MDMK to challenge Supreme Court order on Sterlite – seriously ?


MDMK leader Vaiko addressing the media outside the Supreme Court in connection with the Sterlite Industries issue, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium
S_SubramaniumMDMK leader Vaiko addressing the media outside the Supreme Court in connection with the Sterlite Industries issue, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: S. Subramanium

MDMK on Tuesday said that it would challenge the Supreme Court’s order asking Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Group, to pay Rs. 100 crore as compensation for polluting the environment and vowed to continue its fight against restarting the operations.

The Apex Court, while directing Sterlite to pay the amount as compensation, had, however, refused to direct its closure.

“We are staging a battle and we will continue to do so. I will file an appeal in the Supreme Court”, a party statement quoted Vaiko as having told reporters in New Delhi.

The MDMK leader recalled that Maharashtra had cancelled the license of Sterlite Industries plant in Ratnagiri district a few years ago after villagers damaged the facility. “In Tamil Nadu we did not indulge in such activities. We are fighting for peace in a non-violent way.”

People’s suffering

Alleging that a large number of people were affected by cancer and other diseases and thousands of acres damaged due to the pollution from the plant, Mr. Vaiko sought to know why lives of the local people should be endangered just to bring revenue to the Government (through the plant).

He claimed that Supreme Court’s order would not control the closure notice given by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board on March 30.

The Apex Court had refused to direct closure of the plant and had set aside the Madras High Court’s 2010 order on closing it down.

 

DOWNLOAD FULL JUDGEMENT HERE

#India- Supreme court fined Sterlite 1 billion rupees for breaking green laws #goodnews


A labourer works inside a copper workshop in Siliguri June 6, 2009. REUTERS-Rupak De Chowdhuri-Files

A labourer works in a factory at Bharibramna, 20 km (12 miles) west of Jammu, July 15, 2008. REUTERS-Amit Gupta-Files
NEW DELHI | Tue Apr 2, 2013 2:59pm IST

(Reuters) – The Supreme Court has fined Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd 1 billion rupees for breaking environmental laws at its copper smelter in Tamil Nadu. The case is unrelated to a separate order that has shut the 300,000 tonnes per year Tuticorin plant, India’s largest, since last week following complaints of a gas leak. Despite imposing the fine, the Supreme Court overruled an earlier order from the Madras High Court demanding the firm close the plant over longstanding environmental concerns. That disputed order was handed down before the gas leak forced the smelter’s immediate closure. “We have to see that no person or society would be adversely affected by environmental hazards,” said judge A.K. Patnaik, who headed the bench. The money must be deposited within two months, he said. On Monday, the company said the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had ordered it to shut the plant after local residents complained of breathing problems. Sterlite, a unit of Vedanta Resources PLC (VED.L), has for years been involved in legal battles over environmental concerns at the Tuticorin smelter, with the first of many petitions against it filed in 1996. “Sterlite Industries would continue to work in close association with the State Government of Tamil Nadu and other regulatory bodies, towards maintaining highest standards of Health, Safety and Environment,” the company said in a statement. India consumes around 600,000 tonnes of copper annually – about 3 percent of the world’s total, far behind China which used around 9 million tonnes last year. Shares in Sterlite rose more than 3 percent on Tuesday in a firm Mumbai market. (Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty and Siddesh Mayenkar; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

 

#India – Lead in drinking water stunts kids’ growth


DC |
Bengaluru: With the city facing a shortage of clean drinking water, the National Referral Centre for Lead Projects in India (NRCLPI), based at St John’s Hospital, Bengaluru, is engaged in a project to evaluate polluted rivers around the city that are major source of lead poisoning.
The NRCLPI is working on the project in association with undergraduate students across six cities — Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, Dehradun and Karad. The three-month project is expected to be completed by June 2013, prior to the onset of the monsoon.
The data collected after analysis will be submitted to government bodies and policy makers, says Dr Thuppil Venkatesh, principal adviser, Quality Council of India (QCI) and NRCLPI.
Lead affects the growth and development of cognitive function among children and reduces their IQ. Among adults it affects the kidneys, bones, muscles and also blood pressure.
With the help of NRCLPI experts, the student volunteers will collect samples for analysis using the latest technology. The samples will be evaluated for lead content in soil, in agricultural products and in drinking water within 500 metres of the flowing and highly contaminated rivers and water bodies in these six cities of study. The data will be used to correlate with the health status and Blood Lead Levels (BLL) of the people living in and around the places taken up for the study.
“Rivers in these six cities are now highly polluted, especially with contaminating lead due to increasing industrial activities, mainly from lead-based industries,” says Dr Venkatesh.
“Cattle drink this water. Water from these highly contaminated rivers is used for agricultural purposes and it also recharges the nearby ground water.”
NRCLPI has conducted similar studies on lead contamination, one of which resulted in unleaded gasoline being used across the country. NRCLPI also played a major role in bringing down the content of lead in paints.
If it can rid river water of lead contamination it will go a long way in preventing many illnesses. If this project is successful, it can be extrapolated to other rivers in other cities where a similar situation is seen, Dr Venkatesh said.

 

Why memories of Gujarat 2002 stay


AJAZ ASHRAF, The Hindu , April 2, 2013

 

Riots under BJP rule are the culmination of the Sangh Parivar’s ideological impulse to keep communal tensions alive while for Congress they are tactical instruments

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh’s decision to accord a prominent role to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is presumably based on the belief that the diverse Indian electorate would forgive him for the communal mayhem of 2002, as it often has the Congress for the riots under its rule. This can be presumed from the comments Mr. Singh made at a function in Delhi in early February. In a recriminatory tone, he had then asked, “Our opposition parties allege that BJP is the party which creates enmity between Hindus and Muslims. Did riots not take place during Congress rule?”

Not just the votaries and apologists of the BJP but even ideologically neutral individuals often echo the sentiments Mr. Singh expressed. From Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) in 1961 to Bharatpur (Rajasthan) in 2012, the Congress has palpably failed to control communal hotheads from running amok periodically. Yet the party hasn’t been tagged communal, and still garners a substantial chunk of the minority as well as secular votes. What explains the dichotomy in the public response to the riots under the BJP rule as compared to those under the Congress governments?

ELEMENTAL

For one, the phenomenon of communal riot is an elemental aspect of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology, an extreme manifestation of its politics which is predicated on articulating and redressing the grievances of Hindus, real or imagined, the provenance of which lies either in the medieval past or in post-Independence public policies the saffron brigade perceives as unjustifiably favouring the minorities.

This worldview pits the Hindus against the minorities, particularly the Muslims, until such time the inexhaustible list of grievances is addressed. The politics emanating from this worldview consequently spawns an ambience of tension among communities, reduced or heightened depending on the exigencies of circumstances but never allowed to dissipate. In other words, the inter-community tension, signifying the abnormal in politics, has no possibility of closure in the immediate future. It is designed to become our daily state of existence.

The tension is stoked at pan-India, State and district levels. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement sought to meld the Hindus, with all their class, caste, linguistic and regional divides, into a monolith, through a demand asking Muslims to voluntarily relinquish their custody of the Babri Masjid. Of similar nature are the demands for relocating mosques abutting the Krishna and Shiv temples in Mathura and Varanasi. These symbols of pan-India Hindu mobilisation are augmented through the manufacturing of disputes over places of worship of local significance. Into this category fall the protracted disputes over the Bhagyalakshmi temple at the base of the Charminar in Hyderabad, the Baba Budangiri-Guru Dattatreya shrine in Karnataka, and the Bhojshala complex in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.

In addition, there are hundreds of places of worship and graveyards in mofussil towns whose ownerships are contended between Hindus and Muslims. No doubt, some of these disputes date back decades but, over the years, myriad groups comprising the Sangh Parivar have taken over the leadership of these ‘little battles of liberation’. For variety, Christian priests are attacked and churches vandalised on the charges of converting Hindus to Christianity.

In this culture of inter-community tension, alternatively fanned and allowed to simmer, the riot is the logical culmination of an insidious process. It is akin to a person experiencing a nervous breakdown after suffering acute mental agony for months; it is similar to living life on the edge, uncertain though you are about the precise moment of the inevitable fall off the precipice. Indeed, communal tension in perpetuity is less traumatic only in degrees to an outbreak of a riot.

The sheer salience of tension-riot in the politics of BJP is precisely why a localised inter-community conflict under its rule acquires a resonance countrywide. It is perceived as illustrative of the fate awaiting the minorities in an India in which the BJP exercises untrammeled power. The 2002 riot of Gujarat was horrifying not only because of its barbarity but also because it was viewed to have been ideologically driven and, therefore, bound to be replicated elsewhere.

By contrast, the riots under the Congress rule, even the ones its activists spearhead, are instrumental rather than ideological. Barring the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, the riots under the Congress rarely spill beyond a parliamentary constituency or two. The motive behind such mayhem is usually a local Congressman wanting to win an election from a constituency; a riot or communal tension rarely becomes a tool for political mobilisation countrywide, again, the 1984 riots being the exception. Though cynical, the breakdown in inter-community relationship is almost always followed by attempts to restore the earlier social harmony.

ATONEMENT

No doubt, the Congress was justifiably implicated in the 1984 riots. It symbolically atoned for its guilt by appointing Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, and he, on August 12, 2005, apologised not only to the Sikh community in Parliament, but also to the entire nation “because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood in our Constitution”.

More significantly, the Congress is forgiven because the riots under it are often (not always, though) the handiwork of organisations owing allegiance or belonging to the Sangh Parivar. It’s a conclusion several commissions of inquiry appointed to probe riots have reached. There are just too many to be quoted. But sample what the Joseph Vithayathil Commission on the Tellicherry riots of 1971 said. It traced the origin of communal tension in the town to the RSS’s decision to establish its units there. In an incident the rioters accosted one Muhammad and offered him the following choice, “If you want to save your life you should go round the house three times repeating the words, ‘Rama, Rama’.” The commission noted, “Muhammad did that. But you cannot expect the 70 million Muslims of India to do that as a condition for maintaining communal harmony in the country”.

More than 40 years after Tellicherry, tension-riot remains the Sangh Parivar’s defining strategy of achieving its ideological goal of turning India Hindu. This is why we remember the riots under the BJP and not those under the Congress, which too has been responsible for the spilling of blood and untold misery.

(Ajaz Ashraf is a Delhi-based journalist. E-mail: ashrafajaz3@gmail.com)

 

#India – Cyber & Data Security ,Civil Liberties Implications of #Aadhaar , #Biometric Collection #UID


200 px

 

 

 

http://perry4law.org

 

In India there are many projects that are being implemented without any legal framework and parliamentary oversight. In fact, these projects are clear violation of the constitutional protections and fundamental rights conferred by Indian Constitution.Surprisingly, these projects have not only survived constitutional scrutiny by our otherwise active and praiseworthy judiciary but they have actually grown in their impact and application.

 

One such project is Aadhaar project that is implemented in India in clear violation of constitutional norms. This unnecessary expenditure, that also on an unconstitutional project, could have been avoided. Fortunately, the illegality of Aadhaar project is questioned In India courts.In all probability Aadhaar project would be declared to be unconstitutional unless it is supported by an already existing constitutionally sound legal framework. As on date, the parliament of India has not passed any law that can authorise the existence and continued functioning of Aadhaar project in India.

 

At Perry4Law Organisation and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we believe that the Aadhaar project of India must be either suspended or scrapped till it is preceded by a constitutionally sound legal framework. Indian government is committing a big blinder by allowing the Aadhaar project to be continued in an unconstitutional manner.

 

Similar rules apply to projects like central monitoring system (CMS) project of India, national intelligence grid (Natgrid) project of India, national counter terrorism centre (NCTC) of India, etc.In all these projects, including Aadhaar project, we are facing some common problems. The first and foremost has already been discussed, i.e. lack of legal framework and parliamentary oversight. The second on the list is lack of dedicated privacy rights and laws in India.

 

Till date we have no dedicated data protection laws in India, privacy laws and rights in India, data security laws in India, cyber security laws in India, etc.The third problem associated with projects like these is related to violation of civil liberties in India. The civil liberties and national security requirements must be reconciled by India.

 

While national security and cyber security are important, they must not result in blatant and unnecessary violation of civil liberties like speech and expression and privacy rights.The fourth problem with which Aadhaar project is suffering pertains to lack of cyber security infrastructure in India. Not only the biometrics collection in India is unconstitutional but the biometric database is also highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, cracking, data thefts and biometric data manipulations

 

.India is increasingly facing serious cyber attacks. Recently, the computer systems of DRDO and security officials were breached and sensitive files were leaked. Further, it is also well known that Internet is full of unprotected and unsafe devices, SCADA systems and computers.

 

The cyber security infrastructure of India is also not in a good shape. The offensive and defensive cyber security capabilities of India have still to be developed.  In these circumstances managing the cyber security of biometric data collected by the Aadhaar project and UIDAI is next to impossible.

 

Neither UIDAI nor Indian government is ready for a project like Aadhaar that has been given such a long life span against all odds. It would be in larger interest of India if the Aadhaar project is put at rest immediately unless we are inviting some catastrophe to happen.This entry was posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2013.

 

 

 

Challenges / Problems of Aadhaar / UIDAI Systems in India #UID


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April 1, 2013 · http://freepress.in/

 

 

 

The Central Government is doing a direct Cash Transfer into the hands of the Poor Indian Citizens using UIDAI based Aadhar Payment Gateways / Biometric Payment systems / ATM. The key problem areas that we identified through our interactions with block-level and district-level officials, a few recipients, and BCs

 

are as follows,

 

 

Frequent connectivity issues – There were days when the BC was unable to consummate even a single transaction due to lack of connectivity.

 

 

Authentication failure – Another common complaint was failure of fingerprint authentication. Field officials gave examples of some recipients who were not able to verify their identity at the micro ATM even after multiple attempts and finally had to visit the bank branch to get the cash.

 

 

Banks are Reluctant Partners Without Service Oriented Goals

 

 

 

None of the recipients we interacted with had a bank passbook despite an express provision that all account holders will be provided with a passbook. This gives the beneficiaries no scope to check whether their money received matched the credit in their accounts. In addition, lack of passbooks makes the BC a compulsory channel for payments.

 

 

Business Correspondents Commission Payment ir-regular

 

 

 

These intermediaries have to be paid their commissions and incentives on time if the BC-operated, micro-ATM-enabled payment system has to work successfully and with integrity. We found instances of long delays in payments of incentives to the BCs. Further, surprisingly, there lack of clarity on the chain of command. The BCs were not sure whether the bank or the company that had the responsibility of creating the BC network was responsible for their payments.

 

Overall, our interactions suggested a favourable disposition towards the AEPS, mainly driven by ease of payments at the doorstep instead of a long travel required earlier.

 

 

Drug Patent Rights India Wins First Round Novartis Full Text of Judgement


 

The instances of Multinationals stealing indigenous medicines is well-known.

So are the capricious overpricing of life saving Drugs, like Cancer Drugs.

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board rejected the German drug maker’s appeal of the 2012 ruling on Monday. It also ruled that under the license Natco must pay 7 per cent in royalties on net sales to Bayer.

Bayer sells a one month supply of the drug for about $5,600. Natco’s version would cost Indian patients $175 a month, less than 1/30th as much.

Western pharmaceutical companies have been pushing for stronger patent protections inIndia to regulate the country’s $26 billion US generics industry, which they say frequently flouts intellectual property rights. However, health activists and aid groups counter that Indian generics are a lifesaver for patients in poor countries who cannot afford Western prices to treat diseases such as cancer, malaria and HIV.’

Big Court Ruling Favors Generic Drugs: The Times’s Katie Thomas explains why a ruling in India favoring generic drugs has rippling effects around the world.

Big Court Ruling Favors Generic Drugs: The Times’s Katie Thomas explains why a ruling in India favoring generic drugs has rippling effects around the world.

India drew first blood in a Patent case in The Supreme Court .

DOWNLOAD FULL JUDGEMENT

‘People in developing countries worldwide will continue to have access to low-cost copycat versions of drugs for diseases like H.I.V. and cancer, at least for a while…

Production of the generic drugs in India, the world’s biggest provider of cheap medicines, was ensured on Monday in a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court.

Cost of Glivec used for targeted therapy in CML patients: 1 lakh per month (approx)

Cost of its generic versions : 8,000 -10 ,000 per month

No. of cancer centres in India: 450 approx (half are in the private sector)


The debate over global drug pricing is one of the most contentious issues between developed countries and the developing world. While poorer nations maintain they have a moral obligation to make cheaper, generic drugs available to their populations — by limiting patents in some cases — the brand name pharmaceutical companies contend the profits they reap are essential to their ability to develop and manufacture innovative medicines.

Specifically, the decision allows Indian makers of generic drugs to continue making copycat versions of the drug Gleevec, which is made by Novartis. It is spelled Glivec in Europe and elsewhere. The drug provides such effective treatment for some forms of leukemia that the Food and Drug Administration approved the medicine in the United States in 2001 in record time. The ruling will also help India maintain its role as the world’s most important provider of inexpensive medicines, which is critical in the global fight against deadly diseases. Gleevec, for example, can cost as much as $70,000 a year, while Indian generic versions cost about $2,500 a year.

The ruling comes at a challenging time for the pharmaceutical industry, which is increasingly looking to emerging markets to compensate for lackluster drug sales in the United States and Europe. At the same time, it is facing other challenges to its patent protections in countries like Argentina, the Philippines, Thailand and Brazil.

“I think other countries will now be looking at India and saying, ‘Well, hold on a minute — India stuck to its guns,’ ” said Tahir Amin, a director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge, a group based in New York that works on patent cases to foster access to drugs.

In trade agreements — including one being negotiated between the United States and countries in the Pacific Rim — the drug industry has lobbied for stricter patent restrictions that would more closely resemble protections in the United States.

 

 

Novartis case: Supreme Court’s historic decision on Section 3(d) #TRIPS #Patent


A demonstration against Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis in Mumbai, Maharashtra, on Dec. 21, 2012.

Anand Grover | Apr 2, 2013,

After 2005 India started granting product patents on medicines. However, Section S

ection 3(d), one of the safeguards introduced by Parliament, seeks to prevent patenting of new forms of known substances unless they exhibit enhanced efficacy. Were it not for section 3(d), the standards for grant of product patents on medicines in India would be lower, almost identical to the standards in countries such as the United States andEuropean Union, where a large number of patents are granted on minor modifications of a single medicine.

 

Section 3(d), along with other safeguards such as allowing patent oppositions by public interest groups, has been used as one of the grounds to successfully challenge patents for minor modifications of several antiretroviral (ARV) medicines used to treat people living with HIV.Section 3(d) also became the basis for the refusal of a patent toNovartis for the beta-crystalline form of imatinib mesylate, a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a type of blood cancer. In 1998, Novartis filed a patent application in India for this medicine. In 2005, the Chennai Patent office heard patent oppositions to this application including one filed by the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA). The CPAA challenge was spurred by great concern over the price Novartis set for its version of the drug (sold as Gleevec) at Rs 1,20,000 ($2,400) per month as against the generic versions that were available at a cost of around Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 per month.

In 2006, the Patent Office rejected Novartis’ patent application on several grounds, including section 3(d). Novartis immediately challenged the constitutional validity of Section 3(d) before the Madras High Court arguing that the term “efficacy” was vague. In 2007, dismissing the challenge, the Madras High Court held that the word “efficacy” had a definite meaning in the pharmaceutical field, i.e. therapeutic efficacy. In 2009, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) rejected Novartis appeal against the patent application rejection on the ground that it did not satisfy section 3(d). Novartis then approached the Supreme Court asking for a liberal interpretation of section 3(d) that would allow it to get a patent on imatinib mesylate.

Novartis tried to argue that the physico-chemical properties of the polymorph form of the imatinib molecule, i.e. better flow properties, better thermodynamic stability and lower hygroscopicity, resulted in improved efficacy. The Supreme Court firmly rejected this contention holding that in the case of medicines, efficacy means “therapeutic efficacy” and these properties while they may be beneficial to some patients do not meet this standard. The Supreme Court also held that patent applicants must prove the increase in therapeutic efficacy based on research data in vivo in animals.

Eight years after India’s patent law was amended, the Supreme Court decision has firmly established the legality and validity of Section 3(d) and has lain to rest the controversy raked up around the section by the pharmaceutical industry. The Commerce Minister has said that India’s law is fully in compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. However, on April 15, commerce minister Anand Sharma travels to Brussels to potentially sign the EU-India FTA that threatens to impose on India obligations far in excess of the TRIPS Agreement; obligations known to undermine generic production and access to medicines.

The Indian Parliament has balanced India’s obligations under TRIPS with the right to health through Section 3(d). The Supreme Court has unequivocally interpreted the true intention and spirit of this provision. It behooves the Indian government to respect the Parliament and the Supreme Court and ensure that it does not sign away these hard fought victories by health and public interest groups in trade negotiations.

The author is a senior advocate and director, Lawyers Collective

#India – The Court of Last Resort #Justicekatju


 

By- Justice Markandey Katju , April 1, 2013

It has been felt for quite some time that injustice is being done to a large number of people who have been languishing in jail either as under trials whose cases have not been heard for several years, or who have unjustly remained incarcerated, either because:

  1. The police have fabricated evidence against them, or
  2. For want of proper legal assistance, or
  3. Who have had to spend many years in jail and ultimately found innocent by the court.

 

 

Many of such persons in jail belong to minorities who have been accused only on suspicion and on pre-conceived notions that all persons of that community are terrorists. Whenever a bomb blast or such other terrorist event occurs, the police often is unable to trace out the real culprit, and yet it has to show that it has solved the crime. Consequently very often the police rushes to implicate and charge a large number of youths of that minority community on mere suspicion, whose bail application is very often rejected and consequently they have to spend several years in jail. In such matters either the police often fabricates evidence against them to justify their acts and secure conviction, or the cases result in acquittal of innocent accused persons after they have spent several years in jail. A classic case is of that of a young boy Aamir who was 17 years of age when arrested, and who spent 14 years in jail after which he was found innocent.

 

In the 6th April 2013 issue of Tehelka there is an excellent article by Shoma Chaudhry entitled , ‘The Fight for Muslims is fundamental for the survival of Democracy’. In this article she has stated that over the past few years TEHELKA journalists have documented hundreds of stories of innocent Muslims languishing in jail after being brutally tortured on flimsy or false charges. Each case hides hair raising stories about prejudice, incompetence and deliberate malafide, and also mentions stories of pain, destroyed lives and hollowed futures.

 

Shoma writes that innocent Muslims have been jailed with impunity in India over the past decade because it was easy to jail them. Within hours of any terror attack, a bunch of Muslim boys would be arrested, and their names aired in the media as ‘Masterminds’. Their guilt was assumed, it did not need to be proved.

 

Since 2001 a terrible maxim had seeped into the Indian mainstream: All Muslims may not be terrorist, but all terrorists are Muslims. It did not matter if you caught the wrong ones. Everyone only wanted the illusion of security and “action taken”. Those who raised hard questions were scorned as ‘anti-national’.

 

In my interview with Karan Thapar on ‘Devil’s Advocate’ I said that within hours of a terrorist attack in India many media channels start showing that an email or SMS has been received from ‘Indian Mujahideen’ or ‘Jaish-e-Muhammad’ or ‘Harkat-ul-Jihad’, or some other organization having a Muslim name, claiming responsibility. Now an email or SMS can be sent by any mischievous person. But by showing this on TV screens, and the next day in print, subtle message is sent that all Muslims are terrorists, and thus the entire community is demonized.

 

All this is triggering new cycles of hate and revenge. Despair turns citizens into perpetrators, from the hunted to the hunter. Young men who have spent long years in jail cannot find jobs or houses to rent even when acquitted, their families are ostracized, and sisters find themselves unmarriageable because their brothers have been branded as terrorists.

 

Unless this cycle of hate is now reversed we are heading for terrible times, for injustice breeds hatred and violence

 

Criminal investigation is a science, but unfortunately in our country the police usually is not trained in scientific investigation nor does it have the equipment for the same. If we read the stories of Sherlock Holmes, we see how Holmes investigates a crime by promptly going on the spot and studying the finger prints, blood stains, soil, ashes, handwriting etc. before coming to a scientific conclusion. In recent times it has been shown on Discovery Channel etc. how the American police investigates a crime. The police reach the spot and collects the traces of the material there including blood stains, fingerprints, ashes, fibres, etc. The finger prints are fed into a computer which is connected to a national computer network, which can often lead to the discovery of the criminal. The blood stains etc. are taken to a laboratory where they are tested for DNA etc. Even a few microscopic fibres can lead to the discovery of the culprit by testing them in a laboratory and thus finding out his identity.

 

All this is usually absent in our police set up and yet the police has to show that it has solved the crime, otherwise the investigating officer fears suspension for incompetence. Consequently  he either implicates people on suspicion or resorts to the time honoured method of torture or third degree methods to obtain a confession.

 

All this is leading to injustice on a large scale. We are not blaming the courts for this because they are handicapped due to the enormous burden of litigation for which cases linger on for years and years. Also, unfortunately nowadays the real eye witnesses are afraid to give evidence out of fear of threats or harassment, and hence the police often fabricates evidence.

 

The result of all this is that in our country gross injustice is often done, particularly to minorities, and the time has now come when this great wrong must be set right. Our country is a country of great diversity and therefore no community must be made to feel that it is being selectively victimised.

 

This being the situation it has been decided by a group of people headed by Justice Markandey Katju, former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and the eminent lawyer Mr. Majeed Menon, the film producer and social activist Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, Mr. Asif Azmi and other like-minded people to setup an organisation called ‘The Court of Last Resort’.

 

The concept of this idea has come from an organisation founded way back in 1948 by the eminent American criminal lawyer Erle Stanley Gardner, who later wrote the Perry Mason novels. In his book ‘The Court of Last Resort’, Erle Stanley Gardner mentions about the organisation which he set up consisting  mainly of lawyers, who took up cases of persons whom they thought were wrongly accused or unjustly convicted. The organisation which we are starting in India will bear the same name ‘The Court of Last Resort’ and have its headquarters in New Delhi, with Justice Katju as its patron and will have state units in all states of India. Such state units will be authorised to appoint district units.

 

‘The Court of Last Resort’ will have the following objects:

 

    1. To ask the concerned authorities in various states about details of prisoners languishing in jails, particularly those who have been in jail for long periods, including both under trials and convicts. The R.T.I. Act can be used in this connection.

 

    1. To examine the cases of persons, whether of our own accord, or on the representation of someone, and find out whether there has been injustice in their case, either by the delay in holding the trial, or by a wrong conviction, and do the needful in this connection, including applying for bail.

 

    1. To apply for pardon, respite, suspension or reduction of sentence  to the President or Governor as the case may be.

 

 

    1. To create awareness in the public about this gross injustice which is being done to a large number of people.

 

    1. To educate the police about this state of affairs and change its mentality.

 

 

    1. To approach the other concerned authorities with the aim of rectifying this injustice to a large section of people.

 

    1. To do such other acts as may be necessary for this purpose.

 

 

The organisation appeals to the like-minded people among the public, particularly to lawyers, retired judges, academicians, students, social activists, professionals, media persons , etc. to help and get associated with this enterprise.

The formal inauguration of this body will be done through a press conference in the near future.

It is made clear that this is being done for no personal benefit to any of us but purely because of our sincere desire that justice should be done to everybody, and no section of society is made to feel that it is being discriminated against.

 

 

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