LEGAL NEWS 26.09.09


Twice shy

flavia agnes

Posted: Saturday , Sep 26, 2009 at 0100 hrs

The recent Bombay High Court ruling delivered by Justice A.S. Oka brings to an end the prolonged ordeal suffered by a simple village woman, Suman Satav. The ruling upheld her right to maintenance to a paltry sum of Rs 500/- under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC). Though the sum may be paltry, it bestows on the woman, and thousands of others like her, dignity and status in a society where marriage continues to have a high premium for women, particularly in rural areas. Suman’s ordeal had started way back in 1991 when she was assaulted and thrown out of the matrimonial home along with her minor daughter, then aged four. The magistrate’s court and the sessions court had denied her maintenance, upholding her husband Nivruti’s contention that since he was already married, there cannot be a valid marriage between himself and Suman. However, since paternity was not denied, the daughter was awarded Rs 200/- per month as maintenance which was enhanced to Rs 400/- by the sessions court.

Nivruti’s contentions are not unique. Denying marriage on the ground of bigamy is a common ploy adopted by husbands to avoid maintenance to their women with whom they have cohabited for a prolonged period. In this context, the landmark ruling in Badri Prasad vs. Dy Director of Consolidation, in 1978, had laid down that prolonged cohabitation between a man or a woman leads to a presumption of marriage under Section 114 of the Evidence Act.

Though Justice Oka’s judgement is highly valuable, it is not a precedent for the Bombay High Court. It follows the tradition set by Justice Kania, way back in 1976 in Govindrao vs. Anandibai (AIR 1976 Bom 433), which had ruled that since the Hindu Marriage Act is a beneficial legislation, it would not be right to adopt a narrow approach and deprive a large number of women their rights of maintenance. This could not have been the intention of the legislature. Had the lower courts followed this ruling, Suman would not have been spared this ordeal. Justice Oka relied upon another judgement of the Supreme Court which had also upheld a similar position, Dwarika Prasad Satpathy v Bidyut Praya Dixit (AIR 1999 SC 3348) and had laid down that strict proof of a valid marriage is not necessary while deciding the issue of maintenance in summary proceedings under Section 125 of the Cr.PC.

Another important ruling on this issue was delivered by the Supreme Court in 2004 in Rameshchandra Daga vs. Rameshwari Daga, where the right of another woman in a similar situation was upheld. Here the apex court had accepted that Hindu marriages have continued to be bigamous despite the enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955. The court had commented that though such marriages are illegal as per the provisions of the Act, they are not ‘immoral’ and hence a financially dependent woman cannot be denied maintenance on this ground. But a contrary and regressive view was expressed by another bench of the Supreme Court in 2005, in Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya vs. State of Gujarat (AIR 2005 SC 1809) which denied the woman maintenance on the ground that it is inconsequential that the man was treating the woman as his wife. The court commented, “However desirable it may be to take note of the plight of the unfortunate woman, the legislative intent being clearly reflected in Section125 of the Cr.PC, there is no scope for enlarging it by introducing any artificial definition to include a woman not lawfully married in the expression ‘wife’.” Fortunately for women, Justice Oka did not endorse this view though this case was cited in support of the husband’s claim.

Perhaps I need to clearly state my position here, lest I be quoted out of context. I am not endorsing bigamy, but rather, making out a case in defence of women who are caught in this web of deceit by husbands who take advantage of the vulnerability of women and then try to escape from the financial liability by using provisions of an Act which was meant to be beneficial to Hindu women. Only under the Hindu law is it possible to blatantly plead an illegal act and gain financial advantage without any criminal culpability. This occurs so routinely that the apex court in Vimala vs. Veeraswamy, had laid down that when a man pleads an earlier marriage, he would have to strictly prove the same. In the present case, the husband could not prove that he was married earlier in 1978, prior to his marriage with Suman in 1980. But the bigamy was an admitted fact, since the wife herself pleaded that in 1982 he had married again. But he continued to cohabit with her and produced children at regular intervals. The two earlier ones had expired and only the daughter born in 1987 has survived.

These facts highlights another reality of Hindu women’s lives. Though women do have a right of divorce, most women in rural areas accept their husbands’ bigamous marriages and continue to reside with them despite domestic violence, so long as the husbands continue to cohabit with them and maintain them. Only when they are thrown out, they approach the courts for their basic right of survival. It is here that the trial courts have to be aware that they have a constitutional duty to uphold women’s right to dignity and survival.

The writer is a women’s rights lawyer and feminist legal scholar. She is also the director of ‘Majlis’ which provides legal advocacy and litigation support to women








Minutes on death row


Posted: Friday , Sep 25, 2009 at 0039 hrs

The Constitution protects several rights, including those of prisoners. Last week, the Supreme Court’s stern warning about expeditious disposal of mercy petitions revisits an issue the government is trying hard to ignore. Struggling to dispose of mercy petitions, the excessive delay on behalf of the government has compelled the judiciary to step in. Much ink is expended lamenting the delays in our justice system, and factors such as limited recourses and insufficient judges are often cited in response. But how do we account for the government taking over a decade to decide mercy petitions?

The delay in deciding on mercy petitions raises deep constitutional issues. Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life, applies to all stages of the legal process, not just the trial. For over three decades, “life” has been interpreted liberally and Article 21 has been held to apply to both legislative and executive action.

In Triveniben vs State of Gujarat (1989), the Supreme Court underscored the protection that Article 21 provided to prisoners. Cases of inordinate delays in the execution of a sentence would invite scrutiny under Article 21, and unjustifiable delays would alter the death sentence to life imprisonment. However, the court declined to provide a fixed period of delay that would convert the sentence; the issue would turn on the specific circumstances for the delay.

The rationale for granting protection against an inordinate delay is twofold. Most significantly, such a delay has serious mental and psychological implications; it is both an act of cruelty and a form of torture. In addition, the law posits that persons in appropriate cases should receive either the death penalty or life imprisonment. An inordinate delay seems to provide both forms of punishment.

Triveniben was not a case dealing with mercy petitions and the government’s power to grant clemency under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution. However, the court did observe that when “petitions under Article 72 or 161 are received by the authorities concerned it is expected that these petitions shall be disposed of expeditiously”. It further emphasised that the principle of converting sentences would apply equally to mercy petitions, and that the time measured would be “the delay in disposal of the mercy petitions or delays occurring at the instance of the executive”. The few liberal democracies that still support capital punishment emphasise that it must be conducted with minimal cruelty. Triveniben makes it clear that keeping prisoners indefinitely on death row is in flagrant violation of this constitutional morality.

Although Afzal Guru’s mercy petition has attracted the most public attention, it is but one of 26 petitions. Some have been pending for over a decade. In certain cases (such as Afzal Guru’s), there could be important questions to consider regarding the soundness of the conviction. But Afzal was convicted as early as 2001, suggesting that the government’s reluctance to decide may be motivated more by political factors than legal complexities. In last week’s decision, Supreme Court Justices H.S. Bedi and J.M. Panchal reminded the government of the “dehumanising effects of the lengthy imprisonment prior to the execution”. They further warned against the usage of prisoners “as pawns in furthering some larger political or government policy”. If the government waits long enough, constitutional principles would empower the Supreme Court to convert several death sentences to life imprisonment. Ironically enough, placing the decision in someone else’s hands could well be what the government wants.

Deciding on certain mercy petitions is perhaps tricky, and the government’s decision could alienate some sections of the electorate. Yet the shocking delay that the apex court highlighted tells us a great deal about how the government views constitutional principles and fundamental rights. It is one thing for the government to test political limits, quite another to test legal ones. As the philosopher Ronald Dworkin once noted, “We must not confuse strategy with justice, nor facts of political life with principles of political morality.” Many have elaborated on how the delay in determining mercy petitions such as Afzal Guru’s is politically motivated and deeply unprincipled. As the Supreme Court clarified, it’s also unconstitutional.

The writer is a law student






Protestors in Agra block rail traffic demanding establishment of High Court bench

September 26th, 2009 SindhToday

Agra, Sept 26 (ANI): Protesters here on Saturday blocked rail traffic by staging demonstrations on the railway tracks, demanding establishment of High Court bench in the city.

Protestors said that their agitation would continue and intensify further until their demands are met.

‘Uttar Pradesh is a very big state and people of western Uttar Pradesh here are facing lot of problems due to unavailability of High Court. Our demand of High Court bench in Agra has been clearly mentioned in the report of Jaswant Singh Commission. For this demand, we have today announced rail and road jam. We would continue our agitation till Agra High Court bench is established,’ said P.K.Singh, a protestor.

The Government had constituted a commission under the leadership of former judge Jaswant Singh in 1981. But its recommendations, as per which High Court benches had to be established, have not been implemented yet. The Commission submitted its report in 1985.

Media reports say that the matter remains pending citing several excuses like getting recommendations from the State Government or the Supreme Court or the High Court.
The Agra High Court was shifted in 1857.

The recommendation of setting up a High Court Bench in Agra was considered as the restoration of city’s glory. (ANI)







Don’t cut trees in GKVK: HC

TNN 26 September 2009, 04:30am IST

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the BDA and the BBMP not to cut tress in the GKVK campus. The vacation division Bench headed by Justice A S Bopanna passed this interim order on a PIL challenging the proposed 9.5 km link road connecting Yeshwantpur and Yelahanka and the BIA and cutting of hundreds of trees in the GKVK campus to build it.

Earlier, counsel for BBMP told the court that no more trees would be cut. The court posted the matter after the Dasara vacation.

Counsel for petitioners told the court that the road was opposed by the board of regents of UAS in its meeting on May 29, 2009. But, on August 18, it took a diametrically opposite decision. Vidyaranyapura residents opposed the road and cutting of trees. The governor asked the authorities to heed their plea. The BBMP moved men and machinery to cut the trees on September 5 and nearly 700 odd trees were already cut or felled.

Seven former vice-chancellors of UAS and UAS Employees Association are among the petitioners. The high court ordered a notice to the urban development department and the BBMP following a petition challenging the July 21 guidelines on reservation of wards for the forthcoming BBMP polls.

Counsel for petitioner Ramakrishna Pai told the court that the guidelines stated that reservation for SC/STs would be decided on the basis of population in the assembly constituencies which come under BBMP. Thereafter, those with the highest population of SC/STs within a particular ward would be considered for reservation. As per the constitutional scheme under Article 243(T) and Sec.7 of the KMC Act, the BBMP area population should have been the basis for determining reservation. The 1995 and 2001 reservations too were not taken into consideration. “All these mistakes seem to have been intentionally made,” the petitioner said.

A division Bench ordered a notice to the government and the BBMP on a PIL challenging the construction of a prayer/ meditation hall by Sree Adinatha Jain Shwethambara Temple Trust at OTC Road, Chickpet. The petitioners claim the trust is undertaking the project despite a status quo order passed by the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal.

The high court stayed the August 31 notification with regard to appointment of an administrator to the Manjunatheshwara temple in Kadri, Mangalore. “Section 25 of the Karnataka Hindu Religious and Charitable Act is not in force in view of the vacating of stay order by the apex court on July 31. The government cannot exercise its powers under Sec. 29 to appoint an administrator to a temple where they have not exercised their right under Sec.25. This move had stalled the ongoing works for building 30 rooms for devotees and VIP rooms and other developmental activities,” counsel for petitioner Harinath Jogi, a temple trustee claimed.

The high court stayed the cancellation of admission of 13 I year students of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College run by KLE University. “These students were admitted in June-July. They joined the course and had submitted the originals and gone to their native places for a couple of weeks. The university has unilaterally cancelled admissions of 39 students without giving any opportunity to explain their position,” Rajendra Kumar Sungay, counsel for the petitioners, told the court.

A division bench has ordered notice to the government and the BBMP on a PIL challenging the grant of rajakaluve land near Ibbalur lake for forming a burial ground.







Probe alegations against HC Chief Justice

TNN 26 September 2009, 04:28am IST

BANGALORE: Allegations against the high court Chief Justice that he has accumulated `excess’ wealth should be examined by the Supreme Court collegium immediately, according to members of the Federation of Bar Association in Karnataka.

To push their demand, the members staged a symbolic protest in front of the city civil court on Friday. Two days earlier, the federation held an executive committee meeting to discuss the issue, and members had agreed that judges at all levels should disclose their assets.

They also decided that the salutary system of inter-state transfer of high court judges be revived and re-activated. Justice Shailendra Kumar’s decision to disclose his assets was lauded by federation members.

“There is uncertainty after the allegations against the Chief Justice surfaced. The collegium of the Supreme Court should examine them and take a decision on the elevation of the Chief Justice to the Supreme Court,” said federation chairman K N Subba Reddy. “Such a move will clear the confusion.”

According to Reddy, federation members will meet the Chief Justice of India next week to brief him about the situation and the seriousness of the matter.

The protest on Friday was also against a circular issued by the registrar of the high court, which prohibits display of portraits on the court premises, including at the Bar Association.

“Since the Bar Association is located on the court premises, there can be no portraits in the former too,” a federation member pointed out.

Then the members welcomed a suggestion by the Union law minister: discuss the accountability of judges in the winter session of the Parliament.







HC orders probe into affairs of Thanjavur juvenile home

TNN 26 September 2009, 03:50am IST

CHENNAI: Disheartened’ by the grave allegations of sexual exploitation of children lodged at a Juvenile Home in the state, the Madras high court has ordered a probe into the whole affairs of the home.

Justice TS Sivagnanam, referring to various statutory protections available to juveniles lodged in state-run homes, directed the Social Welfare Department to probe the alleged abuse of children at the juvenile home in Thanjavur and ascertain their health condition. A detailed report shall be submitted within six months, he said.

The judge was passing orders on a writ petition filed by one M Karthikeyan, whose father worked as a garden assistant at the home. In September 2008, his father was allegedly attacked and murdered by a group of six juveniles lodged at the home.

Doubting the official version, the petitioner said his father kept complaining about illegal activities perpetrated by four staff members at the home, including its superintendent. The murdered Munusamy had told his family members that children at the home were being forced into homosexual relationships and that lives of several children had been spoiled. The petitioner alleged that his father was not murdered by the juveniles, but the administrators of the home. He wanted the case to be transferred to the CB-CID for an impartial inquiry.

Justice Sivagnanam, rejecting the transfer plea, said there was not enough material to entrust the case to the CB-CID, and added that the Supreme Court had cautioned high courts against transferring cases casually. It should be done only in rarest of rare cases.

But, expressing pain at the grave nature of the allegations levelled by the petitioner, the judge said it was a fit case where a report could be called for. Noting that juvenile homes should help the child to build his self-confidence and self-esteem, justice Sivagnanam asked the secretary of the Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department to form a three-member committee to conduct a detailed inquiry into the facilities available at the juvenile home.

If any such incidents had taken place in the past, the committee must find out what action was taken in such incidents. A report in this regard shall be submitted to the state advisory board within six months, he added.

The committee shall inquire about the health condition of the juveniles at the home and ascertain if there had been any incidents of exploitation or abuse reported there. While one member could be a government nominee, others should be eminent social workers and from a voluntary organisation, justice Sivagnanam said.







HC nod for save-year scheme, but with riders

Express News Service Posted: Saturday , Sep 26, 2009 at 0215 hrs Mumbai:

In a relief for the Maharashtra government, the Bombay High Court on Thursday partly upheld the government’s decision to introduce ‘allowed to keep term’ (ATKT) to obviate the high dropout rate in schools.

The court has, however, struck down the first part of the amended regulation 79 1 (A) of the Maharashtra Secondary and Higher Secondary Board Act as “unconstitutional and arbitrary,” whereby the government had proposed the system only for those who appeared for the SSC examination in March 2009.

Division Bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A M Khanwilkar held that students who have appeared prior to and after March 2009 will also be eligible for the scheme to avoid discrimination.

While reading out the judgement, Justice Khanwilkar said that while filling up the seats in schools and junior colleges, merit should be given preference and the left over seats can be given to ATKT students. “In other words passed students shall get precedence,” Justice Khanwilkar said.

The ABVP filed a PIL challenging the state’s decision to allow the students who have failed in one or two subjects in the standard 10 examination to take admission to class 11th. The ATKT facility is being introduced at standard 11 for the first time.

But ABVP’s petition said that this would add more than one lakh students to standard 11, and there was no infrastructure available to take them in.

The government had issued a notification for this purpose, amending the SSC board rules related to criteria for class 11th admission, on August 17.

According to the judgement passed on Thursday, till any other change is brought about by following due process, the eligible students would be free to avail of ATKT facility.

“We are inclined to uphold the validity of amended provision subject to striking down the offending part. Subject to that, the same is purely on merit and upon fulfilling the essential academic norms,” the judgement states.

It further reads: “the provision is only an enabling provision providing an opportunity or concession to the specified students to avail ATKT. ”








Justice Tarun Agrawal sworn-in as Uttarakhand HC judge


Nainital, Sept 25 (PTI) Justice Tarun Agrawal was today sworn-in as the judge of Uttarakhand High Court by Governor Margaret Alva.

Justice Agrawal was transferred to the Uttarakhand HC from Allahabad High Court.








HC orders police to hand over passport to Sami


Mumbai, Sep 25 (PTI) The Bombay High Court today directed police to hand over passport to playback singer Adnan Sami so that he could revalidate his visa and extend his stay in India.

Sami, a Pakistani citizen, had deposited his passport with Oshivara police after high court granted him anticipatory bail in a case filed by his wife Sabah Galadari alleging cruelty against him.

The singer’s visa expires tomorrow and if he does not revalidate it, his stay in India would be illegal and he would be liable to be deported, his lawyer Vibhav Krishna argued.

Sami contended that his wife had filed several criminal cases against him in various courts and his presence in India was therefore necessary. In his absence there was likelihood of courts passing orders ex-parte and hence he wanted to extend his stay in India







HC sets bank staff free from election duty

DNMUM148260 | 9/26/2009 | Author : Mayura Janwalkar | WC :165 | Politics & Governance

The Bombay high court on Friday struck down the order passed by the collector of Thane requisitioning staff of banks and financial institutions for poll duty.
The division bench of Justice SB Mhase and RM Sawant heard a group of petitions filed by Thane Janata Sahakari Bank, Dombivli Nagrik Sahakari Bank Limited, Kalyan Janata Sahakari Bank and Life Insurance Corporation. The petitioners contended that nearly all their staff, in some cases as much as 80%, have been assigned election duty. As a result, work has come to standstill, they added.
The judges were of the view that the collector has no power to issue such requisition orders and that the power to do so is vested only with the state’s chief election commissioner and the regional election commissioner. The order passed on Friday will be applicable to all requisition orders passed by collectors throughout the state. The court has allowed the chief election commissioner to issue fresh orders for requisition of staff for election duty.






Judge raises doubt over Ansari’s passport

Kartikeya, TNN 26 September 2009, 01:58am IST

MUMBAI: The 26/11 court on Friday questioned the authenticity of a Pakistani passport allegedly seized by the Uttar Pradesh ATS from accused Faheem Ansari. Judge M L Tahaliyani also wondered whether the passport could be considered a public document under the Indian Evidence Act and refused to take it on record.

“What evidence have your officers collected that it was issued by the Pakistani government?” Tahaliyani asked special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. When told it was a presumption made by the investigators, the judge quipped that presumptions were made only in the case of certified documents.

Deputy superintendent Ashok Raghav, admitted that he had not called anyone to act as an independent witness to the seizure of documents from Ansari when he was arrested last year. It is alleged that Ansari drew maps of Mumbai aided the 26/11 attackers to choose their targets.

Tahaliyani also summoned captain R K Sharma of the National Security Guard to court. Sharma had carried out the operation at Hotel Oberoi in which two gunmen were killed.







GO on retired law lectures’ tenure stayed

TNN 26 September 2009, 03:29am IST

CHENNAI: A government order which says retired law college lecturers, re-appointed by the government as a stop-gap measure, would hold the posts only till they turn 62 or permanent appointments are made, has been stayed by the Madras High Court.

A vacation bench comprising justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and justice T Sudanthiram granted the interim injunction on a writ appeal filed by one A Veerappan, who was re-appointed to a temporary vacancy recently. If the new government order, dated August 26 is enforced, he would become ineligible to continue in the post after September 23, when he turned 62.

Though the original notification issued by the state law department in April this year did not have any upper age limit for re-appointed lecturers, the August 26 order introduced this condition afresh.

In this regard, Veerappan pointed out that after the November 26, 2008 violence on the Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law College campus here, the High Court had directed the government to fill up all teaching positions and, if need be, engage retired lecturers till a permanent solution is found.

Though the college, which has about 2,000 students, shall have 60 teachers including the principal had only 29 when the order was passed in December 2008. Now, it has selected only seven retired teachers, but appointed only four, that too in different colleges.







Woman gets 5-yr jail for driving husband to suicide

TNN 26 September 2009, 03:45am IST

AHMEDABAD: In a rare conviction, a city sessions court on Friday punished a woman for causing mental harassment to her husband that led him to commit suicide.

An additional sessions judge, BU Joshi, awarded five-year jail term to 29-year-old Vandana Batul, a resident of Ghodasar, for exerting pressure on her husband Shreyas to follow instructions of her parents. Shreyas consumed poison on February 27, 2006 and died the next day in hospital.

After his death, a criminal proceeding was initiated against Vandana, her sister Varsha and parents Balkrishna and Tara Kanchani on the basis of the suicide note written by Shreyas accusing them of torturing him and driving him to end his life. During the trial, it was also revealed that Vandana had once tried to commit suicide a month before Shreyas died, because Shreyas allegedly refused to succumb to the pressure of his in-laws.

After assessing 26 documentary evidence and examining 24 witnesses, judge Joshi concluded that Shreyas committed suicide because of mental torture by his in-laws. The court acquitted Vandana’s family members for want of evidence against them, but punished her with five-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 500 on her.







Murder case: 1 of 5 accused guilty

TNN 26 September 2009, 02:30am IST

CHANDIGARH: The verdict in a trial connected to a nine-year-old murder case arrived in the court of additional district and sessions judge RS Attri on Friday. All five accused were acquitted of murder charges. However, one of them, Raman Kalia, was held guilty of culpable homicide and the punishment in his case will be pronounced during the next hearing on September 29.

The FIR in the case was registered on October 7, 2000. Later, victim Ramesh Kaushik’s father had filed a criminal complaint. The deceased was a law graduate, who owned a travel agency in the city. Prosecution stated that the night before his death, Kaushik had been having drinks with his friend Deepak Dutta, an inspector with Haryana excise department, and they had later gone to Sector-19 market to have paan.

At the paan shop, Kaushik met another friend of his, Raman Kalia. The two of them entered an altercation and Kalia, a rower, allegedly punched and pushed the victim. Kaushik fell and his head hit the pavement. His nose started to bleed. Another of his friends, identified as Trikha, arrived there with his family. He and Dutta helped Kaushik get up. Trikha took Kaushik, who stayed with his wife in Sector 44, to his (Kaushik’s) parents’ house in Sector 19.

The victim’s condition deteriorated during the night and in the morning, members of his family took him to PGI, where doctors declared him brought dead. Medical reports showed that he died of skull fracture. The FIR was registered against Kalia on Dutta’s complaint under section 304 (culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

The victim’s father, who is a lawyer, had stated in his complaint that his daughter-in-law, Neetu, had got his son killed in connivance with Dutta, Kalia, Trikha and another accused, Rajeev Sharma. Neetu had also accused her father-in-law of the same. However, court did not find merit in the criminal conspiracy theory and acquitted all of murder charges.








SC order a setback for mine owners

TNN 25 September 2009, 11:25pm IST

BELLARY: Mine owners who got buoyed by the steep increase in mineral price are now left in disarray, as the Supreme Court has ordered to stop mining activites in the state on September 11.

Bellary district, which has 92 companies that are operational, includes three government companies too. Most of the mining companies are operation in forest areas. If Supreme Court diktat is implemented, mining companies are likely to receive a setback. Most of the state political bigwigs have their share with mining companies.

Iron ore and manganese are found in abundance in 39,15,074 and 90,99,997 hectare of land respectively. Out of this, 90,99,997 metric tones of iron ore and 80,150 metric tons of manganese have been dug out.

According to environmentalists, the ban would protect wild animals in Sandur and Hospet region, ecological imbalance can be prevented and people can be free from dust, and roads and infrastructure facilities can be developed.








Court notice to 3 ministers

TNN 25 September 2009, 11:24pm IST

BELLARY: Bellary court on Friday ordered issue of emergent notices to 3 cabinet ministers and two others on a petition seeking a direction to authorities to drop acquisition of fertile land for the airport project.

Additional district judge B M Raju ordered issue of notices to health minister B Sreeramulu, tourism minister G Janardana Reddy and his brother and revenue minister G Karunakara Reddy, district deputy commissioner and Karnataka Area Industrial Development Board, the nodal agency for acquiring land.

The petitioners, Chaganur and Sirvara Neervari Bhoomi Samkrakshana Samithi, a forum spearheading the agitation against the acquisition of land, submitted that the government had been acquiring 6,000 acres of fertile land in two villages depriving farmers dependent on it for their livelihood.

The petitioners, who accused the three ministers hailing from the district of trying to influence the land acquisition process, prayed that authorities be directed to drop the acquisition proceedings.

The judge declined to pass interim orders to stay the project, but posted it for further hearing on October 6.

Aggrieved farmers of Chaganur and Sirvara villages have been protesting against land acquisition for some months. Opposition Congress and JD(S) had also been demanding scrapping of the project.

Janardhana Reddy had earlier ruled out dropping the project.









Torture without trace

The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) have turned the spotlight on the complicity of medical professionals in the Central Investigation Agency’s recourse to abusive and unlawful interrogation methods during the post-9/11 ‘war on terror.’ The latest evidence, documented earlier as part of the horrors visited upon detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram airbase, underlines the imperative need to further codify such methods as illegal under international human rights law. The PHR findings focus on the psychological abuses recorded in the CIA Inspector-General’s 2004 report, but made public only recently following a law suit by the American Civil Liberties Union. There was resort to mock executions and the threat of imminent death and assault on family members, including sexual assaults — betraying the intent to terrorise and intimidate detainees. The forcible shaving of heads and beards was clearly designed to inflict personal and religious humiliation and trauma. If the intended effect of the infamous ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ such as water-boarding, stripping, sensory deprivation, and solitary confinement was the infliction of long-term bodily pain and injury, methods such as hooding gave interrogators anonymity and consequently impunity for their lawless actions.

While these means of mental torture were employed by the CIA, medical professionals, and psychologists actively colluded in the cruel and inhuman interrogations in cynical contempt for ethical and professional norms. Of particular concern are the extensive data they gathered on the basis of the reactions of detainees so as to determine the effectiveness of the interrogation techniques. The PHR rightly views this as amounting to unlawful human experimentation. The approach of the Obama administration to this dark chapter in contemporary American history has been to look ahead, rather than back, causing some consternation among civil rights groups and within the Democratic Party. President Obama’s more recent expression of a readiness to prosecute the architects of the torture laws, rather than those who merely enforced their criminal provisions, is perhaps an indication that the issue could become a political hot potato at home. What is absolutely clear is that how the people of the United States come to terms — or fail to come to terms — with the horrors inflicted on humanity in the name of the global war on terror will have a strong bearing on counter-terror strategies elsewhere.


One Response

  1. Je trouve ca supers, merci pour ce tres bon post !

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