expressed his displeasure at the misinformation put out by the media about the judiciary. "No body can accuse the judiciary of delays," he said and called upon the government to provide 50 judges for a million population against the existing 1.5 judge ratio. At a similar function two years ago, president APJ Kalam had warned that if longevity of cases continued, people would resort to extra-judicial methods. The then law minister had warned of agitations like the naxalite violence due to judiciary's approach and the then CJI YK Sabharwal had said the justice delivery system has reached its 'nadir'.
Speaking to a few journalists, Chatterjee said the arrears could be reduced if judges exercised "greater scrutiny'' at the admission stage. He lamented the growing trend of judges admitting petitions "in galore''and the "competitive liberalism'' among them to entertain petitions just to pass interim orders.
In an unusual attack on a bill due to be introduced shortly in Parliament, he said the trend of admitting petitions for the sake of passing stay orders was clear as those matters don't come up for final hearing for years, adding to arrears.
"We hardly discuss the role of the bench and the bar in the proliferation of cases,'' he said, adding, "The test of popularity of a judge seems to be how liberal he or she is in admitting cases and giving interim orders, often without even touching the papers."
Chatterjee also pointed out that the arrears problem was aggravated by the failure of the judiciary to fill up vacancies. Striking a discordant note on the pending judges (inquiry) bill, which seeks to provide a statutory basis to the existing in-house procedure of judicial accountability, he rejected the claim that the involvement of outsiders would compromise the independence of the judiciary. "With all respect to judges, it is essential to involve outsiders. The whole notion of insularity is wrong and it's time this assumption of judicial infallibility is discarded,'' he said.
Chatterjee's view tallies with the recommendation of the standing committee, headed by Congress MP Sudarshan Nachiappan, that eminent members from outside the judiciary should be associated with the selection as well as accountability of judges.
Candid as ever, Chatterjee reacted adversely to CJI K G Balakrishnan's outburst on activist Teesta Setalvad for criticising the SC's delay in hearing the bail pleas of 84 accused in the Godhra case. On the CJI's declaration that he wouldn't hear the plea of anybody associated with Setalvad, Chatterjee wondered, "Can anybody be denied a hearing in the court of law? You can dismiss a case on merits. But how can a judge say he won't hear somebody?"
Refuting reports of a judiciary vs legislature battle, he said that while he did not believe in confrontation, "I respond when there is a deliberate denigration of Parliament."
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
By TwoCircles.net news desk
Gulberg Society: A Museum of Resistance. Yes, this will be the name of the museum of its own kind to come up in Gujarat, and also in India for the first time. The museum will map several instances of communal violence and victimization perpetuated over decades in India.
Be it the survivors from Meerut or Bhagalpur, victimised Kashmiri Pundits or Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir or Sikh survivors of 1984 – all victims of violence, regardless of community, will find a space and a voice at the museum. A brainchild of social activist Teesta Setalvad, the museum of resistance (only Bangladesh on the subcontinent has one such resistance museum) will consist of films, documents, art and literature related to communal violence.
The Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace have been working on the project for one year. Why they chose Gulberg Society for the museum has logic. On 28th February 2002 as Gujarat was scarred deeply through well planned pogrom, Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad witnessed 70 of its people massacred. For over six years, these two organizations have together resisted the sale of this housing society to hawks from among the criminals. The space today is empty but full of battered memories of the victims and survivors.
These NGOs have devoted the better part of two and a half decades combating the forces of communalism, hatred and division. By establishing this museum, they want to institutionalise their efforts for the future.
The museum will be a professionally built institution that will acknowledge the horrors and scale of communal conflict that has plagued independent India and contain widespread documentation of the same. Victim survivors of those acts of violence will be the soul and centre of this museum.
To make their dream project a reality, the organizations need individual and generous contributions. Contributions should be made to Sabrang Trust, Mumbai. These will be publicly displayed in a scroll of honour. The members of the Board of Trustees of these two organizations include prominent citizens of the country Vijay Tendulkar, Alyque Padamsee, Javed Akhtar and Rahul Bose.
This has been a precious project, close to our hearts for the past six months to a year.
We also know that there will be bumps and roadblocks on the road ahead, as a vindictive state tries to thwart us at every juncture. We know that this idea, one of its kind, must be located in Gujarat (Only Bangladesh on the subcontinent has one such resistance museum). We know, therefore that this must become a reality. Part of the battle against the state wll be building up a Movement for the Gulberg Society--Museum of Resistance with the support of each and all of you.
For this we need you. And all your ideas. For the victim survivors of Gujarat 2002, for those of us at Sabrang and Citizens for Justice and Peace who have devoted the better part of two and a half decades battling the forces of communalism, hatred and division, this will be an effort, unqiue and the first, to institutionalise these efforts for the future. All documentation, posters and films that we have accessed, and archived, including our own will be housed in the Gulberg Society---Museum of Resistance. Narratives of survivors, communities will enjoy a special focus here.
We also would like to invite you to a Day Night Vigil at the Gulberg Society on February 28, 2008 to commemorate Six years of the Genocide of Gujarat 2002 and to formally inaugurate this idea and movement.
Gulberg Society: A Museum of Resistance
Gulberg Museum of Resistance will be a professionally built institution of resistance that acknowledges the horrors and scale of inter community conflict that has plagued independent India and contain widespread documentation of the same. Victim survivors will be the soul and centre of this museum of resistance and will every year commemorate the February 28, 2002 with prayers and remembrances. Films, documents, art and literature on the subject will be available on the site that will become a live centre of activities for the anti-communal movement in the country. No one will, when this project is complete, be able to arrive in Ahmedabad city without paying a visit to what transpired here in 2002.
Be it Gulberg Society, Meghaninagar, Ahmedabad, Naroda, Sardarpura or Odh, the locations of orgies of violence stand as ghostlike relics even today. The tiny blocks, apartments and homes within Gulberg Society in the city of Ahmedabad have evidence of the depth and scale of the violence unleashed in the damaged and scarred walls, cracked by ravaging furnaces of flames that charred electric connections. Room after room and home after home in this society will be sombre reminders to us all, supporters of the resistance, of the horrors unleashed by communal violence.
For this to happen and to ensure safe passage of sale to the survivors, we are inviting individual and generous contributions that will make this dream come true. Contributions should be made to Sabrang Trust, Mumbai. These will be publicly displayed in a scroll of honour.
In remembrance of Gujarat 2002 before and after
Hailing from India's largest religious minority, Gujarat's survivors today live in hope of justice that has in most cases, been delayed if not denied. Nineteen of Gujarat's 25 districts were torn apart by bitter targeted strife that left 2,500 dead. To date, of the total of 413 'missing' bodies, 228 have not been found. Four hundred girls and women were victims of sexual violence. Over 1,68,000 persons were turned, overnight by a remorseless administration into internally displaced persons. Totally, 23,873 homes were seriously damaged or totally destroyed. A total of 14,330 shops, informal businesses and 1,100 hotels were irretrievably damaged. Six years later, the victim survivors face a denial of justice and pathetic compensation. Of the 566 Mosques, Dargahs, Madrassas and Churches specifically targeted in the violence, 167 have still not been repaired. Few were repaired through state funds, a vast majority through community funding.
Members of the Board of Trustees of Sabrang and CJP:
Vijay Tendulkar (President), IM Kadri (Vice-President), Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer),Alyque Padamsee, Javed Anand, Cyrus Guzder, Javed Akhtar, Gulam Mohammed Peshimam, Nandan Maluste, Anil Dharkar, Rahul Bose and Cedric Prakash.
THE TIMES OF INDIA
21 Feb 2008, 0122 hrs IST, Manoj Mitta, TNN
NEW DELHI. The last time any strictures were passed on her was in 2003, when the Gujarat HC infamously upheld the acquittal of all the accused in the Best Bakery case.
The following year, the Supreme Court not only ordered a retrial in Mumbai but also expunged all adverse references to activist Teesta Setalvad in the HC verdict. So, why does the same Supreme Court now find an article of hers on Gujarat riots "shameful" and declare that it would not entertain the grievances of anybody associated with her?
The outburst of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan on Tuesday is surprising given that the article titled, "Shame, shame: A travesty of justice," seems to be a legitimate critique of the Supreme Court for its handling of the bail applications of the 84 persons accused of the Godhra coach fire.
Published this month in Malayalam magazine Mathrubhoomi in CJI's home state Kerala, Setalvad's article gives the sequence of the excuses trotted out by the court over six hearings in the last one year for not being able to hear the bail applications of so many Godhra accused. This is despite the fact that most of the accused, as the article asserts, are "innocent" as they were picked up on the basis of "cooked up police witnesses" and one of them is a "100% blind boy."
Further, it is almost three years since the Central Pota Review Committee held that none of the alleged offences in the Godhra case warranted the invocation of the draconian law designed to deny bail. Though terror charges against MDMK leader Vaiko were dropped on the recommendation of the same panel, the courts have failed to follow that precedent in the Godhra case.
More seriously, Setalvad's article makes out a case of "discriminatory justice". While hundreds of Hindu accused in the post-Godhra riot cases are roaming free, the Muslim accused in the Godhra coach burning case have been languishing in jail for six years for want of a hearing of their bail applications.
"Can such a blatantly discriminatory scheme of dispensation of criminal justice win the faith of a community that is at the receiving end? Can no questions be asked about the system in operation in the Supreme Court? Which matters get automatic priority and which do not?" are some of the questions asked by Setalvad as a consumer of justice.
Justice Balakrishnan's attack on Setalvad without giving her an opportunity to defend herself is reminiscent of the very lapse of the Gujarat high court that the Supreme Court corrected in 2004.
"Observations should not be made by courts against persons or authorities unless they are essential or necessary for decision of the case," Justice Arijit Pasayat ruled, while deleting HC's strictures on Setalvad.
Bail is a natural and normal remedy for any accused according to our system of criminal jurisprudence. Even draconian laws, anti terror laws that have questionable provisions on bail, simply do not allow for sustained and continued detention of persons in this fashion. How then can Indian democracy, booming in its growth rate, shining with the glitter of development explain away the dark crevices of sustained institutionalised torture and prejudice?
Some interesting points in this shameful tale are: Godhra Hindu Victims of the S-6 Coach of Sabaramati Express also asked for Transfer of the Godhra Trial Out of Gujarat in SC. In October 2003 Hindu victims of the Train Burning Filed a case for Transfering the Godhra Trial out of Gujarat. It was following this application by CJP that the Godhra Trial was stayed by the SC in November 2003.
There has been no bail order for the Godhra accused since October 2004 from the Courts.The last bail order was granted by the Gujarat High Court on October 30, 2004. The court has simply not heard any bail applications since. One of the 22 absconding accused, a maulvi, was implicated in the crime by an accused/witness, Sikandar, who stated that the maulvi was allegedly seen on the terrace of a Masjid at Godhra (ostensibly planning the conspiracy) although it was later established that the Maulvi was in Maharashtra and not even in Godhra on the relevant day. There were many serious discrepancies in the arrests, glaring inconsistencies that have been pointed out to the state, which simply refuses to address these concerns.
Worst of all, after a change of government at the center in 2004 and the repealment of POTA, the Central Review Committee after examining the issues at hand, ruled that POTA is not applicable to Godhra, May 2005.
Finally, the Supreme Court permits Accused to File Writs for Bail, No Bail after Six Hearings. Following an order of the Supreme Court in late 2006, giving liberty to all accused to file for bail while hearing the matters relating to the findings of the Central POTA Review Committee, seven separate such applications have been filed. Despite six-seven hearings in the matter, the matter has not been seen fit to be heard.
In the ultimate analysis, genuine secularism and constitutional governance must mean that issues of mass violence, accountability, transparency, impunity for mass murderers and government officials, are not merely the stuff of election campaigns but the basis on which the balance sheets of our public servants and representatives are drawn. Only then would we have made the transition from a purely electoral democracy to true constitutional democracy.
As a result, 84 of those allegedly accused of the Godhra train burning (one of whom is near hundred per cent blind) have been denied their personal liberty for six years. Bail is the fundamental prerequisite inalienable fundamental right to any and every accused under Indian criminal law and civilized form of jurisprudence. Even draconian anti-terror laws that are severely contested because they vest untested powers on the police and executive, do not ever condone custody for such a long time.
First week of August 2007. The matter is again listed on a miscellaneous day at which point, accused reps and counsel travelling at their own cost from Godhra again point out to the court that this matter must be listed on a non-miscellaneous day so final arguments can be completed.
For two and a half to three months no matters are listed as Judges are sitting on the Constitution Bench. Thereafter though matters are shown as pending on the SC list o November 18-19 they are not listed by the Registry.
Which matters get automatic priority and which do not?
Which matters suffer because of the delays and interim orders of the Supreme Court?
Is there no prioritization of cases where issues of personal liberty, denial of basic fundamental rights, mass crimes and impunity to the rich and powerful is concerned?
If we can ask no questions, we will receive no answers.
The time has come to question the basic accountability procedures of the highest court in the land.
Has the Supreme Court of India lost its soul and is it turning a blind eye to cases related to fundamental rights violations?
If so, where then do we turn?
Saturday, February 16, 2008
PETITION TO THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION RE. REPEATED GANGRAPE OF A PTC COLLEGE STUDENT BY HER PROFESSORS IN PATAN, NORTH GUJARAT....
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
New Delhi 110 001
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
(A Centre for Human Rights, Justice & Peace)
Hillnagar, Drive-in Road
Ahmedabad 380 052
Tel: +91 79 27455913, 66522333
Fax: +91 79 27489018
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I agree with what this petition says and I am sure you will
I request you to go through this Petition and also sign it. Thanks !
Monday, February 04, 2008
LISTENING TO GRASSHOPPERS - Genocide, Denial And Celebration....by Arundhati Roy (Outlook, February 4th 2008)
I never met Hrant Dink, a misfortune that will be mine for time to come. From what I know of him, of what he wrote, what he said and did, how he lived his life, I know that had I been here in Istanbul a year ago I would have been among the one hundred thousand people who walked with his coffin in dead silence through the wintry streets of this city, with banners saying, "We are all Armenians", "We are all Hrant Dink". Perhaps I'd have carried the one that said, "One and a half million plus one".*
[*One-and-a-half million is the number of Armenians who were systematically murdered by the Ottoman Empire in the genocide in Anatolia in the spring of 1915. The Armenians, the largest Christian minority living under Islamic Turkic rule in the area, had lived in Anatolia for more than 2,500 years.]
In a way, my battle is like yours.
But while in Turkey there's silence,
in India, there is celebration.
Most genocidal killing from the 15th century onwards
has been part of Europe's search for lebensraum.
Since this definition leaves out the persecution of political dissidents, real or imagined, it does not include some of the greatest mass murders in history. Personally I think the definition by Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, authors of The History and Sociology of Genocide, is more apt.Genocide, they say, "is a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group, as that group and membership in it are defined by the perpetrator." Defined like this, genocide would include, for example, the monumental crimes committed by Suharto in Indonesia (1 million) Pol Pot in Cambodia (1.5 million), Stalin in the Soviet Union (60 million), Mao in China (70 million).
And here, approximately four centuries later, is Babu Bajrangi, one of the major lynchpins of the Gujarat genocide, recorded on camera in the sting operation mounted by Tehelka a few months ago:
We didn't spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire...hacked, burned, set on fire...we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don't want to be cremated, they're afraid of it.... I have just one last wish...let me be sentenced to death...I don't care if I'm hanged...just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs of these people stay...I will finish them off...let a few more of them die...at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.
Delhi, 1984: Congress contribution to India's genocide history
Of course today, when genocide politics meets the Free Market, official recognitionor denialof holocausts and genocides is a multinational business enterprise. It rarely has anything to do to with historical fact or forensic evidence. Morality certainly does not enter the picture. It is an aggressive process of high-end bargaining, that belongs more to the World Trade Organisation than to the United Nations.The currency is geopolitics, the fluctuating market for natural resources, that curious thing called futures trading and plain old economic and military might.
Advani's chariot of fire: And so the Union project was launched
In Hindustan, land of the Hindus, lives and should live the Hindu Nation.... All others are traitors and enemies to the National Cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots....
Five people held him, then someone struck him with a sword...chopped off his hand, then his legs...then everything else...after cutting him to pieces, they put him on the wood they'd piled and set him on fire. Burned him alive.
The Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police, P.C. Pandey, was kind enough to visit the neighbourhood while the mob lynched Jaffri, murdered 70 people, and gang-raped 12 women before burning them alive. After Modi was re-elected, Pandey was promoted, and made Gujarat's Director-General of Police. The entire killing apparatus remains in place.
The Dehumanised: Dalit massacre, Jehanabad, 1997
Preparations to recreate the 'Gujarat blueprint' are currently in different stages in the BJP-ruled states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
Nandigram 2007: Even the CPI(M) has its own armed militia
Now in our 60th year as a free nation, the ride has brought us to the edge of time's great precipice....
Here is the counterfeit universe laid bare.It tells us that the rich don't have a choice (There Is No Alternative), but the poor do. They can choose to become rich. If they don't, it's because they are choosing pessimism over optimism, hesitation over confidence, want over hope. In other words, they're choosing to be poor. It's their fault. They are weak. (And we know what the seekers of lebensraum think of the weak.) They are the 'Constraining Ghost of the Past'. They're already ghosts.
Stamp out the Naxals: They have no place in Shining India
People who have taken to arms have done so with full knowledge of what the consequences of that decision will be. They have done so knowing that they are on their own. They know that the new laws of the land criminalise the poor and conflate resistance with terrorism. (Peaceful activists are ogwsoverground workers.) They know that appeals to conscience, liberal morality and sympathetic press coverage will not help them now. They know no international marches, no globalised dissent, no famous writers will be around when the bullets fly.
"Choke". "Cripple". "Virus". "Infested". "Eliminate". "Stamp Out".
This is an abridged version of a lecture delivered by Arundhati Roy in Istanbul on January 18, 2008, to commemorate the first anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian paper, Agos.