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Archives for : October2017

Why are people angry about Kevin Spacey coming out?

Kevin SpaceyImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionKevin Spacey at the European premiere of Baby Driver in London earlier this year

If Kevin Spacey had come out as gay a year ago, the reactions would’ve been very different to those seen on Monday.

For starters, he almost certainly would have been congratulated – a Hollywood A-lister publicly coming out in a world where being gay is considered by many to damage ticket sales.

But the House of Cards actor only came out in the wake of accusations that he made a sexual advance towards a male child actor in 1986.

Anthony Rapp, who was 14 at the time, told BuzzFeed that Spacey invited him to a party and seemed drunk when the alleged incident happened.

The actor apologised in a statement posted on Twitter, writing: “This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life… I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose to now live as a gay man.”

But he’s since been criticised for choosing this moment to come out – and some have accused him of using his sexuality as a shield to deflect the negative publicity the allegations have sparked.

“He doesn’t get a pass just because he’s gay,” says Josh Rivers, the newly-appointed editor of Gay Times.

Anthony RappImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAnthony Rapp says the alleged encounter with Kevin Spacey happened in the 1980s

“Alleged predatory behaviour is bad behaviour regardless of your sexuality.

“Kevin Spacey has chosen the incorrect moment to assert his sexuality, particularly in this situation where he’s being accused of something quite egregious.”

Linda Riley, publisher of Diva magazine and co-founder of the British LGBT Awards, says it was “disappointing” that the actor chose this moment to come out, adding: “I felt it was deflecting from the allegations.

“There’s been so many times he could’ve come out in the past and he hasn’t. That’s his choice but he should’ve used this time to own the apology, and so to make it about himself instead was disgusting, basically.”

She adds: “I find this whole statement quite manipulative if I’m honest, he’s tried to acknowledge what he’s done, but used the fact he’s gay as subterfuge.”

But Benjamin Cohen, CEO of PinkNews, points out: “I don’t think Kevin Spacey could’ve done anything but come out [after the allegation was made].

Media captionFilmmaker and author Carol Gould: Kevin Spacey has “upset” a lot of people

“But it’s unfortunate he ended up having to come out at the same time as responding to quite serious allegations of inappropriate conduct towards someone who was just 14 at the time.”

“Clearly there’s two stories now,” Cohen continues. “One is ‘Big star Kevin Spacey comes out’, and the other one is ‘Kevin Spacey accused of sexual misconduct in the 1980s”.

“And I think it’s unfortunate that the way he’s responded to that means the two issues are kind of conflated.”

Spacey’s statement, which was published late on Sunday evening, sparked a similar reaction on social media – and not just from the LGBT community.

Rivers says: “I think the [LGBT] community is understandably upset that he’s managed to conflate these two things, it does seem like a deflection technique.

“There are already people who suggest that homosexuality and paedophilia are linked, and we know they’re not, but this statement doesn’t do anything to rubbish that.”

“Homophobes will use any excuse they’re given, so no it’s not helpful that he’s made it so easy for them to use this against us as a community to kind of reinforce these bigoted views that they have.”

Many have expressed their disappointment that the actor decided against coming out earlier in his career.

Kevin Spacey and Robinn WrightImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSpacey and Robin Wright star in Netflix’s House of Cards

“I think it would’ve been a brilliant story,” Cohen says, “particularly because of his current big role in House of Cards.”

“It would’ve been an interesting opportunity to have someone in a big mainstream US TV show coming out, it would’ve been a very positive thing to do, but obviously that wasn’t what happened.”

Riley thinks if Spacey had come out sooner “he would’ve been lauded”.

“It’s great for LGBT actors to be able to say they’re gay and have it be no big deal. More and more they’re coming out, every day. So I don’t think there would’ve been a huge backlash to his career, there are plenty of successful LGBT actors.

Judi Dench and Kevin SpaceyImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionSpacey received a special Olivier award in 2015 for his contribution to British theatre

Instead, Rivers says, he’s now facing a wave of criticism.

“We as a community have become acutely attuned to these types of manipulations and deflections, and we can’t stand for it,” he says.

Riley adds: “So many of us who are LGBT have sacrificed so much in our lives to come out, and it’s been quite a courageous thing to do, so coming out should be associated with an act of courage, not deflection.”

 

BBC

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“मेरा भारत महान” #Vaw

 

By- Lingaram Kodopi

मेरे भारत देश में एक ऐसा राज्य हैं, जहाँ आये दिन बलात्कार , हत्या, और आदिवासियों पर नक्सली होने का आरोप लगाया जाता हैं व जेल भेजा जाता हैं। अधिकारी और कर्मचारी कोई अपराध करें तो उनको खुले में घूमने की आजादी हैं। आईए कहानी की शुरुआत करते हैं।

इस पीड़िता के साथ बलात्कार हुआँ हैं, जिससे आज सोनी सोरी मिलने गई हुई थी। इस पीड़िता से मिलने के बाद पता चला हैं कि जिस प्रकार से सोनी सोरी के साथ पुलिस प्रताड़ना हुआँ हैं, कुछ उसी प्रकार का घटना हैं। यह पीड़ित अम्बिकापुर सारगुज्जा जिले की रहने वाली हैं और आदिवासी हैं। सन 2013 में यह पीड़िता जिला दंतेवाड़ा में एक महिला पुलिस अधिकारी के साथ पढ़ने के नाम से आई और 2017 में 12 वी की पढ़ाई पूरी की। पीड़िता दन्तेवाड़ा कोतवाली थाना के महिला आरक्षक के साथ आयी थी। इस पीड़िता के साथ बलात्कार करने वाला कोई और नहीं बल्कि पुलिस वाला हैं और उच्च अधिकारियों की गाड़ी (ड्राइवर) चलाता हैं। माधव सिंह ठाकुर उत्तर प्रदेश का रहने वाला हैं। माधव सिंह ठाकुर की दीदी पूनम सिंह ठाकुर दांतेवाड़ा कोतवाली में पुलिस आरक्षक हैं। माधव सिंह ठाकुर का जीजा सत्येंद्र सिंह ठाकुर गीदम थाने में हवलदार हैं। माधव सिह M.T. शाखा में वाहन चालक हैं। पहले जिला दन्तेवाड़ा के पुलिस अधीक्षक कमलोचन कश्यप की गाड़ी चलाता था। कुछ समय बाद जिले के उप पुलिस अधीक्षक अभिषेक पल्लव के वाहन चालक हैं। यह घटना 04/10/2017 को हुई हैं।

05/10/2017 इस पीड़िता ने घटना के बाद न्याय के लिए सुबह थाना कोतवाली दंतेवाड़ा पहुँची प्रथम सूचना रिपोर्ट दर्ज करने के लिए। थाने के थाना प्रभारी ने पीड़िता का बयान सुन कर एस. पी. दंतेवाड़ा कमलोचन कश्यप को फोन लगाया, पुलिस अधीक्षक महोदय का कहना था कि F.I.R. लिखवाने के लिए उस पीड़िता को गीदम थाना भेज दिया जाए। इस पीड़िता को गीदम थाने भेजा गया। पीड़िता गीदम थाने पहुंची। थाने में जो हुआ आप सोच भी नहीं सकते की गीदम थाने की पुलिस ऐसा करेगी। पीड़िता का कहना हैं कि गीदम थाने में F.I.R. दर्ज करने में भी आना कानी हुई। बड़ी मुश्किल से थाने में F.I.R. दर्ज हुई हैं। थाने में पीड़िता के साथ बहुत बुरा बर्ताव भी हुआँ हैं। पीड़िता से पूछा गया की तू अपनी मर्जी से सम्बंद बनाई है। तेरे साथ घटना हुई हैं या नही पता नहीं। गलत रिपोर्ट लिखवाने पर पीड़िता को पुलिस द्वारा चप्पलों से मारने की भी बात कही गई हैं। पीड़िता के ऊपर रिपोर्ट न लिखवाने का दबाव भी महिला A.S.I. मीरा वर्मा द्वारा डाला जा रहा था, जिस दिन पीड़िता F.I.R. करने थाना पहुची उस दिन अपराधी माधव सिंह ठाकुर भी थाने में मौजूद था और हस रहा था। पीड़िता ने बस्तर पुलिस महानिरीक्षक जगदलपुर के पास भी शिकायत की हैं लेकिन आज तक कोई कार्यवाही नहीं हुईं हैं। पीड़िता ने छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य महिला आयोग के पास भी शिकायत किया हैं, अभी तक कोई कार्यवाही नहीं हुई। F.I.R. लिखवाकर 26 दिन पूरे हो गए हैं। पीड़िता को कोई न्याय नहीं। बस्तर संभाग के पुलिस अधिकारी गांजा पीकर नशे में है, तो काम क्या करेंगे।वैसे भी पीड़िता आदिवासी हैं और गरीब हैं। आदिवासी लड़कियां बहुत सस्ती होती हैं। जब चाहे तब आप बलात्कार कर सकते हैं, नक्सल के नाम पर कई दिनों तक रख कर थाने में रात दिन अनाचार कर सकते हैं। छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य सरकार अपराधियों के साथ हैं आदिवासियों व आम नागरिकों के साथ नहीं।

सरकार साथ होती तो इस पीड़िता को न्याय मिले रहता। माधव सिंह को पुलिस अब तक गिरफ्तार कर ली होती। सूत्रों से मिली जानकारी अनुसार माधव सिंह ठाकुर पुलिस विभाग के कई अधिकारियों को दीपावली की शुभकामनाएं भेजता रहा, फोन ट्रेस कर दन्तेवाड़ा पुलिस गिरफ्तार कर सकती थीं। सारीं घटना देखकर लगता हैं कि पुलिस प्रसाशन मिली हुई हैं। समाचार पत्रों में लगातार10 दिनों से खबर छापी जा रहीं हैं। बस्तर संभाग के पुलिस अधिकारी और कर्मचारी पुलिस नशे में हैं। इसलिए अपराधी खुले में घूम रहे हैं।बस्तर और छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य में सबसे बड़े अपराधी तो राज्य महिला आयोग, बस्तर रेंज पुलिस महानिरीक्षक, जिला दन्तेवाड़ा पुलिस अधीक्षक, दन्तेवाड़ा उप पुलिस अधीक्षक और जिले के सभी पुलिस कर्मचारी अपराधी हैं। इस पीड़िता का बलात्कार माधव सिंह ठाकुर ने नहीं बल्की इन अधिकारियों और पुलिस कर्मचारियों ने किया हैं।

यह घटना इस पीड़िता के साथ न हो कर किसी पुलिस अधिकारी के बेटी या नेता की बेटी के साथ होता तो क्या छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य सरकार तमाशा देखते रहती। छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य के आदिवासी भी सोये व नशे में हैं। इन आदिवासियों को कौन जगाएगा? जब तक देश के आदिवासी जागेंगे नहीं तब तक सरकार आदिवासी महिलाओं के साथ बलात्कार और नक्सल के नाम पर हत्याएं होतीं रहेगीं। वैसे भी छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य में जब तक B.J.P. की सरकार हैं तब तक महिलाओं के साथ अपराध होना रुकेगा नहीं। उदाहरण के तौर पर गीदम बाजार में महिला के सब्ज़ी को B.J.P. नेता द्वारा लात मरना, राजेश मूणत की CD काण्ड का सामने आना, ग्राम पालनार के गुरुकुल कन्या आवासीय विद्यालय में 16 स्कुली बच्चों के साथ C.R.P.F. के जवानों द्वारा छेड़खानी का मामला। ये सारी घटनाओं से पता लगता हैं की छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य की B.J.P. सरकार कितनी निकम्मी हैं। बलात्कार पीड़िता को न्याय के तौर पर माधव सिंह ठाकुर की 48 घंटो में गिरफ्तारी नहीं हुई तो मैं सोशल मीडिया में पीड़िता का वीड़ियो प्रकाशित करूँगा।

 

देश के तमाम बुद्धिजीवियों, पत्रकारों,व सामाजिक कार्यकर्ताओं और देश के गढमान्य नागरिको से मेरी नम्र निवेदन हैं की इस आदिवासी पीड़िता को छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य पुलिस से न्याय दिलाने में मदद करे।

कल इस मुद्दे को लेकर जिला दन्तेवाड़ा में आम आदमी पार्टी

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India – Hadiya has the right to love and marry whoever she wants

We have a constitution which guarantees freedom of religion which includes the right to convert to any religion. Why then must Hadiya be denied agency to convert?

Kerala offers very famous cases of Hindus who have converted to Islam, including the late poet and writer Kamala. What was so strange about Hadiya’s conversion, when she herself appeared in court and stated that her conversion was voluntary?
Kerala offers very famous cases of Hindus who have converted to Islam, including the late poet and writer Kamala. What was so strange about Hadiya’s conversion, when she herself appeared in court and stated that her conversion was voluntary?(HT Photo)

The Supreme Court today ordered that Hadiya be produced in court on November 27to speak in her own voice on her conversion to Islam and her marriage. She has been kept captive by her father after a division bench judgement of the high court of Kerala. Earlier, the same high court, after interviewing her had refused to hand over custody to her father, after being satisfied that she converted and married of her own free will. A change of judges led to a change of heart in the court .

The court declared the marriage void in a habeus corpus petition. Such a petition can only be used to check if a person is kept in unlawful custody, and nothing more. It literally means ‘produce the body’ that has been kept in unlawful custody. In this case, the petition was filed by the father to produce his daughter. The validity of the marriage could not be gone into by the court, but it did, holding that a qualified homeopath would not convert to Islam.

Kerala offers very famous cases of Hindus who have converted to Islam, including the late poet and writer Kamala Das. What was so strange about Hadiya’s conversion, when she herself appeared in court and stated that her conversion was voluntary?

We have a constitution which guarantees freedom of religion which includes the right to convert to any religion. Why then must she be denied agency to convert? And why must she be prevented from marrying a man of her choice? To this, the only answer given is that her husband is recruiting for the Islamic State. Today the Supreme Court asked which law prevents a woman from falling in love with and marrying a man who is a criminal, if indeed he us one?

 The case raises issues which are fundamental, such as the limits of parental control over their adult children. When does guardianship end and independent agency begin? Hadiya’s is 27 years old and with a mind of her own. To keep her in parental custody is nothing short of unlawful confinement. So complete is the custody that she has not been able to file a petition in the supreme court; the petition has been filed by her husband. An earlier plea to allow her to file an affidavit was turned down by the court.

 

She will now have to be produced in court, but by whom? By her custodians, her parents who have denied her access to the world? Is this fair process?
She must be set free and allowed access to her friends, husband and her lawyers before she is produced in court

Playing politics over the bodies of women, always women, denying them agency in the matter of love and marriage is a game played by upper caste parents with their daughters who marry outside their caste in the name of “kidnapping”. The courts have not taken kindly to these tactics in being satisfied that the relationship is voluntary .our efforts to encourage inter caste marriages and now inter faith marriages have miserably failed, making a mokery of our secular credentials. One wonders whether similar custodial rights would be granted to Muslim parents if their daughters converted to Hinduism. Politics are best kept away from inter personal issues

One Hindu woman converting to Islam and marrying one Muslim, cannot pose a threat to national security! No one prevents the State from investigating threats to national security, but to say that an adult woman must not be allowed to convert to Islam or marry the man she loves violates her right to personal liberty and her right to freely practice the religion of her choice.

Indira Jaising has represented Hadiya’s husband, the petitioner, in the Supreme Court

 http://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/hadiya-has-the-right-to-love-and-marry-whoever-she-wants/story-4nhdN0p7mnrqgUgCkQt9RL.html

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Maharashtra – Thousands of crores diverted from SC/ST allocation in recent years

Thousands of crores diverted from SC/ST allocation in recent yrs
The workshop held over Oct 29 and 30 on the new law demanded. PIC: MAHENDRA KOLHE
DA3 study finds that Rs 6,77,000 crore was rejected in Union Budget; members urge for a law to ensure money reaches the beneficiaries

A study by members of the Dalit Adivasi Adhikar Andolan (DA3) has revealed that the budgetary allocations for the scheduled caste and schedule tribe (SC/ST) community never reach the beneficiaries. They have further claimed that the heads under which the money is allocated is not useful as their needs are never taken into account. In view of this, they have now demanded that a law be passed by the government to ensure that allocations are used only by the prescribed beneficiaries.

Budgetary allocations for SC and ST schemes from the last five years were studied as part of the process, following recent instances of the money being diverted. It was found that as far as the Union Budget is concerned, the funds worth Rs 6,77,000 crore were rejected for SC and ST. Also, the state rejected allocations of Rs 50,000 crore in the last 27 years. Fifty per cent of the amount allocated in the budget was never spent for the last three years.



Priyadarshi Telang of DA3 said, “This year, there was an allocation of Rs 1.1crore for a supply of medicine for veterinary dispensaries. This should have come under the head of animal husbandry. How can these funds be put up for SC and ST? Every now and then, the government also diverts funds by issuing GRs. What is the use of the allocation then?”

In the backdrop of this situation, a conference was organised on October 29 and 30 at The Orchard Hotel off Apte Road by DA3 members, in which it was decided that the demand for a new law would be made to the government to ensure that there would be no more diversions and the focus would be on useful allocations along the lines of existing laws in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

MLA KC Padvi who attended the conference, said, “As the secretary of the Maharashtra Dalit Adivasi MLA and MP’s forum, I will try to ensure that such a law is passed in Maharashtra. We have seen that a separate budget is not being used despite this being the community’s right. Recent diversions for the loan waiver have proved to be an ideal example. I have submitted the draft for this law as a private member bill to the government and will try my best to get it approved.”

The private bill was introduced in 2016, cited it as a money bill and was referred to the governor. DA3 has now decided to spread awareness and also planned a protest march during the winter session to ensure that the government tables the bill.

http://punemirror.indiatimes.com/pune/civic/thousands-of-crores-diverted-from-sc/st-allocation-in-recent-yrs/articleshow/61347684.cms

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India – Right to privacy is deeply linked to national security

Admittedly, EVMs too have a UID number and any convergence of data can make the secret ballot system a party of history, warns Dr Gopal Krishna in the 5th part of his series against Aadhaar.   

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com.

In his 266-page order as part of the 9-Judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, Justice Dr D Y Chandrachud records how this case came before the Bench.

“A Bench of three judges of this court, while considering the constitutional challenge to the Aadhaar card scheme of the Union government, noted in its order dated 11 August 2015 that the norms for and compilation of demographic biometric data by government was questioned on the ground that it violates the right to privacy.

“The attorney general for India urged that the existence of a fundamental right of privacy is in doubt…. in the submission of the attorney general, contained observations that the Indian Constitution does not specifically protect the right to privacy.”

This was the third Constitution Bench in the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar numbers case which was set up by Chief Justice of India.

In its August 2015 order, the 3-judge bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde and Nagappan opined that in order to give a quietus to the kind of controversy, it is better that the jurisprudential correctness of right to privacy as a fundamental right is authoritatively decided by a Bench of appropriate strength.

Following which on July 18, 2017, the Constitution Bench was set up by the 44th Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar after almost three years of the order of the Justice Chelameswar Bench, after ignoring the October 15, 2015, order by the 43rd Chief Justice H L Dattu headed 5-Judge Constitution Bench that said, “Since there is some urgency in the matter, we request the learned Chief Justice of India to constitute a Bench for final hearing of these matters at the earliest” for more than two years, and after the arrival and departure of and after almost six years of the filing of the case by Justice K S Puttaswamy (retd) accompanied by some two dozen cases.

Prior to this another 5-Judge Bench was constituted which recommended setting up of this 9-Judge Bench.

Justice Dr Chandrachud authored the order on his own behalf and on behalf of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justices R K Agrawal and S Abdul Nazeer. His order takes note of the decision in Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Limited v State of Kerala (2013), by a Bench of Justices  K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court which recorded, “The Privacy Bill 2011 to provide for the right to privacy to citizens of India and to regulate the collection, maintenance and dissemination of their personal information and for penalisation for violation of such rights and matters connected therewith, is pending….

“Recognising the fact that the right to privacy is a sacrosanct facet of Article 21 of the Constitution, the legislation has put a lot of safeguards to protect the rights under Section 8(j), as already indicated.”

The government is attempting to change the goalpost now by talking about the proposal of “draft data protection bill” to ignore the existing right to privacy bill.

His order takes cognisance of the fact that it was only during the course of the hearing of these proceedings that the Union government brought to light an office memorandum dated July 31, 2017, by which it has constituted a committee to “suggest a draft data protection bill.”

Justice Dr Chandrachud observes, “Since the government has initiated the process of reviewing the entire area of data protection, it would be appropriate to leave the matter for expert determination so that a robust regime for the protection of data is put into place. We expect that the Union government shall follow up on its decision by taking all necessary and proper steps.”

He concludes his order saying, “Since the Union government has informed the court that it has constituted a committee chaired by Hon’ble Shri Justice B N Srikrishna, former judge of this court, for that purpose, the matter shall be dealt with  appropriately by the Union government having due regard to what has been set out in this judgment.”

It defies comprehension as to how something which has been accorded due space as part of the premise of the order does not find place in its inference and conclusion.

Having taken note of the existence of Privacy Bill 2011 which is pending with the government, Justice Dr Chandrachud also takes note of the proposal of “draft data protection bill” which came as an afterthought amidst massive loss of face to the government.

It appears that he has reposed a touching faith in the benign submission of the Union government which can deal with UID/Aadhaar matters appropriately without inquiring about the fate of Privacy Bill 2011.

Such manoeuvres of the government are grossly procedural, formalistic and insincere. The proposal of “draft data protection bill” and the Privacy Bill is akin to putting a cart before the horse. It is akin to putting a Trojan horse of the battle of Troy mentioned in Homer’s epic Odyssey before the court. Homer alludes thrice to the Trojan horse even in Iliad towards the end.

The court’s order missed the opportunity of looking at the composition of the “draft data protection bill” committee, which has given birth to gnawing misgivings. Trojan horses appear harmless, but are, in fact, malicious and deeply destructive.

The court’s order does not factor in the fact that this committee was announced as part of the arguments of the Union government to ensure that the court does not end up declaring the right to privacy as a fundamental right. The submissions of the government clearly and unequivocally demonstrate this questionable motive.

The terms of reference (ToR) of the Committee does not pay heed to the verdict of the court’s 9-Judge Constitution Bench as it was set up hurriedly ahead of the verdict to outwit the Court.

The ToR pertains to the “study of various issues relating to data protection in India” and “to make specific suggestions for consideration of the central government on principles to be considered for data protection in India and suggest a draft data protection bill” after personal sensitive data of the residents of India has contractually been handed over to foreign transnational companies like Accenture, Mongo DB, Safran Group and Ernst & Young for up to seven years only.

MongoDB (formerly called 10gen) is a technology company from the US and a NoSQL database startup. In 2012 it raised funding from the CIA-backed In-Q-Tel, an independent non-profit venture backed by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. This company is a Palo Alto and Manhattan-based database software provider in the $30 billion relational database market.

Relational databases commenced in the 1970s when computers were moving away from punch cards (that facilitated the Holocaust in Germany using census data) to terminals. UIDAI’s relationship with MongoDB (extracted from “huMONGOus,” meaning”extremely large”) remains under cloud. It is apparent that UIDAI has compromised vital data of Indians by such tie-ups.

In response to a question as to the names of UIDAI officials who met MongoDB’s CEO during all the meetings, the UIDAI said, “DDG Tech Centre and ADG IT-II, Tech Centre” met him.

In reply to the query about the copy of the full contract signed between UIDAI and MongoDB, and/or any of its previous or successor names / titles / agents, UIDAI and IBM, UIDAI and Oracle and UIDAI and In-Q-Tel, the UIDAI has written, “No contract signed” between UIDAI and MongoDB, and/or any of its previous or successor names / titles / agents and “No contract signed” between UIDAI and IBM.

With regard to the query about contract between UIDAI and Oracle, UIDAI has stated, “Production support for MySQL is provided by Oracle; not contact signed.”

This reply reveals that UIDAI is engaging companies like Oracle and others without signing any contract. As to contract agreement between UIDAI and In-Q-Tel, UIDAI has written “No contract signed” between them. Oracle too is also in the business of ‘cloudifying’ database that seems to have the potential to turn governments into puppets at least as far as control over database is concerned.

In response to the query about “the country of registration of above listed companies and the names and profile of the persons as the Board of Directors”, UIDAI has given an evasive reply stating, “No Information is known”. The RTI reply is dated February 14, 2014, by UIDAI but it was received on February 21, 2014, by Speedpost.

The reply states that the point-wise response to the RTI application was given by the Tech Centre, Bangalore, UIDAI. It has not been explained as to what transpired at the meeting of UIDAI officials like DDG Tech Centre and ADG IT-II, Tech Centre, Bangalore, with Max Schireson, CEO of MongoDB.

It is inexplicable as to why there is obsession with ensuring benefits for private/NGO sector using citizens’ personal sensitive information.

This reply merits a probe by a high powered parliamentary committee or a Supreme Court constituted committee.

The proceedings on record make it abundantly clear that the office memorandum dated July 31, 2017, was issued under the signature of Rakesh Maheshwari, group coordinator, Cyber Law and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), ministry of electronics and information technology ahead of the court verdict as part of their argument underling that right to privacy is not a fundamental right.

It is not surprising that the ToR of the committee has failed to encompass all aspects of privacy and data protection in the era of e-commerce, drones, Google maps, Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, Ola-isation and Uber-isation in the aftermath of revelations by Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks.

It is significant that such revelations have found mention the verdict of the court saying, “Edward Snowden shocked the world with his disclosures about global surveillance.”

It is equally significant that Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that examined the work of department of electronics and information technology, now called  MeitY, also asked about the surveillance by National Security Agency of the US.

It desired to know the department’s stand on the issue of surveillance by the US and interception of data sent through e-mails in its Twenty-seventh Report.

The committee was perturbed by the government’s unpardonable callousness towards the security ramifications of storing UID/Aadhaar data on cloud and the failure to enact a legal framework for right to privacy.

The tenure of Nandan Nilekani as the first chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India commenced in July 2009 and ended in March 2014 as a member of the Indian National Congress but the promised right to privacy bill did not see the light of the day.

The tenure of V S Madan, second chairman of UIDAI, too commenced and ended without the enactment of the right to privacy bill.

The tenure of J Satyanarayana as the third chairman too has not been able to do anything about it.

It is apparent that the government is attempting to change the goalpost now by talking about the proposal of “draft data protection bill” to ignore the existing right to privacy bill.

It is noteworthy that the government has admitted before Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the issue of UID/Aadhaar numbers may involve certain issues, such as (a) security and confidentiality of information, imposition of obligation of disclosure of information so collected in certain cases, (b) impersonation by certain individuals at the time of enrolment for issue of unique identification numbers, (c) unauthorised access to the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR), (d) manipulation of biometric information.

The Parliamentary Committee observed, “There is no law at present on privacy, and data protection”. The government told the committee that “collection of information without a privacy law in place does not violate the right to privacy of the individual.”

The committee recommended that legislation on UID/Aadhaar would be appropriate “only after passing the legislation on privacy, and data protection so as to ensure that there is no conflict between these laws.”

The parliamentary committee recorded what the Philippines supreme court said in a similar context. It said, ‘The data may be gathered for gainful and useful government purposes; but the existence of this vast reservoir of personal information constitutes a covert invitation to misuse, a temptation that may be too great for some of our authorities to resist.’

It is noteworthy that the National Informatics Centre had pointed out that the issues relating to privacy and security of UID data, in case the data is not hosted in a government data centrerequires consideration.

But UIDAI opined that the hosting of data in a private data centre does not necessarily lead to a violation of privacy or security. Appropriate contractual arrangement shall be put in place with the data centre space provider to ensure security and privacy of the data. This reply was given in the Rajya Sabha and is reproduced in the committee’s report.

The parliamentary committee recorded the findings of the Report on UK’s Identity Project by London School of Economics stating that ‘…..identity systems may create a range of new and unforeseen problems……the risk of failure in the current proposals is therefore magnified to the point where the scheme should be regarded as a potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of individuals’.

Taking cognisance of this report the United Kingdom shelved its identity cards project for a number of reasons, which included: (a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex; (c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs.

Notably, at the outset, the government, Wipro Ltd and UIDAI had cited the United Kingdom’s identity cards project as an example for the CIDR of the UID/Aadhaar number scheme.

Notably, too, Wipro Ltd had submitted a 14-page long document titled ‘Strategic Vision: Unique Identification of Residents’ to the processes committee of the Planning Commission.

Its vision statement reads: ‘Creating a unique identification system of all residents in the country for efficient, transparent, reliable and effective delivery of various welfare and private services to the common person.’

It is inexplicable as to why there is obsession with ensuring benefits for private/NGO sector using citizens’ personal sensitive information.

Meanwhile, the use of electoral database mentioned in Wipro’s document remains part of the agenda. A confidential document of UIDAI titled ‘Creating a unique identity number for every resident in India’, leaked by Wikileaks on November 13, 2009, revealed, ‘It is likely that this number will then persist as the key identifier through the individual’s various life events, such as joining school, immunizations, voting etc.’

Wipro’s document envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI would have to the electoral database. This paves way for all-round surveillance adversely impacting political rights of present and future generations and making right to have civil rights extinct.

It also has the potential to hijack India’s democratic system by converging CIDR with electoral database, and EVMs. Admittedly, EVMs too have a UID Number. Such convergence can make the secret ballot system a party of history.

After the UK abandoned its’ biometric identification based identity project Wipro Ltd and others have maintained a deafening silence. Besides being a consultant of the Planning Commission for preparing the vision document on UID of Residents, Wipro Ltd has also been among the companies were awarded contracts by UIDAI.


Part 1: Right to Privacy and the Bhagavad Gita
Part 2: How Aadhaar promotes a digital caste system
Part 3: Aadhaar is against Arthashastra, Hadith and Bible
Part 4: Aadhaar Act contravenes right to life and personal liberty


In such a scenario, the composition, of the Committee on “draft data protection bill” has been crafted in such a manner that it is packed with personalities who have consistently been found to be on the wrong side of the constitutional position.

These personalities representing their institutions include current members of the committee, namely, CEO of UIDAI Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey; National Cyber Security Coordinator Gulshan Rai; Additional Secretary in MeitY, Dr Ajay Kumar; IIT Raipur director, Prof Rajat Moona; IIM Indore director, Prof Rishikesha T Krishnan; DSCI’s Rama Vedasree; Research director of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, Arghya Sengupta; and secretary, department of telecommunications, Aruna Sundararajan.

The position of these members has been contrary to constitutionally recognised right to privacy as the fundamental right for over four decades.

There is not even an iota of confidence in most of members of the “draft data protection bill” committee because their role in misleading the court about the constitutional position on right to privacy is now a matter of record.

Fortunately, the court could see through their role which was not in the public interest. Despite this, Justice Chandrachud’s order gives enormous benefit of the doubt to the government by inferring that the government and its committee can deal with the UID/Aadhaar matter appropriately.

There appears to be incoherence in first taking cognisance of “an era of ubiquitous dataveillance, or the systematic monitoring of citizen’s communications or actions through the use of information technology”, and then letting the government do these very activities by promising a post-dated cheque which may or may not get encashed in terms of a data protection law.

There is inconsistency in recognising the age of “big data” or the collection of data sets which are “marked by their exhaustive scope and the permanency of collection”, which entails ‘profiling’ by automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyse or predict aspects concerning that natural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behaviour, location or movements, but choosing not to give immediate relief to residents of India including judicial officers.

Such profiling can result in discrimination based on religion, ethnicity and caste and allowing the government to do so under its assumption that the right to privacy is not a fundamental right. This can pave the way for a Holocaust-like situation witnessed in Nazi Germany using pre-Nazi census data which had profiled the Jews.

Justice Chandrachud’s order is remarkable for tracing the origin of the right to privacy to Greek philosopher Aristotle who recognised “a confidential zone on behalf of the citizen”.

He recalled how William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), spoke of a “natural liberty” which was in his view, “absolute rights which were vested in the individual by the immutable laws of nature. These absolute rights were divided into rights of personal security, personal liberty and property. The right of personal security involved a legal and uninterrupted enjoyment of life, limbs, body, health and reputation by an individual.”

He traces the individual’s absolute right to independence in John Stuart Mill’s essay, On Liberty (1859), wherein it is asserted that “In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign” and notes how in the “struggle between liberty and authority”, Mill posited the recognition of civil rights such as the individual right to privacy to rein in the tyranny of the majority.

He underlines the absoluteness of individual’s right by citing Thomas Cooley saying, “the right of one’s person may be said to be a right of complete immunity; the right to be alone,” in his Treatise on the Law of Torts (1888).

He recalls the verdict of State of Maharashtra v Madhukar Narayan Mardikar (1991) wherein the court held that “Even a woman of easy virtue is entitled to privacy and no one can invade her privacy as and when he likes…. Therefore, merely because she is a woman of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be thrown overboard.”

The proposal of “draft data protection bill” and the Privacy Bill is akin to putting a cart before the horse. It is akin to putting a Trojan horse before the court.

Justice Chandrachud cites the decision of the UK Supreme Court in R v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (2011) wherein it was held that the police force’s policy of retaining DNA evidence in the absence of ‘exceptional circumstances’ was unlawful and a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Lord Dyson, on behalf of the majority, held that: “It is important that, in such an important and sensitive area as the retention of biometric data by the police, the court reflects its decision by making a formal order to declare what it considers to be the true legal position.”

As per Section 2 (g) of Aadhaar Act 2016, “biometric information” means photograph, fingerprint, Iris scan, or any other biological attributes specified by regulations. Thus, it clearly includes biological attributes like voice print and DNA.

This decision of the UK supreme court creates a compelling logic for scrapping of the Aadhaar Act which illegitimately legalises indiscriminate collection of biometric information of the whole nation comprising present and future generations of citizens including present and future soldiers, Presidents, prime ministers, national security advisors, chief ministers, legislators, security officials and judges.

Therefore, the right to privacy is deeply connected with national security.

Justice Chandrachud refers to the decision the by the Canadian supreme court in Her Majesty, The Queen v Brandon Roy Dyment (1988) wherein a doctor collected a sample of blood from the wound of a patient for medical purposes but gave it to a police officer.

The court held that the seizing of blood taken for medical purposes was a violation of law and observed that “the restraints imposed on government to pry into the lives of the citizen go to the essence of a democratic state.”

The court found that the blood sample, collected by the doctor was meant for medical purposes only. JusticeLaForest wrote on the importance of consent and held that “the use of a person’s body without his consent to obtain information about him, invades an area of personal privacy essential to the maintenance of his human dignity.”

This decision implies that biometric information collected for identification from residents of India is meant for identification only and not for any purpose. As a consequence, it constitutes a violation of law by UIDAI.

In his decision Justice Chandrachud has cited the majority decision in United States v Jones (2012) delivered by Justice Scalia applying the trespass test. It was held that the government’s physical intrusion onto the defendant’s car for the purpose of obtaining information constituted trespass and therefore a “search”.

It was held unanimously that installing a Global Positioning System tracking device on a vehicle and using the device to monitor the vehicle’s movements constituted search.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed with Justice Alito’s concurrence that “physical intrusion is now unnecessary to many forms of surveillance”, and held that “[i]n cases of electronic or other novel modes of surveillance that do not depend upon a physical invasion on property, the majority opinion’s trespassory test may provide little guidance”.

It was observed that “the net result is that GPS monitoring — by making available at a relatively low cost such a substantial quantum of intimate information about any person whom the government, in its unfettered discretion, chooses to track” — may “alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society”.

Justice Sotomayor concluded saying, “I] doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the government of a list of every web site they had visited [or phone numbers dialled]”.

This decision too is quite relevant for the UID/Aadhaar case because CIDR is warrantless disclosure to the government and private agencies of every transaction done by residents and citizens of India and it unambiguously alters the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society.

It is germane to recollect the submission of Dr Usha Ramanathan, a noted jurist, before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that examined the UID/Aadhaar Bill and the project.

Its report records her post-evidence reply wherein she said, “The production of a number accompanied by the use of methods such as fingerprinting and iris scanning is even more invasive than is permitted to be applied to alleged offenders. Article 20 (3) of the Constitution of India provides protection against compulsory extraction of personal information. Denying services, and rights, to persons because they are unwilling to part with the information in a manner that is more than likely to result in convergence and commodification of their personal information, surveillance, profiling, tagging and tracking is compulsory extraction that clearly reduces the constitutional rights of an ordinary citizen to less than that of an alleged offender.”

Biometric profiling based CIDR of UID/Aadhaar number is like a prisoner identification number assigned by governments apparently under external influence.

Although the order of Justice Chandrachud recalls Ronald Dworkin’s seminal work Taking Rights Seriously, stating, “If the government does not take rights seriously, then it does not take law seriously either”, his order misses the opportunity of taking the government to task for its colossal and unpardonable failure in not taking citizens’ fundamental right to privacy seriously.

It ends up trusting a government which did not enact a right to privacy law which he himself has recorded, to act appropriately.

The UID/Aadhaar case has the privilege of encountering seven Chief Justices so far, beginning with the 39th Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice P Sathasivam, Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha, Justice H L Dattu, Justice T S Thakur and Justice Khehar, to the 45th Chief Justice Dipak Misra, even as violation of constitutionally protected fundamental right to privacy has become a norm.

In days to come the court is likely to see through the real purpose of proposal of “draft data protection bill” committee amidst the possibility of civilian and non-civilian applications of UID/Aadhaar being bulldozed by commercial entities in order to store and read biometric and DNA script of present and future Indian citizens in the aftermath of the sequencing of Human Genome for epigenetics, vested interest of pharmaceutical industry, big data entities, social control technology companies and inhuman aspects of inheritance, eugenics and genetic determinism.

It will surely deliberate on ramifications of CIDR of UID/Aadhaar for India’s position on e-commerce, computing cloud, cyber jurisdiction, high computing capacity, artificial intelligence, mathematical algorithms, and analytics which have the potential to make digital colonisation fool-proof through data colonisation in what is being called the Fourth Revolution by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Notably, WEF has launched a Global Redesign Initiative to make nation-states appear like medieval residues or to make them redundant.

The court will surely be wary of the promoters and supporters of data colonisation and appear more loyal to WEF than to India’s supreme interest.

It is hoped that when the court hears the matter in the first week of November, it will complete the unfinished task of declaring Aadhaar Act as an arbitrary and unconstitutional legislation because it was enacted prior to the enactment of right to privacy law despite categorical parliamentary recommendation.

Dr Gopal Krishna is a public policy and law researcher, convener of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) and editor of www.toxicswatch.org.

http://www.rediff.com/news/column/right-to-privacy-is-deeply-linked-to-national-security/20171026.htm

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Catalonia: The Right to Secede and the Right to Self-Determination

Daniel Grütters

In an address to the Parliament of Catalonia on 10th October 2017, the President of Catalonia issued a ‘suspended’ unilateral declaration of independence (“UDI”) from Spain. The ‘suspended’ UDI followed a controversial independence referendum on 1st October 2017. The referendum, which was mired by protests and attempts by federal police forces to prevent people from voting, had resulted in a vote of 90% in favour of independence with a reported 42% turn-out.

However, the Constitutional Court of Spain has consistently insisted any such referendum would be illegal because it violates the Spanish Constitution of 1978. Article 2 of the Constitution refers to the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards”, while it also “recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed”. The President of Spain has announced it will seek to activate Article 155 of the Constitution, which would allow it to “take all measures necessary” to ensure compliance with the law, including suspending the self-government (autonomy) of Catalonia.

In organising the referendum and in declaring independence, the secessionists relied explicitly on the right of the Catalan people to self-determination under international law. In effect, the secessionists have equated the right to self-determination with the right to secede. This blog post will analyse how these separate concepts relate to one another under international law.

Decolonisation and the Right to Self-Determination

The right to self-determination of peoples became the bedrock of the decolonisation agenda of the UN, following its inclusion in the UN Charter. When the UN General Assemblycondemned colonialism and called for its unconditional end in 1960, it relied explicitly on the right to self-determination. The General Assembly also included the right to self-determination as one of seven principles of international law in its historic Declaration Concerning the Friendly Relations among States of 1970. In this context, numerous former colonies (so called “non-self-governing territories”) achieved self-determination through the establishment of sovereign and independent States.

The International Court of Justice (“ICJ”) had the opportunity to comment on the legal effects of these political developments in the cases surrounding the decolonisation of Namibia, Western Sahara and East Timor. In the cases of Namibia (1971) and Western Sahara (1975), the ICJ held that international law had developed such that the right to self-determination applied to these and indeed all “non-self-governing territories”. In the case of East Timor (1995), the ICJ held that the right of people to self-determination is of an erga omnes character (i.e. is binding on all States). However, in all these three cases the ICJ referred to the right to self-determination as a means to an end: bringing all colonial situations to a speedy end.

Unilateral Declarations of Independence and Secession

After Kosovo issued a UDI in 2008, the ICJ was asked to issue an advisory opinion on the legality under international law of that UDI. The ICJ held that there had been no breach of international law because there was no law explicitly prohibiting such declarations. This is hardly surprising; declarations of independence are essentially claims of sovereignty, which can either be rejected or recognised by sovereign States. If they are recognised, the independence is a fait accompli, and if they are rejected, they become irrelevant, regardless of their legality.

However, the ICJ refused to analyse arguments surrounding the right to self-determination and the secession of Kosovo from Serbia. Instead, the ICJ just stated that there were radically different arguments on whether the right to self-determination confers upon part of the population of an existing State a right to separate from that State. The ICJ thought it was unnecessary to analyse these arguments because it had no direct effect on the legality of the UDI of Kosovo, which was the subject matter of the advisory opinion.

The Supreme Court of Canada did analyse these arguments, in a landmark case concerning the potential secession of Quebec from Canada. The Court held that the “right to secession” only arises under the right to self-determination of a people under international law in three specific situations. First, where a people is governed as part of a colonial empire; secondly, where a people is subject to alien subjugation, domination or exploitation; and thirdly, possibly, where a people is denied any meaningful exercise of its right to self-determination within the state of which it forms a part. According to the Court, in the absence of these situations, international law has established that the right to self-determination of a people is fulfilled through internal self-determination: i.e. within the framework of an existing state.

Conclusion

Returning to the situation in Catalonia, it thus appears that international law does not support the equation of the right to self-determination of a people with the right to secede. If one adopts the view of the Supreme Court of Canada set out above, then the current internal self-government (autonomy) of Catalonia could satisfy Spain’s obligation to respect the right of the Catalan people to self-determination. Whether this is actually the case, would require a factual assessment of the degree of Catalan autonomy, which is beyond the scope of this post. However, rather ironically, attempts by Spain to restrict or suspend the autonomy currently enjoyed by Catalonia, such as by activating Article 155, would actually give credence to the claim that Catalans are denied any meaningful exercise of their right to self-determination within Spain and therefore have the right to secede.

Catalonia: The Right to Secede and the Right to Self-Determination

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‘Love-Jihad’, NIA, And Democratic Rights

hadiya new(1)

As the Hadiya-Shefin matter comes up for hearing today, PUDR urges the Apex court to take note of the serious violation of democratic rights of the parties involved in this so-called case of ‘Love-Jihad’. PUDR believes that the case is being used in order to provide legitimacy to the supposed presence of ‘Love-Jihad’ or ‘terror marriages following conversion to Islam’ in the country which is nothing more than a communal political agenda being pushed in the name security of the nation. For the past few months the courts of the country have been seized of the issue.

On October 19, 2017 a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court ruled that every case of inter-religious marriage could not be considered a case of ‘Love-Jihad,’ thereby upholding the right of Sruthi Meledath and Anees Hameed, adults who had married consensually, to stay with each other, and denying the parents of the woman their plea for her custody. This commitment of the court to the right to freedom of adult citizens, men and women, is commendable.

However it is necessary to recall a completely opposite judgment by the same court a few months earlier, on May 24, 2017, when the court had nullified the marriage of 24 year old Hadiya to Shefin Jahan, a Muslim man, and granted her father custody over her, despite her assertion in court that her marriage was entirely consensual. The court had then stated that “A girl aged 24 years is weak and vulnerable, capable of being exploited in many ways” and added that “as per Indian tradition, the custody of an unmarried daughter is with the parents, until she is properly married.”

This peculiarly contradictory response of the court cannot be explained by the subjectivity of different benches of the High Court alone but is linked to the larger paranoia over terror nurtured by the state, and its use to justify deprivation of rights. Hadiya, who had been Hindu, and called Akhila, had converted to Islam much before she married Shefin (on 19 December 2016). She had been studying and staying away from home during this period, and her father had filed two petitions in the High Court asking that she return to his house, thinking that she was being forcibly converted. The court had on both occasions accepted her statement that her actions were voluntary, and ruled in favour of her right to freedom.

The drastic about turn in the court’s attitude came after Hadiya got married to Shefin Jahan, and her father cited instances of couples missing from Kerala, believed to have gone over to fight for the Islamic state, alleging that Hadiya was in danger of the same fate. Despite her assurances to the contrary, her avowal of her consent to her marriage, Shefin Jahan’s submission of identity proofs and certificate of the legality of their marriage, the Kerala Police’s investigation upon the Court’s direction into his background and credentials that found nothing incriminating, the Kerala High Court unlawfully ruled to annul their marriage, and sent Hadiya to her parents’ ‘protective’ custody.

Shefin Jahan’s background showed that he was a member of Popular Front of India (PFI) and was handling social media accounts of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of the PFI and not involved in any act of terrorism. Yet mere suspicion of terror seems to have been enough for the court to resort to deeply regressive and patriarchal arguments to justify denial of Hadiya’s fundamental right to freedom and her right to bodily integrity and autonomy. The judgment thus fundamentally violated Shefin and Hadiya’s right to marry each other by choice, and indicted Shefin without evidence. In a complete denial of women’s right to equality, it upheld the notion that women could lifelong be wards of their fathers and husbands completely, overlooking the fact that at no point does the law require, or the Constitution permit, parental consent for adult men and women entering into marriage. Such an unwarranted use of ‘parens patriae doctrine’ by Kerala HC to restrict liberty of an adult woman is condemnable.

Compounding this violation further, on August 16, 2017, the Supreme Court, responding to Shefin Jahan’s appeal against the nullification of their marriage, ordered the National Investigative Agency (NIA) to conduct detailed investigations into the case, to examine whether it was a case of ‘Love-Jihad’. Meanwhile, the Kerala Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department filed an affidavit in the Apex court stating that nothing in the investigation conducted by the Kerala police thus far had revealed the need for a NIA probe. The Supreme Court has subsequently observed that the High Court has no authority to annul the consensual inter-religious marriage of Jahan and Hadiya and agreed to take a relook at the order for an NIA probe. The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for October 30, 2017. Meanwhile the NIA is supposed to be probing 94 cases of ‘Love-Jihad’ in Kerala and has apparently found evidence to suggest that Hadiya and Shefin’s marriage is an instance of one.

The bogey of ‘Love-Jihad’ as a mode adopted by ‘terrorist’ groups has been raised from time to time by Hindu fundamentalist groups, and as the so-called ‘Love-Jihad’ case of Shalu and Kaleem in UP in 2014 showed, they put intense pressure on families of the persons involved and the state machinery to establish ‘Love-Jihad’. In that case an adult Hindu woman eloped with an adult Muslim man of her own accord. BJP supported Hindutva groups conspired with her parents to coerce her into announcing herself as a victim of ‘Love-Jihad.’ On escaping from her parents’ clutches, Shalu revealed that she was under great pressure to concoct this story, and that she had voluntarily eloped with Kaleem.

Given the complicity of the state machinery with such fundamentalist groups, the opacity and lack of accountability in the NIA’s functioning (its manner of gathering evidence or methods of investigation, nature and standard of proof that it adduces to establish facts), it could easily arrive at the pre-given conclusion of the existence of such a campaign, indicting some organisations in the process, with next to no conclusive evidence. The deeply patriarchal assumption that underlies the idea of ‘Love-Jihad’ is that adult women can be easily lured, misled or forced into marrying Muslim men, and thereafter becoming terrorists, that they do not know their own mind, and are incapable of choosing their own partners, and making key decisions in their life.

As Hadiya and Shefin await the Supreme Court’s hearing today on their fundamental democratic rights to equality and freedom of which they have been peculiarly deprived by law, Hadiya remains a detenue and she continues to face violence and pressure from her family and Hindu Fundamentalist groups. The fears being expressed by Hadiya about her safety in her own father’s custody reflects the irony behind the apparent concerns about the alleged terror marriages for similar women being sought to be raised. PUDR expresses grave apprehension about the ease with which Hadiya and Shefin in particular and citizens in general can be deprived of their basic democratic rights by unsubstantiated allegations of terrorism and ‘Love-Jihad’ through the agency of the judiciary and the NIA.

Anushka Singh, Cijo Joy

Secretaries, PUDR

30th October 2017

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Statement condemning the appropriation of women’s movement and muslim women’s voices by the BJP Government

We, as Bebaak Collective (Voices of the Fearless), are writing this statement univocally condemning  the comment made by the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in an event in Mumbai on Friday, 27th October that the party could win in Uttar Pradesh elections because Muslim women believed that it was BJP who could save them from ‘triple talaq’. (See, “Muslim women felt only BJP could save them from triple talaq says Swamy” Indian Express, 28th October) BJP leaders have time and again celebrated the victory of the recent judgement that invalidates the instantaneous practice of triple talaq and the leadership have often claimed the victory to itself, strategically pointing out the silence of the Congress government during the Shah Bano case.

The enormous media debate, after the judgement, underplayed the efforts of women’s movement and turned it into a game of political rivalry between BJP and Congress. In fact, BJP’s constant reference to the violent and gender discriminatory practice of triple talaq seems to feed into the imagination that the Muslim community is conservative and violent which also creates fractures within the community and legitimises the targeted violence of the men of the community in beef cases or in fabricated terror cases.

We strongly condemn the appropriation of the struggle of women’s groups and want to reiterate that triple talaq could be declared unconstitutional owing to the sustained work of women’s groups in the community and also, because of the legal intervention made by grass-roots women’s groups in the apex court supporting Shayara Bano’s petition who challenged the validity of unilateral triple talaq in the court. Bebaak Collective, which is a campaign group, and works with several other grassroots organisations across states, was one of the petitioners to intervene in the court supporting Shayara Bano.
On 22nd August 2017, the honourable Supreme Court of India adjudicated that instantaneous triple talaq will not be acknowledged by the law on a 3-2 majority in a five bench trial while maintaining the ethos of equality as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. This judgement is ‘historic’ in terms that it gives a legal acknowledgement to the demands of Muslim activists across the country and also occult the self-styled ‘authentic’ representatives of the community–All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).
However, in the aftermath of this judgement, there have been series of occasions where the standing government consciously tried to hijack the victory and misrepresent the events. It must be remembered that it was women’s groups who approached the court and not the current government who only filed an affidavit when directed by the court. However, the successive statements from BJP ministers congratulating Muslim women and projecting BJP as the sole messiah of the community has resulted into further polarization within the community and makes it appear as if the Muslim women’s leadership aligned with the right-wing government around this issue.
It appears that these stories before the Gujarat elections and assembly elections of 2019 will strengthen the image of the current government as a champion of women’s rights which will successively translate into winning election booths. We strongly resist this appropriation and unabashed manipulation of the Muslim community and especially the women.

On this occasion, we want to ask whether the government has made any real policy level intervention to better the social security of the Muslim community or even whether the government is bringing any schemes or policies to change the material realities of the Muslim women and girls in particular who seem to have evoked this government’s sudden empathy. While it must be remembered that as soon as this government came to power, it criminalized beef consumption and trading; there is an increasing number of cow vigilantes under the patronage of the government and other right-wing forces. Incidents of the killing of Muslims and Dalits on suspicion of beef possession are a much-reported reality while the perpetrators of the violence against Md. Akhlaque, Pehlu Khan, Junaid are roaming scot-free.

 Besides, where was this government when the incidents of mass rape in Gujarat massacre and Muzaffarnagar riots were being pushed below the carpet or orchestrated?  What has the government done to recuperate the lives of several Muslim families who were victims during Muzaffarnagar riots and those who migrated to neighbouring villages and towns? What did the government do when the hindutva strategies like Love Jihad were getting strengthened and anti-Romeo squads were functioning in the states like Uttar Pradesh? These protectionist agenda not only led to the social segregation between the majority and minority communities but also impacted the lives of Muslim women whose mobility was restricted further within the walls of their home.>Where is this verbose government when Najeeb from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi went missing? Why is it being silent partisan with the JNU administration in shielding the ABVP students when Fatima Nafees, as a Muslim woman and citizen of this county, is demanding justice for her disappeared son? We challenge this government to protect the rights of Muslims by ensuring that they implement Sachar Recommendations and they pass the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011.
Only if we see any progressive move in this direction could we believe that this government is in any way interested in safeguarding the rights of Muslim women. Otherwise, these statements and empathy remain hollow as the ruling dispensation has time and again demonstrated that Muslims are second class citizens of this country and prone to both systemic and vigilante attacks.
The government is now shamelessly trying to capitalise on the thirty-five years-long struggle of women’s movement, which stood by the Muslim community. This statement is a reiteration of strong voices of women activists within the Muslim community, an emergent leadership which cannot be squashed or appropriated by any forces. The current government which otherwise maintains a stoic silence on any incident of violence towards the community, should not try to strike any ‘emotional cord’ with the women of the community while claiming to be their messiah and yet consorting with the dream of ‘hindu rajya’. It must be remembered that this appropriation of the judgement will not only mar the complex questions of gender rights but also reduce the role of progressive political forces as redundant ideas and we must fight against this.
In solidarity
Bebaak Collective (Voices of the Fearless)
Bebaak Collective (Voices of the Fearless) is a campaign group primarily functioning from Mumbai and fighting against fundamentalism and repressive forces from an intersectional feminist perspective.

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UN Special Rapporteur: Healthcare among the most corrupt sectors

 

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Dainius Puras, has called on States to provide bold leadership to confront corruption and its severe impact on the right to health, including more protection for ‘whistleblowers’ and empowering the public to report corruption.

“In many countries, health is among the most corrupt sectors,” Mr. Puras told the UN General Assembly in New York, presenting his report on corruption. “This has significant implications for equality and non-discrimination, since it has a particularly marked impact on the health of populations in situations of vulnerability and social exclusion, in particular children and people living in poverty.”

Normalization

Mr. Puras said there were domestic and global root causes of corruption, including some related to the pharmaceutical industry and some of which resulted in “institutional corruption”. All had to be tackled through legal, policy and programming measures, he said.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that there is a “normalization” of corruption in healthcare, involving not just corruption that clearly breaks the law, but practices which undermine the principles of medical ethics, social justice, transparency and effective healthcare provision. “Three main characteristics make the health sector particularly vulnerable to corruption: power asymmetries and imbalance of information, uncertainty inherent in selecting, monitoring, measuring and delivering health-care services, and complexity of health systems,” he said.

Pharmaceutical industry

“I strongly encourage States to raise awareness among healthcare providers of unethical practices and situations of conflict of interest, while health system users should be empowered to report corrupt acts,” he said. For this, the population needs to be informed of its rights, educated to identify corrupt acts, and protected when they report. I also urge all relevant stakeholders to address, through legal, policy and other measures, corrupt practices taking place in all stage of the pharmaceutical value chain, including during research and development, manufacturing, registration, distribution, procurement and marketing of medicines.”

Source and more information: Press Release United Nations

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The challenge of rooting out Weinsteins from our workplace #Vaw

By Gurbir Singh  |

#Metoo campaign opened the flood gates. Twitter said the hashtag was shared a million times in 48 hours." src="http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2017/10/30/original/metoo.jpg" alt="" />

The #Metoo campaign opened the flood gates. Twitter said the hashtag was shared a million times in 48 hours.

A bit of the glad eye or some sexual play by the boss with his female employees was considered ‘normal’ a few decade ago. A complaint of sexual harassment was dismissed in 1989 by a US judge who ruled that a woman employee being made to fish for quarters in her boss’s pockets though unpleasant would not cause undue distress to any “reasonable woman”, the Economist noted.

In India, the workplace has been equally unfair to the victim.

This is a real incident from about 2 decades ago. A powerful HR boss of a very large media house had summoned his personal secretary for some ‘urgent’ office work on a Sunday. He picked up the unsuspecting lady in his car, but when she realised they were heading for a ‘picnic’, she had the car stopped and managed to sneak out. When she mentioned the incident to her women colleagues in the office, a senior lady drew up a complaint petition asking for action against the HR chief. Result: Both the victim and the lead petitioner were sacked.

The Harvey Weinstein case, where the former founder of Hollywood’s Miramax Studios was named by several female actors for sexually assaulting and raping them shows how prevalent it is of men in power, sexually preying on vulnerable women, despite all the talk of gender equality.

The #Metoo campaign opened the flood gates. Twitter said the hashtag was shared a million times in 48 hours.

SAAI

Second, the Weinstein case has proved once again that it is the workplace where women are most vulnerable against powerful men who demand sex in some way in return for favours; or maybe just to keep their job and not face work harassment.

Vulnerable workplaces
In most cases, the perpetrator gets away scot free, and even if indicted, worms his way into the top echelons of another company. Phaneesh Murthy, the top Infosys executive who was fired in the US in 2002 for two cases of sexual harassment, cost the company $3 million in settlements. That didn’t stop him getting a plum job at iGate where he was again sacked a second time in 2013 for sexual harassment.

There are quite a number of Weinsteins in India’s corporate corridors too: the celebrated ‘solar lantern man’ R.K Pachauri of Teri; Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka; and start-up TVF founder Arunabh Kumar. The list of those who got away pretty lightly is quite long. We only see the tip of the problem as women employees recoil from making complaints perceiving that complaining would result in further harassment and even dismissal.

A survey carried out earlier this year by the Indian Bar Association of over 6,000 respondents showed that 70 percent of the women said they did not report sexual harassment by superiors because they feared they would be punished further.

The law is not weak. The Supreme Court in 1997 created the Visakha Guidelines, which is central to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act passed by Parliament in 2013. These define sexual harassment exhaustively and call upon employers to display communication informing of stiff penal consequences of sexual harassment. Employers are also called upon to treat cases of sexual harassment as misconduct under service rules; and the setting up of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) is mandatory and failure to do so attracts stiff monetary fines.

But the Visakha guidelines earlier, and the anti-sexual harassment Act since 2013, have been observed more in the breach by even very large companies as the Act provides very little policing mechanism. Imposition of huge fines is a strong punitive deterrent, and India can well learn from the US example.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) for instance recovered $165 million in a single year in 2015 through lawsuits filed on sexual harassment charges. Ford alone paid up $10 million recently on account of misconduct charges in two Chicago plants.

Gender revolution needed 
But workplace harassment cannot be solved by policing alone from outside. It will need a workplace cultural revolution which does not see the problem just as an ethical issue. Companies have to realize that a safe working environment works wonders for productivity. On the other hand, an atmosphere of fear and the shielding of sexual predators are bound to create demoralisation and ultimately impact targets negatively. A corporate culture that makes it loud and clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated regardless of rank is half the battle won.Ultimately then, word has to be got across that women hold up half of heaven.

#Metoo 
The #MeToo hashtag  spread virally on social media in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein Twitter said the hashtag was shared a million times in 48 hours

Indian Express

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