Complaint to Odisha Human Rights Commission on CRPF atrocities in Niyamgiri


To, The Secretary,

Odisha Human Rights Commission,

Bhubaneshwar
Date: 11th June 2013
Sub: CRPF atrocities and human rights violations in villages of Niyamgiri mountains
On 3rd June 2013, at around 11am, the Central Reserve Police Force opened fired on a group of three Dongria Kond tribals (1 adult and 2 children) from the interior Batudi village of the Niyamgiri mountains who were bathing in the stream near Panimunda village. A group of adult men and children from Batudi village had gone to bathe to the nearby Panimuda village as the water streams around their village were still dry. Around 11 Dongrias (6 adults and 5 children) were bathing at a higher level of the stream, and one adult and two children were bathing at a lower level. Suddenly, the CRPF opene fired. The two children, Munna Jakesika (14years) and Ravi Jakesika (10years), and Pakru Jakesia (25 years) were present in the area where the CRPF open fired. Their photo is attached. Terrified, three of them started running uphill towards where the the other people were. Bullets flew through Munna, Ravi and Pakru’s sides and above their heads. The adults who were on a higher level of the stream, on hearing the bullet sounds rushed towards where the sound was coming from. They saw Munna, Ravi and Pakru frantically running uphill, as bullets missed them by inches. This open firing by the CRPF lasted for around 5 minutes.
This incident was reported by villagers of Batudi who witnessed the firing to a group of activists (Samarendra Das and Devangana Kalita) who visited the village on 7th June 2013. The names of the 11 people who saw the firing on Munna, Ravi and Pakru, and who reported the incident to us are as follows:
Duku Jakesika: 30yrs
Derku Sikaka: 20yrs
Janju Mandika: 22yrs
Bindu Jakesika: 32yrs
Momo Jakesika: 20yrs
Druku Jakesika: 21yrs
Babula Jakesika: 8yrs
Lanji Kuturuka: 6yrs
Swadevo Jakesika: 10yrs
Manni Kuturuka: 8yrs
Lassu Jakesika: 12yrs
We also spoke to the three people on whom the CRPF had fired. The two children, not surprisingly, were immensely shaken after the experience, and recounted how terrified and scared they felt as the bullets flew on their sides and above their heads. Duku Jakesika, in a powerful statement, said,
“This is an assault on our very lives. The CRPF has no right to shoot at us without any provocation. Villagers bathing in a stream are not Maoists. Little children are not Maoists. These are our mountains, our forests, our land. Because of the CRPF, today, we cannot roam around freely in our own area. We do not feel safe anymore, we have to live in fear and insecurity. Our lives do not matter to the state, they can kill us whenever or wherever.”
This incident in Batudi is indeed a gross violation of national and international human and children’s rights. It is however, one of many similar incidents of CRPF atrocities in the Niyamgiri mountains. CRPF’s ‘combing’ operations have been generating immense fear and insecurity amongst the Dongria Kond, and threatening people’s lives, livelihood and culture. On 5th June in Kesarpadi village, a meeting of Dongrias from various villages was held to discuss on the gram sabha process ordained by the Supreme Court. In the meeting, a Dongria woman, in an interview with Oriya journalist, Amitabh Patra, narrated the following experience of CRPF atrocities,
“Few days back we were gathering forest products near our village. At that time so many armed forces arrived and they pointed guns at us and surrounded us. They started asking “where is Lada (the tribal leader)? Where have you hidden the maoists ? Where have you hidden the weapons? Why are you opposing mining?” Some one from the behind yelled – ‘If you resist the mining you will be killed like dogs’…………….We do not want such development where our lives are threatened every moment by the armed forces! We kept some weapons to safeguard our selves and our crops from wild animals. We do not want to kill the animals, but to drive them away. Occasionally when these animals attack or come too close to us we get killed. They (CRPF) came and barged into our houses, took away our belongings, threw our stored food grains and cooked food, took away our worship weapons and the guns we kept for our protection from wild animals. We have been living and preserving the mountains and the soil and everything around us since centuries. You can see us living in harmony with nature. But since past ten years our peace and life has been disturbed by the company and police. Since the armed forces presence our freedom to move around in our mountains has been restricted. We are living in a state of fear”
The video of the women’s interview can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5D7FAUhNQg&feature=youtu.be . She did not want to reveal her name or village in fear of retribution by the armed forces. She felt without her name and village, it would be difficult for the CRPF to easily locate her, since she lived in the villages inside the forests.
Such atrocities and gross violations by the CRPF are threatening the existence, livelihood, mobility and freedom of the Dongria Kond. The Dongria Kond only live in the Niyamgiri mountains, and such immense repression by the CRPF and the atmosphere of fear and vulnerability generated by this are violations of international standards and protocols for protection of tribal groups.
We demand an immediate enquiry by the Orissa Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights into these violations by the CRPF in the Niyamgiri mountains. These inhuman atrocities need to be immediately stopped, especially in the context of the democratic process of conducting gram sabhas for determining Dongria’s religious, cultural and habitat rights that has been initiated by the Supreme Court judgement on the Niyamgiri mining case. No democratic process can be truly free and fair, in a context of such repression and violation of the Dongria’s basic human rights.
We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest and hope that immediate action will be taken on this matter.
Yours sincerely,
Samarendra Das, Activist, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti and Foil Vedanta (London)
Devangana Kalita, Independent Researcher and Activist, New Delhi.
Amitabh Patra, Journalist and Activist, Orissa

 

Pakistani Dalits – the disadvantaged survivours


 


By Amar Guriro 

KARACHI: Dalits or co-called lower caste Hindus – comprising 90 percent of Pakistan‘s religious minorities – are the most underprivileged, with lowest access to education, said a study conducted by Pakistan Hindu Seva (Welfare Trust).

The report said only 16 percent Pakistani Dalits get basic education and only 3 percent of them reach graduation level, while 2 percent go for postgraduate studies.

According to Indian National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Dalits are ‘outcasts’ falling outside the traditional four-fold caste system consisting of the hereditary Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra classes; they are considered impure and polluting and are therefore physically and socially excluded and isolated from the rest of society.

“Majority of Dalit students are compelled to leave their education between primary and middle level because of their parents low income, who neither work in public sector nor on daily wages, but rather do mean jobs to survive.”

Explaining facts behind the low literacy ratio, the study said that it was because of the dropout ratio of Dalit students during primary and middle school, as their parents find it difficult to afford their educational expenses. Even though the public sector schools give exemptions, the rest including uniform, school shoes, and books are the parent’s responsibility, which they find difficult to fulfil.

Dalits are on the last step of ladder of Hindu caste system, in which they are treated as third-grade citizens. Most Pakistani Dalits live in different districts of Sindh with a majority in Mirpurkhas division and Thar Desert.

“Doughts in the Thar Desert frequently prompt temporary migration of Dalits to barrage areas to scour water, livelihood and fodder for their livestock. This seasonal migration affects their children’s education,” said the study.

Dalits often work as landless peasants on farms of some of the most powerful feudal lords, who treat them as slaves. “In many places, the landlords ask Dalits about the strength of their family members for assistance in work, prior to employing them. Resultantly, influential land owners take Dalit children under their custody, which is another reason behind low literacy ratio,” the study claims.

“In Pakistan, parliament approved thousands of programmes for health, education and poverty reduction during each of their reign, but none of the programmes specifically focus on the issues faced by Dalits,” said Vice President Hindu Seva, Chander Kolhi.

Low literacy rate combined with lack of awareness regarding basic human rights has made matters worse for Dalits; facing issues like bonded labour, being denied seats in public transport, and made to clean toilets, even after passing primary or secondary level education, they are systematically discriminated against, he said.

“Government must know that minorities are a valuable asset and have been living here for a long time, even before partition. It is their right to get complete and free education, good health facilities at hospitals, proper freedom and employment as per their eligibility,” said Kolhi.

“It is unfortunate and sad, that it has been more than six decades since the establishment of Pakistan, but the discrimination and gap between minorities and majority keeps widening with no hope in sight,” said Hindu Seva President Sanjesh Kumar.

 

source- http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/

 

Times of India #ILeadIndia #CSR #PR campaign is actually #ImisleadIndia


kama3F

PICTURE COURTESY- FACEBOOK GROUP- I MISLEAD INDIA  https://www.facebook.com/IMisleadIndia 

Editor
Times of India
Subject- I lead India Campaign

Sir,

Times of India  launched the ‘ I lead India ‘ campaign, with great fan fare on May 22, 2013 and which you claim that at a time when Indians are filled with negativity and pessimism, this initiative presents an alternative that goes beyond armchair criticism. It goes Beyond demonstrations and appeals, it urges you to stop pointing fingers and blaming others. According to you, ‘I Lead India’ is a clarion call which seeks to drive change too, but at the grass-root level, in 26 cities of India .
I am sorry I can’t say congratulations !
What a noble intention but do you know ? you have actually started on a wrong foot, by having Maruti Suzuki as your partner , a perpetrator of human rights violations, against its own workers. The workers have been thrown into prison ,, families thrown into trauma, grim future: the sacked Maruti labourers are still harried.
How can a newspaper of national repute like Times of  India, let such a company, which is notorious for suppression of workers democratic right of protest, sponsor the I Lead India Campaign. How can a company which unfairly fires and harasses workers has become a harbinger of change?
The Maruti Suzuki Workers are facing the most brutal repression by the government , although workers have adopted democratic and peaceful means available to demand the release of arrested 147 workers, withdrawal of and reinstatement of terminated 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers, the government has only responded with force and malice and in collusion with the Maruti Suzuki company management.
The Background


Maruti workers had applied to register a new union, independent of the company’s management, on November 4, 2011. The union was registered on February 29, 2012.to  represent over 2500 Maruti workers who went on strike three times last year demanding a union and improvements in their conditions of work.

The struggle in Maruti Suzuki India Ltd , Manesar started with workers demanded their constituional rights for legitimate trade union , they raised their voices demanding abolition of the contract workers system, and have raised their voice for dignified employment against the exploitative Maruti Suzuki Management. For this, they have been targeted and attacked by the management. The government, instead of assuring the rights of workers, has only acted in favour of the anti-worker interests of the company. It is letting loose a reign of terror and police and administrative repression on workers and their supporters.

On 18th July 2012, a supervisor in factory abused and made casteist comment against a dalit worker of the permanent category, which was legitimately protested by the worker. The worker was suspended and no action was taken against the supervisor. This resulted in a protest by the factory workers. The management stooped to the level of arranging 100 bouncers to fight workers , and they were joined by 4000 police force men, the councers and cops were in hand in glove . Some of the factory workers were critically injured and taken to the hospital.
Now the workers are fighting a legal case (State of Haryana Vs. Jiyalal case), under which 149 workers were sent to prison l. Police lodged an FIR. 59 workers names were written and 500/600 workers under the unknown category. Under the charge sheet 13 charges were put on 211 workers. Just before the charge sheet 66 workers were arrested on a Non- Bailable warrant. Some of them were not even involved but were considered future trouble makers. 2300 workers were dismissed from the Maruti factory. The case is still going on. The 211 workers are still waiting for a court hearing. The 2300 workers still remain jobless and are fighting to get their jobs back.
The workers have taken to the most peaceful means of protest since the dharna started on 24th March 2013, which included an 8 day fast unto death, which they broke after the Haryana Chief Ministers assurance. They have shown during this phase and also during the entire phase of the strikes in 2011 that they are unitedly asking for their rights in an exemplary show of democratic spirit, but the company and the state government is determined to distort reality and portray them as criminals. It is not even allowing them their democratic right to protest, either in Gurgaon, Manesar or in Kaithal.

In the Video below Wife of an arrested Maruti Worker.speakes, listen

The true face of Maruti Suzuki Management, is exposed in this letter from prison by the Maruti Suzuki Workers –

I quote

We all are children of workers and peasants. Our parents, with huge effort and sacrifice, ensured our 10th standard, 12th standard or ITI education, helped us stand on our feet to do something worthy in our life and help our family in need. We all joined Maruti Suzuki company after passing the written and viva-voce tests conducted by the company and on the terms and conditions set by the company. Before our joining, the company carried out all kinds of investigations, like police verification of our residential proof or whether we had criminal records! Neither of us had any previous criminal record. When we joined the company, the Manesar plant of the company was under construction. At that stage we foreseeing our future with the progress of the plant invested huge energy and diligence to lift the Manesar plant of the company to a new height. When the entire world was struggling under the economic crisis, we worked extra two hours daily to materialize a production of 10.5 lakh cars in a year. We were the sole creators of the increasing profit of the company, and today we are implicated as criminals and murderers, and those who engage in ‘mindless arson’! Almost all of us are from poor worker or peasant families which has been dependent on our job. We were struggling to weave dreams for our and our family’s future, such as of our own homes, of the better education for our brothers-sisters and children so that they could have a bright future and ensure a comfortable life for their parents who took the pain to bring after them. But in return, we were being exploited inside the company in all possible ways, such as:

1. At work, if any worker was unwell, he was not allowed to go to the dispensary and was forced to continue with the work in that condition.

2. We were not allowed to go to the toilet, the permission was there only at tea or lunch time.

3. Management used to behave with the workers very rudely with abusive language, and used to even slap or make them murga in order to punish them.

4. If a worker was forced to take 3-4 days leave because of his ill health or some accident or other serious problem in his family or because of the death of a relative, then half of his salary which amounted to almost Rs. 9000 used to be deducted by the company.

You can Read the full lettter here

Recently, the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR). team constituting of lawyers and trade unionists from India, France, Japan, South Africa, the USA , were on a visit to investigate the incidents that led to the summary dismissal of over 500 permanent workers and over 1800 contract workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) in August 2012. The team stated in their preliminary report that the alleged violence and human rights violation of workers at the Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki will be taken up at the International Labour Organisation (ILO)and the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva , as If Maruti interfered with the workers’ rights to form union of their choice and terminated union members, there are serious violations of international labour norms. Maruti Suzuki is planning to set up a plant in South Africa, ICLR informed that the labour organisations there will oppose it , recognising human rights violations of the company in India .

The Preliminary Report can be read here

Although, Times of India is covering the protest I am amazed that you did not realise that your own public relation campaign could backlash, if you have maruti suzuki as a co sponsor ? It didn’t strike you , that there were workers striking and protesting against the oppression of maruti suzuki management ? Or wait a minute, Is it that Maruti Suzuki Management wanted to improve their image by involving in I lead india campaign and they are shit scared , because the movement by the Manser factory workers and the immense support it got from the entire country makes them in piss in their pants and also the fact that their sales figures had dropped immediately following the Manesar fiasco.

The Times of India, National newspaper claims to be India’s s most widely read English newspaper with readership over 7.6 million .It has some accountability towards its readers.

I demand Times of India to withdraw Maruti Suzuki’s ‘s sponsorship from I lead India Campaign and stop selling activism through this facade a campaign of corporate social responsibility of Maruti Suzuki.

Its like ‘ Nau sau chuhe kha ke billi ko haj ko chali ”
I lead campaign ka TIME KHATAM
Sincerely
An Ashamed , Times of India Reader

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Mumbai
P.S- And if the I lead India campaign team, is still confused and unaware , what I have stated above, do check out http://marutisuzukiworkersunion.wordpress.com/

Press Release- AID Condemns the Violent Attack in Chhattisgarh


June 1, 2013

Demands Peaceful Solution

Association for India’s Development (AID) unequivocally condemns the brutal murder of 24 people on May 25th by the Maoists in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. We condemn the killing of any human beings and send our condolences to their families. Any escalation of violence by the state or the Maoists will lead us further away from a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Chhattisgarh.

The Government of India has been swift in dispatching additional security personnel to supplement the 30,000 forces already deployed in Chhattisgarh. Given the history of such military operations in the area we are fearful that this will cause even more human rights violations of the Adivasi communities. Human rights violation cannot be committed by the state in response to the violations by the Maoists because the major brunt of the violence is borne by the Adivasis who are already amongst the most marginalized. Human rights violations of these communities have to end.

As many concerned citizens, including former security heads have stressed, a chiefly military response to Maoist violence cannot secure peace in Chhattisgarh. In a judgement addressing the core of the problem, the Supreme Court in July 2011, while ordering the disbanding of Salwa Judum, commented: “Tax breaks for the rich, and guns for the youngsters amongst poor, so that they keep fighting amongst themselves, seems to be the new mantra from the mandarins of security and high economic policy of the State. This, apparently, is to be the grand vision for the development of a nation that has constituted itself as a sovereign, secular, socialist and democratic republic.” In the same order the Supreme Court directed the  state of Chhattisgarh to file FIRs and diligently prosecute all unconstitutional activities of Salwa Judum. To this day the state has not filed a single FIR. We urge the government to implement the Supreme Court orders in letter and spirit.

We are also seriously concerned by an incident that has attracted less attention: On the night of May 17-18, 8 villagers, including 3 children, and a member of the CRPF were killed in a gun-battle near Edasmeta village in Bijapur district. We appreciate the government’s decision to grant compensation to the families of those killed and to order a judicial inquiry into the incident by the Justice V K Agrawal Commission, constituted to investigate a disturbingly similar incident that occurred in Bijapur last June, when 17 Adivasis, including 7 minors were killed by CRPF personnel. At the same time, we strongly urge that these investigations be concluded in a timely manner and that those responsible be held accountable. The adivasis of Chhattisgarh have long been caught in the armed conflict between state and non-state actors in the region, with village after village being subjected to indiscriminate violence, deprivation and displacement. The lives of these communities cannot be treated as expendable.

The state should ensure the immediate implementation of Panchyat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006. The rights of the Adivasis to the land and forests are protected under Schedule V of the Indian Constitution and any violation of it is unconstitutional and illegal.

At the end of 2011, close to 60% of the prisoners in jails in Chhattisgarh were undertrials. A recent Right To Information (RTI) application also revealed that in south Chhattisgarh alone over 95% of the 1067 undertrials were tribals, a majority of whom only speak Gondi. They have little or no money to appoint a lawyer or even find out about their own case details. According to the recently released Nirmala Buch Committee report, there are 990 adivasis lodged in the Chhattisgarh jails without a trial for 2 or more years. We request the committee to release the names and details of all 235 such cases so far reviewed by them. The fundamental right to personal liberty of all citizens, guaranteed by Article 21 of the constitution, should not be violated. We urge the state to expedite the review of all cases where people are held for such long periods without being produced in court.

We advocate for the cessation of violence and the demilitarisation of the region, with dialogue and meaningful engagement between State and non-State actors.  As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”  Violence brings only further suffering and injustice. We appeal to both parties to sit down for dialogue, to find a non-violent resolution to the conflict and a lasting political solution for peace.

Stop cutting trees for Posco plant: tribunal


Livemint

National green tribunal says large number of trees are being cut without permission of any competent authority
Neha Sethi Mail Me |  Ruchira Singh Mail Me
  
First Published: Tue, May 28 2013. 11 39 PM IST
Environmental clearance for the project was suspended by the same tribunal in March last year. Photo: Reuters<br />
Environmental clearance for the project was suspended by the same tribunal in March last year. Photo: Reuters
Updated: Tue, May 28 2013. 11 53 PM IST
New Delhi/Mumbai: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday stepped in to stop felling of trees for the controversial Posco steel project in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district, posing another challenge to the South Korean company’s much-delayed $12 billion plant.
According to a report by PTI earlier this month, the state government has been able to acquire 2,630 acres of land against the initial requirement of 2,700 acres for setting up the 8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) plant.
Environmental clearance for the project was suspended by the same tribunal in March last year.
“It is undisputed that as of today the project proponent does not have environmental clearance,” the bench headed by justice Swatanter Kumar said on Tuesday.
A petition filed by activist Prafulla Samantray brought to the tribunal’s notice the violation by the steel company in Orissa.
“It is contended before us now that large number of trees are being felled/cut by the project proponent without permission of any competent authority,” the bench’s order said.
Samantray alleged that the Orissa government was in collusion with the company and around 200,000 trees have been cut despite the suspension of the environmental clearance.
“This shows that the Orissa government is more concerned about the interests of the corporate and not the interest of its people. These trees are very important for our area as they prevent us from cyclones in the area,” he said.
The tribunal’s decision is significant as Posco was violating the earlier NGT order while felling trees in the area, said Rahul Choudhary, advocate for the petitioner.
“This talks about the company and how they are violating the law of the land. The country should make sure that they consider damage to environment because of a plant, instead of just looking at the investment that the company brings,” he said.
The tribunal added that the suspension of the environmental clearance will remain in force till an order is passed by the environment ministry based on the recommendations of a committee headed by former bureaucrat K. Roy Paul that was set up last year to look into this issue.
The South Korean company denied any violations in a posting on its website.
“Posco reiterates that it has never violated any human rights or environment norms in Orissa and also assures all its precious shareholders and stakeholders that Posco has committed itself to protect human rights through ethical practice,” the company said.
Posco India’s general manager, corporate relations, I.G. Lee, did not answer his phone or reply to a text message seeking comments.
Earlier, Lee had said the company was awaiting the handing over of 2,700 acres of land by the state government to start building its steel plant.
According to the original plan, the company needs 4,004 acres in an area with sandy soil in parts where villagers grow nuts and betel vines.
Meanwhile, an independent committee set up to safeguard Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ethical guidelines has said that Norway’s oil fund, which has invested in Posco’s steel plant and is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, has no strategy for dealing with possible violations of human rights by the companies in which it invests.
The committee further said that the fund was not doing enough to protect against human rights breaches.
PTI and Reuters contributed to this story.
  
First Published: Tue, May 28

 

#India – Judges have to watch their scorecard


V. VENKATESAN

The deplorably small number of judgments by Justice Cyriac Joseph, especially when courts have a huge backlog of cases, is valid enough reason for concern at his suitability for the National Human Rights Commission

The Indian Supreme Court is an extraordinarily powerful institution in the world. It can make and unmake laws; it can keep the executive accountable, and seek to ensure the autonomy of institutions. It can rewrite the Constitution the way it wants, through its creative interpretation yet remain largely unaccountable for its omissions and commissions. Its collegium has the responsibility to choose judges to fill its own vacancies, but it sees little merit in adopting an open and transparent process while exercising it.

As a result, very little is known about the merits of a judge, before he or she is appointed to the Supreme Court, unless there are serious allegations damaging to the judge’s integrity. There is a vast pool of post-retirement jobs that awaits a retiring judge from the Supreme Court, in the form of membership of statutory tribunals and commissions, yet there is no mechanism to evaluate the suitability of former judges to these bodies.

The Government’s proposal to nominate the former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Cyriac Joseph, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has brought into focus the issue of performance-evaluation of a judge.

While the members representing the Government on the NHRC selection committee appear to have favoured his nomination, the two members belonging to the Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr. Arun Jaitley, have submitted dissenting notes pointing to an adverse report of an intelligence agency about the unsuitability of the proposed nominee on the basis of his tenure at the Supreme Court.

Facts

The facts regarding Justice Joseph can be gathered from the Supreme Court’s website.

He authored exactly seven judgments during his tenure, from July 7, 2008 to January 27, 2012. However, he was a signatory to as many as 309 judgments, and 135 orders, all authored by his colleagues on the Bench. The website lists the judgments and the orders authored and/or signed by a judge together, and it requires considerable effort to identify those which were authored and not merely signed by a judge, as the author’s name is affixed on the top of a judgment.

Thus, Justice Joseph authored concurring judgments in two cases, namely, Action Committee, Unaided Private Schools & Ors v. Director of Education & Ors (August 7, 2009), and Haryana State Warehousing Corporation v. Jagat Ram (February 23, 2011). His judgment in the Action Committee, Unaided Private Schools seems to have been necessitated because of the compulsion to resolve the disagreement between the other two judges on the Bench, Justices S.B. Sinha and S.H. Kapadia. Justice Joseph opted to agree with Justice Kapadia in order to help arrive at the ratio of the judgment.

The website also shows that Justice Joseph wrote judgments in Safiya Bee v. Mohd. Vajahath Hussain @ Fasi (December 16, 2010), State of Haryana & Ors v. M/s Malik Traders (August 17, 2011), Deepa Thomas & Others v. Medical Council of India & Others (January 25, 2012), Mohd.Asif v. State of Maharashtra (January 27, 2012), and A.V. Padma v. R.Venugopal (January 27, 2012).

Evaluation

Critics of the Government’s efforts to nominate Justice Joseph to the NHRC have pointed to the number of judgments authored and delivered by him as the factor weighing against him.

While they have a case against him, it has to be admitted that the number of judgments written by a judge alone cannot be a determining factor about his or her competence. As the Supreme Court mostly sits in benches of two or three judges, the senior-most on a bench decides once the hearing is complete, who among them will write the judgment, depending on the interest of the judge. The judge writing the judgment, then circulates the draft for the perusal of the other judge/s, who are then free to agree, or write concurring judgments, or dissents. Superfluous, concurring judgments can make the process of arriving at the ratio of a judgment challenging, and leave the litigants confused. But that cannot be an excuse for a judge to avoid judgment-writing altogether.

Scholars of the Supreme Court have never attempted to evaluate the performance of each judge, on the basis of the number of judgments and orders authored by him or her. It is probably because such a study is likely to lead to comparison, and the drawing of inferences regarding the competence of a judge, which may invite the charge of contempt of court.

George H. Gadbois Jr., who made a seminal contribution compiling the biography of the judges in his recent book, Judges of the Supreme Court of India, 1950-1989, is also silent on this aspect. He perhaps thought that compiling such data could only aim at evaluating the importance or contributions of a judge, which he has consciously avoided.

What data shows

When Justice Joseph joined the Supreme Court in 2008, the strength of the Court rose from 26 to 31, following a Constitutional amendment. Based on the number of judges, the average number of judgments and orders written by each judge could be easily arrived at, given the total number of judgments and orders in a calendar year.

Thus between 2008 and 2012, the average number of judgments and orders per judge varied from 88 (2008) to 27 (2012). The average was just nine in 1955, 14 in 1959, 25 in 1969, 17 in 1977, 15 in 1987 and 71 in 1996. During this period, the strength of the Supreme Court kept on increasing from: eight to 11 (1956), 14 (1960), 18 (1978), and 26 (1986).

Based on this data, it would be hazardous to infer the competence of a judge/judges in a particular year or era. As Gadbois would put it, some of those judges were giants who will be remembered a century from now. Others, to quote Gadbois again, are blips on the radar screen, sidebars to the history of the Supreme Court, likely to be recalled only by the closest of court watchers. In the history of the Supreme Court, some judges are celebrated merely because of their salient contributions to the interpretation of the law and the Constitution, and not because they wrote more judgments than their colleagues.

Yet, the number of judgments written by a judge cannot be dismissed as being irrelevant, especially in the context of the Court’s efforts to limit its own backlog of cases. If the number of judgments authored by a judge is deplorably and consistently below average, then it is an important factor in the evaluation of a judge. The concerns that such a judge may prove to be unequal to the demands of an institution like the NHRC are valid.

A test for government

The Supreme Court, in its March 3, 2011 judgment, set aside the appointment of Mr. P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner, even though the majority in the selection committee had recommended him. The Court quashed his appointment by emphasising the concept of institutional integrity. The key test for institutional integrity, it said, is to ask whether the incumbent would or would not be able to function and whether the working of the institution would suffer following the appointment. This test is as relevant in the appointment of Justice Joseph, as it was in the case of Mr. Thomas.

The Supreme Court held in the same judgment that if the selection committee decides to overrule any dissent while recommending a person for the appointment, it should record clear and cogent reasons for doing so.

In April, the Government appointed Mr. S.C. Sinha, Director of the National Investigation Agency to the NHRC, overruling dissent within the selection committee, pointing out that he did not have the knowledge, or practical experience in matters relating to human rights, as required under the Human Rights Act.

The reasons why the majority in the selection committee overruled the dissent have not been made public, and it is not known whether the Supreme Court’s directive has been complied with.

The appointment of Justice Joseph will constitute another test of legitimacy for the Government.

venkatesan.v@thehindu.co.in

 

PRESS RELEASE- Govt removes two child norm from maternal entitlements #Victory #Goodnews


The Coalition Against Two-child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, the National Alliance on Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR), the Right to Food Campaign (RTFC), and the Working Group for Children under six (WGCU6) with the support of  national networks and NGOs , have been advocating for the removal of these conditionalities with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the last three months.

Our submissions, supported by members of the NRHM Mission Steering Group and the Department, have led to a revised GO on theremoval of conditions related to the two-child norm and age from maternity entitlements like JSY and NMBS by the MoHFWw.e.f. 8 May 2013 , check GO on removal of 2CN in JSY

Our next effort collectively should be directed towards the removal of these disqualifying conditions from the IGMSY (Pilot) scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child to ensure that the universal maternity entitlements promised in the NFSB, will be unconditional.

We also hope that this directive from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare  can now be used in your own states, to advocate for removal of this norm from all other schemes. Please let us know if we can work together or help in this.

In solidarity,Jashodhara, Sejal and Abhijit

*This is despite the fact that the poorest women (including Dalits and Adivasis) who most need these schemes as social support, are usually the ones who have more than two children. These women also have high unmet need for contraception. These women are constrained by the fact that child survival is lowest among them (four times more babies die among the poorest families as compared to the richest) and they desperately need children since the state does not provide adequate social support in old age.

  •   Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies
  • CommonHealth – Coalition for Maternal Neonatal Health and Safe Abortion
  •  Healthwatch Forum, Bihar
  • Healthwatch Forum, Uttar Pradesh
  • India Alliance for Child Rights (IACR)
  • Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA)
  • National Alliance on Maternal Health and Human Rights
  • Right to Food Campaign
  • Working Group for Children Under 6 (Right to Food Campaign)
  • Download GO on removal of 2CN in JSY

 

Activists bristle as India cracks down on foreign funding of NGOs


By , Monday, May 20, 7:14 AM E-mail the writer, WP

NEW DELHI — Amid an intensifying crackdown on nongovernmental groups that receive foreign funding, Indian activists are accusing the government of stifling their right to dissent in the world’s largest democracy.India has tightened the rules on nongovernmental organizations over the past two years, following protests that delayed several important industrial projects. About a dozen NGOs that the government said engaged in activities that harm the public interest have seen their permission to receive foreign donations revoked, as have nearly 4,000 small NGOs for what officials said was inadequate compliance with reporting requirements.
The government stepped up its campaign this month, suspending the permission that Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a network of more than 700 NGOs across India, had to receive foreign funds. Groups in the network campaign for indigenous peoples’ rights over their mineral-rich land and against nuclear energy, human rights violations and religious fundamentalism; nearly 90 percent of the network’s funding comes from overseas.“The government’s action is aimed at curbing our democratic right to dissent and disagree,” Anil Chaudhary, who heads an NGO that trains activists and is part of the INSAF network, said Tuesday. “We dared to challenge the government’s new foreign donation rules in the court. We opposed nuclear energy, we campaigned against genetically modified food. We have spoiled the sleep of our prime minister.”In its letter to INSAF, the Home Ministry said the group’s bank accounts were frozen and foreign funding approval suspended because it was likely to “prejudicially affect the public interest.”

A government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the government is not against criticism. But when an NGO uses foreign donations to criticize Indian policies, “things get complicated, and you never know what the plot is,” the official said, adding that NGOs should use foreign donations to do development work instead.

The United States is the top donor nation to Indian NGOs, followed by Britain and Germany, according to figures compiled by the Indian government, with Indian NGOs receiving funds from both the U.S. government and private U.S. institutions. In the year ending in March 2011, the most recent period for which data are available, about 22,000 NGOs received a total of more than $2 billion from abroad, of which $650 million came from the United States.

Government bars groups that oppose nuclear energy, human rights abuses from accepting overseas donations.

U.S. officials, including Peter Burleigh, the American ambassador at the time, quickly moved to assure Indian officials that the U.S. government supports India’s civil nuclear power program. And Victoria Nuland, then the State Department spokeswoman, said the United States does not provide support for nonprofit groups to protest nuclear power plants. “Our NGO support goes for development, and it goes for democracy programs,” Nuland said.
Although Singh was widely criticized for his fears, the government froze the accounts of several NGOs in southern India within weeks.“All our work has come to a stop,” said Henri Tiphagne, head of a human rights group called People’s Watch. “I had visited [the] Koodankulam protest site once. Is that a banned territory?”

But the government’s action appears to have had its desired effect. “NGOs are too scared to visit Koodankulam or associate with us now,” said anti-nuclear activist S. P. Udayakumar.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said many NGOs are afraid to speak up about the suspension of their foreign funding approval, which is “being used to intimidate organizations and activists.”

Analysts say the government’s way of dealing with dissent is a throwback to an earlier era. But Indian authorities have been particularly squeamish about criticism of late. As citizens have protested corruption and sexual assaults on women and demanded greater accountability from public officials, authorities have often reacted clumsily — including beating up peaceful protesters and cracking down on satirical cartoons, Facebook posts and Twitter accounts.

Donors look elsewhere

Officials say NGOs are free to use Indian money for their protests. But activists say Indian money is hard to find, with many Indians preferring to donate to charities.

A recent report by Bain & Co. said that about two-thirds of Indian donors surveyed said that NGOs have room to improve the impact they are making in the lives of beneficiaries. It said that a quarter of donors are holding back on increased donations until they perceive evidence that their donations are having an effect.

“They give blankets to the homeless, sponsor poor children or support cow shelters,” said Wilfred Dcosta, coordinator of INSAF. “They do not want to support causes where you question the state, demand environmental justice or fight for the land rights of tribal people pitted against mighty mining companies.”

INSAF, whose acronym means “justice” in Urdu, has seen its portion of foreign funding increase significantly during the past 15 years. Now it receives funds from many international groups, including the American Jewish World Service and Global Greengrants Fund in the United States, and groups in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The top American donors to Indian NGOs include Colorado-based Compassion International, District-based Population Services International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It is not a question about money, it is a fight for our right to dissent,” said Chaudhary. “I don’t need dollars to block a road.”

Asked last week about the Indian government’s moves against foreign-funded NGOs, a U.S. State Department spokesman said the department was not aware of any U.S. government involvement in the cases. The spokesman said such civil society groups around the world “are among the essential building blocks of any healthy democracy.”

The situation in India is not unlike the problems that similar groups face in Russia, where a law passed last year requires foreign-funded NGOs that engage in loosely defined political activities to register as “foreign agents.”

 

Press Release- Is organising for proper health services for a poor a `criminal activity’ ? #Vaw #Stateoppression


Release Madhuri immediately

 

New Delhi, May 20th , New Delhi

National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR), a group of civil society organisations from across the country have come together as a broad alliance, that strongly condemn the use of court proceedings against maternal health activist, Ms Madhuri working in Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan(JADS1) who has been arrested on 16th of May 2013. She has been arrested for forcing a pregnant woman i.e. Baniya Bai who was in a critical condition and was in labour to deliver in full public view just outside the Menimata PHC. The case was filed against Madhuri, Baniya Bai’s Husband, Basant and others by the compounder and was registered as FIR No 93 of 2008. This case of Baniya Bai is also part of the writ petition filed in the High Court of MP, Indore Bench in which the status of maternal health services was raised in light of 29 maternal deaths recorded in a span of 9 months in Barwani DH.

Madhuri appeared in the court on 16th May at Shri D.P. Singh Sewach, JMFC and informed, that the police had filed a closure report (khatma) but had not stated clear reasons for the closure and therefore the report was refused. Madhuri was arrested from the court complex and has been remanded in JC till 30th May 2013 and will be placed in Khargone women’s Jail.

As social health activists, many of us are witness to the fact that the area has a history of organised action and peaceful protests for improvement of rural health services, specifically for maternal health services. The details of the case clearly show that Madhuri informed the police officials and helped the pregnant women and newborn to get emergency obstetric care after delivery. However, instead the administration who should have taken a stringent action against the hospital staff (the compounder and the nurse) who forced Baniya to leave the hospital and asked for informal fees from the family members have arrested Madhuri.

We, the civil society groups are extremely disturbed by it and need an answer from the administration as why helping and organising for proper health services for a poor vulnerable family can be construed as a `criminal activity’.

Details of the case are as follows:

A ST resident of of village Sukhpuri, Barwani. Baniya Bai was taken to the Menimata PHC for delivery by her father-in-law, Dalsingh, on the night of 11 November 2008.  They made the 15 km journey on a bullock cart because no other transport was available.  After admitting and taking a cursory look at her, the compounder, V.K. Chauhan, and nurse, Nirmala, left the PHC and went home.

The next morning, Baniya was forced by the compounder and the nurse to leave the hospital.  Her family was asked for Rs. 100, which they did not have and so Dalsing immediately went to get money from their village.  Despite attempts to re-admit Baniya Bai to the PHC, the compounder flatly refused saying that they could not manage the delivery so she would have to go to Barwani DH or Silawad Hospital.

Baniya’s relatives tried to get the Menimata hospital compounder, nurse and staff to call for the Janani Express, but were unsuccessful. The family was told to make its own arrangements to refer to a higher hospital.  When forced to leave the PHC Baniya Bai crawled out of the labour room, on to the road outside the PHC, where she lay down in severe pain.

Eventually, Baniya’s mother-in-law, Suvali Bai, went looking for a Dai in the marketplace and found Jambai Nana, who had come to market collect her wages. After hearing about Baniya Bai’s situation, Jambai agreed to assist her, and at around 12PM, conducted a normal delivery on the road outside the hospital. The father-in-law gave his dhoti (loin cloth) to provide cover for Baniya Bai during delivery. Following this incident, a crowd gathered outside the health centre.

Madhuri was passing by, inquired about what was happening. She then called up the Silawad CHC, the Silawad Police Station as well as health officials from Barwani. Upon being informed, senior officials from the health department ordered for a vehicle to be sent immediately to the Menimata PHC. After being denied emergency obstetric care and being forced to deliver in public view, Baniya Bai’s and her child were taken to the Silawad Hospital for admission. The compounder was suspended after repeated demands for action from JADS, but was soon reinstated.

1 JADS is a membership- based mass organisation of several thousand families, has been campaigning for over 14 years for the realisation of the constitutional and legal rights of adivasis in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh, one of the most backward districts of the country.

contact us —http://namhhr.blogspot.in/

SIGN PETITION FOR MADHURI HERE —http://petitions.halabol.com/2013/05/17/release-maternal-health-activist-madhuri-immediately

 

Hunger Stalks Temple Town Of Varanasi


While district administration of Varanasi says that the children died of tuberculosis, human rights’ activists allege that the deaths were due to hunger and malnutrition
Virendra Nath Bhatt

VIRENDRA NATH BHATT

May 15, 2013

Illustration: Anand Naorem

Two children from a poor family of weavers have allegedly died of starvation in Varanasi. Four-year old Mohammed Murtaza died on 9 May, while his sister Shamim Parveen (14) died the next day in the Bajardiha locality of Varanasi. Their father, Abdul Khaliq died 10 months ago of malnutrition. He was unable to pay bills for his medical treatment.

While the district administration of Varanasi says that the children died of tuberculosis, human rights’ activists allege that the deaths were due to hunger and malnutrition.

“Both children died due to extreme poverty,” says Mukhtar Ahmed, owner of the loom where Abdul Khaliq worked. “Naazra, mother of the four children, worked at my loom weaving sarees. She earned Rs 25 to Rs 50 everyday and was dependent on her neighbours financially. The children searched for food in garbage dumps.”

But the district administration of Varanasi has denied that the deaths took place due to starvation. “Two doctors examined the bodies of the children and certified that both were suffering from tuberculosis. After all, we have to accept what is being diagnosed by the doctors,” said Additional DM of Varanasi, Mangal Prasad Singh.

Endorsing the official stand, Varanasi City President OP Singh said, “The family was very poor, but the cause of death was not starvation, it was lack of proper medical treatment. Opposition parties are politicising the issue for obvious political gains.”

However, soon after the death of the two children, Naazra was rewarded with a Weaver Card, a BPL Card, foodgrains, kerosene oil and a flat built under the ‘Kanshiram Sahree Garib Avas Yojna’ scheme of the Mayawati regime.

Shruti, head of a human rights organisation, working among weavers in Varanasi says that Naazra had an Above Poverty Line (APL) card. However, soon after the death of her two children, the district administration lost no time to issue her a BPL card. The Weaver Card will enable her to avail the benefits of welfare schemes.

Questioning the ‘benevolence’ of the district administration, Shruti said, “If the family was not under extreme poverty and malnutrition, why have they been given a BPL card, Weaver Card and food grains? How can the district administration claim that the two children died of the disease when the post mortem of the bodies was not conducted?”

She maintained that the Naazra family suffered from extreme poverty and malnutrition. Whatever little Naazra earned as a saree weaver, went in purchasing foodgrains. The family was dependent on doles from neighbours, but the financial condition of neighbours was also not good.

“This is not the first time such an incident has happened in Varanasi. Several such incidents have occurred in the past where poor weavers died of starvation, but no government in UP ever admitted to the deaths,” says Shyamdeo Rai Chowdhary, BJP MLA from Varanasi. He added, “One time assistance of foodgrains and kerosene oil is no solution – the government should run a state-wide programme identifying the vulnerable poor in rural and urban areas.”

– See more at: http://tehelka.com/hunger-stalks-temple-town-of-varanasi/#sthash.c3Tt5PcX.dpuf

 

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