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.

Continue reading the main story

“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.

Continue reading the main story

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.

 

#India – Does law do justice to the poor & hapless?


draconianlaw

June 9, 2013, The Hindu

MATTHEW ADUKANIL

The powerful are presumed innocent until proved guilty but the indigent citizen under arrest is considered guilty until he is proved innocent

Learned judges toast the majesty of the law. Politicians swear by its sanctity asserting that it will take its due course. But seasoned criminals are thoroughly familiar with its loopholes. They know how to flout the law and yet how to survive by it. But those who have felt the slings and arrows of misapplied law unhesitatingly subscribe to the Dickensian dictum ‘The Law is an ass’. Probably, the highest tribute ever paid to the ass! Law commands respect only from the law-abiding.

One is reminded of two amusing constables in a Shakespearean play. Enforcing the king’s midnight curfew on tramps, they ordered two ruffians, ‘ In the name of His Majesty go home’. Upon their insolent reply that they did not recognise His Majesty, the policemen duly apologised and went their way. Successful execution of the time-tested strategy of questioning law enforcers’ jurisdiction, and going scot-free riding piggyback on technicalities.

Love is not Time’s fool, as Shakespeare said but Law is. The dictum ‘Art is long but life is short’ has its parallel also in law and it would be equally correct to say ‘Law is long but life is short.’ A shrewd and high profile offender of the law can have a long-drawn battle with it and keep it at bay practically all his life. Law is definitely on the side of the powerful criminal since he is presumed innocent until proved guilty but the indigent citizen under arrest is considered guilty until he is proved innocent.

A criminal can keep out of reach of the long arm of the law until he is finally convicted and a series of legal procedures is exhausted. A lawsuit starts in the lowest sessions court, winds its way through the maze of higher level courts and finally reaches the Supreme Court creeping at snail’s pace through numerous speed humps of adjournments, court vacations, appeals, revision hearings, single-judge hearings, Full Bench hearings, presidential pardons, etc.

Meanwhile, criminals who are MPs can contest elections, serve multiple five-year terms and amass colossal fortunes through corrupt practices. The money thus illegally made will more than cover the lawyer’s fees, bribes to those who can help, huge election expenses and still leave behind a tidy fortune. Meanwhile, as the plea for justice is on its pilgrim’s progress to the courts, crucial files disappear from offices, inconvenient witnesses meet with mysterious ends and unsympathetic law enforcers or judges just vanish.

But what happens to the poor villager or tribal who is picked up on trumped up charges at the instance of the well-heeled? It takes months and sometimes years for him to be taken to the magistrate to be enlightened on his crimes, verification of identity, etc.

When some political or business bigwigs are arrested for serious crimes and put behind bars, at once a host of ailments like high BP and kidney and heart problems visit them calling for immediate hospitalisation and quality treatment. The wonder is that with all these ailments they were able to go about their daily business. These health problems seem to be ‘bar-coded’ since they crop up only behind bars. It is a brave new world, indeed!

Crimes taking place in full public glare, caught on cameras and repeatedly beamed by the media for days and weeks need elaborate and long court procedures to establish their veracity and the identity of the perpetrators. We may recall the prolonged trials of Kasab or recently the members of the gang rape of Nirbhaya in a Delhi bus. Or take the case of the seven-year jail term serving Bitty Mohanty who jumped parole, studied for MBA degree and got employed in a bank in a new avatar. A criminal who does not know to exploit to the full the niceties of court procedures had better hang up his boots.

A huge number of police personnel are engaged in VIP security, for Ministers and MPs and, in some cases, even extended family members of MPs. Allegedly about one-third of the MPs in Parliament have criminal backgrounds and several have murder, rape and other serious cases pending against them. Upon seeing this posse of security personnel around them amid crowds, one may be excused if he/she gets a nagging doubt: who is the potential target and who is the perceived threat?

What about protection for women riding alone in buses to their homes at night after work, and farmers exposed daily to the attacks of marauding elephants in forest areas?

(The writer is an assistant college professor. Email: adukanildb@gmail.com)

 

Press Release – Statement on the unprecedented detention of CDRO team by police


Sanhati

May 29, 2013

We strongly condemn the absolutely arbitrary and unprecedented action of the Jharkhand police administration in detaining eight members of a CDRO (Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations) fact-finding team while they were addressing a press conference in Ranchi. The team had just returned from a fact-finding mission to Chatra, where ten members of the CPI(Maoist) had been supposedly killed in a long gun battle with the TPC, a splinter group actively supported by the state government, in March 2013. However, at that time, there were local media reports that the CPI(Maoist) members had been poisoned and then shot to death in a false encounter. The fact-finding team, consisting of members from PUCL Jharkhand, APDR West Bengal and PUDR Delhi, had gone to investigate the veracity of these reports and the circumstances behind the incident. They were in the process of addressing the press and releasing their report while officials of the Jharkhand police, accompanied by a large number of policemen came and picked them up without providing any explanation.

The audaciousness of the act, committed in presence of the assembled press, clearly shows the scant respect for democracy and democratic procedures which the Jharkhand police has. The members of the team, including a woman, were detained in the Kotwali police station for a long time till they were released late in the evening. The police maintained that they had just been picked up for finding information, although it is unclear what information the former were seeking which could only be obtained by picking them up from the venue of a press conference using a posse of armed policemen. This is clearly a tactic of intimidation by the Jharkhand government to dissuade future fact-finding teams from visiting sites of incidents where the state government, or groups supported by the state government, are complicit in criminal activities. However, it is incredible that such a thing can happen in broad daylight and in open view of the public and press. We unequivocally condemn this blatant attack on the activities of democratic rights organizations and the attempt to muzzle them in order to hide the criminal complicity of the state government in encounter killings and other illegal activities.

 

Punjab – Minor Dalit girl raped by two brothers in Punjab #Vaw #WTFIndia


Last Updated: Sunday, May 12, 2013,
Moga: A 17-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped by two brothers, also related to the victim, police said on Sunday.

Joginder Singh and Swaran Singh, both residents of Rauwal village, allegedly raped the girl on the evening of May 10 when she was alone in her house, they said.

The duo escaped after the victim’s mother arrived in the house and caught them in the act, police said, adding that the accused were relatives of the girl.

A case has been registered and a special investigation team has been constituted to probe the case in which no arrests have been made so far.

PTI

 

Rape Culture: 3 Reasons Most Men Are to Blame For Misogyny #Vaw


rape, culture:, 3, reasons, most, men, are, to, blame, for, misogyny, Rape Culture 3 Reasons Most Men Are to Blame For Misogyny

The discourse surrounding rape culture and the pervading attitudes of victim blaming are reaching an all-time epoch with each new shared and re-shared story on a new rape case making its rounds on social media platforms. These cases include most recently the Delhi gang rape case, the Steubenville High School football case, and the Rehtaeh Parsons story, all of which have churned our stomachs, broadened our vernacular around synonyms of “deplorable,” and made us shout “why?!”

Why indeed.

Why  we are asked in pictures and Tweets and statuses  are we centering our awareness and education on rape around “not getting raped” as opposed to “don’t rape”? It is a timely question, a highly relevant one, and in many ways the correct one, but one that is far too implicit about the root of the problem and circuitous in its blame.

Thus, I will come out and say it for you, ladies.

It’s men. We are the root of the problem and deserving of the blame.

Though I am sure there are those of us  that poor Ryan Reynolds or Ryan Gosling look-alike who must dash between campus security lights when exiting the gym in his Under Armour tank top or endure the humiliation of answering why he chose to go out in skinny jeans to a club after being sexually violated by a gang of sorority sisters, those circumstances are quite … rare.

No, it’s quite clear fellas that we are the problem. And the problem does not begin and end at rape, but extends to and permeates throughout the entire sphere of gender issues, from domestic violence to gender pay gaps. Misogyny exists because we, men, either push it or allow it.

There are three ways in which we are most culpable:

1. Most obviously, men are almost exclusively the perpetrators:

Except for a very small number of instances, it is men who are committing the most egregious gender crimes such as rape and domestic abuse, running the companies that are most flagrant in their unequal pay and opportunities, and in nearly every country creating the laws and conditions that keep women disadvantaged.

2. Men have perpetuated a culture around manhood and masculinity that is conducive to misogynist behavior:

Especially relevant to rape, we have defined manhood around sexual “conquests,” the who, how, when, and where of sexual intercourse (notice the absence of why). Our virility is becoming increasingly quantitative. This in turn has amplified the pressure on boys and men to “score,” or, in the best case scenario, lie or aggrandize about it, in order to secure their rightful place amongst the pantheon of their masculine brethren. You will find this narrative occurring in your local teenage boy’s locker room or in nearly any all-male social situation. To coincide with this, we have also effectively stigmatized active positive discourse around women’s issues  whether it is by questioning the manhood (there is that word again) of the men who do so or regarding their motives with suspicion. Apparently, it shouldn’t matter to us what women think about any of this.

3. Men’s contribution to the anti-sexual assault movement has mostly been a passive, or neutral, one:

We don’t rape, we don’t physically abuse, and we certainly didn’t ask to make more for the same work than our female co-worker. Maybe, occasionally, we’ll even do so much as “like” a comment on Facebook that supports a woman’s issue. Maybe, during our weekly poker game, when our friend belches out his newest drunken sexual experience with some “random b*tch” (of which he’s also probably bluffing about) we will merely giggle instead of guffaw. And then maybe, afterwards, we will pat ourselves on the back for not being like him. While the neutral measure is obviously necessary given the alternative, it is simply not enough. It is not effective in inducing change.

No longer can we just brush off the actions of the offending fellow male as a purely individual, psychological one (based on the notion that he must just be inherently evil and thus nothing could be done on our end anyways), or rue that biology and history conspired to create, somehow independently of us, a patriarchal, misogynist society that is so prevalent it might be fated or so powerful it can’t be changed. Men can’t just say “well that’s that,” and dust off our hands and put them back on the video game controller while our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, and friends continue to get raped, abused, persecuted, and repressed. Humanity cannot afford this type of attitude any longer.

Which brings me to the obvious question: Well, what should and can we do that specifically targets men?

For the long term, education around gender needs to be introduced in schools at an early age and extend to the very end of compulsory schooling. Boys need to learn about gender issues around the world and why they should care, that gender roles are not predetermined and do not follow a specific narrative, and how to interact with their female counterparts as equals. Boys need to learn how to be men in the presence of women’s issues, not in the absence of them. Later, issues surrounding sex need to be incorporated, especially around the matters of what defines manhood and masculinity. Preferably, these classes would be taught by the world’s most testosterone-driven professional wrestler, just to drive the point home. But that’s merely a frill.

We also need to alter our conversation when we are around each other because our words and conversations aren’t harmless. In fact, the way in which we define ourselves as men and the accompanying roles we take on are very harmful, as they act as influencers for the type of behavior that typically surrounds misogyny.

Lastly, starting today, we need to openly and actively show that we won’t stand for rape, we don’t tolerate domestic abuse, we can’t fathom why our female colleagues are making less than us, etc. The more male faces we can add to the struggle around gender issues, the better. Social pressure needs to be applied to our male counterparts that this is far from normal and far from okay.

I hope that no one will take this simply as a manifestation of “male guilt” or me saying that men are scum. The truth is quite the opposite, as there are many, many more good men out there than bad ones. But I am claiming we are quite unaware and ignorant of our own subtle complicities and roles in regards to the culture we are very much responsible for creating and sustaining, and often do not take accountability in reigning in or stopping the most arrant of our same-sex offenders.

So take this as a call to arms, if you will. For those men who are just tired, and disgusted, and embarrassed, not just as a man but as a human being, every time you hear about another woman who has been raped, or subjugated and persecuted in some other way, know that there issomething that we can do about it.

We can begin by pointing the fingers at ourselves, and then act accordingly from there.

 

Rapes will come down if people shun meat, alcohol: Swami Agnivesh #WTFnews


PTI | Apr 27, 2013,

NEW DELHI: Rape cases will come down if people shun non-vegetarian food and alcohol, activist Swami Agnivesh said on Saturday.

“We cannot stop a crime like rape by policing only…. I think rapes will come down significanlty if people stop eating non-vegetarian. There has been lot of research on this…. Rapes will come down significantly if alcohol consumption is not there,” he told reporters here.

He said a lot of crimes and accidents take place due to consumption of alcohol.

Arguing on the benefits of a vegetarianism, he said Japanese scientists conducted a study on the oldest man on earth recently and they found that he was a vegeterian.

“Every research conducted in this world points to one fact that red meat is the reason behind all diseases,” he said.

Agnivesh said that all the six accused in the gruesome rape of a young girl in a moving bus on December 16 last year were drunk as well as the accused in the recent incident of sexual assault on a five-year-old girl.

“In both the incidents, the accused consumed alcohol. This explains clearly that alcohol drove them to commit the crime. Alcohol shuts down the moral thinking of a person,” he said.

“Government is not ending alcohol-production in the country as it fetches revenue. All the states have now started competing to outnumber each other in alcohol production. This has become the norm,” he said.

Expressing concern over the fact that everyday one billion animals are slaughtered, he said that “its consequesnce will be severe.”

Regretting the loss of values in human beings, Agnivesh said, “There are no moral and spiritual values left in people. Schools today do not teach children about the evil-consequences of drinking. We cannot blame an individual for a crime. The society, as a whole, is responsible.”

Asked about whether death penalty will stop rape, Swami said, “Death penalty will not do anything. I do not support it. Death sentence should not given to anybody including those who attack Parliament. Even Kasab should not have been given death sentence,” he said.

Rediff.com Publicly apologise for failure to ensure safe chat space for women #Vaw #Online


Dear editor,
Rediff.com

Sir,
Mr. Ganesh Nadar fom Rediff had contacted me yesterday to participate
in a live chat today, and I agreed. Mr. Onkar Singh from Delhi‘s rediff
office came to my office today to facilitate the chat, which was to take
place from 2 pm to 3 pm. The chat had been advertised as an opportunity
to chat with me as one of the activists involved in the recent
anti-rape protests.
During the chat, someone with a handle ‘RAPIST
repeatedly intervened in capital letters. In one ‘question’ he said,
“Kavita tell women not to wear revealing clothes then we will not rape
them.” The same man then posted another question several times: “Kavita
tell me where I should come and rape you using condom.” Both questions
were in block capitals and very visible. Mr Nadar initially said live
chats cannot be ‘screened’ – which I know for a fat is not true since I
have been in such chats with other media groups. Later Mr Nadar said
that the man in the Rediff Mumbai office monitoring the chat failed to
spot the ‘RAPIST’ because there were ‘so many questions.’ I find this
difficult to believe since this was the only handle in capital letters
and the questions were also in capitals.
Yet, no one from Rediff
did anything to screen the guest – me – from such offensive questions,
or to block someone with a handle of ‘RAPIST’ from the chat!
Mr.
Ganesh Nadar has informed me that Rediff has taken a screenshot of the
chat and is filing an FIR and sending the screenshot to Worli cyber
crime labs to identify the ‘RAPIST.’ But I am yet to get a copy of the
screenshot though I have asked for it; excuses are being made. I am also
yet to receive the FIR number. Mr Nadar is very vague and contradictory
about why the transcript of the chat is yet to be posted; whether the
RAPIST’s questions will be screened there; whether I will receive a
screenshot or only the transcript (which will only have the questions I
responded to); and other queries that I have.

I demand a public  apology from Rediff for its failure to ensure that a chat organised by
them was a safe space for me, a woman. Condoning and allowing such
intimidatory behaviour against women keeps women out of the online space
– just as rape keeps women off the streets. I resent this intimidation,
and in this instance, hold Rediff squarely responsible for failing to
keep ‘RAPIST’ out of the chat.
Expecting a public apology from you.
Kavita Krishnan,
Secretary, AIPWA

April 24, 2013 n

 

Delhi Police Commissioner – The Buck Stops With You #Vaw #Rape


Prevent and Respond to End Violence against Women and Girls

We, the undersigned women’s organizations and concerned citizens, express our strong condemnation of the rising incidence of heinous crimes against women and girls in Delhi. This continues in spite of an unrelenting campaign by women’s groups and civil society over the past many months. The recent rape and sexual torture of a 5-year old girl in Delhi once again highlights that the police and administration continue to respond to crimes against women casually, in gross violation of the law.

Delhi and the National Capital Region is not a safe place for women and girls, either inside the home, in workplaces or on the streets. This is evident from the ever-increasing incidents of rape and other sexual crimes against women and girls. This is a shameful indicator of the inadequate response and abject failure of State agencies to uphold the rights and safety of  women. It is time that the government and its entire machinery, including the police, institute mechanisms and practices that will end impunity for all forms of violence against women..

We call on the Delhi Police to carry out efficient and time-bound investigations and take measures to ensure a speedy trial leading to stringent punishment in all cases of sexual violence. The police must also ensure that they take urgent necessary steps to ensure a competent, legal and sensitive responses by its personnel at all levels. We can wait no longer.

We demand that the following measures be undertaken by the police authorities on an emergency basis:

1.     Registration of a case under Sec. 166A IPC against the Investigating Officer of P.S. Gandhinagar , for not investigating the case of sexual violence in accordance with law.

2.     Action against supervising Police Officers – SHO – for failure to discharge their responsibility in supervising the investigation.

3.     Action against all concerned police personnel of P.S. Gandhinagar, for failure to comply with the directive of the Supreme Court of India to immediately register a case of a ‘missing child’ and promptly investigate the same.

4.     Investigation into the allegation of bribe to the parents to hush up the case.

5.     Standardized investigation procedures to be circulated to all police stations, with action taken against police personnel who do not implement them properly;

6.     Increased sensitization, effective investigation and accountability of the police at all levels in dealing with all crimes against women and girls.

7.     Immediate relief, legal and medical assistance, and long term rehabilitation measures including counselling to be provided to survivors of rape, through necessary referrals and without delays.

8.     Ensure that all areas that are vulnerable and unsafe be referred to the appropriate authorities to improve infrastructure to make cities safer for women and girls.

WSS | Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

and many women and progressive organiations

 

Surrendering naxals to get a red carpet: Fast trials, legal aid and more money for weapons laid down by Maoists



12 Apr, 2013, 0551 hrs IST, Aman Sharma, ET Bureau


Surrendering naxals to get a red carpet

naxalarea
NEW DELHI: The home ministry has asked state governments to consider not prosecuting surrendering Naxalites and set up fast-track courts for speedy trials as part of a strategy to woo extremists to lay down their arms and join the mainstream.

The Centre has also asked states to consider providing free legal aid or the services of an advocate to surrendered Naxal cadre to help them with court trials. These measures are part of the ministry’s surrender guidelines for Naxals, which kicked in from April 1 and in which the monetary incentives for surrenders of cadres and weapons was sharply increased.

These guidelines seek to advise states on how to deal with pending court cases of surrendering Naxals. “Trial of heinous crimes committed by the surrendered Naxal may continue in the courts. The states may also consider withdrawal of prosecution on a case to case basis depending upon the antecedents and merits of the individual surrendered person. For minor offences, plea bargaining could be allowed at the discretion of the state authorities,” say the guidelines that have been sent to Naxal-affected states.

The ministry, which has been encouraged by a sharp rise in the numbers of Naxal surrenders in the last few years, also wants the states to consider providing free legal aid or an advocate to those who have surrendered “Fast track courts may be constituted by states for speedy trials against the surrendered Naxals,” the guidelines say.

This is part of the carrot and stick policy of the ministry, which has been spearheading the offensive against Naxals in various parts of the country.

Under it, it aims to provide gainful employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to the surrendered Naxals so that they are encouraged to join the mainstream and do not return to the Naxal fold.

“The objective is to wean away the hardcore cadres who have strayed into the fold of the Naxal movement and now find themselves trapped in that net,” the norms said.

Surrender cases involving Naxals hit 440 last year, up from 394 the year before and in line with a general trend that has seen a steady rise since 2009. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has in the past called the Naxalite threat one of the most serious internal security threats facing the country, with vast swathes of the hinterland in several states outside government control.

The ministry has said that along with making it easier for Naxals to lay down arms, it should also be ensured that those who surrender do not find it attractive to rejoin the movement. It has told the states that “tactical surrenders” should not be permitted at any cost. The guidelines therefore stipulate that surrendering Naxals must make a “clear confession” of all criminal acts committed by them, including the names of Naxal planners, financiers, harbourers, couriers and the details of organisations they are familiar with.

Experts also caution against adopting too lenient a strategy against the Naxals. “A naxalite must not be allowed to have the best of both worlds. I do not think we should become too liberal and the surrendering Naxal must face the music for his criminal acts. Giving legal aid is fine but prosecution should not be dropped,” said Prakash Singh, a former BSF chief and an expert on leftwing extremism. Enthused by the sharp increase in surrenders in the last few years, the home ministry has also sharply raised the monetary incentive for surrendering Naxals from April 1.

 

Supreme Court of India on Mass Carnage Gujarat 2002 #mustshare


” When the ghastly killings take place in the land of Mahatma Gandhi, it raised a very pertinent question as to whether some people have become so bankrupt in their ideology that they have deviated from everything which was so dear to him. When large number(s) of people including innocent and helpless children and women are killed in a diabolic manner, it brings disgrace to the entire society. Criminals have no religion. No religion teaches violence and cruelty-based religion is no religion at all, but a mere cloak to usurp power by fanning ill-feeling and playing on feelings aroused thereby. The golden thread passing through every religion is love and compassion. The fanatics who spread violence in the name of religion are worse than terrorists and more dangerous than an alien enemy.”

From the Supreme Court Judgement in the Best Bakery case. Justices Soraiswamy Raju and Arijit Pasayat 12.4.2004

 Other Direct Quotations from the Judgement

…..”When a large number of witnesses have turned hostile it should have raised a reasonable suspicion that the witnesses were being threatened or coerced.

……”Strangely, the relatives of the accused were examined as witnesses for the prosecution obviously with a view that their evidence could be used to help the accused persons.

…..”If the State’s machinery fails to protect (a) citizen’s life, liberties and property, and the investigation is conducted in a manner to help the accused persons, it is but appropriate that this Court should step in to prevent undue miscarriage of justice that is perpetrated upon the victims and their family members.

…….”Right from the inception of the judicial system it has been accepted that discovery, vindication and establishment of truth are the main purposes underlying (the) existence of courts of justice.

…….”If a criminal court is to be an effective instrument in dispensing justice, the presiding judge must cease to be a spectator and a mere recording machine by becoming a participant in the trial.

…….”Failure to accord fair hearing either to the accused or the prosecution violates even minimum standards of due process of law. It is inherent in the concept of due process of law that condemnation should be rendered only after the trial in which the hearing is a real one, not sham or  mere farce and pretence.

…….”Time has come when serious and undiluted thoughts are to be bestowed for protecting witnesses so that ultimate truth is presented before the court and justice triumphs and the trial is not reduced to mockery.

……”Legislative measures to emphasise prohibition against tampering with witness, victim or informant have become the imminent and inevitable need of the day. Conducts which illegitimately affect the presentation of evidence in proceedings before the courts have to be seriously and sternly dealt with.

……”Witness Protection programmes are imperative as well as imminent in the context of alarming rate of somersaults by witnesses with ulterior motives and purely for personal gain or fear for security. It would be a welcome step if something on those lines is done in our country.

…….”The entire approach of the high court suffers from serious infirmities, its conclusions lopsided, and lacks proper or judicious application of mind. Arbitrariness is found writ large on the approach as well as the conclusions arrived at in the judgement under challenge.

……”When the ghastly killings take place in the land of Mahatma Gandhi, it raises a very pertinent question as to whether some people have become so bankrupt in their ideology that they have deviated from everything which was so dear to him.

……’If one even cursorily glances through the records of the case, one gets a feeling that the justice delivery system was being taken for a ride and literally allowed to be abused, misused and mutilated by subterfuge. The investigation appears to be perfunctory and anything but impartial.

…….”The golden thread passing through every religion is love and compassion. The fanatics who spread violence in the name of religion are worse than terrorists and more dangerous than an alien enemy.

……’It is no doubt true that the accused persons have been acquitted by the trial court and the acquittal has been upheld, but if the acquittal is unmerited and based on tainted evidence, tailored investigation, unprincipled prosecutor and perfunctory trial and evidence of threatened/terrorised witnesses, it is no acquittal in the eye of law.

……”The modern day “Neros” were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.

…….”The high court appears to have miserably failed to maintain the required judicial balance and sobriety in making unwarranted references to personalities and their legitimate moves before the competent courts – the highest court of the nation, despite knowing fully well that it could not deal with such aspects or matters.

…….”We are satisfied that it is fit and proper case, in the background of the nature of additional evidence sought to be adduced and the perfunctory manner of trial conducted on the basis of tainted investigation, a re-trial is a must and essentially called for in order to save and preserve the justice delivery system unsullied and unscathed by vested interests.”

…..”A-13 to A-18 (all policemen) started fabricating false evidence and causing disappearance of evidence immediately after Bilkis lodged an oral complaint giving the names of the assailants and the details of the incident, with the intention of causing disappearance of evidence to screen the offenders.

….”The two doctors conducting post-mortem did not discharge their duties truthfully, sincerely and strictly in accordance with rules and procedure. By not collecting valuable pieces of evidence such as vaginal swabs, saliva, nail clippings and clothes of the deceased, A-19 and A-20 caused disappearance of evidence with the intention to screen the offenders.

…..”No person, however big he may assume or claim to be, should be allowed, irrespective of the position he may assume or claim to hold in public life, to either act in a manner or make speeches which would destroy secularism recognised by the Constitution of India.

……”Communal harmony should not be made to suffer and be made dependent upon (the) will of an individual or a group of individuals, whatever be their religion, be it of minority or that of the majority.

………”Religion cannot be mixed with secular activities of the State and fundamentalism of any kind cannot be permitted to masquerade as political philosophies to the detriment of a welfare State. Religion sans spiritual values may even be perilous and bring about chaos and anarchy all around.”