#India – Police detain Adivasi protesters as President lays foundation for Jindal power plant


ANUMEHA YADAV,
GODDA (JHARKHAND), May 1, 2013

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Villagers Hopanmai Marandi (left) and Mary Hasda are among those detained at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury
The HinduVillagers Hopanmai Marandi (left) and Mary Hasda are among those detained at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury

More than 50 Adivasi farmers, including women, were detained for over six hours on Tuesday at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, a kilometre from the venue where President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation for a thermal power plant to be set up by Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL).

Farmers from 11 villages in the Nimpaniya and Goiarijor blocks said they had gathered at Sundarpahari to oppose land acquisition by JSPL. At 10 a.m. they were detained by the police and kept on the station premises till evening.

“My family lives at Seemaldhap village in Chota Amarpur. More than 200 of us had gathered at Tiril Tola over the last two days because we planned to march to the venue but the police arrested us. I had rice with me for my little daughter but the police kept that away too,” Hopanmai Marandi told this reporter.

“We were already displaced when the Sunder Dam was built. We will not allow ourselves to be moved from our land again,” said another villager Mary Nisha Hasda.

As part of JSPL’s expansion plans in Jharkhand, it had announced the setting up of the 1,320-MW captive power plant in Godda at a cost of Rs. 8,500 crore. The plant will use coal from the Jitpur coal block and water from the Sunder Dam and the Gumani and Jalhara rivers.

JSPL, in a statement, said all land for its projects had been obtained “through the government acquisition route, with consent of the people,” a point the company director and MP Naveen Jindal reiterated at the inauguration ceremony attended by Governor Syed Ahmed, Nishikant Dubey, MP (Godda), and political leaders, including Subodh Kant Sahai, Hemlal Murmu, Devidhan Besra, MP (Rajmahal), senior State officials and pradhans and mukhiyas from seven villages.

Superintendent of Police Ajay Linda, however, denied anyone had been detained. “There was overcrowding at the venue because so many villagers wanted to attend the inauguration function. Then some of them stayed back at the police station which is only a km away,” he said on the phone.

Away from the police station, hundreds of policemen and home guards carrying sticks walked around villages. “Only the families in Bangali Tola agreed to sell land to the company, the rest of us have refused. The police have been coming to the village regularly now. All land around this village is my land. Its yield lasts us the whole year; we will not give up this land,” said a woman in Kalhajhar’s Charai Tola.

“My father is in the Nimpaniya panchayat samiti. My family and other 30-35 families from my village are ready to sell our land. How else will we move to cities?” said Sujit Kumar, who is home during a break from his training at an industrial training institute.

Godda lies in the Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand. All land transactions are governed by the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPTA) and most of the land is non-transferable and non-saleable, whether owned by tribals or non-tribals. “Because of the Santhal rebellion against the British in 1855 in which 30,000 Santhals died fighting to protect their land, only land classified as Gair Majurwa Khaas (GMK) or land listed as non-agricultural land owned by the government can be transferred. The rest of the transfers — except those made as gifts to relatives etc. — are illegal. It is not possible that a power plant will be built only on GMK land. Despite these norms, officials continue to alienate tribals from land,” said Ramesh Sharan, economist at Ranchi University.

FOUNDATION LAID

President Pranab Mukherjee, on Tuesday, laid the foundation for Jindal Steel and Power’s (JSPL) 1,320 -MW thermal power plant at Godda district. The captive power plant, with an estimated cost of Rs.8,500 crore, will use coal from the Jitpur coal block and water from the Sunder Dam, Gumani and Jalhara river. It will be the first mega power project in Santhal Pargana region in the state’s eastern region, and is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to 20,000 people.

“I expect this power plant will meet the electricity needs of rural areas that face a shortage of 33 per cent. This is a coal-producing region and the needs of the villagers from around here must be met on priority,” said Mr. Mukherjee addressing the public after laying the foundation

 

#India – Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill becomes Law #Vaw #Womenrights


26 Apr 2013, 01:44 PM
Law to curb sexual harassment at work

Law to curb sexual harassment at work

 

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to a bill under which cases of sexual harassment at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by in-house committees within 90 days failing which a penalty will be imposed.

Repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Law, can lead to higher penalties and even cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.

The bill was cleared by Parliament in February this year.

The new law brings in its ambit even domestic workers and agriculture labour, both organized and unorganized sectors.

As per the act, sexual harassment includes any one or more of unwelcome acts or behaviour like physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.

Non-compliance with the provisions of the act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs 50,000. It has also provisions for safeguard against false or malicious charges.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had examined the bill, had held the firm view that preventive aspects reflected in it has to be strictly in line with the Supreme Court guidelines in the 1997 Vishaka case.

The Apex Court‘s judgement in the case not only defines sexual harassment at workplace but also lays down guidelines for its prevention and disciplinary action

 

India has a flawed notion of mercy #deathpenalty


By RAJEEV DHAVAN

PUBLISHED: 20:47 GMT, 21 April 2013

The quality of mercy varies from person to situation, but it is for all: the preferred rich and the unpreferred poor.

Dispensing mercy is a compassionate art with which India is out of touch. From 2001-2011, the death penalty was finally awarded to 1,455 persons. The higher courts commuted 4,321 death sentences into life imprisonment.

Delhi saw the judiciary commuting 99 per cent of the death penalties (2,462 cases). The commutation in other states was less dramatic – J-K (18), UP (458), MP (62), Bihar (343) Maharashtra (175), Jharkhand (300), Chhattisgarh (24), Assam (97), Odisha (68), Punjab (24), Rajasthan (33), Kerala (23), Tamil Nadu (24), Uttarakhand (46).

A flawed notion of mercy

The story is uneven, the data incomplete. But, it shows that the “rarest of rare” formula is not fully understood by the sessions or even higher court judges.

It is so easy to interpret the ‘rarest of rarest’ as including incessant killings, brutal deaths, torture and gender violation. These have become inflexible categories beyond interpretation.

As soon as trial judges find that a case falls in these broad categories, they award the death penalty. In at least half the cases, the death sentence is commuted by the High Courts. Then the issues get narrower as we go to the Supreme Court, which has a confused record veering towards the death penalty in terrorist and gruesome cases.

By the time the matter reaches the President, the decision becomes political and taints mercy.

Formula

A huge amount of time elapses between the criminal ‘event’ and the death penalty. In the Bombay blasts, the interval was two decades. In the Parliament case, more than a decade. On 6 April 2013, the CBI Court awarded the death penalty to three policemen 31 years after the fake encounter case in the Gonda district of U.P.

What happened during these years? How do you judge culpability three decades old? Or apply the ‘rarest of rare’ formula?

This is an important flaw in the ‘rarest of rare’ formula. When do you apply it? In relation to the criminal event? The trial court’s decision? The High Court‘s decision? The Supreme Court’s decision? At judicial levels, the decision is ‘event-based’ – with very little allowance for repentance in sentencing.

Beyond the judicial level, the same “event based” formula is applied in pardon cases with a political twist. Communal voices ask for death – wondering whether Caesar will put his thumb up or down. The crowd or the populace roars for death. It is a brave Caesar or President to turn down the crowd or the politics of the aftermath. The discourse on mercy is eclipsed.

Our system is no better. But to return to the question of when we apply the ‘rarest of rare’ formula. Is it essentially “criminal event” based? But does nothing change over time? Remember Heraclitus saying: “You cannot cross the same river twice.” And Cratylus adding: “You cannot even cross it once.”

Ten years is a long time. Twenty or thirty years, even more. Will we always judge the crime and never the person? Or a person as an adjunct to the crime? Must all Pakistani Kashmiri militants die? They will not retract from their beliefs. But over time, they change – some repent, some cannot say that they do.

The mercy of the presidential office has become irrelevant. The Supreme Court’s reprieve from President Pranab Mukherjee’s refusal to pardon 8 persons was brief. At this post-pardon stage, the Supreme Court limits its inquiry to whether the President acted malafide.

Significantly, Pranab’s predecessors forced the Home Minister to think. President Patil rejected 3 pleas in 5 years including in the Bhullar car bomb case of 1993, Rajiv’s killers, and a beheading incident. Kalam rejected Dhananjoy’s pleas from Calcutta. Narayan rejected no mercy pleas. The present presidential dispensation refusing pardon for death row is inexplicable. The system is all wrong, its understanding of mercy and just punishment too limited. Mercy is about the person not just the event.

Sanjay Dutt

Granted more time: Actor Sanjay Dutt during shooting of the film 'Policegiri' at a studio in Mumbai Granted more time: Actor Sanjay Dutt during shooting of the film ‘Policegiri’ at a studio in Mumbai

The bottom line is: we have a system of punishment but not mercy, of legicide by the state, but little or no reprieve. There is parole for those serving sentences. Only silence for the dead.

The latest twist in the Sanjay Dutt case, giving him time for four weeks, must make us think. The good part is that before imprisonment everyone has unfinished business. More important than Sanjay, a woman who has to make provision for her children, or for the old. A sick person whose needs hospital treatment. In this list, the businessman or actor who has to fulfill a contract must come lower down.

But what the Sanjay precedent suggests is the need for a new penology so that everyone is allowed a furlough to complete some part of their unfinished obligations before their prison sentence. The bad part of the Sanjay decision was that it gave the impression of favouring the rich and famous.

Impact

We are a troubled and violent society. Awarding death sentences adds to the violence without deterrent effect. The proof is that thousands of homicides are un-reported. Violence is unabated. If India decides that punishment deserves that a tooth must be broken for a tooth, the incidence of death penalty will increase to no avail.

Our retributive system of punishment looks at the crime and extracts revenge: usko zinda matt chodho (don’t let him live). Then, the state assumes a right to kill, rightly denied to its citizens. Our system lacks mercy and, therefore, justice.

The writer is a Supreme Court lawyer

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2312545/India-flawed-notion-mercy.html#ixzz2RBjLdArm
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#Deathpenalty- resurfacing in #India – 16mercy petitions rejected in 9 months #WTFnews


Pranab Mukherjee Rejected 16 Mercy Petitions in 9 Months

NEW DELHI | APR 12, 2013, outlook
There was a long delay in deciding mercy pleas by the Presidents, which was also highlighted by the Supreme Court today, but the situation changed when Pranab Mukherjee took charge on July 25 last year, disposing of petitions of 16 condemned prisoners within nine months.The petitions for clemency filed by sandalwood smuggler Veerappan‘s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were rejected by Mukherjee on February 13. The four had then obtained a stay on their execution from the apex court on February 18.

Besides the four, the others whose mercy pleas have been rejected by the President since taking charge are — Suresh, Ramji, Gurmeet Singh, Praveen Kumar, Sonia and her husband Sanjeev, Sundar Singh, Jafar Ali, Dharampal and Saibanna Ningappa Natikar.

Except Dharampal and Natikar, the others had moved the apex court on April 6 and obtained a stay on their execution for four weeks.

Mukherjee also commuted the death sentence of two death row inmates, including Atbir, to life imprisonment.

Atbir was convicted for murder of his step-mother, step-sister and step-brother over property.

Dharampal was convicted for murdering five members of the family of a girl he had raped. He had committed the murders while out on parole in the rape case.

Sonia and Sanjeev were awarded death penalty for killing eight members of her family, including her parents and three children of her brother in 2001.

Gurmeet Singh was convicted of killing 13 of his family members in 1986. Jafar Ali had murdered his wife and five daughters. Suresh and Ramji killed five of their relatives.

Natikar was awarded death penalty for killing his wife and daughter, Praveen was convicted for killing four members of a family in February 1994 and Sundar Singh was convicted for murder of five members of his brother’s family in June 1989.

A recent study by Amnesty International reveals that death penalty resurfaced in India, during 2012, after a long lull in execution at the gallows, while several other nations are opting for penal system free of capital punishment.

Full Story:

In its recent report based on extensive study, Amnesty International has revealed that the death penalty has resurfaced in India in 2012.

Amnesty International claimed in London that the resumption of the death penalty was facilitated by public pressures and political motives in India.

[Jan Erik Wetzel, Death Penalty Advisor at Amnesty International]:
“The resumption of the executions in India is most likely based on a variety of reasons. One of which is public pressure and another one would be political considerations by the government in place.”

[Ravi Prakash, Senior Advocate]:
“Death sentence acts as a deterrent and therefore, death sentence has been retained in the Indian Penal Code and by our legal system. But the court has said that it should be given only in a very rare of the rarest circumstances and not keeping in view that way of the retribution, you are conferring the death sentence on anybody.”

In November, India carried out its first execution since 2004 when the country hanged Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the militant squad that killed 166 people in the 2008 attacks on the financial capital Mumbai.

Kasab’s execution sparked off celebrations across India.

People burst firecrackers and exchanged sweets among themselves to hail this execution as a justice for the victims of Mumbai attacks.

India had also recently approved a tougher new law to punish sex crimes, including death for repeat rape offenders, after the fatal gang rape of a student in December.

That event sparked unprecedented protests over the treatment of women in the country.

[Abhas Kumar, Student of New Delhi]:
Death punishment in India is necessary to warn and evoke fear in the minds of people. Criminal activities are increasing. Criminals here are not afraid to commit crimes because they feel that they will be released from jail in two or three days and above all, the trial against them takes a long time.”

The Amnesty International study said that besides India, executions resumed in other countries of the Asia-Pacific region including Japan and Pakistan, after it seemed that they had done away with the punishment.

 

Strong anti-rape law for India as President Pranab clears the Bill #Vaw #Womenrights


 NEW DELHI, APRIL 3, 2013 | PTI

An anti-rape protester

An anti-rape protester
President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the anti-rape bill which provides for life term and even death sentence for rape convicts besides stringent punishment for offences like acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism.Mukherjee accorded his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill-2013 on Tuesday, brought against the backdrop of the country-wide outrage over Delhi gangrape , and it will now be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, an official release said on Wednesday.The law, passed by Lok Sabha (lower House of Indian Parliament) on March 19 and by Rajya Sabha (upper House of Indian Parliament) on March 21, has replaced an Ordinance promulgated on February 3.It amends various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Evidence Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

With an aim of providing a strong deterrent against crimes like rapes, the new law states that an offender can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 20 years, but which may extend to life, meaning imprisonment for the remainder of the convict’s natural life and with a fine.

It has provisions for handing out death sentence to offenders who may have been convicted earlier for such crimes.

The law, for the first time, defines stalking and voyeurism as non-bailable offences if repeated for a second time. Perpetrators of acid attack will attract a 10-year jail.

It also defines acid attack as a crime besides granting a victim the right to self-defence. It also has provisions for imposing a minimum 10-year jail term for perpetrators of such acts.

The law has fixed age for consensual sex at 18 years.

New sections to prevent stalking and voyeurism were introduced following a strong demand from women’s organisations.

The amendments seek to define and prescribe punishment for the offences of stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment.

The law also seeks to widen the definition of rape, broaden the ambit of aggravated rape and enhance the punishment for such crimes.

It also provides that all hospitals shall immediately provide first aid and/or medical treatment free of cost to the victims of acid attack or rape, and failure to do so will attract punishment.

It has provisions for a minimum imprisonment of seven years which may extend to imprisonment for natural life, and a fine for rape convict if he is found to be a police officer, a public servant, armed forces personnel or management or hospital staff.

The law also seeks to amend the Indian Evidence Act to allow a rape victim, if she is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled, to record her statement before a judicial magistrate with the assistance of an interpreter or a special educator. It also has provisions to video-graph the proceedings.

 

#India- Anti-rape law: Government to reduce age of consent from 18 to 16 #Vaw


Reported by Sunil Prabhu, Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: March 05, 2013 , NDTV

New Delhi The Home Ministry has moved a note proposing tough new rape laws for the approval of the Cabinet, which is expected to take it up on Thursday. It has inputs from a parliamentary committee which had studied the new rape laws that the government cleared as an Ordinance last month. Once the Cabinet clears these proposals, they will be put before Parliament.

Here are 10 developments:
  1. There are some amendments that the Home Ministry note proposes, among them that the age of consent has been lowered from 18 to 16 years. Under the existing laws, sexual intercourse under the age of consent is considered statutory rape.  (Watch)
  2. The ministry has reintroduced the word “rape” instead of sexual assault, which the Verma Commission, set up to draft new laws on crime against women, had recommended using as one with much wider definition.
  3. The government’s decision to reject marital rape as a criminal offense has been accepted. The Verma Commission had suggested that marital rape be included as a criminal offence, but the government argued that doing so would weaken traditional family values in India, and that marriage presumes consent. Women activists have fiercely opposed the government’s stand.
  4. The ministry has also rejected the Verma Commission’s suggestion that those in the armed forces accused of rape be brought under the ambit of criminal law; the government says this needs wider consultations.
  5. It has endorsed the government’s decision to introduce the death penalty for the most extreme rape cases. The Verma Commission had suggested that life imprisonment be used for cases where women die as a result of sexual assault.
  6. The Home Ministry adds to the present law the recommendation that hospitals and nursing homes, whether private or public, will have to provide treatment to victims of rape and failure to do so will be punishable.
  7. The government had promulgated the new ordinance on February 3.  President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent, and the provisions became the law pending approval from Parliament. The government had defended promulgating the ordinance saying there was a strong case to amend the law to check crime against women.
  8. The changed laws were based largely on the recommendations of the three-member Verma commission, headed by Justice JS Verma, which was set up after public outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a medical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December last.
  9. The provisions of the Ordinance were moved to a standing committee of Parliament made up of members of all parties to recommend changes if any. The Home Minister also held consultations with the Prime Minister before the Cabinet note was drafted.
  10. Once the Cabinet clears the new proposals, the ordinance will be repealed and a new criminal law amendment bill 2013 will be introduced. But any person booked under this present ordinance will be continued to be prosecuted under its provisions.

 

NAC members raise concerns over direct benefit transfer scheme #Aadhaar #UID


Concerns raised over the efficiency of banking networks and on-the-ground preparations for the schemeAnuja & Liz Mathew   Liz Mathew , livemint.com
First Published: Tue, Feb 26 2013. 09 52 PM IST
NAC members argue that public services should not be denied to those who do not have an Aadhaar number. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint<br />
” src=”<a href=http://www.livemint.com/rf/Image-621×414/LiveMint/Period1/2013/02/27/Photos/uid–621×414.jpg&#8221; />
NAC members argue that public services should not be denied to those who do not have an Aadhaar number.
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

ALSO READ

Updated: Tue, Feb 26 2013. 09 59 PM IST
New DelhiA section of the Sonia Gandhi -led National Advisory Council (NAC) is not happy with the government “rushing into” the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme, expected to be the flagship programme of the ruling Congress party in the national election scheduled for next year.
At a meeting of the NAC on Tuesday, where Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairmanNandan Nilekani made a presentation on Aadhaar and DBT, some members flagged concerns on the efficiency of banking networks and on-the-ground preparations for the scheme. They argued that no public services should be denied to those who do not have an Aadhaar number.
According to five members in the 11-member committee, the members warned the scheme cannot be implemented in a hurried manner without proper mechanism and preparations.
State governments, ministries and departments should not rush into direct cash transfers without assessing whether or not they are appropriate and whether the preconditions are in place,” said A.K. Shivakumar, NAC member, adding that a legal framework within which the identity numbers are being issued needs to be in place.
The United Progressive Alliance government, which has been in election mode for some time now, recently launched the DBT, which aims to directly transfer cash subsidies using Aadhaar to beneficiaries of several government welfare schemes. A pilot was rolled out in 20 districts for 26 schemes on 1 January. Finance minister P. Chidambaram and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh announced that programme from a party platform, which indicated the Congress’ intention to use it as an election plank. Party leaders also coined a slogan for the scheme, “Aapka paisa aapke haath” (your money in your hands), an indirect reference to Congress’ election symbol.
Nilekani told the members that 280 million Aadhaar numbers have been issued so far and by 2014, the authority expects to enrol 600 million people. DBT is expected to plug leakages, reduce wastage and bring down discrepancies in the beneficiary list. However, the members also raised questions about making Aadhaar compulsory. “The council appreciated UID as a concept but some issues were raised. The main concern was that while UID was voluntary, the interpretation made at the state level was that it was mandatory for access to certain social service schemes. While it is not intentional, it is playing out differently on the ground,” said Mirai Chatterjee, member of the council.
Another NAC member N.C. Saxena said that while in general there was a view that Aadhaar was a “good scheme”, there were transition problems and the ministries should not be in a hurry to make it compulsory.
Another member who did not want to be identified said that concerns over the banking network and linkages to it were also raised.
NAC member Aruna Roy was critical of the scheme, saying in the meeting that the idea of DBT was an “experiment on the poor” and a “failed experiment being pushed through”. “The new architecture of using the UID to access existing cash benefits through the bank has only added an extra layer of complicated and complex procedures and has burdened both the programme as well as the beneficiary with little apparent advantage,” a release from Roy’s office quoted her as saying.
In response to concerns that UIDAI had not been given legal sanction by Parliament, Nilekani’s presentation highlighted that the authority has been functioning under executive notification issued by the Planning Commission in 2009, which is valid under law, the same member said. The Bill pending before Parliament is just to strengthen the authority by giving it statutory status in order to impose obligations and penalties, Nilekani said in his presentation.
A senior government official aware of the development, who did not want to be identified, said most of the NAC members were supportive. However, concerns raised by some on operational issues related to cash transfer were legitimate. “They are being addressed,” the official said.
The Congress is pushing the DBT scheme as one of its key achievements. In the presidential address last week listing the government’s agenda for the coming year, Pranab Mukherjee said it will be a “trendsetter” and will “cut leakages, bring millions of people into the financial system and lead to better targeting of beneficiaries”.
Surabhi Agarwal contributed to this story.
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First Published: Tue, Feb 26 2013. 09 52 PM IST

 

Constitutionally incorrect to hang the three, says judge who confirmed death for Rajiv killers #deathpenalty


By, TNN | Feb 24, 2013

Constitutionally incorrect to hang the three, says judge who confirmed death for Rajiv killers
Justice Thomas said the judgment itself had ‘errors’ as the death sentences had not considered the antecedents, nature and character of the accused.
CHENNAI: It would be ‘constitutionally incorrect’ now to hang the three people sentenced to death in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, said Justice K T Thomas, who headed the Supreme Court bench that confirmed the death sentences. “It was my misfortune to have presided over that bench,” he told TOI.

More than 13 years ago, it was a three-judge bench headed by Justice Thomas that confirmed death sentence for Nalini Sriharan, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. Nalini’s death penalty was commuted to imprisonment for life by Tamil Nadu governor in April 2000 on the basis of a recommendation of the state cabinet and a public appeal by Sonia Gandhi. The TADA had originally awarded death sentence to all the 26 accused persons. When the matter reached the Supreme Court, which was the only appellate forum under theRajiv Gan as a referred trial, capital punishment was confirmed only for four.

In an interview, Justice Thomas said the judgment itself had ‘errors’ as the death sentences had not considered the antecedents, nature and character of the accused. Hence any decision to hang the three could now be termed as ‘constitutionally incorrect’ and a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, he told TOI. Going a step further, the judge said case deserved a review, considering the antecedents and character of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan.

“At a time when the Supreme Court bench headed by me pronounced judgments in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, apparently, we did not consider the nature and character of the accused who were sentenced to death penalty by us. It was only many years thereafter a bench headed by Justice S B Sinha pointed out that without considering the nature and character of accused, a death sentence should never be awarded. His judgments mentioned errors in previous SC judgments and that applies to Rajiv Gandhi assassination case,” he said.

Also, he pointed out the three have been in prison for 22 years. “For any life imprisonment, every prisoner is entitled to have a right to get his case reviewed by the jail authorities (to determine) whether remission can be announced or not. Since the accused in Rajiv Gandhi case were death convicts, they underwent a long period of imprisonment without even having the benefit of life imprisonment,” he said. “This appears to be a third type of sentence, something which is unheard and constitutionally incorrect. If they are hanged today or tomorrow, they will be subjected to two penalties for one offense.”

In 1999, Justice Thomas had agreed with two others on the bench in respect of death penalty for only Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. As for Murugan’s wife Nalini, he gave a dissenting, but minority, verdict preferring imprisonment for life.

When TOI contacted Justice V R Krishna Iyer, former judge of the Supreme Court, he said death penalty could not be considered as a punishment. “It is just another act of murder, a judicial murder, by the state. It is high time for India to abolish death penalty and India has not gained anything from death penalties in the past,” he said.

The three death convicts have completed almost 22 years of imprisonment. Their execution, which was scheduled to be held on September 9, 2011, was stayed by the Madras high court for six weeks in August that year. The case has since been transferred to the Supreme Court, to be decided after the Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar case verdict is delivered.

 

#India – It’s time to give women more tax sops #budget


Women & The Budget

It’s time to give women more tax sops

Prabhakar Sinha TNN

New Delhi: It isn’t just foreign investors who would have remembered the last Budget as a tough one. Even women lost out as the government withdrew tax benefits that were introduced in the form of higher tax exemption limit in 2000-2001.
In 2000-01, Yashwant Sinha, the then finance minister, had introduced a special provision under which the basic tax exemption limit for women was pegged higher than that for men. This resulted in lower tax liability of up to Rs 5,000.
While P Chidambaram retained the provision in 2004-05, his first budget of his second term in North Block, in 2005-06, he reduced the benefit to a maximum of Rs 3,927, including surcharge and cess. Chidambaram reduced the differential benefit further before Pranab Mukherjee finally withdrew it.
While introducing the provision, Sinha had said that the additional rebate of Rs 5,000 for women tax-payers “is equivalent to increase in the exemption limit by Rs 50,000 over that of men”. However, tax experts say that a preferential treatment for women is needed to encourage them.
Kuldeep Kumar, executive director (tax and regulatory practices) PWC India, said a preferential tax treatment to women is highly desirable as it helps in empowering them. At a time when government is giving financial help to girl child, a preferential tax treatment to them will not be off the mark. When the government has given reservations to women in Panchayats and is trying to extend the same in
Parliament, why is it shying away in giving special treatment in taxes to them, he added. In fact, the government should increase the exemption limit for women. This will certainly help women in acquiring productive assets. In fact, if the differential tax benefit is increased substantially, say up to Rs 20,000, a number of families will like to transfer fixed assets on their women members’ name to bring down their tax liability on their income.
A senior tax consultant, who do not wanted to be quoted, said even if such provision might lead to misuse to save taxes, it’s worth trying. She said in the short term, the misuse of the provision would be more pronounced than its benefit, but in the long term it will certainly help women empowerment. Another tax consultant said any move to give special treatment to women in taxing their income would be welcomed as it will ultimately help society. Kumar pointed out that such special treatment should be increased for single woman parent as a separate category. As it has become an accepted norms in cities, the government must give them concession to enable them to meet various challenges which they face as single parent.

 

DMK chief M Karunanidhi seeks abolition of #deathpenalty


PTI Feb 18, 2013,
(M Karunanidhi said the hangings…)

CHENNAI: Renewing his demand for abolishing death penalty, DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Monday said the hangings being implemented now could have been prevented had the demand to do away with this sentence been given due consideration.

He recalled that former Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer had strongly pitched for doing away with the death penalty in India and that 90 per cent of countries in the world had abolished it.

“In today’s situation, the Centre, legal experts and courts should ponder over this and seriously consider recommending removing hanging from the law books in the interest of human rights and humanity,” he said in a letter to partymen.

“Had this opinion (of abolition of death penalty), which is being stressed for a long time given due consideration, death penalties which are continuously being implemented now could have been prevented,” he said.

Karunanidhi said 26/11 Mumbai attacks convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack convictAfzal Guru were hanged by the government in recent months even as four aides of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerappan whose mercy petitions were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, have moved the Supreme Court.

The apex court on Monday stayed till further orders the execution of death sentence of the four, who were awarded capital punishment in 2004 for a landmine blast in Karnataka that left 22 police personnel dead.