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Mumbai ranks No. 2 in crimes against children

75% Jump Sees It Overtake B’lore, Rape & Kidnap Cases Spurt

The state and the city have failed to protect its children, shows the NCRB report for 2013 released on Monday Maharashtra remained fourth among states for the .
number of crimes against children in 2013 while Mumbai climbed to second position in 2013 overtaking Bangalore with a 74.5% rise in the crimes.The only mildly bright spot in the report for the state is the small drop in foeticide cases (29%). There has been a spurt under every other head, even kidnapping -90.2% in the state and 96.5% in the city -and rape –68.6% in state and 56.7% in city (see box).

On May 14, 2013, 13-yearold Aditya Ranka, the son of a diamond merchant staying in Girgaum, was kidnapped by his cousin, Himanshu Ranka, 28, and his friend Brijesh Sanghvi, 25. The duo had incurred losses in IPL betting amounting to more than a million rupees wanted to demand a hefty ransom. But the plan went awry and they killed the boy.

Cases of rape of children keep coming up with a sick ening regularity, particularly in Mumbai’s slums. Police spokesperson DCP Mahesh Patil said they have in creased police patrolling, but cannot prevent rapes by persons known to minors.

Former chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Child Minaxi Jaiswal blamed the government. “The government is least bothered to take up the case of crimes against children. I have personally drafted several ideas to tackle crimes against children. But till date, the government hasn’t done anything,“ said Jaiswal.

A senior IPS officer said innocent children are easy targets. “The accused lure children by offering goodies and easily gain trust before committing the offence.
Take the example of Kurla’s Nehru Nagar rape and murder of minor girls that occurred in 2011. All the three minor victims were lured with chocolates by the accused before they were kidnapped, raped and killed,“ said the officer.

The officer added that the government has made it mandatory to lodge a complaint and begin probe immediately if a matter is related to minors.

 

 Read mor ehere – http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31804&articlexml=Mumbai-ranks-No-2-in-crimes-against-kids-02072014002012

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First adivasi woman in the Nilgiris District files a case of sexual assault #Vaw

Disquiet in the jungle

PRIYASHRI MANI

On the fringes: An adivasi village near the Mudumalai forest reserve
Courtesy; Accord, Adivasi Cultural Centre, Gudalur, Tamil NaduOn the fringes: An adivasi village near the Mudumalai forest reserve

The first adivasi woman in the Nilgiris District files a case of sexual assault. Her battle tells of a constant tussle between a community known for its gender equality and those in power.

Madi (name changed) is a 23-year-old adivasi girl from the Bettakurumba tribe — traditional hunter-gatherers — famous for their skills as elephant mahouts. She lives in a village inside the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. These forests, rich in biodiversity, are home to one of the largest populations of Asiatic elephants in the world. The adivasis share their home with the elephants and even the occasional tiger. Madi, who had studied till Class XII in a government school, worked as a shop attendant at a Public Distribution Shop within the forest area. Early last month, a forest guard, on the pretext of discussing work, insisted she come to his house. When she arrived, he sexually assaulted her, before she could scream for help.

Not one to be intimidated, Madi decided to fight back and take on the forest official, who continued to harass her with threatening calls and overt gestures. Along with her father she travelled to Ooty, the district headquarters, to report the case to P Sekhar, the District Collector. The collector passed her complaint to the superintendent of police who handed the matter to the women’s cell at the local police station in Gudalur. When she finally reached the police station, she was told that it was too late and since no investigation could be conducted in the night, she should return the next day to submit her compliant. When she met the superintendent of police to register her case under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA, 1995), he asked her inappropriate questions, such as, how could she prove the assault because she was a tribal woman. Statistics tell their own story, the conviction rate for POA cases in Tamil Nadu is 20 per cent lower than the national average.

But Madi, a single mother, and the daughter of a traditional Bettakurumba healer, is staying strong. Suresh, a Bettakurumba leader and member of the Adivasi Munnetra Sangam (an adivasi peoples’ organisation) says, “Madi is the first Bettakurumba woman who has filed such a case, we must stand by her.” Those supporting her have received offers of money from the forest department officials to withdraw the case. But Madi says with determination, “I will not take the case back.”

Madi’s battle against the forest department is part of a larger story about the battles of the adivasis. Their traditional ways are under threat by the forest department. The Kattunayakan — traditional honey gatherers — have not collected much honey this year because of fear of the forest department. Officials harass and threaten to imprison tribals who collect firewood and honey despite the Forest Rights Act (2006). Routine intimidation, in the form of verbal and physical abuse, and general harassment has led to fewer and fewer adivasi women venturing into the forest. This means they can no longer gather the tubers, leaves and berries, which are essential to their diets. They are not allowed to collect the thatch and bamboo from the forest to build their houses. The sexual assault on Madi is the ugliest face of this routine intimidation.

Where women are equals

For Madi, and those of her community, regressive manifestation of patriarchy are absent. For instance, among many adivasi communities, widows have the freedom to live a full and happy life and can remarry if they choose. Dowry is unheard of here. Instead, most adivasi girls receive a bride price (in the form of cattle or grain) during marriage. Unlike the all-too prevalent sense of misfortune associated with the birth of a girl child, unmarried girls are not seen as a burden in adivasi families. Neither is it mandatory for women to be the ones who move to their husbands’ homes after marriage. Older women can be granted the status of the chief of a village while men are sometimes seen cleaning, taking care of children and cooking at homes. Adivasi women do not change their names after marriage and children do not bear the name of their fathers at birth. Traditionally, it was also acceptable for both men and women to have several partners through life, something that would certainly tarnish a ‘chaste’ non-tribal woman.

Clearly, the rest of India has much to learn from adivasi societies. We don’t need to reach out to western feminist traditions or United Nation charters that call for equal rights. Yet those in power are working against these communities and their progressive worldviews. Even today adivasis are commonly understood as ‘primitive’ communities in need of ‘development’. Dominant cultural forces are acting to ‘integrate’ adivasis making them more like the us, in other words less progressive and more misogynistic.

We all know that Madi’s case is one among so many other cases of gender violence in the country. Amidst all this it is hard to imagine that India is also home to communities where women are treated as equals. We often forget that we have many other stories to tell.

The only story we repeatedly hear is that of subservient, helpless girls faced with gruesome forms of violence. In the process other narratives are routinely made invisible. There are also stories of struggle and resistance, like Madi’s, which must be told and celebrated. She like so many others is fighting back. Her fight is for all adivasi women who, despite the odds, have decided to speak out bravely against the violence inflicted upon them.

(Priyashri Mani works at the Adivasi Cultural Centre, Gudalur, Tamil Nadu)

 

Read more here –  http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/blink/know/disquiet-in-the-jungle/article6130379.ece

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Alleged killers, arsonists and rapist are in the fray today

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 17, 2014

 

Alleged killers, abductors, robbers and even a rapist are among those who will contest for a seat in the Lok Sabha in these elections despite a growing public campaign for cleaner politics. They make up 17% of the total number of contestants in the fray so far.

Data gleaned from mandatory declarations by candidates featuring in polling rounds held so far and the one slated for Thursday shows that the BJP tops the list with 34% of its 202 candidates declaring a criminal case against them while 23% among 193 Congress candidates have similar charges, according to the Association for Democratic Alliance (ADR), an advocacy group. Likewise, 16% of AAP’s 200 candidates and 18% of the BSP’s 207 candidates have had a brush with the law.

ReadBJP worst in criminal candidate tally in Karnataka

Last year, the Supreme Court barred convicted lawmakers from contesting an election for six years even if their convictions were under appeal. Yet, as political parties gird up for another dead-heat election, they have not hesitated in picking candidates with grave charges — offences that can attract a jail term of more than five years.

ReadHow politicians get away with crime, win votes

Criminality remains endemic to electoral politics. Findings from ADR show that a candidate with a criminal case is twice as likely to win an election (23%), compared to a candidate without any charges, whose chance was just 12%.

In the crucial fifth leg of the staggered elections scheduled for Thursday, 16% candidates with shady criminal records will test their political fortunes. About 10% of them face serious charges, such as assault, arson or rape. For instance, 27 face murder charges and another 12 have cases related to crimes against women. Dambale Rahul Dharma, an Independent from Pune constituency, faces a rape charge.

The National Election Watch and ADR screened 1,739 out of 1,761 candidates contesting in phase 5. The rest were not screened due to unclear or incomplete affidavits.

Read30% BJP, Congress candidates face criminal cases, says report

In Thursday’s round too, the BJP has the highest number of candidates with criminal cases at 29% (30 out of 105 candidates), followed by the Congress’s 22% (22 of 101), while 19% of BSP and 15% of AAP candidates are implicated in crimes.

ReadCongress leads list of tainted candidates in Odisha

A 2011 joint research by Toke Aidt of the University of Cambridge, Miriam A Golden, University of California LA and Devesh Tiwari of the University of California at San Diego showed political parties are more likely to select alleged criminal candidates when confronting greater electoral uncertainty and in highly competitive seats.  Their statistical analysis shows that contrary to conventional wisdom, more competitive politics in India tends to throw up poorer rather than improved electoral accountability.

In India’s first-past-the-post election system, it often takes wealthy heavyweights to win polls. According to Manjari Katju of the University of Hyderabad, “socio-economic inequalities” and “uneven power equations” in society are deeper reasons behind criminalisation of politics.

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#India – The appalling reasons for rape #Vaw

Ranjona Banerji, Mid- day

Tarun Tejpal is stuck in jail somewhere in Goa and we’ve forgotten all about him

 

Tarun Tejpal is stuck in jail somewhere in Goa and we’ve forgotten all about him. And have we also forgotten all about the outrage, pain and distress we felt about the woman Tejpal is accused of assaulting? Or after that horrific Delhi gang-rape? Or the Shakti Mills cases in Mumbai? Or the Danish tourist in Delhi? Or the Swiss woman gang-raped in the Madhya Pradesh countryside?


There’s no skirting this issue: There is no prevention mantra to protect us from rape. These crimes happen everywhere. But we cannot give up either. Uncomfortable matters cannot be swept under the carpet 

Maybe it is too much and your mind shuts off after some time. Here are three recent cases to make your stomach churn. The young Esther Anuhya, whose charred body was found in the Kanjurmarg area of Mumbai, was raped by persons unknown when she got off a train at Kurla station.

The young woman in the Birbhum district of West Bengal who was gang-raped as a public spectacle on the orders of the elders of her village. And a Dalit teenager being threatened by being stripped naked in public by members of the Gujjar community around Ajmer if she does not withdraw a molestation charge against one of them.

So rape as opportunity, rape as punishment and entertainment and assault as a threat. This is not a gender-based argument. It is not a man versus woman argument. It should not be an argument at all. It is about setting some standards for ourselves where certain behaviour is unacceptable and punishable.

The Birbhum case is perhaps the most horrific of recent times. A village council decided that a woman be gang-raped for having a relationship with a man from a different community. The rape was done in public, on a platform, and people were urged to join in. The family was apparently unable to pay the fine of either Rs 25,000 or Rs 50,000 — apparently, this is the cost of falling in love with the wrong person in India.

What sort of society do we live in where village ‘elders’ can get away with decisions like this? The khap panchayats of Haryana and UP got into trouble for their own cruel, arcane customs which usually involved honour killings and rightly so. But this is Bengal, not Haryana, and a Bengal which takes great pride in its history of social reform. Well, so much for that. Bengal today, with due apologies to Gopal Krishna Gokhale, seems to be lawless and brutal.

People often tend to speak of villages as idyllic little retreats from the horrors of city life. Dr BR Ambedkar called them the cesspools of India while Mahatma Gandhi idealised them. However, the problem lies with the people whether they live in cities or villages. Inhumanity and brutality are not area specific.

One thing seems certain. You cannot stop rape and assault. There is no prevention mantra. These crimes happen everywhere. But you cannot give up either. You can, for instance, stop the kind of thing that happened in Bengal. Or the threats by the Gujjars to the Dalit girl in Ajmer. If the areas around Kurla station and Shakti Mills were better policed, then at least three women would have been spared their ordeals and one would still be alive.

Unfortunately, tied in with such assaults on women — as well as the assaults on young boys by Catholic priests for instance — is a social need to sweep uncomfortable matters under the carpet. If you do not talk about it, you hope the issue will go away. Of course it doesn’t. The less you talk about it, the more it happens, the worse it gets.

Those who believe in the status quo are the biggest offenders here and the most dangerous. What sort of a society condones women being assaulted and young boys being sodomised for instance? What does it say about ourselves that we think a certain kind of behaviour is tolerable as long as we don’t have to think about it?

The other horrifying problem remains the need to deflect attention from the horror of the crime by blaming the victim. The latest rape case is about a 15-month toddler in Delhi. Now how are we going to blame her?

– See more at: http://www.mid-day.com/articles/the-appalling-reasons-for-rape/15056011#sthash.yppckDQ1.dpuf

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Crime but No Punishment in Indian Elections

Milan VaishnavJANUARY 24, 2014

Elections in India are known as a one-of-a-kind festival of democracy, replete with colorful pageantry, flamboyant personalities, and very large numbers. The size of the country’s electorate when India heads to the polls for parliamentary elections later this spring is expected to reach nearly 800 million. According to census data, an estimated 150 million people are eligible to vote for the first time—a figure larger than the total number of voters that took part in the 2012 U.S. presidential elections.

Elections certainly bring out the best in India’s raucous democracy, but they also expose some of its blemishes. Consider this extraordinary figure: 30 percent of members of parliament have criminal cases pending against them. And that is an increase from the previous election in 2004, when “only” 24 percent of MPs were similarly situated. 

In the fight to curb these figures, there have been some positive developments and valiant efforts to raise awareness. The Supreme Court of India recently decided that sitting politicians who are convicted of criminal acts should be removed from office upon conviction—a new practice in India. And for the first time, an anticorruption party vaulted to victory in Delhi’s state assembly. These are certainly bright spots, but, if recent state elections are any indication, efforts thus far have barely scratched the surface.

Real change will take significantly more sweeping measures to get to heart of the crime-politics nexus. In India’s electoral marketplace, as in any market, there are underlying supply and demand factors that facilitate exchange. And in this case, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.

The Nature of the Phenomenon

A wellspring of information about India’s political class was tapped in 2003, introducing a new level of transparency about India’s electoral aspirants and elected officials. In response to landmark public interest litigation filed by civil society watchdogs, the Supreme Court of India ruled that any person standing for elected office at the state or national level must submit, at the time of nomination, a judicial affidavit detailing his or her financial assets and liabilities, education qualifications, and pending criminal cases.

The disclosures are not without their shortcomings. Crucially, the information is self-reported, which means that in the case of financial details in particular, the accuracy of the affidavits can be questioned. In addition, the data on criminality refers to ongoing cases rather than convictions; due to the vagaries of India’s justice system, it can take decades for an indictment to produce a conviction, if at all.

Nevertheless, the data—taken as a whole—gives a reasonable snapshot of the biographical profiles of India’s most influential lawmakers. And the picture isn’t pretty.

The 15th Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament), whose term expires at the end of May 2014, is home to 162 MPs with pending criminal cases. These cases involve a diverse array of charges, both large and small, ranging from mischief to murder and nearly everything in between. If one were to focus only on serious charges—those unrelated to electioneering or a politician’s daily vocation such as those involving murder, kidnapping, and physical assault—approximately 14 percent or 76 MPs face pending cases.

The situation at the state and local levels, though lacking comparable scrutiny, is similar. Roughly one in three members of state assemblies (31 percent) is involved in at least one criminal case. Again about half, roughly 15 percent, face serious charges.

There has been no systematic analysis of panchayats (village governments) and urban local bodies, but there is evidence that local tiers of governance are hardly free of criminality. Based on data collected by the Association for Democratic Reforms, 17 percent and 21 percent of municipal corporators in Mumbai and Delhi, respectively, declared involvement in criminal cases.

Why Parties Supply Criminal Politicians

In one sense, the answer to why political parties in India nominate candidates with criminal backgrounds is painfully obvious: because they win (see figure 1). In the 2004 or the 2009 parliamentary elections, a candidate with no criminal cases pending had—on average—a 7 percent chance of winning. Compare this with a candidate facing a criminal charge: he or she had a 22 percent chance of winning. Granted, this simple comparison does not take into account numerous other factors such as education, party, or type of electoral constituency. Nevertheless, the contrast is marked.

In India, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.

Of course, the real question is what makes these candidates winnable. At least part of the answer comes down to cold, hard cash—an area in which those who break the law often have a leg up. Election costs in India have grown considerably over the years thanks to a host of factors, including a growing population, a marked increase in the competiveness of elections, and elevated voter expectations of pre-election handouts.

Money does not buy elections in India; what a well-financed campaign buys is viability. Indeed, there is a strong correlation between a parliamentary candidate’s personal assets—a good proxy for financial capacity—and the likelihood of election (see figure 2). Drawing on data from 2004 and 2009, the poorest 20 percent of candidates, in terms of personal financial assets, had a 1 percent chance of winning parliamentary elections. The richest quintile, in contrast, had a greater than 25 percent shot.

In India, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.

Beyond the draw of a higher likelihood of success, parties value “muscle” (criminality, in Indian parlance) because it often brings with it the added benefit of money.

As election costs have soared, parties have struggled to find legitimate sources of funding, which is a partial reflection of the general decline in their organizational strength. As a result, they place a premium on candidates who can bring resources into the party and will not drain limited party coffers. The quest for private funds is further propelled by an ineffectual election finance regime, which is marked by numerous loopholes and a lack of transparency.

When it comes to campaign cash, candidates accused of breaking the law have a distinct advantage: they both have access to liquid forms of finance and are willing to deploy it in the service of politics. In the last two parliamentary elections, roughly 6 percent of candidates in the lowest quintile of candidate wealth (or poorest one-fifth) faced criminal cases compared to nearly 20 percent of candidates in the top quintile (see figure 3).

In India, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.

Voter Demand for Criminal Politicians

Money is an important part of the story but, on its own, is an insufficient explanation—if only because parties have access to wealthy candidates who are not linked to criminal activity, from cricket heroes to film stars and industrialists. It is also not immediately clear why voters would prefer a wealthy, “tainted” candidate to an equally wealthy, “clean” alternative.

As the deputy president of the state unit of one major party confided to me back in 2010, candidates with criminal records thrive because they have “currency.” It turns out that this “currency” is also figurative.

While many have suggested that voters in India unwittingly support tainted politicians because they are ignorant about the biographies of their political representatives, there is an affirmative explanation that is consistent with rational, well-informed voters. In contexts where the rule of law is weak and social divisions are highly salient, politicians often use their criminal reputation as a badge of honor—a signal of their credibility to protect the interests of their parochial community and its allies, from physical safety to access to government benefits and social insurance. The “protection” on offer is often grounded in the language of caste or religious empowerment and can be readily justified in defensive terms. One member of Maharashtra’s Shiv Sena party with a reputation as a strongman explained his “hands-on” approach to the scholar Thomas Blom Hansen: “If someone enters my house and runs away with my roti [bread] then what should I do? I have to slap him and take the roti away because it is my roti and not his.”

The appeal of candidates who are willing to do what it takes—by hook or crook—to protect the interests of their community provides some intuition for why the odds of a parliamentary candidate winning an election actually increase with the severity of the charges, with slightly diminishing returns in the most severe instances (see figure 4).

In India, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.

The Rhythm of Elections

Elections in India have acquired a sort of customary rhythm over the years. Part and parcel of this rhythm is the spate of news headlines before elections about the sordid biographical details of aspirants to higher office. Once voting is completed and the results are announced, a second wave of stories about the criminal antecedents of those who are actually elected pours forth. Recent judicial action is a positive step, but interrupting this rhythm requires deeper institutional change.

The unexpected victory in Delhi of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which campaigned on an avowedly anticorruption platform, is also a positive sign of popular frustration with malfeasance, but it is unlikely to be a game changer. The AAP proved a party could win without heavily resorting to candidates with lengthy rap sheets, but that did not seem deter the party’s rivals. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms, 21 percent of the ruling Congress Party’s candidates and 46 percent of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidates were involved in criminal cases, compared to 7 percent for the AAP.

If the high levels of criminality in politics could be attributed to a lack of information about candidates’ biographies, a public awareness campaign might make a significant dent in criminality rates. Alas, the situation is far more nuanced.

India needs a credible election finance regime with real teeth to rein in under-the-table funding. And the state’s ability to impartially deliver benefits, physical safety, and timely justice has to improve. Unless an investment in institutional change is made, parties—as well as many voters—will continue to view a candidate’s criminal reputation as a potential asset rather than a liability.

Danielle Smogard provided excellent research assistance for this article.

Read more here — http://m.ceip.org/publications/?fa=54310

 

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Dalit girl ‘set on fire’ in UP, names lover, his brother #Vaw #WTFnews

love

Express News Service | Allahabad | January 17, 2014 12:43
A 19-year old dalit girl found unconscious in a village under Baharia police station here has alleged she was set on fire on January 10 night by her lover and his brother who did not get her treated but waited for five days before dumping her near her father’s house on Wednesday night.Police arrested her lover with whom she had been staying in the same village, Mubarakpur.
Her condition was stated to be critical. Roshani Pasi told a magistrate that her lover Roshan Patel and his brother Kamlesh Patel had set her on fire on January 10 night, and when her condition became precarious, they dumped her.  “Following a complaint filed by the girl’s father, police have registered a case of attempt to murder.
Roshan was arrested this evening,” said SHO (Baharia) R S Rawat on Thursday. Preliminary investigations revealed Roshani came to know Roshan when she was a student of an undergraduate college, Janata Inter-College, and he was associated with running it.
In November 2012, a case was registered against Roshan for eloping with her. He was arrested and the girl was sent to Nari Niketan in Khuldabad here, from where she was transferred to Nari Niketan in Kanpur, police said. “In October 2013, when she turned major and had to be released from Nari Niketan, she expressed a desire to live with Roshan, who had got bail. Since then, she was living with him. Roshan’s elder brother Kamlesh also used to live with him,” said CO (Phulpur), Alka Dharamraj.  “What we know so far is from the victim’s statement. We will have to gather more forensic evidence and take detailed medical opinion about how old the wounds are.”Police said they are on alert to prevent the matter from snowballing into a clash between the  two communities.

  • #Dalit woman labelled “#Witch” and Gang #Raped in Public (violenceonindianwomen.wordpress.com)
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#India – Supreme Court makes homosexuality a crime again #Sec377 #LGBT

,TNN | Dec 12, 2013,

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dealt a cruel blow to lakhs of homosexuals, many of whom had started living together after the Delhi high court decriminalized same-sex relationships four years ago, by making it a crime again, even if it is consensual and done between adults in private. The ‘crime’ will attract a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

The bench of Justices Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya reversed the Delhi HC’s 2009 verdict and held that the 150-year-old Section 377, criminalizing gay sex, “does not suffer from the vice of unconstitutionality”. The judgment would turn the clock back, and was being viewed in India and globally as a retrograde step. The possibility of police harassment of homosexuals could no longer be ruled out.

The bench said: “In the light of plain meaning and legislative history of the section, we hold that Section 377 IPC would apply irrespective of age and consent.” It added that the section does not discriminate any group with a particular sexual preference, a stand that was diametrically opposite to that by the Delhi HC.

“It is relevant to mention here that Section 377 IPC does not criminalize a particular people or identity or orientation. It merely identifies certain acts, which if committed, would constitute an offence. Such prohibition regulates sexual conduct regardless of gender identity and orientation,” Justices Singhvi said.

A crowd of gay activists, quite a few of whom were in advocate’s uniform, had waited inside a packed Court room No.1 in expectation of a positive verdict. At 10.30 am, Justice G S Singhvi, for whom it was the last day in office, sat with Chief Justice P Sathasivam (as is the tradition of honouring a judge on his last day).Three minutes later, Singhvi finished reading the concluding part of the 98-page judgment, and pronounced that the SC was overturning the HC verdict. Smiles turned into despair. A few of the activists cried loudly.

Mukhopadhaya said, adding “the said section does not suffer from any constitutional infirmity”. However, a clarification followed. The judges said, “Notwithstanding this verdict, the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amend the same as per the suggestion made by the Attorney General.”

The AG, G E Vahanvati, had argued that a Group of Ministers, which looked into the issue relating to constitutionality of Section 377 IPC, has recommended that there was no error in the HC order – in other words, the government didn’t have a problem with the decriminalisation of gay sex – but the SC could take a final view.

Vahanvati had also said: “The declaration granted by the high court may not result in deletion of Section 377 IPC from the statute book, but a proviso (exception) would have to be added to clarify that nothing contained therein shall apply to any sexual activity between two consenting adults in private.” He had also stressed that the “court must take cognizance of the changing social values and reject the moral views prevalent in Britain in the 18th century.”

The court said though the Law Commission of Indian in its 172nd report recommended deletion of Section 377 and that the Centre has chosen not to challenge the Delhi HC verdict, “Parliament, which is undisputedly the representative body of the people of India, has not thought it proper to delete the provision.” Parliament has not amended the law either, it added.

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, enacted by British 153 years ago in 1860, terms consensual anal sex an “unnatural offence” and provides punishment equivalent to that for the offence of rape under Section 376. It even outlaws oral sex between man and woman, while holding that only penile-vaginal sex was not “against the order of nature”.

It says: “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine.” It also explains that “penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.”

Allowing the appeals against the HC verdict, filed by a host of organizations whose arguments were tinged with religion-guided views, the bench upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377.

On July 2, 2009, the HC division bench of then Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar had declared “Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21 (right to life), 14 (right to equality), and 15 (non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender) of the Constitution.”

But the Supreme Court said Naz Foundation, on whose petition the HC had given the ruling, had “miserably failed to furnish particulars of the incidents of discriminatory attitude exhibited by the state agencies towards sexual minorities and consequential denial of basic human rights to them.”

“While reading down Section 377, the division bench of the HC overlooked that a miniscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or trans-genders and in the last more than 150 years less that 200 persons have been prosecuted for committing offence under Section 377 IPC and this cannot be made a sound basis for declaring the section ultra vires (violative of) the provisions of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution,” the apex court said.

Times View

This paper has consistently supported the decriminalization of consensual gay sex between adults. We wholeheartedly welcomed the Delhi high court’s decision in 2009 to amend Section 377 of the IPC as progressive and befitting of any modern, democratic society that recognizes the citizenry’s fundamental right to personal liberty and equality. It made India the 115th country to take the guilt out of homosexuality—which is what makes the Supreme Court’s judgment of Wednesday all the more regressive. It brings back a discriminatory law that was created over 150 years ago by our colonial masters.

It deals a body blow to the very idea of individual choice. It re-criminalizes homosexuality, which carries a maximum jail sentence of life, and gives the police one more excuse to harass, extort and jail law-abiding people whose only ‘crime’ is that they do not conform to the traditional view of sexuality. The government and our political parties need to correct this injustice. Over the past couple of years, the UPA has time and again criticized the courts for “judicial over-reach” and for invading executive and legislative turf; but such activism is due, at least in part, to our MPs and MLAs not doing their main job, which is to legislate. An amendment of 377 is something Parliament should have done on its own a long time ago; now that the SC has said it’s for the “competent legislature” to take a call, it shouldn’t waste any more time. From an electoral point of view, the LGBT community should be worth wooing for any socially liberal political party, given the ballpark estimate that about 7-13% of India’s adult population is gay. Whichever party moves first will almost certainly have the loyalty of this vote bank; it’ll also be doing the right thing.

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#Mumbai – Where is your MLA in this Report Card ?

MUMBAI MLAS’ REPORT CARD SHOWS CRIME, CORRUPTION ON THE RISE: PRAJA

Criminality and corruption have increased steadily among Mumbai’s legislators, a report card released by voluntary organisation Praja Foundation on Monday revealed. An analysis of 32 MLAs from the city found that while 15 of them had criminal charges before the 2009 assembly elections, 10 had new criminal cases registered against them till December 2012, and 16 were charge-sheeted in the same period. Their performance in the legislature too didn’t provide much reason for optimism, with attendance dipping over the last three years. And they raised fewer questions in 2013 compared to the previous year. A corresponding survey of 25,000 Mumbaikars, however, showed citizens today place even greater faith in their legislators.

 THE BEST THREE
, Yogesh Sagar (BJPAmin Patel (Cong), , Madhukar Chavan (Cong)
THE WORST THREE
, Kripashankar Singh (Cong), , Chandrakant Handore (Cong), , Baldev Khosa (Cong)

Where’s your MLA on this report card?

Of 10 Best Performers, 5 Are From Cong

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbaikars, who are gearing up for election season, can draw some direction from the MLA Report Card 2013 released by the Praja Foundation on Monday.
Of the top 10 best-performing MLAs, five were from the Congress, two from BJP, 2 from the Shiv Sena and 1 from the MNS.
Thirty-two of the 36 Mumbai-based MLAs were evaluated. Four were left out because they are ministers in the state government.
The legislators were judged on seven parameters including their attendance, criminal records, and the perception of voters drawn from a survey of 25,000 Mumbaikars. The findings reflect a steady decline in the quality of governance in the last three years, marked by increasing frustration among citizens.
Of the worst five performers, three belonged to the Congress and one each to the Samajwadi Party and BJP. Congress MLA Kripashankar Singh from Kalina constituency was right at the bottom at 32, falling from his previous year’s ranking of 28. Yogesh Sagar, BJP MLA from Charkop, retained his numero uno position from last year.
For those with criminal records, Praja introduced a system of negative markings to factor in cases that have been registered since the MLAs filed affidavits during the last election in 2009. This could be one of the reasons why Mangesh Sangle from Vikhroli, who was a top ranker in 2010 and was ranked number two last year, dropped down to the 20th rank. He was charge-sheeted after last year’s rankings were out.
The report card also rated political parties. In the overall party assessment (the parties were given weighted scores), the BJP, which has five MLAs in the city, notched up the best performance. It was followed by the Shiv Sena and the Indian National Congress. The NCP, ranked the highest last year, was pushed to fifth place after the MNS, which came in at number four
“Elected representatives in our country get appraised only once in five years by the voting public. Many people do not even vote. An independent, unbiased performance evaluation system for our elected representatives is the need of the hour,” said former Union cabinet secretary Prabhat Kumar.
Voters held mixed opinions about their MLAs’ performance. They gave them 2.89 on 6.00 for accessibility, a significant drop from 3.96 in 2011, but believed that their overall performance had marginally improved in the same period.
Maharashtra is a year away from its next Assembly elections scheduled for October 2014. Trustee of Praja Foundation Nitai Mehta hoped this performance evaluation would prompt them to do some exceptional work for their constituents during the last year of their term. “The next 12-odd months will be like their final exam, when the electorate will decide on the result – to re-elect them or to find a new candidate,” he said.
BADGES
MR POPULAR
Bala Dagdu Nandgaonkar, Ramesh Thakur
(Perceived performer + perceived as accessible) MR CLEAN
Amin Amir Ali Patel, Baldev Khosla, Ramesh Thakur
(Crime-free record + perceived least corrupt)
MR COMMITTED
Bala Dagdu Nandgaonkar
(Quality of Questions + No. of questions)
ATTENDANCE
WORST Kripashankar Singh Prakash (Bala) Sawant Chandrakant Handore/ Mangesh Sangle
BEST Jagannath Achanna Shetty/Kalidas Kolambkar/Krishnakumar Hegde/Madhukar Balkrishna Chavan/Nawab Malik /Ravindra Waikar/Sardar Tara Singh/ Subhash Desai/Vinod Ghosalkar/ Yogesh Amrutlal Sagar
(Ranking based on number of sessions attended)
CRIME-FREE RECORD
WORST Abu Asim Azmi/Pravin Darekar/ Shishir Krishnarao Shinde/ Bala Nandgaonkar/Ramchandra Kadam/ Ravindra Waikar
BEST
Amin Amir Ali Patel/Annie Shekhar/ Ashok Jadhav/Baba Sidikki/Baldev Khosa/Chandrakant Handore/Jagannath Shetty/Kalidas Kolambkar/Krishnakumar Hegde/ Madhukar Balkrishna Chavan/Milind Kamble/ Nawab Malik/Rajhans Singh/Ramesh Singh Thakur/Yogesh Sagar
(Those with no criminal FIRs are given 5 marks. Praja Foundation has provided negative marking for those with new criminal cases registered against them)
HOW THEY’VE BEEN RATED
Praja’s Mumbai MLA report card ranked the performance of 32 Mumbai-based MLAs, with 1 being the best. Mumbai elects 36 MLAs to the Legislative Assembly, four of whom are ministers in the present state government and have thus been excluded from the assessment.
MLAs have been assessed on 4 quantitative parameters and 3 qualitative perception-based parameters. The quantitative parameters are: a) quality of questions asked in the Assembly, b) number of questions asked, c) attendance, d) crimefree record. The qualitative ones are: a) perceived least corrupt, b) perceived accessibility for the public, and c) perceived performer for the constituency. (Source: The Praja Foundation)

 

 

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#India – Crime pays in Politics- Candidates with criminal past more likely to win elections

Abhishek Bhalla  New Delhi, July 30, 2013

In India, if you want to be a successful politician, being a criminal can be your passport to success. At least this is what a recent study suggests. The analysis of self-sworn affidavits of candidates by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) has thrown up startling facts about criminalisation of politics and corruption.

Candidates with a criminal past are more likely to win an election making them the preferred choice of political parties, it says. A candidate’s assets are likely to skyrocket after a five-year term by up to 1000 per cent.

The study, which took into account the time period between 2004 and 2013, also highlights the correlation between money and criminality.

‘Tainted’ candidates were found to be wealthier than others. The average assets of MPs and MLAs with serious criminal cases were worth Rs.4.38 crore.

Crime and  money nexus Professor Jagdeep Chokkar, who worked at IIM Ahmedabad and is a founder member of ADR and NEW, says: “(The) nexus between crime and money has been exposed… If the electoral process is governed by crime and money what moral rights do we have to call ourselves a democracy.”

Candidates with a clean record lag behind in the electoral race. According to the study, there is only 12 per cent chance of winning for a ‘clean’ candidate as compared to 23 per cent winning possibility for a ‘criminal’ candidate. About 74 per cent candidates with a criminal background got tickets for a second time, the study points out.

Serious questions The NGO analysed the record of 7,950 MPs and MLAs who have held seats since 2004. A total of 11,063 (18 per cent) out of 62,847 candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves, while 5,253 (8 per cent) out of the 11,063 candidates declared serious criminal cases

The highest percentage of criminal candidates was from Shiv Sena. Of 137 Sena MPs or MLAs, 103 have declared criminal cases. Out of 1,689 BJP MPs or MLAs, 520 have declared criminal cases; while of the 2,451 Congress MPs or MLAs, 527 declared so. The report says 162 (30 per cent) of the 543 present Lok Sabha members face “criminal cases” and 76 others “serious criminal cases

The abnormal growth in assets of candidates also poses serious questions on their integrity as the average increase of assets of a common citizen is nowhere near the increase of politicians. Total 62,847 candidates contested either state or parliamentary elections, of them 4,181 candidates re-contested elections. Of these, the assets of about 1,615 candidates showed an increase of over 200 per cent, 684 showed an increase of over 500 per cent and 317 candidates of over 1000 per cent. In terms of assets, it was Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which tops the chart with average assets of a candidate being Rs.6.02 crore.

Hardly any positives

The report released on elections, crime and money is based entirely on self-declared affidavits of the candidates. “As per the Supreme Court order, election candidates have to submit an affidavit declaring details of criminal record, education and assets. Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has been systematically collecting and compiling information from these affidavits as and when they were filed since 2004,” said Professor Trilochan Sastry, faculty, IIM Bangalore and founder member of National Election Watch, ADR.

The association has analysed the details of 62,847 candidates. “It’s high time that a country like ours got leaders who were honest and more capable to form the government. Our analysis shows that 30 per cent Lok Sabha MPs and 17 per cent sitting MPs from Rajya Sabha have serious criminal cases against them. There is no positive sign in the analysis that has come out,” said Professor Sastry. “Many years ago, Lal Bahadur Shastri had resigned as railway minister taking moral responsibility of a train accident. That’s the standard we expect from the leaders,” he added.

– With inputs from Neha Pushkarna , in  India Today

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Why the US locks up prisoners for life

By Kate DaileyBBC News Magazine

Man behind bars

Last week, an English court handed a whole-life sentence to Dale Cregan for murdering four people, including two policewomen.

That penalty means he will never be eligible for release, and it puts him in rare company, making him one of about 50 people in the UK serving such a sentence.

Had he been in the US, he would have been less of an anomaly.

In the US, at least 40,000 people are imprisoned without hope for parole, including 2,500 under the age of 18.

That is just a fraction of those who have been given a life sentence but yet may one day win release. The Sentencing Project, a non-profit organisation that studies sentencing and criminal justice in America, estimated in 2009 that at least 140,000 prisoners in the US now serve a life sentence.

This does not include convicts given extremely long sentences with a fixed term, like the Alabama man sentenced to 200 years for kidnapping and armed robbery.

Most of them will have the opportunity for parole – though Sentencing Project Director Marc Mauer says few will receive it.

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“Start Quote

Criminals are always less popular than victims”

Franklin ZimringUniversity of California, Berkeley

David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University, says several factors underlie the high number of American convicts imprisoned for life.

“In large part it reflects the overly punitive nature of the American criminal justice system,” says Mauer.

“Not only do we use life sentences much more extensively than other industrial nations, but even in the lower level of event severity, the average burglar or car thief will do more time than they will in Canada or Wales.”

The harsh sentences reveal a type of “sentencing inflation” that began in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It was almost a competition among legislatures of both parties to show how tough they could be on crime,” says Mauer.

At the same time, the sentence is thought to send a message.

“In states like Michigan where they don’t have a death penalty, this is what they have as its moral equivalent,” says Franklin Zimring, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.

In states that do have the death penalty, long sentences underscore distaste for crimes that do not meet the threshold for capital punishment.

Inmates at Chino State Prison, which houses 5500 inmates, crowd around double and triple bunk beds in a gymnasium that was modified to house 213 prisonersCalifornia’s overcrowded prisons have prisoners sleeping in stacked bedding in the gymnasium

“This is a way of putting a denunciatory exclamation point in the punishment,” he says.

Politicians and other state officials are loathe to be seen as soft on crime, let alone to release an offender on parole only to have him commit another crime.

The 1993 death of Polly Klaas, a young girl killed by a recently paroled man with a long criminal history, led California to pass a “three strikes” rule mandating a sentence of 25 years to life for anyone found guilty of three felonies.

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Life in jail: Safer streets?

Does locking away criminals for life make society safer for everyone else?

“At some level the answer is obviously yes,” says Dan Bernhardt. “There’s no threat to safety if the prisoner is not at risk of re-offending, and a clear benefit if he is.”

But Bernhardt’s research shows that long prison sentences may impede rehabilitation.

“It can be grossly counterproductive,” he says. “It can discourage someone from trying to rehabilitate themselves.”

In the UK, “it is rare but not unheard of for someone on a life license to commit serious offenses,” says David Wilson, who says checks are in place to keep tabs on those who are released.

California lawmakers cite the three strikes policy as the reason for the state’s declining crime rate. But University of California, Riverside sociologist Robert Nash Parker says other factors are responsible, like the national decline in alcohol consumption.

“The drop in crime occurred all over the country, in every state. It dropped at the same time, magnitude, direction,” he says. “It can’t possibly be due to a policy in just one state.”

But now, in both the US and the UK the sentence of life without parole is coming into question.

In England, these sentences arecurrently being challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, after a lawsuit brought by three men serving whole life sentences – “a double murderer, a man who wiped out his entire family to inherit money, and a serial killer,” says Wilson.

These men, at least one of whom proclaims his innocence, argue that the denial of a parole option does not allow them to claim they have changed. They further argue that the assignment of these sentences is arbitrary – some convicted killers get them, others do not.

In the US, budget cuts have forced states to reconsider whether the practice of locking criminals up for long periods of time is cost-effective.

“Lawmakers in Illinois have made the decision to shut down a few prisons and let people out early in order to save money,” says Dan Bernhardt, professor of economics at the University of Illinois.

“There’s nothing like state budget problems to get people to see what the costs are.”

In 2012, the US Supreme Court also established that for minors, a sentence of life without parole violates the Constitution’s safeguardsagainst “cruel and unusual” punishment.

The court also ruled that prison overcrowding in California – due in part to severe sentencing and the three strikes programme – violates the same safeguards. It ordered the state to release tens of thousands of prisoners.

But action after these verdicts has been slow, as state officials continue to fight in court.

In the US, once someone has been sent to prison on a life sentence, it’s hard for him or her to get out.

 

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