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Archives for : December2018

India -Cop among 2 killed in mob riots over ‘cow slaughter’

Police Outpost, Vehicles Burned In UP’s Bulandshahr

Meerut (UP):

A police inspector and a youth were killed on Monday as a rampaging mob protesting against alleged cow slaughter in the area torched a police post in west Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district and clashed with cops.

District magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said the station officer of Syana, where the clashes took place, was killed in the violence. The officer, Subodh Kumar Singh, was shot in the head, Jha said.

The protesters also set several vehicles on fire and pelted stones at policemen, which led cops to open fire, resulting in the death of an agitator, identified as Sumit, 18, of gunshot wounds.

The area remains tense following the violence that continued for nearly three hours.

The Uttar Pradesh government has deployed additional police, including over 1,000 personnel of anti-riot forces, and ordered multiple probes, including one by a special investigation team led by additional director general of police (intelligence), another by ADG (technical) and a magisterial inquiry.

According to sources, trouble started with locals from Mahav village finding carcasses of cows in a nearby forest. Led by members of Hindu outfits, agitators loaded the carcasses on a tractor and placed these near the Chingrawati police outpost on Syana-Garh highway near Bulandshahr city, approximately 150km from New Delhi.

“This morning, carcasses of cows were found dumped in a forest area outside the village. Activists of right-wing organisations soon gathered at the spot and alleged that people of a particular community were indulging in cow slaughter,” ADG (law and order) Anand Kumar said.

Angry villagers and members of various Hindu groups raised slogans against the police administration and blocked the Bulandshahr-Garh state highway.

Expressing grief over the incident, chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who is away campaigning in Rajasthan, said strict action would be taken against the guilty after the investigation reports are received. He also said financial assistance would be extended to victims of the violence.

Vehicles set on fire during a protest over alleged slaughter of cattle in Bulandshahr on Monday. The mob also set fire to a police outpost

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‘If the voice of the Fourth Estate is stifled … India will become a Nazi state’

The Madras High Court has, last month, made a strong case in favour of freedom of the press and media, noting that unless functions of the Fourth Estate are safeguarded, India may well become a Nazi State. Justice PN Prakash, while quashing defamation proceedings against the Tamil edition of India Today magazine, noted in his judgment: “India is a vibrant democracy and the Fourth Estate is indubitably an indispensable part of it. If the voice of the Fourth Estate is stifled in this manner, India will become a Nazi State, and the hard labour of our freedom fighters and makers of our Constitution will go down the drain.

He further emphasised that “if the Press is gagged, democracy in this country will be in utter peril … There may be some occasional transgressions by the Press, however, in the larger interest of sustaining democracy, those aberrations deserve to be ignored.” In fact, the Court also observed that such exposure is to be expected when a person voluntarily opts to become a public figure. “Nobody is invited with platters for coming into public life. Therefore, after voluntarily coming into public life, one cannot be heard to feign sensitiveness and trample the Press for no good reason. This Constitutional Court will be failing in its duty if such attempts by the mighty State are not resisted.

Judgments like these ought to serve as ster n war ning to the perpetrators right across the spectrum of political parties, governments and corporates who routinely violate media freedoms in India. While on paper, India has a “free” media which all politicians love to pontificate about, the reality has been quite different for several decades now.

Journalism is now being attacked more aggressively than ever before, with journalists routinely in the crosshairs of all manner of entities. Earlier this year, India fell two places to 138 in the Press Freedom Index put out by Reporters Without Borders. More recently, it was in the august company of 14 countries including Somalia and Syria, where killers of journalists have gone scot free. India’s ranking in this, the Global Impunity Index from the Committee to Protect Journalists, has, in fact, worsened since the previous report, and impunity for violence against the Press is considered to be ‘entrenched’ here.

There are other, more basic efforts at muzzling the media apart from the examples of criminal defamation cases, harassment and violence.

One is access. Many journalists are denied access to specific information or simply barred from entering certain offices in the pursuit of their professional duties, even as media managements are threatened with legal notices and other forms of bullying the moment there is an uncomfortable report. It took a recent high profile exemplar involving Donald Trump and the CNN, to show how successfully US media was able to fight this denial of access to information and news, pointing out that this is also a form of media intimidation and a contravention of the First Amendment.

Second, is the highly condemnable, pernicious practice of governments and corporates denying media entities advertisements, veritably misusing taxpayers’ money to pressure or influence those which are critical of them. This is nothing but “soft censorship”, and was slammed by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the global organisation of the world’s press, in a detailed report some years ago. It specified that the “abusive allocation of government advertising to reward positive coverage, and punish critical coverage is doubly pernicious, as taxpayer money and public wealth is used and abused to promote partisan or personal interests”.

Third, are the periodic attempts to interfere with the nuts and bolts of businesses, most famously in the 1970s, which culminated in the Emergency. As finance minister Arun Jaitley has publicly stated over the last couple of years, measures which impact the businessand not only the contentofmedia, also impinge on our Constitutional freedoms. He said: “In relation to Article 19(1)(a), consistently with every judgment, the predominant thrust of the Supreme Court has been to protect, preserve and to expand the right of freedom of speech and freedom of Press … Today, this right extends not merely to your right to report – but its horizons have been widened … And therefore, the distinction between content of a medium and business of the medium has also been obliterated. Is the business of a newspaper or a news channel entirely 19(1)(g)? The answer is ‘No’, to the extent that if you pinch the pockets of a newspaper or a news channel, and therefore, infringe on its free speech, you impact adversely on Article 19

(1)(a). And therefore, the business itself can’t be segregated as far as free speech is concerned. The right to know, the right to information – these are all the rights which have been read into Article 19(1)(a) with its horizons today expanded.”

In a speech last month, Mr Jaitley also cited the 1974 move to restrict the size of a newspaper including the number of advertisements, and pointed out that “ads keep news alive as they financially support the publication of news. Cutting down ads is effectively denial of your right to publish news – courts said you can’t do it.

Then, there is the tired old set of attempts by successive governments to threaten to bring new content “regulators” or outline new media laws on top of the many layers of restrictive laws that already exist. In addition to myriad IPC clauses, there are over thirty laws in India which newsrooms already abide by, apart from sector-specific legislation over and above self-regulatory guidelines. More laws and regulation are merely excuses for greater controls over the traditional media, and come in the way of the Indian media industry realising its true potential.

It has been stated before and this begs reiteration. The Indian media industry can still become the next big sectoral story with great potential for employment, growth, cutting edge technological practices, as well as pushing Indian soft power across the globe. But this is possible only in an enabling environment – and not when reporters are threatened, corporates and governments deny advertising for inconvenient coverage, or when policies are designed to emasculate media entities.

A subterranean war against the media to prevent it from becoming strong, independent and free, helps only the true enemy of the people … those who are trying to demolish the great Indian democracy.

courtesy TOI

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Bhima Koregaon case: SC directs Maharashtra to submit charge sheet by December 8

 

The Pune Police had arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday directed the Maharashtra government to submit before it the charge sheet filed against arrested rights activists before a Pune court in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it wanted to see the “charges” against the accused and asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, to submit before it by December 8 the charge sheet filed by the state police in a special court in Pune.

The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, was hearing an appeal of the state government against a Bombay High Court order refusing to extend the time limit of 90 days for filing the probe report in the case.

The bench has now posted the appeal for further hearing on December 11.

Earlier the apex court had stayed the Bombay High Court order.

The Pune Police had arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June for their alleged links with Maoists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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Gujarat riots: SC to hear Zakia’s plea against clean chit to PM Modi in January 2019

 

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Hemant Gupta posted the matter for hearing in the third week of January.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday deferred till the third week of January the hearing on a plea filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots.

Zakia, the wife of Ehsan Jafri, an ex-MP who was killed in one of the worst incidents during the riots, has challenged the Gujarat High Court’s October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT’s decision.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Hemant Gupta posted the matter for hearing in the third week of January.

Courtesy: The Asian Age

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Someone from outside was controlling CJI Dipak Misra: Justice Kurian Joseph

 

The retired judge said there were purported signs of influence with regard to ‘allocation of cases to different benches, when Misra would select judges who were perceived to be politically biased.’

Former Supreme Court Justice Kurian Joseph, who retired last week, alleged that he and the three other senior most judges had held the much-talked-about press conference in January because they believed that outside forces were controlling then Chief Justice Dipak Misra. In an interview with the Times of India, Joseph said, “There were several instances of external influences on the working of the Supreme Court relating to allocation of cases to benches headed by select judges and appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.”

Kurian Joseph was part of the January 12 press conference in which the present Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur and former judge J Chelameswar had raised serious issues including the roster system (allocation of cases in the top court). On November 30, a day after he retired, Justice Joseph held an informal interaction with mediapersons at his official residence where he said he didn’t regret the unprecedented presser and that after the issues were raised, things have started changing at the apex court and have become more transparent.

Justice Joseph, as quoted in the TOI report, also added: “Someone from outside was controlling the chief justice of India, that is what we felt. So we met him, asked him, wrote to him to maintain independence and majesty of the Supreme Court. When all attempts failed, we decided to hold a press conference.”

While confirming that it was Justice Chelameswar’s idea to hold the press conference, but in agreement with all the other judges agreed, Justice Joseph told TOI that there were purported signs of influence with regard to “allocation of cases to different benches, when Misra would select judges who were perceived to be politically biased”.

Clarifying his position on why a full court meeting was not convened and press conference was called, Justice Joseph earlier said, “No judge can convene a full court meeting on its own. Only the chief justice can convene a full court meeting. It was for the CJI to convene a full court meeting. There were many such requests made in this regard.”

Of late, Joseph has been in the news for solving family feud cases with a smiling face and gentle but firm words. A few months ago, he resolved a feud between a mother and her three daughters fighting for control over business — by asking them to sit together and talk. “When was the last time mother and daughters sat together and talked? We suggest you do it now.”

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

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Maharashtra – ‘Pissed-off’ BJP neta, aides beat up woman, her family #WTFnews

No FIR Lodged A Week After Assault In Pen

Navi Mumbai:

An elected representative of Bharatiya Janata Party allegedly beat up a woman and her family members at a highway eatery on Mumbai-Goa highway recently. Sanjay Bhopi, a corporator of the Panvel City Municipal Corporation, was filmed while beating up the woman, her husband and her son. The woman, whose family runs a modest eatery, Giroba Snack Corner, in Pen in Raigad district, has alleged that an altercation took place when the corporator and his men were urinating on the premises of the eatery. Though the woman approached the police, no criminal offence was lodged against Bhopi. The police only accepted a complaint letter.

The woman, Gita Patil, said that Bhopi—who is from Khanda Colony in Navi Mumbaiand the others disembarked from a private bus around 8.30 pm on Sunday and made a beeline near the eatery to urinate in open air. Gita and her husband, Mangesh, objected to this. “Bhopi and the others assaulted my wife before targeting me,” said Mangesh. “They then threatened me that they would come back to settle the score.”

The private bus had taken a brief halt at the request of some of the passengers, include Bhopi, who wanted to answer nature’s call. The corporator and 25 others were travelling from Dapoli to Panvel.

True to their word, Bhopi and some of his men returned to the spot on Monday afternoon. “Eight of them showed up around 12.30 pm and they started assaulting me, my wife and our son too,” said Mangesh. “They grabbed Gita by her hair and threatened to kill my son with a boulder. My son fled from the spot.” A relative, who was in the area, shot a video of the goings-on on his phone.

Mangesh also alleged that the men decamped with Rs 1.5 lakh from the cash counter. He said the money was meant as payment for some construction work. “We went to Pen police station, but they did not register an FIR. Later, they just took an application. We have complained about this to the DGP [state police chief].”

Bhopi told TOI that the fracas broke out as the woman and her family objected [to their urinating]. Asked about the assault on the woman and the others and the cash that was taken away, he did not comment.

Inspector of Pen police station, Dhanaji Kshirsagar, said he was not aware of the assault case. “The complainants have not approached me. Now that I know about it, I will look into the matter tomorrow,” Kshirsagar told TOI on Sunday.

Mangesh claimed that he had met a woman constable whom he identified only as ‘Gharat’ and a male cop whose name he did not know. “They kept shooing us and refused to lodge the FIR,” said Mangesh.

A local activist alleged that the “police have given a safe haven to some goons” from Pen who had joined the corporator in the assault. The activist asked not to be named as he himself has been receiving threats.

Additional superintendent of police for Raigad Sachin Gunjal promised action.

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UP- Woman on way to file FIR set ablaze by molesters #Vaw


 

LUCKNOW: A woman, set on fire in Sitapur late on Saturday by two men who had harassed her, was battling for life after suffering 60 per cent burn injuries. The attack came when she was on her way to the police station for a second time, two days after being harassed, to try and file a complaint after she had been turned away by police.

The 28-year-old woman was admitted to the district hospital in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh. The woman and the accused are Dalits. The accused were arrested on Sunday. DGP O P Singh has ordered the suspension of Tambor SHO Om Prakash Saroj for laxity in supervision, head constable Chedilal was suspended for not attending to her complaint.

“An inquiry by IGP (Lucknow range) Sujeet Pandey is underway to ascertain the role of the local police outpost in-charge, Manoj Kumar. We are probing the extent of negligence on the part of Manoj Kumar to initiate stringent action,” the DGP told.

Police said the woman was on her way to her in-laws’ house in an adjacent village on November 29 when she was intercepted by two men who were brothers. They passed lewd remarks and tried to molest her. She managed to flee and reached Tambor police station with the help of locals. However, the police personnel on duty sent her away, she said later.

She then arrived at her in-laws’ house and told them about the incident. On November 30, the woman’s in-laws informed “UP 100” about the incident. A police team arrived at the home but left after directing the family to lodge a written complaint at Tambor police station.

On December 1, when the woman was going to the police station, where she was to be joined by her parents, the accused intercepted her near a sugarcane field in Kuraiya area, poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze. Hearing her cries, locals rushed her to a hospital.

The woman’s statement was recorded by a magistrate.

In her statement, she named the accused and narrated the inaction of local policemen.

Sitapur SP Prabhakar Chaudhary told TOI that the two accused Rajesh and Ramu, were arrested on Sunday afternoon and booked for sexual assault and attempted murder. “Since both the victim and the accused are Dalits, sections of the SC/ST Act have not been used,” Chaudhary said.

Courtesy: TOI

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Police Continue To Make Arrests Using ‘Unconstitutional’ Section 66A of IT Act, Struck Down By SC 3 Years Ago

Mount Abu: On March 20, 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court accorded the status of living human entity to the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. The same day, Zakir Ali Tyagi, an 18-year-old from Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh posted a comment on Facebook questioning whether “criminal charges would be initiated if someone drowned in the Ganga”.

A week later, then newly elected Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath made a commentabout ridding the state of goonda (rogue) elements. “They have the option of leaving UP or else they would land in places designated for them (jails),” he said.

On March 30, Tyagi noted in a Facebook post that the chief minister had 28 cases pending against him, of which 22 were serious.

[Tyagi did not mention the source of his information. Adityanath’s candidate affidavit for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections listed multiple pending criminal cases under a dozen sections. In 2017, MyNeta.Info listed four cases pending against Adityanath, based on his affidavitsubmitted for election to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council.]

A few days after making those posts, Tyagi was arrested.

Tyagi was booked under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act (IT Act), a statute that criminalised sending offensive messages online. He was additionally booked under Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), because Tyagi had changed his Facebook profile photograph to that of slain sub-inspector, Akhtar Ali, to pay homage to the officer who was killed in an exchange of fire during a raid to arrest a suspected criminal at Dadri, Noida.

Except that Section 66A had been struck down by the Supreme Court in March 2015, two years before it was used by the police against Tyagi, because the top court found the statute too vague to be applied.

How do you decide what is offensive?

“What may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another,” explained the Supreme Court in the landmark judgement (Shreya Singhal v. Union of India) in 2015 that repealed 66A. “What may cause annoyance or inconvenience to one may not cause annoyance or inconvenience to another…. If judicially trained minds can come to diametrically opposite conclusions on the same set of facts it is obvious that expressions such as “grossly offensive” or “menacing” are so vague that there is no manageable standard by which a person can be said to have committed an offence or not to have committed an offence.”

So, how could Tyagi have been booked under an overruled statute?

Was the use of Section 66A by the police an outcome of ignorance of the law, or was the police knowingly challenging the legitimacy of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned it?

The answer is a bit of both, according to a new paper ‘Section 66A and other legal zombies’ by lawyers Abhinav Sekhri and Apar Gupta.

“There is no system in place to give proper effect to the decisions of the Supreme Court of such significant import,” co-author Gupta, also executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, told IndiaSpend.  “There exists a lack of mutual respect between the judiciary and executive, and the power balance skewed in favour of the executive allows it to get away with the abuse of the law.”

Gupta noted that it is important to understand that courts do not strike down laws on the mere possibility of misuse. “Judicial review of substantive penal legislation is a rare event, not because the legislature always comes up with bulletproof choices on what to criminalise and how to do so, but rather because of a convention that courts cannot continually question the legislative choices in that arena. Courts try to maintain a balance of powers between the branches of state — the executive, judiciary and legislature — by abstaining from interfering in or negating law-making. Besides, imagine how challenging law enforcement would become if the validity of the law itself were forever in doubt?”

In the case of Section 66A, the Supreme Court ruled that the law violated Article 14, providing for equality before the law, Article 19, which includes freedom of speech and expression, and Article 21, or right to life and personal liberty, all constitutional Fundamental Rights, said Gupta.

Respecting the position of other branches of the State would assume that when the judiciary does engage in that rare act of review, its decision is scrupulously honoured. Clearly, that hasn’t happened. The struck-down statute Section 66A, and other scrapped sections such as Section 303, IPC continue to be used, according to Sekhri and Gupta.

Gupta told IndiaSpend that this effectively puts the onus of enforcing the apex court’s ruling on existing defendants and those newly booked under the now defunct section.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Citing the example of Zakir Ali Tyagi, who spent 42 days in jail after being booked under Section 66A of the IT Act and Section 420, IPC, you concluded that due to “considerable mainstream media coverage by national newspapers”, “the likelihood of the police discovering the error of continued used of Section 66A would have become apparent,” and the allegations under Section 66A were converted to Section 66. Once Tyagi was released on bail, the police added the offence of sedition. Is this switching of sections reflective of ignorance of the law?

Dropping an alphabet did not impart greater legality to Zakir Ali Tyagi’s case, since Section 66 and Section 66A are vastly different. The former deals with hacking and monetary losses; the latter deals with offences of speech, and can be contracted and expanded like an accordion. What often happens is that the police first arrest someone under 66A, then, if the case gets media attention, they find out about the invalidity of the statute and look for another section to justify the arrest. Incidentally, Tyagi’s case is still ongoing.

Since the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) stopped recording Section 66A cases in 2016, we found an increased incidence of the use of Section 66 (computer-related offences) and Section 67 (transmitting obscene material in electronic form), despite the legal objective of sections 66 and 67 being distinct from Section 66A. It is possible that these provisions are serving as mere proxies for a continued reliance on Section 66A, suggesting that Shreya Singhal affected only form and not substance. A research report released in November 2017 by the Mumbai-based not-for-profit Point of View inquires if Section 67 is being used as a substitute for Section 66A.

Equally disturbing was our discovery that this issue of ignorance of the law, and hence, the application of unconstitutional penal laws, long preceded Shreya Singhal and Section 66A. In 1983, the Supreme Court had struck down Section 303, IPC [which mandated a death sentence for murder if committed by a person convicted for life imprisonment], in Mithu v. State of Punjab. In 2012, almost two decades later, the Rajasthan High Court intervened to save a person from being hanged for being convicted under that offence by a Sessions Judge.

You concluded that Section 66A continues to be used because the pertinent authorities simply do not know that it has been struck down, because no method exists for getting word of Supreme Court decisions to other stakeholders, such as the lowest rungs of the criminal justice system. What solution do you propose for this situation?

Allow me to digress to say that we concluded that Section 66A continues to be used because the pertinent authorities do not know that it has been struck down, simply because we could not assume that the police, prosecutors and courts are actively committing contempt by refusing to stop cases under Section 66A, or that they see the decision as not requiring them to act to offer relief to defendants of pending cases. That said, we found it fairly plausible that authorities don’t know about the decision on Section 66A, because when a law is declared unconstitutional, it is not automatically deleted from the statute books. Statutes can only be changed via an amendment, and if parliament does not pass an enabling amendment to give effect to the Supreme Court decision, then the unconstitutional provision will remain in the text. So, if one accesses India Code—the official source for the text of central statutes—Section 66A still exists. Commercial publishers such as Universal, LexisNexis and Commercial that are required to faithfully reproduce the official text of statutes also carry unconstitutional provisions, often with a footnote citing the Supreme Court decision.

How else could the lower courts and police force get to know that Section 66A had been struck down? Through the government’s official gazette, which carries updates on new legislation or rules? It doesn’t carry details of recent judicial decisions of constitutional import. Through government advisories or notifications? While an advisory was issued to chief secretaries and director generals during the litigation asking them to use Section 66A with restraint and prior approval of their administrative superiors, no advisory or notification was addressed to the same set of persons informing them about the decision itself.

High Court Rules (we studied the Delhi High Court provisions) don’t allow for decisions of the Supreme Court to be conveyed to the lower courts under its jurisdiction. Similarly, there is no rule mandating district judges to issue circulars for bringing new Supreme Court decisions to the notice of other officers. To get information about important decisions, members of the subordinate judiciary are expected to refer to yearly digests published by the judiciary or similar digests published by commercial houses.

What impact should scrapping Section 66A have had on the people of India and its judicial system? How does that continued application of the unconstitutional statute impact persons booked under Section 66A?

When an important decision like Shreya Singhal was passed, you would have imagined that prosecuting agencies and magistrates across the country would proactively give effect to the ruling, by examining pending cases and withdrawing those where the defendant was booked solely under Section 66A. In doing so, they would effectively reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, which we all know is besieged with the lack of policing resources and pending cases.

As we found, this did not happen. Far from it. The police continued to book people under the scrapped law (and they continue to do so; this recent case happened in Gurugram and this case in Guwahati), in doing so placing the burden of enforcing legal change on newly booked and existing defendants. What we mean by this is most defendants depend on their lawyers to navigate the legal system. So, if the lawyer is aware of the rollback of Section 66A and capable of explaining the illegality to the court, good for the defendant. If not, the defendant would needlessly suffer. We found proof of this, in the fact that Shreya Singhal was used to quash only some of the 66A cases pending before the same presiding officer in the Kerala High Court. Where the lawyer did not claim the invalidity, the courts simply went on with the case as if Section 66A was valid. In India, how many defendants have the financial wherewithal to engage the best lawyers who offer quality counsel? Those who lack these means are left hopelessly beyond the Constitution. This is their justice.

What data formed the basis of your study? To what extent is that data indicative of the total section 66A cases being registered in the country?

We searched two online databases for Section 66A cases—IndianKanoon, a popular public access platform, and Supreme Court Cases Online, a subscription-based platform. Between January and September 2018, IndianKanoon listed 45 cases, while Supreme Court Cases Online listed 21 cases from March 2015 till September 2018.

These were by no means exhaustive lists. These databases crawl the internet and index information. We know that they primarily index high court cases and collect data from the few district courts that are digitised. A main source of data—crimes registered through First Information Reports (FIR) in police stations—remains wholly outside the scope of these databases. Also, we are not clear which cases they omit since their algorithms and documentation are not made public. Incidentally, Tyagi’s case was not listed.

We also referred to cyber crimes reported by the NCRB, which collates data sourced from police stations. NCRB data for 2015 and 2016 showed that widespread arrests continued despite Shreya Singhal. However, the NCRB issued a “corrigenda” in 2016 clarifying that those numbers were incorrect due to an error in the internal data processing system, and also said that it will not publish data on Section 66A in subsequent reports.

Because of these data limitations, we limited our study to examining the general continued use of Section 66A in the criminal process. In many instances this includes FIRs filed after the Shreya Singhal judgment and trials that are proceeding as on date. Having read each order in our data set, we can confidently assert the usefulness of our data set as a tool for analysis and evidence of the continued misuse of a scrapped statute. What could be more revealing than this comment of a police inspector in Ahmedabad on being asked why he booked a lawyer-activist working for minority rights under the scrapped Section 66A in August 2018? The inspector first said that the top court did not give any such judgement, then later said, “The Supreme Court must have said that in one particular case only and the section remains in the Act. Pathan was aptly booked under Section 66A of the act as he circulated messages through a cellphone.”

https://www.indiaspend.com/police-continue-to-make-arrests-using-unconstitutional-section-66a-of-it-act-struck-down-by-supreme-court-3-years-ago/

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Women with disabilities come together: Dependence makes it harder to speak up #MeToo

A study, in 12 districts of Odisha covering a sample of 729 women with disabilities, showed that 12.6 per cent of the physically disabled respondents reported to having been raped

#metoo, metoo campaign, sexual harassment in workplace, ncw, women's commission, sexual harassment, sex abuse, india news, indian express
“Most women with disabilities face sexual abuse from caregivers in the family, or at institutions they are housed in,” Sengupta said.

“My friend, who has polio and had never been out on her own, wanted to be trained in swimming. On the first day, the swimming coach picked her up from her house, raped her midway, and told her he was doing her a favour. That was seven years ago. To this day she has not told her family about it for fear that they won’t allow her to leave home.”

Meenu Mani, Disability rights activist living with cerebral palsy.

“This man from our neighbourhood would sneak into our house and touch me every day for six days. On the seventh day, my brother spotted him and raised an alarm. That’s when it stopped.” An intellectually challenged young rape survivor from West Bengal. “As part of the #MeToo conversations I wrote of my experience of being abused by a fellow disability rights activist in the hope that other women like me will speak out. I received a flood of private messages from women with all kinds of disabilities sharing their stories of having being sexual assaulted. But all of them admitted that they can never speak up openly.”

Shampa Sengupta, Disability rights activist.

With the #MeToo movement bringing stories of sexual abuse to the fore, victims, activists, and academics working in the area of disability rights came together at the National Convention Against Sexual Violence on Girls/Women with Disabilities on Sunday to talk of how their dependence makes it harder for them to speak up. “Most women with disabilities face sexual abuse from caregivers in the family, or at institutions they are housed in,” Sengupta said.

She said since the victim is dependent on the perpetrator, she finds it very hard to speak up. This dependence, she said, is also compounded due to the failure of the State to create an access-free environment. “This is so not just in terms of physical infrastructure but also in tailoring the complaints mechanisms or women’s helplines to meet the needs of those intellectually changed or deaf,” she said.

Sengupta and several others hold that both women’s and disability rights movement have not cared about gender in disability. This is true for most government policies, too, as there is no disaggregated data of violence against women with disabilities, they say.

A 2005 Oxfam-funded study states that disabled children are abused at a higher incidence than non-disabled children. The study, in 12 districts of Odisha covering a sample of 729 women with disabilities, showed that 12.6 per cent of the physically disabled respondents reported to having been raped, for those mentally challenged the reported rapes were as high as 25 per cent.

Noted disability rights activist Prof Anita Ghai, who teaches Disability Studies at Ambedkar University, said there is a lack of any epistemology around the issue. “Even if one goes by the conservative census estimate of 21 million persons with disabilities in India (9.3 million women), it is equivalent to the population of some countries. We have women’s studies and caste studies, but disability is looked at as only a concessional category,” she said.

Ghai said there are several instances of mothers forcing their daughters with disabilities to go for hysterectomy. “In some cases mothers are silent about their child being abused by a family member because for them the child is still safer at home than outside,” she said.

Muralidharan, general secretary of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, said, “The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 has some provisions in case of children with disabilities, and Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, provided for punishment for any person who sexually assaults a woman with disability. But there is no implementation of any of these provisions.

Kumari Vaishnavi of Bihar Viklang Adhikar Manch pointed out that in the recent Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse cases in the state, it emerged that many of the girls were intellectually challenged. “If living in a shelter home makes children vulnerable to abuse, girls with disabilities are even more vulnerable. It is worse for women with disabilities in rural India, where gender, caste, disability intersect, leaving them with no recourse in case of sexual violence,” she said.

The Justice Verma Committee report, prepared after consultation with disability rights organisations, was the first to make separate provisions for women with disabilities facing sexual violence. These included having the police go to the victim’s home to file FIR, video recording of her statement, allowing for sign language interpreter or special educator.

Muralidharan said, “During the Verma committee consultations we had suggested for a monitoring mechanism for institutions where girls with disabilities are lodged. Had the government accepted our suggestion, the Muzzafarpur incident could have been averted.”

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/women-with-disabilities-come-together-dependence-makes-it-harder-to-speak-up-5466077/

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India – Two Child Norm in Panchayats – Defeating Grassroots Democracy

By Litali Das

In the judgment of the Supreme Court given on the 25th of October 2018, it upheld the dismissal of a former Sarpanch from his post, for having three children. Minasingh Majhi of Nuapada, Odisha, got elected in February 2002 and was disqualified from his post by the Odisha High Court after the birth of his third child in incumbency in August 2002.

While the 73rd Constitutional Amendment paved the way for women and those from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes to participate in local self-governance, eligibility conditions like the Two Child Norm restricts a lot of capable women and men from contesting panchayat elections. Seeking to control population growth through making role models of panchayat representatives, this unfortunately has proven to be a great obstacle to citizens’ free choice and political participation in grassroots democracy.

This coercive norm does not only impinge on basic human rights principles; it also discriminates even amongst elected representatives of the Panchayatiraj; debarring only those who have more than two children post 1994. It is not only beyond presumable that panchayat representatives with relatively lower education, poor socio-economic status and reach can influence decisions of other citizens than their powerful Assembly or Parliament counterparts; the norm patently seeks to disenfranchise rural youth, particularly women, instead of addressing socio-economic factors and a son-preference culture responsible for the rural poor having more children.

 

Even as a measure to control Odisha’s growing population the norm seems unnecessary as the state’s rural and urban total fertility rate stand at 2.0 and 1.6 respectively; which are lower than the national average at 2.5 (rural) and 1.8 (urban). Moreover the gap between the rural and urban fertility rates can be narrowed further through access to better healthcare and reproductive health support, viable and inclusive livelihood opportunities and improved education facilities to the rural poor.

 

Of particular concern is that this norm violates several Constitutional rights of citizens apart from National and International conventions. Infringing upon Articles like 14, 15, 16, 21, 29, 42 and 47 of the Constitution which safeguard several aspects of life, liberty and equality of citizens, the norm also violates certain International conventions that India is signatory too, like the CEDAW Article 12 (Health) , Article 14 ( which focuses on rural women) and Article 16 ( family, reproductive health).

The Odisha State Policy for Girls and Women – 2014 envisions “a state where girls and women have equal opportunities in all spheres of life, and participate in social, political and economic spheres taking on leadership and decision making roles and to “remove any discriminatory practices that prohibit or restrict women to participate effectively”… Sadly no step towards rescinding this discriminatory norm has been initiated by the government yet.
Used more as a tool to settle political scores, instances recur of blackmail and threats to unseat women and men representatives if they do not ‘fall in line’. Another little reported factor has been the unanimous rejection of this norm in tribal areas where most people have more than two children hence nobody complains against anyone on basis of this norm. So this essentially deflates any claim of this clause making role models of PRI representatives!

In a welcome move prior to the 2017 Panchayat elections in Odisha, the Government repealed a clause that had restricted speech and hearing impaired people and those cured of leprosy and tuberculosis from contesting elections. What exempts the two child norm from similar treatment?

Two Child Norm in Panchayats – Defeating Grassroots Democracy


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