Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights inMaruti Suzuki India Limited


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On18 July 2012 a violent incident occurred at the Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), in which an HR manager died and some other managers as well as workers were injured. Following reports of severe harassment of Maruti workers and their families in late July 2012, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) began a fact-finding investigation into the incident, its context and implications. We are releasing our findings today in the form of a report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’ (PUDR, May, 2013). This report follows PUDR’s two previous reports Hard Drive (2001) and Freewheelin’ Capital (2007) which recorded crucial moments of the labour struggle at Maruti. In the course of our fact finding, we have met or spoken to the workers (contract, permanent and terminated), the union leaders, their lawyer as well as officials from the labour department, Gurgaon, and different police officials. All attempts to meet the management turned out to be futile because it did not give us appointment for a meeting despite our persistent efforts.
PUDR’s findings, recorded in the report are as follows:
(1) The events of 18 July 2012 at Maruti’s Manesar unit are still heavily shrouded in ambiguity and the real culprits can be identified only if a thorough investigation is done by an independent agency which is not influenced by the management. The Haryana policehave been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has been amounting to a grave miscarriage of justice.
(2) In an absolute disregard for the rule of law, the entire blame for the incident was put on the workers not just by the management, but also the police and administration, long before the investigation was over. The nexus between the police and the management got exposed most starkly after the 18 July incident. The close correspondence between the FIR lodged by the police containing between 500 and 600 ‘unnamed accused’ and the termination of 546 workers by the company allegedly for being responsible for the violence on 18 July, cannot be a coincidence. It shows exactly how closely the police are protecting the company’s interests.
(3) This presumption of guilt governed the manner in which the police acted after the incident. The police arbitrarily arrested a large number of workers not through an investigation, but on the basis of lists provided by the management targeting the workers who were vocal, articulate and active in the union, subjected the arrested workers to brutal torture, violated the constitutional safeguards regarding detention and arrests and harassed the family members of the workers. Not only this it has been continuing to intimidate, target and attack the on going struggle of the terminated and other workers in order to silence and criminalise their legitimate protest (See Chapter Four). The scale ofpolice action against workers seems to be aimed to act as a deterrent for any agitation in future – not only by these workers but also other workers in the Manesar and Gurgaon industrial
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area. Most recently on 18 May 2013, the Haryana police imposed Section 144 CrPC in Kaithal and arrested around 150 workers peacefully protesting there since 24 March demanding release of arrested workers and reinstatement of terminated workers.
(4) Another example of the police colluding with the management is that it has in the course of investigating the incident completely ignored the discrepancies in the management’s account, the fact that the workers were also injured, the presence of bouncers in the premises, or the fact that Awanish Dev, was always considered by the workers to be sympathetic to them. In fact it is the workers’ who have been demanding an independent investigation into the incident, a demand which has been ignored by the state and the central government.
(5) We wish to assert that an investigation and trial based on preconceived notions and not on the basis of scientifically gathered evidence could mean that those responsible for Awanish Dev’s death will go scot free and innocents will be penalised. A close look at the charge sheet filed by the police and denial of bail to the arrested workers shows that the case is moving in this very direction. This would amount to a travesty of law and denial of justice not only to the workers, but also to Awanish Dev.
(6) The incident should be seen in the context of the long chain of events that preceded it. It can be understood in the light of the continuous tension and conflict in the unit between the management and the workers as well as their persistent struggle of workers of the Manesar unit to register a union and draw attention to their inhuman working conditions.
(7) In September 2011, the Maruti management at the Manesar unit imposed a condition that the workers could enter the plant for work only after signing a ‘good conduct’ undertaking. The ‘good conduct’ undertaking effectively takes away the right of the workers to go on a legal strike, a right guaranteed by the Industrial Disputes Act (25T, 25U read with the Fifth Schedule); this also amounts to unfair labour practice as per Section 8, Fifth Schedule, IDA. (See Chapter Three)
(8) Like all other corporates, the main driving factor in Maruti is reducing production costs, maximising profits and competing against other companies. Maruti’s expenditure on workers is among the lowest in automobile companies. Moreover the company adopts various measures to extract maximum work from itsworkers. At Maruti therefore, the production capability and targets are set considerably higher than the installed capacity, i.e., production capability of the company is 1.55 million units per annum even though installed capacity is 1.26 units per annum (Annual Report, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, 2011- 12). Workers are made to work non stop like robots for eight and a half hours, with a break of only 30 minutes for lunch and two tea breaks of 7 minutes each. For years, workers have been made to both report for duty 15 minutes before shift-time and also work for 15 minutes extra every day without any overtime payment. Further the policy on leave is very stringent and the leave record is directly linked to the wages which are deducted on account of any leave taken. This contributes to the regime of ceaseless production and drastic increase in work pressure on the Maruti shopfloors.
(9) The wage deductions on account of leave are made from the incentive-linked part of the wages of Maruti workers, under the Production-Performance-Reward Scheme. A single leave taken by a permanent worker, with permission from the supervisor, could also cost him a loss of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500. Both before and after the 18 July 2012 incident, a part of the wages is fixed, and a major component paid as incentive wages linked to production, profit and leave records, which makes the wages fluctuating. Norms of incentive linked
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wages have been arbitrarily fixed and changed by the management at Maruti’s Manesar plant. (See Chapter Two and Three)
(10) Maruti management especially at Manesar have been resorting to use of temporary and contract labour as a norm, for regular work. In July 2012, according to figures tabulated by the Labour Department, less than 25% of the workers at Manesar were permanent. These workers are paid only for the days they work (i.e., 26 days a month) and considerably less than the permanent workers, for doing the same work. Not only is this a major cost cutting measure but it secures for the company a more vulnerable, disempowered and pliant work-force, less likely to be vocal and demand their rights. The company’s announced after the 18 July incident, that it will regularise its workers. This is yet to materialise. (See Chapter Two)
(11) The Maruti management has also consistently violated the workers’ rights by creating hurdles and actively preventing them from organising themselves. The policy of the Maruti management not to let the workers unionise, is a violation of the Indian Trade Union Act (1926). Since mid-2011, as the workers’ struggle intensified, the management has responded by targeting active workers through suspensions, terminations and registration of false cases against them. Once the union got registered, its members and coordinators have faced similar or worse harassment. All the union leaders and many active members were implicated in the 18 July incident leading to complete breakdown of the union and making the workers vulnerable as they have lost all avenues of negotiation with the management. A large number of active workers were subsequently terminated by the company, as mentioned, because the company arbitrarily held them responsible for the 18 July incident. After forcibly removing the union from the unit, the company is now making a farcical gesture towards dealing with workers’ issues, by setting up a joint worker-management ‘grievance committee’ and compelling the workers to be a part of it. The legally registered union (MSWU) whose members are continuing to take up workers’ issues are not being allowed to function inside the unit.
(12) The Haryana Labour Department has connived with the management in depriving the workers their right to unionise. In August 2011, it rejected the pending application of the workers for registration, citing technical grounds. Effectively, an application for registration filed on 3 June 2011, resulted in actual registration of the union on 1 March 2012, after months of fraught struggle. Moreover the Labour Department does not appear to have ever intervened in support of workers’ rights in the labour disputes at Maruti. When the management deducted Maruti Manesar workers’ wages on account of the lockout of 2011, by describing it as a strike, or when the management failed to act upon the Charter of Demands of workers in 2012, the Labour Department did not intervene. It has failed to question the management on its use of dubious and unfair labour practices, the ‘good conduct undertaking’ or the use of contract labour for regular work. (See Chapter Three)
(13) One of the notable features of the recent labour struggles at Maruti’s Manesar unit has been an unprecedented unity between permanent and contract workers. The labour union has consistently taken up issues pertaining to the contract workers. One of the main demands from the beginning of the struggle has been the regularisation of contract workers. The terminated workers who have regrouped under the MSWU include both permanent and contract workers. Contract workers are also among those who have been held guilty of the violence on 18 July and are now in jail.
What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued inspite of ruthless repression by the
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management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary at all levels to provide any justice to them. Above all, the workers have tenaciously fought for their political right to form their own union. The struggle has also concentrated on creating democratic structures within the union, and through these, finding ways of articulating their grievances regarding the highly exploitative labour regime.
PUDR demands that:
1. An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry should be initiated into the events that led to the death of Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
2. The police investigation into the 18 July incident carried out by police officers of Haryana should be nullified and a fresh investigation be initiated, by an SIT comprising police drawn from other states.
3. The role of hired bouncers that led to the precipitation of the events at the spot be investigated.
4. The Haryana police officials, responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members be identified and criminally prosecuted.
5. Re-instatement of all workers should be ensured in the absence of definite evidence of their involvement.
6. Role of the labour department should be investigated and action should be taken against the officials for not fulfilling their obligations related to labour laws.
7. All the workers arrested for the 18 July incident should be immediately granted bail. The trial into the incident should be speedily done and those not guilty should be acquitted.
8. Workers’ right to have their independent union be restored at Maruti. The MSWU which is the legally recognised union of the Maruti Manesar unit should be allowed to function inside the plant with immediate effect.
9. All the contract workers both at Manesar and Gurgaon unit be immediately regularised and practice of hiring contract workers for regular work should be stopped.
10. The rights of workers guaranteed in law be enforced at Maruti with immediate effect.

Download full report here

 

PRESS RELEASE- Repression of people affected by Kharak Dam in Madhya Pradesh


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
REPORT ON THE REPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE AFFECTED BY KHARAK DAM IN VILLAGE CHAUKHAND, DISTRICT KHARGONE, MADHYA PRADESH on 26th May 2013
 
TERROR IN THE VILLAGE:
 
At around 10.30 in the morning of the 26th of May 2013, a cavalcade of four large police vans filled with around 150 male and female police personnel, and several cars and jeeps and a large machine for work on the dam-site headed by Shri Jitendra Singh, SDM, Bhagwanpura arrived at Village Choukhand, which is a village on the dam site of the Kharak dam proposed to be built on Kharak river in District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. These villagers, all adivasis, Bhils and Bhilalas, as well as those of the accompanying villages had been resisting the construction of the Kharak dam, until they are rehabilitated and resettled, and their claims are justly settled. On that morning, as the cavalcade stopped at the village, many adivasi villagers went up to the administration to talk to them about the dam, and find out the reason for the police presence. The SDM was the first to emerge from his car, however he did not talk to the people or respond to their queries in any manner. The police force got down thereafter and grouped themselves in a single file. The SDM then ordered that the villagers should be arrested and put into the vans. At this, the police brutally lathi-charged the villagers. The villagers were chased all through the village. Those in their houses were not spared as the police personnel and the SDM himself went from house to house, dragging out people. Even the small children and any others who pleaded with the administration to talk to them were not spared. Women and small children, as also school going children were brutally beaten up. During the lathi charge, the police typically held the villagers close and then hit them on their heads with their lathis. As per the villagers, the skulls of a number of villagers who were then arrested, were cracked open. Women were also brutally beaten by the male policemen, lathis inserted into their clothes, and their clothes pulled, torn and dishevelled.  Many of the male police were carrying bottles of liquor, and they would alternately take swigs of the liquor, shout and beat the villagers. Many of the female police were also drunk. As per the reports of the villagers, the SDM himself donned khakhi uniform and a hat and lathi-charged the villagers along with the police.  A large number of men and women were arrested and taken to Bhagwanpura and from there onwards to Kharone where they were reportedly placed in judicial custody, after reportedly being charged under S.151 and 353 of the IPC.
Some of incidents narrated which showed the brutality of the police are as follows:
  • Muliram s/o Bhadada, a youth from the village studying in Bhopal, beseeched the SDM saying Please do not beat us, please talk to our people. On hearing this, the police flung him on the ground saying how did you dare say this, and beating him mercilessly and dragging him on the ground, took him to the thana where he was arrested.
  • Even visitors to the village were not spared. Nathu bhai from village Bhulwania who was visiting his daughter in Chaukhand was picked up and arrested, as was Geetabai from village Khapada who was visiting her relatives in Chaukhand, and who was dragged out of her host’s house and arrested.
  • Banchabai of village Chaukhand who was inside her house with her two small children and a third suckling infant at her breast, was also hounded out of her house by the police, beaten and arrested.
  • Tudpiabai Gangaram’s two young daughters Kalibai aged 9 years and Phulbai aged 13 years, who began to cry and cling to their father Gangaram who had been hit on the head in their presence and was being taken away by the police, were also brutally beaten up by the police with lathis. By the time of the night meeting, neither of the girls had spoken or eaten anything, one had not got up from her bed, and apart from the physical hurt and inflammation of their bodies, both of them were in deep trauma.


THE DAM AND THE LAND:
The Kharak dam is an irrigation project proposed to be built on the Kharak river at the border of Districts Khargone and Badwani in Madhya Pradesh. The project is slated to affect 7 villages of Districts Khargone and Badwani, namely, Juna Bilwa, Kaniapani and Choukhand in District Khargone, and villages Kamat, Kaniapani,  Julwania and Muvasia in District Badwani. The dam is yet to receive either statutory forest clearance under S.2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 or environment clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Yet work on the dam has been illegally started this year by the State Government. Challenged by the adivasis, it stopped two months ago, but was resumed once more after the police action on the 26th of May 2013.
Acquisition for the project commenced in 2011 and 2012, and in July 2012, S.12 notices dated 27.07.2012 were given to some villagers, for payment of compensation under the Land Acquisition Act. However they were not given any copies of the awards which would allow them to challenge the award through references under S.18 of the LA Act in the courts. The people were told that they would be given their compensation in three installments, and if they did not take the money, they would have to forego it, and further they would be jailed and kept in jail, until the project was completed. Thus they were forced to take the compensation in an oppressive manner. These families of Choukhand and the other affected villages of District Khargone were compensated at the rate of Rs. 40,000 per acre, although reportedly, the Collector’s guideline for the village is Rs. 1,60,000 per acre for un-irrigated land and is Rs. 3,20,000 per acre for irrigated land. The actual market rates in voluntary sales are much higher. Much of this land is irrigated, which had been ignored while assessing compensation.
However around 150 families from the three Khargone villages including Village Chaukhand, who cultivated land through a common cooperative society since 1969 (through common patta dated 10.03.1969 and renewed by pavti dated 27.06.94) and whose cooperative society was disbanded in the late 90’s cultivate individual portions of these revenue lands, without title. The cultivators of the Khargone villages who are cultivating revenue lands without title have also been denied any form of compensation or rehabilitation, and were in fact told that they were not entitled for any rehabilitation. Many of the families who cultivated patta land in Village Chaukhand and the other Khargone villages also do not have their names inscribed on the pattas as Khatedars, as the land records were old, have not been updated, and does not reflect the actual cultivation status on the ground. These families were also denied any form of compensation. Persistent demands for the just settlement of their claims has not been met by the district administration.
All the four affected villages of District Badwani are under reserved forest, and the villagers there are cultivating forest land. The residents of the four villages of Badwani affected by the Kharak dam who cultivate forest lands and hold pattas for cultivation of forest land under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and some of whose claims under the 2006 Act are also pending, were excluded from any form of compensation and rehabilitation, and have been expressly told that the Government is not required to give them any compensation.
The villagers in this area had united under the aegis of the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan and had been agitating their issues for the last six months, and in the last two months stopped all work on the dam, until the issues related to settlement of land claims, compensation, rehabilitation, and grant of alternative land was settled. Leading activist of the organization, Ms. Madhuri Krishnaswamy  had been jailed ten 10 days ago in a case related to denial of health and birthing facilities for Adivasi women in Badwani, and is presently detained in Khargone jail. Evidently, the district administration of Khargone has found the moment and the absence of Madhuri opportune for cracking down on the Kharak dam affected adivasis.
The main findings of the team are as follows:
 
1.    The dam construction work is proceeding completely illegally, without the mandatory prior clearance under S.2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and environmental clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The State Government must immediately stop all work on the project, and also discharge all tenders for the project.
2.    There was no provocation, or use of any form of verbal or physical violence by the villagers on the 26th of May 2013. The villagers tried to talk to the officers about their problems but were repulsed. On the other hand, the administration and police deliberately planned a crack-down on the villagers in order to intimidate and terrorize the villagers and break their struggle for their rights. They came prepared for this purpose and executed their plan. The use of force on the villagers who were asking for the protection and grant of their legal rights is completely unjustified.
3.    The majority of the villagers have been willfully excluded from the compensation process, and their bonafide claims and legal rights on the revenue and forest land have not been considered.
4.    Thus, villagers cultivating government revenue lands without titles since 1984 have not been considered as Bhumiswamis under the provisions of Madhya Pradesh Krishi Prayojan Ke Liye Upyog Ki Rahi Dakhal Rahit Bhoomi Par Bhoomiswami Adhikaron Ka Pradan Kiya Jana (Vishesh Upabandh) Adhiniyam, 1984, under which all persons in cultivation of government land on 2nd October 1984 were deemed Bhumiswamis under the Act. They have also not been considered for grant of Bhumiswami status for being in possession of government land, under notifications of the State Government in 1998, 2000, and 2002, for change of use of charnoi land to agricultural land.
5.    Claims under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 of many villagers cultivating forest lands are pending or are yet to be considered. No cognizance has also been taken of the families who have already received pattas under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Ousting of the adivasis before their claims are settled, or alienation of their forest land rights due to the project since the grant of land rights under the 2006 Act is not alienable under the Act, is in violation of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
6.    Even those who have been compensated for their titled lands have been badly shortchanged, and compensation for their rich, black cotton soils, has been given at absurdly low rates and in a completely arbitrary manner, at rates which are only a fraction of the Government rates for the village and the market rates in the area. None of the villagers were able to file references under S.18 of the LA Act, in the district Courts to challenge the low rates of compensation, within 5 weeks time limit after receiving S.12 notices in July 2012. However, since they have not been given copies of the land awards as required as per judgment of the Supreme Court, this can still be done.
7.    There was no updating of the land records and settlement of claims even for the titled land despite demand by the villagers, resulting in numerous disputes in the village and among families.
8.    The State Government has not applied the State or National R&R Policy to the area or made any provision for the grant of alternative entitlements under any R&R scheme for the affected tribal population, despite ILO norms requiring land replacement for adivasis facing forced displacement.
9.    The State Government must immediately discharge the adivasi men and women from jail, remove the cases against them, punish the police and administration officials responsible for the unjustified use of force, apologize to the adivasis and also give them damages.
10.     The State Government must speak to the adivasis and their organization, and meet the bonafide, lawful and just demands of the villagers for settlement of claims, compensation and R&R.
 
Team
A team of three persons Ms. Chittaroopa Palit, Dharamdas Lohare, social activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan and Ms. Santoshi, student visited Village Chaukhand on the night of the 26th of May. Around 100 villagers gathered in a meeting at 10.30 at night in which they related the events of the day, and the back-ground of the issue. Police vans could be seen moving to and fro even during the meeting. The Adivasi villagers were very disturbed by the repression which had taken place, but were valiant, and said that they understood that the struggle for just settlement of their claims and for grant of alternative land was going to be a long haul, and they were prepared to fight for their rights. The names of the villagers who shared the events which forms the basis of this report are as follows:
1. Tudpiabai Gangaram, 2. Vairaiyabai Sakharam, 3. Karewtbai Jagdish, 4. Saklibai Chunnilal, 5. Nirma d/o Gampulal (student class XII), 6. Archana d/o Dinesh (student Class XI), 7. Kalibai Gangaram aged 9 years, 8. Kamlabai Masriya, 9. Gyanibai Sikram, 10. Kalibai Kalarsigh, 11. Vestabai Esram, 12. Shivram Tersingh, 13. Bhikla Ramlal, 14. Vimla Dhulsingh, 15. Ramdas Chattarsingh, 16. Champalal Mangilal.
 
Chittaroopa Palit                                                     Khandwa, 28th May 2013
Dharamdas Lohare
Santoshi

 

PRESS RELEASE- The illegal order remanding Madhuri to Prison


                                                                        25 May, 2013

 

PUCL Takes Serious Exception to Illegal Order Directing Imprisonment of Social Activist Madhuri of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan and

PUCL Coordinator for Madhya Pradesh

PUCL is extremely shocked and takes exception to the arbitrary, illegal, and capricious manner by which the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Barwani on 16th May, 2013 directed the imprisonment in Central Prison, Barwani of Madhuri Krishnaswamy, a well respected tribal rights activist of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan (JADS) and PUCL co-ordinator for MP. PUCL also takes exception to the rejection by the CJM, Barwani of the `Closure Report’ filed by the prosecution in a 2008 case as illegal, violative of established principles, abuse of the process of law and resulting in harassment of accused.

 

Facts of the Case:     The case in which Madhuri was imprisoned on 16th May, 2013 relates to incidents that took place in November, 2008. On 11.11.2008, 21-year old Baniya Bai, wife of Iddiya, of Sukhpuri village, full term pregnant, was brought for her first delivery to Primary Health Centre (PHC), Medimata, after a 15 km journey over bullock cart. The next day, 12.11.2008, the PHC Compounder, VK Chauhan, and nurse Ms. Nirmala, allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs.100/-.  As Baniya Bai and her parents-in-law were unable to pay the bribe, she was thrown out of the PHC. Baniya Bai delivered her child, in public, on the road opposite the PHC gate. A local tribal traditional mid-wife, Jambai Nana, assisted the delivery. Madhuri, who happened to be in the town heard about the incident and contacted the Silawad Child Health Centre, the Silawad Police Station.  Senior health officials at the District HQs at Barwani arranged for a vehicle to transport Baniya Bai and the newly delivered child to Silawad Hospital for further treatment. In the meantime local people gathered and protested about the callous and inhuman treatment meted to Baniya Bai, which was routine in the area.

 

In a bizarre manner, the Silawad police instead of taking action against the PHC compounder, Chauhan and other staff for criminal negligence endangering the life of Baniya Bai, corruption and abuse of office, registered an FIR, Crime No. 93 of 2008 dated 12.11.2008 u/s 353, 332, 147 and 427 IPC and sec. 3 and 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Chikitsak Tatha Chikitsa Seva Se Sambadh Vyaktiyon Ki Suraksha Vidheyak, 2008 at the Silawad Police Station showing PHC Compounder Chauhan as the complainant and naming Bachiya Borla, Bhurelal Borla, Basant Kumar, Kamal, Iddiya (husband of Baniya Bai) and Madhuri as accused. Iddiya was not even in Medimata on the incident day!

 

The offences charged included voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty (sec. 332), assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty (sec. 353), mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs. 50/- (sec. 427), and punishment for rioting (sec. 147).  All the offences carried a maximum sentence of 2 to 3 years imprisonment.  Sections 3 and 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Chikitsak Tatha Chikitsa Seva Se Sambadh Vyaktiyon Ki Suraksha Vidheyak, 2008 provides for imprisonment for a period of 3 months or fine of Rs. 10,000/- or both for act of violence or threat to medical personnel, which is deemed to be a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

 

In December 2010, Bachiya and Bhurelal Borla were arrested and released on bail by the local court. Madhuri, for the first time in over 4 years, was summoned to appear before court of CJM, Barwani on 16th May, 2013.

 

The Closure Report filed by Prosecution and its Rejection

 

A full 4 years after the FIR registration, on 18.12.2012 the prosecution filed a Closure Report u/s 173 Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC for short) stating that at the end of investigation they did not find enough evidence to prosecute Madhuri and others and seeking the `closure’ of the criminal case. Importantly, the prosecution reported that investigation revealed and established that the incident of 12.11.2008 by which Baniya Bai, was forced to deliver her child on the road outside the PHC had indeed taken place, and that local people had got agitated over the incident but that there was no pre-meditation or plan and it was a spontaneous gathering. Further, the police, on record, concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to establish the allegations of the PHC compounder.

 

In the meantime the case was transferred to the CJM Court, Barwani. On receiving notice, a sworn statement was recorded from the de-facto complainant, VK Chauhan. Chauhan on 5.3.2013, to the effect that the incident as narrated in the FIR did take place. On 20.4.2013, the CJM confirmed the statements of 5 witnesses. Noting that there is corroboration in the statements of all the witnesses regarding the names of the accused, the CJM held that there is no merit in closing the case and closure report cannot be accepted. The prayer for closure was therefore  dismissed and cognisance  taken for offences u/s 332, 353, 147, 427 and 3 & 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Chikitsak Tatha Chikitsa Seva Se Sambadh Vyaktiyon Ki Suraksha Vidheyak, 2008.

 

Importantly, the 2 accused who had obtained bail, Bhachiya and Bhurelal,  were not informed about the Closure Report or the objection of the de-facto complainant and not informed that they had a right to place before the CJM’s court their arguments in favour of the closure report or the de facto complainant’s objections.

 

Why is the Rejection of Closure Report Illegal?

 

The Supreme Court has in numerous cases including `Dhasmana v. CBI’ (2001(7) SCC 536), `Bhagwant Singh v. Commissioner of Police’, (1985(2) SCC 537), `M/s India Carat (P) Ltd v. Karnataka’, (1989(2) SCC 132) held that the Magistrate has the powers to reject the `closure report’ filed by the prosecution and to decide to continue with the criminal case. However the court has to strictly comply with the procedures enumerated in law and clarified by the SC.

 

There are three critical steps: (a) De-facto complainant should be informed to file his detailed objection rebutting  the prosecution decision to close the case. (b) Similarly the accused should also be given an opportunity to oppose the de-facto complainant as their interests will also be prejudiced by the order of the court; and (c) the Magistrate, after study of all relevant facts and materials before the court, should give a detailed reasoned order recording the reasons and explaining why the closure report is being rejected.

(i)                In the present case, the judicial order of the CJM, Barwani rejecting the `closure report’ is mechanical. It would not be out of place to highlight that in the eventuality of rejection of the closure report, the CJM ought to have directed for further investigation u/s 173 (8) or 156 (3) of the CrPC directing the police to examine Baniya Bai w/o Iddiya and her in-laws, who are referred  by the complainant in the FIR, the 161 Cr PC statements, to find out the truth of what happened on 11th and 12th November, 2008. By not doing so it shows a prejudiced mind  of the CJM and also violates their duty under law to do       ” full justice”. CJM also failed to take note of the remark of the closure report in which the incident of denying the PHC facilities to Baniya Bai which forced her to deliver on the roadside opposite the PHC which caused a public outcry. This selective and pick and choose method adopted by the CJM to decide on continuing with the prosecution is seriously objectionable, causes prejudice to the accused and is illegal.

(ii)              The de-facto complainant did not file a `protest petition’ or in any case, in his sworn statement recorded on 5.3.2013 did not explain the grounds as to why the prosecution’s `closure report’ was bad in law and fact. Not specifying the grounds of protest has robbed the prosecution and accused an important opportunity to counter the de facto complainant’s case and thus legally affects the rejection by CJM of the `closure report’.

(iii)            No opportunity was given to the accused in the case, particularly the 2 accused persons released on bail, to oppose the de-facto complainant. This constitutes a serious violation of the `Principle of fair hearing and opportunity’ to be given to the accused and thus invalidates the rejection by the CJM of the `Closure Report’.

(iv)             The SC in `Vasanti Dubey vs State of MP’ (2012) has clearly pointed that the functions of the magistrate are different from the police and reiterated the view that “we cannot impinge upon the jurisdiction of the police by compelling them to change their opinion so as to accord with his view” and that the Magistrate “cannot direct the police to straightaway file charge sheet”.

 

As the SC pointed out, unless the procedures were followed, the orders of the Magistrate to continue with the criminal prosecution would become illegal, and would result in an abuse of process of law resulting in vexatious proceedingand harassment of the accused.

 

Bar to taking Cognisance u/s 468(c) Criminal Procedure Code

We would like to point out that the CJM seems to have ignored the bar imposed by section 468 of the Criminal Procedure Code that no court shall take cognisance of an offence beyond a period of three years if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding 3 years. It is to be noted that all the offences charged in the present case impose a maximum sentence of three years. Hence the order of the CJM, Barwani dated 20.4.2013 taking cognisance itself is illegal as it hit by the limitation for taking cognisance imposed by section 468(c) of the Cr.PC.

It also needs to be pointed out that sec. 473 Cr.PC provides for extension of limitation in certain situations; however for invoking this provision the CJM ought to have clearly explained and spelt out in the order dated 20.4.2013, the reasons why the CJM was satisfied that the cause of delay has been properly and satisfactorily explained or that it is necessary to condone the delay in the interests of justice. To our knowledge, the order of the CJM neither explains the reason for the delay in filing the closure report (in effect the police final report u/s 173 CrPC) nor explains the reasons for condoning the delay thereby directing taking of cognisance in the `interests of justice’.

The provisions of sections 468 and 473 are mandatory and non-compliance with them vitiates the order of the CJM dated 20.4.2013 taking cognisance. In effect the order of the CJM taking cognisance of the case in FIR, Cr. No. 93/2008  becomes illegal. It follows that the consequent legal proceedings initiated in the case, including remanding Madhuri thereby imprisoning her, are also illegal.

 

Order of CJM Remanding Madhuri to Prison is Illegal

 

It needs to be pointed out that on 16.5.2013, Madhuri appeared voluntarily before the CJM, Barwani’s court on receiving summons. This clearly establishes her to be a law abiding citizen. It is in this light that PUCL takes exception to the action of the CJM, Barwani remanding and imprisoning Madhuri as being violative of criminal laws and procedures established by the Supreme Court, as being an infringement  of her fundamental right to freedoms to life and liberty under Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution and being an egregious abuse of power by the Judicial Magistrate.

 

  1. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed that imprisonment should be resorted to only as a last resort and only in the circumstance when the court feels that the accused will abscond or evade justice or threaten witnesses or tamper with evidence and this fact should be recorded. In all other circumstances, if the accused person will appear on summons, then imprisonment should be avoided.

The material on record indicates that Madhuri is a law abiding person who appeared voluntarily, on being summoned to appear before the CJM, Barwani. Hence the order directing Madhuri’s imprisonment is bad in law, abuse of power of court and an act of judicial excess violative of fundamental rights of Madhuri.

 

  1. The key point to be noted is that there is a difference between the preliminary investigation stage when a FIR is registered to when a person has been summoned to appear and appears in compliance, at the end of investigation. The Supreme Court has said in `Joginder Kumar v State of UP’ (1994), that even at the stage of start of investigation the power to arrest is one thing, but the justification of the arrest is another matter altogether and can be judicially reviewed. Such being the legal dictum at the start of investigation, at the stage of end of investigation, the court will necessarily have to provide sound reasons justifying the need for imprisonment. Not doing so taints the remand order with illegality and unjustness.

 

  1. The SC has in M/s India Carat (P) Ltd v State of Karnataka (1989(2) SCC 132) and  in `Vasanthi Dubey vs State of MP’ (2012) said that in the event of a rejection by Magistrate of `Closure Report’, the CJM could only have proceeded to continue prosecution case by way of taking cognisance u/s 190(1)(c) or 200 CrPC and order issue of process to accused. In such a case where the accused appears on summons the accused is automatically entitled to bail on personal bond.

 

  1. There was no need for the CJM to have ordered remanding Madhuri to judicial custody as there is no need for `custodial interrogation’, as the case had reached the concluding stage. There are provisions like sec. 88 of the Cr.P.C. for `binding over’ accused to appear in further hearings. Hence it was unjust on the part of the CJM to have remanded Madhuri on 16.5.2013 and the remand order is illegal.

 

We reiterate, `Any order which is passed without adhering to the “procedure established by law” is illegal Further the `procedure’ must be “fair procedure”.

 

In the face of such illegalities committed by the CJM, Barwani in unjustly remanding Madhuri Krishnaswamy to judicial custody and imprisonment and the violation of procedural compliance while rejecting the `closure report’ of the prosecution, PUCL would like to place the following demands before the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan:

 

1.      The immediate release of Madhuri Krishnaswamy: The State through the Director of Prosecutions must approach the appropriate judicial forum and defend the closure report and challenge the cognizance taken by the JMFC Court of the charge sheet by placing all relevant documents before the judicial forum so that an informed and judicious decision can be taken for closing the criminal case against Madhuri and other tribal people.

 

2.      Appropriate Criminal and Departmental Proceedings against errant PHC Staff: Appropriate criminal and departmental Proceedings must be initiated against the compounder, VK Chauhan, the nurse, Nirmala, and other staff of the PHC who denied the basic medical services to the pregnant woman, Baniya Bai on 11th November, 2008, endangering her life. The issue of limitation in initiating prosecution must be properly explained so that legally, criminal action can be launched against Chauhan and Nirmala and others responsible for endangering the life and health of Baniya Bai, even now.

 

3.      Just and adequate compensation: The State must pay just and adequate compensation to Baniya Bai for the severe physical harassment and mental agony she was forced to undergo in November, 2008, owing to the omissions and commissions of the Staff of PHC, Medimata.

 

4.      Proper Pre-&-Post Medical care for Expecting Mothers and Implementation of NRHM and JSY: The Government of MP must ensure that no woman, in the future, will be subjected to what Baniya Bai and others like her were subjected to, and medical services in maternal cases inter alia must not be denied and must be provided promptly and effectively. Barwani District Administration should ensure proper implementation of the Janani Suraskha Yojana as also the National Rural Health Mission.

 

5.      Protection and Care of Human Rights Defenders: The State government must ensure the protection and care of Human Rights Defenders in the State of Madhya Pradesh from any kind of retaliation, violence, discrimination or any adverse action whatsoever from private or State actors.

 

We would like to point out to the State Government that there has been consistent attempts by the state administration to silence and intimidate Madhuri by `externing’ her from the district and by threatening to arrest her by dubbing her a Maoist. Such intimidatory tactics are a shame and should be immediately stopped. We are also constrained to point out that there are similar attempts to specifically target other social activists like Medha Patkar, Dr. Sunilam and others by falsely implicating them in foisted cases. We call upon the Government of Madhya Pradesh to desist from such anti-democratic and anti-human rights and anti-constitutional practices and remind the government that voicing dissent and opposition are not part of democratic and human rights but in the end, help strengthen democracy.

 

We reiterate that it is a fundamental right of the citizens to be provided corruption-free, good governance, especially in the area of health services; people also have a fundamental democratic right to protest if the government and its functionaries fail to provide inclusive, equitable dignified health and other public services. The MP State Government in particular and all governments in general, also ought to recognise the democratic rights of citizens to seek accountability from state functionaries and to demand transparency, responsibility and open administration. The government ought to understand that a vigilant citizenry demanding good governance is reflective of a vibrant, strong democracy and should not treat them as `foes or adversaries’ who should be silenced and suppressed.

 

 (Dr. V. Suresh)                                   (Kavita Srivastava

National General Secretary                 National Secretary

 

Press Release- ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited


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People’s Union for Democratic Rights
23 May 2013
Press Release
Release of PUDR report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’(May 2013) at Press Conference in Chandigarh
On18 July 2012 a violent incident occurred at the Manesar unit of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL), in which an HR manager died and some other managers as well as workers were injured. Following reports of severe harassment of Maruti workers and their families in late July 2012, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) began a fact-finding investigation into the incident, its context and implications. We are releasing our findings today in the form of a report ‘Driving Force: Labour Struggles and Violation of Rights in Maruti Suzuki India Limited’ (PUDR, May, 2013). This report follows PUDR’s two previous reports Hard Drive (2001) and Freewheelin’ Capital (2007) which recorded crucial moments of the labour struggle at Maruti. In the course of our fact finding, we have met or spoken to the workers (contract, permanent and terminated), the union leaders, their lawyer as well as officials from the labour department, Gurgaon, and different police officials. All attempts to meet the management turned out to be futile because it did not give us appointment for a meeting despite our persistent efforts.
PUDR’s findings, recorded in the report are as follows:
(1) The events of 18 July 2012 at Maruti’s Manesar unit are still heavily shrouded in ambiguity and the real culprits can be identified only if a thorough investigation is done by an independent agency which is not influenced by the management. The Haryana police have been consistently acting in a partisan manner favouring the management since the incident, and therefore cannot be entrusted with this task. The lack of an independent investigation into the incident has been amounting to a grave miscarriage of justice.
(2) In an absolute disregard for the rule of law, the entire blame for the incident was put on the workers not just by the management, but also the police and administration, long before the investigation was over. The nexus between the police and the management got exposed most starkly after the 18 July incident. The close correspondence between the FIR lodged by the police containing between 500 and 600 ‘unnamed accused’ and the termination of 546 workers by the company allegedly for being responsible for the violence on 18 July, cannot be a coincidence. It shows exactly how closely the police are protecting the company’s interests.
(3) This presumption of guilt governed the manner in which the police acted after the incident. The police arbitrarily arrested a large number of workers not through an investigation, but on the basis of lists provided by the management targeting the workers who were vocal, articulate and active in the union, subjected the arrested workers to brutal torture, violated the constitutional safeguards regarding detention and arrests and harassed the family members of the workers. Not only this it has been continuing to intimidate, target and attack the on going struggle of the terminated and other workers in order to silence and criminalise their legitimate protest (See Chapter Four). The scale of police action against workers seems to be aimed to act as a deterrent for any agitation in future – not only by these workers but also other workers in the Manesar and Gurgaon industrial
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area. Most recently on 18 May 2013, the Haryana police imposed Section 144 CrPC in Kaithal and arrested around 150 workers peacefully protesting there since 24 March demanding release of arrested workers and reinstatement of terminated workers.
(4) Another example of the police colluding with the management is that it has in the course of investigating the incident completely ignored the discrepancies in the management’s account, the fact that the workers were also injured, the presence of bouncers in the premises, or the fact that Awanish Dev, was always considered by the workers to be sympathetic to them. In fact it is the workers’ who have been demanding an independent investigation into the incident, a demand which has been ignored by the state and the central government.
(5) We wish to assert that an investigation and trial based on preconceived notions and not on the basis of scientifically gathered evidence could mean that those responsible for Awanish Dev’s death will go scot free and innocents will be penalised. A close look at the charge sheet filed by the police and denial of bail to the arrested workers shows that the case is moving in this very direction. This would amount to a travesty of law and denial of justice not only to the workers, but also to Awanish Dev.
(6) The incident should be seen in the context of the long chain of events that preceded it. It can be understood in the light of the continuous tension and conflict in the unit between the management and the workers as well as their persistent struggle of workers of the Manesar unit to register a union and draw attention to their inhuman working conditions.
(7) In September 2011, the Maruti management at the Manesar unit imposed a condition that the workers could enter the plant for work only after signing a ‘good conduct’ undertaking. The ‘good conduct’ undertaking effectively takes away the right of the workers to go on a legal strike, a right guaranteed by the Industrial Disputes Act (25T, 25U read with the Fifth Schedule); this also amounts to unfair labour practice as per Section 8, Fifth Schedule, IDA. (See Chapter Three)
(8) Like all other corporates, the main driving factor in Maruti is reducing production costs, maximising profits and competing against other companies. Maruti’s expenditure on workers is among the lowest in automobile companies. Moreover the company adopts various measures to extract maximum work from itsworkers. At Maruti therefore, the production capability and targets are set considerably higher than the installed capacity, i.e., production capability of the company is 1.55 million units per annum even though installed capacity is 1.26 units per annum (Annual Report, Maruti Suzuki India Limited, 2011- 12). Workers are made to work non stop like robots for eight and a half hours, with a break of only 30 minutes for lunch and two tea breaks of 7 minutes each. For years, workers have been made to both report for duty 15 minutes before shift-time and also work for 15 minutes extra every day without any overtime payment. Further the policy on leave is very stringent and the leave record is directly linked to the wages which are deducted on account of any leave taken. This contributes to the regime of ceaseless production and drastic increase in work pressure on the Maruti shopfloors.
(9) The wage deductions on account of leave are made from the incentive-linked part of the wages of Maruti workers, under the Production-Performance-Reward Scheme. A single leave taken by a permanent worker, with permission from the supervisor, could also cost him a loss of Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1500. Both before and after the 18 July 2012 incident, a part of the wages is fixed, and a major component paid as incentive wages linked to production, profit and leave records, which makes the wages fluctuating. Norms of incentive linked
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wages have been arbitrarily fixed and changed by the management at Maruti’s Manesar plant. (See Chapter Two and Three)
(10) Maruti management especially at Manesar have been resorting to use of temporary and contract labour as a norm, for regular work. In July 2012, according to figures tabulated by the Labour Department, less than 25% of the workers at Manesar were permanent. These workers are paid only for the days they work (i.e., 26 days a month) and considerably less than the permanent workers, for doing the same work. Not only is this a major cost cutting measure but it secures for the company a more vulnerable, disempowered and pliant work-force, less likely to be vocal and demand their rights. The company’s announced after the 18 July incident, that it will regularise its workers. This is yet to materialise. (See Chapter Two)
(11) The Maruti management has also consistently violated the workers’ rights by creating hurdles and actively preventing them from organising themselves. The policy of the Maruti management not to let the workers unionise, is a violation of the Indian Trade Union Act (1926). Since mid-2011, as the workers’ struggle intensified, the management has responded by targeting active workers through suspensions, terminations and registration of false cases against them. Once the union got registered, its members and coordinators have faced similar or worse harassment. All the union leaders and many active members were implicated in the 18 July incident leading to complete breakdown of the union and making the workers vulnerable as they have lost all avenues of negotiation with the management. A large number of active workers were subsequently terminated by the company, as mentioned, because the company arbitrarily held them responsible for the 18 July incident. After forcibly removing the union from the unit, the company is now making a farcical gesture towards dealing with workers’ issues, by setting up a joint worker-management ‘grievance committee’ and compelling the workers to be a part of it. The legally registered union (MSWU) whose members are continuing to take up workers’ issues are not being allowed to function inside the unit.
(12) The Haryana Labour Department has connived with the management in depriving the workers their right to unionise. In August 2011, it rejected the pending application of the workers for registration, citing technical grounds. Effectively, an application for registration filed on 3 June 2011, resulted in actual registration of the union on 1 March 2012, after months of fraught struggle. Moreover the Labour Department does not appear to have ever intervened in support of workers’ rights in the labour disputes at Maruti. When the management deducted Maruti Manesar workers’ wages on account of the lockout of 2011, by describing it as a strike, or when the management failed to act upon the Charter of Demands of workers in 2012, the Labour Department did not intervene. It has failed to question the management on its use of dubious and unfair labour practices, the ‘good conduct undertaking’ or the use of contract labour for regular work. (See Chapter Three)
(13) One of the notable features of the recent labour struggles at Maruti’s Manesar unit has been an unprecedented unity between permanent and contract workers. The labour union has consistently taken up issues pertaining to the contract workers. One of the main demands from the beginning of the struggle has been the regularisation of contract workers. The terminated workers who have regrouped under the MSWU include both permanent and contract workers. Contract workers are also among those who have been held guilty of the violence on 18 July and are now in jail.
What makes the Maruti story extraordinary is certainly not the company and its cars but the extraordinary struggle of its workers that has continued inspite of ruthless repression by the
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management and the police and failure of the labour department and the judiciary at all levels to provide any justice to them. Above all, the workers have tenaciously fought for their political right to form their own union. The struggle has also concentrated on creating democratic structures within the union, and through these, finding ways of articulating their grievances regarding the highly exploitative labour regime.
PUDR demands that:
1. An independent and unbiased judicial enquiry should be initiated into the events that led to the death of Awanish Dev. The judge nominated should be someone both parties are agreeable to.
2. The police investigation into the 18 July incident carried out by police officers of Haryana should be nullified and a fresh investigation be initiated, by an SIT comprising police drawn from other states.
3. The role of hired bouncers that led to the precipitation of the events at the spot be investigated.
4. The Haryana police officials, responsible for violation of legal guidelines regarding arrest and for custodial torture of arrestees, and harassment of their family members be identified and criminally prosecuted.
5. Re-instatement of all workers should be ensured in the absence of definite evidence of their involvement.
6. Role of the labour department should be investigated and action should be taken against the officials for not fulfilling their obligations related to labour laws.
7. All the workers arrested for the 18 July incident should be immediately granted bail. The trial into the incident should be speedily done and those not guilty should be acquitted.
8. Workers’ right to have their independent union be restored at Maruti. The MSWU which is the legally recognised union of the Maruti Manesar unit should be allowed to function inside the plant with immediate effect.
9. All the contract workers both at Manesar and Gurgaon unit be immediately regularised and practice of hiring contract workers for regular work should be stopped.
10. The rights of workers guaranteed in law be enforced at Maruti with immediate effect.
D. Manjit
Asish Gupta
Secretaries, PUDR

 

PUCL condemns arrest of Jaya Vindhyalaya #Vaw #ITAct


PUCL CONDEMNS ARREST OF JAYA VINDHYALA, PUCL – AP STATE PRESIDENT:PUCL DEMANDS RELEASE AND DROPPING OF CHARGES


————————————————————————-
The PUCL National Executive meeting in Delhi today strongly condemns the arrest by the AP police of Ms. Jaya Vindhyala, State President, PUCL AP at 7.30 am today (12th May, 2013) in Hyderabad. Ms. Jaya Vindhyala has been exposing the corruption of the Chirala MLA, and other senior officials of AP.

The PUCL strongly believes that the arrest of Ms. Jaya Vindhyala is a vindictive action of the state police meant only to silence the growing voice and demand for fair, independent investigation into the corrupt deals of the Chirala MLA as also other high dignitaries and officials.

The PUCL feels that the timing of the arrest on a Sunday is to ensure that no legal recourse like bail can be availed by Ms. Jaya. The PUCL questions the need for the state police to arrest Ms. Jaya Vindhyala especially in view of the Supreme Court directions in
the case of `Joginder Kumar vs State of UP’, (1989) that arrest of a person need not be effected if the person will appear before the police on summons and there is no danger of the person absconding, threatening witnesses or tampering with evidence. This is not the case in the case of Ms. Jaya Vindhyala who is a widely respected person, and is a senior and well known Advocate of the AP Bar and is a well known human rights defender.
It is revealing to note that the three FIRs registered by the Chirala police against Ms. Jaya, includes offences under section 307 (attempt to murder), 506 (threatening with intention to kill), 120-B (Conspiracy) IPC and Information Technology Act. These provisions are routinely abused and misused by the police to foist false cases and in the cases against Ms. Jaya, we learn, are all based on false allegations not making out any of these offences.

The PUCL has also learnt that 9 other members of PUCL – AP have also been named in the FIR and the police is hunting them down.

The PUCL demands the immediate release of Ms. Jaya Vindhyala and closure of all the cases against her, as also other PUCL members, in Prakasham district.

(V. Suresh)
National General Secretary, PUCL

 

WHAT SHE SHARE DON FACEBOOK IS BELOW

 

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.518246704900792.1073741844.100001464027378&type=1

 

Officials find discrepancy in the figures of Aadhaar card generation #UID


 

By Nidhin T R – KOTTAYAM 11th May 2013 08:28 AM
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. | EPS
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated. | EPS
With the need for Aadhaar cards increasing day by day, so as to avail direct subsidy scheme through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, the public is approaching Akshaya centres to know the status of their Aadhaar card for which they enrolled several months ago.
But it is learnt through officials in Akshaya state-level office, which oversees the generation of Aadhaar cards and other e-district activities, that there is a telling difference, in particular months, between the number of Aadhaar cards Akshaya State office and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) say have been generated in the state, and the actual figures.
For instance, in the month of October 2012, a PDF file in the UIDAI site says 5,12,977 cards were generated that through the Akshaya Centres in the state, but the state Akshaya office says that the Bangalore Data Centre (BDC) of the UIDAI, has sent them the figure of 3,02,596 for the total number of cards generated in the state; the difference being 2,10,381.
“Only the UIDAI knows about this difference . We have written to BDC officials about the discrepancy. But, ultimately the figures will be tallied in the coming months. We are receiving money for the generated cards as per the UIDAI data. From this amount, money is allotted to the concerned Akshaya entrepreneurs, as per the BDC figures,” said a higher official who in the accounts section of Akshaya. He also said that the ‘surplus’ money allotted by the UIDAI is being kept under the state Akshaya Office.
No Variation
Akshaya entrepreneurs, who have been managing Aadhaar enrolment with other agencies such as the Keltron, have made allegations of financial misappropriation. “There cannot be such variation in the figures. Both the BDC and UIDAI are doing the same work and the BDC, which provides technical support to the UIDAI, cannot give a separate figure. Each of our operators has a separate login id and the number of cards they generate can be clearly found in the UIDAI server.  Generated figures are shown less to prevent the entrepreneurs from getting their due payment. What Akshaya does with the ‘surplus’ UIDAI payment, need to be observed closely,” said a state-level functionary of Akshaya Entrepreneurs Association. Going by just the October data, Akshaya has kept apart as much as `73,63,335 because of the discrepancy in figures. And the total ‘surplus’ money, from September to December 2012, which could be easily calculated by visiting the UIDAI and Akshaya websites, is `89,25,140, entrepreneurs noted.
P H Kurian, IT principal secretary to the state government had told ‘Express’ on Thursday that out of the 3.25 crore Aadhaar cards needed in the state, 2.42 crore have been generated.  He said that it would not be possible to make cards available to all before July this year.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE- WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues


 

WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues

 

It is estimated that 15% of the population of India is disabled. A large chunk of them are wheelchair bound. Being bonafide citizens of the nation, it is the duty of the government to take care of them like any other citizens. Though slow on the uptake, the government has been moving in to take the most basic steps beginning with ensuring that all public places like public transport, parks and commercial establishments are accessible to people with disabilities including people on wheelchairs.

 

However, an accident last evening (7th May, 2013) highlights the callous way in which both government laws and public opinions are overlooked and sidestepped by businesses.

 

Malini Chib, my daughter who despite her cerebral palsy has not let that hamper her life garnering two masters degree and writing a best-selling book (One Little Finger), had gone to the Westside store in Fort to do shopping for women’s apparel. Finding no lift for the floor leading to the women’s section, she told her friend: ‘Lets try the escalator’. What she did not realize is that no person on a wheelchair who has problems of balance should do this.

 

The result was expected. Both of them had a massive fall leading to cuts and bruises on Malini’s shoulder, waist and arms. Her friend got her back muscle pulled.

 

This would have just been an unfortunate accident had it not been for two things: one is the law that stipulates that such establishments make their place disabled friendly, and secondly the fact that five years back the ADAPT Rights Group, that works to ensure rights for people with disabilities, had carried out a protest demonstration highlighting this and other issues that goes against the interest of the community of people with disabilities. The demonstration was held to alert Westside to how their international stores were anti-disability. This was followed with lengthy letters written to them about the law and how they can make their place disabled friendly by constructing ramps and lifts for their floor upstairs.

 

Sadly, Westside has continued to blatantly and flagrantly flout the law. My daughter and her friend were lucky to get away with no permanent damage but I dread to think what could have happened. I dread to think what might happen to other people with disabilities that might walk into the store unwittingly. I dread to think of what must be happening to thousands of disabled people across the country in hundreds and thousands of such establishments which show such blatant antipathy towards the disabled population.

 

It is high time that the gravity of the issue be understood and addressed. It is high time that the people responsible in Westside for this travesty of justice be seriously warned so that it becomes a lesson to others concerned.

 

This is in the interest of 15% people of the nation and thus in the interest of the nation itself. 

 

–          Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson ADAPT – Able Disabled All People Together (formerly the Spastics Society of India)

 

 

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