Kerala: Madani admitted to hospital for treatment


By PTI – BANGALORE

07th January 2013 05:27 PM

  • The Karnataka High Court had in November last year rejected Madani's bail plea but permitted him to avail treatment in a hospital of his choice under police escort. PTI file photo
    The Karnataka High Court had in November last year rejected Madani’s bail plea but permitted him to avail treatment in a hospital of his choice under police escort. PTI file photo

Jan 7,2013, IE

Kerala-based PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani, lodged in central prison here after his arrest in connection with the 2008 serial bomb blasts, has been admitted to a private hospital for treatment of diabetes.

Assistant Superintendent of Parappana Agrahara jail D S Hatti said Madani has been admitted to Soukhya hospital in Whitefield near here for the treatment of diabetes and related eye complication.

His wife and son would be allowed to attend him at the hospital, Hatti said.

The Karnataka High Court had in November last year rejected Madani’s bail plea but permitted him to avail treatment in a hospital of his choice under police escort.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had met his Karnataka counterpart Jagadish Shettar last week and urged him to provide medical treatment to Madani.

Ruling UDF and opposition LDF members had last month asked the Kerala government to intervene to ensure proper medical care for Madani. Chandy had said it was not just to keep a person in prison indefinitely “without trial”.

Madani was arrested on August 17, 2010 from his camp at Anwarassery in Kerala’s Kollam district. He remains lodged in the jail since then.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader is among 31 people charge sheeted in the case relating to the July 2008 bomb blasts that killed one person and left 20 others injured here.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Statement of Support for Release Naveen Soorinje, – NWMI, Mumbai


 

The Mumbai Chapter, of   The  Network of Women in Media, India, released a statement   of support for Release of Naveen Soorinje

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; JAN 6,2013
We are shocked at the continued incarceration of Managalore-based
television journalist Naveen Soorinje by police and demand both his
immediate release and the dropping of charges  against him forthwith.

Naveen Soorinje was arrested on November 9, 2012. His bail application was
rejected on December 26, 2012.

The Mangalore district reporter for Kasturi Newz24, Naveen Soorinje was
instrumental in exposing the July 28 attack by activists of the Hindu
Jagarana Vedike on a group of innocent boys and girls who were celebrating
a birthday party at a homestay in Mangalore. He was arrested by the
Mangalore police on charges under various sections of the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention)Act, the Indian Penal Code from “rioting with deadly
weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force
on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. The police have
also invoked Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women
(Prohibition) Act 1986.

Soorinje’s report, titled ‘The Talibanisation of Mangalore’, was actually
vital evidence of the brutality of the attack and the molestation and
assault on the youth. Instead, he was charged with the same offences as
that of the attackers. The police arrested 31 people in connection with the
attack and Soorinje was lodged in the same sub-jail as them until a protest
from the Mangalore Union of Working Journalists forced police to lodge him
separately.

In his order rejecting Naveen’s bail application, the Karnataka High Court
judge, Keshava Narayana, relied on police evidence that Naveen was
absconding, when in fact, he was very much present in the area and had
covered important and routine assignments between July and November,
including the visit of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the area.

In the short span of seven years, Soorinje had made a mark as a journalist
in the region for his coverage of powerful groups including Hindutva
organizations, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India, the pontiff
of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, who is the guru of former Madhya Pradesh
CM Uma Bharti, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the
Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade, among others. Besides, he wrote exposes on
corrupt policemen and even exposes on journalists taking gifts in return
for favors.

Clearly, the arrest and charges against him smack of vendetta and designed
to work as a ‘chilling effect’ on independent reportage in this region. His
continued incarceration cannot and must not act as a deterrent to fair and
accurate journalism and we demand that he be released forthwith and the
charges against him dropped.

 

 

Fettering the fourth estate: Free Speech in 2012 #Censorship #FOE #media


Icon for censorship

Icon for censorship (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JANUARY 2, 2013, hoot.org

 

 

Fettering the Fourth Estate: Free Speech in 2012

report of the Free Speech Hub of the Hoot.org

The year 2012 ended with a Kannada TV reporter, Naveen Soorinje, in jail for more than fifty days after the Karnataka High Court denied him bail. Mangalore-based Soorinje, was incarcerated from November 7, 2012 after police charged him under the UAPA and under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for reporting on the raid on a homestay party by a Hindu fundamentalist group in July. Soorinje’s bail application was rejected on December 26.

The same month, a television journalist, Nanao Singh, was shot dead in a police firing in Manipur.

In 2012, India was a grim place for free speech. It recorded the death of five journalists. Another 38 were assaulted, harassed or threatened.    There were 43 instances of curbs on the Internet, 14 instances of censorship in the film and music industry, and eight instances of censorship of content in the print medium.

The year began with the brutal killing of journalist Chandrika Rai (42), his wife Durga (40) and their two teenage children — son Jalaj (19) and daughter Nisha (17) — at their residence in Madhya Pradesh’s Umaria distict in February. Other journalists to die this year were Rajesh Mishra in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, Chaitali Santra in Kolkata and Raihan Naiyum, in Assam.

We list and detail below all the incidents which occurred in the course of the year.

 

1. Journalists killed

05

2. Journalists assaulted, harassed or threatened

38

3. Censorship of content in print medium

08

4. Censorship in the electronic medium

04

5. Censorship of literature, art, education, theatre

08

6. Censorship in film and music industry

14

7. Curbs on internet medium

41

8. Limits on mobile medium

05

9. Arson at media establishments

06

10. Hate speech

02

11. Information or access denied

10

12. Surveillance issues

05

13. Privacy and defamation

02

14. Legislative issues

03

That the death toll of journalists would have been higher, is clear by the brutality of the assaults and threats to journalists: Thongam Rina, associate editor of Arunachal Times, was shot at and critically injured in July; Kamal Shukla in Chhattisgarh was assaulted by a local politician because he wrote a story on illegal tree-felling in Koelibeda, the constituency of the state’s forest minister Vikram Usendi; in Gujarat’s Palampur district, television journalist Devendra Khandelwal was attacked with iron pipes by relatives of MLA Mafatlal Purohit for reporting their involvement in illegal construction.

Sec 66 (a) and internet freedom

The 41 instances of free speech violations related to internet use in the Free Speech Hub’s ‘Free Speech Tracker’ testify to the growing use and abuse of this medium. Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, two young Facebook users, in Palghar, Maharashtra, in October, were arrested under the draconian Sec 66 (a) of the Information Technology Act, one for posting a critical status comment on the shutdown of the city in the wake of the death of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and the other for ‘liking’ the post! The nation-wide protest that followed forced a review of the charges against them and a closure report by police. However, they will still have to wait till January 2013 for the formal dropping of charges against them.

Already, the fears over the misuse of the controversial Section (66 A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, were confirmed by other instances: the arrest of two Jadavpur University professors in April 2012 for their e-mails on the cartoons poking fun at that projected West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee;  the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for sedition, for insulting national honour and for sending offensive messages under Sec 66 (a) of the IT Act in August 2012: two employees of Air-India, Mayank Sharma and KVJ Rao, who were sacked (and reinstated after the protests) after their arrest over a Facebook post, three youth arrested in Kashmir for allegedly anti-Islamic posts and the arrest of industrialist AS Ravi for tweeting about Karti Chidamnaram, son of Union minister for P Chidambaram.

Earlier, in June 2012, the union government ordered the blocking of  more than 250 sites and web pages following the widespread panic and exodus of people from the North East out of Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. Some accounts that disproved the morphed pictures and the propaganda were also blocked.

The Google Transparency Report put India top on the list of countries making demands to take down content.

Censorship in other media

Censorship continued in all arenas, from the literary and cinematic worlds, to art and theatre. Protests of vigilante groups against all manner of expression continued with political parties and social groups taking offence against film songs, dialogues and titles of movies, art exhibitions and theatre performances and even the use of mobile phones by women!

In May, the Human Resources Development Ministry’s attempt to expunge cartoons from NCERT and CBSE textbooks for their alleged anti-Dalit connotations sparked an inconclusive debate on casteism in educational content while the cancellation of Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit to the Jaipur Literary Festival in January only showed the pusillanimity of the state administration.

Covert state surveillance was on the rise, with an increase in government interception and monitoring of emails and telephone conversations, privacy violations and hate speech cases are also under the scanner.

(For further details of the cases and categories please click here)

 

 

 

Journalist Victimized by the Karnataka police #FOE #mediagag


 

In jail for the past 50 days for covering the Mangalore homestay raid,

Naveen Soorinje’s bail application comes up tomorrow.   

 

Posted Tuesday, Dec 25, 2012, http://www.thehoot.org/

On November 7, 2012, Kannada TV channel Kasturi’s reporter in Mangalore, Naveen Soorinje, 28, was returning after covering a public function addressed by former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy, when he was arrested by the Mangalore police. From that date to now, he has been lodged in the Mangalore sub-jail. He has been denied bail by both Mangalore Judicial Magistrate First Class [JMFC] and the Mangalore district and sessions court.
Soorinje’s crime? He covered and telecast the attack on a birthday party at a homestay in the Mangalore’s suburb of Padil by Hindutva activists on July 28, 2012. But the charges against him are: unlawful assembly [IPC section143], rioting [147], rioting with deadly weapons [148], criminal trespass [447], house trespass [448], wrongful restraint [341], voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means [323/324], criminal intimidation [506], intentional insult with intent to provoke breach [504], assault or criminal force against women with intent [354] and dacoity [395].
The Mangalore police have arrested 31 persons with Hindutva links in connection with the homestay incident. Soorinje, the only reporter present on the spot, and whose report identifying this incident as  ‘’Talibanization of Mangalore’’ was the basis for the entire case against the Hindutva activists, has been charged and arrested under the same sections of the IPC [Indian Penal Code] as the accused.
When his bail application comes up on December 26, 2012, Soorinje will have spent 50 days in jail. A small band of committed journalists and activists from Mangalore are fighting for his release. They have given petitions to the district administration, tried to get chief minister JagadishShettar to intervene, but to no avail.  Home minister R Ashoka,  reportedly at the behest of Soorinje’s boss Anita Kumaraswamy, the wife of former chief minister H D Kumarswamy, is said to have tried to protect the journalist. But, according to sources in Ashoka’s office, his efforts were muzzled  by a PIL filed by some Mangalore residents in the Karnataka High Court seeking a restraint on his intervention.
Who is Naveen Soorinje?
Mangalore reporters point out that Soorinje has been responsible for several exposes in his career, first as a reporter for the tabloid Karavali Ale and later, for the Kasturi channel. In the course of his seven year career, he has written and done audio visual stories that have targeted Hindutva organizations, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Popular Front of India which is also a Muslim organization, the pontiff of Pejawar Mutt Vishveshateertha, who is the guru of former Madhya Pradesh CM Uma Bharti, and the powerful head of the Dharmasthala temple, the DharmadhikariVeerendraHeggade, among others.
‘’Naveen has taken on all-powerful organisations in the region, indiscriminately. He wrote exposes on corrupt policemen, exposes on journalists taking gifts in return for favours, so everyone was out to fix him. They have deliberately put non-bailable charges on him and ensured that he is out of circulation as a warning to everyone else who wants to expose the communalism bubbling over in Mangalore,’’ a fellow journalist, who declined to be named, told The Hoot.
Soorinje, by his own submission, had got a tip off from a source in Padil on July 28h that some people were preparing for an attack on Muslim boys who were consorting with Hindu girls. Soorinje says, according to a report compiled by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties Karnataka [PUCL-K]: ‘’The immediate thought that crossed my mind was, should I inform the police right away or not? I had not information about the organization that was going to attack. I also did not know who was going to be attacked or for what reason or the place at which the attack would take place. As I had been given the information by my news source, I thought I would inform the police only after confirming it.’’
Soorinje was the only reporter who reached the homestay, Morning Mist, before the attack at 6.50 pm. He had with him Rajesh Srinivas, the cameraman of another Kannada TV channel, TV-9, as his own cameraman was not available. Soorinje says when he reached there,  he saw a girl sitting in the verandah and two boys were at another corner, playing on their mobiles. ‘’There was nothing there which could provide a reason for assailants to attack, so even at that point, I did not think it was necessary to call the police, as the information that I had been given could be wrong.’’
But some 30 people gathered and barged in, as the girl on the verandah ran in and tried to shut the door. Soorinje says he immediately called the local inspector Ravish Nayak, but he did not receive the call. Soorinje then called the TV-9 reporter Rajesh Rao and asked him to contact Ravish Nayak, with the same results.
Along with the assaulters, another cameraman, Sharan of the local Mangalore channel, Sahaya TV, had come in. Sharan and Srinivas barged into the home stay along with the assailants, while Soorinje began reporting the story and alerting others. He says he was shocked at the kind of violence and molestation of the girls that the assailants indulged in and felt ‘’these things could not be made into visuals for the news. Very little of what happened there could be shot on camera. However, the way the assailants were manhandling the girls, if news cameras were not present, I shudder to think how much further they would have gone.’’
The police have built a case against Soorinje based on a complaint filed by an event manager Vijay Kumar, who was hosting the birthday party at the home stay. But Vijay Kumar has told PUCL-K: ‘’If the media had not been there, the goons would certainly have raped the girls. After the incident we gave a statement to the police. My signature was taken on a blank sheet of paper and then an FIR was prepared, some of whose points I don’t agree with.’’ He, along with other victims, held a press conference in Mangalore on July 29 and said: ‘’The media has helped us, there should be no case against them.’’
The police, further, did selective chargesheeting. Soorije was charged and put into jail, but the TV-9 cameraman whose footage was used by all channels including the national ones, is not among the accused. Yet another accused, Sharan of Sahaya TV, is going about his work in Mangalore, but he has not been arrested. A CD of the entire incident submitted by Soorinje to Ravish Nayak has gone ”missing” while a pen drive from TV-9 has been shown as the evidence. This serves the purpose of making TV-9 the witness and Soorinje the accused. The police have slapped the dacoity charge on him along with section 34 of the IPC, which reads:”When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.”
Naveen’s bail application comes up on December 26, 2012.

Dalit forum seeks ban on ‘made snana’ in all forms


pci courtesy – express

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu Managalore, Dec 16.,2012

‘Ede snana’ is also a symbol of slavery of the downtrodden: Shivaramu

Karnataka Rajya Hindulida Vargagala Jagrutha Vedike president K.S. Shivaramu has sought an end to made snana (rolling on the plantain leaves on which Brahmins have partaken meal) or its modified form of ede snana (rolling on plantain leaves on which food offered to deity is kept) at Kukke Subramanya Temple.

The ritual, termed “castiest” and scheduled to be held for three days from Sunday on the premises of the famous temple in Subramanya, symbolised the exploitation of Dalits by upper castes, said Mr. Shivaramu at a press conference here.

Mr. Shivaramu, who was assaulted during the last year’s ritual when a group led by him staged a protest against it, said merely because the Supreme Court had stayed any modified ritual, it did not mean that the authorities of the temple, which is in the control of the Muzrai Department of the government, could resort to continue the “ugly and inhuman” practice. He said all facts had not been placed before the Supreme Court. He expressed the confidence that the Supreme Court would ultimately rule in favour of a ban on it once all details were submitted to it.

He said a committee of the State government’s Social Welfare Department had concluded that thepankti bhedha (serving food separately on the basis of caste) and untouchability were being practised in the temple. This had not been brought to the notice of the Supreme Court, he said.

His forum would do the needful.

He said the modification of the ‘made snana’ into ‘ede snana’ was done at the behest of Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji of the Pejawar Math and a government under the control of proponents of Brahminism had accepted this.

He said because of the efforts made by his group and other supporters similar practices in Tumkur and Ankola had come to an end.

HC order stayed

The Supreme Court has stayed the Karnataka High Court order allowing modification of the ritual ‘made snana, practised on the premises of the Subramanya temple in Kukke in Dakshina Kannada district.

Following a petition filed before the High Court by Channamalla Deskindra Mahaswami and others, the State government had proposed to allow devotees to roll over plantain leaves on which the food offered to the deity is placed.

The High Court had permitted this in its order on November 9. Passing an order on Friday on an appeal filed by Adivasi Budakattu Hitarakshana Vedike Karnataka, the bench of justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur said “the operation of the impugned order shall remain stayed”.

 

Asian Human Rights Commission INDIA: Despicable policing


November 12, 2012

AHRC-STM-226-2012-01Once again, the country’s judiciary has underlined the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong with the police in India. On 7 November, the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Justice Vikramajit Sen, while hearing a case said, “I never understand why the police always take the side of villains. Whether it is Haryana or Karnataka, it is the same.” Justice Sen, chairing the Division Bench of the court was hearing a criminal case. Expressing concern about the conduct of police with regard to women, Justice Sen said, ” … the police have no sympathy over the plight of the [rape] victim … Until it happens to their families, they cannot understand”, concluded the court.

The courts in India, including the Supreme Court, on several occasions have lashed out at the police and other law enforcement agencies in the country, each time expressing concern of the fact that these agencies are professionally unfit to undertake their mandate. For instance the Kerala High Court while hearing a case relating to crimes committed by the state’s police officers expressed serious concern over the high number of police officers, ranking from constable to the Inspector General of Police, who have criminal cases against them, and are still in active service.

The report submitted by the Director General of Police in Kerala to the High Court on 8 August 2011, reveals the names of 533 police officers that fall into this category. The state government however has tried to dismiss the seriousness of the issue and no action whatsoever has been taken against these officers so far.

One of the most notorious cases in the list is that of an officer of the rank of the Inspector General of Police, accused of charges including corruption, smuggling, and threatening and intimidating witnesses. The fact that these officers are not only responsible for formulating policies for the department, but are also directly involved in criminal investigation, challenges the capacity of the Indian police to undertake criminal investigation, one of the foundation stones of criminal justice delivery in the country.

In fact the Government of India does not have a real picture of the state of affairs concerning the alarming internal wilt that has occurred in the police. The record available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is an example of this. The NCRB report claims that out of the 61786 complaints made against the police in 2011 in the whole of the country, only 916 were charge-sheeted.

Human rights organisations like the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and other civil society organisations have been calling upon the Government of India to take immediate action to deal with this serious absence of professionalism and morale within the police and other law enforcement agencies in the country. Cases documented from India, including that of corruption, the widespread practice of torture and other forms of custodial violence substantiate this concern. The AHRC has been calling upon the Indian authorities to address with immediate effect the resultant moral wilt within the police as well as other law enforcement agencies, which has led to the breakdown of the day-to-day administration of criminal justice in India.

Just as it is in the case of any other disciplined force suffering from lack of morale and professionalism, the despicable conduct of the police is not limited to cases involving private complaints. The lack of an enforceable disciplinary and accountability framework has resulted in the police treating crimes committed against their own rank and file with the same temperament as it is in the case of private complaints. Criminal investigations in the country resemble in fact a marketplace, where negotiations are made in the open and deals sealed under the table.

The internal investigation report filed by the Director of Police Intelligence, Mr. T. P. Senkumar, to the Director General of Police, Mr. K. S. Balasubramaniyam, concerning the case of assault and death of a Sub Inspector of Police (SI), Mr. Thankaraj, in Kerala speaks about the alarming fact that police officers even compromise with criminals, crimes committed against fellow police officers by local thugs, after demanding and accepting bribes from these criminal elements.

The intelligence report prepared by Senkumar alleges that the Superintendent of Police, Mr. K. B. Balachandran and other police officers have accepted bribes from a local thug, Mr. Sebastian, so that Sebastian’s name is dropped from the list of suspects accused of assaulting the SI, that resulted in his death. That such demeaning and corrupt practices are highly prevalent among the rank and file of the state police department, not only negates every legitimate purpose of criminal investigation, but also encourages all officers to be corrupt within the force.

In this case too, unfortunately the Government of Kerala is reportedly refusing to take action against the errant police officers due to illegal and political considerations. These incidents are not rare in India, but rather the standard conduct of police officers, that the entire force does not enjoy an iota of trust among the population, and unfortunately the country’s judiciary subscribes to this general perception.

The AHRC is of the opinion that the single largest impediment to police reforms in India is the police force itself. Police force in India, which by now has reduced to a mere uniformed criminal gang that brokers with authority, enjoy absolute impunity in return to the role of middlemen they play in power brokering.

Officers agree to do the cleanup jobs for the powerful and the rich with the least amount of persuasion and they are willing to illegally manipulate investigations into corruption and other crimes. While high-ranking police officers often sell their uniforms to the country’s corrupt political and financial elite, the lower-ranking officers extort money from the ordinary people, by engaging in crimes like extortion, fabrication of charges or even undertaking smuggling activities.

The police and all law enforcement agencies to extort bribe from detainees and suspects use threat of torture. Some police officers engage in supporting anti-national and terror syndicates after accepting money and other favours from these gangs. In that, the single largest threat to national security in India is its own police force. Unfortunately this is an issue that the country’s administration is yet to admit to and to remedy.

The continuance of such a state of affairs in police and other law enforcement agencies not only impedes the overall framework of the rule of law in India but also absolutely negates the country’s capacity to fulfil the constitutionally mandated domestic human rights standards. Such faulty institutions that are incapable of discharging everything that is expected to be undertaken within the framework of the rule of law, is exploited further by the government to implement draconian legislations like The National Security Act 1980, The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 and their state variants like The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999; The Karnataka Control of Organised Crimes Act, 2000; The Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, 1970; The Assam Preventive Detention Act, 1980; The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958; and The Madhya Pradesh Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam, 1990. There are at least 44 such legislations in India, which allows the police to arbitrarily take action against innocent members of the public.

The police to sidestep the rule of law guarantees use all the above legislation, without exception, that other procedural restrictions built in into the Criminal Procedure Code, 1974, to prevent misuse of authority is today meaningless. Today the police could illegally detain, keep in prolonged custody and even murder people with absolute impunity. This negates the fundamental premise of fair trial.

All these legislations however are implemented in the guise of empowering law enforcement agencies to control and prevent crime. Yet the most simple and elementary step, to discipline the police, is yet to be implemented in India.

The basic flaw in this mindset of the government is that the law enforcement agencies are conceived as organs to maintain order at the expense of awarding arbitrary authorities to the state agencies, who subject these laws to wanton misuse since the agencies implementing these legislations themselves act with the same mindset of organised criminal syndicates. Today if anyone refers the law enforcement agencies in India as organised criminals in uniform, such a reference is not untrue.

It is not that exceptions to this general perception do not exist in the rank and file in the law enforcement agencies. It is only that the number of such officers is far too low, that they alone cannot improve the image or performance of the rest of the force. It is a sad truth that both the government and the law enforcement officers know that for the conditions to improve, the change has to come from within, yet both choose to do nothing about it.

# # #
For information and comments: Bijo Francis, AHRC. Telephone: + 852 – 26986 339, Email: india@ahrc.asia

Cartoon provided by Mr. Satish Acharya
. The cartoonist’s page could be viewed at http://cartoonistsatish.blogspot.com/

 

Karnataka HC- Cops always side with rapists #Vaw #Justice


Cops always side with rapists: Karnataka HC

TNN | Nov 8, 2012, 03.57AM IST

Cops always side with rapists: Karnataka HC
Cops always side with rapists says Karnataka HC.
BANGALORE: “Until it happens to their families, they can’t understand,” the Karnataka High Court said on Wednesday about police attitude towards rape victims and their families. It asked police to file a status report on the recent rape cases in Bangalore.

“I never understand why the police always take the side of villains. Whether it is Haryana or Karnataka, it is the same. No sympathy over the plight of women,” chief justice Vikramajit Sen observed. A division bench headed by Justice Sen warned police that if sufficient security isn’t provided to Syed Karim, father of a 14-year-old rape victim, and her family, the court would have to “come down heavily”.

Karim’s lawyer, M K Vijayakumar, said police have not registered cases despite the family naming the accused and his associates, who attacked the girl’s father thrice.

Justice Sen observed that 50% of the movies made in India are vulgar, referring to “those gyrating persons (whom) we call heroines”. He mentioned the flippant and sexist remark made recently by a Union minister in a poem and wanted to know whether he had been removed.

Earlier, the government advocate informed the court that in all the cases mentioned in Karim’s PIL, the accused have been arrested.

However, the counsel for the petitioner said that unabated transfer of officials was not helping the investigation.

The petitioner has stated that within one week in October, there were eight rape cases in Karnataka, including that of a law student and of three bar girls from Bangalore.

 

Two Dalit women working for Rs 15 a month for 42 years #shameindia


Bangalore, October 4, 2012

Special Correspondent

Akku (left) and Leela
Akku (left) and Leela

Here is a classic case that will reveal how the “high-handedness” of a few officials has affected the lives of two Dalit women in Udupi.

The two women, Akku and Leela, have put in about four decades of service at the Government Women Teachers’ Training Institute on a monthly salary of Rs. 15. Although they were promised that their services would be regularised, they did not get any benefits even after 42 years of service.

After the women approached the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) seeking relief in 2001, the Education Department stopped paying them even that meagre salary of Rs. 15.

Their plight came to light after Ravindranath Shanbhag, president of Udupi-based Human Rights Protection Foundation, took up the matter and followed up the case right up to the Supreme Court.

Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, Mr. Shanbhag said that although the Supreme Court, the High Court of Karnataka and the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal ruled in favour of the women and directed the government to regularise their services, the order is yet to be implemented by the government.

Meanwhile, the women continue to clean the 21 toilets in the institute all through the year without any payment, he said.

“The Karnataka Administrative Tribunal asked the government in 2003 to regularise them in 90 days and the Karnataka High Court ordered the government to pay their salaries in 2004. Notices were also issued for contempt of court when the directions were not implemented. Instead of paying them salaries, the government filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court in 2005.

“The Supreme Court ruled in the women’s favour in 2010. Despite all this, the women are still waiting to get their benefits,” Mr. Shanbhag said. “Now, the authorities say that the women were not employable because they had reached the retirement age. I am surprised that the government spent lakhs of rupees on fighting the cases against the hapless women rather than pay what is due to them.

Is there any other court above the Supreme Court that can give justice to these women?” Mr. Shanbhag asked and urged the government to pay what is due to the women.

Karnataka Women Groups write to CJ Karnataka #Bhaktavasala


 

 

To

The Hon’ble Chief Justice

High Court of Karnataka

 

 

Hon’ble Chief Justice Shri Vikramjit Sen,

 

We are writing to you in the context of the recent media reports regarding Hon’ble Justice Bhaktavatsala’s verbal comments in open Court. We are bringing these comments to your notice because they do not seem to be in consonance with the oath Justice Bhaktavatsala has taken under Article 219 to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India and to duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge, and judgment perform the duties of my office without fear and favour, affection or ill-will and to uphold the Constitution and the laws.’ The comments attributed to J. Bhaktavatsala are deeply offensive to all right thinking people, lower the dignity and agency of women who constitute literally half the population of this country and betray animus towards women.

 

It has been reported that J. Bhaktavatsala in open court has observed as follwos:

 

1) According to media reports on August 31 2012 Justice Bhaktavatsala stated to a woman litigant in a divorce matter, “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But Madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has.”

The Court asked the woman if her parents were present, at which her father walked up to the bench. The judge was reported to have remarked in open court, “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” When the woman said her husband would beat her in the open, in front of everyone, Justice Bhaktavatsala remarked that it was she who was bringing it out in the open. The court was told that the husband would beat her in the middle of the night and had thrown her out of the house.

When the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face after the beatings, the court said, “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits. You have to give him a divorce or go with him. Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living together now. What is on your mind and what is on your agenda?” The court directed the couple to go out and talk to each other. (Bangalore Mirror, August 31,2012)

 

2) In another case, a young  female advocate was citing the allegations against the husband, Justice Bhaktavatsala stopped her midway and asked, “Are you married?” When she replied in the negative, the judge said, “You are unfit to argue this case. You do not know real life. Why are you arguing like this? He is your (client’s) partner, not a stranger. Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases.”

(Bangalore Mirror,  August 10, 2012)

 

Our concern is that these comments apart from lowering the dignity of the High Court of Karnataka are also indicative of a judicial mindset which leads to judicial pronouncements which are not in keeping with the Constitution. In particular, the Constitution protects intimate choices with respect to one’s partner transcending barriers of caste, class and religion, regardless of parental opposition. In Writ Petition (HC) No.67/2011, Avinash v. State of Karnataka, J. Bhaktavatsala has expressed his strong opinion against love marriages and by extension the choices made by young women about whom to marry are summarily brushed aside as choices made because of ‘hormonal imbalances’. To quote from the judgment;

In our opinion, the girls below the age of 21 years are not capable of forming a rational judgment as to suitability of the boy, who is in love. It is relevant to mention that those girls, who are suffering from harmonal imbalance easily fall prey to the boys and fall in love, marry and repent at leisure. The parents of the girl are interested in selecting a suitable boy and see that the girl leads a happy married life. Since the Hindu Marriage Act does not deal with love marriages, in our view, it is a high time that the Parliament shall take note of the sufferings and turmoil of such girls and their parents and amend the law suitably. We perpetuate our memory as to the episode of the famous Telugu Cine actor Sri Chiranjivi’s daughter’s love marriage. Hence, we suggest that in the case of love affair of a girl, who is below the age of 21 years, there shall be a condition that the parents of the girl should approve the marriage, otherwise such marriages shall be declared void or voidable.”

In particular, Justice Bhaktavatsala’s above mentioned judicial pronouncement undermines the very idea of India as a nation in which all persons are free to form consensual intimate relationships with others of their choice regardless of narrow considerations of gender, caste, religion and class. If India is to indeed move beyond being a society riven by sharp divisions of caste and religion, the antidote lies in the choices made by young people to love across these narrow domestic walls, regardless of parental opposition.

As Dr. Ambedkar noted:

I am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling- the feeling of being aliens- created by Caste will not vanish.

(Annihilation of Caste)

 

The citizens of India look to the Court to protect their right to equality, dignity and liberty. Judges must keep this constitutional mandate in mind of being the protectors of the Constitution, even as they perform their duty  to interpret the law. Thus judges do not have a free reign to give expression to their own private morality or even the morality of the wider public, but rather have a duty to interpret the law in the light of the Constitution. Judges are bound by what the Founding Father of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar describes as constitutional morality.  Dr. Ambedkar quoted Grote, the historian of Greece, who had said:

The diffusion of constitutional morality, not merely among the majority of any community but throughout the whole, is an indispensable condition of government at once free and peaceable; since even any powerful and obstinate minority may render the working of a free institution impracticable without being strong enough to conquer the ascendancy for themselves.”

After quoting Grote, Dr. Ambedkar added:

While everybody recognised the necessity of diffusion of constitutional morality for the peaceful working of the democratic constitution, there are two things interconnected with it which are not, unfortunately, generally recognised. One is that the form of administration must be appropriate to and in the same sense as the form of the Constitution. The other is that it is perfectly possible to pervert the Constitution, without changing its form by merely changing its form of administration and to make it inconsistent and opposed to the spirit of the Constitution. ……The question is, can we presume such a diffusion of constitutional morality? Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.

[Constitutional Assembly Debates: Official Reports Vol.VII: November 4, 1948, page 38],

 

J. Bhaktavatsala in making those above statements, has clearly overstepped the bounds and limits of constitutional morality as described by Dr. Ambedkar. We are extraordinarily disappointed and let down by the fact that a high constitutional functionary has through his reported comments and judicial pronouncements betrayed the enormous trust vested in him. There are serious apprehensions that in the constitutionally mandated area of non-discrimination on grounds of gender, J. Bhaktavatsala will not decide in accordance with the constitution but rather in accordance with his private morality.

 

We ask that you consider strong action in your capacity as a Chief Justice to send out the message that no Judge can so easily betray the mandate of the Constitution to ensure equality of gender. Judges have a duty to protect the mandate of Article 14 of the constitution which guarantees equality and non-discrimination and Article 15 which guarantees that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of gender. Justice Bhaktavatsala’s comments and action in court in condoning violence against women, in requiring that unmarried women are not capable of arguing matrimonial cases and comments even about Justice Indrakala, his sister Judge are extremely gender biased and discriminating against women. This bias against women is reflected not only in his statements in court but also in his judgments. Gender bias is ordinarily defined as a tendency to think about people primarily on the basis of their sex. In the judicial system, gender bias results in decisions or actions that are based upon preconceived notions of sexual roles rather than on fair and impartial appraisals of any situation. Gender bias must be eliminated in the judicial system not only because it influences the perception of women in the courtroom, but also because it undermines the manner in which courts apply the law and thus affects the substantive rights of the parties.

 

In the interest of upholding the principles of our Constitution, we would request the following:

  1. That J. Bhaktavatsala issue an unconditional public apology for his gender biased and offensive remarks.
  2. That the all appeals from the judgments of the Family Court classified as MFA(FC) are removed from J. Bhaktavatsala’s docket.
  3. Set up a Commission to look at gender bias within the judiciary in Karnataka

 

We would also request you to take serious note of these comments and ensure that in your capacity as the Chief Justice, no judge of the Karnataka High Court again gives any room for such gross insensitivity to all forms of discrimination based on gender.

 

Protest against Justice Bhaktavatsala on September 10,2012 #Bangalore


 

Justice Bhaktavatsala’s remarks in the High Court legitimizing the
criminal act of domestic violence have horrified the city and indeed the
entire country.

To protest such absolutely misogynistic mindset reflecting the dominant
attitudes of society that sanction violence against women, we are
gathering in protest on Monday September 10, 2012 from 12.30 pm onwards.
_/If you wish to join us in the protest, kindly email us in advance so
we can inform you (later) about the site of the protest./_

*Please come dressed in black and we will stand in silence with placards
to express our outrage over Justice Bhaktavatsala’s actions. (If you
prefer to bring your own messages, please note that displaying them will
be subject to review by Vimochana and other organisers).*

Following the protest we will present the attached memorandum to the
Chief Justice. If you wish to endorse the memorandum, please email us
your name, affiliation and contact details no later than Sunday night
(9th September).

We look forward to your endorsement and/or your presence in the protest.

All of us from Vimochana.


VIMOCHANA
Forum for Women’s Rights
33/1-9, Thyagraj Layout
Jaibharath Nagar, Bangalore 560033
INDIA
Tel: +91-80-25492783, 782, 781
http://www.vimochana.in

 

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