#India- The Politics of Death Penalty


death-penalty

Rajindar Sachar

 

 

One had always heard perjorative remarks about politics and morality being distant neighbors, notwithstanding the life long struggle by Gandhiji to have some kind of connect between these. This was demonstrated with a telling thud in the way Central Government has dealt with the case of Afzal Guru a resident of J & K who was held guilty in attack on Parliament and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2005. The lower court thereupon fixed 20th October 2006 as date of execution. However the wife of Guru filed a mercy petition before the President who after giving personal hearing to her, asked for some clarifications from the Home Ministry, which was never sent.

 

Guru had also in 2006 sent petition through the jail to the President. He never   received   any   reply   to   this  application, but nevertheless was

hanged on the morning of 9th February, 2013. Excepting for few officials, none including the family of Guru knew of the impending execution. I am personally against the death penalty, being follower of Gandhiji, J.P., Dr. Ambedkar.  But even if we have death penalty, the manner in which hanging has been carried out in this case certainly outrages principles of humanity.

 

I am also concerned with the low in politics where hanging of one person becomes the subject of slinging match between two major political parties Congress and B.J.P. For the last so many years BJP has ad-nauseam made the issue of hanging of Guru as one of its major political strategy and to seek to project the delay by the Congress government as antinational, unpatriotic and most mischievously as a Muslim appeasement question. Congress was upto now explaining the delay as an administrative question. But it would appear that core group of Congress has now decided that it was necessary to hang Guru to counter the challenge of B.J.P., because of the proximity of General Elections to Parliament in 2014, and may be to advance the date of Election  at  convenient date  in  2013.  So since a month back Digvijaya Singh Congress General Secretary, suddenly and without any provocation invited questions on TV on Guru and making a very pointed statement demanding Guru’s hanging.

 

Having so decided UPA Government went about Guru’s hanging in the vilest of human Rights violations. No where in the world, where a modicum of rule of law exists, can the government hang its citizen without informing his family prior to it and allowing them to meet him. Human dignity of Guru was violated by denying him this right. Government’s clumsy claim that a speed post was sent on 7th February from Delhi to the family of Guru in J & K and since the family did not contact the government, they went ahead with hanging. Such a convoluted explanation will immediately invite the taunt “Tell that to the Marines”. Admittedly letter was received by the family on 11th February, when Guru had already been hanged on 9th February. Can one even imagine the deep permanent scar left on the family especially the wife and small child.

 

I have no doubt that there was premeditated decision by the Home Ministry not to allow the family to meet Guru (because this would become public knowledge) and presumably it will naturally result in some demonstrations especially in J & K and Delhi. Admittedly Mr. Shinde, Central Home Minister telephoned Omar Farouk Chief Minister of J & K a couple of days earlier informing him of the decision to hang Guru and asking for his reaction – Omar is stated to have raised no objection, but asked only to be told earlier to the date of hanging. The further news report suggests that Home Minister a few days later himself talked on phone to Omar and in the accepted style of conspirators told him in code language that “the event he had told him earlier will be done in a day or so”. What more proof is required to show complete disregard for well established norms by the government.

 

This hush on the plea of security is laughable. No doubt there would have been some demonstrations and protests, but so what – it is a normal feature in democracies, unless it is the governments plea that its security machinery is so incompetent that it could not deal with demonstrations   by   angry    supporters    of     Guru    and  that  it also apprehended a Navy Seal Expedition like done by USA government to kidnap Osama Bin laden in Pakistan.

 

Bonafide of governments intention to hang immediately is also being questioned, considering that government knew that Supreme Court is still examining the question that if there is delay of over 2 years in disposing of the mercy petition, no execution should take place – in Guru’s case delay is over 7 years – was not that enough reason to suspend hanging of Guru in the meanwhile.

 

The killers of Indira Gandhi were allowed to meet their family members before hanging. Has the functioning of Central government become so sullied that their own precedents have no relevance.

 

Even now with all this inhuman and defenseless exercise, the central government is refusing to return the body of Guru to the family. Both in law and morality, the family is entitled to the body of Guru so that it can be buried with all the usual religious ceremonies at a place of their choosing, so  that  they can visit the grave like others can. No silly prison rule to refuse the body to the family on the puerile excuse of public disorder can be pleaded in defense. The government in order to conceal its own illegalities, insensivity and violation of Human Rights has got caught in its own web and succeeded in projecting Guru in death larger than in life.

 

The Central government should not muddy the situation any further. It has already allowed itself to be cornered by B.J.P. in the communal cauldron, inviting a legitimate comment that in the matter of belief in secularism, the difference between B.J.P. and Congress is that between tweedledum and tweedledee – the former being openly anti-secular and the later being also the same but concealing it under a thin ice which dissolves at the altar of electoral strategy.

 

As an epilogue, should we not consider that instead of governments repeating in future such nauseating violation of the Human Rights,  India should follow the course of at over 140 countries which have agreed to abolish the death penalty and have put a moratorium on any more hangings.

 

Dated: 20/02/2013

New Delhi

 

#India- Films under the knife #censorship


OMAR RASHID, The Hindu

FILMMAKER:Anand Patwardhan.

FILMMAKER:Anand Patwardhan.

 The screening of noted filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s  Ram Ke Naam  (In the Name of God) was persistently protested by the students’ wing of a political party at a recent people’s film festival in Ayodhya, more than two decades after it was documented. The filmmaker talks about the film, censorship of independent opinions and much more in an interview:

How relevant do you think is the film’s initial controversy today?

Twenty-one years ago, the film got a “U” certificate, a Filmfare Award and a National Award for Best Investigative Film. The Doordarshan showed the film following an order by the Bombay High Court who ruled that it was made in national interest. Yet there are groups that oppose it without seeing it. They are told it is “anti- Hindu”. But in fact, in the last 21 years, several  karsevaks  who had actually gone to demolish the Babri Mosque confessed after seeing the film that they felt ashamed for what they had done. They realised that the issue was not religious, but political and financial.

Ram Ke Naam  does not oppose any religion. The voices of ordinary Hindus in and around Ayodhya are testimony to the fact that the communal virus in this country does not originate from the working majority but is largely injected by upper caste urban elements. These “leaders” generally get working class/caste people to do their dirty work, whether this is scavenging or participating in riots and looting.  Ram Ke Naam  interviews Pujari Laldas, head priest of the Ram Janma bhoomi/ Babri Masjid temple/ mosque who believed that Hindus and Muslims should both be allowed to pray at the site as they had done for centuries. Within a year of the Babri demolition, Pujari Laldas was murdered.

The film was incidentally completed in 1991, before the Babri demolition. It was a warning to the nation that communal forces were about to inflict a grievous wound on our secular fabric. The warning went unheeded. By that time the film reached TV, the damage had been done. The Babri Masjid had been demolished, thousands of people in the sub-continent killed and a chain reaction of religious hatred unleashed that continues to wreak havoc to the present day.

The Babri demolition has completed 20 years, why do you think no mainstream film has been made on the issue?  Barring exceptions, I don’t have faith in mainstream Bollywood or for that matter Hollywood. They have the great advantage of mass reach but the very nature of the huge finances involved prevents political, social and cultural risk-taking. There is careful calculation and almost inevitable compromise. Sometimes when its heart is in the right place, a film can shift popular perceptions to a tiny degree but usually this happens only when the filmmakers believes their cause to be popular. So for instance, there may be some good films made against rape now but even here the chances are that the commercial instinct will send double messages while appearing to be pro-woman.

So the silence on Babri Masjid is not surprising. One sensitive fiction film that did touch this issue is Saeed Mirza’s  Naseem  though I won’t call it Bollywood and nor did it enjoy a big release. Incidentally when Saeed wanted to access TV footage of the attack on the mosque he could not find any, such had been the censorship. He ended up using sound clips from Ram Ke Naam .

Kamal Haasan’s 

Vishwaroopam  

was in the news for slightly similar reasons.

I am against censorship, especially of the extra-constitutional variety. I will not talk of the content of Vishwaroopam  as I have not seen the film, but the reviews of people I trust has me worried that the film indulges in stereotyping and sees the U.S. as an ally in the fight against terror. If this is true, I would still not call for censorship but I would find it problematic, because the U.S. is playing a deadly double game. They are both the authors of jihad  and now the victims of it. Bin Laden was their creation. They fought a proxy war in Afghanistan where they preached Islamic jihad against communists. Have they ever apologised? Peace may come to our planet the day the powerful neo-con lobby in America genuinely reveals how it used religion to divide the world. And Islamic  jihad  may realise that not Islam, not the Quran, but their enemy number one is their actual father.

Most human beings are not bigoted by nature. They are victims of manipulation. Just as  Ram Ke Naam  was able to win over  karsevaks . I am sure that even  jihadis  can be won over if they come into genuine and prolonged contact with those who believe in another idea of Islam. But if we merely practice revenge, judicial or otherwise, the cycle of violence will remain unbroken.

How has the film-making landscape changed since you made  Ram Ke Naam ? Are you freer today?

I continue to try and tell the truth as I see it. What is sad is that the real censorship in this country is no longer the censorship of the State. It is the censorship of the marketplace. Our films remain in the margins. Breaking out of this is the fight that must continue.

 

“…real censorship in this country is no longer the censorship of the State. It is the censorship of the marketplace. Our films remain in the margins.”

 

 

 

Even the chairman has the freedom of speech- #JusticeKatju


MARKANDEY KATJU, The Hindu

Outspoken has no connection with my being associated with the Press Council of India

“Bol ki lab azaad hain terey

Bol zubaan ab tak teri hai”

(Speak out for your lips are free

Speak out for your tongue is still yours”)

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

I have been criticised by some politicians, lawyers and others for being outspoken on some issues unrelated to the press while being the Chairman of The Press Council of India (PCI). As a result, it is time now for my response.

The main attack on me is that since the PCI discharges quasi-judicial functions, its Chairman should not speak on non-media issues.

First of all, let me say that if a matter comes up before the PCI when it is exercising quasi-judicial functions involving an issue or a person about which or whom I have expressed my view, I will immediately recuse myself from the deliberations and decision on it. In quasi-judicial matters I do not make decisions on my own. Rather, it is the PCI which, by majority vote, makes decisions. There are 28 members of the PCI apart from the Chairman. If I recuse myself then the other members will deal with the matter as they deem fit. What then is all the hullabaloo about?

It is then said that a judge should not comment on public issues except when a case comes before him. I reply by saying that I am not a judge but a retired judge. It may be pointed out that the post and functions of the Chairman of the PCI are very different from that of a judge.

First, while a judge has only judicial functions (except the power given to High Courts under Article 235 of the Constitution of administrative control over the subordinate judiciary), the Press Council not only performs quasi-judicial functions under Section 14 of the PCI Act of adjudicating complaints by or against the press, but also preserves the freedom of the press and maintains high standards of journalism, vide Section 13. Second, the High Court and Supreme Court have powers which the PCI does not have. Example, the power to issue writs; punish for contempt of court; quash orders of administrative authorities; issue directions in a PIL, etc. There are several other differences between judges and the Chairman of the PCI. How then can the two posts be treated as equal?

I have repeatedly said that I am not only Chairman of the PCI but also a citizen of India. The PCI Act contains no provision prohibiting me from speaking on non-media issues (though, as I have already said, if a matter comes in quasi judicial proceedings of the PCI on which I have expressed my view I will recuse myself from the deliberations and decision). Hence, I will continue speaking on such issues, particularly when it is, in my opinion, a matter of grave importance for the nation, no matter what some people might say. I have a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution (which gives the freedom of speech to all citizens) to speak on such matters even while remaining the Chairman of the PCI.

A charge is made against me that I am a government servant and a government appointee and am therefore doing the bidding of the government. To this my reply is as follows: first, the Chairman of the PCI is not appointed by the government but selected under s.5(2) of the PCI Act by a selection committee comprising: 1. the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (the Vice-President of India) 2. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and 3. a representative of the PCI (who is not appointed by the government but chosen democratically by the members of the PCI). It was this body which unanimously selected me. Second, I am not a government servant but an independent statutory authority. It is true that s.7(1) describes me as an “officer,” but the word “officer” does not necessarily mean a government servant. One word can have several meanings, and it depends on the context in which the word has been used. The word “officer” in s.7(1) means a person holding an office. That the Chairman of the PCI is not a government employee is borne out by several features: 1. An employee is usually under the supervision and control of a superior, but the Chairman of the PCI has no superior 2. Employees have ACRs (annual confidential reports) but there is no ACR of the Chairman 3. An employee can be suspended and (if he is on a transferable job) transferred, but the Chairman can neither be suspended nor transferred 4. The Government Servants’ Conduct Rules do not apply to the Chairman of the PCI.

No doubt the salary of the Chairman is paid by the government (the appointment letter states that the Chairman will get the same salary, benefits and amenities as a sitting Supreme Court Judge), but then salaries of High Court and Supreme Court judges are also paid by the government. Does that make such judges government employees?

To those who said that I have only criticised non-Congress governments I have already given my answer in various TV discussions that I have frequently criticised Congress governments too, examples being of Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. I accuse such persons of twisting facts.

I would not have even bothered to give this explanation but for the misleading comments made by some persons which could have misguided the public.

(Justice Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India.)

Threat to Indian Constitution is more serious from the Executive arm of Government having scant respect for law


By Irfan Engineer

It is not in dispute that Afzal Guru was a surrendered cadre of JKLF. He was dissatisfied about the situation in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and he surrendered to the Border Security Force. Once a person surrenders to security forces, he takes a calculated risk of displeasing and even facing threat to life from other gun wielding cadres. Gun wielding fighters fear that the surrendered cadre would give crucial information about them and their organization and also want to make an example of the surrendered persons to deter others from surrendering. Afzal Guru might have calculated the risk he runs and still decided to surrender. A person surrenders when he loses hope of success of the mission of the organization he was working with or realizes that the mission was not worthy after all. It is also not in dispute that Guru after his surrender did odd jobs and completed his graduation.

The police version and Afzal Guru’s version thereafter differ. Police version broadly is that Guru met one Tariq, who introduced him to Ghazi Baba and who in turn motivated him to arrange safe hideout for those who had planned to attack Indian Parliament. Afzal Guru was paraded by police before the electronic media and his “confession” was broadcasted. Supreme Court frowned on such practices and did not rely on the “confession” under the circumstances.

Guru, on the other hand, in his further statement under S. 313 of the Cr.P.C. before the trial court, and in his letter to the Home Minister states that he was introduced to those who later attacked the Indian Parliament by DSP Dalvinder Singh and coerced to arrange for their stay in Delhi, and while in Delhi, he constantly received calls from Dalvinder Singh. The call records were never investigated and never verified. Guru writes that he could not present his side and contest the evidence being adduced in the trial court as his family was under threat.

The Apex Court also accepts that Guru did not get a lawyer to represent his case. Supreme Court is on record stating that Guru’s conviction is based on circumstantial evidence. The death sentence was awarded to satisfy the collective conscience of the nation. The persons who attacked the Parliament were killed in the operation and Ghazi Baba was never arrested.

National Human Rights Commission has stated that it was violation of human rights of the family members of Afzal Guru to have executed him without even intimating the family before his execution and for not permitting his family members to meet Afzal Guru for one last time before his execution. It is violation of fundamental right to practice one’s own religion by not allowing the family to perform last rites of the departed according to their religion and not to hand over the body to the family.

Kashmir has been gagged since the morning Guru was executed. Kashmiris cannot express themselves – their anger or appreciation. Their children have no milk. News and internet access, SMSs all were blocked. No democracy, no trust and no freedom for Kashmiris. Only the CM of Kashmir was allowed to talk to the media. All because a Kashmiri was accused of waging or abetting waging of war with Government of India, tried on circumstantial evidence and executed without informing his family before his execution to satisfy the conscience of the nation as voiced by Hindutva brigade. The only other person executed in this manner after promulgation of Constitution of India was a Pakistani National – Ajmal Kasab. The Britishers allowed parents of Bhagat Singh to meet him for one last time before his execution, even though he was also considered by them a terrorist waging war on the Colonial rule.

Threat to the Government of India and the Indian Constitution is not serious enough from terrorists – as they can be handled by security forces having far more superior force and superior organization and power of public opinion of law abiding Indian citizens. Threat to Institutions of democracy, Indian Constitution and the rule of law is far more serious from the executive having scant respect for the rule of law clothed with unaccountable authority and from ideologies that purport to be majoritarian nationalism having scant respect for justice.

The Issue of Justice:

Revenge and the urge for blood was medieval notion of justice. Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth is not justice. Instilling fear and creating awe for those in power has not deterred crimes. For those deprived or those nurturing a sense of injustice or experiencing occupation fight regardless of consequences and with whatever means they can command. Colonial power did not deter Indian freedom fighters and they were ready to pay any price – even their lives. It is the structures and institutions that we build which are fair and just towards all and accountable to the citizenry that help reduce crimes in the society.

Justice does not lie in retribution and inflicting same or more pain or loss to what a person has inflicted upon others and deriving satisfaction from the pain that that person is suffering. It is an inhuman instinct. Justice lies in restoration of the victim of crime back, expressing solidarity, and as far as possible, normalizing the life of the victim and helping her to come to terms with the wrong done to her, and ensuring that the wrong would not be repeated.  Family members of the five security personnel, a parliamentary guard and a gardener who died during the attack on the Parliament may derive satisfaction from killing of persons involved in the attack (with sufficient degree of certainty). However, those attacking the Parliament were seeking their own revenge (certainly an abominable and condemnable action) for somebody else, and so on! Kashmiris might perceive injustice in the manner in which the trial was held and the entire execution was dealt with and all of them were made to suffer house arrest for days following Guru’s execution. Retribution is a never ending cycle and does not bring closure. Every closure for one is point of revenge for another for the perceived injustice.

Closure for the relatives of those killed during Parliament attack would be more meaningful if their economic lives had been restored by the nation and helped them to come to terms with the questions disturbing their minds like, “why my near and dear one?”, “whose fault?”, “where did things go wrong?”, “why did the attack happen?”, “what motivated the attacker to target my near and dear one?”, and mitigated loss of their near and dear ones as much as possible. Closure for Priyanka Gandhi for her father’s assassination was not sending S Nalini Sriharan to gallows but meeting her in prison and seeking answers to these questions and finally forgiving her. Nalini was spared death row.

But Justice also means restoration of the perpetrator of the crime back to normalcy and to help the person repent and reform and till the time there is genuine repentance on the part of the perpetrator, putting such restrictions and taking such measures which would restore the perpetrator as a socially useful human being. If there is no repentance then society ought to be protected from the perpetrator by isolating the perpetrator.

Subjectivity in death penalty:

Others also attacked Constitutional Institutions and functionaries, including Nalini and Rajoana who killed the then Chief Minister of the Punjab. Those vociferously demanding Guru’s execution are silent on speedy execution of sentence to Rajoana and Nalini. There is no demand that Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kondnani convicted for brutal rapes and murder of many in which even foetus was not spared the brutality be awarded death sentence. Death sentence therefore is not a demand for justice, but a political demand to garner votes, to overawe a community or a section and demonstrate the power and patriarchal values of might, strength and masculinity of the state power and those who wield power. Masculinity, military might and notion of power come with the ideology of ‘might is right’. But there are limits to ‘might is right’ arrogance. The notions of crusades invoked by the then US President after attack on twin towers on 9/11 in which 3000 people (who were citizens of various countries) were killed, led the US to war with Afghanistan and Iraq killing over 6 lakh people and injuring millions. The war has not been won as yet by the mighty and will never be won until justice is done.

The march of history has been from more brutal and violent societies to more humane, inclusive and less violent societies; and from authoritarian to democratic states. The objective of punishment awarded by the society to the delinquents and non-conformists too has evolved from that of retribution to deterrence and reformation of the delinquent. With the strengthening of democracies, there is increasing culture of tolerating dissent and differences. Sanctity of life is increasingly accepted and believed that society does not have the right to take away anyone’s life. Disproportionate number of people from marginalized sections of the society – poor, ethnic and religious minorities and lower castes are handed down death penalty. For example, 41% of death row inmates and 34% of those executed in US are African Americans though they constitute 12% of US population. There is only one remedy – neat burial of death sentence as a punishment.

 

#India- Abolish the #deathpenalty- #Humanrights


Rajeev Dhavan – India Today 

TAGS: Afzal Guru | Death penalty | Congress |Sushilkumar Shinde | BJP |Veerappan
Afzal Guru
Afzal Guru

When people kill it is homicide. When the State hangs, it is legicide. When terrorists kill, it is collective murder.When terrorists are killed, it is justified as counter-terrorism. When innocents are massacred, it is genocide. When the great empires of the day kill thousands of innocents it is called collateral damage for the greater glory of the world.

Afzal Guru’s hanging was celebrated as national pride to symbolise that India and the Congress party had not gone ‘soft’. This was to offset the BJP’s electoral campaign against the UPA’s soft state. To the cynic and the thoughtful, Afzal’s hanging became a political farce about collective revenge, national honour and electioneering for 2014. If his hanging was a deterrent for terrorists in the Valley or otherwise, the facts belie the truth. If a chain of hangings are to follow, why talk of mercy?

Discourse

Is India clear about the death penalty, state killings by hanging, mercy petitions and legicide? Years ago mandatory death sentences were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. From 1980-83, the new formula was death in the ‘rarest of rare cases’. Given shrill polities and social clamour for death, are we returning to de facto mandatory death sentences while retaining the de jure ‘rarest of rare’ clausula? Recently on 2nd March 2012 Justices Alam and Desai opined that mandatory death sentences for all under the Narcotics Act were contrary to the Constitution’s due process and civil liberties. The BJP wants mandatory death sentence for all terrorists. Unable to contain the political implications of this clamour, the Congress has joined the ‘mandatory’ bandwagon.

Omar Abdullah took a pragmatic, not a principled, view that death for Afzal would shake up Kashmir. Instead it shook up Hyderabad! Parliament dare not make death sentence for terrorists or rapists mandatory. It would be struck down. Instead this is achieved through politics, inciting people and numbing the conscience of the President.

The Parliament attack occurred on 13 December 2001, and Afzal was arrested on 15 December 2001. The High Court acquitted two accused, Geelani and Afsan, and on 4 August 2005 the Supreme Court convicted Afzal to death and awarded 10 years for Shaukat. President Pranab denied mercy on 3 February 2013. After six hurried days, he was executed. The quality of mercy was not just strained but ignored. Both Kasab and Afzal were hanged within days of the Presidential rejection of their mercy petition – ignoring the right to approach the courts to challenge the rejection.

Indeed, in 2013 the Karnataka High Court stayed the execution of Saibanna while it examined the legality of the presidential rejection. Recently, the Supreme Court has stayed the execution of Veerappan’s aides until it heard arguments on the rejection of mercy.

Afzal

Afzal had no such chance. Afzal’s wife was informed of the death two days later – by speed post, sent a day before the execution! Home Secretary R.K. Singh said his family was informed. Indira’s killer’s family met the condemned before execution. Mr. Singh deserves suspension and Minister Shinde removal for his outrageous defence of secrecy.

But the body? Surely the family have a right to the body rather than a State burial. They had, and have, a right to a namaaz-e-janaza. Or is Afzal to be damned in the life hereafter? Don’t quote Prison Rules. The government’s alleged fear is that his tomb will symbolise martyrdom. Who can prevent that? Or a memory stone in his honour at Sopore? Would the army crush it to pieces? Why punish Tabassum, Afzal’s wife? Unmarked graves and unceremonious cremations was British policy that ill becomes a post colonial republic. Give Tabassum the body.

Punishment

Innumerable convicts await death row – a death in itself. Unwise Law Minister Ashwin Kumar, who knows little law, seemed more concerned with speed than justice. In Bachan’s case (1980) the court factorised both the aggravated crime (public interest) and individuating of concern for the criminal (mitigating justice) as separate live elements in sentencing. The former could not drown out the latter. Recently on 20 November 2012, Justices Lokur and Radhakrishnan exposed the sentencing error in looking at the crime and ignoring the criminal totally. This is the flaw in the Machi decision’s (1983) ‘rarest of rare’ test which seems to be on everyone’s lips as they look at the crime and ignore the criminal. The Supreme Court has now exposed a dozen of its own errors in this regard. What we have done is shocking: restored the mandatory death penalty by the back door.

The presidential mercy has become a farce. Mercy petitions are not a will-of the-wisp. They have developed a culture of killing. Imagine the Justices Radhakrishnan and Misra’s distress on reading a trial judge’s advocacy of slashing, beheading, lynching and death sentence as the only way to eliminate crime. That too, in a judicial verdict. This is the state we have reached. A UN report states that over 150 countries have abolished or do not use the death penalty. Building on earlier resolutions, in 2012, the General Assembly resolved for no more death penalties – supported by the African Republics Tunisia, Niger and South Sudan. Even Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia abstained rather than vote against.

One last comment: Judges should straighten out the law. Parliament should abolish the death penalty. Tihar should deliver Afzal’s body to his wife Tabassum.

– The writer is a Supreme Court lawyer. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinion of the newspaper.

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/abolish-the-death-penalty-afzal-guru-upa-veerappan-aides/1/251575.html

 

Link patented drug prices to per capita income: Panel #patientrights


SEEKING AFFORDABILITY

Ag overnment panel has proposed that prices of patented medicines be based on the country’s per capi ta income, a move that would substantially reduce prices of costly drugs made by global pharmaceutical firms. 

The proposal, which seeks the input of other government agencies as well as industry groups, could provoke the ire of Big Pharma, which has clashed with India over protec tion of intellectual property price regulations for generic drugs, and compulsory licens es for costly medicines.
A panel formed under the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers has recommended setting up a committee to negotiate with drugmakers to fix prices of costly drugs used to treat deadly diseases such as cancer, HIV and hepatitis.
The proposal is the latest in a series of measures taken by India to make medicines more affordable for the coun try’s 1.2 billion population.
“If we compare the per capita income with the prices of patented medicines in countries like Australia or France, prices in India are compara tively high and hence, they need to be regulated,” a senior ministry official told Reuters, declining to be identified because he was not authorized to speak with media.
Generic medicines account for more than 90% of India’s $13 billion pharmaceuticals market. US-based Abbott Laboratories has the largest share of the overall Indian drug market followed by Cipla.
The proposal, posted late on Monday on the ministry website, cites as an example the lung-cancer drug erlotinib HCL, sold by Roche Holding as Tarceva. In India, it costs Rs 35,450 for a month’s course of 100 mg tablets, equivalent to Rs 1,21,085 in France and Rs 1,21,650 in Australia.
Based on per capita gross national incomes, if the drug costs Rs 35,450 in India, its respective cost would be just Rs 11,643 in France and Rs 10,309 in Australia based on per capita income in the respective countries, the report said.
The Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, which represents for eign drugmakers in India, did not reply to questions from Reuters.
“If stringent price regula tions are enforced then latest drugs will not be made availa ble in India,” said Ameet Hariani, managing partner at Hariani & Co, a Mumbaibased law firm that advises drugmakers and other companies. REUTERS

 

 

Pune teacher sexually abuses 22 minor girls, arrested #Vaw #WTFnews


CHILDRAPE

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Pune: The Chatushrungi police on Tuesday arrested a 50-year-old visiting academic of a prominent English medium school in the Aundh area here for allegedly sexually abusing about 22 girls from the fifth standard since the last two or three months.
The school authorities learnt of the abuse on February 5 after one of the girls complained to her teacher about the academic’s behaviour. The school conducted an internal inquiry and found that the academic, Pradeep Gothaksar, a resident of Panchvati, Pashan, had abused about 22 girls from the same class. The school contacted senior police inspector Bhanupratap Barge of the social security cell of the crime branch on February 22.
Barge, along with senior inspector Ajay Kadam of the Chatushrungi police station, held a meeting with the school authorities and the girls’ parents on Saturday. Barge said the parents were told of the sexual abuse during the meeting. “We also told the parents about the new Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and requested them to lodge a complaint with the police,” he said.
Barge said some girls had already told their parents about the sexual abuse but they had not approached the school authorities. “These parents were reluctant to approach the police too. However, we managed to convince them to lodge a complaint and also told them it would be considered a crime as per the new law if they didn’t,” he said.
Barge said a senior official of the school lodged the complaint against Gothaskar on Tuesday. Gothaskar was arrested by the Chatushrungi police in the evening and charged under sections 7, 9(F) and 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

#Mumbai- SevenHills wants to treat ‘Bachchans’, not poor: BMC #patientrights


Rosy Sequeira TNN

Mumbai:The BMC on Tuesday told the Bombay high court that SevenHills Healthcare Private Limited (SHHPL) wants to treat “only the Bachchans” and not poor and needy at its super-specialty hospital in Marol. Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan had given birth to a baby girl at the hospital.

BMC advocates Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Shardul Singh said this while opposing a fresh plea by SHHPL for an NOC to change its bank mortgage. In September 2011, SHHPL had challenged BMC notices to vacate the land allotted to it to run the super-specialty hospital in a public-private partnership.
SHHPL’s counsel Venkatesh Dhond urged the HC for urgent relief in shifting the mortgage to other banks, saying mounting arrears had nearly made the hospital a non-performing asset.
The division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and K K Tated pointed out that following the November 2011 HC order, the BMC has granted an NOC. To which Dhond replied the NOC is more of an objection that has dissuaded bankers from granting funds. The judges said if SHHPL is not happy with the NOC, it should take out appropriate proceedings and not file a fresh plea claiming the same relief.
Dhond urged the HC to direct the BMC to grant an occupation certificate for the hospital. Kumbhakoni said there are conditions in the intimation of disapproval that SHHPL has to first comply with. The matter will be heard after three weeks.

#India- After 6 months in jail as ‘terror suspect’, a journalist returns


Johnson T A : Bangalore, Wed Feb 27 2013, IE
DF

About six months ago, when he appeared in court for the first time after being named by the Bangalore Police in an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to target local right-wing media personalities, Muthi ur Rehman Siddiqui, 26, a reporter and sub-editor with the Deccan Herald newspaper here, still had the glint of youthful exuberance in his eyes.

But now, the first thing that comes to mind on seeing Siddiqui after his release from prison on Monday, is the disappearance of that enthusiasm from his face. Gone is the glint in his eyes, and in its place is a serious, sad man.

“I always thought the police, media and society at large do not treat terror suspects fairly. That thinking has been reinforced by my experience,” said Siddiqui on Tuesday.

Among 15 youths arrested by the Bangalore Police last August-September from Bangalore, Hubli, Nanded and Hyderabad in an alleged LeT-linked terror plot — that has now been linked to the February 21 twin blasts in Hyderabad — Siddiqui was released on Monday after the NIA, which took over the case, reported no “prosecutable evidence” against him and co-accused Yusuf Nalband, 24.

As the NIA did not name Siddiqui and Nalband, a commerce graduate working in a private firm, in its chargesheet filed on February 20, a special court ordered their release on February 23.

“I feel really relieved that I have been able to come out clean. It is a huge victory for me and the community at large, because this is not one individual’s fight,” said Siddiqui. “People called me the mastermind of the group. If I am the mastermind, then my friends who have been arrested must also be released,” he said.

The arrests were made on the basis of intelligence inputs of contacts between some of the youths and LeT-linked persons in Saudi Arabia. But there was no clear case against Siddiqui. It was alleged that he was providing radical literature and his office computer was seized.

One of five children of a small-time perfume merchant from Hubli, Siddiqui financed his own education, and did not allow the death of his father in 2006 to deter him from obtaining a post-graduate degree in mass communication and pursuing his dream of a career in journalism.

“When I was doing my PG diploma in mass communication, I chose the topic, ‘Media coverage of terrorism suspects’, for my thesis. Unfortunately, my supervisor struck down the topic, saying I may get into trouble. But the subject has always been on my mind. And I saw in prison that people have been stuck there for years, in some cases without a trial,” he said, referring to the continued incarceration of 32 youths arrested from Hubli in 2007.

“I consider myself very fortunate that I have been released after six months. Trial takes about seven to eight years. When you are declared innocent after seven or eight years, it is like a slap on your face. My sympathies were always with terror suspects, and that feeling has become stronger now,” said Siddiqui.

During his time in prison, Siddiqui memorised a significant part of the Quran. “That is one of the positive things this experience has given me,” he said. Siddiqui said he also tried to engage himself constructively by teaching two of his co-accused who are illiterate (Mohammed Sadiq Laskhar, 28 and Mahaboob Bagalkot, 26).

“Initially I was very optimistic that I would get out soon because they had promised me. We waited and waited, but it did not happen,” he said. As time lapsed, he feared that the police may fabricate evidence against him. With charges being brought under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the time for incarceration prior to the chargesheet was extended to 180 days.

“The experience has really changed me as a person. When you are kept in confinement, it is very depressing. Now I have a different perspective of the world,” he said.

“I had so much time because there isn’t any responsibility or any work. But it is an advantage in the sense that I had ample time to introspect. I could do some serious introspection about my life, career and the shortcomings in me as a person. I also read a lot,” said Siddiqui.

He has no immediate plans to return to journalism, he wants to spend some time with his family. “I am yet to adjust to this changed environment. I have just returned from an entirely different world,” he said.

Siddiqui hoped that the others accused in the case would also be released soon. “They have resigned themselves to remaining in prison for a while. But the thought is still there each morning, when you wake up, about being free once again,” he said.

Pointing out that DRDO scientist Ajaz Ahmed Mirza, 25, who is also among the arrested, has not been named in the NIA chargesheet, Siddiqui said he expected him to be freed soon.

– See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/after-6-months-in-jail-as–terror-suspect–a-journalist-returns/1080262/0#sthash.Z71lgbX1.dpuf

#Mumbai -Spot boy poses as film financier, promises jr artiste roles, rapes her #Vaw #Wtfnews


RAPE

Nitasha Natu TNN

Mumbai: The Goregaon police arrested spot boy Mustafa Khan (23), who posed as a film financier and conned a junior artiste into having a physical relationship with him by promising her movie roles and money.
Khan, who was at large for since more than a month, was arrested on Sunday and booked for rape.
The victim (22), who lives in Vashi, has a two-year-old daughter. Her husband, a driver, is bedridden for the last six months after he was injured in an accident.
As the victim was looking for work, a fellow artiste, Kundan Singh, told her about an audition at Motilal Nagar in Goregaon (W) on December 10, 2012. The duo went there and met Khan. “He introduced himself as the film financier. When the victim told Khan about her domestic problems, and he promised to cast her in his film and lend her Rs 50,000,” said inspector G Rekulwad.
As they weren’t called in for the audition, Singh left, but Khan kept the victim engaged in a conversation and later forced her to get intimate with him.
The victim claimed Khan got intimate with her on five different occasions in Motilal Nagar. Thereafter, whenever she called Khan for work and the money, he made excuses. On realizing that she was used, the victim lodged a first information report against Khan on January 16, 2013.
“Khan had no fixed residence and his mobile number was registered on a bogus address. Khan was nabbed from Wadala on the basis of his mobile phone location,” Rekulwad said. The police found that the room in Motilal Nagar belongs to a tailor.
The police will make an application to the Borivli court, requesting Khan’s police custody. He is currently in judicial custody.

 

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