Annie Zaidi: The artists who took a stand

English: Photograph of Shyam Benegal in his of...

Image via Wikipedia

One of life’s minor joys is finding someone to admire.
Not many heroes are left to us, thanks to the mainstream press ignoring instances of quiet, sustained courage, and our own cynicism. I’m sometimes annoyed at ‘positive’ news that translates into interviews with students who have managed high scores, or interviews with successful businessmen or creative professionals. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but there’s a difference between success and heroism.

We rarely hear about those who take a stand — unless they end up being jailed or tortured or killed for it. And then we begin to wonder if there is anybody at all who takes a stand, and whether it is worth it. And if nobody does, why should we?

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Shyam Benegal and Gul Panag had withdrawn from the jury of a filmmaking competition organised by Vedanta. I looked it up online and saw that lucrative prizes were being offered to media students. But the thing is, Vedanta’s money is not made through films. It is made through mining, mostly in rural areas and forests, and a lot of Vedanta’s activities and plans are protested by those who must suffer the consequences.

Vedanta wanted to create happiness, not by tackling pollution but through a film competition. It chose jurors like Shyam Benegal, Gul Panag and Piyush Pandey. Last I checked on their website, only Pandey’s name remained on the list. And I feel relieved, not because I want to see Vedanta criticised, but simply because I get hungry for the lack of an artist whom I can also admire as a person.

Benegal has long been a hero for many of us who like his artistic vision, and respect his engagement with the political, moral and social forces shaping the country. After lawyer-activist Kamayani  Bali Mahabal wrote an open letter on her blog, telling him about Vedanta’s reluctance to take responsibility for pollution and displacement, a friend of Benegal’s left a comment saying that the filmmaker has withdrawn from the jury.

To be honest, I was surprised. I would have understood if he chose to ignore that letter. Every major corporation is devoted to extracting profit from earth, water, air, human labour, and at minimum cost. They all pump money into image management so they come off smelling like roses. Vedanta certainly isn’t the only one. And what would be accomplished if one filmmaker backed out of one tiny contest?…. CONTD…

Read DNA article here


Good news-1,925 Kashmiri Pandit migrants get jobs in Valley

A Kashmiri pandit lady, photograph by Fred Bre...

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By News Desk
Updated Sunday, 11 March 2012 1
JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir government has given jobs t

1,925 Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) migrants under the Prime Minister’s Relief and Rehabilitation Package announced in 2008.
Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Raman Bhalla informed the state legislative assembly Saturday that out of 3,000 posts reserved for Kashmiri migrants, the Service Selection Board has made selection of 1,925 candidates for different category of posts.
He said: “Orders have already been issued in favour of 1,922 candidates, of which, 1,287 candidates have so far joined their duties in the Valley.” He added that the matter for selection against 800 posts under reserved categories is under active consideration of the government.
He said: “Transit accommodation has been constructed at various places in Kashmir, adding that 140 units have been constructed in Vessu (Anantnag district), 65 in Hawl (Pulwama district) and 130 in Baramulla out of a total 495 units to be constructed in the valley. This accommodation is presently being utilized by the employees who have been recently appointed under the Prime Minister’s Package.”
The minister said that the state government has taken up the issue of enhancement of monthly cash assistance to Kashmiri migrants with the Union government several times and migrant relief has been enhanced by the Centre from time to time. “In April, 1990 the Kashmiri migrants were getting Rs.500 per family as monthly cash assistance, and at present due to enhancement from time to time, these migrants get a monthly Rs.5,000 per family,” he said.
About 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits had migrated from the Kashmir valley in 1990 when secessionist militancy erupted there. They were initially lodged in tented accommodations around Jammu and gradually shifted to tenements.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in 2008 announced a Rs.1,618 crore Relief and Rehabilitation package including the return of Pandit youth to Kashmir. (IANS)

Victory to the Cause of Muslim Womens Rights under PWDVA and MWA

By-  Majlis

It has been an uphill task for us to  convince the magistrates that a divorced Muslim woman is not excluded from the ambit of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (PWDVA). Each time we file for reliefs for divorced Muslim women for protection, residence, return of her belongings, maintenance and for a fair and reasonable settlement, clubbing two different beneficial legislations i.e. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 (MWA) and PWDVA, we are confronted with the question whether provisions of PWDVA can be clubbed with MWA and more generally, whether divorced women can claim relief under PWDVA for residence and protection as this violates the provisions of Islamic law.

Gradually, magistrates were convinced about our persuasive arguments and started awarding interim orders of protection, residence and maintenance under PWDVA. These interim orders helped us to negotiate with the husband for a lump sum “fair and reasonable settlement” under MWA. This was an innovative strategy which paid great dividends and helped us to arrive at a speedy resolution to the problem faced by divorced Muslim women.

But recently, when a husband approached the High Court by way of a writ petition for quashing the application filed by the wife, we got an opportunity to argue our point in the High Court. Since there were two contradictory single judge rulings regarding a divorced woman’s right to claim reliefs under PWDVA the judge who heard the case was inclined to refer the case to a division bench.

We argued the matter for several days and convinced the Judge about Muslim women’s rights both under PWDVA and MWA. The writ petition was dismissed at the stage of admission itself.

We consider it a major victory to the cause of Muslim Women. Since this will not be a reported judgement, we would like to share the issues that surfaced and the case law that we relied upon.

For non maintainability of proceedings under S.482 of Cr.PC for quashing, we relied upon a judgement of the Bombay High Court, Mangesh Sawant vs Minal Bhosale, (5th October 2011) wherein the court had held that proceedings under S. 482 must be used sparingly and only as a last resort in cases under PWDVA.

On the issue of a divorced Muslim woman’s right under PWDVA we relied upon Priya vs Shibhu, [2008 (3) KLJ 304] wherein the Kerala High court had upheld the divorced woman’s rights under the Domestic Violence Act. This judgement contains detailed discussion on definition of “aggrieved woman”, “respondent”, “shared household”, “domestic relationship” etc. This judgement has dealt in detail the grammatical implications of the term, “has been” to emphasize that the law will apply to all divorced women. The argument for the husband was that the term, “has been” should be understood with regards to it being in the present perfect tense, but the Kerala High Court had rejected this contention and upheld the claim of the divorced Muslim wife.

We also relied upon Karimkhan vs Nahid Akhtar 2011 Cri.LJ 4793, a judgement of the Bombay High Court which specifically dealt with the retrospective effect of the Domestic Violence Act. While deciding this case, the court considered the earlier two contradictory rulings of the Bombay High Court which had dealt with the issue of rights of divorced women under PWDVA and commented that an interpretation which furthers the purpose of the Act must be preferred to the one which obstructs the object and paralyses the purpose of the Act.

We also argued that PWDVA is secular and there is nothing in the Act which prevents a Muslim woman from claiming reliefs under it. Further the beneficial legislation has to be construed in a liberal way which would further the purpose of the Act rather than defeat its purpose. The following cases were also helpful in advancing our arguments on behalf of the divorced Muslim woman:

Razzak Khan vs Shahnaz Khan, 2008 (4) MPHT 413 M.P. HC
Syed Mohd Nadeem vs State Delhi HC, 15th June 2011
Rajkumar Pandey vs Sarita Pandey, 2008 (6) Bom CR 831
Saraswathy vs Babu (Madras HC 13th December 2011)

from- Majlis,
Tel: 022 26661252 / 26662394


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Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel


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