India jail-born man earns bail money, for release of his mother after 19 years #WTF


 

By Sanjoy Majumder BBC News, Kanpur

Vijay Kumari was unable to post the necessary bail amount of about £120

In a dusty tenement in a crowded neighbourhood in the Indian city of Kanpur, a young man takes out a bright yellow sari from a shopping bag and presents it to his mother.

“Do you like it?” he asks her. “Yes,” is her reply.

It is an innocuous scene, except that the young man, Kanhaiya, has waited a long time to give his mother a gift.

Nineteen years ago, his mother Vijai Kumari was convicted of murder – wrongfully she claimed.

She was granted bail on appeal but she did not have the 10,000 rupees ($180; £119) she needed to post bail. Her husband abandoned her and no-one else came forward to help her.

“I thought I’d die in prison,” she says. “They told me in there that no one ever gets out.”

She was pregnant when she went to jail. Four months later, Kanhaiya was born.

“I sent him away when he got a bit older. It was hard but I was determined. Prison is no place for a young child,” she says.

So she stayed in prison all these years, lost in the system and forgotten.

All she had to keep her going was a passport-size photograph of her son and his visits to her every three months.

‘Think of her and cry’

Kanhaiya spent most of his childhood growing up at various juvenile homes. And he never forgot his mother.

“I would think of her and cry,” he says, speaking softly and with a lisp.

“She was in prison, all alone. No-one else ever visited her. And my father turned his back on her.”

Kanhaiya's mother Vijai Kumari only had a photo of her son in jail Vijai Kumari only had a small photograph of her son Kanhaiya

As soon as he turned 18, he was trained to work in a garment factory. And he began saving up to get his mother out.

Eventually, he hired a lawyer.

“Someone told me about him. He was surprised to hear about my mother’s case.”

The lawyer took on his case and earlier this month, his mother was freed from prison.

Judges expressed their shock at her situation and the “callous and careless” behaviour of the authorities.

They have now ordered a sweep of all the prisons in the state to see if there are others like Vijai Kumari.

The reality is that hers is not an isolated case.

There are an estimated 300,000 inmates in India‘s prisons, 70% of whom are yet to face trial. And many of them have spent a long time in custody.

It is a reflection of India’s shambolic and sluggish legal system where it can often take years for a case to be heard and a trial to be concluded.

But, for the moment, mother and son are reunited and anxious about their future.

“All I want is for my son to be settled,” Vijai Kumari says, her voice breaking and her eyes moist.

“He’s all I have in this world.”

Kanhaiya and his mother plan to approach his estranged father and fight for their rights, including a share of the family property.

But for now, they are taking in the present and trying to make up for all the time they have lost.

Story behind the ‘Lost Case”- despite social legal support #Vaw #Justice


Mumbai, Majlis Team , March 31,, 2013

As  fourteen year old Priya  had not been getting her periods for some months, her mother took her to Shatabdi, a  public Hospital in the nearby area, for a check up.  During examination it came to light that the child was five months pregnant! A case was not filed, but Priya and her mother were referred to the hospital’s counselling centre where two very young social work students were placed. The students knew about Majlis’ Socio Legal Support for Survivors of Sexual Assault programme.

So, it was by sheer luck that Priya and her mother Anju reached our office. I was one of the first people to speak to Priya after she discovered she was pregnant. With large fluid eyes and a scared look on her face, she revealed that she and her friends would often go to a Pramuk’s  (leader) house to help his wife with house work. About six months ago, when his wife was not at home, this 50 year old man raped her.  He threatened her that if she ever spoke to anyone about it, he would kill her. She had no idea about the consequences which might befall on her, and hence kept silent, and did not even confide in her mother.  It was poignant to watch the child, who had just realised that she was pregnant, trying to cover her stomach with her dupatta.

Anju is an illiterate single mother trying desperately to manage her family by earning a meagre amount as a domestic maid. She is extremely naïve and had never stepped out of her local area. She, and her mother before her, have lived in the same slum their entire lifetime. When faced with the news,  Anju’s only concern was how to quietly get an abortion and end the story. She was extremely afraid that if her son found out all hell would break loose. The pramukh was influential and she did not want any hassles with the police. We tried our best to assure her that if she wanted to complain we would support her in her pursuit of justice… but these words did not make any sense to her.

We asked her to think about what she wanted to do and promised to meet her the next day at the hospital (she did not want us to come home). But the next day Anju did not turn up. Our team were rid with fear at what she would have done with her daughter in order to cover up the incident. Priya’s pregnancy was well past the statutory limit permitting an abortion and we were scared about the danger to her life. There was no way of contacting Anju as she had not given us a number or an address.

Then three days later Anju contacted us. All hell had broken loose as her son found out. The police was informed and an FIR was lodged. The accused was taken into custody, required medical tests were done and statements were recorded. Priya was produced before the Child Welfare Committee and was taken to a shelter home.

Our first challenge was to ensure Priya’s health and well being were being taken care of in the shelter home. We would accompany Anju every week to visit Priya in the shelter home. We counselled Priya to cope with her situation. Priya was not comfortable at the government shelter home,  so we requested the CWC to move her to a home for unwed mothers run by Christian Missionary Sisters in the Western suburbs. The request was granted.

We also counselled Anju and her son to help them cope with the situation. When Priya delivered her baby we were there. Anju could not reach the hospital as she could not travel alone late in the night. Anju still  feels bad that she would not be with her daughter during her delivery. Given Priya’s tender age and Anju’s financial condition, there was no question of keeping  the baby. We had to repeatedly remind the police to collect the blood samples of  the baby, so that the child could be put up for adoption.

Priya returned home and Anju was keen to care for her daughter. But she soon realised that due to sniggering and humiliation from neighbours it was impossible to keep her daughter with her. Everything had changed. Priyas was forced to live in the village where poverty was worse and she was not even given basic nutrition. Anju was desperately trying to collect money to move to another slum. Multiple vulnerabilities were  at play here. Since we do not have a financial assistance project and the State Victim Compensation Scheme was not in place, we could not offer any financial support to the family.

But on the other hand, the case was progressing smoothly. We followed up with the police to ensure that the investigation was on track and the charge sheet filed in a timely manner. Within two and half months of the incident the charge sheet was filed and the matter was committed to the Sessions Court. This was an open and shut case, we were confident of a conviction. This was one of the few cases we have come across where the statements were  recorded by the police without any loopholes, DNA proof was there…. So imagine our shock and utter dismay when the DNA report came negative.

The blood samples of the accused did not match that of the child. The police called Anju to the Police Station and shouted and abused her for two-three hours. We rushed to the Police Station and impressed upon the officer that his duty was only to submit the DNA report to the court and not pass any value judgment.

We met Priya and tried to probe if there was any other person. But Priya, all of fourteen and having gone through the ordeal, with utmost conviction reassured us, that he alone was the  culprit. We believed her.

The Public Prosecutor (PP) accused Priya of having a boyfriend. You cannot trust these teenaged girls, I think this case is ‘fishy’, she said. Her entire approach towards the case changed dramatically after the DNA report. But if Priya had a boyfriend, the news would have spread as this is a thickly populated slum with huts adjacent to each other. Nothing misses the keenly watchful eyes of the  neighbours.

We were extremely worried how the PP, whose job is to defend Priya would conduct the trial. We watched the PP like hawks on every date to ensure she was doing her job.

Priya was brilliant in her examination and cross. We were there by her side to support her. The PP ofcourse did not even bother to meet her before the trial and prepare her.

The defence lawyer used all kinds of underhand tactics during Anju’s cross. He accused her of being a woman of loose character and being greedy and wanting to extract money from the accused. But before he could ask any more embarrassing questions, the presiding officer, a sensitive lady judge, stopped him. This judge is known to follow Sakshi Guidelines, not allow unnecessary questions and most of all, she makes the witness comfortable in court. All this helps bring the best evidence before the Court.

The final arguments were a disaster. The PP argued with absolute lack of interest (She may not have even argued if we were not there). She submitted the case laws and the written arguments that we had prepared, because we insisted. The Defence Counsel argued at length about how the DNA Report was negative and therefore it was clear that the accused had been framed to take revenge because the victim’s mother was not allocated a tenement under the slum rehabilitation scheme.

Judgment: “Not guilty, the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt”. The judge also commented that the plea of the defence about revenge appears to be probable!

Immediately after passing the judgement, in an informal tone, the Judge asked our lawyer whether we take up all cases or only ‘genuine’ cases. Before we could recover from the absurdity of this question, the PP replied “Oh, they take up any case that comes to them”.

We would have liked to answer that “not proving a case beyond reasonable doubt does not amount to a ‘false’ case.”  We would also liked to have responded to the  PP, “it is not your job to be judge… just do your best to prove your case, like you would if you were defending the accused in a murder trial, as a private lawyer.” But we kept silent as we have many other rape cases which are pending trial in this court.

We had the difficult task of informing Anju about the judgement. She was calm and took it in her stride. She told us that she was not interested in filing an appeal. She had changed her residence,  Priya was back at school and they were making every attempt to get over this trauma. We felt that despite the set back in court, we had empowered them to cope with the system and move on without leaving deep scars of revictimisation upon their psyche. This, in itself, was a victory! After all, conviction or acquittal is not in our hands. We are here to ensure that fair trial process has been followed.

Ideally, this narrative must end here, but it has a postscript. A few days later, a visibly shattered Anju came to our office. There was a story in the newspaper accusing Anju of filing a false case to frame the accused to get a tenement in the SRA scheme. It is this incident that broke Anju.  She wanted to file a case against the lawyer and the newspaper.  But since no names were mentioned there was nothing we could do. Anju told us that Priya had threatened to commit suicide after seeing the newspaper article. The society finally had its revenge.

The questions that haunt us at the end of this case are – yes, the case could not be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.  But it is also beyond doubt that a 14 year old vulnerable child had been violated and had to undergo the ordeal of childbirth and of giving up the child in adoption. Does the responsibility of the state end with the acquittal, or is there a responsibility beyond, to ensure the well being of this child.  Can state institutions entrusted with the responsibility of protecting children, brand her as ‘a liar’ and wash their hands off her, leaving her to deal with her fate, within the confines of her own vulnerabilities? We find no answers to these disturbing questions within the criminal legal system.

State of Maharashtra  v. Ramesh Dawle  Session Case  No. 349 of 2012

The matter was concluded within a year.

Majlis Legal Centre

A 4/2 Golden Valley, Kalina Kurla Road, Santacruz E, Mumbai 98

Tel: 022 26661252 / 26662394

Website: www.majlislaw.com

Facebook: majlislaw

 

#India- Drugged, raped minor gets Justice #Vaw


Published: Friday, Feb 8, 2013, 9:30 IST
By Mustafa Plumber & Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

 

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 20 men in the case of a minor who was drugged by her neighbour, raped, and then blackmailed into prostitution in 2005. She was then a Class IX student in Aurangabad.

Those convicted include men who claimed they were unaware of the victim’s age as they took her to be a sex worker, a contention the court refused to accept. Also convicted is one accused who married the victim after he was pronounced guilty by the Aurangabad sessions court.

In a judgment delivered on February 4, the division bench of justices AH Joshi and UD Salvi confirmed the sentences of all those convicted by the trial court, reducing the sentence of eight accused, including the man who married the victim.

Chetan Popatlal Bhalgat, who married the victim in May 2011, prayed for a less than minimum sentence, citing the marriage and the fact he had given her Rs21 lakh in cash as well as a row-house worth Rs13.30 lakh, a shopping premise and a plot of land in Ahmednagar. While he claimed this mitigates the malevolence of the crime, the court only reduced his sentence from 10 years to eight years.

The judges observed, “…the genesis of the culpability of the accused did not spring from the insanity of a lover but was a plain lust supported by pecuniary ability, namely he could pay for what he had craved for”.

As Bhalgat had done something restitutive for the victim, the court reduced his sentence by two years.

The court also accepted the testimony of the victim as reliable and said, “A witness who is very well grown up cannot be expected to give narration of sexual wrongs done to her which are per se traumatic, with minute details or particulars. It shall suffice if she utters the word physical/sexual relationship or rape.”

According to the judgment, the minor was threatened by an accused who is now deceased that photographs of the sexual encounters would be published in local newspapers. Under threat, the minor was coerced to have sex with several men until she was rescued by a local NGO. The girl was taken to people’s homes and to hotels in rickshaws and hired cars, where she was forced to dispense sexual favours repeatedly.

Four men aged between 20 and 25 — Hardeek Lakhamichand Jaggad, Aakash Subhash Rathi, Aatmaram Ramrao Dengale and Ramakant Ramrao Dengale — were sentenced to eight years.

The others who were sentenced to 10 years apart from the man who married her are Balkishan Premraj Goel, Ajay Sudhakar Kate, Aaba alias Dyandev Bhagchand Gondkar, Abdul Haq Fakir Mohammad Kureshi, Rajendra Shivajirao Thorat, Ravindra Shivajirao Thorat, Raghunath Ramnath Zolekar, Vasant Mangu Pawara, Ramrao Moniraj Dengale, Tukaram Gena Misal, Ramesh Rajaram Barkase, Ashok Babasaheb Kasar, Vilas ere Karale, Ruchin Mehta, and Harjit Rajpal.

The court observed in its 126-page judgment that “law takes stern view in the crimes concerning rape not only for the reason of physical harm that it causes to a woman but also for she being left destitute to suffer life-long mental trauma”.

 

Coventry honour killing victim Surjit Athwal remembered #Vaw


Surjit Kaur Athwal

THE ‘honour killing‘ of a Coventry mum has been remembered at a memorial service at the House of Commons.

The 14th anniversary of the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal was marked at the event hosted by MP Stephen Timms – which called for a public inquiry into the issue of so-called honour killings and ‘outsourced’ killings affecting British citizens.

Mum-of-two Surjit disappeared after going with her mother-in-law, Bachan Athwal, to a family wedding in India in December 1998.

Her body was never found, but her mother-in-law apparently boasted to relatives she had arranged for her to be strangled and dumped in a river – after Surjit had an affair with a colleague and said she wanted a divorce.

For years, Surjit’s death was concealed by her husband, Sukhdave Athwal, and her mother-in-law, but the pair were finally convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in 2007 after a tireless campaign by Surjit’s Coventry family for justice.

It was a landmark case, the first in UK legal history, of an outsourced honour killing being criminally prosecuted in the UK against people who plot a murder, while the actual killing is carried out abroad.

The people who actually carried out the murder have never been caught.

Surjit’s brother, Jagdeesh Singh Dhillon, from Coventry, still campaigns for police and politicians to do more about honour killings in the Asian community.

At Wednesday’s event, he called for the British Government to press the Indian Government to bring Surjit’s outstanding murderers in Panjab to justice, and has requested a follow-up meeting with the Foreign Secretary.

He said: “Just as we have benefited from major public enquiries following Stephen Lawrence‘s racist murder, we need to have a comprehensive public enquiry which brings out the multiple and vital lessons thrown up by outsourced honour killing cases like Surjit’s and others.

“These are publicly important issues for government action, police action and community action. Victims continue to suffer because of a lack of coherence, communication and co-ordination on these devastating cases.

“In states like India and Pakistan, there is horrifying police collusion in these vicious acts of murder.

“For example, 100 females are murdered across the Indian state on a daily basis.”

The event was attended by more than 100 representatives from women’s campaign groups, the Metropolitan Police, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, and was organised by Surjit’s daughter Pavanpreet Ahmed.

Speakers included DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation on Surjit’s case

Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2012/12/07/coventry-honour-killing-victim-surjit-athwal-remembered-92746-32378155/#ixzz2ERMNrdnb

 

Presumed Guilty: After 14 wasted years in prison, life begins anew


PRAYAAG AKBAR NEW DELHI | 19th Feb

Mohammed Aamir at his home in Sadr Bazaar. Aamir spent 14 years in jail before being acquitted in January this year. Photograph: ABHISHEK SHUKLA

n the night of 20 February 1998, in the Sadr Bazaar area of Delhi, a young man walked to the neighbourhood hakeem seeking treatment for a persistent kidney stone problem. The 18-year-old had just said his namaaz at the Madrasahwaali Masjid and, in pain, decided to walk across the desolate marketplace — by day this is one of the busiest spots in the city, but at night it empties like a sieve — even more so in the ’90s, when Indian retail did not shriek with the vehemence of today.

As the boy walked he noticed an unmarked white Maruti Gypsy sidle up along the kerb behind him. It moved slowly, prompting him to quicken his pace, though he continued to walk, staring ahead. The Gypsy overtook him and then, without warning, a pair of hands shoved him in the back. He raised his hands to protect himself from falling, but before he knew it he’d been hauled into the Gypsy. Blindfolded, hands tied and mouth gagged in a matter of seconds, trapped in a mélange of elbows, insults and accents, he was driven to a destination 40 minutes away and deposited in a room. Here he was routinely beaten, tortured, fed at the rarest possible intervals, and made to sign blank papers and disclosure agreements. There was no question of providing access to legal representation.

The boy left that room seven days later, when he was taken to Delhi’s Tees Hazari Court to be charged with 17 cases of murder, terrorism and waging war against the nation. By the time he was acquitted of the charges brought against him — the High Court ruled that any evidence connecting the accused to the bombings was “woefully absent” — Mohammed Aamir was 32 years old. He spent 14 years “ground in the mortar and pestle” of the Indian justice system (main kanoon ke chaal mein pis kar aa raha hoon). In the years before he could once again walk into the modest room in Azad Market where he was born, his father had died, his mother left mute and paralysed by a stroke.

Read more here

WTF news-Robbed Rs 100 ( 2$) ? stay in jail for seven years


1 Feb 2012
COIMBATORE: Two Coimbatore youth have been awarded seven years in jail each for waylaying and robbing a man of Rs100 and a wrist watch two years ago.

Handing down the punishment on Tuesday, the Fourth Additional Sessions Court judge A K A Rahman also imposed a penalty of Rs10,000 on the two.

According to the prosecution case, on the night of February 7, 2010, the accused Rajendran and Askar Ali, both aged 27 and residents of Selvapuram, had brandished a knife and waylaid one Saravanan who was proceeding to a pharmacy to buy medicines. They relieved him of Rs100 and a watch on a street in Selvapuram Muthusamy Colony.

Additional Government Pleader M K Elangovan argued the case for the prosecution during the final trial.

The conviction of the two youth set tongues wagging outside the court hall as people felt that Rs100 was too paltry a sum warranting seven years’ imprisonment.

However, senior lawyers pointed out that in the eyes of law the quantum of punishment is not proportionate to the amount robbed.

“As per Sec 392 of the IPC, whoever commits robbery shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable for fine. The judge has rightly invoked this provision,” a senior lawyer explained.

The lawyer added that the accused had threatened the victim at knife-point, which was a serious offence.

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