e – Voice Of Human Rights Watch ï¿½ e-news weekly
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Editor : Nagaraj.M.R…………vol.3ï¿½issue.03………….31/03/2007
Editorial : CRIMES COMMITTED BY LAW COURTS IN INDIA
– An appeal to honourable supreme court of india
Indian prisons are meant to be ï¿½reforming schoolsï¿½ for the prisoners. By the corrupt practices of the officials , the prisons have become factories turning out hardened criminals.
Say , a person was caught by police on suspicion of pick-pocketing. The police produce the accussed before the magistrate , in turn he remands him for judicial custody. Let us consider , The punishment for this offence ï¿½pick-pocketingï¿½ as per law is 6 months imprisonment. However the case drags on for 3 years , finally the court finds him guilty of offence & orders for 6 months imprisonment. Totally, the offender serves 42 months imprisonment sentence in practice. In some cases , the courts consider the time already spent by the accussed behind the bars while giving judgement. In this example , even if the offender is let free taking 6 months imprisonment sentence, the offender has been given excess sentence of 36-6=30 months.
Taking the same example further, say the court finds the accused as innocent, not guilty of crime & lets him free. However , the poor chap has suffered 36 months imprisonment for no fault of his.
As per law, no body not even the courts of law are legally empowered to punish anybody beyond the legal procedures , rules established. In this way, due to delay in our legal system , faulty bail procedures , thousands of under-trials are suffering in various prisons throught India. Arew not the courts which remanded those accused to judicial custody responsible for this illegal act of excessive punishment ? what punishment should be given to those judges ?
The bail procedure in India , is also faulty without considering quantum of offence & financial status of the accused. A person accused of stealing rs.100 has to provide bail surety bond of rs.5000 or personal surety by a wealthy person / government servant. The poor person having personal contacts , friendship with rich persons / government servants is quite remote , so he cannï¿½t secure bail on personal bond. The poor chapï¿½s family is not rich enough to spend rs.5000 surety amount. As a result, unable to secure bail the poor chap suffers in jail for years.
Say, a rich industrialist is accused of rs.20 crores tax evasion, he is let free on a personal bond of rs.1 lakh. Stamp paper scam kingpin karim lala telgi has swindled government to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees, only few cases are registered against him. That too in one out of those cases involving rs.45 lakh worth stamp sale , judge has given him rigorous imprisonment plus a fine of rs.50000.
Considering the above examples it is quite clear the bail amount, fine amount are peanuts for the rich just a fraction of quantum of their crime , while for the poor it is huge many times more than the quantum of their crime.. it is biased towards rich & mighty criminals. As a result poor always suffers in jail, while rich are out on bail.
Even within prisons , the number of prisoners per sq.ft area , no of doctors , hospital beds , medicines available, weight of food per day given to prisoners , are all less & much below the statuotary limits. The food , health care , living conditions of prisoners , under-trials are worse than pigs. The prison authorities are utterly corrupt, which has been brought into light again & again by the media. If a poor prisoner questions the illegal acts of the officials , he is subjected to 3rd degree torture , roughed up by rowdy prisoners on the instigation of the officials themselves. Many poor prisoners are suffering from health problems , many are dying due to lack of proper health care & food in the prisons.
Whereas , the rich & mighty prisoners , by payting bribe get non-veg , alchoholic drinks from outside restaurants daily. They even secure drugs . they get spacious VIP rooms , television , mobile phones. They easily get parole & easily gets admitted in outside hospitals & roam free , while on record they are in-patients in hospitals.
The ï¿½law of limitationï¿½ which stipulates time limits for filing various cases is also biased towards the government as a party & rich , mighty. For the purposes of evidences , filing of cases one needs various government records. The concerned officials donï¿½t provide those records for years unless bribed & sit over the files for years. Some times by making absurd , illogical file notings , rejects it back. There is no time limit for the performance of duties by public servants. When a commoner donï¿½t get relevant records , files , evidences in time , how can he file cases in time without those records , evidences ?
Nowadays , numerous cases of irregularities , charges of corruption against judges are coming to light. However , in such cases judges are asked to resign from service but no criminal prosecution against them is instituted , only in cases involving lower court judges it is done. When a case of irregularity by a judge in a specific present case comes , there are every possibility that in the past also he has committed the same in cases handled by him which has not come to light. In such instances , all the cases handled by that particular judge throught his career must be reviewed , but is not done why ? does not it amount to cover-ups ?
In many cases the higher courts have turned down the verdicts of the lower courts , let free the innocents , absolved innocents of charges & annulled death sentences when appeals came before them. However , in all such cases , the lower court judges must be punished for giving out wrong judgements, meating out injustice to innocents. Here a fact must be noted , only a fraction of cases goes in appeal to higher courts, as in majority of cases the poor people lack the financial might to make the appeal. The so-called ï¿½free legal services authorityï¿½pre-judges the cases before giving legal aid. As a result , many innocents poor people resign to their fates suffer injustice in courts of law , undergo imprisonment punishment , some times even death sentence. So , the urgent need of the hour is to incorporate ï¿½jury systemï¿½ or some outside monitoring system to review cases as & when decided.
In many cases involving the rich & mighty like telgi , case proceedings are conducted in-camera in judgeï¿½s chambers or proceedings are conducted through video conferencing . outside from public gaze. The tapes are not made public and the public cannï¿½t even ascertain the validity of tapes , whether it is edited , doctored .
One of the basic reasons for delayed justice & worse prison conditions in India , is low number of judges , police personnel , higher rate of case adjournments and finally low amount of financial grants made by the government to judicial department / police department. The government states that it doesnï¿½t have enough money to provide for judiciary & police. As a result, fundamental / human rights of innocent commoners are thwarted. The state governments & GOI , is one of either parties in 75% of cases before various courts in India, it is the biggest litigant & is influencing the judiciary by controlling the grants , recruitment to judiciary & by enticing some with post-retirement postings.
The government has got money to spend on lavish parties of VVIPs , IAS officers serving non-veg foods , alchoholic drinks . their foreign jaunts , 5-star bungalows , limousines , interior decorations of their bungalows, etc. which is of higher priority , importance , whether the luxury of VVIPs or the fundamental / human rights of commoners ? the courts should answer. The courts have the legal powers to order governments to provide enough financial grants to it , however it is keeping mum , turning blinds eye to crimes of VVIPï¿½s. the government rewards such judges with salary hikes , promotions , luxury cars , bungalows , perks and post-retirement postings , sites at judicial lay-out , yelahanka , Bangalore , etc.
We at HRW has utmost respect for the judiciary , but hereby humbly bringing the crimes of judiciary before the honest few judges seeking justice to the common folk. JAI HIND. VANDE MATARAM.
AN OPEN APPEAL TO JUSTICE SHRI. K.G.BALAKRISHNAN , HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA , SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Recently , in the media an interview with the present chief justice of India was reported. In the interview the honourable CJI stated that he is against any compulsory disclosures to be made by judges ie he is against any external supervision of judges performance , as any self respecting judge would not like this. He is for voluntary disclosures by judges themselves. It is true , thinking on the same lines, our constitutional forefathers thought that only people with self respect , personal integrity will come to occupy high constitutional offices in parliament , legislature & judiciary , as at the dawn of independence there were great educationists , statesmen in parliament , judiciary , in the whole of public service . that is the reason they have left out blank in drafting disciplinary proceedings against erring judges , ministers , MLAs , MPs. They have not even dreamt of the present situation, now see the opposite individuals facing murder , rape , extortion charges are in parliament , state legislatures, corruption is rampant in judiciary. These facts have been publicly acknowledged by union cabinet ministers , supreme court judges themselves. This problem has grown out of proportion due to failure of self regulation , transparency by judiciary & parliament.
Even certain technicalities , actions of the judiciary are biased for the rich & mighty. The cases of commoners drag on for years , months without a hearing whereas the special leave petitions which only rich can afford & other cases which the judge thinks urgent comes for hearing at the shortest time & even interim orders are issued. The judiciary in convenient cases initiates suo-motto action based on media reports , considers e-mails , post cards of high profile individuals / NGOs as PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATIONS and takes action. Whereas , when commoners send appeals for justice concerning public good, about violation of fundamental/human rights & obstruction to performance of fundamental duties, those are not even considered.
Honourable CJI is only concerned about the self respect of judges , what about the self respect of common people. When a commoner asks for accountability of judiciary or parliament he is slapped with contempt charges , what about his self respect ? When innocent commoners are arrested without warrants , illegally detained beaten up by police , what happens to the self respect of those individuals ? who bothers about the shame , job losses , broken marriages , fall of community relationships his whole family suffers as a result ? due to corrupt police officers sometimes innocents are put behind the bars , unable to pay the bail amount they suffer in jail for years while the real crook who is rich will be roaming outside on bail. Ofcourse, finally the court may absolve that poorman of charges, but what about his self respect the trauma his whole family faces ? what about poor people who unable to bear police 3rd degree torture confess to crimes they have not committed & suffer punishment – some times even death sentence , what about their self respect ?
Nowadays numerous scandals involving ministers , MLAs , MPs are reported in the media. The government drags it feet for months , sometimes years to give legal sanction for prosecution , thereby indirectly aiding the tainted in manipulation of evidences , records. Finally the tainted are let-off for lack of evidences in courts. In high profile cases , opposition parties raises hullaballo , an enquiry / parliamentary committee is formed to inquire into the issue. The committee takes months to complete it’s findings , the government takes months to table the report , months to take action & months to table action taken report. Finally, VVIP is let off the hook , even if found guilty he resigns from the membership of the house.
In the same manner , senior judges facing charges of irregularities / corruption are either asked to resign or not allotted any judicial work. Only in rarest cases impeachment motion is brought about by parliament.
In this manner on quid pro quo basis the functioning style , action time of judiciary & parliament are mutually helpful. Instead of dragging on the cases for years spending lakhs of rupees , the tainted ministers , judges can be subjected to scientific tests like polygraph , brain mapping , etc & the truth can be found out , but not followed why ?
Resignation from office or not allotting any work to tainted constitutional functionary is not complete equitable justice ? what about the legal prosecution for their wrong doings ?
Just see the recent media reports about justice bhalla. See the recent reports in “vijaya karnataka’ about whole irregularities in recruitment process by Karnataka public service commission. KPSC selects candidates for quasi-judicial positions like taluk magistrates , tax officers , labour officers , etc. what about UPSC , JUDGES SELECTION COMMITTEE, etc ? when an unfit person pays bribe to get a job , it is to reap more profits afterwards. Naturally, corruption spreads. Just remember “ROOST RESORT SCANDAL” involving selectors- high court judges & the candidates – newly selected women judges.
The commoners do have self respect as VVIPs & in the spirit of equitable justice VVIPs must be treated on par with commoners with respect to enforcement of law. Or else it will go against the letter & spirit of constitution & violative of people’s fundamental rights. Ofcourse , there are honest persons in public service ï¿½ judiciary , parliament . it is an humble appeal with full respects to them to legally prosecute their corrupt colleagues .
ACCOUNTABILITY OF INDIAN JUDICIARY NEEDED
In early 2006 , While attending a programme the honourable chief justice of india has remarked the fact that , you need a god father to get appointed into highest judicial echelons. Why do these political godfathers recommend their own candidates to president of india , for selection of judges to high courts & supreme court of india. Simply because the favoured ones ï¿½ the judges will give favourable judgements when the cases of these godfather’s & their cronies comes before them ï¿½ the prodigal sons. As in other wings of government , corruption has spread it’s tentacles far & wide in the judiciary also. Remember ” roost resort”scandal” ï¿½ wherein the newly selected women judges were returning favours immorally to their selectors ï¿½ high court judges of karnataka. We have seen various media reports about crimes of judges like- attempt to rape, murder , practice of untouchability , misusing medical re-imbursement scheme , receiving kickbacks in the form of royalty for a book , lifting furniture from govt quarters , dishonouring national flag , false affidavit of age , underworld link , etc. however what disciplinary actions were taken such erring judges , no news at all. Even HRW persistently requested the CJI about the same, no reply till date.
Our constitution has given independence to judges , to freely make their own inference , interpretation of
law , so as to give an impartial , just judgement. Our constitutional frame workers thought that our judges will be wise enough to perform within the realm of established jurisprudence & logical reasoning. As per law, the public don’t have a right to question the action , jurisprudence of a judge with respect to any judgement. The public can only appeal. This independence of decision making given to judges coupled with legal immunity given to them , is being misused by some corrupt judges. These judges are giving out biased judicial orders without the backing of any logical reasoning or established jurisprudence. If a commonman questions these corrupt judges about their actions, it is termed as ” contempt of court” , the commonman is punished & the voice seeking the truth is silenced forever.
The corruption among judiciary is more wide spread in lower judiciary & quasi-judicial bodies like land
appellate authorities, licensing authorities, etc. a criminal in the garb of a judge is more lethal than 1000 hard core criminals put together. Hereby, HRW urges, the honourable chief justice of India to give me information about the following :
1.how many judges right from munsiff level to apex court are facing criminal charges & disciplinary proceedings?
2.How many quasi-judicial officers like taluk magistrates , members of appellate boards, licensing authorities , etc, are facing criminal charges & disciplinary proceedings?
3.what action the apex court has taken?has the apex court subjected all cases handled by tainted judges, for review?
4.how the apex court is monitoring the wealth details of judges?are you cross-checking their statements & affidavits?
5. in bangalore yelahanka judicial lay-out how the residential sites worth lakhs of rupees were allotted to high ranking judges just for few thousands by the karnataka govt judicial dept employees housing co-operative society? The judges are not govt of karnataka employees & govt of karnataka is a party in nearly 70% of the cases before the courts.
6.giving out blanket immunity to all judges for all actions irrespective of merit of their actions , is it not against founding spirit of our constitution?
7.are judges more equal than the citizens of india?
8.why don’t the courts punish the guilty judges for their crimes instead of just asking them to resign from service or dismissal? Are judges above law?
9.why there is no transparency in nomination of advocates to highest judicial positions & nomination of retired judges to various commissions?
10.why don’t the judges are subjected to narco-analysis & other scientific tests , when accussed of favouritism or corruption?
11.why you have not registered previous appeals of HRW , as PIL & not responded till date?
12. the judiciary ï¿½ honourable supreme court of India itself is violating my constitutionally guaranteed FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS as well as my HUMAN RIGHTS , also it is obstructing me from performing my constitutionally stated FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES AS A CITIZEN OF INDIA. Why ?
We at the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, have highest respect for the judiciary. If at all there is a semblance of law & justice in india , it is due to the few honest judges in the judiciary who are working tirelessly without seeking anything in return. It is an appeal for the honest few judges to bring to book their corrupt colleagues. These corrupt judges are a greater threat to india‘s unity & integrity, than terrorists. Hereby, HRW offers it’s services ( subject to conditions) to the honourable chief justice of india in apprehending criminals in the judiciary, quasi-judicial bodies.
AN APPEAL TO H.E.PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE
I am writing to express my grave concern about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe following the state’s response to attempts by political opposition and civil society leaders and supporters to attend a meeting organised in protest against the police ban of a prayer meeting on Sunday 11 March 2007.
There are corroborated reports that police used excessive force and misused lethal force against unarmed demonstrators. In some cases, while in police custody, activists were subjected to severe beatings amounting to torture.
Such incidents are continuing as of 20 March 2007 and appear to amount to breaches of Zimbabwe’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and are contrary to Zimbabwe’s undertakings under the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
I appeal to you to use your good offices to remind the government of Zimbabwe of its regional human rights obligations and to encourage a process leading to an impartial and independent investigation of the killing on 11 March 2007 of Gift Tandare, the misuse of lethal force by police against participants at the protest meeting on 11 March and against mourners at Gift Tandare’s funeral on 13 March and into allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detained protesters. The results of such investigations should be made public and alleged perpetrators brought to justice.
I also appeal to you to seek assurances that the Zimbabwe Republic Police conduct their duties in a manner consistent with respect for internationally and regionally recognised standards of human rights and policing, without discrimination. To restore public confidence in the Zimbabwe Republic Police, police officers should operate in a manner consistent with international human rights law and standards, including the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation (SARPCCO) Code of Conduct for Police Officials, Article 1 of which states that: “In the performance of their duties, police officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold all human rights for all persons.”
Finally, I believe that the blanket ban on public meetings is in breach of Zimbabweï¿½s obligations to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, enshrined in international and regional human right rights treaties, and is in breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. I appeal to you to use all possible influence to have the ban lifted without delay.
AN APPEAL TO H.E.PRESIDENT OF TUNISIA
I am writing to express my concern at the continued imprisonment of lawyer and human rights defender Mohammed Abbou, who marked the second anniversary of his detention on 1 March 2007.
I urge you to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammed Abbou as a prisoner of conscience who was imprisoned solely for the legitimate and peaceful expression of his beliefs. His continued imprisonment violates Tunisiaï¿½s obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In the meantime, I appeal to you to ensure that Mohammed Abbouï¿½s family are able to visit him without facing harassment.
As I am sure you know, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in 2005 that Abbouï¿½s detention was arbitrary and in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
As a member of the Human Rights Council, Tunisia has an opportunity to show its commitment to human rights by respecting its international human rights obligations and releasing Mohammed Abbou.
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