IAMC Weekly News Roundup – August 22nd, 2011

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

Announcements

Communal Harmony

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

Announcements

IAMC Expresses Grave Concern Over Warrant Against Sanjiv Bhatt

Saturday August 20, 2011

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – http://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed grave concern over the warrant issued against IPS Officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a 21 year old case.

Mr. Sanjiv Bhatt is well known as the IPS Officer who has alleged that he was a witness to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s complicity in the violence against Muslims in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, that claimed 2000 lives and rendered thousands of families homeless.

The case, for which the warrant against Mr. Bhatt has been issued, pertains to the death of an individual in a communal riot in 1990, in which an FIR was filed against the police including Mr. Bhatt. The state government sought to get a closure on the case in 1995. Since the court ruled for prosecution, the state filed a petition for revision in 1996.

“The fact that the state government withdrew its revision petition the day Sanjiv Bhatt moved the Supreme Court against Modi smacks of a witch hunt against an upright police officer who has risked his career to bring the truth about the Gujarat carnage to light”, said Mr. Shaheen Khateeb, President, IAMC. “Such abuse of power cannot be allowed to go unchallenged in a democracy”, added Mr. Khateeb.

Sanjiv Bhatt has faced tremendous pressure, including threats to his life, ever since he filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court, stating that he was a witness to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi telling top officers to allow Hindus to vent their anger after the incident at Godhra. While Modi’s complicity in the Gujarat pogrom is common knowledge, this was the first time a high ranking police officer had come forward as an eye witness to Modi’s complicity.

IAMC has called upon the state government to desist from carrying out its vindictive agenda against IPS Officer Bhatt and to ensure that the revision petition it had withdrawn, in the 1990 case against Bhatt, is filed again.

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at: http://www.iamc.com

RELATED LINKS:

Warrant against Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt
http://twocircles.net/2011aug17/warrant_against_gujarat_police_officer_sanjiv_bhatt.html

Sanjiv Bhatt facing arrest in 21-year-old case
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2366638.ece

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Communal Harmony

Communal harmony fortnight begins at DLW (Aug 20, 2011, Times of India)

Communal harmony fortnight, organised by the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW), began on Saturday to mark the birth anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi (August 20). The day began with a pledge ceremony where DLW general manager KK Saxena, Atul Mohan, LB Rai and many other officers and workers were present in large numbers.

The cadets of scouts and guides organised ‘sarva dharma’ (all religions) prayer meeting at the community hall of DLW on the occasion. According to DLW spokesperson, among the series of events for the fortnight, pledge ceremony for harmony will be organised in different areas of DLW. The students of various schools including DLW Inter College, Kendriya Vidyalaya, St John’s School and other primary schools will organise ‘prabhat pheri’ from August 23 to 27.

Meanwhile, the DLW Inter College celebrated Tulsi Jayanti on Saturday with zeal and enthusiasm. Speaking on the occasion, senior teacher RP Singh talked about the personality of Tulsidas and his relations with Abdul Rahim Khankhana and the effect of Tulsidas’s life on his father, Bulke. A colourful cultural programme was also organised. The students and teachers also took part in events like debate and question-answer rounds organised on the occasion.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/9677129.cms

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Ex-BJP CM, eminent citizens demand governor’s intervention in Gujarat (Aug 20, 2011, Twocircles.net)

A delegation of eminent citizens from Gujarat and Maharashtra led by former Gujarat BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta on Wednesday called on state governor Dr. Kamla Beniwal and sought her intervention alleging that a constitutional crisis has arisen in the state under Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The delegation submitted a memorandum to the governor alleging that the main cause of the constitutional crisis was that the CM was abusing his position as administrative head and using the entire state machinery to subvert the cause of public justice in the state. Trying to prove their argument, the delegation members told the governor that instead of making honest efforts to prosecute those guilty of murders, mayhem and destruction of properties during 2002 communal riots, Modi was doing everything to ensure that the accused went scotfree.

The delegation members including Mumbai-based advocate and former minister Balwant Desai, human rights activist Irfan Engineer and Gujarat-based rights activist Rohit Prajapati alleged that Modi and his entire administration and party legislators were trying to tamper with the evidence and influencing witnesses to derail the process of justice. They alleged that Modi was patronising those lawyers who were appearing as counsel for the accused of the major crimes, by handpicking them as special public prosecutors at very high payments. They quoted the Supreme Court remarks which in 2004 had observed that “public prosecutors in the 2002 carnage cases were behaving like defence counsels”.

Giving examples of how senior IPS officers Rahul Sharma and Sanjiv Bhatt were being punished for not toeing the government line in the riot cases, they alleged that civil servants who were not complying with allegedly illegal orders of the government were being victimised. They said that suspension of Bhatt and chargesheeting of Sharma were clear cut cases of abuse of authority by Modi. Talking to mediapersons later, they alleged that Modi and his ministers were also intimidating the witnesses of the riot cases and forcing them to withdraw their statements against the accused so that the latter were not punished.

Demanding immediate resignation of additional advocate general (AAG) Tushar Mehta, the delegation members alleged that instead of performing his legal duties, he was colluding with Modi and his ministers in advising the accused and leaking them out the documents to the accused of 2002 riots. Accusing Mehta of “misleading the courts” thus adversely affecting the administration of justice, the delegation members alleged that Mehta was helping the accused persons in drafting applications against human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and her organisation. Setalvad is a co-petitioner in a case against Modi and 61 others filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri killed in Gulberg Society during riots.

http://twocircles.net/2011aug20/exbjp_cm_eminent_citizens_demand_governor%E2%80%99s_intervention_gujarat.html

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Battle between Modi and IPS officers escalates in Gujarat (Aug 17, 2011, Twocircles.net)

The battle between the Narendra Modi government and a section of senior IPS officers seems to have escalated with several of them having challenged the government by filing affidavits or taking action uncomfortable to the government. The latest among them is Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rajnish Rai. In an affidavit filed with the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) where he has challenged downgrading of his Annual Confidential Report (ACR) by his then seniors P C Pande and O P Mathur, Rai said the two officers had victimised him at the instance of Modi because he had carried out an unbiased probe in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case and also named Pande, a former DGP, as a conspirator in the Tulsi Prajapati ‘fake’ encounter case. Prajapati was the lone eyewitness in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter. In his affidavit, he accused Pande and Mathur with destroying the evidence in the two encounters by misusing their positions. Rai alleged that Pande tried to delink Sohrabuddin and Prajapati encounters because it created difficulties for both Pande and the Modi government, particularly former Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, currently externed from Gujarat on Supreme Court orders for about a year.

Shah was also arrested in Sohrabuddin case but later on granted bail by the apex court with a rider that he will stay out of Gujarat till further orders. Rai further accused Pande of delaying the investigation to save the accused police officials in Sohrabuddin case despite knowing that the preliminary inquiry report of Geetha Johri had clearly mentioned that the accused police officials were involved in cold-blooded murder of Sohrabuddin. Rai’s affidavit also accused Pande of hiding the truth from the Supreme Court by deleting facts from the draft action taken reports because the facts were not comfortable for the state government. Rai alleged that after he arrested the accused police officials in Sohrabuddin case, the investigation was taken away from him by Pande and handed over again to Johri just to derail the investigation. Another senior police official who has taken on the Modi government is DIG (Armed Unit) Rahul Sharma. Sharma was issued a departmental chargesheet on August 13 on allegations of “misconduct”. The “misconduct”, according to the chargesheet, is that he had not submitted to the government the CDs of the call details of politicians, bureaucrats of chief minister’s office(CMO) and senior police officials with the accused of 2002 riots including VHP and Bajrang Dal activists.

However, Sharma submitted copies of these CDs as a part of his affidavit to Nanavati-Mehta Commission and the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team(SIT) probing the riot cases. It was the phone call details collected by Sharma that ultimately led to the arrest of former minister Maya Kodnani in September 2009 and VHP leader Jaideep Patel. Sharma’s CDs proved that several politicians as well as officials of CMO office were in regular touch during riots with VHP and Bajrang Dal activists named as accused in riot cases. So, Sharma’s CDs have enabled the investigations reach the office of Modi itself. And it is this thing that is reported to have angered Modi to target him. Sharma had prepared the CDs when he was sidelined and posted as deputy commissioner of police(control room ), Ahmedabad, between March 24, 2002 and July 3, 2002, after he personally fired at a mob trying to attack a ‘madrasa’ with 400 students in Bhavnagar during communal riots of 2002. In Ahmedabad, Sharma was given an assignment to assist the investigation in Naroda Gam, Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society riot cases and during that period, he procured call details made by ministers, police officers, bureaucrats as also VHP and Bajrang Dal activists during 2002 riot and prepared a CD.

Yet another senior IPS officer who has taken Modi government head-on is Sanjiv Bhatt. Bhatt, in his affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in April this year, had made allegations pertaining to the “role and conduct” of Modi in the riots. He had alleged that at a close group meeting of senior bureaucrats, politicians and police officials at his residence on February 27, 2002, Modi had ordered police officials not to take action against Hindu mobs as he wanted to teach Muslims a lesson. Bhatt claims to have attended the meeting in the capacity of a deputy commissioner in the state intelligence department. Bhatt also alleged in his affidavit that Supreme Court appointed SIT probing the riot cases were hostile to him and not willing to record his statement pertaining to a “larger conspiracy” behind the riots. He alleged in affidavit that his depositions were clandestinely leaked to the Modi government and said he was facing threats. Enjoying the reputation of being one of the most upright police officials, Additional Director General of Police(ADGP) Kuldeep Sharma faced the wrath of Modi after he as CID(crime) chief allowed CID(crime) sleuths to submit interim probe report in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case to the Supreme Court and that opened a can of worms resulting into arrest of Modi’s closest aide former Minister of State for Home Amit Shah. Sharma’s annual confidential report’s ranking was degraded. But he challenged it before the central administrative tribunal which restored his ACR and also allowed him to go on deputation to the Centre.

Yet another senior police official having challenged the Modi government is Satish Verma. As a member of the probe panel inquiring into the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, Verma, in an affidavit, told the Gujarat High Court that the probe was being deliberately derailed by his seniors in the team. That led to the formation of a fresh probe team by the high court, angering the state government. The high court is supervising the probe. Earlier, he had ordered arrest of a sitting BJP MLA Shankar Chaudhary for his involvement in riots and killing of two Muslims. One more IPS officer Vivek Srivastava courted the wrath of the Modi government by preventing mobs from attacking Muslims in Kutch district during 2002 riots. He had arrested a senior BJP leader who had assaulted a Muslim. He was immediately transferred to Ahmedabad in Prohibition and Excise department. Srivastava then sought a central deputation and is currently working as deputy director, Intelligence Bureau, New Delhi.

http://twocircles.net/2011aug17/battle_between_modi_and_ips_officers_escalates_gujarat.html

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Sohrabuddin: CBI court denies bail to Chudasama (Aug 17, 2011, Indian Express)

The Special CBI Court on Tuesday rejected the bail petition of suspended IPS officer Abhay Chudasama in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. The court observed that he was the main linchpin of the entire conspiracy. Chudasama was arrested by the CBI in April 2010. He was the deputy commissioner of police of the Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) then.

In his petition, Chudasama had argued that there was no cogent evidence available against him. He also contended he had been in custody for over a year and there was no clarity as to when the trial would commence in the case. The CBI had opposed the petition contending that the probe into the Tulsiram Prajapati encounter case was at a crucial stage and Chudasama might tamper with the evidence of that case.

The central probe agency had been claiming that Prajapati was killed by the same set of police officers involved in Sohrabuddin’s encounter, to eliminate a human witness. It is the case of the CBI that Sheikh was killed in a fake encounter by the Gujarat ATS as part of an extortion racket and Chudasama was the main conspirator of the same along with suspended DIG D G Vanzara and former Minister of State (Home) Amit Shah.

After hearing the arguments, the court observed that it appeared that Chudasama had with the help of Prajapati brought Sheikh and his wife, Kauser Bi, to Ahmedabad from Andhra Pradesh. Chudasama was also instrumental in keeping Sheikh and his wife in Ahmedabad. The court also observed that the allegation that Chudasama offered Rs 50 lakh to the brother of Sheikh reflected his attitude in tampering with evidence.

It further observed that the role of Chudasama in the case was grave and of dubious nature. While rejecting the petition, the court remarked that it was the gravity of the offence and not the time spent by the accused in jail that was to be considered in priority.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/833015/

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Who killed RTI activist Shehla Masood? (Aug 17, 2011, IBN)

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday wrote to the Madhya Pradesh state urging them to probe the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood thoroughly, even as CNN-IBN accessed a letter Masood herself wrote to the state government, saying that she had received death threats. The question is if the Bhopal police ignore the clear threats. Shehla Masood was found murdered outside her residence just as she was leaving for Anna Hazare’s rally in Bhopal on Tuesday. The investigations, so far, have yielded little apart from transfers of two top police officials.

Sources in the government, have, however revealed that Masood had filed many controversial RTIs related to income tax details about BJP Rajya Sabha MP Anil Madhav Dave and his NGO, as well as the chairman of the Chirayu Medical College and hospital Dr Ajay Goenka. In fact just recently, the Environment Ministry had ordered an enquiry against the Chirayu foundation for flouting environment laws. Medical and legal experts, in fact, have confirmed that she was murdered. Dr DS Badkur, Medico legal director, Madhya Pradesh said, “No possibility can be ruled out, but it the weapon was made in India and the bullet is of 8 mm.”

CNN-IBN has access to a letter written by Masood a year ago to the state government in which she complained she feared for her life and mentioned IPS officer Pawan Srivastava. Meanwhile, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh who had interacted with Masood when he was the environment minister, has written to the state government urging them to investigate her murder. The attack on yet another RTI activist, who seemed to have taken on the mighty, has left many shocked. It seems that early warnings from Masood on possible threats were ignored by the state police. It remains to be seen whether the investigations will throw up any leads in the big question her family is asking.

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/who-killed-rti-activist-shehla-masood/176421-3.html

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Moradabad ADM threatening TV Journalist Fareed Shamsi (Aug 17, 2011, Twocircles.net)

Moradabad may be limping back to normal after the outbreak of violence however a local journalist is apprehensive about his life. District administration which failed to curb the violence in the initial stage is allegedly threatening to implicate him in the violence case. Afraid of the repercussion, the journalist has shot off a letter to Chief Minister, Minority Commission and journalist associations for saving his life. As per Fareed Shamsi, the district correspondent of IBN 7 in Moradabad, the ADM City Avnish Kumar Sharma is conspiring to implicate him in fake cases for spreading rumour leading to riot. In his letter, Shamsi has narrated the sequence of events which led to riot in Moradabad and after that he has been receiving threat from ADM City.

According to Shamsi on August 7, he received information that some Shiv Sena activists were going to protest near Dal Sarai. He rushed to the spot for gathering news. The officials were also present there and the ruckus was going on there with the Shiv Sena workers bent upon going to Sambhal passing through Gali No. 1 in Katghar, a minority dominated area in Moradabad. However, police denied any new route and used light force to disperse them. Shamsi along with ADM City Sharma were standing at Gali No 1for keeping vigil on the situation. Suddenly one unknown person came and informed that some people are torching vehicles at India Export Firm.

Shamsi requested the ADM City to send force for checking the authenticity of the report. However, it was turned down as a rumour. However, Shamsi along with Shaher Kotwal moved towards the India Export Firm and found that vehicles were already in flame. Police chased away the Kanwariyas there and controlled the situation. Shamsi stated that he was also instrumental in pacifying the locals.

On August 8, the Jalabhishek was peacefully performed in all temples. But on August 9 despite Section 144 in place, ADM City gave permission for a meeting of Hindu organisations near Dal Sarai. Thousands gathered there and ADM City was also present there. Later the mob turned unruly and started vandalising. However, DIG NK Srivastava controlled the situation but the incident took communal turn. Shamsi informed DIG Srivastava that if ADM City had taken preventive steps, things would not have turned violent. This perhaps irked ADM City and he told Shamsi that some people are taking your name in spreading rumour.

Now Shamsi claims that he is apprehensive that he may be implicated in any false case by the ADM City Avnish Kumar Sharma. Feeling afraid, Shamsi on 10th August has shot off letter to Association of Electronic Media Journalist, Chief Minister, Commissioner, Moradabad, Minorities Commission and IG Range for an impartial inquiry and his safety.

http://twocircles.net/2011aug17/moradabad_adm_threatening_tv_journalist_fareed_shamsi.html

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24 Bajrang Dal men booked for rave party raid (Aug 16, 2011, Times of India)

Bajrang Dal convener Sharan Pumpwell and 23 others were booked for the vigilante attack on a birthday bash at a farmhouse in Ullal near Mangalore on Sunday. Sharan had feigned ignorance about the attack.

Police said the vigilantes were booked under non-bailable sections relating to rioting and robbery. No arrests have been made yet. Around 40 saffron vigilantes had assaulted and robbed over 30 youth at the party. The youth are from financially well-off and politically connected families.

Rahman (name changed), recuperating in a hospital with bruises on his head and body, is in a state of shock. “What did we do to deserve such a beating from a bunch of hooligans,” he asked. “It was not a rave party. There was beer and a little ganja. Let the law deal with us. Who are these people to beat us?”

He said the attackers had come to rob them. “The first thing they did was snatch our chains, then they pulled out our wallets.” Four people were robbed of their gold chains; almost all lost their money and a couple their laptops. The hooligans also smashed a car. The lone girl at the party managed to hide in the next compound.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/9618590.cms

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Is Anna crusade changing colour? (Aug 18, 2011, Hindustan Times)

Is the Sangh Parivar helping orchestrate at least a part of the apparently spontaneous outpouring of public outrage currently sweeping across India in the wake of Anna Hazare’s fast? The RSS and the BJP have so far denied it, but on Thursday, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJP’s student wing, announced its support to Hazare’s cause with a call for a nationwide bandh of schools and colleges.

Several schools and colleges in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Uttarakhand “heeded” the call and remained shut. ABVP’s Chhattisgarh president Kritan Sahu asked: “What is wrong if we ask students to skip classes and join the protest?” He quickly added: “As far as I know, school managements and students cooperated with us. There is no report of ABVP forcibly asking educational institutions to close.”

That wasn’t the case everywhere. Father Piyus Marandi, principal of St. Joseph School in Jharkhand’s Dumka district, lodged a police complaint against ABVP activists for ransacking his office when he refused to close the school in support of Hazare’s agitation. The authorities, however, have not arrested any person in this regard. Condemning Marandi’s complaint, local ABVP functionary Manmeet Akela, said the nationwide programme had been chalked out by the central leadership of his organisation.

Students of IIT-Kochi, IIM-Bangalore and BIT Mesra (Extn) did come out in support of Hazare, but they did not have any political affiliations. The seven schools of the DAV Group in Ranchi were, however, closed at the “request” of ABVP. ABVP organised a car rally in Panjab University.

The student body claimed 1,000 colleges in Maharashtra and 80 colleges in Mumbai were shut in response to its call. College principals in Mumbai, however, said colleges were open, but attendance was low due to the bus and train strike. In New Delhi, ABVP activists staged protests in North Campus. In Bhopal, most private schools had declared a holiday in anticipation of any untoward incident. Government schools were open.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/734837.aspx

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Accountability of all only way to uproot corruption: SIO (Aug 17, 2011, Twocircles.net)

“Corruption can be curbed and uprooted only by means of accountability of all, irrespective of the position one holds or work one does”, said Mohd. Azharuddin, President, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) while addressing the Central Secretariat of SIO at its headquarters in New Delhi. Regarding the Jan Lokpal Bill, Azharuddin said that the Prime Minister too should be included under the ambit of Lokpal along with all citizens of the society.

He further expressed that the proposed bill should be discussed in the parliament in its depth and put across for debate in the civil society for larger participation. Azharuddin exclaimed, “We dream and wish for a corruption free society and country. This can only be achieved by transparent governance at all levels and accountability of everyone”.

Commenting on freedom of expression issue, he said that suppressing the voice of the masses that stand for legitimate cause is undemocratic and unjustified.

http://twocircles.net/2011aug17/accountability_all_only_way_uproot_corruption_sio.html

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RS impeaches Justice Soumitro Sen for ‘misappropriating’ funds (Aug 18, 2011, Indian Express)

Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court could be the first judge in the country to be removed, with the Rajya Sabha today overwhelmingly approving the impeachment motion against him. As many as 189 members voted in favour of the motion to impeach the 53-year-old judge after a two-day debate on the issue, in the second case in Parliament’s history and the first-ever in the Upper House. Seventeen members voted against the impeachment. All parties except th eBSP were of the view that Sen was guilty of misappropriating Rs 33.23 lakh which was under his custody as a court-appointed receiver in the capacity of a lawyer and misrepresenting facts before a Calcutta court. After the Rajya Sabha verdict, Justice Sen, who flew home to Kolkata today, said he was “extremely disappointed”.

Impeachment proceedings followed motions moved by Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) and Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley after an Inquiry Committee, appointed by the Rajya Sabha Chairman and headed by Supreme Court Judge B Sudershan Reddy, held Sen guilty of misbehaviour. Sen yesterday appeared before the House and strongly defended himself arguing that he was a “victim” and appealed to members to vote by conscience. The House, however, rejected his defence. With the Rajya Sabha gave its nod for the removal of Justice Sen, the impeachment motion will now be taken up by the Lok Sabha next week with the Lower House expected to deliberate on it on August 24, 25. As per the Constitution, a sitting judge of a High Court or the Supreme Court can be removed only by impeachment by both Houses of Parliament with the majority present and two-third of them voting in favour. While putting motion to vote, Chairman Hamid Ansari said this required a special majority.

The case in which Sen was held guilty dates back to 1983 relating to a dispute between SAIL and the Shipping Corporation. Sen was appointed receiver by the Calcutta High Court when he was a lawyer. He was charged with diverting money from the receiver’s account to his personal investment in a private company, which went bust. Even after his elevation as a judge in 2003, he did not disclose the full details to the court. Although in his defence, he said the money was paid back to workers, the Judges Inquiry Committees and several members in the Rajya Sabha, including noted lawyers, said it does not exonerate him of his guilt. Among those who participated in the debate were Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, E M Sudarsana Natchiappan (Congress), Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP), N K Singh (JD-U), D Raja (CPI) and noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani.

Replying to the debate, which started yesterday, Yechury said Sen had given “false and misleading” statements to the House despite presence of authenticated documents. He said the motions do not reflect on the integrity of the entire judiciary but they only strengthen the judiciary, which is “besmirched” by misconduct of one judge. Yechury rejected Sen’s contention he had no money for himself and said even diversion of funds amounted to misappropriation under Section 403 of Indian Penal Code. He alleged that Sen was guilty of “omission and commission”. Yechury noted the motion reflected the “general mood” in the country against corruption and in the midst of all, Parliament has risen to the occasion to establish its supremacy that it can resolve such issues. He also appreciated the “rich debate” that had taken place on the issue, during which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was mostly present. … Taking part in the debate, E M Sudarsana Natchiappan (Cong) supported the motions, saying he “felt sorry” the way in which the serving judge was attacking the judiciary as such words were never even used in the Parliament.

The motions were supported by JD(U)’s N K Singh, who said Sen had “sought to make a false hiatus” in the House to garner support. He said time has come to expedite the judicial reforms process and stressed the need for setting up of a judicial commission. Favouring Sen’s impeachment, Y P Trivedi (NCP) said he did not support Sen’s assertion that other judges facing charges against them have escaped punishment. Kishore Mohanty (BJD) said there was a doubt with Sen’s intention and he should not have been elevated as a judge in the first place. Noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani (BJP) attacked Sen and asked members not to be misled by his eloquence which he said had nothing to do with morals. Sen should go, he said. “This man did not deserve to be a judge. Not only should this judge go, other judges who do such things should not remain for even one more day,” he said. Calling upon members for supporting the motions, Jethamalani said, “Let us set a good precedent today so that judges with similar bent of mind get a message that they cannot get away with such things.”

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/833874/

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Mirchpur Dalit killings: Court accepts prosecution’s plea (Aug 20, 2011, Hindustan Times)

The Court of Additional Session Judge, Rohini Courts, New Delhi, Kamini Lau on Saturday accepted prosecution’s plea for recording the testimony of a doctor who recorded the dying declaration of a dalit allegedly burnt to death by members of the Jat community in a caste related incident of arson and violence in Hisar’s Mirchpur village in April 2010. The Court on Saturday fixed August 27 as the next date of hearing. The SC/ST court of Kamini Lau which is conducting trial in the case was expected to deliver the verdict on Saturday (August 20). However, following an application by the prosecution to record the testimony of the doctor, the verdict has been deferred by a few weeks.

A dalit handicapped girl Suman and her father Tara Chand were burnt to death in caste related arson and violence on April 21 last year at Mirchpur. Several houses of Balmikis were also torched in the incident, allegedly by members of Jat community. Several persons had also sustained injuries in the violence. Cases were registered against Jats under IPC and provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The trial of the case was shifted from Hisar to Delhi on the orders of the Supreme Court. The apex court had ordered transfer of trial to ensure a free trial without any pressure. About 100 accused were also shifted to Delhi’s Tihar jail from Hisar. In January, Jats had kept the rail tracks and roads blocked for days demanding a CBI probe and shifting of the jailed accused back to Hisar jail. As a matter of precaution Haryana had on Friday mobilized additional police force to Hisar and Jind districts in view of the possibility of delivery of verdict in this sensitive case.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/735567.aspx

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Opinions and Editorials

Hon Judge Don’t Preach, Ugly Can’t Be Beautiful – By Syed Ali Mujtaba (Aug 16, 2011, Countercurrents)

The statement made by former Supreme Court judge K T Thomas, praising Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its style of functioning as an organization is debatable. Notwithstanding the right of freedom of speech, the comments made by the learned judge are disturbing. It’s more so, because K T Thomas belongs to a Christian community that has suffered at the hands of the RSS and yet he has engaged himself in an image building exercise of an organization that’s essentially is fascist in character. There are few salient features of K T Thomas’s statement. The former judge do not like that the RSS be held responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He is of the view that the RSS is not an anti minority organization. He thinks the RSS is a well disciplined organization worthy of admiration. He goes on to praise the RSS for opposing the national emergency and gives it credit for fighting for the restoration of the fundamental rights. One may like to discuss these comments one by one as each of them sounds contentious. However, before doing so, let’s have the details of his statement. The former judge wants the “smear campaign” against RSS being responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi to end. “Just because the assassin was once an RSS worker does not hold RSS responsible of the crime,” he says.

The smear campaign that the RSS was responsible for Gandhi’s assassination is unjustified, he has reportedly said and added that the organization was “completely exonerated” by the court. K T Thomas defended the RSS acts of omission and commission by posing a question, “Can the entire Sikh community be responsible for Indira Gandhi’s assassination?” He also took exception to the propaganda that RSS is an anti-minority organization, saying such vilification campaign is “baseless.” The learned judge then goes on to say; “I am a Christian. I was born as a Christian and practice that religion. I am a church going Christian. But I have also learnt many things about RSS.” The former apex court judge says, he became an admirer of the RSS in 1979 when he was posted as district judge of Kozhikode. This is because RSS is a disciplined organization that believes in the philosophy of simple living and high thinking. He goes on to eulogies the RSS, saying; during the national Emergency of 1975, RSS was the only non-political organization that fought against its proclamation. “We owe very much to RSS for sacrificing many lives for regaining our fundamental rights,” he reportedly said. Initially, when I saw this PTI report, I thought of ignoring it with the logic let hundred flowers bloom, but then, when the same copy started circulating on the internet, I felt this should not become a gospel of truth. The statement made by K T Thomas, becomes noteworthy because the person is not only a former Supreme Court judge, an upholder of the constitution, but also belongs to a minority Christian community. Now, lets dissect each of his statement one by one.

First of all, the Judge wants us to forget that assassin of Mahatma Gandhi was not an act of the RSS but of a lunatic who was its former member. He does not like to accept the fact that the lunatic man was indoctrinated by the radical ideology of the RSS that drove him to commit that heinous crime. Court’s may exonerate the individual or an organization for want of facts, but can anyone force to make up their mind based on the courts judgment. So, no amount logic can convince the people of this country that RSS was not behind the assassination of the Mahatma Gandhi. His second observation, that RSS is not anti-minority is also untenable. Since last 64 years, the anti minority conduct of the RSS is very well documented. Time and again it’s being held responsible for breeching peace in the country. This organization takes up well orchestrated campaign against the minority community and polarizes the society on communal lines. Very often, the minority community is pushed to the wall and is forced to react and that takes the form of communal riots. The lessons learnt from the communal riots are the story of provocation from the RSS cadre and the reaction from minority community. Since the act of the former is well planned, the reaction comes unguarded, making the minority community vulnerable. They fall into a well laid out trap and become victims of the circumstances, loosing their lives property and honor in the process.

K T Thomas, takes pride in being a practicing Christian and an admirer of the RSS. He goes on to issue a good character certificate of the organization whose record of anti Christian community is numerous. The gruesome murder of Graham Stain at the hands of RSS sympathizer is still etched in our memory. Its common knowledge, that believer of the Christian faith in Orissa and Karnataka had suffered immensely in recent times at the hands of the RSS cadre that held them responsible for conversion. Can the entire Christian community be responsible for the act of few Christians? His comment on RSS opposing the national emergency of 1975 and fighting for the restoration of fundamental rights is also far fetched. Any one who has lived during the period of emergency can vouch that a cross section of the society has opposed that high handed declaration tooth and nail. Giving credit to RSS for opposing emergency, may tantamount to making heroes of a tribe of murders. K T Thomas says that RSS is a well disciplined organisation worthy of admiration. I find a parallel to it in the admirers of the Nazis, that’s also, had been hailed as a well disciplined organisation. However, does that exonerate it from the charges of the “Holocaust” against the Jews?

The sole purpose of the RSS is to divide the country on communal lines. Its modus oprendi is to mobilize the gullible masses of the Hindu faith by instilling in them the fear of threat from the minority community. I feel pity about the ex judge who relishes an organization, that bellies the essence of the Indian constitution. RSS is well known for its advocacy of the supremacy of the Hindu faith and the subservience of other faiths to it. Isn’t it a diabolic thinking? I feel no amount of sweet talking can build the image of the RSS. There are certain fundamental issues that go against it. It does not tolerate religious pluralism, secularism, socialism and democratic values that’s being cherished by every Indian. Sao no amount of the advocacy of the RSS by whomsoever can make it a perfect organisation. There is an uncanny feeling that Mr. K T Thomas has chose to make the comments for some gainful reasons. There are more to his statement then what the eyes can read. An appeal to the voices peace and harmony to stand up against such purposeful statement and advice to Hon. Judge, better not preach the ugly can’t be made beautiful.

http://www.countercurrents.org/mujtaba160811.htm

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Is RSS running the Anna show? – By Iftikhar Gilani (Aug 18, 2011, Tehelka)

The bulk of support to crusader Anna Hazare is coming from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) youth cadres. It is not an allegation by the Congress but an open admission by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj. She attacked Home Minister P Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday during a debate on the Hazare episode, the text of which was released on Thursday, for getting agitated for the RSS involvement in the people’s movement launched by the crusader for a strong and effective Lokpal to curb corruption.

Asserting that there should be no doubt about the RSS role in Hazare’s crusade, she pointed out that the RSS is a part of India Against Corruption movement, the body under whose banner he is agitating for a strong Lokpal Bill. She pointed out that the RSS is not extending any secret support but officially mobilising support through Youth against Corruption, an arm of the RSS student wing, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

“Why do the police not take any action when separatists from Kashmir come and make seditious speeches in Delhi? You protect their human rights. But if a sadhu in saffron or a Gandhian supported by the RSS comes to protest in Delhi, you start raining batons on them. I want to know why people get agitated by the mere mention of the RSS,” she asked, asserting that the RSS is a nationalist organisation.

She wanted all to know the political clout the RSS wields in the country, though being an unregistered “cultural organisation.” She pointed out that “116 MPs in this House and 45 members of the Upper House owe allegiance to the RSS while seven chief ministers of various states are also committed to the RSS.” “Do you still believe the RSS does not have support in the country? Why is the government then getting so agitated and upset if a people’s movement is supported by the RSS,” she asked.

http://tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ws180811PROTESTIII.asp

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Black money paranoia – By V. Venkatesan (Aug 13, 2011, Frontline)

The government’s lukewarm response to the demand for an effective Lokpal Bill is of a piece with its paranoid reaction to the Supreme Court’s directive on June 4 constituting a Special Investigation Team to investigate the allegations against certain tax evaders and to take appropriate steps to bring back the money stashed in foreign banks. It was in response to the government’s admission that its investigation has been rather slow that the Bench, comprising Justice Sudarshan Reddy, who retired on July 8, and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar, expanded a 10-member High Level Committee (HLC), comprising senior officials, set up by the Central government into a Special Investigation Team. The team is to be headed by two former Supreme Court judges, Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy (as Chairman) and Justice M.B. Shah as Vice-Chairman. The Bench directed the SIT to report and be responsible to the court. As the government-appointed HLC did not inspire confidence, the court found it necessary to constitute an SIT by adding two retired judges to the HLC and make it answerable to the court. The court’s action is not unprecedented as it has resorted to this type of investigation before to unravel offences of a complex nature when the government’s efforts to bring out the truth were found wanting.

Instead of cooperating with the Supreme Court in this endeavour, the government filed a review petition on July 15 and sought recall of its July 4 order on the basis of its fundamental objections to the court’s intervention, even though it did not raise them during the hearing of the case Ram Jethmalani vs Union of India. The government claimed that the court’s order encroached upon the turf of the executive. The government revealed its discomfort over the first 20 paragraphs of the judgment, which constituted a stringent critique of the neoliberal economic ideology pursued by the Centre in the past 20 years. While there could be two opinions whether the July 4 judgment should have carried these paragraphs on ideology, the government’s objection to these on the grounds that the court made these observations without hearing it or without any material before it has surprised observers. The court could not have been expected to hear arguments on this, as it only provides a factual background to its decision. However, these very paragraphs suggest a clear link among the paradigm of governance prioritising the market, weak tax collection machinery and a decline in the State’s revenues. In Paragraph 17, the Bench warns that if the state were soft to a large extent, especially in terms of the unholy nexus among the lawmakers, the law-keepers and the law-breakers, the moral authority and the moral incentives to exercise suitable control over the economy and society would vanish. Large unaccounted monies are generally an indication of that, the court explained.

Critics of the court’s intervention have suggested that it is an instance of judicial overreach. In Paragraph 43, the Bench noted that the Centre opposed the SIT but provides no principle as to why that would be undesirable, especially in the light of the many lapses and lacunae in its actions in these matters over the past four years. The Bench clearly identified the problem as one of fragmentation of government and expertise and knowledge across many departments, agencies and across various jurisdictions, which posed a serious impediment to proper investigation. Considering that the rule of law and achievement of constitutional values of good governance were at stake in this case, the Bench found it necessary to be involved in a broad oversight capacity through the SIT.

The petitioners had sought the court’s direction to the Centre to disclose documents relating to bank accounts of Indian citizens in the Principality of Liechtenstein, a small landlocked sovereign nation-state in Europe and a tax haven. A former employee of a bank in Liechtenstein secured the names of some 1,400 bank account holders, along with the particulars of such accounts, and offered the information to Germany. On the basis of this information, Germany initiated action against some 600 individuals and offered the information regarding nationals of other countries who held similar accounts. The Bench directed the Centre to disclose information secured from Germany with regard to individuals against whom evidence of wrongdoing was available, show-cause notices had been issued, or proceedings had been initiated. The government’s decision to challenge this direction through the review petition only raises questions about its commitment to deal effectively with corruption.

http://www.flonnet.com/fl2817/stories/20110826281702000.htm

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‘All victims of violence should get same compensation’ – Wajahat Habibullah tells Kunal Majumder (Aug 27, 2011, Tehelka)

The police firing in Forbesganj in Bihar was not a communal incident, yet you visited the place in your capacity as National Commission for Minorities chairman. Why? Bhajanpur is a Muslim village. In the beginning, it wasn’t clear if it was a communal incident. Then we visited the place and came to the conclusion that it was not at all communal. The village happens to be entirely Muslim. This matter concerns the commission because a village belonging to the minority community has been reduced to landless labourers and abject poverty due to land acquisition over the years. The police claimed that the villagers attacked them. But videos shot by the police themselves show no signs of such violence.

Are you suggesting that the NCM intervened only because the incident involved Muslims? This may be hard for you to believe, but it didn’t attract the same kind of attention as the firing in Pune did. In Bhajanpur, you had a wounded boy lying on the ground and a policeman jumping up and down on him. It created no kind of furore or criticism. The local police have registered a case against the errant cop. I commend them for that. We went there to find out whether people were killed because they were minorities. We are satisfied this was not the case. Social and economic factors created the problem.

You agree that it was not a communal issue. So why did you recommend compensation on the lines proposed in the draft Communal Violence Bill? I’m also a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) governing body. In the last meeting, I had suggested that victims of all violence should be paid similar compensation as recommended under Schedule 4 of the Communal Violence Bill. The NCM is of the view that this compensation should be paid to anyone who is a victim of some kind of violence. Whenever there is a terrorist incident or accident, different compensation amounts are announced for the victims. There is a need to have a standard package. The NHRC asked me to prepare a scheme. That scheme stems from the Communal Violence Bill.

The Communal Violence Bill has caused a lot of controversy. Some right-wing parties have called it a move to appease minorities. That’s one of the objections that even we raised with the National Advisory Council (NAC). But no one is taking objection to Schedule 4. The problem is with the definition of ‘group’. In reference to our recommendation, the NAC has incorporated internally displaced persons among the group. This will help the Kashmiri Pandits. I’m concerned about their rights and this Bill will certainly benefit them.

The NCM wants an FIR against Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy for his provocative article in a leading daily. What’s your issue with the article? I don’t think I have spent much time on Swamy, just half an hour. It was an item on the agenda of the NCM and the commission has taken a view. It is a matter that has deeply concerned one of our members, Vinod Sharma, who is not a Muslim. On his view, we asked for legal advice. We were told that Swamy’s article was in violation of the Indian Penal Code. So if it is a violation of the law, then law must take its own course. The article was written by the head of a political party and it is on the website of the Janata Party. This means it is the policy of the Janata Party. It talks about a Hindu State — that is obviously a violation of the Constitution. Therefore a party that is propagating abrogation of the Constitution itself can’t be registered as a party. We have referred it to the Election Commission.

http://tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne270811incoldblood.asp

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Court of elders – Editorial (Aug 18, 2011, Indian Express)

Rajya Sabha has taken up an impeachment motion against a judge, and the solemnity of the exercise inevitably framed the backdrop against which the question of Justice Soumitra Sen’s continuance in the Calcutta high court will be decided. The requisite MPs’ petition that set up the process cited two allegations for inquiring into misbehaviour: that Sen had misappropriated money he received in his capacity as high court-appointed receiver, and that he had misrepresented facts to the high court.

When Parliament converts into a court, and the proceedings are relayed live, it expectedly makes for riveting theatre. But apart from Sen’s future, the arguments also contextualise two pressing issues before Parliament: its capacity to summon its institutional strength amidst sporadic street protests questioning its efficacy, and the need to strike the right balance between accountability and judicial independence that should inform the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, currently pending in Parliament.

The past few sessions have been such a record of abdication by MPs, cutting across the aisles – in initiating and taking forward debates or on addressing pending legislation, indeed even in getting the House to function – that they flirt with the danger of hollowing out their assertions of representativeness. Impeachment proceedings are, rightly, extremely rare. But the sobriety that Rajya Sabha instinctively assumed on Wednesday – whips demanding attendance, MPs extending each other the courtesy of a patient hearing – is one they should expect to be expected of them on an average day.

Impeachment of a judge also underlines the precious, and precarious, balance between institutions. The Judicial Bill has been recommended on the grounds that it would set up mechanisms for disciplinary action short of the extreme of removing a judge from office. Yet, lowering the bar for oversight of the judiciary could also be fraught with infringement of the judiciary’s independence. Parliament should not postpone that larger discussion.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/833370/

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Sub-Classification Of Dalits: Law And Politics – By Sanjay Kumar Chaudhary (Aug 16, 2011, Countercurrents)

Dalit unity is one the pre-conditions for any kind of collective action for making democratic and just claims in order to achieve the realization of basic human rights and dignity for the Dalits. However, the question of justice and equitable distribution of public goods among heterogeneous groups of Dalit has taken the ugly turn of inter-caste/class conflicts in recent times. By and large, Dalits have suffered immensely at the hands of Brahminical and feudal forces, but the general practice of untouchability and discrimination exists among them also. As per the 2001 Census, the population of Scheduled Castes was 166 million. They are officially classified into 1208 castes as on 23.09.2008, as notified by the President of India under Article 341(1) of the Constitution of India. While very limited social interaction takes place among the different Dalit castes, prohibitions regarding norms of inter-dining and inter-caste marriage prevail among them too.

Among the Dalits, a few caste groups appear to be benefitting disproportionately from the reservation policy. This has escalated internal conflict among Dalits in recent times, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Bihar. While, to some extent, the reservation policy has been able to break the age-old dominance of the ‘upper’ castes in public institutions and has provided opportunities to some section of Dalits to advance, it has now entered into a new phase that tends to create micro-identity-based demands and politics. Very conflicting justifications are being marshalled by different interest groups among Dalits who are contending with each other for the benefits of the reservation policy. This article seeks to explore some aspects of ongoing debates among Dalits about the need for sub-classification of Scheduled Castes in the light of complaints of particular Dalit castes who feel that other castes have benefitted disproportionately from the reservation policy. It also critically looks at the Supreme Court judgment, delivered in 2004, with regard to the legality and constitutionality of the sub-classification of Scheduled Castes.

While the Constitution refers to Scheduled Castes in the context of reservations in education, employment and political institutions etc, it does not define the term ‘Scheduled Castes’. However, Article 341 empowers the President to recognize caste, races or tribes etc. for the purposes of the Constitution to be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to particular states and union territories. Further, the power to include in or exclude any caste, race or tribes etc. from the Presidential list has been given to the Parliament. The Article reads as follows: 341. (1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor 5 thereof, by public notification 1, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be. (2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.

Discontented with the existing reservation policy, which treats Scheduled Castes as a single class and homogenous category, many communities among Dalits who argue that they have hardly benefitted from the reservation policy have raised the demand for sub-classification of Scheduled Castes and are demanding a proportionate share in the benefits of the policy. Conflicts between Mahars and Matangs in Maharastra, Malas and Madigas in Andhra Pradesh, Chamars and Bhangis in Punjab and Dalits and Mahadalits in Bihar have recently received political and academic attention. Some policies have been devised in state of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana for more equitable development of the most vulnerable castes among the Dalits. In Bihar, the Mahadalit Commission was constituted by the Nitish Kumar Government in 2007 to identify the castes within the Scheduled Castes who lag behind in the development process and to study their educational and social status and suggest measures for their educational and social empowerment. Although such kind of political maneuvering and social engineering by Nitish Kumar has yielded political dividends to the ruling party, it was opposed by dominant Dalit leaders, like Ramvilas Paswan and Meira Kumar. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has also expressed its differences on the matter, and went to declare the Mahadalit Commission as unconstitutional.

In Andhra Pradesh, in order to receive a fair share in the benefits of the reservation policy, the Madiga community, which is single largest group among the Scheduled Castes in Andhra Pradesh, launched a movement for sub-categorisation. They demanded for separate reservation in proportion to their population. It was unjustly opposed by members of Mala caste. Against this background, the State of Andhra Pradesh appointed a Commission, headed by Justice Ramachandra Raju, to identify the groups amongst the Scheduled Castes found in the list prepared under Article 341 of the Constitution who had failed to secure the benefits of the reservation policy provided for Scheduled Castes in the state in admission to professional colleges and appointment to State services. Based on the Justice Ramachandra Raju report, the Andhra Pradesh government, headed by Chandrababu Naidu, passed an ordinance and then enacted the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes (Rationalization of Reservation) Act, 2000, which classified 57 Scheduled Castes into four sub-groups and split the 15% reservation quota for admission in educational institutions and government jobs in proportion to their population: Rellis and Adi Andhra 1% each; Malas 6%; and Madigas 7%. This first ever legislation which recognized the separate interests of various caste groups among Dalits was challenged before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and later an appeal was made before the Supreme Court. …

http://www.countercurrents.org/chaudhary160811.htm

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