Indian legal fraternity invites Pakistan’s CJP


PAKISTAN TODAY

ISMAIL DILAWARWednesday, 5 Jun 2013

Pakistan_india_flags

karachi - The judges and lawyers of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) are keen to invite Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhri to their country before his retirement this year in December.
They also showed their determination to take up with their government in New Delhi the issue of hundreds of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. “We are interested to invite the chief justice of Pakistan to India,” said Justice (r) AK Ganguly of the SCI.
Justice Ganguly along with Advocates Colin Gonsalves, Prashant Bhushan, Mukul Sinha and Nijhari Sinha are in Pakistan to attend the two-day India-Pakistan conference on “judicial activism, public interest litigation and human rights” which concluded on Wednesday.
Pakistani lawyer Faisal Siddiqui, Karamat Ali Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), and others accompanied the Indian delegation.
“He (CJP) has taken many bold steps to show what important role the judiciary can play in a society,” said Justice Ganguly during a visit to the press club.
KPC President Imtiaz Faran, Secretary Aamir Latif, Vice President Saeed Sarbazi, Joint Secretary Shams Keerio, Senior Journalist Habib Khan Ghauri and members of governing body welcomed the guests.
Advocate Colin Gonsalves said they had decided to invite Justice Ch during the two-day moot in Pakistan where events relating to the inspirational lawyers’ movement for the restoration of CJP were brought to his knowledge.
“We have concluded to invite him (CJP) to India before his retirement,” said Advocate Gonsalves. Chief Justice Chaudhri would retire on the 13th of December this year.
The Indian lawyer was all praise for the CJP for the latter’s suo motu actions with regard to the public interest litigation (PIL). “The exchange of views is very important,” remarked Justice Ganguly.
Quite few people in India knew about the lawyers’ movement in Pakistan in the favour of Justice Chaudhri after he was sacked by the then military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
However, a Pakistani lawyer, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui told Pakistan Today that the CJP’s visit to India was just a ‘dream’ now. He, however, believed that such interaction would promote people-to-people contact between the two neighboring nations.
Earlier in a meeting with KPC’s governing body, Justice Ganguly said he had observed that judges in Pakistan were bolder than that of India. This, he said, was because of the lawyers fraternity which had been fighting for the independence of judiciary shoulder-by-shoulder with the judges.
About the two-day moot, Advocate Gonsalves said a weeklong conference would soon be held in India to which 20-25-member delegations would be invited from the South Asian countries.
The lawyer also vowed that his side would take up the issue of around 200 Pakistani fishermen imprisoned in Indian jails with the Indian government.
The Indian delegation viewed that the two countries had common values and culture, so they should live in peace and promote people-to-people contacts. Specially, they said, visa procedures should be simplified. “This is our first step towards building a link between the lawyers and judges” living across the border, said Advocate Gonsalves. The members of Indian delegation were later gifted “Ajrak”, the sign of thousands of years old Sindhi cultural.

 

Odisha -Protests Against Posco Steel Plant Mount In India


by Freny Manecksha, CorpWatch Blog
April 14th, 2013

Odisha villagers conduct sit-in to protest POSCO. Photo: PPSS

For over a month, villagers in the eastern Indian state of Odisha have been conducting a sit-in to demand the withdrawal of armed police officers at the site of a proposed $12 billion steel complex at Jagatsinghpur, the latest protest in nine years of confrontations to halt the project.

The villagers are opposed to the plans of Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO) of South Korea - one of the world’s top five steel producers – to build a plant with a 12 million ton annual capacity at Jagatsinghpur as well as an iron ore mine and a port. The project will be India’s largest foreign direct investment to date.

The land that POSCO wants is currently used by the villagers to grow leaves for paan, a mild stimulant that is chewed by billions of people in India. This together with fish farming and other mixed crop farming provides the basis of the sustainable local economy.

The protestors have hit the national headlines twice in the last few weeks. First when a bomb blast claimed the lives of three villagers in the area on March 2 and five days later on the eve of international women’s day, when some of the women staged an unusual protest. They began to take off their clothes in front of policemen.

Why have you come here? What do you want to see?” the women shouted at the police officers as they started to take off their upper garments. The police promptly slapped charges of obscenity against three women.

“When everything else failed, the women preferred to bare their bodies so that the government and the public wakes up from their slumber and understand what is happening,” says Abhay Sahoo, the head of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS which translates as Committee Opposed to POSCO Set-up.)

The villagers are incensed because the Indian government seized their betelnut vineyards and razed their crops shortly after the bomb blast claimed the lives of three villagers in Patana in early March.

Almost immediately the police announced to the local and national media that the men were attempting to make a crude bomb. But, according to the villagers and Laxman Parmanik who was injured in the blast, the bomb was hurled at them by someone else.

fact-finding team of human right activists who visited the site after the incident condemned the manner in which the Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police made an announcement to the media even before police had visited the village to conduct investigations. They pointed out that the police took 15 hours to come to the village after the deaths had occurred.

The team quoted family members of the victims who allege that the police came to their houses at midnight and asked them to sign a written statement to the effect that the victims died in the process of making the bomb which they refused to do.

After last rites were performed for the bomb victims in Patana village, thousands gathered for a major rally and a meeting conducted by various opposition political parties on March 6.  The speakers condemned the district and state administration for attempting to stifle the democratic protests of the villagers by using force and private militias.

High among the grievances of the villagers is the fact that the local police filed 230 cases against 2,000 villagers between 2006 and 2012 on charges ranging from arson to rape. “Captive Democracy,” a report on these charges by D Raja and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, notes that most of the complaints do not name specific individuals allowing the police to implicate any person in any case. In some cases entire villages comprising of thousands of people have been implicated. As a result many villagers are now afraid of venturing out of the village for fear of being arrested.

These concerns have caused a number of groups including the Congress party (which is part of the ruling coalition government in India) to write a letter to the governor of Odisha voicing concern over the “continued police atrocities and prolonged repression on the villagers in Jagatsinghpur district.

In the meantime the Odisha government has been slowly acquiring land for the project. They obtained rights to 2,000 acres in 2011 but POSCO wants another 700 acres near Gobindpur village where the villagers are protesting.

Villagers say these lands are protected under the Forest Rights Act which empowers them as forest dwellers to deny outside acquisition of the land. This law together with the required environmental clearances have been the focus of a number of government inquiry committees which have issued contradictory opinions.

First the N C Saxena committee, appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestsupheld the villagers’ complaint that there were gross violations under the Forest Rights Act in July 2010. Then another committee chaired by Meena Gupta, appointed by the same ministry, gave the green light for land acquisition to resume in October 2010 (although several members of the committee dissented). Then land acquisition was halted in March 2012 by the National Green Tribunal, another (permanent) body established by the Ministry of Environments and Forests).

Last week, yet another central government agency – the Comptroller Auditor General which is in charge of auditing government authorities - charged the Odisha government with giving “undue benefit” to POSCO by violating zoning laws and under pricing land that was given to the company.

“The lack of transparency, accountability and due process in acquiring land for POSCO and moving ahead with the project is alarming,” says Miloon Kothari, executive director of the Housing and Land Rights Network. “It is clear that the recent action in Gobindpur village is a result of the government’s insistence on promoting foreign direct investment even though it violates the constitution of India, international law and the human rights of the villagers.”

 

PRESS RELEASE- Under pressure Maharashtra government initiates dialogue with Medha Patkar and NAPM


Press Release

On the 7th day of Medha Patkar’s indefinite fast, slum dwellers in Mumbai barge in to Mantralaya

Demonstrations held in Bangalore, Delhi and other places in support of the struggle targetting Congress offices and Maharashtra government

Under pressure Maharashtra governemnt initiates dialogue with the Andolan

They can only demolish houses not our hopes and strength”

Mumbai, April 10 : Today is the sevnth day of the indefinite fast by Medha Patkar and Madhuri Shivkar in Khar Golibar, Mumbai. Early in the day basti dwellers and supporters in Mumbai entered the Mantralaya and raised slogans against the government, while the assembly was in progress. Later, by force they were moved by the Police to Azad Maidan, where the demonstrations continued all day. Medha ji’s is growing weaker every day but her health remained stable during the day.

In Delhi, many organisations, movements and individuals came together to protest the inaction by Maharashtra government and stood in solidarity with the struggle in Mumbai. Justice (Retd) Rajinder Sachar led the delegation and handed over a letter signed by Aruna Roy, Swami Agnivesh, Prashant Bhushan, Sumit Chakravarty, Sanjay parikh, Dayamani Barla, Chittaroopa Palit, K B saxena, Manoranjan Mohanty, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi and many others.

In Bangalore, members from different organisations and especially those from the Ejipura slum demolitions affected people gathered together and stormed in to the Karnataa State Congress office. They raised slogans against the Congress party and demanded that immediate action be taken by the Maharashtra government.

 

Support also came from Hussain Dalwai, Member of Parliament, Congress, who visited the fast site and extended his support and promised to take up the issue with Sonia Gandhi and the Central Govt. Shyam Sonar, Members of Swadhar, an NGO in Mumbai, Advocate Ghoge, Prakash Bendre, members of India Against Corruption and others kept visiting the fast site extending their support.

Later in the day, an emissary from Collector Office, came with a message from the Maharashtra government to initiate the process of dialogue. Andolan gave him the copy of the demand as below and showed its resolv to continue the struggle indifinitely on the site, unless and until, issues were resolved.

The first demolition in Golibar started in 2011. That was the time when Medha Tai Patkar went on an indefinite fast. After 2 years demolition started again for the SRA project developed by Shivalik Ventures. Residents are determiend to fight them, they say, “ Hamare sirf ghar tute hain… hosla abhi bhi buland hai” (they can only demolish houses not our hopes and strength). Children even udner duress have been writing their examination, the hope for a dignified life lives on in the struggle.

Prerna Gaikwad, Aba Tandel, Ajit Gavkhedkar, Jameel Bhai, Poonam Kanaujia, Sumit Wajale, Nasreen , Seela manswanee

Contact : 9892727063 | 9212587159 | nampindia@gmail.com

Demands of the Andolan are Following :

  1. The enquiry in respect of 6 S.R.A. Projects, under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary, Housing, is in progress since 13th January, 2013. We demand that the work in all these projects should be stopped un till the report of the enquiry is completed and actions taken on the recommendations.

  2. If demolitions are being carried out in accordance with court rulings but the preconditions put forth are not met, main issues and allegations of corruption through forgery, fraudulent consent are not resolved etc., then in such cases project work should be stopped and no further demolitions be carried.

  3. In cases where the residents have submitted self development projects or wish to submit the same, they should be sanctioned and encouraged and started immediately.

  4. S.R.A. Should ensure that in case of ongoing S.R.A. Projects all conditions in L.O.I. should be complied with.

  5. The L.O.I. of the developer should be withdrawn wherever the developers have submitted forged / false documents or wrong information in violation of the L.O.I – as in case of Shivalik builders.

  6. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has agreed to implement ‘Rajeev Awas Yojana’ in the slums of Mumbai instead of S.R.A., on 2nd January, 2013. However these very slums are being buldozed even today. So, the displacement of these slums should be stopped till R.A.Y. is implemented. The same was conveyed to the State Government by the Union Minister Ajay maken on April 2, 2013.

  7. Pilot projects in respect of slum at Mandala, Mankhurd under the R.A.Y. Have already been submiited to the state as well as Central Governments. That should be approved and implemented at the earliest.

  8. Civic amenities (like water, toilets, nallahs, roads ) should be provided to all the slums immediately as per the written assurance given by the Municipal Commissioner.

  9. The Chief Secretary had given a written assurance on 25th May, 2011 that 19 bastis as agreed in the list, after 9 day fast by Medha Patkar, will be decalred slums within 3 months. There is no action on this assurance till date. The same should be done. The Chief Minister, and the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Housing had premised again in January, 2013 to complete this action during discussions held with them. They also gave a written assurance to that effect. The displacements that are being carried out at present are, therefore, grossly unjust and hence should be stopped forthwith.

  10. Shri Ajay Maken, Minister for Housing and Urban poverty alleviation, Government of India has written a letter to the Chief Minister, Maharashtra state on 2nd April, 2013. The Chief Minister should declare his stand on the letter in writing.

  11. The land of Sathe Nagar should be given for R.A.Y. . This land is currently under the hold of Bombay Soap company.

===============================================

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura Road, New Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : www.napm-india.org

Twitter : @napmindia

 

 

DOWNLOAD: Fact Finding Report on Anti-POSCO Struggle


February 21, 2013

Captive Democracy- Abuse of criminal system to curb dissent against the POSCO steel plant in Odisha

DOWNLOADA Fact-finding team was formed in December 2012 to look into the abuse of the criminal system and filing false cases to curb dissent against the POSCO steel plant in Orissa. The Team’s observations and analysis are presented in their report- “Captive Democracy” which is to be released by Member of Parliament and CPI National Secretary Shri. D. Raja, Senior Lawyer of Supreme Court and Social Activist Adv. Prashant Bhushan and Senior Academician Institute of Chinese Studies and the Council for Social Development, New Delhi Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty. You are invited for the release of the report “Captive Democracy- the abuse of the criminal system to curb dissent against the POSCO steel plant in Orissa” and a short video presentation on the ‘Ongoing Police violence at POSCO affected villages’ presiding the release. The struggle in Dhinkia and nearby villages against the POSCO project continues despite all attempts of the State Government to muzzle this courageous dissent. One of the weapons used by the State Government has been foisting hundreds of criminal cases against activists and villagers resisting the project and arbitrary arrests and jailing of them. The Government of Orissa has started the process of forcible land acquisition from Govindpur village, which is being resisted by villagers and member of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithi (PPSS). The Police are attempting to break this struggle by the filing of false cases and arresting persons resisting the project. In the last one month around 6 activists of the PPSS have been arrested and are presently in prison. Representatives from Delhi Forum, New Delhi and Alternative Law Forum (ALF), Bangalore had gone on a Fact Finding visit to the POSCO affected Dhinkia Panchayat consisting of the villages of Dhinkia, Govindpur and Paatna between 22 and 24 December 2012 to collect first-hand information in regard to the abuse of the criminal system to implicate villagers as well as to figure out the areas of support needed. It was found that villagers have been unable to leave their villages for almost 6 to 8 years in fear that they would be arrested, and have been unable to approach the court for legal remedies due to financial constraints.

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#India- Economically weaker section evictees face serious health problem


 

ByRhik Kundu, TNN | Feb 15, 2013,

 

BANGALORE: A month since over 2000 people in the EWS ( economically weaker sections) quarters of Ejipura were rendered homeless by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike‘s (BBMP) eviction drive, serious health and hygiene issues have surfaced in the peripheries of the area where over 200 evicted families have made temporary homes.

 

Diarrheal diseases, infections and other form of water borne and air borne disease, apart from severe mental trauma, are rampant at present says doctors attending patients from the area.

 

“There are no proper water or sanitation facilities available to them,” said Dr Sylvia Karpagam, co-convener, Karnataka chapter of Janaarogya Andolana, or People’s Health Movement network, who has been working with the homeless since the eviction was carried out last month.

 

“Several human rights of these helpless people – like right to water, right to dignity of life – were abolished by a single court order. This used to be a healthy community. Now they are struggling with diseases and have lost all confidence on the state to protect them,” Dr Karpagam added.

 

A visit to the slums in the periphery of the EWS quarters exposes the plight of the helpless people who seem to have lost everything. Families of five to six are seen living in makeshift homes that merely fits two persons. The area stinks of filth as there’s neither proper sanitation nor toilet facility. And then many say that they have been hungry for days at a stretch because they haven’t been able to get back to their regular jobs – mostly menial jobs that of domestic help, and labouring -as some have sustained severe injuries since the aftermaths of demolitions which they claim have been inflicted upon them by police and government officials while others are too scared to venture out in fear of losing their temporary homes.

 

“Our houses were demolished when we were at the Adugodi police station. We were taken there so that we didn’t see our houses getting bulldozed,” said Shabina Taj, who’s been living at the EWS for the past 25 years.

 

Showing her plastered right foot, Shabina wonders why she and others were thrown out their homes despite having proper documents for their houses and later manhandled by police and officials.

“I was even arrested while protesting when I asked them to give me two months time to evict my house so that my children can finish their academic year in peace. Now I don’t have any house, and I have sent my children away, and I can’t even go to work because of my injured foot,” she woes.

Meanwhile, several former residents of EWS told this correspondent that volunteers, from the civil society, who were trying to provide them with food and water, were often threatened by officials while carrying out their relief work. TOI couldn’t independently verify this report. But, this hasn’t changed their mind to move out from the area.

 

“I have been living here for 22 years now, and I can’t be forced to leave as I have the proper documents verifying my claim to my house,” said Vijayalakshmi, a domestic help, who had earlier threatened the authorities that she would immolate herself in an act of protest.

 

Showing her injuries, which she claimed to have got from the police, the lady added,

 

“I have been promised a house by BBMP but I am yet to hear from them. I will not leave this place as long as justice is delivered to me.”

 

Among the evicted many have found refuge in the most unlikely of places like temples and bus stops, but they haven’t given up their dreams of getting their homes back yet.

 

“I am all alone since my daughter and son have married and moved away. My husband is suffering from a mental illness for the last 40 years,” said 75-year-old Shanti.

 

“All I want is a house where I can die peacefully,” she added.

 

Medha Patkar visit EWS

Social activist Medha Patkar, who visited the Ejipura EWS quarters on Thursday, said that the issue will be taken up to a higher level with the help of senior lawyers like Sanjay Parikh and Prashant Bhushan. The Narmada Bachao Andolan veteran, who was supposed to arrive at the location at about 1.15 pm, finally made her way at about 2.40 pm, and interacted with residents and the deprived lot of the area.

 

“What has happened here is clearly an example of land grabbing by the Maverick Holdings and Investments Private Limited. The demolished site sprawling across 15 acres of the land is worth about Rs 3,500 crore. It is indeed a robbery of Rs 3500 crore from state exchequer. What the state government has done is completely against the constitution and the judiciary has been misbriefed about the land dispute case,” she said.

 

 

 

SC notice to Centre on PIL to bring IB, RAW under statute


Express news service : New Delhi, Tue Feb 12 2013, 03:00 hrs

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre on a PIL demanding regulatory mechanism and accountability of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) under a statutory regime.

Also issuing notices to the three intelligence agencies, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir asked them to file replies within six weeks.

The Bench requested Attorney General G E Vahanvati to assist the court on the next date of hearing.

Earlier, senior advocates Anil Divan and Prashant Bhushan brought to the notice of the court that petitioner NGO ‘CPIL’ has amended the prayers of the writ and instead of a directive to the Centre, they now sought a declaration that RAW, IB and NTRO, “which are functioning without any appropriate legislative oversight are a threat to the rule of law and fundamental rights”.

Questioning the very basis of policing powers being exercised by the agencies in absence of any statutory provision, Divan said that phone tapping and audio-video recording were examples of powers that these agencies exercised without being authorised under any law.

Citing excerpts from the books written by a few former intelligence agencies’ officers, the lawyer said their writings highlighted several instances of illegalities and corrupt practices.

The court however refused to entertain this argument. “Somebody says something in his book will be a matter of personal opinion. Conversation between a former Prime Minister and an officer cannot be a subject matter of this petition,” it said.

Divan then said the Bench should, in the larger interest of public, admit this petition since the actions of the agencies pertained to violation of the right to privacy.

“The court needs to look at the issue. All we want is a mechanism where these agencies are made accountable. Let the Supreme Court issue some guidelines. The court should also take into account a possibility of every state having one such agency of its own by way of an executive order,” argued Divan.

The Bench then allowed amendments in the prayers and issued notice.

The petition has sought regulation of the intelligence agencies in line with the supervisory mechanisms available in the USA and the UK.

Seeking to bring the agencies under an Act to be passed by Parliament and to ensure they are not misused by the government, CPIL claimed that the agencies were acting “without any sanction of the law” and hence violated the rule of law as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.

It has also asked for audit of these agencies by the Comptroller and Auditor General since they were funded by public money.

 

#India-Rape cases we forgot: Soni Sori, Chhattisgarh’s prisoner of conscience


CHHATTISGARH, Posted on Jan 04, 2013 at

 brutal gangrape and subsequent death of the 23-year-old medical student has galvanised a nation with questionable gender parity, it is difficult to place the story of Soni Sori, the young tribal teacher from Chhattisgarh, in the ongoing introspection and legislation against sexual violence. If there is a growing national consensus against sexual violence, there is also the same consensus among most of the urban agitators at India Gate and other cities to rid the nation of the Naxal problem. And when the police and security forces, assigned the task of eliminating the Maoists from India’s forests and hinterlands, adopt sexual violence as one of their tools, the discourse over rape and gender justice is muddled.

Sori, in police custody since October 2011 at the Raipur Central Jail, was arrested on charges of being a courier between Maoists and the Essar group. In custody, Sori was not only allegedly raped at the Dantewada police station, but tortured too with stones inserted into her private parts. Her health since the assault has been deteriorating and activists fear she may lose her life before her plea for bail is addressed by the courts. In her many letters, Soni has been complaining of bad health and being denied sustenance. “Giving electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me – is this going to solve the Naxal problem,” she once asked in a letter to the Supreme Court.

Activists insist Sori was jailed for questioning human rights violations by police and security forces in the state. “Chhattisgarh has an unwritten set of rules about how an adivasi should behave. You don’t organise, you don’t agitate, you don’t protest against human rights violations, you don’t protest against the state, and you certainly don’t protest against industrial houses that are in Bastar to usher in the industrial revolution,” Himanshu Kumar, member of the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said. Sori has also been termed as a prisoner of conscience by the Amnesty International in 2012.

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, slammed the recent National Commission for Women member Shamina Shafiq’s visit to Soni Sori in a Raipur jail. The NCW member, after the meeting, said Sori is doing fine and that she only needs psychological counselling. Calling the statement ‘outrageous’, Krishnan demanded the immediate release of Sori since ‘she continues to be in the captivity of her rapists’. The crucial hearing of her case in the Supreme Court, scheduled for Thursday, was deferred until Tuesday without citing any reason.

Meanwhile, a section of the anti-rape protesters in Delhi has included Sori’s story in India’s fight against sexual violence. On Wednesday, members of the All India Students’ Association (AISA), along with several intellectuals and political leaders including Aam Aadmi Party’s Prashant Bhushan and social activist Swami Agnivesh, staged a silent march, demanding Sori’s release. “She has been repeatedly subjected to the most barbaric and repulsive sexual abuse in police custody – two separate medical reports has shown evidence of stones being shoved into her private parts. And yet, despite repeated protests, no action has been taken till now,” a statement issued by AISA said.

The Delhi protesters also demanded punishment for Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg who allegedly ordered the sexual torture of Sori. Garg was awarded the president’s medal in 2012 for professional excellence. In the continuing tragedy of Chhattisgarh, one of the worst hit by Maoist insurgency, Sori, despite the sexual violence and torture, remains just one amongst its many dramatis personae.

 

Silent march to demand release of #sonisori from jail #Vaw


SONI5

 

Press Trust of India / New Delhi January 02, 2013, 22:15

Members of All India Students’ Association, along with several intellectuals, today staged a silent march here, demanding the release of suspected Maoist activist and victim of custodial torture Soni Sori.

Sori, who has been in the police custody for the last one year, was allegedly subjected to sexual violence at Dantewada police station in Chhattisgarh.

The protesters demanded the immediate release of Sori who is currently lodged in Raipur Central jail.

“She has been repeatedly subjected to the most barbaric and repulsive sexual abuse in police custody – two separate medical reports has shown evidence of stones being shoved into her private parts. And yet, despite repeated protests, no action has been taken till now,” a statement issued by AISA said.

The protesters also demanded punishment for Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg who allegedly ordered the sexual torture of Sori.

The rally was attended by several intellectuals and political leaders including AAP‘s senior leader Prashant Bhushan and social activist Swami Agnivesh.

Accusing Delhi police of violating rules while handling protesters, AISA leader and former JNUSU President Sucheta De said they were repeatedly stopped despite holding a non-violent demonstration.

“Time and again, the protesters had to evade and dodge the police. Women activists, who were silently marching, were stopped and pushed by male police, which is a clear violation of rules”, she said.

Sori was arrested last year after being accused of acting as a courier for taking extortion money for Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

 

Koodankulam plant: Anti-nuclear activists questions government in SC


By PTI – NEW DELHI

04th December 2012

The anti-nuclear activists Tuesday criticised the government in the Supreme Court for exempting the Russian firm involved in setting up Koodankulam nuclear power plant from paying damages in case of mishaps and fixing Rs 1500 crore only as maximum liability on plant’s operator.

“The Rs 1500 crore liability violates the principle of strict liability based on the foundation of Article 21 of the Constitution,” advocate Prashant Bhushan told a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, appearing for the anti-nuclear activists.

The submission prompted the bench to ask if in case of liability being more than Rs 1500 crore “will it be borne by the tax payers?”

“It will be perhaps be the burden on the tax payers,” it further observed.

The remarks were made when Bhushan argued that not only the Indian operator of the plant, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) will have to bear the liability of Rs 1500 crore but it will also not have the right to recourse.

“Rs 1500 crore liability is for plant operator who has no right of recourse if the damage is due to the defect in the reactor supplied by the Russian company,” he said.

He questioned the foreign company from shying away from the liability.

During the hearing, the bench also took note of the submission that the project was cleared without the detailed study about its impact on the marine life.

“We would like to see the report on the marine life,” the bench said.

Meanwhile, the NPCIL placed before the bench the status report on implementation of 17 recommendations made by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) on the safety and security of the plant after the Fukushima incident in Japan.

The Supreme Court court on November 21 had made it clear to the government that all safety measures for handling disaster must be put in place at the Koodankulam power plant before it is operationalised.

The apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions by anti-nuclear activists challenging the commissioning of the plant on the ground that all safety measures have not been put in place.

The corporation had said deep geological repository (DGR) for keeping nuclear waste is not needed now and it will be required only after a few decades.

A DGR is a nuclear waste repository excavated below 300 meters within a stable geologic environment. It entails a combination of waste form, waste package, engineered seals and geology that is suited to provide a high level of long-term isolation and containment without future maintenance.

 

Goa Illegal Mining Battle now in Supreme Court


Panaji, Nov 3 (IANS): Away from the mining dust-lined bowels of the Goan hinterland, the fight against mining will now be fought in the stately interiors of the Supreme Court of India. This is a battle that promises to be gritty.

Nearly a month after imposing a month-long ban on mining in Goa, the Supreme Court Friday began to hear arguments that will go towards deciding the fate of mining in Goa, which has been beset with controversy for the last few years.

The ban on mining in the state followed a petition by civil society activist Prashant Bhushan and Claude Alvares, who runs the Goa Foundation, an NGO that focusses on environmental issues.

The petitioners said that a sympathetic administration was allowing illegal mining to continue, despite the fact that a judicial commission headed by former Supreme Court judge M.B. Shah had nailed a Rs.35,000 crore scam in Goa.

“The failure of the state to control illegal mining has led to large-scale destruction of both forest and non-forest land and as such has adversely affected the livelihood of local people, especially the rural poor,” the petition said.

The mining lobby, represented by the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA), is also in the process of filing an intervention petition before the Supreme Court.

Shivanand Salgaocar, a leading mining operator and president of the GMOEA, claims that they have been wrongly painted as “villains” in the illegal mining saga.

“Each passing day, more and more missiles are fired at us. So it is imperative that we offer clarification of the notional loss of Rs.35,000 crore to the state government that has been attributed to us by the Shah Commission,” said Salgaocar, whose mining company has also been indicted in the Shah Commission report for encroaching on government property.

With the ban on mining stretching over a month now, employees of mining companies have also decided to take matters to the apex court seeking nationalisation of Goa’s mining industry.

The newly formed Goa Mining Labour Workers Union (GMLWU) has also filed an intervention petition “seeking an order from the court to direct the state government to take over the mines and form a government-operated corporation to run the same”.

“These scams are a result of corporate greed. The Goa government should be made to form a corporation which will run the mines. This will give job security to the workers, who are at present in suspense over the future of their employment,” union general secretary Christopher Fonseca said.

The Bharatiya Janata party-led government, which has been accused by the opposition and anti-mining activists of being close to the mining lobby, is also expected to file an affidavit in court seeking early resumption of legal mining in the state.

“Legal mining should not be hampered. Let the culprits responsible for illegal mining be investigated and punished. But those who have been working legally should be allowed to carry on with their activity,” a senior official said, even as the Shah Commission report said that nearly all mines in Goa were operating without the necessary permission and clearances.

Meanwhile, a central empowered committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court to probe illegal mining in Goa returned to Delhi Tuesday after a three-day field trip here.

The CEC had been mandated by the apex court in October to probe evidence related to illegal mining in Goa for a month before submitting a report.