Aurangabad Cop suspended in sexual harassment case #goodnews #Vaw #justice

, TNN | Mar 30, 2013,

AURANGABAD: The state home department has suspended Sandeep Bhajibhakare, one of three senior police officials accused of sexual harassing a woman police constable from the Aurangabad police commissionerate. Bhajibhakare, who was assistant commissioner of police (ACP) (Aurangabad cantonment) when the woman constable levelled charges against him, was recently transferred to Chiplun in Ratnagiri district as deputy superintendent of police (Dy SP).Confirming the suspension, Aurangabad police commissioner Sanjay Kumar said, “The state government suspendedBhajibhakare more than two weeks ago. He has approached the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal against his supension.”

In August 2012, the woman constable had complained to the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission (MSWC) that she had been sexually assaulted by Bhajibhakare and two other ACPs, K S Bahure and Naresh Meghrajani.

Highly-placed police officials said the suspension was based on the findings of the high-level committee that investigated the woman constable’s complaints. The committee was formed after the MSWC directed the Aurangabad police commissionerate to conduct a high-level probe into the matter and submit the findings within a stipulated time. After the inquiry, the findings along with the statements of the complainant and the three accused, and the alleged evidence submitted by the complainant, were sent to the MSWC and the director general of police’s (DGP) office in November.

The woman constable had also approached senior Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe, who took a delegation to the city police commissionerate and demanded immediate action against the three ACPs.

Bhajibhakare was transferred to Chiplun in December last year. Around the same time, on orders issued by the DGP office, Bhajibhakare was also booked under section 509 of the IPC at the Satara police station.

In a reprieve to Bhajibhakare in mid-February this year, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court quashed a judicial magistrate order to issue process against him under section 376(B) (rape by a public servant with woman in his custody).


#India – Bombay High Court raps Maharshtra for custodial deaths #torture #humanrights

, TNN | Mar 23, 2013, 03.32 AM IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday pulled up the state government for repeated instances of custodial deaths and asked what it was doing to prevent them.

A division bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice A P Bhangale was hearing a public interest litigation filed in 2008 by the India Centre for Human Rights and Law ( ICHRL).

ICHRL’s advocate Rebecca Gonsalves told the court that there were 250 custodial deaths between 2001 and 2011. “Maharashtra leads with the highest number. Three days ago, there was a custodial death in Mumbai,” she said, referring to the case of a suspected thief who died in the lock-up ofChembur police station after allegedly banging his head against the wall.

The judges asked additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai what precautions the government had taken and whether it had issued any directives to avoid such deaths. “What change had been brought in the administration to prevent such incidents from happening again and again,” asked Justice Khanwilkar.

The judges have directed the secretary (special) of the home department to file a personal affidavit disclosing the “precautionary measures and preventive mechanisms” introduced by the government since the court took cognizance of the issue in 2008.

The judges also directed that in case no credible steps have been taken by the government, it must define an action plan and place it before the court at the next hearing on April 4.

#India -Lack of safeguards in ID cards questioned #UID #Aadhaar

Lack of safeguards in ID cards questioned

Data base of 1.2b people’s fingerprints and iris scans has never been created

    • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent,Gulf news
    •  March 18, 2013

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and central government to decide within three months on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in the Aadhar card and Unique Identity Number (UID).

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Vickram Krishna, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, human rights activist, Yogesh Pawar, journalist, Dr Nagarjuna G., and Professor R. Ramkumar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The PIL was filed to challenge the government notification of January 29, 2009 that created the UIDAI, an agency established under the aegis of the Planning Commission to issue UIDs to every Indian citizen.

Advocate for the petitioners, Mihir Desai, told the court that there were serious concerns on the issue of safety systems, privacy and security of the people. A data base of this scale of 1.2 billion people’s fingerprints and iris scans has never been created. Thus, the entire proposition for a population base such as India is completely untested and unproven. The ID system in UK ID Cards’ non-duplication was entirely scrapped. It is estimated that approximately five per cent of any population has unreadable fingerprints, either due to scars, ageing or illegible prints. In the Indian environment, experience has shown that the failure to enrol is as high as 15 per cent due to the prevalence of a huge population dependent on manual labour.

“We, therefore, ask that the project be halted; a feasibility study done covering all aspects of this issue,” urges the PIL.

The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Report has found the project to be “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions”. The PIL has held that this is of serious concern given the project is about fixing identity through the use of technology, especially biometrics.

Advocate Desai argued that the UID was promoted as a “voluntary entitlement”. Now, people are being threatened that they cannot access any services or institutions unless they are enrolled for a UID. The petition submitted stated the enrolment for Aadhar is working on an extremely fast pace and that it has become impossible to avoid attempts at enrolment.

The petitioners have submitted that such mandatory, non-voluntary and coercive enrolment for Aadhaar is an affront to their personal integrity, right to make decisions about themselves and the right to dignity enshrined in the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The PIL has also indicated that the Supreme court of India has repeatedly upheld the right to privacy within the right to life in Article 21 and any restriction must be justified through rational and reasonable statutory procedure.


Bombay High Court-‘File reply on safety concerns about UID’ #Aadhaar

200 px


Rosy Sequereia, TNN March 19,2013


MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Unique Identification Authority of India and the Centre to decide on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in Aadhar cards. A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta was hearing a petition by Vickram Crishna and others claiming there is lack of security and confidentiality, and no safety mechanism to ensure that private data are not circulated.

The petition challenged the January 2008 notification setting up the UID and urged the court to restrain the authority from taking further steps. The petitioners’ advocate, Mihir Desai, argued that on December 13, 2012, the standing committee on finance rejected the proposed bill on UID saying it was riddled with problems, such as lack of clarity, and would not eradicate the need to provide other documents for identification.

He said the UID was constituted only by a notification and questioned whether it has considered measures for confidentiality and privacy given that it is being applied for the largest population in India. “The magnitude is huge. Large set-ups don’t have it. Internationally it has failed. It was scrapped in the UK and in the US, it was whittled down,” said Desai.

Justice Shah said, “Issues such as privacy, security and confidentiality can be taken care of by the authorities only.”

When Desai pointed out that the technical know-how is lacking for a large set-up like India and, in certain places identity screening facility is absent, the judges, in their order, said, “We do not propose to go into the merits of the controversy as the petitioners cannot pray for a writ of mandamus without first making representation to the authorities concerned, which are supposed to implement the project and take a decision.”

Disposing of the PIL, the HC directed the petitioners to make a representation within two weeks to the authority and the Centre and told the latter to take a decision within four months.




Don’t whine, don’t watch Jolly LLB if it offends you, SC tells lawyers #FOE #Censorship

Utkarsh Anand : New Delhi, Sat Mar 16 2013,

Defeated once in court but still determined to protect the “dignity” of their profession, a group of lawyers from Meerut knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court on Friday to stop the release of Jolly LLB. Only to be told by the court that Jolly was only a film that need not be taken to heart.

Trailers of the film — which released on Friday — show Jagdish Tyagi aka Jolly LLB (Arshad Warsi), a struggling lawyer from Meerut, get a rap from a judge (Saurabh Shukla) for misspelling prosecution as prostitution. Lawyers from the UP town found it offensive and contemptuous.

The Supreme Court, however, showed it was not willing to lose its sense of humour.

“What is your problem with the dialogues? In our courts also, we get several petitions with spelling and other mistakes. Appeals are spelt as apples, section 171 as section 17, and similar such mistakes. These things do happen in courts,” a bench of Justices R M Lodha and Madan B Lokur said.

The lawyers, who claimed they were graduates of Meerut Law College, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, had approached the apex court against Delhi High Court‘s refusal to stay the release of the film, which they said was defamatory to the legal fraternity.

The SC regretted the lawyers’ “unnecessary” grumbling after their counsel conceded that Jagdish Tyagi aka Jolly LLB was not a real person. “Then what are you complaining about? It is only a fictitious character, based on a fictitious story. This is shocking,” the bench said.

Justice Lodha, who spent 13 years as a judge of Bombay High Court, said: “These things happen in movies. They show Bombay High Court’s door and gate and then show something else happening inside. These are all fictitious things.”

When the petitioners’ counsel attempted to draw the court’s attention to allegedly defamatory dialogues in the film, Justice Lodha recalled Shakespeare — ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers’ in Measure for Measure.

“We are not using those words here, but you don’t have to bother about everything,” he said. It is for the Censor Board to consider the language of a film, and not our job,” Justice Lodha said.

The court advised the lawyers not to watch the film or take their families to the theatre if they found the dialogues offensive. “If the movie is useless in your opinion, don’t watch it at all. You know you will not enjoy it, so don’t go. You are giving undue importance to the issue. Let those go to theatres who want to watch it.”

With the writing on the wall, the lawyers sought permission to withdraw their plea, and the court ordered: “Dismissed as withdrawn”.


#Chhattisgarh – 1067 inmates branded as ‘ ALLEGED MAOISTS”, languish in prisons #RTI

Unite Under Maoism!

Jostling for justice

Hundreds of undertrials languish in overcrowded south Chhattisgarh prisons even as their trial proceeds sluggishly, says an RTI reply

With most information regarding prisons closely guarded in the country, in conflict zones — some north-eastern States, Kashmir or Chhattisgarh — it is even more so. The only information about prisons that percolates to public space is about how inmates are becoming master painters, singers or dance drama designers. While those endeavours are to be lauded, the standard of life in smaller prisons, which are not located in the national capital or megacities but in districts and sub-divisions, rarely gets attention.

In this scenario, the role of prison reforms committees becomes important in highlighting issues of prisons in smaller states and districts, but more often than not, their recommendations never see light of day. For example, the All India Committee on Prison Reform (1980-83) produced one comprehensive study cum recommendation on how to improve quality of life in Indian prisons. Two main focuses of the report were to address overcrowding and speedy trial. However, nothing happened. Several other committees were also formed at the regional level in the last 30 years by various state governments to initiate prison reforms and speedy trial albeit without any substantial result. The relatively new State of Chhattisgarh has never instituted any formal study of its prisons. It is also yet to implement recommendations of the Prison Reform Committee.

A 2009 study by National Human Rights Commission shows that Chhattisgarh prisons accommodate three times more than their capacity. However, a prison wise break up of inmates is not available.

Recently, an RTI filed by activist Swami Agnivesh has revealed that while there is space for 844 inmates, the three prisons of Kanker, Jagdalpur and Dantewada (all in south Chhattisgarh) cumulatively accommodate 1067 inmates who are undertrials and are referred to as “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters”, according to the RTI reply. “We only have figures of those arrested as alleged Maoists. If the sum total of general undertrials and the convicts are added to this category, then the prisons are three times more crowded,” Swami Agnivesh told The Hindu.

The number of “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters” in Kanker prison is 144 whereas it has space only for 65. Similarly, while Dantewada prison can accommodate 150, it actually has 377 undertrials as inmates. Jagdalpur prison has lesser number of alleged Maoists undertrials compared to the available space for the inmates. It can house 629 inmates but has 546 alleged Maoist undertrials. “Please add total number of prison inmates to the alleged Maoist undertrials and you will have more than three times overcrowding in Dantewada as well,” Swami Agnivesh added.

The RTI has also revealed that out of these 1067 undertrials, 1018 are tribals. Swami Agnivesh said that in majority cases, the tribals could not appoint a lawyer or even manage to find out about the case details and that “confines them in prison for ages”. “There are several people in prison for more than five years as undertrials. Their cases are not moving at all. This is atrocious,” he added.

The RTI record shows nine tribals are languishing in Jagdalpur prison for more than five years, whereas details regarding ‘inmate’s number of years in prison’ have not been disclosed by the authorities of Dantewada and Kanker.

Jagdalpur prison authorities were more forthright in disseminating information like the number of women arrested as alleged Maoist sympathisers or the number of arrests under special security act Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The number of women inmates in Jagdalpur is 53 and 128 undertrials are detained under UAPA, the RTI reply said. Besides, Jagdalpur prison authorities also shared that eight undertrials have not appeared in court “for the last one year”. While the Kanker authorities have disclosed that there are six women in prison custody as undertrials, other information regarding number of inmates detained under UAPA or inmate’s cumulative years in prison are not disclosed by either Kanker or Dantewada authorities.

Swami Agnivesh claimed that in the entire Maoist belt of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, thousands of tribals are languishing in prisons as undertrials. He demanded appointment of fast track courts for speedy disposal of these cases, adequate compensation for the innocents and punishment of officials who framed the tribals.

The State’s Tribal Affairs Minister Kedar Kashyap could not be reached on phone for comments.

A few years after the launch of the now-illegal anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum, both the opposition Congress and the CPI started claiming that their members are indiscriminately arrested in south Chhattisgarh as alleged Maoists. However, some of the BJP old hands have also been put behind bars for allegedly associating with the rebels. The CPI is now planning a campaign to pressurise the government to release the political activists. A recent judgement of the Bombay High Court that says “mere membership of a banned organization will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence” has also acted as a shot in the arm of the activists.

Mumbai – First all-women court set up under session judge Vrushali Joshi #Vaw #Justice #goodnews

Bombay High Court in HDR



March 15, 2013, IE


Acting swiftly on a circular by the Bombay High Court issued on International Women’s Day last week, the first all-women court in the city has been set up at the Kala Ghoda sessions court.

It will exclusively deal with crimes against women, and is a move to ensure women victims of sexual offences, who feel embarrassed or intimidated in court particularly because of presence of males, to depose in a relatively stress-free atmosphere considering that the judicial officers and staff will all be women.

“The earlier staff have been transferred to another court, and women staff from other courts have been assigned jobs here,” confirmed chief public prosecutor Kalpana Chavan.

To Mark International Women’s Day on March 8, Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Mohit Shah had issued the circular through the HC registrar general stating, “Directions have been issued to assign cases involving sexual assault against women exclusively to courts presided over by women judicial officers. It would be desirable that all staff members, that is bench clerks, stenographers, interpreter, typists, peons and police constables are women.”

Sessions Judge Vrushali Joshi, will be relieved of other cases soon and will only deal with matters pertaining to women, confirmed Chavan.

In its circular, the HC stated dealing with cases involving sexual assault on women needs great sensitivity. “In these cases, women are victims of crime and there is a need to enable them to give their evidence in a stress-free atmosphere and without fear or embarrassment,” the circular reads Chavan said special measures will be taken to ensure that children and women feel secure in the court atmosphere and do not hesitate when they depose. “In many cases, looking at male lawyers and court staff, the victim and witnesses do tend to feel intimidated. This arrangement would prove helpful,” she said.

So far, only the six-month-old murder case of corporate lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha (25) has been assigned to the court. Purkayastha, daughter of an IAS-officer-couple, was murdered at her Wadala flat allegedly by 22-year-old security guard Sajjad Ahmad Mughal alias Sajjad Pathan. While the prosecution had attempted to introduce attempted rape in the draft charges, the court had rejected the section. Pathan has been booked for murder and house- trespass. These sections, if proved, could attract even the death penalty.

What it means for victims

Move to ensure women victims of sexual offences, who feel embarrassed or intimidated in court particularly because of presence of males, to depose in a stress-free atmosphere considering that the judicial officers and staff will all be women

HC said dealing with cases involving sexual assault on women needs sensitivity. “In these cases, women are victims of crime and there is a need to enable them to give their evidence in a stress-free atmosphere, without fear or embarrassment,” the circular reads


Bombay HC- PIL demands speedy trial for Naxal/ Maoist suspects

TNN | Mar 14, 2013,

NAGPUR: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed on Wednesday before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court seeking judicial intervention and relief into the various aspects of Naxal undertrials. The petitioner, Soma Sen is a member of the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights and associate professor of English Department at the Nagpur University. She is engaged in social work for more than two decades.

The PIL deals with the plight of the several farmers and other residents of Naxal-affected Gadchiroli who had been nabbed during various operations launched by the government forces in the district. Following their arrest, the petitioner has claimed that the trials are often delayed on numbers of pretexts including not providing escort guards to enable undertrials to remain present before the court.

The petitioner has also claimed that delayed trial of the victims has been aggravated by the violation of the fundamental rights of the prisoners and other laws pertaining to present them before the court. Sen has also prayed before the court to discourage videoconferencing facilities which do not allow the undertrials to have access to their lawyer


Mumbai Train Blast -Wife of blast accused demands relief #mentaltroture #harassment

Mumbai, dhns, march 12, 2013

Saeedun-Nissa (42), wife of Mohammed Ali, one of the accused of 2006 Mumbai train blasts, has sought medical compensation as well as action against Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) officials for allegedly subjecting her to mental torture and harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Mumbai Police Commissioner with copies to the Bombay High Court Chief Justice, Saeedun-Nissa has charged that ATS officials barged in her house at any given hour, abused her and sometimes even physically assaulted her children.

Talking to Deccan Herald, Jamiatul Ulema, (Maharashtra Legal Cell) secretary Gulzar Azmi said that Saeedun-Nissa submitted her complaint to MCOCA Court (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) Judge Y D Shinde as well as the High Court Chief Justice and National Commisson for Women and Human Rights Commission,
“We will wait for a month and if no action is taken with regard to her deteriorating health and piling medical bills…then we will move the high court. Saeedun-Nissa has become a high-blood pressure patient because of the continual harassment meted to her by ATS officials and she has named them in her complaint,” Azmi said.

In her letter, Saeedun-Nissa living in Shivaji Nagar slums in Govandi, a north-eastern suburb of Mumbai, recounting the horrors to which she is subjected to she stated, “ My husband a bead-seller was named as an accused only because he had dared to complaint against a video parlour screening pornographic film in neighbourhood.

Police officials know this fact that it is a frame-up but despite this these officials barge into our house and start questioning me whenever a terror attack takes place in any part of the country.  “They are never accompanied by women constables and several times they have slapped my 12-year-old son Sohail in front of my eyes.

The physical assaults and humiliations by these officers have made a diabetic and a high-blood pressure patient.” she alleges. Naming the ATS officials, the victim apart from seeking medical compensation from police has also sought posting of women constables in front of her hut so that her family  gets some respite from ATS officials.


Bombay High Court upholds death sentence for Sangli rapist

Posted On Saturday, March 09, 2013 , Mumbai Mirror

The Bombay High Court on Friday upheld the death sentence awarded to a 22-year-old for raping and killing a 9-yearold girl.

“The accused is a menace to society and will continue to be so, and there is no possibility of him being reformed,” the division bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice A M Thipsay observed while pronouncing the verdict on Friday.

Raju Paswan, originally from Muzzapur in Bihar, was convicted by an additional sessions judge in Sangli in November last year.

The high court upheld the verdict of the lower court, which said the crime was premeditated, and not committed on impulse.

The court also observed he chose a girl of that age as she could be overpowered easily.

“The victim, by virtue of her age, was in a situation where she could have offered little or no resistance at all. The accused has committed an offence of rape on a defenceless child, which is the ultimate insult to womanhood. The entire gory and grisly incident had shocked the collective conscience of the village,” observed the high court.

The court also rejected advocate Niteen Pradhan’s plea for mercy on account of Paswan’s age. The bench noted that an accused who has shown remorse and genuine regret at having committed an offence is someone who can be reformed.

It added, “An offender who remains a nonchalant offender throughout and does not show any regret or repentance at having committed the offence, cannot be said to be aperson who can be reformed.”

Rejecting all the contentions raised against the prosecution’s case, the court accepted all the arguments made by chief public prosecutor Revati Mohite Dere.

The incident dates back to June 21, 2010, when the victim went missing from her home in Bedag village, Sangli district. Her father, a farm labourer, lodged a missing person complaint.

During their investigation the police learnt that the victim was last seen with Paswan, who used to live in the neighbouring house.

One of the main witnesses in the case was a 10-year-old child who, while playing with his friends, had seen Paswan dragging the girl to a secluded place.



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