#DelhiGangRape – Defeating Justice


 

JUSTICE  | 17 MARCH 2013  |  Gautam Patel 

Allowing, even by inaction or inattention, the death of one of the accused in the Delhi gang-rape case is an assault on the justice system.

Ram Singh Suicide :: Unanswered questions<br />Image courtesy Times of India

Ram Singh Suicide

Unanswered questions
Image courtesy Times of India

Ram Singh, the prime accused in last December’s ghastly gang-rape in New Delhi, is said to have hanged himself from a ventilation grill in his cell in Tihar Jail. The officials call it suicide, but the improbabilities are impossible to ignore. There were other inmates in the cell. None, it is claimed, heard or saw anything. There was a guard on duty outside the cell, which has a grilled door through which the entire cell is visible. The guard saw nothing though, in the normal course, he’d have walked past this cell at least five times between the time Ram Singh was last seen alive and when he was found dead. The ventilation grill from which Ram Singh is said to have hanged himself is much higher than he could have reached, given his height. He had an injured right arm. There are far too many questions here. None lend themselves to a satisfactory answer.

For a day, and just for a day, before it was eclipsed by matters of greater import to the people who seem to be able to decide these things for us, the news occupied our television news channels and the front pages of our dailies. Reactions varied, but the most appalling were the ones in tweets and mails running along the television tickers, that claimed that ‘justice has been served’, that ‘there’s one rapist less’, that he got what he deserved.

What happened in Delhi last December was horrifying beyond imagination. It should never have happened, and that it did happen, and in the way it did, and the public responses that followed should have been sufficient indicator of what is now at stake for all of us. The incident was the immediate trigger for a long overdue look at overhauling the criminal justice system. A sterling report came through in record time. Reading the report, there is little doubt that three jurists on the committee and their team were all impassioned and determined to see justice done, to help set in place a more balanced and just system. One might cavil at some recommendations and argue even that the Committee paid insufficient attention to cases of false complaints and made no provision for these; but that this was a major step in righting a historical wrong that is perpetuated daily cannot be denied. The government too, acted with uncommon despatch in introducing a Parliamentary bill, whatever its merits or demerits.

These are institutional responses, and institutions have a sense — sometimes perhaps not as acute as it should be — of gauging what needs doing and when. Institutional urgency is not, of itself, always populist. Responding with alacrity to a grotesque situation that cries out for reform is not populist if that response does not pander to a public thirst for revenge and proposes, instead, to correct systemic imbalances; speed does not always imply thoughtlessness, and to dismiss the government’s bill only on that basis is naïve.

Indeed, the institutional responses have been very different from those on social networks and in the media. These show a growing societal impatience with our justice system that is as frightening as it is dangerous. People only talk of the judicial system’s delays and moribund procedures, never of the things it does achieve in the face of inhuman workloads and abysmal manpower (on which more on another day). Slavery may have been abolished in law but it seems to be alive and kicking in the judiciary, the only difference being that in the judiciary you actually volunteer for slave duty.

By definition, a lynching is an extrajudicial execution (usually by hanging); bypassing the justice delivery system to get to an immediate result that satisfies the mob.1 A popular response to extreme situations or incidents — a response that should cause great worry — suggests that all we need to do to achieve ‘justice’ is to get to a predetermined result, and not worry too much about the route there. Getting to the what without minding thehow is nothing but a lynch-mob mentality, and it is now the defining trait of those of a certain stripe. The class has different forms. Social media is the natural habitant of one such form, also identifiable by its incapacity for anything but the most bovine thought, its persistence in substituting personal invective for argument, its inability to tell reaction from reason, protest placards from profundities. Given its additional inability to go much beyond 140 characters of what masquerades as thought and discourse, this type is, while irritating, generally harmless. Public outpourings of rage and grief are understandable — it is very difficult to resist the temptation of countering a monumental tragedy and horror by doing something equally barbaric.

Far more dangerous and insidious is the second type, the one that comes at us night after night on prime time television news broadcasts, hectoring, inquisitorial and judgmental. An anchor much given to screaming the most mundane headlines (and even the day of the week), once said in another context that his channel had “irrefutable documentary proof” of somebody’s guilt or culpability. Did he? What he had were some pieces of paper. Did these constitute proof in law? Were those pieces of paper admissible? Were they even relevant (yet another legal test)? Is there one kind of “proof” for 9 pm television and another kind for law? Without any of this being examined, somebody or the other was pronounced, at least by necessary implication, guilty. There remained only the question of the sentence, the trivial stuff that can well be left to judges after the serious grunt work has been done and dusted on national television. Why go to court when you can just turn on your TV set?

There is something about this medium that fertilizes imbecility. Another famous TV show host with claims to a long pedigree and a foreign degree once asked one of India’s most pre-eminent criminal lawyers how he could justify representing someone he knew to be guilty. The lawyer’s response was epic. I am not a court, he said, and neither are you. Guilt or innocence is for courts to decide, not me, and certainly not you. The host did not seem to be able to wrap his head around something this basic, his foreign degree notwithstanding. The perils of television mob-rule should be apparent; in this forum, where there are no rules and no standards, or are just made up as we go along, anyone could be found guilty of anything. Aayushi Talwar’s parents have been adjudicated guilty of her murder. Why are we bothering with a trial?

Indian society is no stranger to the kangaroo court culture. Mobsters do it, deciding matters of unrepaid loans and property boundaries. Local village councils dispense their own perverted forms of justice to uphold ‘honour’. Policemen attempt to mediate and arbitrate civil disputes. Community leaders are often called on, by popular demand, to decide these matters. In many cases, these ad-hoc kaazi are forums of choice, not compulsion: they are quick, they are accessible, and it matters little that the person deciding these issues has no background in law but is trusted to do what is just, fair and right. That, really, seems to be the key: a matter of trust. It is reasonable to expect newspersons to know better and to do better. When news stations turn themselves into glorified kangaroo courts — j’accuse seems to be the only guiding rationale — and are accuser, judge and jury all rolled into one, what we are being told is simply this: that our judicial system is useless, that the third limb of democractic governance has failed all of us, and that it is therefore now up to the Fourth Estate to don the mantle. This is, of course, self-serving, rank nonsense. Our embattled judiciary has monumental arrears, not because there are only historical cases, but because each day of each year more and more litigants choose to come to court. How this can be said to be an indicator of a loss of confidence in courts, or justify the extra-judicial antics of prime-television, is an enduring mystery.

This is where the trial of Ajmal Kasab redounds to the credit of the judiciary. Here was classic fodder for a lynch-mob. The institutions stood firm. Kasab was given a trial. There are those will say it was unfair, but that is inaccurate. The trial court’s handling of the matter was not just text-book — it is the text book.2 There was no fudging of evidence, no slurring over of inconveniences or the facts, no distortion of the law, no delay. It is impossible to say that justice was not served or done or that, in the face of the atrocity that was 26/11, a day on which so many of us lost friends and colleagues, and when a shorter route to harsher punishment might even have been excusable, the judicial system did not provide ample reason for a re-affirmation of our faith in it.

There is far more at stake in the Delhi gang-rape case than the fate of individuals. Can our system respond in an appropriate and just manner to such cases? What must we do to ensure the safety of our citizens, and what form should the remedies we must provide take? What is the value of a particular form of punishment?

And most of all, this: that the measure of any just society is not how quickly it deals out an extreme punishment, but how evenly it deals with those who stand accused of the most heinous crimes. This is a collective trial of our society. Allowing, even by inaction, one of the accused to be killed like this robs us all of a chance at redemption.

source-  http://www.prisonerofagenda.com

 

 

#Delhigangrape inspired Swaang to pen A song for a Song #1billionrising #Mumbai #Vaw


Photo: ATTN MUMBAI- For the first time ..... SWANG  Cultural Group will perform live their protest song, on VIOELNCE AGAINST WOMEN  'Maa nee meri .."not to MISS join us at BANDSTAND AMPHITHEATRE, BANDRA, 530PM onwards 14Th feb

 

Why we felt we had to write a song for the Delhi rape victim

SWAANG PERFORMS THE SONG MAA NI MERI FIRST TIME LIVE AT MUMBAI, ONE BILLION RISING FREEDOM FROM FEAR, AMPHITHEATRE BANDSTAND, BANDRA ON FEB 14TH 5.30PM ONWARDS COME JOIN US AND RSVP

 

https://www.facebook.com/OneBillionRisingMumbai

 

Ravinder Randhava and Swara Bhaskar:

 

What occurred in December last year was not the first gangrape in India, or the last. But what was it about that ghastly night that brought thousands of people across class, caste and gender out to the streets, demanding justice? The answer came in the reports of how the young woman fought her captors. Her fight to survive, and her defiance in the face of unimaginable brutality, made us realise that she would not be forgotten — because we would tell her story. We would celebrate her courage, her will to survive, her fearlessness and her defiance. We would remind ourselves that she was more than a gangrape victim. That she was a fighter. That women are more than bodies that can be violated.

So, we decided to write a song not to mourn her death, but to celebrate her spirit. And thus the song, “Maa nee Meri” was created by Swaang (available at http://goo.gl/ADFsa). The song was created as a protest song, as a song of defiance, addressed to the mother, not just as a mother, but as a woman, a daughter, a wife, a sister and a victim. The idea was to begin by problematising the culture of silent suffering and sacrifice that is valorised, romanticised and idealised in India as a strength inherent to women. We also questioned a culture of parenting that teaches fear, submissiveness, obedience and precaution as virtues, thereby silently transferring the onus of a crime onto the victim. This girl would not remain silent, she would speak out, fight, drown, but not swim obediently with the tide of patriarchal norms (“Maa nee meri mitti moorat, main nee goonga patthar banana”).

The song looked beyond the perpetrators and rapists as those obviously responsible for such crimes. It laid responsibility on the larger public, on citizens, families, lawmakers, law keepers, keepers of faith and morality. It indicted all of us, “un chhey mein shaamil tum bhi thhey, yeh kaam toh hai hamdardon ka (You were amongst those six, this is the doing of well wishers)”, for being callous, complacent and comfortable in the security of our drawing rooms, for thinking “better safe than sorry”, for not fighting. We also tried to reflect a historical imagination about violence against women in our country and thus made references to 1984, 1992 and 2002; an acknowledgement that at each historical moment of public turmoil and conflict, women were victimised.

Finally, we conclude the song with the reminder that rape is not death. That even the idea of rape being the effective end of the life of the victim is deeply problematic. This understanding of rape reduces the entire existence and individuality of women to “jism ke dhaai inchon mein (two-and-a-half inches of the body)”, and is precisely the logic that perpetrators function on when they choose to rape women to “teach them a lesson” or “show them their place”. This notion is the cornerstone of any patriarchal understanding of women and is so widespread in our society that it is reflected in popular culture again and again, the most recently controversial of which has been Punjabi singer Honey Singh’s grossly offensive music, such as the song “C***t”.

Ours is a world where art is in thrall to the logic of markets. Any sensational, shock-value laden “product” that trades in existing stereotypes will be successful. This is a perverse culture that renders the role of the artist in a society obsolete by turning the artist into a vendor. Art must never be empty, instant entertainment. Because art, by looking beyond the obvious, can channel collective angst into a more constructive expression that can create a positive change.This is why the artist has a responsibility to oppose regressive works parading as popular culture. And thus, in the context of a land where violence against women is endemic, art that celebrates sexism and misogyny and glorifies masculinity in its most brutal form is regressive and ought to be questioned.

For every “C***t”, we must create songs that celebrate and remember that “she” fought. That she was one and they were six but afraid she was not (“Vekh maayi nee main lad ke aayi, kalli o chhey par na darr ke aayi”). We must continue to fight, to challenge, to protest. Because only then will we be able to move from a perverse misogynist culture to one that empowers, both in art and in life.

Ravinder Randhawa and is a Mumbai-based screenwriter. Swara Bhaskar is a Mumbai-based actor

 

Press Release- Serial Hunger strike by 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison. #Humanrightsday


( ABOVE IS THE POSTER MADE BY INMATES

Around 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison as political prisoners have commenced a serial hunger strike from 10thDecember, International Human Rights Day to 21st December 2012 

These tribal prisoners have consistently protested since the last 2 years against the failure of the judicial process and high handedness of the local district police. It is not a coincidence that Shri. R.R. Patil, the State home Minister is also the guardian minister of Gadchiroli district and all such violations of Human Rights are happening under his very own patronage. In April 2011, Shri. Patil while replying to a question raised by Ms. Shobatai Fadnavis had promised the State Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under charges of naxalism in Gadchiroli. However, there has been no intent to fulfill this promise in the past 21 months.

Along with this demand the protesting tribals have also raised the following grievances:

  1. The practice of the Gadchiroli police to re-arrest tribals immediately after their release from prison still continues (See attachment No.2). Despite numerous petitions from prisoners and civil rights organizations this violation of Human rights goes on unabated.
  2. Inability of the State administration to inaugurate the Gadchiroli prison (See attachment No.3). Although this prison has been completed since the past 2 years, the government has still not started it. Hence tribals of Gadchiroli are incarcerated in the prisons of Nagpur, Amravati and Chandrapur- prisons which are more than 150 to 300 kms from the trial courts. Resultantly, these tribals are not being produced before the trial courts for the past 23 months. This distance has also caused their family links to be severed.
  3. The practice of handcuffing undertrials on their way to court also still continues, despite the Supreme Court directives against its use (See attachment No.4). Recently, due to this illegal practice four undertrials were severely injured in a road accident. However the responsible police officials are yet to be punished.
  4. A two year old boy born in prison to a tribal couple has been compelled to be separated from his father. While father was transferred to Nagpur prison, his mother remains at Amravati prison despite numerous requests pending in the trial court and jail authorities (See attachment No.5).
  5. The atrocities of the district police and especially the notorious anti-naxal C-60 commandoes go on unimpeded. A undertrial, Ramesh Naitam seeks justice in the custodial death case of his mother (See attachment No.6).

The protesting tribals have requested the State legislative bodies in session at Nagpur to look into the above issues on the occasion of International Human rights day.

On behalf of the protesting tribals,

Adv. Surendra Gadling- gsurendra12@yahoo.co.in

( attchments are in marathi if you need pl email )

Nagpur

 

Poor UID enrolments have authorities tweaking targets


By , TNN | Nov 25, 2012, 05.54 AM IST

PUNE: The city administration is a hopeful body. When it launched its second phase for Aadharenrolments in July this year, it hoped that 80 % of the city residents would register for the ambitious scheme by December. A month away from the deadline it had set for itself, officials did a quick reality check and brought down the registrationtarget to 60 %. However, even now less than 50 % of the city’s residents have registered for Aadhar even as those who did register last year await their unique identification numbers.In fact, a recent report on registrations indicates that enrolments haven’t picked momentum even in the cantonments, municipal councils and rural parts of Pune district. Only 54 % registrations have been completed in municipal areas and 30% in cantonments and the 13 talukas that fall under Pune district. The district’s overall scorecard on enrolments thus paints a grim picture__ a good 65 % of Pune district’s citizens are not yet registered.

Authorities blame dearth of centres, trained manpower as well as citizen apathy towards the project in general as the key reason for poor enrolments. District collector Vikas Deshmukh, who is now taking steps to expedite registrations said that as many as 200 additional centers will be set up and 200 additional machines installed in the city and rural parts in the near future. “As per the plan, 80 % UID registrations were expected to be done by December 2011, which is now a difficult target. However, we are now planning to touch a 60% mark by December. Arrangements are being made for this. The locations for the new centres have been identified,” he said

 

Turkish jails filling up with journalists


Flag of Turkey.

Image via Wikipedia

By DAVID ROSENBERG/THE MEDIA LINE 02/04/2012

Kurdish reporter’s arrest over weekend is the latest in wave of detentions. Aziz Tekin, a correspondent for the Kurdish-language newspaper Azadiya Welat, had the misfortune of becoming a news item himself over the weekend when he became the 105th journalist in Turkey to be put behind bars. That places Turkey ? a country usually hailed as an exemplar of democracy and Islam ? ahead of such repressive regimes as Iran and China with the largest number jailed journalists in the world according to the Platform of Solidarity with Imprisoned Journalists.

Others take issue with exactly how many of the detainees are being held purely for doing their jobs, but they don’t deny that scores of media professionals are being detained and face laws and a judicial system that makes it easy to put and keep them behind bars.

“The press is quite pluralistic and rather free, but it remains dangerous for a journalist who writes a critical article against the government, especially on the Kurdish issue or criticizing the judiciary.The risk of getting arrested is really high,” Johann Bihr, head of the Europe desk at the international press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, told The Media Line.

The number of detentions has increased “exponentially” in recent months, he said. Turkey fell 10 places on Reporters’ International Press Freedom Index to 148 among 179 countries.

In December, some 30 journalists were rounded up in raids across the country targeting the Kurdish separatist movement. A day before Tekin was hauled in, a court in Istanbul refused to release 13 journalists including Ahmet S?k and Nedim Sener of the Oda TV news portal.

The wave of arrests prompted the US author Paul Auster, whose books are popular in Turkey, to declare he is boycotting the country. “I refuse to come to Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers. How many are jailed now? Over 100?” Auster told the Istanbul daily Hurriyet this week.

The arrests come against a background of a changing power dynamic in Turkish politics. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), the first Islamist movement ever to rule in Turkey, is marking a decade in power, presiding over a booming economy while it gently inserts more religion into public life and its backers into key institutions like the courts and the military.

The army, which once dominated Turkish politics and served as a guardian of the country’s secularism, is in retreat. Erkan Saka, who teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University’s communications school and blogs at Erkan’s Field Diary, said the arrests are part of that realignment, which is now encompassing the secular, establishment media. “Under normal conditions, mainstream media has values in parallel to establishment, but now establishment itself is changing,” he said.

The arrests almost always involve journalists linked to Kurdish separatism or a shadowy anti-government conspiracy called Ergenekon that officials have been investigating in what they say was a wide-ranging plot by the army and other members of the old elite to overthrow the AKP. Critics say the judiciary, which is directly responsibility for the arrests, makes little effort to distinguish between people covering controversial issues and the people and movements they are covering. Thus last December, the scores people rounded up for alleged links with a Kurdish separatist movement included journalists and Kurdish activists alike. “All their interrogations have focused on the articles they have written and trips they have made — why did you attend a conference by left-wing or pro-Kurdish academics? Why did you decide to cover a pro-Kurdish demonstration?” said Reporters Without Border’s Bihr. “It’s really likely that prosecutors have nothing on them except their profession.” Arrests are not the only problem besetting the country’s media.

Turkey has introduced tougher Internet censorship, has pursued what critics say is politically motivated tax cases against media groups and deals harshly with people who violate bans on denigrating the Turkish state. Media observers blame the judiciary first and foremost for the arrests. Turkey’s anti-terrorism law and penal codes give them a lot of latitude to detain people and to keep them under lock and key without filing formal indictments. One of the reasons media experts are not sure about the number of journalists under arrest is that it is impossible to see the charges filed against them. When the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published in December its annual census of imprisoned journalists it could only verify that eight were actually being held for their writing and reporting, a fraction of the 64 or so others counted.

The estimate triggered a sharp debate in the human rights community. But Erdogan and others in the government have come to the defense of the country’s media freedom. “Turkey does not deserve the negative image portrayed to the world by the main opposition and some journalists and writers,” he said last week at an event marking the 25th anniversary of a pro-government newspaper, Zaman.

Others would beg to differ. They say that Erdogan has encouraged an atmosphere of press hostility with personal attacks on journalists who criticize him and his government and by personally pursing defamation lawsuits. Indeed, while defending the country’s record on media freedom, he decried in the same speech media conspiracies against the government.

“If you claim to have media freedom, you shouldn’t launch attacks on [newspaper] columnists who are critical of you. But he does that all that time,” Saka said. “That triggers anti-journalist feeling in the bureaucracy and judiciary.”