Justice A P Shah – “One hardly finds a rich or affluent person going to the gallows” #deathpenalty

Justice Shah talks to AmnestyDeath Penalty in India: “One hardly finds a rich or affluent person going to the gallows”

In November 2012, Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was hanged in the country’s first execution in more than eight years. Three months later, Afzal Guru was executed after his clemency petition was rejected by the President; Guru had been convicted in 2005 of being involved in the 2001 attack on Parliament.

More recently, the government has expanded the scope of the death penalty by amending laws to provide for this punishment in certain cases of rape. The Supreme Court last week also rejected an appeal against the decision by the President to reject Devender Pal Singh’s mercy petition. In a trial that has raised serious fair trial concerns, Devender Pal Singh was found guilty of planning an explosion that killed nine people in 1993. His sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2002 and he has been on death row since.

The recent decision of the Supreme Court is likely to affect at least 17 more prisoners who are asking for commutation of their death sentences on the grounds of delay in the disposal of their mercy petitions by the President. Justice A. P. Shah, a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, is one of the most outspoken opponents of capital punishment in the country. He shared his views on the death penalty in this interview with Amnesty International.

What is the state of the death penalty in India?

India has carried out only very few executions since the 1990s. However, the brutal gang rape of a 23-year old woman in Delhi last year intensified public calls for the imposition of the death penalty.

Why should India abolish the death penalty?

Whether an accused is sentenced to death or not is an arbitrary matter and depends on a number of factors, ranging from the competence of the legal representation to the interest of the central government in a particular case and the personal predilections of the judges. It is beyond any shred of doubt that in India, it is the judges’ subjective discretion that eventually decides the fate of an accused. Also, confessions and witness testimonies play a more vital role in India than in many other countries, given that forensic and other scientific evidence are not so frequently adopted here. Most death sentences are awarded on circumstantial evidence alone. Even the use of professionally trained witnesses by the police is common.

Why do you say the death penalty is discriminatory?

In India, it is largely cases involving the poor and the down-trodden – who are the victims of class-bias – which result in an imposition of a death penalty. Here one hardly finds a rich or affluent person going to the gallows. Therefore, it is apparent that the death penalty, as it is used now, is discriminatory. It strikes mostly against the disadvantaged sections of society, showing its arbitrary and capricious nature – thus rendering it unconstitutional. You have expressed concerns about the execution of Afzal Guru, who was convicted of being involved in 2001 attack on Parliament in Delhi Several disturbing trends emerge from his execution, which must be highlighted. For example, the rejection of his clemency petition by the President on 3 February 2013 was kept a secret and was not communicated to his family. Afzal Guru was executed within a week without his family being informed and his body was buried secretly. There are also serious doubts about the quality of evidence and whether he was adequately represented legally during his trial.

What’s the future of the death penalty in India?

The global trend is increasingly and overwhelmingly in favour of abolition. We would be deluding ourselves if we were to believe that the execution of a few persons sentenced to death will provide a solution to the unacceptably high rates of crime. In reality, capital punishment does not have any deterrent effect.

Justice A. P. Shah is one of 14 retired judges who last year called on the Indian President to commute 13 death sentences that, they maintain, were imposed in a manner inconsistent with the law. —


It was “most inappropriate” and “judicial error” to confirm death sentence in Prof. Bhullar’s case: Public Prosecutor

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar


Published: April 18, 2013. sikhsiyasat.com
    • New Delhi, India (April 18, 2013): It is a known fact that Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar was sentenced to death by the trial court solely on the basis of a fractured and uncorroborated confessional statement extracted by the Delhi police in custody through torture. Prof. Bhullar’s case was heard by three judges bench of the Supreme Court of India, that confirmed the conviction in a split decision – with majority of 2:1.

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

Free Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar

Justice M. B. Shah – the presiding judge of the three judges bench had acquitted Prof. Devender Pal Singh Bhullar; while two other judges Arijit Pasyat, J. and Aggarwal, J. had confirmed the death sentence.

The 2002 decision of the Supreme Court of India, confirming death punishment in a split decision was being view as a “judicial error” – and it was expected that the President of India would take it’s notice while deciding the constitutional review petition. The President of India took eight years to decide the petition moved on behalf of Prof. Bhullar but suffered the failure to take notice of the judicial error and cleared the execution of Prof. Bhullar in 2011.

In it’s recent judgement declared on April 12, 2013 the Supreme Court of India has again upheld the death sentence awarded to Prof. Bhullar.

It seems as if whole Indian system has turned blind eye towards the “judicial error” committed in this case. But there are few dissenting voices also that have dared to oppose the ominous unity among various organs of the state favouring execution of Prof. Bhullar.

Recently, the Press Council of India’s chairman Justice Markandey Katju wrote a detailed letter to the President of India. Citing the basic flaws in the decision confirming death sentence in Prof. Bhullar’s case; J. Katju has demanded pardon for Prof. Bhullar.

As per recent media reports Senior Advocate Anoop G. Chaudhari, who was the public prosecutor against Prof. Bhullar while his case was being heard by the SCI in 2002, has admitted that the minority judgement of Justice M. B. Shah acquitting Prof. Bhulalr was good in merit.

According to a news report by Times of India:

“[t]hough two of the three judges on the Supreme Court bench upheld his arguments, senior advocate Anoop G. Chaudhari said that he found himself agreeing with the dissenting verdict delivered by the presiding judge, M. B. Shah, who had actually acquitted Bhullar”.

“Surprising as it may sound, I believe that Shah was right in not accepting my submissions in support of the trial court’s decision to convict Bhullar in a terror case, entirely on the basis of his confessional statement to the police,” Chaudhari reportedly told TOI.

“Shah refused to acquiesce to the Delhi police’s presumption that they had a lot of margin for shoddy investigation because of the involvement of terror”

– Advocate Anoop G. Chaudhari

As per news report, a former advocate general of Madhya Pradesh, Chaudhari also said that it was “most inappropriate” for the majority verdict, delivered by Justice Arijit Pasayat, to have awarded death sentence to Bhullar despite the acquittal by a member of the same bench.

In any event, this “judicial error”, he said, should have been taken by the home ministry as a “strong ground” for commuting the death penalty, when it made its recommendation to the President on Bhullar’s mercy petition in 2011.

“Did the home ministry think that the acquittal by a Supreme Court judge was meaningless?” Chaudhari asked.

But how could he be saying all these things in Bhullar’s favour, given his own role in the case? “After the judgement is delivered, I read it as a student of law and not a lawyer who appeared for one or the other party,” Chaudhari said.

“If I can’t detach myself from the case and appreciate the judgement in its correct perspective, then I won’t be honest to my profession and my conscience”, he reportedly added.

One of the major infirmities in the prosecution’s case pointed out by Shah was the failure of the police to find any corroboration for Bhullar’s confessional statement to them, even he had retracted it.

“When Shah asked me about this lacuna during the hearings, I said that I could only argue what was on record and I could not step into the shoes of the investigating agency and explain why they had not taken the trouble of finding any corroborative evidence” Chaudhari said.



Statement- Commute DS Bhullar’s Death Sentence

Abolish Death Penalty

The Supreme Court verdict rejecting the plea for commutation of death sentence for DS Bhullar is most unfortunate. The case against DS Bhullar rested almost wholly on custodial confession. In 2002, when the majority bench of the SC upheld the death penalty for him, Justice Shah in his minority judgement had actually argued for acquittal, on the grounds that custodial confession was inadmissible as evidence. In a case where even guilt is in such doubt, there can be no justification for the death penalty.

In the past the Supreme Court has held that long delay in carrying out the sentence could be grounds for commutation of the sentence of death into life imprisonment. However, the Supreme Court this time has held otherwise. In doing so, the apex court, instead of judging the matter on the grounds of principles of justice, has instead invoked the growth of terrorism “in recent years.” How can a matter of principle be subject to change on the grounds of subjective opinions and assertions of judges?

The SC has also chosen to make comments against human rights activists, accusing them of raising “the bogey of human rights.” In the case of Bhullar, it was a judge of the Supreme Court, not a human rights activist, who had called even his conviction into doubt on the grounds of insufficient evidence! If the Supreme Court considers ‘human rights’ as a ‘bogey’, which institution is there to check the state from riding roughshod on human rights?

Last year, 14 retired judges wrote to the President of India, admitting that the Supreme Court had wrongly awarded the death sentence to 13 people. It is unacceptable in a democracy to risk such grave miscarriage of justice. Moreover, it is overwhelmingly those from marginalised sections of society who face the death penalty: offenders from privileged sections are rarely subjected to such punishment.

In the interests of justice, CPI(ML) demands that DS Bhullar’s sentence should be commuted. In the light of the inconsistency and bias in awarding of death sentence and grave errors in this regard admitted by retired judges of the Supreme Court, CPI(ML) supports the growing demand that India abolish the death penalty or at least honour the UN resolution to uphold a moratorium on death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.  

CPI(ML) Central Committee




Funny: Nuclear Plants, Post Tsunami Wave Heights, and APJ Abdul Kalam.

English: Pic taken at 12th WIEF


Honourable Ex-President of India, Shri APJ Abdul Kalam, has become of an oracle of technology driven big development ideas and tours extensively igniting minds. His role as a roving ambassador for big ticket ideas is so appreciated by the Indian establishment that he is often fielded as a last word in Science in many controversial projects in the country. If Kalam has said it, then how dare can it be untrue goes the general argument. A delightfully informative exchange occurred recently on a forum [http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/andamanicobar/message/9844






— In andamanicobar@…, “Malini Shankar” <mogli@…>


Friends… sometime ago there were a few posts on this group where former
President of India Sri A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was quoted as saying the last tsunami
was only 5.44 metres in height. I need to read this … in context and I need
the full quote. Can anyone help me please?
Many thanks




“naveen_cas” <naveen.namboo@… naveen_cas


I feel the truth should now be unraveled. The Hon ex-President of India Shri
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was visiting Campbell Bay incognito in late 2004. On
December 26, Boxing Day, he climbed a hilltop in the vicinity of Campbell Bay, a
hilltop that has since been named “Tsunami Tikri”, to enjoy the sunrise.


With his 20-20 vision he espied a large wall of water making its way speedily
towards the shore.


Being a former DRDO functionary, he immediately realised the import of the
situation, and ordered a laser rangefinder to be dropped immediately. He then
trained it on the aforesaid wall of water. With his scientific acumen he took
repeated measurements to reduce the standard deviations of his observations.


This is where there seems to be a mistake. The wave, as per his measurement, was
5.4 +/- 0.002 m, and not 5.44m as has been popularly discussed in this group.
This information seems to be highly dubious.


I guess its reasonable to assume that this was the first out of several waves.
Subsequent measurements would have proved difficult.




sajan venniyoor <venniyoor@… sajanvenniyoor


The Kalam quote came from a PTIreport<http://m.oneindia.in/news/2011/11/24/knpp-constructed-with-highest-safety\-standards-kalam.html>ona speech made by the former president in Delhi on 24 Nov 2011, at a seminaron “Disaster Risk Reduction: Another important Route to PovertyAlleviation<http://www.vifindia.org/transcriptions-paper/2011/11/24/Achieving-Ev\olution-of-Risk-Free-Society>”.The 5.44 metre wave height, accurate to two decimal points, wasn’tpart of Kalam’swrittenspeech<http://www.abdulkalam.com/kalam/jsp/display_content_front.jsp?menuid=28&m\enuname=Speeches%20/%20Lectures&linkid=68&linkname=Recent&content=1949&columnno=&starts=280&menu_image=-&contentsForum=Address%20at%20the%20Seminar%20%22Disast\er%20Risk%20Reduction:%20Another%20important%20Route%20to%20Poverty%20Alleviatio\n%22>.It was probably an off-the-cuff remark, with figures taken from an NPCILdope-sheet<http://www.npcil.nic.in/pdf/Insight_of_Safety_features_of_KKNPP.ppt>.Indeed, pretty much all of Kalam’s ‘facts’ were contributed by NPCIL, anagency which may have more than a passing interest in establishing thesafety of their nuclear power plants.How they arrived at this magical figure of 5.44 mts is interesting, and Ifound the calculations in a visitreport<http://www.npcil.nic.in/pdf/STATUS_OF_KK_AFTER_FUKUSHIMA.pdf>onthe Kudankulam Project by Dr.MR Srinivasan, former Atomic Energy Commissionchief. They have factored in a run-up height of 2.5 mts, based on theestimated 2004 tsunami wave height, which is straight out of Rauf’s Journalof Irreproducible Results.In other words, they are totally prepared… for the 2004 Tsunami.According to figures easily available outside NPCIL, tsunamis can throw upwaves tens of metres high. The 2004 tsunami surged 15 metres high in someplaces and — according to one well-known tsunamiresearcher<http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?229460>– southTamil Nadu could see maximum wave heights of up to 9.5 mts in afuture tsunami. (The reactor building in Kudankulam is situated at 8.7 mts).The NPCIL site report confidently states that “in October 2010, NPCIL hascalculated tsunami height at Kudankulam based on recently developedforecasting method in Japan and arrived at a figure of 2 meters. Thus, theconsidered design value of 2.5 meters wave height is adequate.”Of course, if the Japanese developed this exceptional forecasting method in2010, it’s bound to be infalli… wait a minute. Did someone say’Fukushima’?When the Great East Japan tsunami hit in March 2011, subsequentresearch<http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201202090049>show\edthat “along the coast of the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around theFukushima No. 1 plant, the tsunami *substantially exceeded theexpectations*of nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. Everyone of theresearchers’ 28 survey points showed evidence of a wave higher than the 5.7meters TEPCO planners said was the maximum possible at the Fukushima No. 1plant.”Wave heights at Fukushima ranged from around 7 mts, up to *21 mts *in oneplace between Fukushima No.1 and No.2 reactors.With Japanese forecasting methods, Indian technicians on govt salaries andnuclear reactors from the people who gave us Chernobyl, who could possiblydoubt the safety of the Kudankulam power plant?Sajan


Does your bomb-proof basement have an attached toilet?

Arundhati Royin Outlook

Magazine | Feb 25, 2013
AFP (From Outlook 25 February 2013)
Does Your Bomb-Proof Basement Have An Attached Toilet?
An execution carried out to thundering war clouds
Also In This Story 

What are the political consequences of the secret and sudden hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack, going to be? Does anybody know? The memo, in callous bureaucratese, with every name insultingly misspelt, sent by the Superintendent of Central Jail No. 3, Tihar, New Delhi, to “Mrs Tabassum w/o Sh Afjal Guru” reads:

“The mercy petition of Sh Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been rejected by Hon’ble President of India. Hence the execution of Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been fixed for 09/02/2013 at 8 am in Central Jail No-3.

This is for your information and for further necessary action.”

The mailing of the memo was deliberately timed to get to Tabassum only after the execution, denying her one last legal chanc­e—the right to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. Both Afzal and his family, separately, had that right. Both were thwarted. Even though it is mandat­ory in law, the memo to Tabassum ascribed no reason for the president’s rejection of the mercy petition. If no reason is given, on what basis do you appeal? All the other prisoners on death row in India have been given that last chance.

Since Tabassum was not allowed to meet her husband before he was hanged, since her son was not allowed to get a few last words of advice from his father, since she was not given his body to bury, and since there can be no funeral, what “further necessary action” does the jail manual prescribe? Anger? Wild, irreparable grief? Unquestioning acc­eptance? Complete integration?

After the hanging, there have been unseemly celebrations. The bereaved wives of the people who were killed in the attack on Parliament were displayed on TV, with M.S. Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, and his ferocious moustaches playing the CEO of their sad little company. Will anybody tell them that the men who shot their husbands were killed at the same time, in the same place? And that those who planned the attack will never be brought to justice because we still don’t know who they are.

India has displayed a touching belief in the testimony of a former chief of the ISI, of which the mandate has been to destabilise India.

Meanwhile, Kashmir is under curfew, once again. Its people have been locked down like cattle in a pen, once again. They have defied curfew, once again. Three people have already been killed in three days and fifteen more grievou­sly injured. Newspapers have been shut down, but anybody who trawls the internet will see that this time the rage of young Kashmiris is not defiant and exuberant like it was during the mass uprisings in the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010­—even though 180 people lost their lives on those occasions. This time the anger is cold and corrosive. Unforgiving. Is there any reason why it shouldn’t be?For more than 20 years, Kashmiris have endured a military occupation. The tens of thousands who lost their lives were killed in prisons, in torture centres, and in ‘encounters’, genuine as well as fake. What sets the execution of Afzal Guru apart is that it has given the young, who have never had any first-hand experience of democracy, a ringside seat to watch the full majesty of Indian democracy at work. They have watched the wheels turning, they have seen all its hoary institutions, the government, police, courts, political parties and yes, the media, collude to hang a man, a Kashmiri, who they do not believe received a fair trial. With good reason.

He went virtually unrepresented in the lower court during the most crucial part of the trial. The court-appointed lawyer never visited him in prison, and actually admitted incriminating evidence against his own client.  (The Supreme Court deliberated on that matter and decided it was okay.) In short, his guilt was by no means established beyond reasonable doubt. They have watched the government pull him out of the death row queue and execute him out of turn. What direction, what form will their new cold, corrosive anger take? Will it lead them to the blessed liberation they so yearn for and have sacrificed a whole generation for, or will it lead to yet another cycle of cataclysmic violence, of being beaten down, and then having ‘normalcy’ imposed on them under soldiers’ boots?

Afzal Guru family weren’t given the President’s reasons for rejecting his mercy plea. (Photograph by Getty Images, From Outlook 25 February 2013)

All of us who live in the region know that 2014 is going to be a watershed year. There will be elections in Pakistan, in India and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We know that when the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, the chaos from an already seriously destabilised Pakistan will spill into Kashmir, as it has done before. By executing Afzal Guru in the way that it did, the government of India has taken a decision to fuel that process of destabilisation, to actually invite it in. (As it did before, by rigging the 1987 elections in Kashmir.) After three consecutive years of mass protests in the Valley ended in 2010, the government invested a great deal in restoring its version of ‘norma­lcy’ (happy tourists, voting Kashmiris). The question is, why was it willing to reverse all its own efforts? Leaving aside issues of the legality, the morality and the venality of executing Afzal Guru in the way that it did, and looking at it just politically, tactically, it is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to have done. But it was done. Clearly, and knowingly. Why?

I used the word ‘irresponsible’ advisedly. Look what happened the last time around.

Kashmiri youth have seen Indian democracy at work now, and believe its institutions have sent a man to the gallows without a fair trial.

In 2001, within a week of the Parliament attack (and a few days after Afzal Guru’s arrest), the government recalled its ambassador from Pakistan and dispatched half a million troops to the border. On what basis was that done? The only thing the public was told is that while Afzal Guru was in the custody of the Delhi Police Special Cell, he had admitted to being a member of the Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). The Supreme Court set aside that ‘confession’ extracted in police custody as inadmissible in law. Does what is inadmissible in law become admissible in war?In its final judgement on the case, apart from the now famous statements about “satisfying collective conscience” and having no direct evidence, the Supreme Court also said there was “no evidence that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group or organisation”. So what justified that military aggression, that loss of soldiers’ lives, that massive haemorrhaging of public money and the real risk of nuclear war? (Remember foreign embassies issued travel advisories and evacuated their staff?) Was there some intelligence that preceded the Parliament attack and the arrest of Afzal Guru that we had not been told about? If so, how could the attack be allowed to happen? And if the intelligence was accurate, and infallible enough to justify such dangerous military posturing, don’t people in India, Pakistan and Kashmir have the right to know what it was? Why was that evidence not produced in court to establish Afzal Guru’s guilt?

In the endless debates around the Parliament attack case, on this, perhaps the most crucial issue of all, there has been dead silence from all quarters—leftists, rightists, Hindutva-ists, secularists, nationalists, seditionists, cynics, critics. Why?

Maybe the JeM did mastermind the attack. Praveen Swami, perhaps the Indian media’s best known expert on ‘terrorism’, who seems to have enviable sources in the Indian police and intelligence agencies, has recently cited the 2003 testimony of former ISI chief Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, and the 2004 book by Muhammad Amir Rana, a Pakistani scholar, holding the JeM responsible for the Parliament attack. (It’s touching, this belief in the veracity of the testimony of the chief of an organisation whose mandate it is to destabilise India.) It still doesn’t explain what evidence there was in 2001, when the army mobilisation took place.

For the sake of argument, let’s accept that the JeM carried out the attack. Maybe the ISI was involved too. We needn’t pretend that the government of Pakistan is innocent of carrying out covert activity over Kashmir. (Just as the government of India does in Balochistan and parts of Pakistan. Remember the Indian army trained the Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan in the 1970s, and six different Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, including the LTTE, in the 1980s.)

A few days back, Pakistan test-fired a nuclear missile of short range, for use on the battlefield. And Kashmir police published N-survival tips.

It’s a filthy scenario all around. What would a war with Pakistan have achieved then, and what will it achieve now? (Apart from a massive loss of life. And fattening the bank accounts of some arms dealers.) Indian hawks routinely suggest the only way to “root out the problem” is “hot pursuit” and the “taking out” of “terrorist camps” in Pakistan. Really? It would be interesting to research how many of the aggressive strategic experts and defence analysts on our TV screens have an interest in the defence and weapons industry. They don’t even need war. They just need a war-like climate in which military spending remains on an upward graph. This idea of hot pursuit is even stupider and more pathetic than it sounds. What would they bomb? A few individuals? Their barracks and food supplies? Or their ideology? Look how the US government’s “hot pursuit” has ended in Afghanistan. And look how a “security grid” of half-a-million soldiers has not been able to subdue the unarmed, civilian population of Kashmir. And India is going to cross international borders to bomb a country—with nuclear arms—that is rapidly devolving into chaos? India’s professional war-mongers derive a great deal of satisfaction by sneering at what they see as the disintegration of Pakistan. Anyone with a rudimentary, working knowledge of history and geography would know that the breakdown of Pakistan (into a gangland of crazed, nihilistic, religious zealots) is absolutely no reason for anyone to rejoice.The US presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Pakistan’s official role as America’s junior partner in the war on terror, makes that region a much-reported place. The rest of the world is at least aware of the dangers unfolding there. Less understood, and harder to read, is the perilous wind that’s picking up speed in the world’s favourite new superpower. The Indian economy is in considerable trouble. The aggressive, acquisitive ambition that economic liberalisation unleashed in the newly created middle class is quickly turning into an equally aggressive frustration. The aircraft they were sitting in has begun to stall just after takeoff. Exhilaration is turning to panic.

The general election is due in 2014. Even without an exit poll I can tell you what the results will be. Though it may not be obvious to the naked eye, once again we will have a Congress-BJP coalition. (Two parties, each with a mass murder of thousands of people belonging to minority communities under their belts.) The CPI(M) will give support from outside, even though it hasn’t been asked to. Oh, and it will be a strong state. (On the hanging front, the gloves are already off. Could the next in line be Balwant Singh Rajoana, on death row for the assassination of Punjab’s chief minister Beant Singh? His execution could revive Khalistani sentiment in Punjab and put the Akali Dal on the mat. Perfect old-style Congress politics.)

But that old-style politics is in some difficulty. In the last few turbulent months, it is not just the image of major political parties, but politics itself, the idea of politics as we know it, that has taken a battering. Again and again, whether it’s corruption, rising prices, or rape and the rising violence against women, the new middle class is at the barricades. They can be water-cannoned or lathicharged, but can’t be shot or impriso­ned in their thousands, in the way the poor can, the way Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Kashmiris, Nagas and Manipuris can—and have been. The old political parties know that if there is not to be a complete meltdown, this aggression has to be headed off, redirected. They know that they must work together to bring politics back to what it used to be. What better way than a communal conflagration? (How else can the secular play at being secular and the communal be communal?) Maybe even a little war, so that we can play Hawks & Doves all over again.

What better solution than to aim a kick at that tried and trusted old political football—Kashmir? The hanging of Afzal Guru, its brazenness and its timing, is deliberate. It has brought politics and anger back onto Kashmir’s streets.

The idea of ‘hot pursuit’ is stupid, pathetic. What would we bomb? Some individuals? Their barracks? Or their ideology?

India hopes to manage it with the usual combination of brute force and poisonous, Machiavellian manipulation, des­igned to pit people against one another. The war in Kashmir is presented to the world as a battle between an inclusive, secular democracy and radical Islamists. What then should we make of the fact that Mufti Bashiruddin, the so-called Grand Mufti of Kashmir (a completely phantom post)—who has made most abominable hate speeches and issued fatwa after fatwa, intended to present Kashmir as a demonic, monolithic, Wahabi society—is actually a government-anointed cleric? Kids on Facebook will be arrested, never him. What should we make of the fact that the Indian government looks away while money from Saudi Arabia (that most steadfast partner of the US) is pouring into Kashmir’s madrassas? How different is this from what the CIA did in Afghanistan all those years ago? That whole, sorry business is what created Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has decimated Afghanistan and Pakistan. What sort of incubus will this unleash?The trouble is that the old political football may not be all that easy to control any more. And it’s radioactive. Maybe it is not a coincidence that a few days ago Pakistan tested a short-range battlefield nuclear missile to protect itself against threats from “evolving scenarios”. Two weeks ago, the Kashmir police published “survival tips” for nuclear war. Apart from advising people to build toilet-equipped bombproof basements large enough to house their entire families for two weeks, it said: “During a nuclear attack, motorists should dive out of their cars toward the blast to save themselves from being crushed by their soon-to-be tumbling vehicles.” And to “expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features”.

Prominent and familiar features may already have been blown down. Perhaps we should all jump out of our soon-to-be-tumbling vehicles.


I oppose #deathpenalty, #bobbitization, #chemicalcastration for #Rape will you KILL me ? #ShameonTOI #Vaw

Dec 21, Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Shame on you TOI. Take  down the Advertisement   the Poll  and apologize.

And  you have kept barabaric options of  bobbitization and chemical castration ?  




Parliamentarians should shout for  JUSTICE and Convictions , instead of saying things like ‘zinda lash’ (living corpse) and asking for death penalty.

Chemical castration breaches the physical intrinsity of the human body. As we have abolished physical penalties (chopping off hands, beatings etc), why would we re-introduce . Since castration is irreversible, should this penalty be allowed, especially as our judicial  system has been proven to be wrong every now and then. And tell me how will it work ? you will have to give injections fo depo vera— every time a rape is committed,  there will  someone  running behind the rapist on road to inject him ???

WITH THIS WHOLE CLAMOUR OF DEATH PENALTY, All the  Politician sitting in our parliament  are superficial people , the media wants more eyeballs and suddenly we have this knee jerk reaction to gang rape coming out in form of REVENGE and not JUSTICE. What a twisted logic is that  capital punishment will be an effective deterrent to potential rapists. The quantum of punishment does not deter crime. In fact, the higher the punishment, the lower the conviction rate.is required is speedy trial. Ensure speedy trials. That would deter would-be rapists.

If rape and violence against women are not rare but occur within every class, and at a variety of junctures, making the offense itself almost ordinary by nature of its frequency of occurrences, then to accord the death penalty for such cases would simply reduce convictions .Before the death penalty get the convictions right. 

The convictions against cases of violence against women, especially rape cases are themselves extremely complex and pivot around the nuanced issues of consent/force.  It is never a simple and straightforward matter to determine whether the woman had consented.  From the beginning? At what point otherwise? To what extent was she willing to have physical relations with a man? But at which point did it become force or coercion?  The entire issue of violence against women is not easily amenable to legalistic jargon that makes claims to truth “based on a binary logic which sets up oppositions like truth/untruth, guilt/innocence, consent/non-consent.  This binary logic is completely inappropriate to… the ambiguity of rape.

Women’s bodies as the new reason to kill ?

The point is “Death Penalty” to rapists is a reinforcement of the same “honour-shame” syndrome. Moreover why will the rapist not get rid of all possible evidence, which might take him towards death penalty? Yes, I mean why will he not kill the rape survivor in the end of the day? Moreover why should we go by the Sexual Hierarchy set by our patriarchal society? A sexual assault is a sexual assault and can’t be judged by the parameters of “penetration” alone. A Trauma is a trauma and can’t be judged by the parameters of “Honour” and “Shame”. In the end no woman loses her “honour” when she is raped. She loses it when she allows her mind to believe it.

The ideological underpinnings of the demand for the death penalty for rape reflect the traditional patriarchal and reactionary view of women as property.  Rape is seen not as an assault on the integrity of the women as assaulted, but far more as an assault of the community, of society, of the nation.The demand for death penalty  hides  certain power relations and assumptions made by those advocating the death penalty.  Furthermore, they point to the fact that bringing in the death penalty for rape will not in anyway increase convictions, but may lower the already very low-levels of convictions because of fear to convict any rapist incase of error. 

 The death penalty weighs the scales of justice heavily in favour of the state by giving the state legally sanctioned power over the life and death of its citizens.  Such power all too often is used arbitrarily; it is applied neither uniformly nor fairly, even in cases of the same nature and severity.  In many cases, the decision to apply the death sentence is driven by issues other than the crime itself.

By playing to the desire for revenge in individual cases, states in which the death penalty is used ignore difficult questions about the relationship between crime, the criminal and the state.  A fake sense of moral superiority is thus sustained as culpability is shifted from formal and informal social, political and economic structures of domination and oppression, solely to the accused.

  Hence for  me , a FEMINIST ,  these promises of security, better safety and liberty have been questionable and problematic.  It hides the strong link between justice and the state and how justice may operate to benefit certain parties only.  The  use of women’s bodies and the category of violence against women to insist on the death penalty is a manipulation of the feminist agenda and its concern for women into a tool by others (including but not exclusively the state) to control and discipline its citizens further.

As suggested by Foucault, the prison itself maybe a new way of ordering society, of disciplining it and creating new forms of docile bodies constituted in such a way as to make the power of the state and certain groups more effective.  It is important then to rethink forms of correction and punishment to ensure that those convicted of crimes are not merely placed in another institution in which power is even more insidious than even the death penalty or public executions.




#India has 477 people on death row- shocker ? #deathpenalty

Dec13, BBC
India allows the death penalty for the ‘rarest of rare’ crimes

There are 477 convicts on death row in India, the government says.

The information was revealed in the Rajya Sabha [the upper house of the parliament] in response to a question on the number of convicts on death row in Indian jails.

Indian courts hand out capital punishment in the “rarest of rare” cases, but it is rarely carried out.

Last month, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the sole surviving gunman in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was hanged.

The Pakistani national was executed in the Yerawada prison in Pune on 21 November after his plea for mercy to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was rejected.

He became the second person to be executed since 1995 through death by hanging. A man convicted of raping and killing a schoolgirl was hanged in the eastern city of Calcutta in 2004.

According to the latest data revealed by the Indian government on Wednesday, with 174 people on death row, the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of prisoners awaiting death sentence.

The southern state of Karnataka with 61 convicts awaiting hanging is the second on the list.

At number three is the western state of Maharashtra with 50 convicts while Bihar is at the fourth place with 37 awaiting their death sentences.

Pratibha Patil to return 155 artifacts to Rashtrapati Bhavan by 15 June 2013, reveals RTI reply

VINITA DESHMUKH | 17/09/2012

To a RTI query by this writer asking about the list of gift items loaned specifically to Pratibha Patil along with the evaluated price of each item, Rashtrapati Bhavan says information not necessary as it is a ‘temporary’ arrangement

The Rashtrapati Bhavan has officially admitted through a RTI (Right to Information) reply to this writer that “An MoU was signed on 15th June 2012 between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Vidya Bharti Shaikshnik Mandal, Amravati, for display of 155 artifacts/mementos on a purely temporary basis, which in any case, cease to be operative with effect from 15th June 2013 and all the artifacts presently on loan shall be returned to the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum thereafter” but refuses to divulge detailed information on the list of artifacts transferred to Ms Patil’s museum.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the President’s Secretariat takes this ‘temporary’ arrangement as an excuse to not provide the list of artifacts given to Ms Patil to display it in her museum in her hometown, Amravati, along with their individual costs and countries that they were gifted from.

The RTI application filed by me on 3 August 2012, specifically asked the PIO of the President’s Secretariat, “List of gift items loaned specifically to Ms Pratibha Patil along with the evaluated price of each item; from which country did each gift item come from; what was the purpose of her visit when she received each of the gift item.” The reply is “do not arise in view of the answer at (3) above” (which is she would be returning artifacts by 15 June 2013 as the agreement would cease by then.

The RTI reply interestingly suggests that it was President Abdul Kalam who started the trend of moving out gifts received in the capacity of being President of India. The CPIO Saurabh Vjay states in his reply dated 6 September 2012, “No such requests have been made by any former President of India. It is, however, stated that in the past, 36 artifacts were handed over during the Presidency of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for being displayed in the Brahmos Centre, New Delhi.” This reply came to the writer’s query under RTI seeking “copies of official requests made by Presidents of India for loaning of gifts from 1990 onwards. Provide copies of all such correspondence within the President of India office as well as between President of India office and the relevant district/city authority where the President of India may have resided or the place where she/he wants to display the loaned gift items, form 1990 onwards.”

The RTI reply also states that “no such rules and regulations are available for loaning of gift items received by the President of India. This was in reply to my query, “Copies of Rules/GRs/amendments/correspondence for rules and amended rules regarding gift articles and souvenirs which are received by Presidents of India from other countries and within the country; Copy of rules and regulations for ‘loaning’ official gifts received by President of India to presidents on their retirement or loaned to any other organisation.”

To the query, “How many gift items in total does the ‘Tosha Khana’ of the President’s office have at the moment and what is the total amount in value?” CPIO Saurabh Vijay states in his reply that “as per our records there are about 2,500 gifts in ‘Tosha Khana’ of the President’s Secretariat and as regards the value of these items, no such records are available in the Art section.”  This is indeed shocking for, as per the ministry of home affairs, any contribution in the form of gifts received by President of India or other dignitaries must be valued within 30 days of receipt of gift.

It may be recalled that a museum is being specially set up in Pratibha Patil’s hometown by the family trust, Vidya Bharti Shaikshnik Mandal, run by her politician-son Rajendra Shekhawat.

The writer is filing a first appeal to the President’s Secretariat since the information received is inadequate.

Read the previous article here: Pratibha Patil’s Museum: Gifts received by VVIPs from foreign countries can be purchased by them but can they be loaned?

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached atvinitapune@gmail.com.)

Protest Rally and Memorandum to President of India on Pipili Mass Rape


Demanding CBI Inquiry into the Pipili mass rape case, Speedy trial of all other rape and murder cases and women atrocities cases, adequate compensation to the victims, removal of police, doctors and other administrative officials from the government job, investigation though a sitting judge of High Court and action under various provisions of SC & ST atrocities Act; thousands of men and women took out a rally on 21ST January 22, 2012, Saturday in Bhubaneswar to submit a memorandum to the President of India.

Before submitting the memorandum a huge rally marched from Master Canteen Square to PMG Square to protest against the injustice done to victim of Pipili mass rape case and her family and so against the indifference of the state government on number of such cases thereafter.

The rally was jointly organized by a consortium consisting of major political parties, mass organizations and Human Rights Organisations like Samrudha Odisha, OCP, RJD, JD(U), Odisha Dalit Adhikar Manch, Kalinga National Front, Adimabasi Surakhya Parishad, Odisha Samajika Nyaya Surakhya Parishad, Chashi Surakhya Samiti, NACODAR Odisha Chapter, Odisha Lok Adhikar Sangathan, All India Sabar Association, Human Rights Front etc.

Speaking at the rally, leaders of various political streams criticized the indifference attitude of the state government, which has brought more troubles for the victims and their families. The meeting was moderated by Manas Jena.

Prominent among the leaders who led and addressed the demonstration were former Union Ministers Braja Kishor Tripathy, Bhajaman Behera, Jatish Mohanty, Ajeya Raut,Harish Mahapatra, Jayanta Bhoi, Manas Jena, Sudarshan Chhotray, Ashoka Mallick, Prabir Mohanty, Lalit Patnaik, Sasmita Behera,Manoj Jena,Saroj Kumar Prusty, Mamata Samantaray, Saudamini Samantray, Chinmoyi Senapati, Akhaya Das, Pradeep Pradhan, Ashoka Das, Manamohan Nayak, Gayadhar Mallick, Bhimasen Bhoi,Laxmidhar Behera, Gorachand Barik, Nirakar Behura and others.

A delegation consisting of Sudarshan Chhotray, Hairsh Mahapatra, Sasmita Behera, Jayanta Bhoi, Wing Commander Gorachand Barik, Simancha Nayak, Prasanta Mallik, Theofil Gamango,Saroj Kumar Prusti, and Praduyumna Nayak met and discussed with Surendra Prasad Mishra special secretary to Governor and had submitted the Memorandum addressed to the PRESIDENT OF INDIA submitted through the Governor of Odisha. The delegation had demanded CBI Inquiry of Pipili case and had also asked the Governor to take necessary action.

In solidarity


To                                                                                                                      Date-21/01/2012

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil

Her Excellency, Honorable President of India

Rashtrapati Bhawan, NewDelhi

(Through His Excellency the Governor of Odisha)

Respected Madam,

We, the undersigned representatives of various political parties, mass organizations, Human Rights Activists of Odisha draw your kind attention to the inhuman, brutal atrocity perpetrated on a Scheduled Caste girl of 17 years under Pipili police station of Puri district in the state of Odisha and similar nature of atrocity cases on ordinary poor people, women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Minorities and backward communities in the state for your urgent intervention. During the last 12 years of BJD-BJP/BJD Rule, about 12,000 (twelve thousand) rape cases and ten thousand of atrocity cases against SC and ST communities have been registered in the state. Final trial and delivery of judgment are taking unduly long time.

Through this memorandum we bring before your Excellency the criminal negligence of the Government, & Specifically the state law enforcement agencies, Home Department, Health and Family Welfare Department, SC & ST Development Department and Women & Child Development Department in discharging their duty to ensure security, and justice to the citizens of the country as guaranteed in the Constitution of India.

Brief details of the instant case are as follows:

Ms Babina Behera, aged 17 years, daughter of Mr. Babuli Behera and Ms. Kamala Behera, belongs to Village–Arjungada, under Pipili police station in Puri district of Odisha. She hails from the Scheduled Caste community and her sub-caste is Bauri, which is one of the most socially and economically weaker sections of the community in the state. In January, 2008, Ms. Babina Behera and her friend Ms.Pravati Behera, belonging to the OBC community, daughter of Mr. Ramesh Behera of the same village were accosted and molested by some of the present accused. The F.I.R of Ms.Babina Behera was not accepted by the local police station but the F.I.R of Ms. Pravati Behera was registered and the case of Ms. Pravati Behera is under trial in court, after intervention by the state human rights Commission. Unfortunately Ms. Pravati Behera died later under suspicious circumstances. Since then, the perpetrators are continuously harassing Ms. Babina Behera as she was the only eye witness to the incident. Ms. Babina Behera, who was a student, was virtually circumvented from attending school and her family members too have been coerced in as many ways. The perpetrators belong to the local dominant community backed by the ruling party leaders in the locality.

All of a sudden, the entire issue took a different turn on 29th November, 2011. In the early morning hours, around 7.30, Ms. Babina Behera was found lying naked in grievously wounded and unconscious state in a field nearby her house. She was brutally raped and strangulated. Ms. Babina Behera’s father lodged F.I.R in the local police station on the same day but his F.I.R was not accepted by the local police; rather, the police personnel misbehaved and abused the grief-stricken victim’s father.

The victim’s family members rushed her to the local Pipili P.H.C (Primary Health Centre) and then referred to Capital Hospital, Bhubaneswar in a span of hardly 20 minutes and afterwards she was sent to the SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack. Over there, she was callously neglected and forcibly discharged in the same comatose state on 14th December 2011. Back to square one, she was physically taken to the office of the State Commission for Women on 8th January, 2012. But most unfortunately, the Chairperson of State Commission for Women refused to attend to her taking the plea of the day being a Sunday. In utter desperation, she was taken to the State Human Rights Commission on 9th January, 2012. Mercifully, the State Human Rights Commission and the Honorable High Court, Cuttack intervened in the matter on 10th January, 2012.  As a result, Ms. Babina Behera managed to get readmitted to the Central ICU of SCB Medical College & Hospital for treatment. Incidentally, the F.I.R was registered on 9th January, 2012 at Pipili Police station P.S Case no-10/2012 under Section- 341, 307,376, 506, 34 IPC and 3 SC& ST(PoA)Act-1989. Even after this, the state Government has not shown any sincere response that the case deserves.

The helpless victim, a Scheduled Caste girl has been most pathetically harassed and shabbily treated by the public institutions, police station, hospitals and all these happening due to governance system degeneration during the tenure of the present Government. It is a matter of national shame as to how the whole family members are being pressurized and harassed beyond the point of endurance by dominant caste predators in connivance with the local ruling party leaders for the last three years. Though, the case attracts the provisions of SC and ST (POA) Act 1989 and Rules 1995 but no initiative has been taken by the Government, especially SC and ST Development Department and other allied departments in this regard.

It is matter of fact that thousands of rape cases of women have been registered in different police stations and an equal number of incidents have been reported in media which are neither being investigated nor registered for a number of reasons. The White Paper of Home Department, Govt. of Odisha has reported about fifteen hundred cases of atrocities committed on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes communities each year and the number has been increasing in an alarming rate. Innumerable no of incidents are taking place in rural Odisha and not getting registered due to the pressure of ruling party leaders. It is unfortunate that even through the police administration and the Home Department are directly under the Chief Minister since last 12 years, law and order situation and atrocities against women SCs, STs and other weaker sections are worsening year after year.

Contextually, we appeal to your Excellency to direct the State government and Central Government:

1-To conduct CBI inquiry in the case of Ms. Babina Behera.

2-To pay compensation to the victim and her family members much beyond the provision of the Act in view of the most inhuman and unprecedented nature of the case.

3. To ensure that Ms. Babina gets the best of the treatment, she survives and leads a normal life.

4-To inflict punishment on all those perpetrators, police, physicians and others directly or indirectly related to the cases for their criminal negligence in dealing with the matter without care, sympathy and blatantly violating all protective laws for the Scheduled Castes and women.

5-To ensure that investigation and trial of the Ms. Babina Behera case is completed within two months of time through Special Trial Court and the guilty are punished.

6. To appoint a  sitting High Court Judge as Head of Judiciary Commission and to conduct extensive enquiry into rape and atrocity cases(Registered and not Registered) during the last 12 years by inviting the victims to file their complaint. The Commission should submit its recommendations within 1 year.

7-To appoint required number of special judges for speedy disposal of all such cases of atrocities committed against Women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minority communities in the state.

We pray before your Excellency to consider this matter as most urgent and take appropriate action. This will instill faith among the ordinary people, especially the weaker sections of our society on the provisions of our protective laws mandated by the Constitution. Further, this will protect them from the oppressive dominant socio-economic system. With honour and trust on the highest office of our country, we are herewith submitting this memorandum through the Honorable Governor of Odisha. We further request you to give us an appointment at your earliest convenience to personally apprise you on matters of atrocities against women, and members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state of Odisha.

With warm personal regards,

Yours Sincerely

Braja Kishore Tripathy                                       Bhajaman Behera                                 

Former Union Minister                                    Former Union Minister                             

Jatish Mohanty          Ajeya Rout                                                  

President, Samrudha Odisha     President, Odisha Communist Party

Harish Mohapatra                                                                          Kailash Mishra,

President, Rastriya Janata Dal,Odisha,                                     Editor, “The Amarikatha”

Ms.Santi Das                                                        Saroj Kumar Prusty                                                  

President, Kalinga National Front,     Vice-President, Janata Dal (U), Odisha                              


Jayanta Bhoi        Ashok Mallik                                                  

Secretary, Adimbasi Surakshya Manch,     President, NACDOR, Odisha,  

Lalit Pattnaik                                                           Theophil Gamago

Vice-President, Chasi Surakshya Abhijan, Odisha      Secretary, All India Sabara Association

Sudarshana Chhotaray                               Manoj Jena                                                                 Focus Odisha                                                                                        Manabika Adhikar Samukshya 

Prasant Mallick

  Coordinator, Odisha Dalit Adhikar Manch

Manas Jena, Human Rights Activist

Coordinator, on behalf of the signatories, Mob-09437060797.Tel/Fax no-0674-2551033.


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