March 31, 2010

We are not criminals, says the LGBT community

DECRIMINALISATION OF Indian Penal Code 377 on July 2, and recent Supreme Court judgment to have ‘other’ category for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) communities in all government agencies is a justifiable judgment in the Indian judiciary and it deserves to be jubilated. But will this step bridge the gap? Will these communities enjoy all fundamental rights? Will they be not further harassed by police, public bureaucratic ants who put jaggery syrup on them and feast on them? These questions still need to be answered.

LGBT community in India has long borne the brunt of male chauvinistic and social prejudices despite the fact that India has a long 4000 years of third gender culture. They have been sacked by every shades of our society. They have been deprived of fundamental rights; they have been forced to show their genitals in the government medicals as if they are some museum display. They are forced to do sexual fervour to the police to keep them at bay.

LGBT community has become a vestigial part of our society. They have been rejected by our society which forces them to indulge in sex trade, dancing to feed their starved stomach. “If I would have been supported by my parents then I would not have been in this sex trade,” says, a LGBT individual of Andhra Pradesh. They have been struggling since their puberty, first by family, then by their own Indian society which proclaims itself as the spiritual leader in humanity.

After 62 years of independence their freedom is sacrificed at the altar of expediency. They are being branded as criminals.

It is high time now for all of us to understand the motives of the political, religious bureaucrats who manipulate us by misinterpreting the clauses of holy books and making us to desegregate-- so that their own vested interest is achieved. Let us peep behind the mirror and look that they are the same leaders who revolt in the name of humanity when some Indian is racially abused in Australia and surprisingly they themselves only motivate us to assault Indians inside India. By this act, are we not setting a shameful example of sheer democratic system of our country? Let us not replicate our morals of humanity by reasons of judgment. Let us ingrain our cultural values. If at all we have decided to condemn LGBT groups then let us first firmly erase the concept of ‘ardhanareshwari’ from our religious books. Let us not play anymore blame games or dramatise any law as we know they are not implemented. Let us not anymore fall victim in the hands of these spiritual, political gurus who are using us as the weapon of religion, law to colonolise us in our own society.

March 29, 2010



The forgotten Oriya hero

LIKE ALL self respecting people, Oriyas too take pride in their glorious past. We speak and write about our rich culture, tradition and art. But do we really and honestly remember and honour our forefathers, who sacrificed their lives or all the pleasures of life, just to see that their next generation could have a better life, live with dignity and self-respect.

We have, but all forgotten Pandit Nilamani Vidyaratna. He was a fiercely proud Oriya. He was born on 14 December at Banki, in a poor Brahmin family in Cuttack district. Handicapped with poverty and starvation, he completed his studies up to seventh standard. Hunger didn’t stop Nilamani Vidyaratna’s thirst for knowledge. At the age of only twenty three, he took the able leadership of editing Sambalpur Hitesini and was bestowed the prestigious tile of “Vidya Ratna” by Basudev Subdhal Dev.

He campaigned relentlessly against the government for replacing Oriya with Hindi as the official language. That was the point in his life when he dreamt for Orissa---Orissa as a separate province for his Oriya people. His only aim, the creation of Orissa and Oriya language, drove him mad. He worked tirelessly and gave vent to his passion for the creation of Orissa, through his literary works. The self imposed disciplined man of vision never compromised with his morals. He carried his struggle in the pages of his literary works which comprises of Indradhanu, Utkal Madhupa, Guna Darpan, Utkala Dipika etc. The man who shaped the destiny of Orissa is unfortunately lost in the pages of history.

Today, in the 21st century his identity is sinking in the ocean of modernization. Today he is only remembered on his birth anniversary and dealth anniversary and most of the time his memories just rest in old library shelves. On 14 December, 2009, the 142nd anniversary of Panditji was observed at Jaydev Bhawan, where the auditorium was packed. Many esteemed audiences were introduced to Panditji and his contribution to Orissa--- on the spot. But still they are proud to be Oriyas. Tears must have been rolled down from the spiritual soul in the heaven, when the announcer told that they struggled to find a photograph, that too a torn one, of Panditji, for the event which they later edited.

Now, Panditji must be questioning himself in the heaven? Who am I? Does Nilamani Vidyaratna only deserve an annual tribute by ministers on his anniversaries? Is it not the duty of all Oriyas to carry out his struggle for the development of Orissa --in a time when Orissa has been awarded the first prestigious position in poverty? We all celebrate first of April as Utkal Dibas, but do we really know that this Utkal was possible for “Utkal samilhani” formed by these selfless fighters. We have burned Panditji’s identity in the ashes of time, generation gap concepts and we all have become anomalies in the lap of change. Alas! We have all forgotten that ‘We are, because they were’.

Portrayal of violence on news channels

VIOLENCE IS never very far from our minds, it isn’t allowed to be. It is on television all the time for everyone’s viewing on our numerous news channels. It has become their favourite kind of news. India has 28 states and 7 union territories, and more than 18 major languages, and many many more minor languages. India has many religions and many castes, and all of them have innumerable festivals.

And still, what we see on news channel is not who celebrated what, but who killed who with what. Its not that violence should never be shown, but still, it shouldn’t be shown always. American boxer, Muhammad Ali had once said, “There are more pleasant things to do than beat people up,” but I think that to publish it all over the world, and that too not for spreading awareness but for gathering fame is the most unpleasant thing. Indian national anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana’, was declared as the best national anthem in the world by UNESCO, but not even a speck of it was seen in the news channels. Of course they can’t collect everything, but there should be a separation between what is needed and what isn’t.

The peacekeeping mission initiated by the United Nations since 1948, started 186 new missions in 2008, but why was there not even a syllable of it in the news? All there could be seen was how two neighbors fought and killed each others in some godforsaken land. Everyone loves to see violence, I don’t say that I don’t, but still, if one does not see a thing for some time, he would obviously forget it.

Issac Asimov very correctly stated in his novel ‘Salvor Hardin’ in the series ‘Foundation’ that, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” but what I believe is that to spread violence, is the first move of the coward.

RTI: What is lacking, awareness or action?

WALKING DOWN the lane Jim saw a manhole, and said to Ted walking by his side that there was nothing commendable that the government was doing. They discussed it for over two hours stopping only when they saw a child fall in the manhole. It set Jim wondering if his doing something could have spared the child this hurt. But all he had done was criticize the government! The basic Indian tendency is reflected in this incident. After all the government has not landed from Mars, they are from amongst us Indians.

This implies that if we, as citizens of this country, say something to the government, indirectly, it is a question aimed at our own judgment. The UPA government has passed a law, 'Right to information' and yet the masses haven’t even been able to spread awareness amongst themselves. Passed in October 2005, it has come to the notice of people just lately, and I am sorry to say, but being an adult with a role to play in the future of the country, I was one of those many 'uninformed' people.

Generally, the laws and the bills passed through the governing bodies benefit the State. This act has been the first of its kind when the control is on the other side of the fence. Section 4 of RTI empowers a layman to simply barge into a government office and ask for “Inspection of Files”.

The recent years have seen a gradual rise in the number of ‘Suo Moto’ applications and a burgeoning enthusiasm and questioning power in the citizens. This has already proved a deterrent to many officials with intentions of corruption. The RTI process is very crystal clear in its terms, dos and don’ts. The Act allows you to apply for anything that you find is not going according to how it should be, you have to write an application to the authorities questioning them.

You can’t blame them for not doing a certain thing or doing it the wrong way. More than half the time, the officials distract you either by misleading information or by not giving it at all. The section 6 and section 4 give us the right to question and at the same time, section 8 regulates the kind of information you can ask for. Often the officials justify their “not giving the information” as threat to national security and integrity under section 8.

Another pull back baggage attached to the act is the application has to be very precise and must end within 150 words. If a person has a query that can’t end in 150 words, he can’t apply. After all this application sending and waiting period of some 45 days, if you still don’t get satisfactory justification, you can make an appeal to the appellate authority above that officer.

Masses have woken up to some extent and are waking up to the fact that if you don’t start questioning now, you will never get an answer. In Bangalore, Coalition against Corruption is a smaller but very effective effort undertaken by Guru Ravindranath. They have filed applications and even won a few of them. Pune is moving towards RTI through Intelligent Pune, a weekly. In Delhi, however, the approximation says that only one official was found guilty and was punished in last five years with a meager penalty of Rs.500. To add up to the misery of it all, the accused official himself confessed. But still the silver lining to the cloud appears each time a ‘Suo Moto’ is applied for.

March 25, 2010

The costs of justice

Paragraph 111 of this year’s Budget speech, which talked about the National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms, was overshadowed by other elements. Actually, there wasn’t much on this important component in the speech, beyond the statement that the government had approved the setting up of such a mission and that it would reduce court backlogs from an average of 15 years today to three years by 2012.

We were also told the 13th Finance Commission had approved Rs 5,000 crore for states to improve justice delivery. Let’s take the finance commission (grants in aid) first, noting that though the 11th Finance Commission did fund fast track courts, it is the Planning Commission’s responsibility to ensure fund flows for legal reforms. The timeframe for the 13th Finance Commission’s recommendations is 2010-2015 and we have an immediate disconnect between 2015 and 2012 mentioned in the Budget speech. How is this Rs 5,000 crore broken up?

First, Rs 2,500 crore will be provided to 14,825 morning/evening/special courts and shift systems and they will dispose of 112.5 million cases over a five-year period. That’s impressive and yes, there are successful experiments. The 13th Finance Commision notes morning courts in Andhra Pradesh and evening courts in Gujarat.

But will there be a general success template? Will we get special judicial or metropolitan magistrates for these courts? The finance commision suggests staffing by regular judiciary on payment of additional compensation. That’s unlikely to work. So, we effectively bank on retired judicial officers. More importantly, there is no guarantee those outcome targets will be met. The only check that exists is utilisation certificates and statements of expenditure under general financial rules.

Let us take 1,734 fast track courts funded by the11th Finance Commission. Not all money allotted was released. Not all money released was utilised. Why? Because state governments were lackadaisical about utilisation certificates. The prime minister told us this in April 2007 in a speech to the chief ministers and chief justices of high courts. Between 2000 and 2005, fast track courts disposed off 8,00,000 cases. When the 11th Finance Commission gave the money, they were expected to dispose off 5,00,000 cases every year. Second, 13th Finance Commission has given Rs 600 crore for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) centres (one in each district) and Rs 150 crore for training on ADR to judicial officers and advocates. Third, there are Rs 100 crore for the Lok Adalat scheme. That’s not a great deal of money. But we should note that the success of lok adalats hasn’t been phenomenal. The 13th Finance Commission expects 0.75 million cases to be disposed of between 2010 and 2015 because of this incremental initiative. Existing lok adalats dispose of roughly a million cases per year. Fourth, Rs 200 crore have been provided for legal aid. Fifth, there are Rs 250 crore for training of judicial officers. Sixth, there are Rs 300 crore for State Judicial Academies. Seventh, there are Rs 150 crore for training public prosecutors. Eighth, there are Rs 300 crore for court managers, feeding into the proposed National Arrears Grid. Ninth, there are Rs 450 crore for heritage court buildings. Finally, there is a little bit more, conditional on states formulating litigation policies.

A finance commission isn’t the primary channel for addressing justice delivery issues. But, as the above listing indicates, on this, the 13th Finance Commission has used a shotgun, in the hope something somewhere sticks. The implicit suggestion in the Budget speech that the 13th Finance Commission will help reduce average duration of cases to three years by 2012 is unwarranted.

Perhaps the other element in the speech, the national mission, will ensure this. It is laudable that under the present law minister, “timely justice for all” is now on the reform agenda and this mission is described as a blueprint for judicial reforms. In specific terms, elements in this blueprint are the following:

(1) Set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under Societies Registration Act to implement the action plan;

(2) Create a national arrears grid;

3)Formulate a national litigation policy at the Centre and in the states, to curb government litigation;

(4)Establish an all-India judicial service;

(5) Increase sanctioned strength of judges by 25 per cent;

(6) Appoint ad hoc judges on contractual basis;

(7) Create a national pool of judicial officers from retired judges;

(8) Speed up appointments of judges;

(9)Raise the retirement age of high court judges;

(10) Fast track specific cases;

(11)Get the Law Commission to examine changes required in statutory law, especially criminal law ;

(12) Improve case management;

(13) Use ADR for civil cases and plea bargaining for criminal cases;

(14) Use ICT, video conferencing and e-courts;

(15) Implement national minimum court performance standards; disposal should increase from 60 per cent of case load to 95-100 per cent in three years, not more than 5 per cent cases should be more than five years old.

Beyond the SPV, national arrears grid, national litigation policy and the idea of periodic reports to the PM (and public), none of these ideas are new. Nor can they be objected to. Within court structure proper (ignoring quasi-judicial forums), we now have a pendency of 29.1 million — 47,000 in the Supreme Court, 3.7 million in the high courts and 25.4 million in the lower courts. An appalling 5,30,000 cases in our high courts are more than 10 years old and we no longer seem to have age-specific data for the lower courts. Two-thirds of this pendency are criminal cases (concentrated in the lower courts.) It goes without saying that this isn’t tenable. Since criminal law falls under the home ministry and reforms in criminal justice are also contingent on police reforms, is the system likely to become credible by 2012?

Consider also the costs of improving legal infrastructure. There are different ways of working out the required number of courts/judges, judge-case ratio and judge-population ratio. Whichever way this is worked out, we are talking about 20,000 more courts and 40,000-60,000 more judges. This requires fixed costs of at least Rs 80,000 crore and annual running costs of at least Rs 1,60,000 crore. Finance commissions don’t dish out that kind of money. The Planning Commission does, but that is (since 1993) through a centrally-sponsored scheme, where 50 per cent of matching grant is provided by the states. While increasing courts/judges is not the only solution, it is an integral component.

Indeed, if the legal system becomes more credible, more people may resort to courts. The simple point is: reducing pendency has large costs and because of fiscal constraints, both the Centre and the states are unwilling. Therefore, we are tinkering with what seem to be low-cost solutions (lok adalats, people’s courts, women’s courts, family courts, ADR, mobile courts, shift systems, fast track courts, panchayats, gram nyalayas, ICT). This makes the 2012 target even less credible.

Judicial Discipline

The inconsistency in the law laid down by the highest court of the land is a cause for concern . . . The inconsistency in the law laid down by the highest court of the land is a cause for concern.

It is assumed that where democracy breathes, and a secure judiciary functions, all law would be unambiguous and non-retrospective. The security of knowing that his due diligence in ascertaining the present position of law will hold him in good stead is what protects a litigant.

Consider the instance of the Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board, which appealed to the Supreme Court aggrieved by the decision of the High Court to regularise its daily-wage employees1. The Board, buoyed by the recently delivered judgment of the Constitution Bench in Umadevi case2, must have presumed that its task was an easy one. Distancing itself from the five-Judge decision in Umadevi (3) 3, the smaller Bench in U.P. SEB1 chose to limit that ruling to certain facts situations alone, and dismissed the Board’s appeal.

When this position came to the attention of a subsequent three-Judge Bench4, there was no hesitation in doubting the judgment in U.P. SEB1, and directing that the same be treated as obiter. Lamenting the lack of judicial discipline, the Court said as follows: (Dayanand case4, SCC p. 57, paras 90�91)

90. We are distressed to note that despite several pronouncements on the subject, there is substantial increase in the number of cases involving violation of the basics of judicial discipline. The learned Single Judges and Benches of the High Courts refuse to follow and accept the verdict and law laid down by coordinate and even larger Benches by citing minor difference in the facts as the ground for doing so. Therefore, it has become necessary to reiterate that disrespect to constitutional ethos and breach of discipline have grave impact on the credibility of judicial institution and encourages chance litigation. It must be remembered that predictability and certainty is an important hallmark of judicial jurisprudence developed in this country in the last six decades and increase in the frequency of conflicting judgments of the superior judiciary will do incalculable harm to the system inasmuch as the courts at the grass roots will not be able to decide as to which of the judgments lay down the correct law and which one should be followed.

91. We may add that in our constitutional set-up every citizen is under a duty to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions. Those who have been entrusted with the task of administering the system and operating various constituents of the State and who take oath to act in accordance with the Constitution and uphold the same, have to set an example by exhibiting total commitment to the constitutional ideals. This principle is required to be observed with greater rigour by the members of judicial fraternity who have been bestowed with the power to adjudicate upon important constitutional and legal issues and protect and preserve rights of the individuals and society as a whole. Discipline is sine qua non for effective and efficient functioning of the judicial system. If the courts command others to act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and rule of law, it is not possible to countenance violation of the constitutional principle by those who are required to lay down the law.

In support of its judgment, the Bench also cited the observations of Justice Sinha in State of U.P. v. Jeet S. Bisht5 wherein he had taken strong exception to his Brother Judge criticising earlier orders by previous Benches of the Supreme Court concerning the constitution of consumer forums in the petitioner State. Justice Sinha had said: (SCC p. 623, para 100)

One Bench of this Court, it is trite, does not sit in appeal over the other Bench particularly when it is a coordinate Bench. It is equally inappropriate for us to express total disagreement in the same matter as also in similar matters with the directions and observations made by the larger Bench. Doctrine of judicial restraint, in my opinion, applies even in this realm. We should not forget other doctrines which are equally developed viz. judicial discipline and respect for the Brother Judges.

In Naveen Kohli v. Neelu Kohli6 a three-Judge Bench had considered at some length the various facets of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage, and how it was not a ground for divorce finding mention in the Hindu Marriage Act. Yet, as the facts at hand showed attempts to harass the spouse by not agreeing to a divorce, the Court concluded that the marriage had indeed irretrievably broken down, and that divorce was to be allowed. When an identical situation presented itself in Vishnu Dutt Sharma7 it was observed that: (SCC p. 384, para 10)

11. Learned counsel for the appellant has stated that this Court in some cases has dissolved a marriage on the ground of irretrievable breakdown. In our opinion, those cases have not taken into consideration the legal position which we have mentioned above, and hence they are not precedents. A mere direction of the Court without considering the legal position is not a precedent.

Apart from being inaccurate in stating that the earlier cases did not consider the legal position (which they did), the Court in Vishnu Dutt Sharma7 ignored the basic principle of stare decisis, and rejected the plea for divorce due to “irretrievable breakdown” through a judgment that was clearly per incuriam.

Again, the recent judgment in University of Kerala v. Council of Principals’ of Colleges8 questions the Supreme Court’s earlier order directing implementation of the Lyngdoh Committee’s Report concerning student activities in campuses across the country. Despite the fact that the Committee’s suggestions had been implemented in many institutions across the country and brought some discipline to student politics, the present judgment brings any further such measures to a premature end by raising issues of “judicial legislation” and the scope of Articles 141 and 142 to a Constitution Bench. Once again, stare decisis was ignored.

It is important, if our constitutional democracy is to survive, that judicial discipline provides the underpinning to a consistent and true judicial system. One can only hope that with the litigant public in mind, stare decisis will prevail.
U.P. SEB v. Pooran Chandra Pandey, (2007) 11 SCC 92 : (2008) 1 SCC (L&S) 736.
State of Karnataka v. Umadevi (3), (2006) 4 SCC 1 : 2006 SCC (L&S) 753.
Official Liquidator v. Dayanand, (2008) 10 SCC 1 : (2009) 1 SCC (L&S) 943.
(2007) 6 SCC 586.
(2006) 4 SCC 558.
Vishnu Dutt Sharma v. Manju Sharma, (2009) 6 SCC 379.
(2010) 1 SCC 353.

March 24, 2010

Rape law and reform

The laws relating to rape and sexual assault are set to undergo a radical overhaul with the Union Home Ministry readying a draft Bill on the subject. Home Minister P. Chidambaram's remarks suggest that the proposed legislation is likely to be based on the Law Commission of India's 172nd report, which called for a thoroughgoing review of our rape laws. The 2000 report was prepared following a direction from the Supreme Court that loopholes in the law relating to rape and sexual assault should be identified with a view to plugging them. At least two major changes seem to be on the anvil. First, the meaning of rape, which Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code construes as non-consensual sexual intercourse, will be broadened to cover other forms of penetrative acts that fall outside the purview of the existing definition. The Law Commission, the National Commission for Women, and various feminist organisations have supported such a widening of the definition of rape on the ground that the existing legal provisions neither reflect nor deal adequately with the various kinds of sexual assault women are subjected to in India. The restrictive interpretation of the term 'penetration' in the Explanation to Section 375 fails to address the myriad ways victims of sexual crime can be humiliated — physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Rape, as feminists have argued, must be understood as an experience of brutal violation and degradation and not just the act of penetration.

The proposed legislation will also broaden the definition of rape in another respect — by making it gender-neutral. This is principally to protect males, particularly young boys, who could be victims of homosexual crime. As the Law Commission observed in its report on rape laws: “Not only women but young boys are being increasingly subjected to forced sexual assaults...[which] causes no less trauma and psychological damage to a boy than to a girl subjected to such offence.” It is a mistake to regard gender-neutrality as a dilution of the rape law. While girls and women are victims of the vast majority of sexual crimes, boys and men suffer too. Statistics reveal that one out of 10 rape and sexual assault victims in the United States and England is male. Indian laws relating to rape have remained virtually unchanged since 1862, when the IPC came into force. (Some amendments made in 1983 have not made much of a difference.) It is necessary to review the law in a humane and progressive manner, factoring in what we know about the patterns of sexual assault and the severe trauma it inflicts on victims. The Home Ministry's draft Bill, which promises to do precisely this, will be closely watched.

Verdict for the worker

A Madras High Court judgment calls for an amendment of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, to benefit the worker.

A Judgment of the Madras High Court has raised the hopes of lakhs of workers, particularly those in the unorganised sector, of getting a fair deal in case of an accident at the workplace or a fair compensation to their dependants in case of death. The judgment calls for the amendment of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, which fixes a ceiling of Rs.4,000 a month as the maximum wage of a labourer while calculating the “employment injury compensation” to an injured workman or while arriving at the compensation to dependants in case of death.

Against the backdrop of criticism in trade union circles that the “judiciary has turned its back on the working people and the poor, particularly since the era of economic liberalisation”, Justice N. Kirubakaran, in his February 8 judgment, observes thus: “Minimum monthly wages can be fixed and there cannot be any ceiling on the monthly wages. Fixing maximum monthly wages is detrimental to the interests of the working class and would certainly affect the fundamental rights of the workers guaranteed under Articles 19 (1) (g) [Right to carry on occupation] and 21 [Right to life].” He said fixing Rs.4,000 as the maximum wage, under Section 4 (1) Explanation-II of the Act, went against the very object of the Act and it was high time the Act was amended.

The judgment comes in the wake of an appeal by the Oriental Insurance Company against the award of Rs.4,34,650 to a mason who suffered 80 per cent disability in an accident during the course of employment on August 20, 2003, and claimed Rs.3,00,000 as compensation. Going into two “substantial questions of law at the time of admission” of the appeal, the court upheld the decision of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour that the claimant was a “workman” who suffered injuries during the course of employment and confirmed his award fixing the compensation at Rs.4,34,650. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have welcomed the judgment.

Demanding better accident compensation, workers block the entrance to the Vedanta Aluminium factory at Lanjigarh in Orissa on February 22, a day after a colleague was killed in an accident in the factory.

Recalling that the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, has its origins in the colonial period like many other primary and major Acts, the court pointed out that but for “cosmetic amendments”, the main statement of object and reasons for the enactment of the law remained the same. The object of the piece of legislation was to compensate for injuries arising out of accidents during the course of employment and resulting in disablement or death, the judge pointed out. He said that as the object was very laudable and the legislation had been enacted for the benefit of workmen, there should not have been a ceiling on the monthly wage of workers at Rs.4,000.

“Considering the rise in the earning capacity and spending power, inflation and cost of living, the monthly wage of workmen is bound to rise and change. Therefore, the maximum monthly wage of Rs.4,000 fixed in the Act is very meagre and requires reconsideration by way of enhancement or deletion of ceiling fixed under Section 4 (1) Explanation II of the Act,” the judge observed. He also wondered why labour forums and associations had missed the implications of the section and had not challenged the provision.

While passing the order, Justice Kirubakaran referred to the January 5 judgment of a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court of India comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly in Harjinder Singh vs Punjab State Warehousing Corporation. The judges, in separate but concurring judgments, stressed the need to protect the rights of workers in the liberalised and globalised scenario (“Introspection time”, Frontline, February 26, 2010).

The Madras High Court judgment quotes Justice Singhvi’s observation as follows:

“Of late, there has been a visible shift in the courts’ approach in dealing with the cases involving the interpretation of social welfare legislation. The attractive mantras of globalisation and liberalisation are fast becoming the raison d’etre of the judicial process and an impression has been created that the constitutional courts are no longer sympathetic towards the plight of industrial and unorganised workers. In large number of cases like the present one, relief has been denied to the employees falling in the category of workmen, who are illegally retrenched from service by creating bylanes and sidelanes in the jurisprudence developed by this court in three decades.

“The stock plea raised by the public employer in such cases is that the initial employment/engagement of the workman-employee was contrary to some or the other statute or that reinstatement of the workman will put unbearable burden on the financial health of the establishment. The courts have readily accepted such plea unmindful of the accountability of the wrongdoer and indirectly punished the tiny beneficiary of the wrong, ignoring the fact that he may have continued in the employment for years together and that micro wages earned by him may be the only source of his livelihood. It needs no emphasis that if a man is deprived of his livelihood, he is deprived of all his fundamental and constitutional rights….

“Therefore, the approach of the courts must be compatible with the constitutional philosophy of which the Directive Principles of State Policy constitute an integral part, and justice due to the workman should not be denied by entertaining the specious and untenable grounds put forward by the employer – public or private.”

Justice Kirubakaran also referred to the observation of Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, that the court “has a duty to interpret statutes with social welfare benefits in such a way as to further the statutory goal and not to frustrate it. In doing so, this court should make an effort to protect the rights of the weaker sections of society in view of the clear constitutional mandate discussed above.”

He further said that while awarding compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, factors such as disability, loss of income, pain and suffering, loss of love and affection, loss of consortium, loss of damage to clothes and property and loss of estate are considered whereas under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, disability alone is considered for the purpose of calculating the loss of income.

Stressing the need to revamp the Workmen’s Compensation Act on a par with the Motor Vehicles Act, he said “… an ‘injury’ sustained is always an ‘injury’ and the ‘pain’ suffered is ‘pain’ with all elements and there cannot be any difference whether the victim gets relief under either of the Acts”.

Praising the judgment, A.K. Padmanabhan, president of the Tamil Nadu unit of the CITU, said very rarely had a judgment of this type been awarded by the Supreme Court or the High Courts. He described the High Court order and the judgment of the two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court as “exceptional” and said he hoped they would not continue to be exceptions for too long.

He said three years ago, in Chennai, the State unit of the CITU had submitted a memorandum to the Chief Justice of India expressing concern over the apex court’s decisions that had “consistently gone against the working class”. On the High Court order calling for the removal of the ceiling on wages for calculating compensation, he said: “This is one area where the government has been consistently taking a negative attitude towards the demands of workers and trade unions.” He alleged that the government had made changes in the various enactments on wages wherever it wanted to favour the employers, but nothing of much use to the workers had been done in this regard.

With regard to pieces of legislations such as the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the Bonus Act, the wage ceiling had not been amended for years, he said. Though it had been continuously pointed out by trade unions in various tripartite meetings including the Indian Labour Conference, the highest tripartite body in the country, that certain sections of the Bonus Act had become obsolete, the wage limits prescribed for the application of the bonus law remained, he added.

Pointing out that only recently the Union Cabinet decided to amend the Gratuity Act, which put a ceiling on the maximum amount payable to workers, he said, these were only a few examples to show how wage ceilings in the present inflationary situations took away the meagre amounts that workers were to get as a benefit or as compensation. At least in the wake of the High Court’s judgment, he said, the government should come forward to amend the Workmen’s Compensation Act on the lines of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Expressing similar sentiments, S.S. Thyagarajan, general secretary of the State unit of the AITUC, said trade unions had always demanded that the government lift the ceiling on the wages for all welfare schemes, including Provident Fund, Employees’ State Insurance, and bonus. According to him, the judgment of the High Court “has a tinge of humanitarian consideration”.

He pointed out that the governments had always been reluctant to effect an upward revision of wages that would benefit workers. Whenever amendments effected an enhancement of wages, the increases became virtually redundant owing to belated implementation, he said. “We hope the essence of the judgment will be taken into account and wages will be enhanced appropriately to benefit workers and their families,” he said.


The Delhi High Court grants women in the armed forces the right to permanent commission, so far denied on flimsy grounds.

On March 12, hot on the heels of the vote in the Rajya Sabha on the Women’s Reservation Bill, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Delhi High Court delivered a landmark judgment upholding the right of women in the armed forces to gender equality. Although the proximity of the two events was a coincidence, the underlying principles cited by Justice Kaul appear to be relevant even in the discourse on the Women’s Reservation Bill, which aims to take representation a step closer to gender equality. These were rights to substantive equality, and against discrimination on the basis of sex, guaranteed by the Constitution. Paradoxically, while the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre is the proponent of the Bill in Parliament, in the Delhi High Court, it sought to resist the aspirations of women in the armed forces for gender equality, ignoring international trends that favour such equality. The official website of the Indian Army says that the Indian Army also has women officers. The use of the word “also” here may suggest the Army’s commitment to gender equality, but in reality it is a qualified commitment. “You can take up the challenge of Short Service Commission and prove to the world when it comes to courage and leadership, you’re second to none,” the Army tells women on its website. In practice, however, professionally successful women in the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) always found themselves passed over when it came to promotion to permanent commission.

Those inducted on a short service commission have the option of joining the Army and serving as a commissioned officer for 10 years. At the end of this period they have two options: either elect for a permanent commission or opt out. Those not selected for permanent commission have the option of a four-year extension. They can resign at any time during this period. A short service commission, according to the Indian Army, empowers one with analytical thinking, planning skills, administrative and organisational abilities – qualities that will make the person an invaluable asset for any organisation that he or she joins after leaving the Army. A permanent commission means a career in the Army until one retires.

Justice Kaul notes in his judgment that there has been induction of women in only certain areas of the armed forces, and that too for short service commission. The government is stated to have carried out studies for the grant of permanent commission to women, but it has not so far considered the option favourably. In the case before the Delhi High Court, women officers who were granted short service commission in the IAF and Army and who sought permanent commission challenged the government’s refusal to consider them for permanent commission. These officers have had long stints with short service commission, extended from time to time to as much as 14 years. The consequence of not being granted permanent commission was that they were deprived of certain benefits and privileges such as pension, “ex-serviceman” status and medical facilities.

However, after the aggrieved women officers filed petitions in the High Court, the Central government, in 2008, decided to sanction the offer of permanent commission prospectively to women officers in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Department at the Army Headquarters in New Delhi, the Army Education Corps (AEC) and the corresponding branches/cadre in Navy and Air Force, the Accounts Branch of the Air Force and Naval Constructor of the Navy, in addition to the current provisions of grant of permanent commission to male officers with short service commission.

The High Court considered this step as a progressive one, but decided to examine why women personnel who were still in service could not get the benefit of the change of policy. Also, the women officers who had approached the court by filing petitions but retired during the pendency of their petitions sought relief.

Indeed, the IAF had initially granted short service commission for women officers for a period of five years, but at the end of that tenure, it promised to offer permanent commission to the willing officers, subject to their suitability. The Air Force had promised in its advertisement for recruitment in 1991 that women officers who were unwilling to serve with permanent commission could be granted extension of the short service commission for six years on making a request for such an extension. Women officers with short service commission received training for a period of one year along with male permanent commission officers in the same classroom with the same tests, and both sets of officers passed out together. Insofar as the male short service commission officers are concerned, the training period was only for three months.

The simultaneous training of women short service commission officers and the male permanent commission officers was envisaged on the understanding that the women officers, if they were willing, were entitled to be absorbed with permanent commission subject to their fitness. Ten batches of male short service commission officers who had undergone training of only three months were granted permanent commission in the same period, whereas women short service commission officers continued to work in that capacity. The petitioners stated that they applied for permanent commission but received only an extension of the short service commission.

Change in policy

Meanwhile, on May 25, 2006, the government changed its policy with regard to the question whether short service commission officers, male or female, should be granted permanent commission. The IAF concluded that it was, therefore, not required to grant permanent commission to short service commission officers, male or female, under the revised policy. The petitioners contended that they had been recruited before this change of policy and that they were entitled to permanent commission as per the original policy. The Central government, on the contrary, maintained that absorption under permanent commission was as per service exigency and that it was a policy matter in which the court could not intervene.

The petitioners from the Army did not seek induction into combat, which is a policy matter. However, in certain fields where women officers had been inducted into short service commission and their performance had been found up to the mark, denying them permanent commission was unjustified, they pointed out. There is some difference in the training period of male and female officers with short service commission; it is nine months for the former and six months for the latter. However, the classes are common for both and the syllabus is the same, and both male and female officers perform exactly the same kind of duties.

The Central government advanced the plea of shorter training period for women officers with short service commission as grounds for not granting them permanent commission. The government also pleaded that if permanent commission was granted to women officers, they would be at risk of coming in contact with the enemy. The High Court rejected this plea since the women officers would not be inducted into combat roles.

The High Court found merit in the argument of the petitioners that their plea for permanent commission was based on the principle of legitimate expectation. The petitioners said that if the short service commission candidates were found fit and if their short service commission tenure was extended despite their request for permanent commission, they expected that such extension would be converted into permanent commission in accordance with the initial terms and conditions of appointment.

A legitimate expectation of a benefit, relief or remedy is not a legal right but ordinarily flows from a promise or established practice. It is grounded in the rule of law as requiring regularity, predictability and certainty in the government’s dealings with the public. The Central government argued that there could be no legitimate expectation since the women officers knew that their induction into the IAF was on an experimental basis for five years, to be reviewed thereafter. The court, however, pointed out that the women officers were both suitable and required. The High Court recognised the fact that recruitment of women in the armed forces had gone through a process of evolution largely dependent on the social norms of the country. In the United States, the strength of women officers in the military rose from 2 per cent in 1967 to 11 per cent in 1993. Almost 90 per cent of the posts have slowly become open to women officers except in the field of infantry, armour and special operations. The judgment noted that in India, there is reluctance on the part of the armed forces to induct women as permanent commission officers.

While noting that there are countries that have given opportunities to women even in combat areas, the court conceded that social and cultural ethos vary from country to country. Therefore, it is not for the court to decide in which areas of operation women should be employed in the armed forces, Justice Kaul said.

The court also rejected the government’s contention that since these women officers accepted the extension of short service commission, they were precluded from raising the issue of grant of Permanent Commission later. The court said that in matters involving gender discrimination, a liberal view on the aspect of delay has to be taken. The High Court thus directed that the women officers of the IAF with short service commission who had opted for permanent commission, and those of the Army, are entitled to permanent commission on a par with male officers with short service commission with all consequential benefits.

Justice Kaul expressed the hope that with increased participation of women in different walks of life, the Central government would be encouraged to allow greater participation of women in more areas of operation.

Protecting children

We are supposed to be living in times of “transparency”, whatever that hackneyed expression may mean. There are now very few icons. Fewer are the sacred cows. There are no holds barred at all when it comes to probing the lives of public figures and the functioning of hallowed institutions. The Vatican and the Catholic Church of Ireland have in the past few weeks come under separate clinical scrutinies.

Allegations are flying in the media about Pope Benedict XVI and his older brother Georg Ratzinger (85). First is the charge that the Holy Father, as an Archbishop at the Munich diocese, had approved housing for a priest who had sexually abused an 11-year-old boy. Years later, the priest was said to have been given a suspended sentence for child abuse offences. He is possibly still functioning in Bavaria, although he has not come to adverse notice again. As for the Pope’s brother, for 30 years he was associated with a choir near Berlin that had reported many instances of abuse of choir boys.

Although Ratzinger claims the allegation goes back to a period prior to his time at the choir, one Thomas Mayer surfaced suddenly to complain that he had, in fact, been sexually assaulted by older boys in the choir when Ratzinger was in charge. (This is typical of many instances of sexual attacks on children. The victims remain reticent and come up suddenly with charges after a lapse of decades. This raises credibility problems even if a reported assault did happen.)

Close on the heels of the controversy surrounding the Vatican comes a report from Ireland where the Catholic church is embarrassed by revelations that Cardinal Sean Brady had, way back in 1975, forced at least two child victims to take a vow of secrecy about their experience with Father Brendan Smyth. Brady had been directed by his Bishop to probe the happening reported from counties Louth and Cavan. When interviewed, two abused boys confirmed the physical violation but were asked not to share their stories with anyone else.

The findings were passed up the hierarchy, following which Father Smyth’s right to practise as a priest was withdrawn and he was advised to seek psychiatric help. The matter was not taken to the police nor was anything done to monitor the offender’s activities thereafter.

Shockingly, Father Smyth went on to abuse more children. Ironically, the revelations come 35 years after the abominable happening. While the abuse is still actionable by the police, there is a view that administering the oath of secrecy to the victims by Father Brady itself constitutes an offence. The priest, now a Cardinal, has taken the position that his action of 1975 should not be judged by present-day standards of juvenile safety, and that he was satisfied with what he did in deactivating the offending priest.

There are indications that we have not heard the last of what seems to be a ballooning controversy on the role of the clergy in putting an end to juvenile abuses within the church premises.

It is too early to believe or discard these charges before they are investigated in depth. They can, however, cause immense damage to the Vatican and the Irish Catholic church because child abuse is, rightly, now an explosive subject as it involves conduct that cuts at the roots of civilised behaviour. Even a hint of suspicion that an individual had indulged in it or that an institution had connived at a cover-up could lead to acute embarrassment.

Indian experience

The point is that sexual abuse of children is a reality wherever children are taught or made to live in a group under even a semblance of authority. Residential schools and orphanages are especially vulnerable. In India – not exactly known for transparency until the arrival in recent years of the visual media in full strength – there have been far too many such unsavoury episodes for comfort. Institutional abuse of children is rampant, but it seldom comes out in the open.

Recall the recent charge-sheeting of Dutch national William Heum (56), who has been facing trial since 2002 for child molestation. Recently, he was indicted for possession of child pornography. He is accused of having posted prurient material on the Internet in 2005 and is also said to have made a confession to the police, which he now denies. Heum has been in India for three decades and claims that he is a social worker associated with an orphanage in Mahabalipuram.

India is a favourite destination for foreign tourists looking for child sex, and there are several studies that highlight the laxity in procedures that facilitates access to potential victims. Take, for example, the case of Australian businessman Paul Henry Dean, who made India his home in the late 1970s when he disappeared from his native country to begin a new life as a holy man and healer.

After spending the initial years in an ashram in South India, he migrated to Andhra Pradesh and Orissa where he was living among leprosy patients. He also took to paramedical training of the local youth, aided by the slender knowledge that he acquired watching local doctors in action. It was in Titsagarh (Orissa) that he came to adverse notice for sexual contact with young boys, for which he was reported to the police.

In 2001, cases were initiated against him for engaging in unnatural sex and for violations of the Passport Act. It is also known that statements against him were recorded by the police in 2008. Dean has strongly denied all the charges. One does not know the fate of the investigation. The Australian government has also not shown any great enthusiasm to bring him to book because it is more than 30 years since he fled Australia. This case alone would indicate how easy it is to enter our country on specious grounds and remain here to indulge in objectionable activities.

Despite the fact that our child population is more than 400 million, and several studies – including the one conducted by the Government of India in 2007 – point to sexual exploitation of more than 50 per cent of our children, for the police in India, combating sexual assaults against children is of a low priority. Some senior officers have shown significant interest. They cannot, however, make any difference until officers in the lower rungs, such as deputy superintendents and station house officers, are also sensitised sufficiently so that they look out for prowlers like Dean. But then they need strong legislative support. The law is barely adequate to neutralise those who target hapless children, especially those in the lower economic strata who suffer from parental neglect and a poor school ambience.

Unlike countries such as the United Kingdom, we do not have a specific legislation that deals with sexual offences. The proposed expansion of the definition of “rape” in the Indian Penal Code may not address the growing problem of sexual exploitation of children.

It is gratifying that Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily has shown commendable interest in drafting a special law to meet the situation. The Law Commission’s 172nd Report and the National Women’s Commission’s draft recommendations are a good guide to drafting the contemplated law. The Supreme Court in its Sakshi ruling of 2004 suggested that major amendments be made to the existing criminal law or a new Act be enacted to deal with sexual violence against children.

Bringing in a new law goes only half the way in tackling the menace that greatly affects the younger generation. It goes without saying that all of us who have a stake in the welfare of our children need to spread the message against predators looking to satiate their reprehensible appetite for children.

We must remember that child victims of sexual assault experience the same level of trauma as rape victims. Unchecked, this evil poses a grave threat to the health of future generations. This is why there is a need to build a national consensus on how to combat it by strengthening the law and the enforcement machinery such as the police. The media can also play a positive role here.

March 22, 2010

Article 136 only a discretionary remedy, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, while deciding to examine the scope of Article 136 of the Constitution, said it was like Article 226 (writ jurisdiction of High Courts) was a discretionary remedy and the Supreme Court was not bound to interfere even if there was an error of law or fact in the order under challenge.

A Bench consisting of Justices Markandey Katju and R.M. Lodha, quoting various judgments, pointed out that Article 136 was never meant to be an ordinary forum of appeal at all. “It has become a practice of filing SLPs against all kinds of orders of the High Court or other authorities without realising the scope of Article 136.”

Exceptional circumstances

The Bench said: “The very conferment of the discretionary power defies any attempt at exhaustive definition of such power. The power is permitted to be invoked not in a routine fashion but in very exceptional circumstances as [and] when a question of law of general public importance arises or a decision sought to be impugned before the Supreme Court shocks the conscience. The Supreme Court would not under Article 136 constitute itself into a tribunal or court just settling disputes and reduce itself to a mere court of error.”

Limited time

The judges said: “After all, the Supreme Court has limited time at its disposal and it cannot be expected to hear every kind of dispute. The apex court lays down the law for the whole country and it should have more time to deliberate upon the cases it hears before rendering judgment as Mr. Justice Frankfurter observed. However, sadly the position today is that it is under such pressure because of the immense volume of cases in the court that judges do not get sufficient time to deliberate over the cases, which they deserve, and this is bound to affect the quality of our judgments.” Let notice be issued to the respondents, they said.

Alarming situation

The Bench noted the concern expressed by senior advocate K.K. Venugopal in a lecture pointing out that an alarming state of affairs “has developed in this court because this court has gradually converted itself into a mere Court of Appeal which has sought to correct every error which it finds in the judgments of the High Courts of the country as well as the vast number of tribunals. Mr. Venugopal has further observed that this court has strayed from its original character as a Constitutional Court and the apex court of the country. According to him, this is a self-inflicted injury, which is the cause of the malaise which has gradually eroded the confidence of the litigants in the apex court of the country, mainly because of its failure to hear and dispose of cases within a reasonable period of time.”

Mr. Venugopal, the Bench said, “has pointed out that in the year 1997 there were only 19,000 pending cases in this court, but now, there are over 55,000 pending cases and in a few years' time the pendency will cross one lakh cases. In 2009, almost 70,000 cases were filed in this court, of which an overwhelming number were SLPs under Article 136. At present, all these cases have to be heard orally, whereas the U.S. Supreme Court hears only about 100 to 120 cases every year and the Canadian Supreme Court hears only 60 cases per year.”

The Bench, therefore, wanted the issue to be settled by a Constitution Bench. It issued notice to the Supreme Court Bar Association, the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court-Advocates-on-Record Association. The Constitution Bench may also consider appointing some senior advocates of this court as amicus curiae to assist in the matter so that it can be settled after considering the views of all the parties concerned.

March 19, 2010

Telecom firms cheating Customers

INDIA IS a place where one time business can give huge return in profit, therefore, we see emergence of a large number of babaa (fake saint), pakhandi gurua (religious charlatan) and other impostors who successfully run business of several crore of rupees. This is because of the presence of a very big market of all time in each sector as well as concerned authorities are corrupted.

Telecom sector also enjoys a potential market in India where a large number of customers are available at all time to be tapped and cheated. So, private players in mobile telecommunication never shy from emerging as impostors for latest news, horoscope, health tips, vaastu tips, humorous jokes, ringtones, new music releases and many other subjects on which even experts' opinion could not give us guarantee of success. Nobody knows whether these mobile companies employ experts or randomly pass general views/tips applicable in a subject.

Customers may not benefit from these tips but, private mobile operators definitely make a huge profit everyday. As the market in telecom sector is enormously large and operators are less than ten on national level, even if a few per cent of customers are cheated for some duration, profit of several crore rupees can be easily made.

Even a big and leading telecom firm also doesn’t shy away from running this cheat-business and latest endeavour by the telecommunication firm is to send unsolicited cricket alerts to its customers for which the firm deduces subscription charges without permission of the customers.

Nowadays, cricket alert is found activated on each mobile number of every mobile connection without any request and permission from customers. Though it seems these cricket alerts are like spams, the telecom operator does deduce good amount for such unsolicited alerts/news at a rate of Rs 30 per month or sometimes rupees three per day.

In a month, a customer is robbed of Rs 30 to Rs 90 from his/her balance without his/her permission and the private firm makes a profit of not less than crore rupees by tapping customers throughout the country. Since, its time of Indian Premier League season in cricket which will continue for two months, customers seem to have no respite from being cheated and robbed of huge amount from their balance by the mobile telecom players, who will continue to pose as impostors of cricket alerts despite customers watch matches and results live on TV sets or have live scores on Internet.

Moreover, the shocking part of this cheat-business is that these mobile operators send alerts only after update of news/score results in their offices on delay by half-an-hour time or more when we have already watched the match and scores even sitting at a far remote village on our TV sets.

This cheat-business of telecommunication sector is so safely running that a customer could not protect himself or herself and could not protest or even complain. There is no option/condition mentioned in cricket alerts that a customer can select to stop the unsolicited messages. The repeated calls to the customer-care are unattended and rejected on condition of line-congestion. Even sending messages successfully and repeatedly to customer-care at 121 does not result in putting an end to the unsolicited alerts. If one search on any mobile company's site for option/reply to customer care for stopping the unnecessary alerts, the repeated requests to customer-care is unheeded and not replied deliberately by customer-care. The only thing which work in twisting ears of customer-care is to complain with Indian Consumer Complaints Forum. Then customer-care of the concerned mobile firm will act and start automatic reply to customers' messages which should be in code only like ‘STOP SPO’ or ‘STOP’ or ‘STOP NEWS’ to 121. However, this is not the end of ordeal to the customer. The customer-care starts harassing the customer by repeatedly sending automatically generated messages asking for ‘STOP’ message on conditions that the message is not received or there is no reply from customer to deactivation procedure despite the customer complies for hours. Even after message of deactivation of cricket alerts or any other tips/news arrives in customer's mobile on several attempts/replies, customer-care will continue sending those alerts repeatedly and deliberately to harass the customer further. It seems according to customer-care and mobile companies, there is no other work of customer than replying to customer-care and customer should continue wasting his/her time and energy.

More or less, the entire episode of cheat-business of the private mobile companies is conspicuously pre-designed. It is well known that staffs in customer-care and executives of private mobile companies have obligation to increase the profit of the company by any means and at any cost. Intentionally, tips/news alerts are activated on customers' mobile for a duration and then large amount is deduced on a regular basis from the balance of a customer. In today's busy life, at first, customer does not pay much attention to such infringement/theft and thinks the amount from balance is deduced for phone calls. Later on, the customer realises deduction of amount on regular basis for unsolicited and unnecessary services.

When a customer contacts the customer-care, the customer-care does not pay any attention deliberately and avoid calls from the customer since the customer is enlisted target/victim in the region of customer-care.

For a long period, calls and concerns of such customers are ignored by customer-care until some measures are taken by aware customers through consumer forum. By the mean time, a huge theft is done to customer's balance by the mobile company of which customer is using service. There is no option to get back the deduced amount to the customer's balance as the customer-care continues to ignore calls/concerns from customers repeatedly and deliberately.

India is a market where any business, scheme or programme can succeed since there is a lack of tough measures and supervision to stop theft, robbery and cheating by impostors in any form.
Mechanism from government side to check these cheat-businesses are poor and suffers from many loop-holes where customers find themselves in a situation that they could not give up their regular works and run after settling issues of small amount as conviction of private mobile companies and harsh punishment is rare and not at all.

Already there are millions of cases pending in our courts, and with each passing day the number of such cases is on the rise. Hundreds of complaints are registered everyday with Indian Consumer Complaints Forum regarding such thefts and very few of those issues are settled. Nevertheless, no tough measures and mechanisms are evolved by various departments and authorities of our government.

When registered mobile operators can run such practices business regularly throughout the country, could we the people of India expect relief from religious charlatans and other impostors? Could we anticipate serious actions and measures from our government?

SC snubs retd Judges for charging heavy fee in arbitration cases

The Supreme Court has disapproved retired judges charging exorbitant fees in arbitration cases.

A bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and H L Dattu, while dismissing the appeal of the Centre challenging a Delhi High Court order appointing a retired judge of a High Court as sole arbitrator in a dispute between the Railways and a contractor, noted’ It is necessary to find an urgent solution for this problem...’ Institutional arbitration has provided a solution as the arbitrators fees is not fixed by the arbitrator themselves on a case to case basis but is governed by a uniform rate prescribed by the institution under whose egis the arbitration is held.

Another solution is for the court to fix the fees at the time of appointing arbitrator, with the consent of parties, if necessary in consultation with the arbitrators concerned.

Retired judges could also offer to serve as arbitrators to indicate their fee structure to the Registry of the respective High Court so that the parties will have the choice of selecting a arbitrator, whose fees fall in their range, with regard to the stakes involved.

What is found to be objectionable is parties being forced to go to an arbitrator appointed by the court and then being forced to agree for a fee fixed by such arbitrator, the bench said.

The apex court also disapproved the practice of bureaucrats appointed as arbitrator, being frequently transferred resulted in delaying the arbitration.

March 14, 2010

Youths - No care No committments

IT HAS been the general perception that sex which is not attached to commitments is nothing but lust.

A recent study by National Institute of Health and Family Welfare stated that more than one third of youngsters in this new generation indulgeS in casual sex that doesn’t impose commitments. A sexual relation that doesn’t involve a promise of togetherness in the long run does involve guilt at times and one can’t really be sure if it’s because of the guilt that he/she loves someone else.

Many a times people start these relations because they feel attracted to or maybe they desire for a long term relation or may be it is just an affair which is not serious. In recent years, the total of 11 per cent in 2004 has increased to 36 per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls who accept being involved in casual sex. Teens feel that sex is by itself an emotional connect. People need not run away from it, just because it is not ornamented with commitments and lifetime promises.

The generation is growing up so fast and so ambitiously that youngsters actually don’t have the time to devote to their commitments. All they need is an emotional connect which doesn’t tie you up in commitments, but reassures you time and again that you still have a way out of stress. One must love this emotional touch to the friendship. And I suppose still Indians hate it; still we are unable to accept.
Hugs and kisses are the signs of affection and yes, love in any form. We do hug our parents, siblings, that is love too. Any relation that shares affection and warmth has to express the same through gestures.

Above all these issues, in the country as a whole, another serious issue is that young Indians have casual sex but no sex education. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) is worried about the issue. But there is still some sunshine in the dark; a recent survey had a positive result which showed that awareness about HIV/AIDS has increased -- from 73% in 2001 to 85.5% at present.
It's time for younger India to decide their new rules and be prepared for the consequences.

March 11, 2010

Eunuchs should be given equal rights

THE EUNUCHS in India constitute a much-misunderstood community; they are often denied human treatment by the state machinery and are deprived of the rights that other citizens enjoy. Isn't this a violation of human rights?

We have happily deprived them of their right to employment. Do they really have a choice? This is not just one problem. There is a multitude of others. The right to life of the eunuchs is also gravely threatened by section 377 of IPC.

This section denies eunuchs the right to expression and right to privacy. This section is also being misused to inflict unnecessary hardship on the eunuchs.

I strongly feel that eunuchs should be given equal rights like blood and organ donation also - to be made an exception to these is tantamount to having your humaneness denied. They are also citizens of the country and the government has a duty to provide for and protect them.

Judicial Standards & Accountability Bill must be appreciated

UNION MINISTER for Law & Justice should be complimented for being sensitive to plight of judicial victims. The Union government has now put on priority to legislate The Judicial Standards & Accountability Bill 2010 which apart from other aspects, will give legal value to conduct-code for judges apart from providing citizens to file complaints against judges of higher courts.

Union government should constitute a full-time National Judicial Commission with retired Supreme court judges as member-nominees of the President, Prime Minister, Opposition-Leader, Chief Justice of India and Bar Council of India with Central Vigilance Commission as ex-officio member to clear all appointments in higher judiciary and also at judicial commissions/panels formed from time to time by Union and state governments. It will tend to remove all apprehensions of judiciary about any possible interference in judicial system by legislature.

All High Court judges must be compulsorily from outside their home-states to avoid influence through relations and former bar-colleagues. Also, retirement-age of High Courts judges may be raised to 65 years for being at par with that of Supreme Court judges to take care of natural and normal human desire amongst judges of High Courts to be elevated to Supreme Court for availing maximum tenure in judicial-service which is till 65-years of age but only at Supreme Court.

March 09, 2010

Retirement age of judges needs revision

IT REFERS to media-reports suggesting proposal of increasing retirement-age of High Court judges to 65 years and that of Supreme Court judges to 68 years. To check a normal human desire of judges to avail maximum tenure as judges, retirement-age of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts should be same so that there may not be a disappointment amongst Chief justice of states for not being elevated as Supreme Court judge.

Appointing-system of Supreme Court judges will then be relieved of any possible push for being elevated as Supreme Court judge.
Therefore most appropriate will be to immediately legislate necessary legislation to raise retirement-age of High Court judges to 65 years to be at par with that of Supreme Court judges. Retirement-age of Supreme Court judges must not be increased.

Also because all judges are at par with Chief Justice, Chief Justice should be posted by rotation for one year each amongst the senior-most judges to allow more and more judges to exhibit their performance as Chief Justice. This idea is doing well at renowned Faculty of Management Studies (Delhi University) where Deans of faculty are posted by rotation amongst senior-most professors for one year each

Where lies the common man in govt plans?

Common man (Aam aadmi )is still not aware of any Five year Plan ; he knows only the visits of political leaders once in Five years. Some immature dynastic leaders hailing from royal families, will suddenly enter a dalit hut and have butter milk to be shown from the capital media that he does not practice untouchability. Later in private they will swallow antibiotics and purify by Ganga Jal. They are admirably following the footsteps of their forefathers and foremothers.

Dreams unlimited and budget limited that is how one can best describe the common man of India. There has been no much difference in the state and status of this common man from that portrayed in the caricatures drawn by our various noted cartoonist in their daily columns in different newspapers.

If you think that our illiterate Aam Aadmi is in anyway confused about the names of so many political parties, you may be wrong. The television sets have already landed in many hamlet huts where drinking water is scarce. After a hard labor and hot liquor when he looks on TV news with blurred vision , he can somewhat hear the names of all major and minor political parties by the abbreviation, but remember, he cannot read or write any English alphabet.

The major political parties have announced Prime Minister candidates before the preparation and release of election manifesto. Is it right to impose Aam admi with faces of Prime ministers instead of manifestos? Anyway the most our Aam admi understands about election manifesto is “what is available free of cost this time?” The poor need the savvy politician to help them navigate through rotten public services. The politician needs the corrupt businessman to provide the funds that allow him to supply patronage to the poor and fight elections. The corrupt businessman needs the politician to get national resources cheaply.

Our Aam Aadmi is one among millions of illiterate population of India . Even after 62 years of independence only 61 % are literate. Should we not take pride on the fact that 1 in 3 of the illiterates of this world is Aam admi? India is ranked at 147 out of 170 countries in the world after achieving this much literacy.

The aam aadmi who has lived (if you can call it that) in this country for as long as recorded history, is either landless, belongs to the SC-ST or is unemployed. If he is employed it is in the unorganized sector, with each sector holding about 30 crore poor. Till date, neither has he been reached nor has his “garibi” been removed.

Further, an aam aadmi who is working as a labourer is listed as living Below the Poverty Line (BPL). In the Central Government’s definition of BPL the aam aadmi is earning Rs.300pm or Rs.10 a day. Whereas the global definition of a BPL is US$1.25 a day or Rs.55 a day.

According to estimates there are over 456 million BPL people. Worse, their below the poverty line earning will neither buy the minimum recommended calories (at today’s prices) of food. Resulting in the poor being priced out of their human right of access to food. Coupled with the recent rise in food prices, I felt I had misread the slogan of garibi hatao and the new slogan is now “garib ko hatao” who continue to be without access to food, in this birth-land of Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi.

Under conditions of the most rapid economic expansion in India’s history and a deep-rooted agrarian crisis that has seen tens of thousands of indebted farmers take their own lives and per capita grain consumption fall in rural India, the Congress-led UPA government did modestly increase social spending over the past five years. But programs like the National Rural Employment Guarantee—which is meant to provide one member of each rural household 100 days of menial labor per year at less than $1.50 US per day—have at best kept ten of millions from sliding from hardship and destitution into the abyss of hunger and outright starvation.The five years of UPA rule was supposed to benefit Aam Aadmi (Common Man) but it has only served the interests of Khaas Aadmi. UPA’s Common Minimum Programme was replaced by Uncommon Minimum Programme based on four ‘achievements’: Indo-US nuclear deal, Chandrayaan moon mission, 9% growth and Slumdog Millionaire Oscar win! None of this is directly related to the common man.

The government of “Aam Aadmi” has shown remarkable generosity in subsidising big business houses and SEZs (Special Economic Zones). UPA has tacitly ignored small and medium enterprises which constitute the majority of Indians. The rich-poor divide has widened but yet UPA is singing a tune of good times! In the last five years India has not witnessed economic prosperity but economic regression. This fact can be gauged from Human Development Index of United Nations Development Programme where India’s rank has slipped from 124 to 132 in 2008. Even countries like Bhutan, Algeria, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Iran have performed better than India! Even the Naveen Pattnaik’s government in orissa is playing dirty politics of rice Rs 2 per kg among the BPL masses and providing SEZs to some business tycoons. It is better to say Special Exploitation Zone.

If BJD in orissa along with the UPA in the centre has miserably failed in its economic policy then BJP has floundered in making it a real issue which affects fellow Indians irrespective of their caste and religion. BJP is still trapped in its stone-age politics despite the fact that its allies have made it abundantly clear that they don’t support BJP’s Ram Janambhoomi movement. The BJP’s poll strategists have forgotten a fact that Indian economy was performing better in NDA’s rule in the centre.

The most common target of any election is always around the ‘Aam Aadmi’. All the promises in every political party manifesto is to woo this soft target. Whether the governing party implements all those promises or not, the same old statements continue to appear term after term. For example, a major party which ruled our country for over 50 years since independence still goes by the campaign of ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’ (English: Food, clothing, and shelter). I am not sure how many more decades or centuries they need to change their campaign slogan! So our hero – Aam aadmi continues to look out for the basic needs of their life through generations together. Do they ever get salvation from this state? Probably not! It would be tough to think of a new slogan next time if they get to fulfill the promises.

Certainly, it is not the fault of these leaders. They have mastered the art of deceiving the so called ‘Aam Aadmi’. Yes, this stupid voter elects a leader who promises to give away color television sets if he is voted to power. No matter whether that leader is healthy enough to sit in the hot seat for a term of 5 years or not, doesn’t even matter if he/she is able to work for at least 8 hrs per day. Another similar Aam Aadmi elects another leader who proposes to give *free* electricity, of course without knowing the fact that all these free offers come with a disclaimer of conditions apply! At times the same ‘Aam Aadmi’ thinks of a new blood to change their lives in the hope of achieving his longing need of Roti, Kapda aur Makaan. Accordingly, we get to see some new leaders jumping in to the bandwagon from cinema industry to bring in the change factor. However, this change halts when the new party includes many established leaders who hopped from other parties and the family members of the key person take up major roles in the party. This system goes back to the same old dynasty rulers and other hoppers make me recall a bunch of rotten tomatoes being sold in a new package (party in this context). Considering a very few samples mentioned here, we know what kind of leaders are ruling our country. This is the reason why it doesn’t surprise me at all when our predominant parties come with the same old repeating statements in every election manifesto.

In this era of selfish politicians have turned characterless they want immediate profit so they make public fool and exploit mentally at every step, whose purpose is only to divide and rule the people among caste system, politics has become casteism institution, every caste has its own political parties but interesting fact is that nobody wants to uplift his respective caste problem because if the condition of people will improve, that means existence of parties to be ended, their political shops run by confusing people that they are real caretaker of that community. More injustice is being acted with minors, leaders do not try to improve their condition only cry for them, most illiterate and poor persons come from this community but minors are being utilized for vote only. If the parties are truly serious about them, should raise the problems in parliament and state assemblies, but the feelings of other communities should not be harmed.
All types of evils must abolish by placing new generation in politics from common people (aam aadmi), it should not be expected from politician’s children. Above sixty per cent Indian are young, these days they are losing jobs and unemloyment rate is increasing. Most of youth do not want to exercise their franchise because of all the leaders are corrupt,thief and criminal background who want to protect themselves in pretext of politics.
Most of the leaders say that young generation should come in politics but they introduce their children, who are already corrupt and characterless, if they are truly serious about nation they should introduce youths from common people. A special initiative must drive to introduce youths from common people in every party.

I strongly believe that if one needs to help or to do some social service power is not necessary , there is a tuff task ahead , being an opposion party BJP have major responsibilites . BJP has not shown any results of the situations/conditions related to aam admi i.e price rise sugar, increase in vat ,inflated electricity bills ,water situation & many others problems in capital .These are the basic needs of aam admi , a party cannot win without the trust of aam admi .When BJP was in power there was onion price issue which congress has demonstarated against it & results we all know. I understand some things may have been done but results are not there.

The people of India are suffering today of massive joblessness in the wake of economic crisis. The country is heading towards a phase of acute food insecurity, due to continuing drought conditions. The ruling classes have formed cartels to eat away the most basic form of livelihood security of the masses. The prices of essential commodities are skyrocketing.

India is going on a great growth trajectory. In Wyanad, Kerala, the farmers (men and women) who were forced to take their lives due to debt and deteriorating conditions of their livilihood are yet to be shown a way of survival. Their lands were not taken away from them as is happening in states like Bengal and Orissa. On the other hand, in the last year, when the conditions were worst in Wyanad, the district banks demonstrated the highest credit-debit ratio - of 180. The average in Kerala was only around 60. Simply speaking, even in the worst of conditions, farmers in Wyanad continue to be lured and forced to take more loans, to resolve their debts.

The middle-class frowns when the onion prices go up. We are repeatedly told that food and vegetables is what constitutes 'essential commodites'. Their prices should therefore be under control.

I had always thought that the aam aadmi was struggling for "roti, kapdaa and makaan". Why is that it is only roti which constitute the "essential commodities"? Why don't we incorporate the prices of 'real estate' also among the 'essential commodities"? How come no one is questioning the stupendous increase the land prices, in the cost prices of houses? Hasn't a roof over your head now become a distant dream for an average Indian? And why is that we do not get angry when at the way real estate has made the dream to own a house evaporate for an average Indian?

We are certainly a great nation. The sensex is going up. The media is escatic. They spend discussing more about sensex, jumping in their seats when it crosses some mark. And when the sensex dips, the electronic media paints a gloomy picture. It looks as if a great tragedy has struck the nation. A 'blood bath' is being witnessed. The sensex rise is also happening at a time when more than 1,50,000 farmers have committed suicide.

I am told one farmer commits suicide every hour. But when was the last time you found the media launching a campaign on the issue of farmers committing suicide ?
When did we, as great Indians, ever show concern ??
How many more farmers need to hang themselves or drink pesticides before we took notice, before we felt outraged?

Aam-admi is down with severly high inflation, terrorist attacks and high fuel cost... but, come elections, Aam-Admi will again be fed with lots of beautiful promises, tall claims like Rojgar Guarantee scheme, Right to Info Act, Secularism

Isn’t it slightly confusing for the fellow Indian voters? The voters want to identify with political parties but not a single party is willing to identify itself with a cause! Each political party is trying to shine its old and rusty ideology.

Indian Police- Equipped to get Killed

IF WE visit any developing country we will be surprised to see that the Indian policemen are the only policemen in world who are equipped with the lathi (magic wand for our government which thinks that the lathi is mightier than terrorists’ weapons!). Our policemen are one of most ill-equipped even after 60 years of independence and numerous years of fighting terrorism.

Seriously, the Indian police appear to be unfit, unprepared, under-trained, poorly motivated due to meager salary and inept training. Poor working conditions, basic surveillance and communications equipment, inadequate forensic science laboratories and outdated weaponry only make matters worse. They appear like comical figures carrying their outdated .303 rifles or self-loading rifles and heavy leather shoes like those adopted by the British Army in the 1950s. India is one of the “least policed” places in the world, with 126 officers per 100,000 people, compared with 225-550 per 100,000 in most Western countries.

Our police force should be better equipped. A normal policeman’s duty goes as far as burglars and small time crimes, but they should be equally capable of performing better in high-risk operations – serving high-risk arrest warrants, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, and engaging heavily-armed criminals – that fall outside their routine duties. They should be equipped with specialized firearms including assault rifles, machine guns, shotguns, carbines, riot control agents, stun grenades, and high-powered rifles and snipers.

In the past few years, the face of terrorism has changed beyond recognition. The urban terrorists rely heavily on sophisticated communications equipment and information technology of which the ordinary policemen in India have no idea. These terrorists speak several languages, handle different and far deadlier weapons with ease and are trained far more professionally.

They are also highly motivated and have a much better understanding of international politics and diplomacy. Our ordinary police are neither trained nor educated enough and are not fully prepared to meet challenges posed by present day terrorism. In such circumstances, it is difficult for the police to act against terrorists effectively. These men must also be highly motivated and their sense of duty and bravery must be of the highest order, if they have to protect the citizens of our vast nation.

Rights of education for economically weaker sections

MANY PRIVATE schools in the city have failed to follow the directions issued by the education department, which has made it mandatory for all schools to admit a minimum of 10 per cent students from the economically weaker sections (EWS) of the society. While the department says they have taken note of this, schools are violating the norms unchecked. It is reality that schools have not followed the norms publicly. This provision is dodged in numerous ways; schools claim ignorance of the law, that they can’t find poor students that poor students have to be educated separately even if admitted and so on.

The sections of society living in slum areas generally face numerous problems in getting their children admitted to private schools (as compared to government schools) in the city. This is particularly true of Delhi where, ‘social distance’ between rich and poor status are quite high. The situation, following the implementation of the scheme providing 10 per cent reservation mandatory in private schools to children from the economically weaker sections, does not seem to have made things any easier for them.

Problems range from difficulties in obtaining application forms to facing discriminatory comments at schools. Practically all good private schools have been very clever with the notices, announcing admissions to their institutions. Instead of advertising in Hindi dailies, they have chosen to announce the admissions in English dailies and mostly schools put online form on computers, which most of the people from this section of society don’t subscribe to and no computer at home (distance dream for these people, when parents are illiterate). Mostly all these advertisements in fine print are inconspicuous and easy to miss.

While the government rules allow for financial aid for students from the economically weaker sections, not all schools provide uniforms and books to them. The expense on transport, uniform and stationary for the children is often unaffordable. The school does not charge tuition fee but there are transport charges and high cost of uniform and stationary. Parents with more than one child in the school find it difficult to manage the expenses. Parents who are almost uneducated of such students find themselves hesitant when it comes to approaching teachers in parent-teacher association meetings, or students may bully their children because of his or her background.

Law that provides for reservation of seats for weaker students is laudable, the problem is that it may lead to discrimination after the students are admitted should be addressed properly. Education is the right of every child irrespective of his economic status. We must make sure that they are not denied their right.

True meaning of empowerment of women

EVERYONE MUST understand that empowering women doesn’t mean empowering them in technical area only. Women should remember that they are also rational, intelligent and thinking human beings. Dependent women are not empowered women. If women think just that being highly educated and employed they are empowered, it is a myth.

When they manage to survive, they are made to live without dignity due to various types of crimes against them. It only proves the point that the societies’ mind set is still against girl child. Even the educated and economically well off sections are not free from this ‘son preference attitude’. It is because Indian society’s cultural mooring is very strong. Thousands of married women suffer in silence, because domestic violence is rampant. The abuse takes physical, mental, emotional and economic forms. For the sake of the society, women sacrifice a lot and bear a lot of mental, physical and emotional stress. Even if a woman lives in an abusive domestic environment, she will hesitate to come out of marriage in spite of her economic independence.

This situation is due to strong addiction to culture and tradition. Such patience is exercised not only for the sake of society and children, but also due to lack of confidence to live as a single woman and face the challenges of life. Women have to awake from deep slumber and understand the true meaning of empowerment.

Amending RTI Act: Is it needed?

IT REFERS to media-reports about Prime Minister turning down plea of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for not diluting RTI Act as was earlier desired by Chief Justice of India for keeping office of Chief Justice of India from purview of RTI Act. Whole matter seems to have emerged out of three CIC verdicts against Supreme Court registry out of which one was decided by 3-member Division Bench of Delhi High Court against Supreme Court registry, and in other two cases Supreme Court registry approached Supreme Court directly bypassing High Court.

It was mishandling of RTI petition by Supreme Court registry when it declined to reveal simple information sought on the unanimous resolution passed by all the judges of Supreme Court even though copy of the important document was provided by the registry itself.

Another petition related to revelation by Justice R Raghupati of Madars High Court about some Union Minister having approached him. Such disclosure would expose influence, if any, by those in legislature on judiciary thus being in interest of judicial independence rather than against it as feared by some ones in judiciary.

Third petition related to appointing judges at higher courts where even Chief Justice of India admitted High Courts packed with favourites. Supreme Court collegium had to withdraw its recommendation for elevating PD Dinakaran to Supreme Court but only after media leaked news of an otherwise hidden recommendation in present non-transparent system of appointing judges. Legal luminary Fali S Nariman shocked by revealing behind-the-curtain bitter truth behind superseding of distinguished judges like AP Shah (earlier AK Patnaik also).

Judicial independence is a must. But sufficient checks are also necessary so that such independence may not be misused as tool of dictatorship/misconduct/corruption or any other malpractice in the system. RTI Act in present form has proved to be an effective tool to provide such a check, and must not be diluted. Otherwise also, legislature and bureaucracy are always accountable to judiciary. RTI Act has induced accountability to some extent in administrative side of judicial system.


Women’s Reservation Bill speaks of 33 per cent reservation for women
in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. Since its first appearance for
seeking parliamentary approval in September 1996, this reservation
bill has undergone a roller coaster ride. Ever since its inception,
there have been many attempts from various ruling parties to get
political consensus on the bill but to no avail.

This is not the first time that attempts are made at subverting
democracy in India. Every political party for the last many years has
been assuring its supports to the bill which disarms women activists.
And then a farce rather than a tragedy is played out by so-called
radical politicians, jumping into well of the house, tearing copies of
the bill and making impossible for proceeding to continue- the house
gets adjoured, the bill is thrown into the dustbin till is revived in
subsequent years with the same result. It is time this mockey stopped,
considering that the congres, the BJP and left parties proclaim that
they are for the bill in the present from and really want it to become

It is to be realized by the Indian politicians that they can no
longer ignore the justified demand of reservation for the women in
parliament and state legislature. Till the parliament is dominated by
such MPs and lack of “will” of determination with ruling party and no
support from the other parties the 33% reservation for the women will
remain a “Forlorn Hope”

Coming to education, in this regard, the government has also made a
provision of free education up to 14 years of age for all girls and
this is going to increase female literacy and is definitely beneficial
for society. But is there any need in giving reservation in jobs.
Women today are marching shoulder to shoulder with the men in every
field. They are, no more, considered the weaker sex. Today women have
become quite conscious of their rights and they believed in women's
empowerment. So where is the question of job reservation? As a matter
of fact, in almost all, competitive exams girls are way ahead of their
male counterparts,so by providing reservation in jobs,are we giving
them an undue advantage over males.

If we compare our grandmothers with today's women we can see a stark
contrast in the sense that in spite of slogans like “Women's
Emancipation” or “Women's liberalisation”.Cases of domestic violence
or divorce is where unheard in the past. Women knew their priority and
responsibility maintaining domestic peace and nurturing children with
utmost care-As a result of which they are not only became good
citizens but also successful careerist. It is not true to say that a
woman then where strictly confined to their homes,but They knew that
they they are were the base of a good and successful house.

Women should be made literate and also be given chance to do the job
to support their house. Women have been subjugated and suppressed for
quite a long time and by extending reservations to them the government
wants to improve their plight. If the women have economic independence
they develop self-confidence and as they are also part of a society
they should get an equal footing to enhance their image. Even today,
the conditions of millions of women is still extremely pathetic. By
working, they are also contributing to the family and today,the prices
escalating and it is important that both the husband and wife earn. It
does not mean that women who is working is neglecting the children. We
should keep in mind that women are more attached to their children or
their family as a whole compared to men. The government is completely
justified in providing reservation for women be it in Parliament, jobs
or education ,because no country can progress if women are devoid of
basic rights.

For long, women in India have been submitted to the whims and fancies
of men, who treat them more as a doormat and feel that if a woman goes
to work and becomes financially dependent then she might leave him.
All said and done,reservation for women should not be banned,but it
should go a long way to empower them.

In India, women have been denied their basic rights and men have been
responsible to a great extent for this. Girls have been made to sit at
home and tend the house while the boys were allowed to go to school
and college. Girls were married at an early age, depriving them to a
decent childhood and thrusting them into motherhood. Against this
background, the decision of the government to provide them with
reservation and free education is definitely a humanitarian approach
and pragmatic one that should be lauded instead of being criticised.

Today, women are not so much suppressed as like in the past. But they
have not completely started coming to the front of the society. So
there is nothing wrong in giving them a reservation in social fields,
but it should not be over so that the men will be denied in getting
the justice.

The bill does not recognize the fact that there have been many women
who made it to high public offices and there have been many women
Chief Ministers and a Prime Minister. Right now, we have a Woman
President and a Woman Speaker. They all assumed office through their
own efforts and without any reservation. The bill is based on the
false assumption that women need reservation to enter high public

The issue of reservations has a been a thorn in the side of every
government since Independence. Why? Because, reservation is a
fundamentally wrong principle. And in order to implement a
fundamentally wrong principle, one has to devise numerous irrational
laws and devices to cloak the ugly core of the principle. A lie has to
be covered with other lies. That’s why reservation is a thorn.

The idea of reservations originated first in attempts to correct
historical wrongs. That it doesn’t accomplish that in any way, only
aggravates differences between different ‘groups’ of people is a
totally different issue. The concept of reservations is now being
expanded to include current perceptions of injustice to certain
sections of society, more precisely that section which is made of
people of a particular sex, women.

The need of the hour is not the super women, but those who have clear
vision about India with political understanding. Only then the
campaign for women reservation could get edge resulting in adequate
representations in Parliament and State Assemblies.

Most important factor is the bill should cancel caste and religion
based reservation but it should introduce reservation bill with
economic criteria and this will help to control the influence of rich
families. The fate of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill still hangs in
the balance because of a lack of consensus among various political
parties. Though the government introduced it in the Rajya Sabha to
prevent it from lapsing (a move perhaps more political than anything
else), it failed to get it passed in its 5-year tenure. The BJP-led
NDA government brought the bill to the Lok Sabha twice in 2002 and
2003 but never could get it passed even though the Congress and the
Left, constituting a majority, had assured their support.

However, it is not as though a shortage of discussion time or lack of
consensus prevents the House from passing Bills it really wants to.
Several bills have been passed without any debate whatsoever.
According to PRS, on the last day, the Lok Sabha passed 8 Bills in a
span of just 17 minutes! "In all, 28% of the Bills were passed with
less than 20 minutes of discussion, and a further of 19% with less
than one hour of debate," states the PRS report.

And to think that even five years of discussions and bickerings are
not enough for some Bills. Or is it just about the lack of will, more
than anything else? Does for instance, the Women’s Reservation Bill
make more sense politically when not passed so that each political
party can use it (the promise of getting is passed if voted to power)
as one of its main agendas too woo female voters? It just might be
saving them the trouble of coming up with new promises.

Lack of consensus, shortage of time, need for discussion…all seem like
mere excuses. It all boils down to whether there is a political will
behind each Bill and it would do the members of the 15th Lok Sabha
some good to reflect on the importance of paying honest and adequate
attention to crucial legislations.

Lastly, the women of India have not fought and sacrificed all these
years just for the illusion of power. They must not run after the
mirage of greater representation within this system but should instead
take forward the struggle for real political power, through a
fundamental and lasting change in the political system itself.. They
must be in the forefront of the struggle against the anti-social
offensive, in defence of rights and in the struggle to overthrow this
oppressive capitalist system and replace it with socialism. It is by
coming forward to set the agenda for society that women will realise
their collective strength, and be able to change their conditions.

Reality is indescribable. It not an object or a thing that can be put
into words. It is through seeing through the unreality that reality is