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Archives for : March2017

The Curious Case Of Justice C.S.Karnan

#Obituary" data-image-description="<h1></h1> <div><img alt="" src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/01/04/us/LERNER2-obit/LERNER2-obit-articleLarge.jpg" width="600" height="360" border="0" /></p> <div>“Fireweed: a Political Autobiography”/Temple University Press</div> <p><a class="zem_slink" title="Gerda Lerner" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerda_Lerner" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">Gerda Lerner</a> and her husband, Carl, in 1966, at her graduation from Columbia with a doctorate.</p> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h6>By <a title="More Articles by WILLIAM GRIMES" href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/william_grimes/index.html" rel="author">WILLIAM GRIMES</a></h6> <h6>Published: January 3, 2013</h6> <div> <div></div> <div> <div> <div><a>Enlarge This Image</a></div> <p><a><img alt="" src="http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/01/04/us/LERNER1-obit/LERNER1-obit-articleInline.jpg" width="190" height="133" /></a></div> <h6>Andy Manis for <a class="zem_slink" title="New York Times" href="http://www.newyorktimes.com" target="_blank" rel="homepage">The New York Times</a></h6> <p>Gerda Lerner in her office in Madison, Wis., in 2002.</p> </div> </div> <div> <p>Her death was confirmed by Steve J. Stern, a history professor and friend at the <a class="zem_slink" title="University of Wisconsin–Madison" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.075,-89.417222&amp;spn=0.01,0.01&amp;q=43.075,-89.417222 (University%20of%20Wisconsin%E2%80%93Madison)&amp;t=h" target="_blank" rel="geolocation">University of Wisconsin-Madison</a>, where Dr. Lerner had taught for many years.</p> <p>In the mid-1960s, armed with a doctorate in history from Columbia University and a dissertation on two abolitionist sisters from South Carolina, Dr. Lerner entered an academic world in which women’s history scarcely existed. The number of historians interested in the subject, she told The New York Times in 1973, “could have fit into a telephone booth.”</p> <p>“In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist,” Dr. Lerner told <a class="zem_slink" title="Chicago Tribune" href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/" target="_blank" rel="homepage">The Chicago Tribune</a> in 1993. “I asked myself how this checked against my own life experience. ‘This is garbage; this is not the world in which I have lived,’ I said.”</p> <p>That picture changed rapidly, in large part because of her efforts while teaching at <a class="zem_slink" title="Sarah Lawrence College" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=40.935124,-73.844326&amp;spn=0.01,0.01&amp;q=40.935124,-73.844326 (Sarah%20Lawrence%20College)&amp;t=h" target="_blank" rel="geolocation">Sarah Lawrence College</a> in the early 1970s. In creating a graduate program there, Dr. Lerner set about trying to establish women’s history as a respected academic discipline and to raising the status of women in the historical profession. She also began gathering and publishing the primary source material — diaries, letters, speeches and so on — that would allow historians to reconstruct the lives of women.</p> <p>“She made it happen,” said Alice Kessler-Harris, a history professor at Columbia. “She established women’s history as not just a valid but a central area of scholarship. If you look at any library today, you will see hundreds of books on the subject.”</p> <p>Gerda Hedwig Kronstein was born on April 30, 1920, in Vienna, where her father, Robert, owned a large pharmacy. Her mother, the former Ilona Neumann, a free-spirited bohemian at heart, tried unsuccessfully to reconcile her budding career as an artist with her duties as a housewife and mother. This struggle made a marked impression on her daughter.</p> <p>Immediately after Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Dr. Lerner’s father, a Jew, was tipped off that he was about to be arrested. As a hedge, he had started a pharmacy in Liechtenstein, and there he fled, whereupon the Gestapo arrested his wife and daughter to force his return. Five weeks later, after he sold his Austrian assets for a nominal sum, his wife and daughter were released and left for Liechtenstein as well.</p> <p>“It was the most important experience of my life, because I didn’t think that I was going to come out alive,” Dr. Lerner told The Chicago Tribune in 1993.</p> <p>A more thorough investigation by the Gestapo might have revealed that their young prisoner had been doing underground work for the Communists for several years.</p> <p>Through a marriage of convenience, Gerda Kronstein made her way to New York, where she worked in menial jobs and trained at Sydenham Hospital in Harlem as an X-ray technician. As a saleswoman at a Fifth Avenue candy store, she was fired after she reported her employers to the Labor Department for paying their factory workers less than the minimum wage.</p> <p>In 1941, she married Carl Lerner, a theater director and Communist who helped her polish her halting English by having her repeat tongue-twisters like “Mae West is wearing a vest.” The couple moved to Hollywood, where Mr. Lerner became an apprentice film editor.</p> <p>Dr. Lerner placed a short story based on her jail experience, “Prisoners,” in The Clipper, a liberal literary journal, joined the Communist Party and began working with community groups to organize supermarket boycotts and neighborhood child care centers.</p> <p>“I was unduly intense, super-serious, incapable of small talk or the kind of friendly gossip that hold acquaintances together,” she wrote in “<a title="The book at Google Books." href="http://books.google.com/books/about/Fireweed.html?id=M6mM_6LO_IsC">Fireweed: A Political Autobiography</a>” (2002). “My perfectionism, insistence on anti-fascist commitment in word and deed, and general ‘heaviness’ as a person set me apart from others.”</p> <p>Because of his politics, Mr. Lerner found it increasingly hard to find work in Hollywood, so in 1949 the couple returned to New York, where he became a top film editor, working on “Twelve Angry Men,” “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” “Klute” and other films. In 1964, the two collaborated on the film “<a title="Film overview on Times Movies." href="http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/5893/Black-Like-Me/overview">Black Like Me</a>,” based on the 1961 book by the Southern white journalist John Howard Griffin that recounted his experiences disguised as a black man in the Deep South. Mr. Lerner directed, and together they helped adapt the book for film.</p> <p>Mr. Lerner died in 1973 after a long illness that Dr. Lerner wrote about in “<a title="The book on Amazon.com." href="http://www.amazon.com/Death-Ones-Own-Gerda-Lerner/dp/0595398243">A Death of One’s Own</a>” (1978). Her survivors include a sister, Nora Kronstein; a daughter, Stephanie Lerner; a son, Dan; and four grandchildren.</p> <p>Dr. Lerner, with great difficulty, found a publisher for “No Farewell” (1955), a novel about the coming of fascism to Austria, but by the late 1950s she faced uncertain prospects as a writer. With thoughts of writing a historical novel, she began researching the lives of Sarah and <a class="zem_slink" title="Angelina Grimké" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelina_Grimk%C3%A9" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">Angelina Grimké</a>, daughters of a wealthy plantation owner, who traveled throughout the <a class="zem_slink" title="United States" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=38.8833333333,-77.0166666667&amp;spn=10.0,10.0&amp;q=38.8833333333,-77.0166666667 (United%20States)&amp;t=h" target="_blank" rel="geolocation">United States</a> proselytizing for the <a class="zem_slink" title="American Anti-Slavery Society" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Anti-Slavery_Society" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">American Anti-Slavery Society</a>.</p> <p>The novel never materialized, but her research led to a new career. She began taking history courses at the <a class="zem_slink" title="The New School" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=40.7355777778,-73.9969666667&amp;spn=0.01,0.01&amp;q=40.7355777778,-73.9969666667 (The%20New%20School)&amp;t=h" target="_blank" rel="geolocation">New School for Social Research</a>, where, while still an undergraduate, she taught “Great Women in American History.” It was one of the first courses ever given in the United States on women’s history.</p> <p>After earning her bachelor’s degree from the New School in 1963, she enrolled at Columbia, her work on the Grimké sisters in hand, to study women’s history. Bending the rules, the university allowed her to complete her master’s and doctorate in three years. In 1967, she published “<a title="The book at Google Books." href="http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Grimk%C3%A9_Sisters_from_South_Carolina.html?id=v5INZnEqNpUC">The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina: Rebels Against Slavery</a>.”</p> <p>At Sarah Lawrence, where Dr. Lerner began teaching history in 1968, she was the driving force behind what is widely credited as the first <a title="Program at Sarah Lawrence site." href="http://www.slc.edu/graduate/programs/womens-history/">graduate program in women’s history</a> in the United States, established in 1972.</p> <p>At the same time, after writing the textbook “The Woman in American History” (1971), Dr. Lerner began gathering documentary material that would allow other scholars to write women’s history. Her material was published in two important sourcebooks, “Black Women in White America: A Documentary History” (1972) and “The Female Experience: Documents in American History” (1976).</p> <p>In 1980, she joined the history department at Wisconsin-Madison, where she created the university’s doctoral program in women’s history. She retired from Wisconsin in 1991. In 1981, she became the first woman in 50 years to be elected president of the <a title="The group’s Web site." href="http://www.oah.org/">Organization of American Historians</a>. The <a title="The prize at the oah.org site." href="http://annual-meeting.oah.org/awards/awards.lernerscott.index.html">Lerner-Scott Prize</a>, named in honor of her and Anne Firor Scott, another pioneer in women’s history, has been given annually since 1992 for the best doctoral dissertation on women’s history in the United States.</p> <p>Dr. Lerner wrote two ambitious studies on women and society: “The Creation of Patriarchy” (1986) and “The Creation of Feminist Consciousness” (1997). Many of her essays were collected in “The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History” (1979) and “Why History Matters” (1997).</p> <p>“I want women’s history to be legitimate, to be part of every curriculum on every level,” she wrote in “<a title="The book at Google Books." href="http://books.google.com/books/about/Living_With_History_Making_Social_Change.html?id=TNx_DFDPuuoC">Living With History/Making Social Change</a>” (2009), a collection of autobiographical essays. “I want people to be able to take Ph.D.’s in the subject and not have to say they are doing something else.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div> <p>Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.</p> </div> </div> <h6 class="zemanta-related-title" style="font-size:1em;">Related articles</h6> <ul class="zemanta-article-ul"> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/gerda-lerner-1920-2013/" target="_blank">Gerda Lerner, 1920-2013</a> (feministphilosophers.wordpress.com)</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11818" src="https://i0.wp.com/www.countercurrents.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/justice-karnan.jpg?resize=690%2C388" sizes="(max-width: 690px) 100vw, 690px" srcset="https://i0.wp.com/www.countercurrents.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/justice-karnan.jpg?w=960 960w, https://i0.wp.com/www.countercurrents.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/justice-karnan.jpg?resize=300%2C170 300w, https://i0.wp.com/www.countercurrents.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/justice-karnan.jpg?resize=768%2C432 768w, https://i0.wp.com/www.countercurrents.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/justice-karnan.jpg?resize=98%2C55 98w" alt="justice-karnan" width="690" height="388" />

“To err is human. Courts including the apex one are no exception. To own up the mistake when judicial satisfaction is reached does not militate against its status or authority. Perhaps it would enhance both.”, so goes the pronouncement of Supreme Court of India in Antulay’s matter where a seven judges bench of Supreme Court reviewed and recalled its own five judges bench decision and gave relief to Antulay, former Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

The present question of law is on the legality and propriety of a seven judges bench of Supreme Court issuing suo motu contempt notice and also bailable arrest warrant against Justice C.S.Karnan, a sitting judge of Calcutta High Court.

On one side, the shocking shackles of contempt notice and bailable arrest warrant, and, on the other side the convoluted condensate of corruption in higher judiciary boldly brought to surface by Justice Karnan before he was transferred from Madras High Court to Calcutta High Court, makes the case of Justice Karnan not only a curious case but also a test of the efficacy of the protection afforded by Indian Constitution to judges of High Courts and Supreme Court.

It is very easy to jump to the conclusion that it is at best the taming of a ‘temperamental’ high court judge. But it is not so easy to wish away the corruption in the judiciary including the higher judiciary. Fortunately, there were and there are honest, hardworking and sincere judges at all levels. But their number is dwindling. That is what causes and what should cause alarm.

From the web site of Supreme Court of India one can see three orders dated February 8, February 13 and March 10, 2017, to know, up till now, the pending case of Justice Karnan.

Under the order dated February 8, 2017, Suo Motu Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 1 of 2017 was initiated and show cause notice was issued to Justice C.S. Karnan by a seven judges bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar, with other judges on the bench, Justices Dipak Misra, J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Kurian Joseph. Suo Motu means on the own motion of the judges. The order dated Mar 10, 2017 issued bailable warrant of arrest for being brought before Supreme Court on 31.03.2017.

With the order dated Feb 8, till the case is decided, Justice Karnan has been relieved of his duties and asked to return judicial and administration files to the court registrar.

It needs to be mentioned that the Contempt Petition against Justice Karnan is civil and not criminal. Contempt may be criminal or civil. Criminal contempt is conduct (whether words or actions) that obstructs or tends to obstruct the administration of justice. Civil contempt is deliberate disobedience of an order of the court or breach of an undertaking given to the court. Either is punishable by committal or fine.

The order dated Feb 8, 2017 issuing show cause notice to Justice Karnan returnable on 13.02.2017 does not record reasons for issuing the notice except directing the Registry, “the letters taken note of while issuing notice, are furnished to Shri Justice C.S.Karnan.” Therefore, people are compelled to infer that some letters written by Justice Karnan became the basis to issue the show cause notice for civil contempt.

It is difficult to understand how the letters written by a High Court Judge could form the basis for suo motu civil contempt proceedings. Since there are no explicit reasons recorded in the order dated Feb 8, for issuing show cause notice, the public is left to depend on the media to know the reasons. According to some of the media reports, Justice Karnan has written letters to the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister, Law Minister and Judges of other High Courts discussing the corruption connected to several sitting and retired judges and these letters formed the basis for suo motu contempt notice from the Supreme Court.

Justice Karnan is not the first person and the only person to talk of the corruption in the higher judiciary in India. Several years back, Shanti Bhushan, a very senior lawyer of the Supreme Court, and former Union law Minister, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that half of the previous 16 Chief Justices of India were definitely corrupt (he named them in a sealed envelope which he gave to the Court), and he was uncertain about 2 more. The public is aware that since then more Chief Justices of India who retired had serious allegations of corruption against them.

In April 2016, noted lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan in a talk show was reported to have stated, “Judiciary is an important institution… But the judicial system has collapsed. A big movement is needed to improve it,” , “There is no institution free of government and judiciary (control) where a complaint against the judiciary can be lodged. Due to this, corruption is thriving,”

Over the years, considerable public discussion has been taking place in the country underlining the need for transparency in the functioning of the judiciary and in particular transparency in the matter of appointment and removal of judges.

In his defence, Justice Karnan is reported to have taken the position that he is targeted for seeking investigation into the corruption in higher judiciary. Truth cannot fail to be a defence in contempt of court proceedings. This is a pure question of law.

Another contention of Justice Karnan is that he is targeted and discriminated for being a Dalit. This requires examination of facts.

As regards the discrimination for being Dalit, some critics aired that Justice Karnan is hoisting Dalit card as some kind of red herring while there is no discrimination at all. To say there is no discrimination against Dalits and Lower Classes amounts to being as much honest as in claiming there is no corruption in the higher judiciary.

The legal defences, as known to the public through the media, that are being taken by Justice Karnan, even though they are not correctly and coherently articulated, cannot be arbitrarily brushed aside and they require consideration by an appropriate bench of Supreme Court. According to Justice Karnan, Supreme Court has “no locus standi” to issue a bailable warrant against a sitting judge. His contention is that no contempt action, either civil or criminal, can be initiated against a sitting High Court Judge under Sections 2(c), 12 and 14 of the Contempt of Courts Act or can he be deprived of protection under Article 20 of the Constitution. According to him, “Only a motion of impeachment can be initiated against a sitting judge of the higher judiciary before the Parliament after due enquiry under the Judges’ Enquiry Act”. Referring to the directive that he should be brought before Supreme Court (SC), under a bailable arrest warrant, Justice Karnan contends and says , “The SC shares equal power and rights with all the HCs of the country . It is not my master and I am not its servant. I will not appear before the SC.” He further added, “if the law keepers of the country have taken an unprecedented route to malign me, I’ve the power to take an unprecedented route to fight back”. It is perhaps the way a person reacts when he is pushed to the wall.

It appears, as part of the unprecedented route to fight back, Justice Karnan issued an “order” directing the CBI to register and probe cases under Article 226 and CrPc Section 482 against a host of judges from different courts for corruption, rape and embezzlement. “I had written to the PM to initiate investigations against at least 22 corrupt judges. That was on January 23 this year. Most of them are from upper castes and that is why no investigation has started. It is because I was bold to bring charges against them that I am being cornered now. I am a Dalit and that is why I am being targeted,” he said. He also appealed to the President to revoke the warrant against him. “Only the President can restore my prestige now and I appeal to his good offices,” Justice Karnan said.

The Achilles Heel of the seven judges bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Khehar gets revealed from its recorded contention in the order dated March 10, 2017, “In view of the above, there is no other alternative but to seek the presence of Shri Justice C.S.Karnan by issuing bailable warrants.”

The alternative available was ignored by the Supreme Court as could be seen from the recording in the very same order dated Mar 10, “It would be pertinent to mention, that the Registry of this Court received a fax message, from Shri Justice C.S.Karnan, dated 08.03.2017, seeking a meeting with the Chief Justice and the Hon’ble Judges of this Court, so as to discuss certain administrative issues expressed therein, which primarily seem to reflect the allegations levelled by him against certain named Judges. The above fax message, dated 08.03.2017, cannot be considered as a response of Shri Justice C.S.Karnan, either to the contempt petition, or to the notice served upon him.”

Thus the seven judges bench was not willing to extend the respect that a sitting Judge of High Court deserves for being heard keeping his dignity and honour as a High Court Judge and to explore alternative ways to resolve the razing conflict that could further damage the good name of the higher judiciary. The respect should be at least to the post of High Court Judge, if not to the person of Karnan. Attorney General for India Mukul Rohatgi could have assisted the seven judge bench in this connection. But as is evident from the order dated Mar 10, 2017, the seven judges bench is bent upon seeing the High Court Judge as contemnor, “The above fax message, dated 08.03.2017, cannot be considered as a response of Shri Justice C.S.Karnan, either to the contempt petition, or to the notice served upon him.”

Dealing with the curious case of Justice Karnan, eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani in his inimitable style informed the media that he has written a letter dated 11.03.2017 from the departure lounge of God’s airport giving advice to Justice Karnan, “As a senior member of the Bar and living in the departure lounge of God’s airport I am advising you to withdraw every word that you have uttered and humbly pray for pardon for every stupid action you have so far indulged in.”. Having been “convinced”, Jethmalani tells Justice Karnan, “Your behavior is that of a lunatic …”

The substance of Jethmalani’s letter in his own words, “In this corruption-dominated country, our judiciary is the only protection. Do not destroy it or weaken it,”

With due respects to Jethmalani it must be said that no one is trying to destroy the judiciary. The fact is judiciary is destroying itself. Jethmalani is looking at it from a wrong end.

While deciding to issue suo motu contempt notice to a sitting judge of High Court, and the subsequent bailable arrest warrant, the seven judges bench of Supreme Court, it appears, did not anticipate that the challenge to the institutional integrity and authority of the higher judiciary could originate not only from executive action, legislative provision, but also from judicial decision.

The legality and propriety of the decision to issue suo motu civil contempt notice to a sitting judge of the High Court and the bailable warrant of arrest cannot be decided by the very same seven judges bench who decided the suo motu contempt notice and bailable arrest warrant. It has to go to a larger bench for consideration.

The profitable way to analyse the curious case of Justice Karnan is not to focus on the “idiosyncrasies”, if any, of Justice Karnan but to find ways to examine into the allegations of corruption levelled by him. One obvious question that arises from this case is, even if the self-destructive adventurism of a High Court Judge fails to penetrate the convoluted condensate of corruption in the higher judiciary, whether the contempt notice and bailable warrant against Justice Karnan should ultimately result in pushing the issue of corruption under the carpet. Whether it is the right occasion to undertake thorough investigation into the corruption in the higher judiciary, in order to preserve and promote the health of Indian democracy and the rule of law in the country mandated by Indian Constitution?

The writer is former Indian Navy captain with Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and a practicing advocate of Supreme Court of India. His e-mail address is [email protected]

Copy right of this article is owned by the author.

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Sing Vande Mataram If You Want To Live In India, Meerut Civic Body Tells Members

The mayor passed a resolution to keep away those who didn’t follow suit.

HINDUSTAN TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES

The promise of sabke saath, sabka vikas (to stand by all communities and work for their development) with which Yogi Adityanath became the new chief minister of Uttar Pradesh stands on shaky ground, days after he assumed power.

Following the crackdown on slaughterhouses and the harassment unleashed by the anti-Romeo squad, the mayor of Meerut has read the riot act to those who refused to sing Vande Mataram at the beginning of the Nagar Nigam board meeting in the city.

Mayor Harikant Ahluwalia allegedly didn’t let seven corporators take part in a meeting after they refused to participate in the singing of the national song. He has also allegedly declared that anyone who doesn’t comply with this rule won’t be allowed to cross the threshold of the board room or join meetings.

The decision has, understandably, enraged some members of the council, which has around 80 members, for its undemocratic overtone.

According to The Times of India, the recital of the national song is a longstanding tradition at the Meerut Nagar Nigam, though under the Samajwadi Party government, those wishing to leave the room during the performance were allowed to do so and join in once it was over. Since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has come to power, the rules seemed to have changed drastically: either sing along with the rest or be effectively expelled from the body.

The situation came to a boiling point on Tuesday as some members, mostly Muslims, were leaving the room before the recital of the national song commenced. They were informed by some BJP members that “Hindustan mein rehna hai to Vande Mataram kehna hoga (If you want to live in India, you have to sing Vande Mataram).” To placate the enraged majority, the mayor was allegedly forced to pass a resolution through voice votes to make the singing of the national song mandatory at the council.

In his defence, Ahluwalia argued that the majority had no objection to singing Vande Mataram, though it doesn’t stand up to logic. The recital of the national song is not mandated by any law of the land, unlike the national anthem that requires all citizens to stand up while it is performed. The Supreme Court made the playing of the national anthem compulsory before screening of movies in theatres across India and set guidelines for citizens to behave themselves during the 52-seconds for which it runs.

Since Ahluwalia’s decision affects members of the council belonging to the minority community the most, the latter are seeing it as at attack on their values and beliefs. Historically, Muslim leaders have taken a complex stance towards the singing of the national song, which was composed by Bengali writer Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the 1870s and included in his novel Anandamath (1881).

Written in six stanzas, using Bengali and Sanskrit vocabulary, the first couple of verses pay homage to the nation, imagining her as the Mother. Praising her magnificence and generosity, her strength and fortitude, these lines were first sung in a political context by Rabindranath Tagore, when he performed it at the 1896 session of the Indian National Congress. Freedom fighter and revolutionary Sri Aurobindo, who rendered it in English, described it as the national anthem of Bengal, since it was widely sung during the 1905 partition of the state.

A section of the minority communities does not have any objection to singing the first part of the hymn, which asks people to bow at the feet of the nation, imagined as the Universal Mother. However, it is the latter part of the song, which explicitly refers to Devi Durga, that is often perceived as objectionable by monotheistic religions like Islam.

In its standard form, the hymn is curtailed for public singing, requiring only the first two stanzas to be sung. Be that as it may, any citizen of India is free to abstain from singing it, should they feel so, and cannot be penalised or discriminated against for taking such a decision.http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2017/03/30/sing-vande-mataram-if-you-want-to-live-in-india-meerut-civic-bo_a_22018094/

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Freedom for Prof G N Saibaba – Open Letter to Federica Mogherini, European Commission

Lidia Senra, member of the European Parliament from Galician Left Alternative (GLE) and Fabio de Masi member of the European Parliament from Die Linke, send a letter to the European Commission about the situation of Professor GN Saibaba:

Open Letter to Federica Mogherini
To the attention of the VP / AR Federica Mogherini:

On February 29, 2016, I sent you a written question E-001822-16about the situation of imprisonment that Professor GN Saibaba was suffering in India, to which you replied that the EU “The EU has been closely following cases of human rights defenders arrested in India, including the cases of professor Saibaba, accused of having links with Naxal militants, and of Ms. Arundathi Roy, accused of contempt of court for her article defending the cause of Professor Saibaba. The EU Delegation in New Delhi has made appeals on humanitarian grounds with the National Human Rights Commission.

The EU attaches great importance to the issues at stake, most importantly to the freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial and the rights of human rights defenders. These issues are also addressed at the EU-India human rights dialogue.”

On March 7, 2017, Professor GN Saibaba has been condemned to life imprisonment with five other activists, all of whom have reported torture under police custody. The accusation is based on carrying out “illegal activities” under a draconian law called UAPA, denounced by all human rights organizations in India and internationally as a law that aim to prevent the exercise of freedom of expression and conscience.

Professor GN Saibaba, as you may know, has a 90% physical disability, aggravated in recent months with acute pancreatitis, and he was recommended the removal of his gallbladder. Because of this, this life imprisonment sentence is actually a death sentence for this professor, who has done nothing but defend the rights of the Adivasis and Dalits people with words, as well as denounce the counterinsurgency strategy “Operation Green Hunt”.

We are addressing you to ask the European Commission to adopt necessary measures to prevent GN Saibaba’s imprisonment, and call for all legal guarantees to be respected under the highest human rights standards for him and the rest of prosecuted people.

If this does not happen, and in line with the human rights advocacy that EU is committed to, we think it would be timely to halt all EU agreements with India.

Sincerely yours,

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Students cry ‘forced vegetarianism’ as meat off AMU menu

 

Following Yogi Adityanath-led government’s crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, meat has gone off the menu at Aligarh Muslim University.

  • With meat going off the menu at AMU, students have written to the vice-chancellor seeking his intervention.
  • In response, the management said that it has no means to arrange over 500 kg meat (buffalo) every day.
  • AIMIM leader Owaisi took to twitter to highlight the plight of AMU students.

HIGHLIGHTS

AMU students say being forced to eat vegetarian dishes - India Tv

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Photo: REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE AMU students say being forced to eat vegetarian dishes

Following Yogi Adityanath-led government’s crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, meat has gone off the menu at Aligarh Muslim University.

AGRA: With meat going off the menu in all messes of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) hostels, following the UP government’s crackdown on “illegal” abattoirs, students have written to the vice-chancellor seeking his intervention. The issue also took a political colour when All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted about their plight. “15000 students in Aligarh Muslim University have not been served meat (buffalo) since 26 March and BJP says we are not targeting?” he tweeted.

The university students have now written to the vice-chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah seeking his intervention.

The issue has also taken a political colour with All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi tweeting, “15000 students in Aligarh Muslim University have not been served meat (buffalo) since 26 March and BJP says we are not targeting?”

For the past one week, the hostels, where meat was served on all days, are now serving only vegetarian food.

Hostel messes, where meat was served on all the days, are now serving only vegetarian food, much to the disliking of the students. AMUSU president Faizul Hassan said, “We are forced to eat vegetables. This is really not acceptable.”

In response to the AMU students’ union letter to VC Zameer Uddin Shah, the management said it has no means to arrange over 500 kg meat (buffalo) every day for 19 dining halls in hostels when there are no abattoirs functional in Aligarh. The situation has become more serious because of the meat sellers’ indefinite strike, as a result of which, dining halls are compelled to serve only vegetarian meals to the hostellers.

University’s media consultant Dr Jasim Mohammad said a meeting has been scheduled for Thursday to discuss the issue and all provosts as well the Dean of Students’ Welfare (DSW) would participate in it.

Speaking about the meat availability in Aligarh, Kalika Singh, regional officer of UP Pollution Control Board, said, “Of the seven slaughterhouses in Aligarh, four are operational at present. But due to non-availability of animals, they , too, are not providing any meat.” He told TOI that the municipal corporation’s own abattoir was shut down in 2014 due to some irregularities.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/students-cry-forced-vegetarianism-as-meat-off-amu-menu/articleshow/57906147.cms?

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African Student speaks -Little Did I Know that India is a Nightmare

 

Nana Kofi Yalley’s fb post

It was a dream country to visit one day, only to find my dream come through by having a chance to migrate and stay here for 3 years an offer that was more than wished for.india was an amazing place I always day dreamed about from hearing about the taj mahal to the popular movie who wants to be a millionaire to the pretty faced actress in bollyhood movies . I felt it was worth the price to at least come one day to see this beautiful country.

The fact that they had different cultures,traditions etc. Made me fall in love with country more on my arrival but little did I know that it was a terror within. Where the educated will gel and want to know more about you the non educated saw you as a threat and a human eater -cannibal. Really ,in this century who feeds on the flesh of another human .
But little did I know that the country I so much fell in love with living outside was a nightmare to live in . Where the people who you lived your daily life with will end up turning against you just in case there was a problem .

They will call an attack on blacks non racial but will attack anybody with a dark skin irrespective of the difference in the 54 countries there in the continent of Africa. But say we all the same? Is that not racial? Just because we look same don’t make us same people because behind the dark skin we all have different identities. But yet attack all of us when one person does something wrong and you call it non racial?

The government of India will only speak for matters to cool down but will not pass laws to condenm racial abuse. It’s not even a case of only blacks, the case of North easterners as well same people who come from india are even hated. What else are you guys looking for. But yet you apply for H-1B to live in another man’s world and no one harms you. We were here when Indians in dubai sent a video of how they were being molested in dubai and the whole India were talking about it like it was so cruel but yet the forget that they were putting people through same situation even when they were not taking their jobs but educating themselves .

I’m suddened and fustrated , can’t seem to understand what is bringing this hatred within. Someone please explain to me. Must we also start ganging up on your fellow citizens who have gone to stay in our countries? You say who cares just because you don’t have a relative there to be attacked but if you were to be attacked your self will you dare to live to be attacked in another man’s country where you are vulnerable? That’s the choice you leave us. But we are too civilized to do unto you what you do unto us.

We are the same people investing in your economy.you wonder how ? We renting your flats at high prices, paying huge amount of dollars for fees, and spending the monies we bring in here and not saving them outside india but in the same Indian banks. Please give us some respect . The recent attack in noida is something I can’t really understand where innocent people will have to be hospitalised for a crime they didn’t commit. Who pays for the bill ? Why make someone suffer something he knows nothing about.and yet the press only tell a one sided story and no one will want to listen to the African what even breaks my heart Is when they tried a press conference the police came in and stopped it.

It’s only a fool who fears what he doesn’t know. Let our voices be heard . With so many human right lawyers and activist non of them are out there talking the truth just because they fear. 😱

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Enforced Disappearances and Extra-Judicial Killings in Punjab

INDEPENDENT PEOPLES TRIBUNAL (IPT) ON ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES AND EXTRA JUDICIAL KILLINGS IN AMRITSAR

1ST AND 2ND APRIL 2017

The Punjab Documentation and Advocacy Project [PDAP] in collaboration with prominent human rights organisations in Punjab and India will be holding a two day Independent Peoples Tribunal on the 1st and 2nd April 2017. We are pleased to announce that an expert panel of distinguished jurists, human rights activists and academics from across India will be hearing the forgotten voices of hundreds of victim families of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings (fake encounters) that occurred in Punjab from the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s. Many of whom were cremated as “unclaimed and unidentified” by the Punjab Police in 22 of Punjab’s districts.

Expert Panel:

  1. Justice A K Ganguly
  2. Justice Suresh
  3. Colin Gonsalves
  4. Kavita Srivastava
  5. Parveena Ahangar
  6. Ms Soni Sori
  7. Babloo Loitongbam
  8. Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra
  9. Tapan Bose

The panel will consider and deliberate on the following issues:

The status of over 2000 unclaimed, unidentified mass cremations, which took place in 3 cremation grounds in Patti, Tarn Taran and Amritsar exposed by Sardar Jaswant Singh Khalra. Where over 500 victims remain unidentified, despite 20 years of litigation before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court.

An overwhelming number of victim’s voices have never been heard in the public domain. The victims who have been awaiting basic acknowledgement, accountability and redress have been grounded down by the endless facades of litigation.

The IPT seeks to lay bare the endemic failures of the judicial process to investigate, prosecute, and hold to account those responsible for mass state violence. It will critically analyse the apathy and indifference of the Indian judiciary in perhaps the worst case of mass state killings ever litigated in independent India. The “Punjab Mass Cremations Case” before the NHRC, remains one the most protracted cases in Indian legal history concerning mass killings by the State.

The IPT will analyse why none of the miniscule number, less than 2% of cases (30 cases out of 1513) investigated by the CBI have resulted in a single conviction and are themselves currently subject to judicial stays.

The IPT will analyse why the NHRC has made no comment in a single case concerning the 1513 identified cases as to whether they were genuine encounter killings using legally sanctioned lethal force or whether they were extra-judicial killings (fake encounters). Whilst the NHRC has conducted high profile “fact findings” in other states in India, there has never been an NHRC led enquiry that has ever visited Punjab to investigate and consider the accuracy of thousands of police killings in so-called encounters.

In the 22 years of these proceedings not a single witness has deposed or given evidence before the Commission. Not a single police officer, nor government official, has ever been cross examined or given evidence despite 3 Sub-commissions of enquiry (Bains Committee, Bhalla Committee and Kang Committee). After over two decades of litigation, 525 persons are still classified and remain unclaimed/unidentified. Not a single case outside of the three cremations grounds was considered for compensation, which ignores over 25,000 other unclaimed/unidentified cases throughout Punjab.

A report will be presented to the IPT setting out the preliminary findings in a number of these cases, which have never been considered by the courts and the fate of 1513 unclaimed unidentified cases, have yet to be properly investigated. The report argues that there remains a cogent and compelling case for on-going effective investigation,prosecution and re-dressing these grave human rights violations. The IPT will also consider the similar position of a further 3000 cases, the facts of which mirror the Amritsar Mass cremations case for which there has been no judicial process or accountability at all.

The IPT will examine the disparate, inconsistent and flawed approach towards mass state crimes, when the Punjab experience is compared to similar conflicts in India. How the failure to provide justice or any meaningful post conflict resolution to this dark chapter in Punjab’s history is inextricably linked to Punjab’s present problems, and its future.

The IPT aims to dispel the fear psychosis which shroud such discussions through critical analyses, meaningful discussion and a constructive approach as to what can be done through a distinguished panel of retired judges, human rights activists, lawyers, media and others who have advanced the cause of truth, justice and accountability.

The IPT is the latest step in a concerted effort to uncover the truth and for truth, justice, reconciliation and rehabilitation for the affected people of Punjab.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE SEE ATTACHED CONCEPT NOTE FOR PARTICIPATING INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANISATIONS

Kind regards

Tanmeet Singh
Press Officer (English)
+91-9899454515

Jagjit Singh
Press Officer (Punjabi)
+91-8196930612

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Bengali Poet Threatened With Gangrape For Standing By Poet Srijato Poem on YogiAdityanath

Srijato has been embroiled in controversy regarding his poem about Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath.

KOLKATA — A case was registered on Wednesday against unknown persons for threatening eminent Bengali poet Mandakranta Sen with gangrape for expressing solidarity with fellow poet Srijato who recently was embroiled in a controversy after writing a poem allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments.

“I have been threatened with gangrape,” Sen wrote on Facebook alongside the obscene threat message by one Raja Das.

Soon after Sen uploaded the message on her Facebook wall, there was a huge protest by intellectuals and her fans.

Sen went to the Kolkata Police Headquarters at Lalbazar in the evening and lodged an FIR with the Cyber crime section of the police.

“I am not worried about myself. The only way to fight fundamentalism is to go on writing more and hold more rallies,” the poet told reporters.

Sen not only stood by Srijato after a controversy broke out over the latter’s poem on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, she also participated in a rally to protest againt the attack on him.

A Hindutva group had lodged a police complaint against Srijato for allegedly hurting “Hindu sentiments and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath” in a Facebook post.

Srijato had posted a 12-line poem on his Facebook page on March 19, the day Adityanath was sworn in as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Srijato today expressed disgust and condemned the rape threat against Sen.

A senior officer of Kolkata Police said they were checking the authenticity of the profile from which the threat was made to Sen.

“Our officers are checking whether the profile from which the threat was made to Sen is real or a fake one. Then we will proceed with the requisite investigation to spot him,” the officer said.

Incidentally, Sen in 2015 had returned her Sahitya Akademi Young Writers Special Award to protest against communal attacks in the country.

The BJP today presented a divided house on the rape threat. While its national secretary Rahul Sinha criticised it, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh accused Sen of indulging in “cheap publicity” stunts.

“We condemn such threats to a woman. Even if she professes an ideology which is opposite to ours. We are against such threats to a woman. This cannot be tolerated in a civilised society,” Sinha said.

“These are nothing but publicity stunts by Left intellectuals to remain in news. The police will do their job. But we feel this is nothing but cheap publicity business,” Ghosh said.

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Karnataka – No Night Shifts For Women, They Are Needed At Home #WTFnews

No Night Shifts For Women, They Are Needed At Home, Say Karnataka Legislators
No Night Shifts For Women, They Are Needed At Home, Say Karnataka Legislators
No Night Shifts For Women, They Are Needed At Home, Say Karnataka Legislators
The proposal as well as the justification of the committee chairman has met with a lot of criticism.
BENGALURU: Women should be spared night shifts, and companies, as far as possible, should not call them to work at night, a committee of legislators has proposed in Karnataka. The proposal has triggered protests from women employees as well as activists, who have called it regressive and argued that if accepted, it will shrink the space for women at workplaces.

Critics also point out that the new law allowing women 26 weeks of maternity leave can work as a disincentive to employing women.

The committee chairman, NA Haris, has claimed that women have a lot on their plate as they have to take care of the house and are more involved in child care. “A woman has a greater social responsibility than everyone else. She is going to groom the next generation and has maternal responsibilities. If a woman is working in the night, it could result in the neglect of the child as the mother and the child can’t meet,” he told NDTV.

He added that a man can assist his wife, but can’t become a mother and vice versa.

“It is easy to talk, but we have to understand that the social responsibility of each member of the family relies more on the woman,” he said.

The committee also said that safety of women is another concern during night shifts. “As men, we have more responsibility towards the safety of women. This is not an issue of old-fashioned, new fashioned,” said Mr Haris.
The proposal and the justification given by the committee chairman have perplexed both employers as well as employees. “Tomorrow they will tell a woman to stay at home and bear children. It is none of their business. It shows a feudalistic, paternalistic mindset which is very sad in this modern era,” said entrepreneur Mohandas Pai.

Safety, Mr Pai said, was the government’s responsibility and it is not the legislators’ business to tell women whether to work the night shift or not. Their job, he added, is to make sure that the life, liberty of every citizen is protected.

There are around five lakh women employees among the 15 lakh IT workers in Bengaluru, and Mr Pai said, such a bizarre proposal may force employers to think twice before hiring women.

“Women have fought their way up and penetrated the job market. Now if you put all these restrictions, employers will be hesitant to hire a woman,” he said.

“Women can manage both — work and family– with ease,” said Amrin, a freelancer. “I don’t have anyone around me… We understand where we have to draw the line so I don’t think we need anyone to protect ourselves other than us.”

Her friend Magdalene, who works with an online sales company, agreed and said, “The men in our lives should have the confidence that we can be independent without them. That’s enough.”http://www.ndtv.com/karnataka-news/no-night-shifts-for-women-they-needed-at-home-say-karnataka-legislators-1675135

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Delhi HC orders retrial in five 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases

Bench notes that the judgments in the five hearings reflect a “very perfunctory and hasty disposal” of the cases

Observing that the killing of men of a single community were not “simple murders” and that the “police, prosecutors and even the courts appeared to have failed the victims”, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered re-trial in five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in which all the accused were acquitted in 1986.

A Bench of Justices Gita Mittal and Anu Malhotra ordered re-trial in five cases registered on the complaints of Daljit Kaur, Swaran Kaur, Jagir Kaur and Baljit Kaur.

“Prima facie the judgments reflect a very perfunctory and hasty disposal of the cases, which has deeply troubled our judicial conscience,” the Bench said, while issuing show cause notices to the four accused — Balwan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Dhanraj and Mahender Singhall — asking why the cases against them should not be re-tried.

“Perhaps, had these terrible offences in 1984 been punished and the offenders brought to book, the history of crime in this country may have been different. We are of the view that if we fail to take action even now, we would be miserably failing in our constitutional duty as well as in discharging judicial function,” said the Bench.

The suo motu directions to reopen the cases were issued by the High Court as it was hearing an appeal by the CBI against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar by a trial court in 2013 in a case pertaining to the killing of five Sikh men in Delhi Cantonment area during the riots.

It was also hearing the appeals of Balwan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Girdhari Lal, Kishan Khokkar and Captain Bhagmal, who were convicted by a trial court for allegedly conspiring and inciting a mob against the Sikh community.

During the hearing of these appeals, the Bench noticed five judgements from 1986 in which the accused persons had been acquitted by the trial court.

The Bench noted that the cases had been decided in five months and many crucial witnesses had not been examined. In one case, the prosecution produced only four police witnesses and the trial was completed in five months.

The Bench has directed the Delhi Police to investigate the issues and fixed the matter for April 20. It has also asked the complainants to appear before the court.

“Would it be permissible for this court to shut its eyes in the matter or does the available statutory regime and law make available any possible option for intervention at this stage? We are conscious that no order adverse to the interest of an accused person (who stands acquitted) or a victim can be passed without hearing him/her or behind his/her back,” the bench said while treating the cases as a petition under section 401 CrPC which gives power to the court to order re-trial.

The bench noted that during the hearing of the appeals, it had repeatedly queried counsels as to who was killed, or even how many died in the violence which erupted after the 31st of October, 1984?

“We have got no firm answer at all. The complaints (in the five cases registered in 1986) show that only adult male members of families of one community were killed. The complaints disclose horrifying crimes against humanity.

“The complaints also point out that male members of one community were singled out for elimination. This suggests that these were no ordinary crimes, or ‘simple’ murders (if ever a murder could be termed as ‘simple’). Treated as individual cases, while the culprits got away scot free, everybody else, the police, the prosecutors, even the courts, appear to have failed the victims, and, most importantly society. Perhaps, had these terrible offences in 1984 been punished and the offenders brought to book, the history of crime in this country, may have been different. We are of the view that if we fail to take action even now, we would be miserably failing in our constitutional duty as well as in discharging judicial function,” the bench said.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/high-court-orders-retrial-in-five-1984-anti-sikh-riot-cases/article17740801.ece

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Silence Of The Graves ! #Poem

Bye_Gravestone

Life frightens me often
Death does not.
Dead men do not frighten me
I am ready to join any crowd
Every second night I celebrate with the dead
Playing cards and singing songs
Discussing about life that doesn’t matter
Waking up is a curse.
And life frightens me
Death does not.

Silence in life frightens me
Streets filled with walking corpses
In the prisons of their own minds
Sealed lips of the teachers
Knowledge not to be known
Feelings that are not felt
The smell of death on the living
The sound of breath of the dead
Vultures around the living
Cooking food on the funeral pyre
Life frightens me
But death does not.

And I am frightened
About the pretentious dead breathing
But death does not frighten me
Silence in the graves frighten me
The graves do not frighten me
Life does.

And when the dead bodies do not wake up
I keep telling myself
That it is safer to get drunk
On the silence of the graves.

K.P. Sasi is a film maker and political activist. He can be reached at [email protected]

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