OPINION

Monthly Archives: MARCH 2020


Judiciary and Politics
More than what meets the eye in Gogoi’s RS nomination
21.03.20 - VIPIN PUBBY
More than what meets the eye in Gogoi’s RS nomination




JUDICIARY IS certainly passing through one of its darkest phases in the country’s history. It had shown such temerity and compliance only during the internal emergency declared by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. In some ways, perhaps, the conduct of some judges now is even worse than that.
 
The acceptance of a Rajya Sabha seat by former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, barely four months of his retirement, is a reflection of what’s going wrong with the judiciary. His conduct in the court and biases were very well known. He has left a disturbing and disappointing legacy. Most people had heaved a sigh of relief at his retirement and thought the worse was over. However by accepting nomination to Rajya Sabha he has lived up to his reputation. 
 
In the first place, the Narendra Modi government is responsible for extending the offer to Justice Gogoi and then of course it was for the former Chief Justice of India to reject the offer but he did not.  

One cannot not rule out a well thought of conspiracy of the government to weaken the last bastion of hope for the common people and perhaps the strongest of the three pillars of democracy. By its singular action, the government has been able to successfully send a message that the judges towing the government line can expect rewards.
After all what else could be the motive of the government in making the offer to Justice Gogoi. He is not known to be a brilliant legal brain nor was he known for his high moral character.
 
The mysterious charges of sexual harassment still remain a blot on him despite the farce of first casting doubts over her claim and giving a clean chit to Gogoi and then reinstating into service the same woman in government service - thereby accepting that she was wronged. If she had levelled false charges against the then Chief Justice of India, she should have been prosecuted for attempting to lower the dignity of the judiciary. Perhaps the mystery would be unravelled by some enterprising investigative journalist in the future.

This leads one to the suspicion that there is more than what meets the eye. Can it be ruled out that Justice Gogoi was coerced to accept the Rajya Sabha nomination ? Otherwise why would he accept an offer which was much lower in precedence than his post as the Chief Justice of India.
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It needs to be asked : Who stood to gain with the nomination of Justice Gogoi to Rajya Sabha. Certainly not the government which could have banked on much better legal luminaries.
 
Nor Justice Gogoi who has been shamed enough in media and public places and had to face the ignominy of slogans of "shame, shame” when he was being administered the oath in the Rajya Sabha. By accepting the nomination he also put a big question mark on his credibility and the credibility of his judgments in several sensitive cases where his pro-government leanings were obvious. 

So what was the idea of him being offered Rajya Sabha membership and his accepting the offer except that it was meant to send a signal to the judiciary as a whole. Its weakening is a strong threat to democracy.
 
Shortly after the sexual harassment charges became public, Gogoi who was the accused as well as the then CJI, in an unprecedented step convened the court to order an inquiry against himself! And here’s what he had to say in the open court : "Independence of judiciary is under very serious threat and there is a larger conspiracy to destabilise the judiciary”. He indicated that there was some bigger force behind the woman who had made the sexual harassment charges. So what happened to that conspiracy theory now?

CJI Gogoi, who was also known for taking calls on the basis of information in "sealed envelopes”, made some stirring remarks at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards function where he was invited as chief guest. He said the founder of the Express group Ramnath Goenka "could call spade a spade. Someone who could speak truth to power. Even if it came at a cost....And, I cannot say for others but as far as I am concerned, I only feel that we need to ask ourselves some questions : Where is the Goenka in us; his ideals; his values?”

Yes, Rajya Sabha Member Gogoi, where?

 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.) 

 

 

 


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Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

Amarinder govt’s nefarious plan to steal Shamlat Lands will spell death knell of Punjab

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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Corona virus and Court Costs
19.03.20 - Markandey Katju & Aditya Manubarwala
Corona virus and Court Costs



In wake of the prevailing Novel Covid-19 situation in the country, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and several High Courts as well as Tribunals have issued circulars limiting hearings of cases to urgent matters only.

Recently, a learned Single Judge of the Bombay High Court imposed a fine of Rs. 15,000 on a litigant whose advocate made a mention to the court for listing the matter for ad-interim reliefs urgently.

On this prayer of the counsel, the learned Judge said that the matter was not urgent and having said so, imposed a cost of Rs. 15,000. The learned Judge stated in his order that the Bombay High Court had issued a circular that only urgent matters be taken up and costs should be imposed for mentioning a matter to be taken up urgently if it is not really urgent. 

In this connection, it has to be pointed out that administrative orders of the Court are not binding on judges on the judicial side, and it appears this was overlooked by the learned single Judge. An order imposing costs is a judicial order, and hence it is in the discretion of the Court to pass it or not. He is not bound by the administrative circular of the High Court. 
 
In this connection, it may be mentioned that when one of us, Markandey Katju was a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, in a full Court administrative meeting of the Court one Hon’ble Judge said that a resolution should be passed by the full Court that Judges should not entertain prayers for adjournment of cases listed in Court. At this, Justice Katju said that whether to adjourn a case or not is in the judicial discretion of a Judge, and he is not bound by any administrative order of even the full Court of all the Judges, since adjournment of a case is a judicial order. 
 
Administrative instructions even by the entire full Court cannot bind a Judge on the judicial side. Hence, he said that if the full Court passes such an administrative order he will not obey it, and will act at his discretion when a prayer for adjournment is made by a counsel. If administrative orders of the full Court are regarded as binding on Judges on the judicial side, it will imply that the full Court can pass an order that a particular case listed before a particular judge should be decided in a particular manner. Surely this is unacceptable.

It is always open to the counsel to make a prayer to the Court that amatter be taken up urgently, but it is also open to the Court to reject the prayer saying that there is no urgency. This often happens in Courts of Law. The Counsel/Plaintiff may believe that the matter is urgent, but the Court may opine otherwise and reject the prayer. The ultimate decision as to whether a matter is urgent or not is of course of the Court. 

Apart from the above, it is difficult to understand how costs can be imposed just because a mere mention is made to the Hon’ble Judge to take up a case as urgent but which he is of the opinion is not urgent. The same matter may be regarded as urgent by one person and not urgent by another. There can be a genuine difference of opinion between two persons on this matter.
 
There is no provision in law entitling the court to pass an order of costs merely because a mention for urgent hearing was made by the learned counsel but the court regards the matter as not urgent. Of course if repeated prayers are made frequently in the same matter after the Judge has earlier held that there is no urgency this may amount to vexatious pleas and costs can be imposed. But surely costs cannot be imposed if such a request is made only once or twice. 

We therefore reiterate that circulars on the administrative side issued by the Court for imposing costs in such a situation are not binding on the Hon’ble Judges when they find there is no urgency in a matter which has been contended to be urgent by the learned counsel.

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. Aditya Manubarwala, Advocate is practising at New Delhi and Mumbai.

 
 

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Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT






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HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF
Congress on road to self destruction
11.03.20 - VIPIN PUBBY
Congress on road to self destruction




THE GRAND OLD Party of India, the 135 year old Indian National Congress, appears to be on the path to self-destruction. Even the die-hard supporters of the party, which has ruled the country for 60 years, have begun to wonder if the party with its present leadership or the lack of it has any future.

The exit of a promising young leader of the party, Jyotiradha Scindia, is the latest in the series of party stalwarts leaving the party. What is really unfathomable is the fact that the rudderless party, with no clear leadership or clarity over various issues, continues to remain arrogant. Treating such potential leaders as Jyotiradha with disdain and not accepting his basic demand to be nominated to Rajya Sabha after losing his claim to chief ministership of Madhya Pradesh proved to be the proverbial last straw.

Prior to his departure the party had seen a host of former chief ministers, former president of state units and former union ministers deserting the party during the last couple of years. 

Despite the one way traffic of leaders away from Congress, the party remains in a mess.
 
Sonia Gandhi is the interim president after the farce of an election for party presidentship and many believe she is keeping the seat warm for the eventual return of her son Rahul Gandhi as the president.
 
Rahul has had a disastrous run over the last about 15 years of his political career and has been consistently refusing to learn. Most party leaders appear to have given up on him but the sycophants and others with slavish mentality don’t find any alternative to him.

That the elections held last year for party presidentship were a farce is clear from the fact that none of the prominent young leaders of the party, including Jyotiradya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora or even leaders like P Chidambaram and Shashi Tharoor, who had the potential to give a new lease of life to the party, were encouraged to contest the election.

  
Some little known leaders were propped up, evidently who could pose no threat to Rahul Gandhi, and they could not secure even two per cent of votes at the election. 

Rahul Gandhi, who had publicly declared that he was not running for the post of president of the party, appears to be slowly getting convinced that he was born to lead the party. All important decisions of the party emanate from the residence of Sonia Gandhi who is surrounded by the old guard who want no opposition to Rahul Gandhi.

They don’t seem to realise that while credit can not be taken away from Prime minister Narendra Modi for the stellar victory of his party in Lok Sabha elections, having Rahul Gandhi as his main political rival was a significant contributory factor for the victory.
 
The later was just no match to Modi and people were left with practically no choice.

Jyotiradia Scindia’s exit has paved the way for BJP getting back to power in Madhya Pradesh where the BJP has lost by a thin margin.
 
The BJP has also wrested back Karnataka and could do the same in Rajasthan where there is well-known tussle between chief minister Ashok Gehlot and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot who is regarded as a mature and capable leader who can lead the party in future.

But for the congress party to have a future, it shall have to undergo a complete overhaul including a new leadership at the centre and empowering regional leaders. It just cannot rest on its past laurels or believe that its past glory can ensure that it can always survive.

 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.) 

 

 

 


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Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT






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SCINDIA HOLDS KAMAL
Politics makes strange bedfellows
11.03.20 - Markandey Katju
Politics makes strange bedfellows




"Jeevan ka safar hai toolaani
  Yaan ikraani hai naadaani
  Jo shahsawaar maahir hain
  Woh raah badalte rehte hain"

It means:

 "Life’s journey is long
  To be consistent in it is a sign of immaturity
  The expert horse riders
  Keep changing their paths"

A huge political storm has been created in India by the defection of the Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress party with about 22 MLAs who are all set to join the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP).

In the 230 seat MP Legislature, in the 2018 state elections the Congress won 114 seats, BJP won 109, BSP got 2, Samajwadi Party got 1 and there were 4 independents.
 
With these defections the Congress party in the state has been reduced to a minority in the state legislature, and consequently the Congress Govt is bound to fall. In all probability a deal was worked out in advance between Scindia and the BJP leaders that Scindia will become the next Chief Minister of MP.

Scindia was in Congress for 18 years, and his father before him. But his crossing over to the BJP is nothing new in Indian politics, which is bereft of any ethics or principles (see my article ‘After A Game of Musical Chairs: Many-Headed Hydra in Maharashtra').

Indian politicians remind us of the French politician cum diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1758-1834), who was an expert in changing his political allegiances at the nick of time,  on getting a sniff of the changing political wind, always being on the winning side. Although initially he worked for King Louis 16th, he abandoned Louis and went over to the French Revolution when it  broke out in 1789. When the Revolution ended he switched his loyalty to Napoleon. When the  latter’s reign ended at Waterloo in 1815 he quickly transferred his allegiance to King Louis 18th. And when Bourbon rule collapsed in 1830 he went over to Louis Phillipe.

The same philosophy is being followed by the Indian political leaders— our ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhaatas’. Consider these examples :

(1) Charan Singh, the UP politician, who though originally a Congressman, changed political allegiances so often that he became known as ‘Chair Singh’

Charan Singh with HN Bahuguna 

(2) HN Bahuguna, who left Congress in 1977 and formed the CFD along with Jagjiwan Ram (who also defected from Congress after the Emergency) and his son Vijay and daughter Rita who have joined the BJP. HN Bahuguna became a Minister in the Janta Dal Govt, and Rita in the UP Govt of the BJP (and later a BJP MP).

(3) VP Singh who defected from the Congress in 1989 and formed the Janta Dal and formed the National Front to become the Prime Minister.

(4) Arun Nehru, who was brought into Congress by Indira Gandhi, but after her death left Congress and joined Janta Dal, and later the BJP.

(5) Arif Mohammed Khan (presently Governor of Kerala), who was originally in Congress but later joined the Janta Dal, then BSP, and finally (in 2004) the BJP.

(6) Jayaprada, who has been in Telgu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and finally the Bhartiya Janta Party.

(7) MJ Akbar, who was at one time a Congress MP, spokesman for Rajiv Gandhi, and adviser to the Ministry of Human Resources in the Congress Govt. Later, sniffing the change in the political wind he did a somersault, abandoned secularism (of which he once professed to be a staunch advocate), and joined the BJP, becoming a Rajya Sabha MP and Minister only to be deprived of this post when involved in a sex scandal.
 
(8) Nitish Kumar, presently Chief Minister of Bihar, who like a trapeze artist and acrobat keeps somersaulting between Lalu Yadav’s RLD and the BJP, sniffing the change in the political wind.

(9) Mamata Banerji, who defected from the Congress and formed the Trinamool Congress to become the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

(10) Kashmiri leaders Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti etc, who though professing secularism joined hands with the BJP, which is known to be communal, to share power.

(11) Bhajan Lal, who to retain his Chief Ministership, defected in 1980 along with most Janta Party MLAs in Haryana and joined the Congress, saying "In politics one should either take sanyas, or take the right decision at the right time".

Talleyrand’s spirit would be delighted to see his tribe flourishing in India!
 

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India.

 
 

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Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles:

 

KYUN KE HUM HAIN HINDUSTANI

Three Women of 1984

 FROM 1984 TO BARGARI - Hurt & angry, we’ve tried rage, anger. Did we miss karuna?   

REVISITING 1984 – RIOT AROUND A POLE     

KARTARPUR SAHIB: A CLARION CALL FOR PEACE IN AN AGE OF CYNICISM

If it could happen to Arun Shourie, imagine what could they do to you?

Healers & Predators – The Doctor is In, & is very corrupt

Amarinder, Badals, AAP — Every party in Punjab is now an Akali Dal

Welcome to 1947. Happy Independence Day. Would you like to step out?

In Pakistan, a donkey pays for democracy – bleeding, its nostrils ripped apart

WOOING THE PANTH: Amarinder a little less Congressy, Akali Dal a little more saffron

"Captain Amarinder Singh ji” and "Rahul”: Reading Sign Language In A Relationship

The Comrade In Punjab - Lost, Irrelevant, Asleep, Even Bored!

WATERS ROYALTY - The Loot that Rajasthan Committed

AMARINDER GOVT's LOVE FOR FARMERS, AND MY DAD's FOR HIS SCOOTER

OF SUNNY KID & HORSE SENSE: The Punjab-Punjab Ties  

TRUDEAU VISIT AND RIGHT-WING MEDIA MACHINE         

 OF NIRMAL SINGH'S EYES 

Mr. CHIEF MINISTER, PLEASE CALL OFF JANUARY 7 FUNCTION         

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL       

A SAFFRON JOURNEY VIA CANADA

BAD, BAD WOMAN!

 


 

_______________________________________________________________

Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT






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HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF
Communal violence cases and tardy justice delivery system of India
07.03.20 - VIPIN PUBBY
Communal violence cases and tardy justice delivery system of India



THE RECENT riots in Delhi would remain a blot on the nation as the national capital faced avoidable violence for three days leaving nearly 50 people killed and several injured. The protest at Shaheen Bagh, which was allowed to continue for two months, was a ticking bomb and the fires were fuelled by provocative speeches. 

All that the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, which had become the epicentre of the protests against citizenship law across the country, wanted was that some senior leader could come to the site and listen to their grievances.
 
No one went to listen to them and by the time the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited the site, it was too late.

The next immediate question is the relief and rehabilitation of those who lost so much during the riots and an inquiry commission to fix responsibilities for those who instigated the riots and participated in violence. 
------------
India has a poor track record of justice delivery system in the incidents of riots and massacres. Be it in the cases pertaining to Nellie, Delhi, UP, Bhagalpur, Mumbai or Gujarat, the system has been tardy. It takes decades to punish some of the guilty and in most cases the majority of accused go scot free. Let there be time bound inquiry into the Delhi riots and the guilty be brought to book expeditiously.
------------
Unfortunately the track record of the country dealing with the perpetrators of such riots and communal attacks is very poor. Justice alludes the victims for decades and the guilty manage to play with the law to roam around freely. Here’s a brief account of the major incidents since the independence.

The well known Nellie massacre in Assam on February 18, 1983 had left 1,383 deaths.
 
The massacre continued for eight hours and the security forces had information about a planned attack at least three days before the incident but didn’t take any action.
 
An inquiry commission, Tewary Commission, was set up in July 1983 which submitted its report in May 1984 but the report is yet to be made public.

A total of 688 criminal cases were filed out of which 378 cases were closed due to lack of evidence. However all those cases were dropped as part of the 1985 accord and thus no one received punishment for the massacre.

In the 1984 anti-Sikh massacre, nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed. No less than 11 commissions were formed starting with the Nanavati Commission.
 
Out of the 587 initial FIRs only about 25 have resulted in convictions.
 
Although there were allegations of provocation by several Congress leaders only one of the senior leaders, Sajjan Kumar, has been convicted and that too nearly 35 years after the incidents.

The 1987 Meerut riots, which culminated in the local police picking up about 50 Muslims from Hashimpura village, is another such shameful incident.
 
The victims were later shot dead and their bodies were thrown away in a canal. Later 42 bodies were recovered.
 
It took the courts 19 years to frame charges. After a prolonged 11 year long legal battle, a Delhi court ruled that the killings did take place but the accused could not be proven guilty of the crime.
 
They were, therefore, acquitted by the court. After the order was challenged, the Delhi High Court reversed the judgment and convicted 16 former policemen for the crime.
The Bhagalpur riots in 1989, which left 1070 dead and nearly 200 villages destroyed, an inquiry commission was set up which came out with a report nearly 25 years after the riots and recommended action against 125 officers. Yet no action has been taken against them till date.

Over 900 lives were lost in the Bombay riots during 1992-1993. Justice B. N. Srikrishna Commission was set up which submitted its report in 1998. It said rioting by the Muslims was a spontaneous reaction of leaderless and incensed Muslim mobs and that in the second phase "by the Hindus brought to fever pitch by communally inciting propaganda unleashed by Hindu communal organisations".

The outcome was that while the government accepted the commission’s recommendations to improve policing, it said "it cannot agree with the conclusions of the Commission”.

The 2002 Gujarat riots were triggered by an attack in Godhra on a train carrying Hindu kar sevaks, killing 58 Hindus, including 25 women and 14 children. The backlash led to about 850 deaths as per official figures. Nearly 1200 villages were targeted and about 527 mosques, madrasas, dargahs and graveyards were destroyed.

Shah-Nanavati Commission was set up In March 2002 which got 24 extensions until it submitted the final report in 2019. The Commission found that there was no conspiracy involved in the riots and they were largely the outcome of the anger over the Godhra train burning incident. It concluded that "there is no incident to show that either BJP, VHP or any other political party or its leaders or any religious organisations or their leaders had instigated attacks on Muslims”.

It largely exonerated the state government and found only two cases in which VHP members had taken part in violent incidents. However a special court, in February 2011, convicted 31 of the accused in the Godhra case and awarded death penalties to 11 and life imprisonment to 20 of those convicted. In perhaps the first successful trial pertaining to the subsequent incidents, a special court sentenced 31 people to life imprisonment for the killing of 33 people in the village of Sardapura.

With such a tardy progress of the commissions set up after the tragic riots and massacres, there is not much hope for an early fixing of responsibility and punishment to those who instigated the Delhi riots it took part in the violence. Yet we must learn lessons from the past and act expeditiously to set an example.

 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.) 

 

 

 


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