Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hashimpura killings JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED Failure to punish guilty a 'crime' law commits

Hashimpura killings
Failure to punish guilty a 'crime' law commits

By Amba Charan Vashishth

In the legal history of India it was a great news for many from many angles.
According to the prosecution, Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel had come to village Hashimpura in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district on May 22, 1987, and picked up about 50 Muslims from a congregation of 500 that had gathered outside a mosque. 42 of them were found to be murdered.
What matters is not which community the victims belonged but the most significant is the fact that they were all human beings. And killing of any person of any caste, creed, sex or region is — and must be — universally and unanimously condemned.
It is said that "Justice delayed is Justice denied". This saying applies most appropriately to this case.
"The court has given benefit of doubt to the accused regarding their identification", the special prosecutor explained, "and not regarding the incident".  "The fact that the court referred the case to Delhi Legal Service Authority for rehabilitation of the victims", the prosecutor stressed, "shows that the incident is not in doubt."
After 28 long years, though accused were acquitted and a ray of smile appeared on their face, yet they have suffered a trauma for that long which is more or less the total length of service a public servant renders on duty normally. They could get no promotion which they would otherwise have earned in the normal course.
"I am satisfied that justice is finally done", said the 59-year-old Niranjan, one of the persons acquitted. "We faced the trial for last 28 years. During this period I failed to do anything for my family and children. I was a head constable at the time of the alleged incident and I am going to retire soon and I am still a head constable."
To the greatly disappointed families of the victims the acquittals were "unfortunate" and "denial of justice". But Babuddin, one of the survivors and eyewitnesses to the incident, regretted — and explained — that he could not recognize the PAC personnel in court as they were wearing helmets as two decades had passed since the carnage.
Both the prosecution and the defence agree that the gruesome murders did take place. The accused earned the "benefit of doubt". In a way disappointment of the bereaved families is as much justified as is the elation of the acquitted accused though for totally opposite reasons. But the villain is the system of criminal jurisprudence we follow, its shortcomings and weaknesses.
If the accused were not guilty, who else was? Whose duty it is to find the real culprits? The law has no answer. And this is the impotence of the system of law we follow. It amounts to commission of another crime in the shape of denial of justice to the victims and their families and punishment to the guilty.                                      ***

The writer is a Delhi based political analyst.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Other View — A Controversy Unnecssary and "Unfortunate" on Judges' Conference & PM's Dinner on Holy Days

The Other View
A Controversy Unnecssary and "Unfortunate" on Judges' Conference and PM's Dinner on Holy Days

By Amba Charan Vashishth

The heart of India's 'secularism' is so delicate that it gets hurt at the drop of a hat. The latest provocation  is the Chief Justice of India scheduling a conference of country's chief justices on 3-5 April, 2015. The conference is also attended by State chief ministers. The Prime Minister also threw a dinner in honour of the visiting judges on Sunday, the 5th April. April 3 was a Good Friday and April 5 the Easter. The protagonists of 'secularism' raised a great hue and cry over this infringement of the 'secular' psyche. They forgot that similar conferences had been held earlier too. But this becomes an 'issue' when the party in power is non-Congress and non-left. The unfortunate part is that this time the hackle was raised by a Supreme Court judge. Interesting to note that with a Christian population of over 83 oercebt USA doesn't have a national holiday but just a state holiday restricted to some state. But in India with a Christian population of just 1.9 percent, we have one. Why is there no cry in USA?

The annual ritual of convening a conference of Chief Justices of High Courts which is also attended by chief ministers of States, for some reason or the other, got a break in 2009. The last one was held on April 5-6, 2013. The conference provides every invitee  a rare interface between judiciary and executive when former met chief ministers face to face and explained the need for adequate infrastructure and space for creating more courts to tackle the huge backlog of cases and provide speedy justice to litigants. 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) H. L. Dattu chose to revive the practice and scheduled it for April 3 to 5, 2015. On the concluding day Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited all the participants for a dinner. Coincidently, April 3 happened to be Good Friday and the dinner coincided with the Easter Sunday — both holy days for Christian brothers.

It is customary for organisers to invite all members of a committee or conference for the meeting and lunch/dinner, yet it is not mandatory for all the invitees to attend come what may, though, courtesy demands that participants convey their convenience in advance.  Not all the judges and the CMs have attended the meet in the past. To attend or not a meeting or to join a lunch/dinner is a matter between the host and the guest. In the instant case, while all Supreme Court judges are invited, the attendance of only the top three apex court judges -- the CJI and two senior-most judges, in this case Justice T S Thakur and Justice A R Dave -- is mandatory.

There could be many reasons for an invitee not able to join although he/she very much liked to do. A participant's own birthday or a wedding in family, an untoward happening could have coincided with the meeting and he may want to be excused. No offence involved. At times, one may avoid attending a meeting as a matter of protest.

Being spiritual and religiously committed to one's faith is something that should be applauded and appreciated. It is erosion of this religiosity that is the cause of many of our maladies eating into the vitals of the nation and the world. 

Justice Kurian Joseph had every right to excuse himself from the meeting on Good Friday and PM's dinner on Easter citing religious reasons. He had every right to convey his feelings both to the CJI and the PM. But what provoked him to make a public issue of it is something unusual. The eyebrows were raised only when his letters which are a matter between the writer and the addressee, got public and viral. CJI Dattu has called it "unfortunate".

The saving grace is that while regretting his inability to attend PM's dinner on Easter Day, Justice Joseph recalled  the "Indian model of secularism" based on the principle of sarva dharma sambhava (equal respect for all religions)... In India, he said, secularism is not a mere passive attitude of religious tolerance but a positive concept of equal treatment of all religions". At the same time he was not lost of the apprehension that it may smack of "communalism". So in his letter to CJI Dattu he stressed: "Please don't think that I am striking a communal note."

"Irrespective of the religion, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Eid, Bakrid, Christmas, Easter, etc, are great days of festival celebrations in the neighbourhood," Justice Joseph wrote to the PM, "Your good self would kindly appreciate that no important programmes are held during (these) sacred and auspicious days…..though we have holidays during that period as well."  He also told CJI that the government had declared April 3 as a holiday because of the spiritual significance of the day. "If the state has declared it a holiday, how can another organ of the state, judiciary, nullify it by making it a working day?"  he asked. In reply CJI Dattu said, the question I have to ask myself,  "perhaps I can't ask you, is whether it is institutional interest or individual interest one should give preference to…I would give priority to former." Without involving himself into a religious controversy he he criptly said, "Work is worship". Contradicting Justice Joseph the CJI reminded Justice Joseph: "The conference of chief justices had been organized at least on four occasions when it was Good Friday, Independence Day or Valmiki Jayanti….If I have to schedule the conference on a working day, then the chief justices will have to come a day earlier, attend the conference for two days, and then take another day to reach their respective high courts. Four working days of 24 chief justices would be wasted" He and his predecessors, he explained, always preferred to call the conference on an April Friday whenever it was a holiday.

Interesting to note that secular USA with a Christian population of over 83 percent does not have a national holiday on Good Friday; it is just a state holiday in some States. But India with a Christian population of just 1.9 percent does have a national holiday on that day. Yet, 'seculars' do not question US secularism but they do of India. 

A public holiday on a day devoted to any religion is as much a holiday for the person of that very faith as to others. Therefore a meeting or a public function organized on that particular day as much pinches the follower of that faith as others because it is an off day for him/her too.

When a person joins a public office/service, it enjoins upon him certain obligations whether he is a prime minister, a judge, a police or fire officer or even a clerk or a peon. A public holiday on Ram Navmi, Dussehra, Diwali, Guru Nanak Birthday, Prophet Mohammad birthday, Christmas, Guru Ravidas birthday is a holiday for all.  Yet no public servant can refuse the call of duty even on a holiday. If a heinous crime of murder rape, arson, looting and violence, a serious accident and the like takes place, can the area police officer refuse to rush to the scene claiming it is a public holiday connected with his faith? Can a fire officer refuse to budge on the same excuse when a wild fire is engulfing more and more areas? Even judges are on duty on Sundays and public holidays to attend to urgent matters which cannot wait for the next day.

No denying the fact that Easter is a day of celebrations, festivities and feasting. But a dinner by a high dignitary like a prime minister is no less than a feast. Therefore, joining the PM dinner would have meant enjoying the festivities in the august company of a wider family of dignitaries of judiciary and the executive.                                                                    ***   
The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst.
Also published in the weekly ORGANISER

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TUESDAY TEASER 'No Indian proof : Tobacco causes cancer' & Vadra "glad"

'No Indian proof : Tobacco causes cancer'

By Amba Charan Vashishth

One great quality of democracy in India is the true freedom of opinion and expression enjoyed by individuals. One latest example is the assertion by a public representative that "there was no Indian study to confirm that use of tobacco products leads to cancer". His comments came  "strongly" urging the government to keep on hold its proposal to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packets from 40 per cent to 85 per cent.

He certainly has a right to his opinion and to express it. But we cannot ignore the fact that the allopathic treatment that is given in India in government and private hospitals is also based on experiments, studies and discoveries abroad. Similarly, the drugs and medicines we consume in India for various ailments too are the product of foreign studies even if many are now being produced within the country.

Those who are not inclined to studies made by others are very well at liberty to undertake their own study and experiment. They can start chewing tobacco and be chain smokers themselves. They can see for themselves whether tobacco is harmful or not. Haath kangan ko aarsi kya? Truth needs no proof. They can then enlighten the people.


For more than a decade Congress President and UPA chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra now stands relieved of his 'sadness'. The UPA government granted him a very special privilege of not being frisked at airports when he was to travel by air. This had created a heart burning among many VIPs who did not enjoy this privilege. But now that the present government has withdrawn this privilege from Vadra, he reacted saying, "I am glad that this formality is going to be removed, as this was created without my consent".

It certainly is wrong and a great injustice on the part of the then Manmohan government to extend such a privilege without the concerned person's "consent".  It was so gracious on Vadra's part that he continued to suffer "this formality" in silence for over a decade without a grudge. Now that he is "glad", that means he was sad because of this privilege 'forced' on him. Governments should refrain from imposing privileges that render persons sad. Government's intention should be to promote happiness and not sadness. This instance should also serve as a good lesson for future governments.


A teacher asked his pupil in the class: "What is the full name of Bapu"?

"Asa Ram Bapu, sir" proudly replied the so well-informed student. 

(In circulation in the social media)

Thursday, April 9, 2015


AAP in Turmoil

By Amba Charan Vashishth

When in February this year CM Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)  obliterated Congress and badly mauled BJP in Delhi assembly elections, it appeared as if, at least in Delhi, the party is over for both the national parties and it would well nigh be impossible for both to challenge it for the next decide if not more.  But in just one month of power,it now the scenario seems to have reversed. The party which witnessed a meteoric rise appears to be coming down  like a meteor to crash on the ground with a thud.

 Initially, the creators of AAP  generated a great euphoria. Hum aam aadmi hain jiI, Kejriwal would stress in every public meeting. We are not like all others, we are different, transparent. Our policies will be decided by you (people). Who will fight the election will be decided by you. Our election manifesto will be drafted by you, not us. That was his repeated rhetoric. That appeal to the people. That clicked with the voter. Today, recalling those pious words looks ironic. It attracts snide comments.

Whether the allegations against Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Admiral Ramdas who have been removed from the National Executive,   are true or not, and  to what extent, no one can say for sure.  But what dismayed those who had faith in the party was the ugly spectacle of lack of internal  democracy and transparency in the party. Those expelled were neither served any charge-sheet nor given time to reply to the charges and nor opportunity to present their case in the meeting. Strong arm tactics were used. Bouncers were there — and were allegedly used — to browbeat the dissenters. They were summarily dismissed and dishonoured. Sufficient to speak of the kind of democracy and decency  in the AAP.

Kejriwal set the tone with a "sentimental" speech exhorting those present to "choose between them and me". He even threatened to leave the party. Nobody else was allowed to speak — for or against — on the motion to expel the founding fathers of the party. He gave substance to the opposition charge that Kejriwal Party is a replica of the self-righteous naxalites-maoists on prowl in the streets of Delhi. He presented himself as indispensable to the party and government. He wanted to be the unchallenged boss against whom nobody should dare raise a voice or finger. All through, Kejriwal had decried personality cult in other parties. But he himself ignited this very cult when he called upon the party workers to choose between him and his detractors.

We have heard of people being asked to attend a meeting of which they are members. But AAP created a history by asking some inconvenient members not to attend the national executive meeting at Delhi.

AAP could not succeed in having the Delhi government or the Central government to enact a Lokpal bill. But it did earn the distinction of being the first political organization to have an internal Lokpal in the person of Admiral Ramdas. But AAP again made history when it directed its own Lokpal not to attend the meeting and, later, removed him. Prashant Bhushan has described all this as dictatorial and reminiscent of "Stalinist purge".  

Kejriwal in an audio clip released recently threatened to leave the party and form a new one. Suffice to say about his love and commitment to the party he created and the arrogance of power that had crept in his personality. He used filthy and fowl language against his opponents.

Disgusted at the "tamasha" and alleging that "political principles are being trampled upon in the party," veteran social activist Medha Patkar resigned from AAP. There are reports of fissures within the AAP state units of Punjab, Maharashtra and elsewhere.

The goings-on in the party have given the impression as if AAP is going broke ideologically, politically and financially. That is why like worried creditors many have started asking for return of their investment. One NRI has demanded back Rs. 2 lakh he donated. He also wants the Wagon-R car he gifted and which Kejriwal rode famously to be returned to him.

Similarly, the person who created the broom logo for AAP has asked Kejriwal to stop using the same. "I designed the logo but I don't want the party to use it anymore. I was working for a party which stood for certain values" which today stand abandoned.

It is difficult to say whether for AAP it is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.                                                                                                                              ***

The writer is a Delhi-based political analyst.