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Archives for : October2017

Dalit VC removed from university for ‘inviting’ Ambedkar’s grandson, Cong leader to seminar #WTFnews

File photo of RS Kureel

RS Kureel says he was not even aware that a seminar on ‘constitutionalism, democracy and challenges’ was taking place

Distinguished agricultural scientist and Vice-Chancellor of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar University of Social Sciences (BRAUSS), Indore, RS Kureel has been removed from his post for allegedly inviting Congress leader Mohan Prakash and grandson of Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Prakash Ambedkar, for a seminar on reservation in the university.

It is believed that a protest organised by right wing activists in the campus following the seminar has triggered his ouster from the university. A researcher of the university told National Herald on the condition of anonymity that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government was under pressure. “RSS and other wing organisations had run a campaign against Kureel,” said the researcher.

Kureel, who comes from a Dalit family, confirmed his removal but denied the allegation of political involvement in the same breath. He also denied inviting Congress leader Mohan Prakash to the campus.

Talking to National Herald, he said that he does not have any ‘complaint’ against the BJP government. However, he said, “I could not understand the reason. I was not even in the know of the seminar. Professor Naik had invited Prakash Ambedkar,” he said.

Kureel has been asked to join Ministry of Agriculture in Delhi as Director. “Order of my joining would be issued very soon,” he informed.

Though Kureel insisted that his removal must not be seen in the light of political vendetta, his colleagues in Indore presented a different version.

Dean, School of Dr. Ambedkar’s Thoughts & Philosophy, CD Naik accepted that he had invited Prakash Ambedkar to speak on “constitutionalism, democracy and challenges” in the university but it was done “after consultation with the welcome committee.”

“Congress leader Mohan Prakash has joined the seminar by his own. Since he was in town with Prakash Ambedkar, he attended the discussion. Protest by a handful right wing activists was used as a pretext to remove the VC,” he added.

When contacted, Congress leader Mohan Prakash blasted the BJP government, saying, “Have I committed any sin by joining the discussion?”

A known RSS man and the Governor of Madhya Pradesh and Chancellor of universities in the state, OP Kohli, issued notification of the removal on September 18.

Immediate after removal of Kureel, Additional Chief Secretary (Government of Madhya Pradesh), B R Naidu, also “an RSS man”, was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the university.

Prakash Ambedkar said that Kureel paid price for his popularity and pro-reservation stand.

“He used to meet students on a regular basis. He made university a place of debate and discussion on burning questions of the society such as reservation and casteism. His pro-reservation stance perhaps angered the BJP government most,” said Prakash Ambedkar from Mumbai.

“You can see a pattern all over India where Dalits are being targeted, they are facing mob lynching. If this continues to happen, BJP will be thrown out of the power,” he said.

Dr BR Ambedkar University of Social Sciences was established in 2016 by the Government of Madhya Pradesh under the BR Ambedkar University of Social Sciences Act, 2015.

According to the information available on the website of the university, BRAUSS is the first University of Social Sciences in the country established at the birth place of Ambedkar with the purpose to promote “educational excellence & skill development of SC/ST and OBCs and to enlarge their participation in decision making and nation building.”

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/national/dalit-vc-removed-for-inviting-ambedkars-grandson-congress-leader-to-seminar

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Maharashtra – 40 farmers dead, 2000 hospitalised: Task force chief calls it ‘pesticide genocide’


From The Indian ExpressAccording to Kishor Tiwari, chief of a Maharashtra government task force for the welfare of farmers,  more than 40 farmers had died and at least 2,000 more hospitalised from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha and Marathwada. He has termed the deaths of farmers from pesticide inhalation as “genocide committed by the state”. 

Deaths of farmers from pesticide genocide by state,’ says farmer welfare task force chief; seeks criminal action.

Vivek Deshpande, The Indian Express

Kishor Tiwari, the chief of the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission, a state government task force set up for the welfare of farmers, has termed the deaths of farmers from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha as “genocide committed by the state” and sought criminal action against the manufacturers as well as “corrupt government officials hand in glove with them”.

Addressing a press conference here Monday, Tiwari claimed more than 40 farmers had died and at least 2,000 more hospitalised from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha and Marathwada.

“This is genocide committed by the state. The pesticide-manufacturing companies and government officials operating in complete violation of the Insecticides Act are responsible for it,” he alleged. He sought “criminal action against them”.

Tiwari alleged the pesticide business in the country was controlled by three multinational companies, their agents in India and government officials. He demanded that chemical farming should be completely stopped and organic farming promoted “in the manner in which it is being done in Sikkim”.

He rubbished claims that factors like extra height gained by the cotton crop, excessive heat and new spray pumps were responsible for the deaths. “It’s wrong government policies and the rot in the system that are responsible for the deaths,” he said.

Tiwari also raised the issue of illegal Roundup Bt cotton allegedly being “stealthily brought in from Gujarat”. “This has come up on 10 lakh hectares and pests affecting it, atmospheric changes, excessive use of atropine to treat the affected persons are some of the contributing factors for the deaths,” he said.

Tiwari has sent a report to the government and made some recommendations. Asked if he would resign as declared earlier in case the state government doesn’t listen to his pleas, Tiwari said, “We have a chief minister from Vidarbha and he is a good CM. He listens to us. What will we do if we have someone from west Maharashtra returning as CM?”

His recommendations:

  • Immediate ban on chemical farming; Rs 25,000 per hectare grant to farmers for five years for natural farming
  •  Government purchase of entire “poison-less” produce
  • Immediate ban on foreign varieties of cotton
  • 100% supply of desi cottonseeds by state agriculture universities, research centres and Mahabeej
  • Herbal and cow urine-based insecticides
  • Marketing system and credit supply for sale of poison-less food at village level
  • A separate police-administration machinery to prevent exploitation of farmers by those selling seeds, chemicals and plant-growth controllers

 

 

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SC shocked over non-release of undertrials  

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed shock over non-release of a large number of undertrial prisoners languishing in Indian prisons in complete violation of fundamental right to protection of life and personal liberty and asked several states to explain.
A division bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta expressed concern as to why undertrials were not released by the states despite the apex court’s earlier direction to release them, or even after bail to them or completion of their sentences.
According to the recommendations made in a report filed by the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) in the court, none of the undertrials who should have been granted bail and released on the basis of illness and mental ill-health have been released.
The bench asked Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh to file affidavits on the number undertrial prisoners, category-wise, languishing in their prisons and why they were not released.
“We will be compelled to seek the personal presence of Chief Secretaries of these three states if the affidavits are not filed by October 26,” said the bench while posting the matter for October 31.
The court referred the NALSA report to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and asked: “What action the government of India is taking? We have issued necessary direction for the release. It seems the Centre is not taking any steps.”
“It is a shocking state of affair,” it added.
The Attorney General told the bench that the Centre has been issuing advisories to the states from time to time to release such persons but they were not doing so.
“We (Centre) can only issue an advisory; we have no power under the Constitution to issue directions to the states. It is for the Supreme Court to direct the states to release the undertrial prisoners, as recommended by the undertrial committee of NALSA,” he added.
To this, the bench said: “Your submission is very strange. If you think your advisory is not being implemented, then stop issuing any advisory because they are being ignored by the states.
“This is not the way the Centre should behave. When people are languishing in jail and their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution are being violated, you say the Centre will do nothing.”
Venugopal said the court should summon the state Chief Secretaries and call for reports to indicate why undertrials were not released despite recommendations.
The bench is hearing a 2013 public interest litigation on inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.
Amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal asked the state government what steps they were taking regarding overcrowding in jails, strengthening and training of prison staff, deaths of jail inmates, and legal aid to prisoners.

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Folk Singer Amad Khan Killed in Rajasthan For Sub-Standard Performance, Muslims Flee Village #WTFnews

rajasthan muslim folk singer

JAIPUR: Caste and religion both worked against Amad Khan in village Dantal in Jaisalmer district a few days ago when he was unable to satisfy a village faith healer Ramesh Suthar with the quality of a raag he was asked to sing on Navratri. He was beaten on the spot, and allegedly later at night picked up from his house and killed.

At least 20 families fled their village, terrorised and in fear of their lives, after this incident that has barely been reported in the media. Local newspapers carried some details but in the mainstream media the horrific incident did not even make it to the front pages. Television channels of course did not bother covering the attack.

Rajasthan has been home to some of the most gruesome incidents in recent months. Amad Khan, from a folk community Langar Maganiyaar, would sing during Navratri at the local village temple. This time around he was doing the same when Suthar reportedly asked him to sing a specific raga so that the spirit of the goddess of the temple entered his body. Sutha, according to the locals, would ‘cure’ local problems, getting his authority from the spirit of the goddess as it were.

But this time the goddess eluded Suthar, and he blamed Khan for not singing properly. He assaulted the singer, broke his musical instruments. And at night Khan was reportedly abducted from his residence, with his body being thrown outside the house later. Local reporters said that Khan’s family received threats later and warned against going to the police. His brother told local reporters that they were terrified and so buried his body quietly.

However, a few days later they mustered the courage with the support of relatives and others who visited them to register a complaint with the police. But after this the threats took real shape and at least 20 terrified families of about 200 persons left the village, Suge Khan was reported as having said.

The Dantal village sarpanch, according to the Hindustan Times claimed that Khan had died of a cardiac arrest, and that the Muslims had left the village in anger when the locals did not accompany them to the police station. The police, however, confirmed that he had died of physical assault. Jaisalmer superintendent of police SP Gaurav Yadav has been quoted as saying, “We have assured them of protection if they want to return…We have also spoken to village elders and told them that cases would be lodged if they threaten the Muslims.” Yadav added.

However, caste seems to have played a major part in this violence. PUCL activist Kavita Srivastava told The Citizen that since “Amad Khan a Manganiya broke the code and went against the bhopa, all the communities came together against the Manganiyar in this Rajpur dominated village.” She said that Suthars are OBC’s, relatively few in number and so have the support of the Rajputs here.

Srivastava said that the “anger and consolidation of the other communities against the Manganiyars for having taken police recourse, led to the exodus. The day the body was exhumed nobody even gave them water for washing and prayers. Which is when they all left. And stayed in a close by place called Balad in the open, where they have relatives. The fear was such that they left their horse behind and did not have the courage to bring it to them. Finally the police brought the horse.”

The police have arrested Suthar but two of his accomplices charged with abducting and killing Khan are still at large. The families are too scared to return to the village, Srivastava said adding that they will probably work in the city as labour and somehow survive.

According to Kavita Srivastava, the Muslim angle in this incident is not dominant. Khan and the other families who have fled are “ untouchable Muslim dholis” There are Hindu dholis as well, she said, suffering from the same caste discrimination. “ If there was the caste / religion angle then the manganiyars in the first place would not be singing parcha and devi raag in the temple, during navratri, which is a normal feature,” she added.

The upper caste consolidation against them was because they were not submissive and challenged caste and religious authority, Srivastava said.

http://www.thecitizen.in/

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A Look At Recent Responses To Investigative Journalism In India  

In Light Of Jay Shah’s Decision To Sue The Wire

By SAGAR | 

On 8 October, the news website The Wire published a report on the financial growth of Temple Enterprise Private Limited, a company owned by Jay Shah, the son of the national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Shah. The report stated that, according to its filings with the registrar of companies, the turnover of Jay’s company “increased 16,000 times over in the year following the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and the elevation of his father to the post of party president.”

Citing the balance sheets and annual reports that it had filed with the RoC, the report noted that Temple Enterprise is described to have engaged in wholesale trade, and that over 95 percent of its revenues “come from the sale of agricultural products.” Further, it said, Shah’s company “engaged in negligible activity” and recorded losses of Rs 6,230 and Rs 1,724 in the financial years ending in 2013 and 2014 respectively. “In 2014-15, it showed a profit of Rs 18,728 on revenues of only Rs 50,000,” the report added. “However, in 2015-16, the firm’s revenues jumped to over Rs 80.5 crore, a growth of 16 lakh percent.” According to the filings, the report noted, in October 2016, Jay Shah’s company “suddenly stopped its business activities altogether, declaring, in its director’s report, that Temple’s net worth had ‘fully eroded’ because of the loss it posted that year of Rs 1.4 crore and its losses over earlier years.”

In addition to those of Temple Enterprise, The Wire report included details of the filings of Kusum Finserve, a limited liability partnership “incorporated in July 2015 with Jay Shah owning a 60% stake in it.” According to the report, the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), a public sector unit functioning under the ministry of new and renewable energy, granted Kusum Finserve a loan of Rs 10.35 crore, to set up a wind-energy plant in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh. At the time the loan was granted, Piyush Goyal, now the union minister for railways and coal, held the post of the minister of state (independent charge) for power, and was also minister of state (independent charge) for new and renewable energy.

report published in National Herald—often said to be the mouthpiece of the Congress party— noted that according to the norms listed on the IREDA’s website, it can sanction loans to wind-farm projects with generational capacities of upto 1 Megawatt. Shah’s company proposed a 2.1 MW plant, the report stated. Such loans can, the IREDA website states, be given for a maximum of 70 percent of the eligible machine cost for the project. In India, the cost of installing a 1 MW wind farm typically lies between roughly Rs 4 and 7 crore. The National Herald reported noted that, even for the costliest plant, adhering to its own 70-percent cap, the maximum loan the IREDA could grant would be approximately Rs 4.9 crore. Shah’s company received nearly twice that amount.

The Wire’s report noted that in response to its queries, Jay’s lawyer Manik Dogra, speaking on his behalf, said that Jay was a “private citizen” doing “legitimate business.” Dogra added: “If you or anyone in the print, electronic or digital media carries and/or broadcasts any defamatory and/or false imputations including those which breach his fundamental right of privacy and/or defame him, Jay Shah reserves the right to prosecute and sue such person/entity.”

The report resulted in an uproar on social media. The story was shared widely, and the hashtag “AmitShahKiLoot” began to trend on Twitter. Many Twitter users also began to criticise Rohini Singh, the author of the story. (Previously employed with the publication Economic Times, in 2011, Singh broke the news of the businessman Robert Vadra’s dealings with the real-estate giant DLF.) Amit Malviya, the chief of the BJP’s IT cell, tweeted: “Discredited journalist who was plugging for a political party in UP, now a prized possession of another rag!” Malviya and several prominent supporters of the ruling party began employing the hashtag “LiesAgainstShah.” While one Twitter user termed Singh an “absolute illiterate,” others named her an “idiot,” a “Congressi,” and termed her journalism “fake news.”

Later in the day, Goyal, the cabinet minister, called a press conference to discuss Singh’s report. He said that the article contained “absolutely no substance,” and that it was “derogatory, defamatory, hallowed and baseless.” Claiming that Jay ran a “fully legitimate business,” Goyal said that the businessman “has decided to file criminal defamation suit against the author, editors and the owners of The Wire. They shall be prosecuted for criminal defamation and sued for an amount of Rs 100 crore in the Ahmedabad court.”

Goyal’s words were echoed in a public statement by Jay, in which he confirmed that he was suing Singh and The Wire. “The article makes false, derogatory and defamatory imputation against me by creating in the minds of right-thinking people an impression that my business owes its ‘success’ to my father Shri Amitbhai Shah’s political position,” Jay wrote.

It is unclear why Goyal, a cabinet minister, came to Jay’s defense, but he was not the only government official in the businessman’s corner. Tushar Mehta, the additional solicitor to the central government, told NDTV that he was likely to represent Jay in the matter. “I have taken permission from the Law Ministry on 6th October for this issue. I am being consulted in this case. I may even appear for the case in court,” Mehta reportedly said.

Jay Shah is certainly not the first businessman to decide to register a lawsuit against a journalist or a publication that investigated the workings of his enterprise. He is one in a growing list of business owners and corporations in India who have responded to critical investigative journalism with legal action.

In July, the senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta resigned from his post as the editor of the Economic and Political Weekly following a legal notice served by the Adani Group, whose owner Gautam Adani is understood to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The legal notice concerned a June article by Guha Thakurta, in which the editor, along with three others, examined whether the conglomerate received an undue refund of over Rs 500 crore from the finance ministry under the Modi government. The notice asked for the article to be taken down. In a meeting with Guha Thakurta, the board members of the Sameeksha Trust, the organisation that runs the journal, asked the editor to comply with the notice. (Guha Thakurta’s article was republished by The Wire, and is available on its website.)

Earlier this year, in March 2017, the member of parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who heads the financial services company Jupiter Capital, and who is the vice president of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in Kerala, obtained an ex-parte injunction against two articles published in The Wire. The first article, written by the journalist Sandeep Bhushan, expressed concerns regarding Chandrasekhar’s investment in the TV channel Republic, and questioned whether the channel’s news coverage would be impacted by the investor’s political stances. The second, written by Sachin Rao, who is said to be close to Rahul Gandhi, discussed whether Chandrasekhar’s position on the standing committee on defence in the Rajya Sabha constituted a conflict of interest, as Jupiter Capital has assets in the defence sector. Chandrasekhar filed a civil defamation suit against the publication, as a part of which he obtained the injunction.

The publication was recently sued by the Essel group for defamation as well, after it ran a story regarding a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. In the report, the central agency had published findings regarding gross irregularities in the state-run lottery in Mizoram, to the tune of Rs 11,000 crore. The CAG had named two companies under the Essel group in its report, in addition to state agencies. After the Gauhati High Court stayed the case in early October, the Essel group withdrew it.

Other similar examples abound—in early August, a district court in Delhi granted an ex-parte injunction against the book Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev. In it, the investigative journalist Priyanka Pathak-Narain had detailed Ramdev’s rise from a yoga guru in Haridwar to the founding head of India’s second largest FMCG group, Patanjali. In December 2016, Jet Airways and its founder-chairman Naresh Goyal filed two defamation lawsuits against the journalist Josy Joseph, seeking Rs 1,000 crore in damages. The lawsuit was in response to details contained in Joseph’s book A Feast for Vultures. Joseph reported that in 2001, the chief of the Intelligence Bureau, KP Singh, and its joint director Anjan Ghosh wrote to the home ministry stating that the agency had “confirmed information” of contact between Naresh and the underworld bosses Chhota Shakeel and Dawood Ibrahim.

This publication too, has seen legal action against it. In mid 2015, The Caravan published a series of investigative stories on the functioning of the Essar conglomerate, including an in-depth cover storyregarding its influence among prominent politicians and bureaucrats. In August that year, the Essar Group filed a defamation lawsuit against The Caravan, its editors, its owner Delhi Press, and Krishn Kaushik, who reported the story. The group filed the suit in a city civil court in Ahmedabad, and sued for Rs 250 crore in damages.

Beyond the threat of lawsuits by businessmen and industrialists, another spectre looms over media houses in India—of likely politically motivated action by government and law-enforcement agencies against journalists, especially those critical of the ruling establishment. In June this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation raided the residences and offices of Radhika and Prannoy Roy, the promoters of the news channel NDTV, in connection with a complaint regarding alleged financial impropriety in the channel’s dealings with ICICI Bank. The properties were raided soon after NDTV’s executive editor and anchor Nidhi Razdan got into an on-air verbal spat with the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, who accused the channel of having a politically motivated “agenda” on the subject of cow slaughter. Razdan had asked Patra to either apologise or leave the show.

Many in the media fraternity and among civil society saw the NDTV raids as more than coincidental. The Editors Guild of India expressed concern over the raid, stating that the “entry of police and other agencies into the media offices is a serious matter.” “For the BJP’s sympathisers and NDTV’s detractors, it is convenient to defend the raids as falling within the letter of CBI procedure and due legal process,” Anant Nath, the editor of this publication, wrote in the magazine’s July issue. But, Nath added, recent precedents in countries such as Turkey and Russia—both of which are under stridently nationalist governments, and have seen a devolution of press freedom—“remind us that India’s proponents of democracy still have every cause to be alarmed.”

International journalists investigating Indian companies do not appear any more immune. Earlier this month, the Australian TV channel Four Corners uploaded a documentary to its website. Titled “Digging Into Adani,” the film looks into the workings of the Adani group, which is set to build Australia’s largest coal mine and will likely receive a loan of 1 billion Australian dollars from its government’s funds. In a note on its website, the channel described the difficulties its reporters faced in India: “While attempting to film and gather information about Adani’s operations, the Four Corners team had their cameras shut down, their footage deleted and were questioned for hours by police.” In a promotional video for the documentary, the reporter Stephen Long stated that the officials from the crime branch in Gujarat visited him at his hotel within his day of his arrival at Mundra port, and that the Four Corners team left Mundra in the middle of the night. “It was obvious they [the police] knew why we were there,” Long said in the promotional video. “But everybody was avoiding the A-word: Adani.” They were “left in no doubt that their investigations into the Indian company triggered the police action,” the note added.

In August 2016, Outlook magazine published a cover story titled “Operation BabyLift,” in which the journalist Neha Dixit reported on the trafficking of 31 tribal girls out of Assam, by organisations affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological parent. Following the story’s publication, SC Koyal, the assistant solicitor general of the government of India at the Gauhati High Court, along with Bijon Mahajan, a spokesperson of the BJP, registered a police complaint against Dixit and Outlook for “inciting communal hatred.” The complaint reportedly quoted only one line from Dixit’s piece. “Threats against journalists may be an occupational hazard but what we are seeing today is a more serious attempt to shoot the messenger,” Krishna Prasad, the former editor of Outlooktold the media website The Hoot. (Soon after the story was released, Prasad was removed from his position at the magazine.)

On 9 October, Siddharth Vardarajan, the founding editor of The Wire, posted a picture on his Twitter account. It was an image of the first page of the criminal complaint filed by Jay Shah against the publication and its editors. “The Wire won’t be intimidated by Modi govt’s attack on media freedom,” Varadarajan wrote. The publication “will fight this baseless defamation case,” he told me.

It is to be noted that India has slipped three places down on the World Press Freedom Index this year. It is now ranked 136, behind countries such as Palestine, Afghanistan, Uganda, Chad, Kuwait, the UAE and Burma. In an editorial published two days after the raids on NDTV’s promoters, the New York Times expressed concern that the state of the Indian media had worsened since the BJP government’s rise to power. “Since Mr Modi took office in 2014, journalists have faced increasing pressures. They risk their careers—or lives—to report news that is critical of the government or delves into matters that powerful politicians and business interests do not want exposed,” the editorial said. “News outlets that run afoul of the government can lose access to officials. The temptation to self-censor has grown, and news reports are increasingly marked by a shrill nationalism that toes the government line.” As the alarm bells over the threats to press freedom in India reverberate across the world, one hopes that they will not fall on deaf ears.

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India – Sex With Wife Below 18 Is Rape, Says Supreme Court #Vaw #Goodnews

 

Sex With Wife Below 18 Is Rape, Says Supreme Court
Under the Indian Penal Code or IPC, a man having sex with a girl below 18 – with or without her consent – is defined as a crime. However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and not below 15.
All India | Reported by A Vaidyanathan, Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh | Updated: October 11, 2017 11:37 IST

‘If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18, it’s an offence’: Supreme Court

 

Exception to Section 375 (rape) of the IPC, allowed a husband to have sexual relationship with his 15-year-old wife.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that a man will be punished for rape if he is found to be guilty of havIng sexual intercourse with his minor wife.

A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta read down exception 2 to Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code.

The exception clause to the heinous offence of rape allows a man to have sex with his wife who is not aged below 15.

Verdict ends disparity

With this verdict, the apex court has ended the disparity between this exception to Section 375 (rape) of the IPC, which allows a husband to have sexual relationship with his 15-year-old wife, and the definition of ‘child’ in recent laws such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which includes any person below the age of 18.

The verdict also ends tacit allowance the exception clause in the IPC provided to child marriages, which was declared illegal and is a punishable offence, though a social reality especially in rural parts of the country.

ALSO READ

 The court had agreed with NGO Independent Thought, which filed the petition challenging the exception, on how when sexual intercourse with a minor aged below 18 with or without her consent amounts to rape under IPC, it is not so once she is married.

The NGO had argued that the exception was a violation of the fundamental right to life and equality of minors.

The judgment, though the Bench had said time and again that it did not want to delve into the issue of marital rape, now inevitably opens a window for a law on marital rape.

The Supreme Court had questioned the reason for the Parliament to create an exception in the penal law declaring that sexual intercourse by a man with his minor wife is not rape.

The apex court had asked the reason behind such an exception in the Indian Penal Code when the age of consent was 18 years for “all purposes”.

“We do not want to go into the aspect of marital rape. That is for Parliament to see if they want to increase or decrease the age of consent. But once the Parliament decided that we have fixed 18 years as the age of consent, can they carve out an exception like this,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had asked the Centre during the hearings.

“When you (government) recognise the age of consent to be 18 years for all purposes, then why this exception,” it had asked.

The government counsel had defended the exemption as something the Parliament had given due thought and consideration about.

During the hearing, the bench had referred to the aspect of child marriage and said that despite there being a law which held it illegal, the practice was still going on.

“Whether or not it (child marriage) is a social reality, for 70 years we have not been able to remove it,” the Bench had observed.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sex-with-minor-wife-is-rape-says-supreme-court/article19838085.ece

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Hollywood – Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Others Say Weinstein Sexually Harassed Them #Vaw

 

When Gwyneth Paltrow was 22 years old, she got a role that would take her from actress to star: The film producer Harvey Weinstein hired her for the lead in the Jane Austen adaptation “Emma.” Before shooting began, he summoned her to his suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for a work meeting that began uneventfully.

It ended with Mr. Weinstein placing his hands on her and suggesting they head to the bedroom for massages, she said.

“I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,” she said in an interview, publicly disclosing that she was sexually harassed by the man who ignited her career and later helped her win an Academy Award.

She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.

Rosanna Arquette, a star of “Pulp Fiction,” has a similar account of Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, as does Judith Godrèche, a leading French actress. So does Angelina Jolie, who said that during the release of “Playing by Heart” in the late 1990s, he made unwanted advances on her in a hotel room, which she rejected.

Photo

Angelina Jolie said that in the late 1990s, she rejected Mr. Weinstein’s unwanted advances in a hotel room.CreditStefan Rousseau — WPA Pool/Getty Images

“I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did,” Ms. Jolie said in an email. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”

A New York Times investigation last week chronicled a hidden history of sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Weinstein and settlements he paid, often involving former employees, over three decades up to 2015. By Sunday evening, his entertainment company fired him.

On Tuesday, The New Yorker published a report that included multiple allegations of sexual assault, including forced oral and vaginal sex. The article also included accounts of sexual harassment going back to the 1990s, with women describing how intimidating Mr. Weinstein was.

Several days ago, additional actresses began sharing with The Times on-the-record stories of casting-couch abuses. Their accounts hint at the sweep of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged harassment, targeting women on the way to stardom, those who had barely acted and others in between. Fantasies that the public eagerly watched onscreen, the women recounted, sometimes masked the dark experiences of those performing in them.

The encounters they recalled followed a similar narrative: First, they said, Mr. Weinstein lured them to a private place to discuss films, scripts or even Oscar campaigns. Then, the women contend, he variously tried to initiate massages, touched them inappropriately, took off his clothes or offered them explicit work-for-sex deals.

In a statement on Tuesday, his spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, said: “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. He will not be available for further comments, as he is taking the time to focus on his family, on getting counseling and rebuilding his life.”

Even in an industry in which sexual harassment has long persisted, Mr. Weinstein stands out, according to the actresses and current and former employees of the film companies he ran, Miramax and the Weinstein Company. He had an elaborate system reliant on the cooperation of others: Assistants often booked the meetings, arranged the hotel rooms and sometimes even delivered the talent, then disappeared, the actresses and employees recounted. They described how some of Mr. Weinstein’s executives and assistants then found them agents and jobs or hushed actresses who were upset.

His alleged behavior became something of a Hollywood open secret: When the comedian Seth MacFarlane announced Oscar nominees in 2013, he joked, “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” The audience laughed. According to a 2015 memo by a former Weinstein Company executive that The Times previously disclosed, the misconduct continued.

More established actresses were fearful of speaking out because they had work; less established ones were scared because they did not. “This is Harvey Weinstein,” Katherine Kendall, who appeared in the film “Swingers” and television roles, remembers telling herself after an encounter in which she said Mr. Weinstein undressed and chased her around a living room. Telling others meant “I’ll never work again and no one is going to care or believe me,” she reasoned at the time, she said in a recent interview.

Ms. Paltrow, 45, is now an entrepreneur, no longer dependent on securing her next acting role. But she emphasized how much more vulnerable she felt at 22, when Mr. Weinstein had just signed her up for a star-making part. On a trip to Los Angeles, she received a schedule from her agents for the hotel meeting with Mr. Weinstein.

There was no reason to suspect anything untoward, because “it’s on the fax, it’s from C.A.A.,” she said, referring to Creative Artists Agency, which represented her.

When Mr. Weinstein tried to massage her and invited her into the bedroom, she immediately left, she said, and remembers feeling stunned as she drove away. “I thought you were my Uncle Harvey,” she recalled thinking, explaining that she had seen him as a mentor.

After she told Mr. Pitt about the episode, he approached Mr. Weinstein at a theater premiere and told him never to touch Ms. Paltrow again. Mr. Pitt confirmed the account to The Times through a representative.

Soon after, Mr. Weinstein called Ms. Paltrow and berated her for discussing the episode, she said. (She said she also told a few friends, family members and her agent.) “He screamed at me for a long time,” she said, once again fearing she could lose the role in “Emma.” “It was brutal.” But she stood her ground, she said, and insisted that he put the relationship back on professional footing.

Even as Ms. Paltrow became known as the “first lady of Miramax” and won an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999, very few people knew about Mr. Weinstein’s advances. “I was expected to keep the secret,” she said.

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In 1999, Ms. Paltrow won an Oscar for her role in “Shakespeare in Love,” a film produced by Mr. Weinstein, center. CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

Like several of the other women interviewed for this article, she felt she had to suppress the experience. She praised Mr. Weinstein publicly, posed for pictures with him and played the glowing star to his powerful producer. Yet their work relationship grew rockier over the years, she said, and she distanced herself. “He was alternately generous and supportive and championing, and punitive and bullying,” she said.

Now, with the process of tallying the size and scope of Mr. Weinstein’s abuse allegations underway, Ms. Paltrow and others said they wanted to support women who had already come forward and help those in similar situations feel less alone.

“We’re at a point in time when women need to send a clear message that this is over,” Ms. Paltrow said. “This way of treating women ends now.”

Tomi-Ann Roberts

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Tomi-Ann Roberts, now a psychology professor, said Mr. Weinstein harassed her in 1984, when she was an aspiring actress. Today she researches sexual objectification, an interest she traces back in part to that encounter. CreditMark Reis for The New York Times

In 1984, when Tomi-Ann Roberts was a 20-year-old college junior, she waited tables in New York one summer and hoped to start an acting career. Mr. Weinstein, one of her customers, urged her to audition for a movie that he and his brother were planning to direct. He sent scripts, then asked her to meet him where he was staying so they could discuss the film, she said in an email and a telephone interview.

When she arrived, he was nude in the bathtub, she recalled. He told her that she would give a much better audition if she were comfortable “getting naked in front of him,” too, because the character she might play would have a topless scene.

If she could not bare her breasts in private, she would not be able to do it on film, Ms. Roberts recalled Mr. Weinstein saying. (Asta Roberts, her mother, said in an interview that Ms. Roberts told her the story shortly after the episode.)

Ms. Roberts remembers apologizing on the way out, telling Mr. Weinstein that she was too prudish to go along. Later, she felt that he had manipulated her by feigning professional interest in her, and she doubted that she had ever been under serious consideration. “I was nobody! How had I ever thought otherwise?” she asked.

Today she is a psychology professor at Colorado College, researching sexual objectification, an interest she traces back in part to that long-ago encounter. She said that over the years she had had trouble watching Mr. Weinstein’s films. With a new release, “I would always ask, is it a Miramax movie? ”

Rosanna Arquette

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In the early 1990s, Mr. Weinstein asked Rosanna Arquette to stop by a hotel in Beverly Hills to pick up a script. “I’m not that girl,” she remembers telling him after he asked her for a massage.CreditMaarten de Boer/Getty Images

In the early 1990s, Mr. Weinstein asked Rosanna Arquette to stop by the Beverly Hills Hotel to pick up a script for a role.

Born into a family of actors, Ms. Arquette had already starred in a hit film, “Desperately Seeking Susan,” and “New York Stories,” and would go on to perform in films including “Crash” and television shows ranging from “Ray Donovan” to “Girls.” (Her account also appeared in The New Yorker.)

At the reception desk, she was told to head upstairs, which she found odd.

Mr. Weinstein was in a white bathrobe, complaining of neck pain and asking for a massage, according to Ms. Arquette and Maria Smith, a friend she told soon afterward. Ms. Arquette said she tried to recommend a professional masseuse, but Mr. Weinstein grabbed her hand and pulled it toward his crotch. She immediately drew away, she said.

He boasted about the famous actresses he had supposedly slept with — a common element of his come-on, according to several other women who had encounters with Mr. Weinstein. “Rosanna, you’re making a big mistake,” he responded, she said.

She refused. “I’m not that girl,” she recalled telling him on the way out. “I will never be that girl.”

The part went to someone else, and Mr. Weinstein’s representative pointed out that he did not produce the movie. Later, Ms. Arquette was in the Miramax film “Pulp Fiction” but said she avoided Mr. Weinstein.

Katherine Kendall

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The actress Katherine Kendall said that Mr. Weinstein harassed her in his apartment in 1993. “He literally chased me,” she said. “He wouldn’t let me pass him to get to the door.” CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times

“Welcome to the Miramax family,” Mr. Weinstein told Katherine Kendall in 1993, she said. She was 23, and about that time he was selling his small movie company to Disney, which supplied the cash that would turn it into a cultural force.

After a meeting set up by her agent, he gave her scripts, including for the film “Beautiful Girls,” and invited her to a screening, which turned out to be a solo trip with Mr. Weinstein to a cinema near Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Afterward, he asked if they could swing by his apartment to pick something up.

Ms. Kendall said she was nervous, but it was daytime, and she relaxed when she saw pictures of his wife on the wall. “He’s keeping it professional, he makes me a drink, we talk about movies and art and books for about an hour,” she recalled. “I thought: He’s taking me seriously.”

He went to the bathroom, came back in a robe and asked her to give him a massage, she said. “Everybody does it,” he said, according to Ms. Kendall, and mentioned a famous model’s name. She refused; he left the room, and returned nude, she said.

“He literally chased me,” she said. “He wouldn’t let me pass him to get to the door.”

Ms. Kendall said his advances had a bargaining quality: He asked if she would at least show her breasts, if nothing else.

She said no to all of it, she recounted. “I just thought to myself: I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. I’m so offended — we just had a meeting,” she said. (Her mother, Kay Kendall, said in a brief interview that her daughter told her the story at the time.)

Ms. Kendall appeared in the film “Swingers,” distributed (but not produced) by Miramax, and has worked on and off as an actor since then. But she said the episode had dampened her enthusiasm for the business.

“If this is what it takes, I can’t do it,” she said.

Judith Godrèche

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In 1996, the French actress Judith Godrèche said she was invited up to Mr. Weinstein’s suite, where he asked to give her a massage. After she said no, she recalled, he argued that casual massages were an American custom. CreditJeff Vespa/WireImage, via Getty Images

When Mr. Weinstein invited Judith Godrèche to breakfast at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996, she had no idea who he was. At 24, she was already a star in France, and a new film she was in, “Ridicule,” was opening the festival. He had just acquired the movie and said he wanted to discuss it.

They had breakfast at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, joined by a female Miramax executive. After the executive left, Mr. Weinstein invited Ms. Godrèche up to his suite to see the view, and to discuss the film’s marketing and even an Oscar campaign, she said in an interview.

“I was so naïve and unprepared,” she said.

Upstairs, he asked to give her a massage, Ms. Godrèche said. She said no. He argued that casual massages were an American custom — he gave them to his secretary all the time, Ms. Godrèche recalled him saying.

“The next thing I know, he’s pressing against me and pulling off my sweater,” she said. She pulled away and left the suite. (Alain Godrèche, her father, said in an interview that his daughter told him about the episode the next morning.)

Seeking advice, she later called the female Miramax executive, who told her not to say anything, lest she hurt the film’s release. “They put my face on the poster,” she said.

“This is Miramax,” she said. “You can’t say anything.”

Since then, Ms. Godrèche has starred in films in France and the United States. Like Ms. Paltrow, she felt she had to maintain a rapport with Mr. Weinstein, and sent him friendly emails inquiring about party invitations and potential work. “I tried to negotiate the situation over the years, and negotiate with myself and pretend it kind of never happened,” she said.

“I wish I’d had someone to talk to, to say, ‘How do you deal with this?’”

Dawn Dunning

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After refusing a sexual advance, Dawn Dunning said, she was told by Mr. Weinstein: “You’ll never make it in this business. This is how the business works.” CreditIlana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

In 2003, Dawn Dunning was doing small acting gigs, attending design school and waitressing in a nightclub where she met Mr. Weinstein.

The 24-year-old was wary, but Mr. Weinstein was friendly, professional and supportive, she said, offering her a screen test at Miramax, inviting her to lunch and dinner to talk about films and even giving her and her boyfriend tickets to see “The Producers” on Broadway.

Then his assistant invited her to a meal with Mr. Weinstein at a Manhattan hotel. Ms. Dunning headed to the restaurant, where she was told that Mr. Weinstein’s earlier meeting was running late, so she should head up to his suite.

There was no meeting. Mr. Weinstein was in a bathrobe, behind a coffee table covered with papers.

He told her they were contracts for his next three films, according to Ms. Dunning. But she could only sign them on a condition: She would have to have three-way sex with him.

Ms. Dunning said that she laughed, assuming he was joking, and that Mr. Weinstein grew angry.

“You’ll never make it in this business,” she said he told her. “This is how the business works.”

 

Ms. Dunning fled, she said, and when the assistant called her the next day, she hung up. She told her father, Rick Dunning, of the episode within a few months, he said in an interview.

“I was like: Maybe this is how the business works,” she said. She left acting soon after and became a costume designer.

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