S.O.S e – Voice For Justice – e-news weekly
Spreading the light of humanity & freedom
Editor: Nagaraja.M.R.. Vol.07..Issue.47……..19 / 11 / 2011
“There is a higher court than the court of justice and that is the court of conscience It supercedes all other courts. ”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Editorial : JUDGES MURDERING JUSTICE
SHAME to Chief Justice of India & Others
Indian Corrupt Judges
The need for a Judges Accountability Bill
By Vicky Nanjappa
Off late there is a lot of talk regarding the necessity to have a Judges Accountability Bill. Even when the Lokpal Bill was being debated the inclusion of judges into this bill was strongly opposed by the government despite members of the civil society urging the government to make such an inclusion.
Off late there have been reports galore regarding judges being offered sites or houses under the discretionary quota of the Chief Minister. Recently there was an expose at the Orissa High Court. Prior to this there were reports from Karnataka and also another report which spoke about how the Narendra Modi government had offered prime lands to judges of the High Court.
The big question is whether judges deserve such treatment from the state government considering the fact that the government is the biggest litigant before any court in the country? Is this an illegality or is it corruption?
Justice Santhosh Hegde, former judge of the Supreme Court of India says it is illegal to accept sites under the discretionary quota. Judges ought to know that while accepting such sites they are succumbing to temptation. They have to examine any such offer and find out properly whether it is in accordance with law or not. It is very dangerous to accept such favours since in the days to come it would hold against themselves.
Speaking of a judges accountability bill, well there is one but it has not come out as yet. This has been loitering around for some years now and it is time that something is done about it. In fact while we were discussing the Lokpal bill this was one of the primary contentions during the debate. Either the government had to include it into the Lokpal Bill or make functional the judges accountability bill. However there was a lot of misunderstanding regarding this. All I said was it was not right to leave out the judges when we are fighting corruption. They should include this portion into the Lokpal bill. However once the Judges Accountability Bill is made functional then it could be deleted out of the Lokpal bill. There was no need to keep this in abeyance until that happened. When this issue is being argued and fought for the past 44 years then it is impertive for the government to include it.
Senior Advocate in the Karnataka High Court, Navkesh Batra is of the view that taking sites under the discretionary quota is nothing but corruption. First and foremost Judges are not entitled for a site under this quota. This quota is meant for poor people, outstanding people including judges. It cannot be given as a bul allotment as it amounts to nothing but a sop. When the government is the biggest litigant before any court in India then such a sop does not instill confidence in the public and it would be better if both the government and the judiciary abstains from such an act. Here I would like to quote the incident involving the great Justice R A Jagirdhar of the Bombay High Court. In fact he was the only judge who refused to apply for a site despite a request by the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He even went one step further and at a public function when the CM sought to shake his hand he publicly rebuked him by saying, ” Mr CM your cases are pending before the high court. As a high court judge I refuse to shake your hand.”
LAND SCAM IN TAMILNADU One for my officer, one for my boy…
Land and property are coveted assets. So why are chief ministers allowed to give these away as favours? JEEMON JACOB tracks how Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has been using his quotas
ILLUSTRATION: ANAND NAOREM
IN NOVEMBER, Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa almost lost his job, due to the uproar over preferential allotment of land and property to his sons and close associates. He has since cancelled the allotments, asked his children to move out of his official residence, and retained his seat through some deft political manoeuvring and muscle-flexing. At the height of the campaign against him, as political opponents paraded on apparent moral high ground, TEHELKA published details of plots similarly allotted by previous Karnataka chief ministers, both of the Congress and the JD(S), to relatives, servants, drivers, maids and partymen (LAND SCAM 2.0, 4 December). The purpose was not to make Yeddyurappa’s wrongdoings look less shocking, but to show that the problem was endemic and needed rooting out. The right given to chief ministers to hand out public land to a favoured few — relatives, bureaucrats, judges, police officers and others — smacks of nepotism and arbitrary feudal power structures that should have no place in a modern democracy. (Though there is no immediate proof of this, some of these allotments could also be benami transactions, in which the ultimate ownership remains with the distributor of the largesse, camouflaged by a stack of fake documents.)
This power — euphemistically called “discretionary quota” — has even been used to favour allegedly corrupt army officers like General Deepak Kapoor (AT EASE WITH GREASE, TEHELKA, 20 November), who was given a large 500 sq yd plot in Haryana by the Hooda government, which then faced the embarrassment of refusing him permission to sell it off before five years had elapsed, as per rules. The plot was given to him by the government as preferential allotment in recognition for his ‘outstanding achievement’.
This week, continuing its campaign against out-of-turn allotments of land and property, TEHELKA has an exposé on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) which commands a large land bank, has a government discretionary quota (GDQ) under which 15 percent of all allotments can be recommended by the CM. Eligibility for allotment under GDQ is as follows: single/deserted women; widows; social workers; physically handicapped persons; defence personnel; ex-servicemen; eminent persons in the field of science, arts, literature, economics, public administration and sports; freedom fighters; government servants with unblemished service records; employees of PSUs, central government undertakings and nationalised banks; PF institutions; journalists; university staff; and employees of local bodies and municipalities.
While some of these categories sound kosher, most of them raise a fundamental question: why should the government have the power to give coveted land to select employees and journalists over others? The only rationale could be proximity — which is an untenable reason for being the beneficiary of political favours, often worth several crores.
Setting this aside, even within the legal ambit of the GDQ, TEHELKA’s investigation shows that many of the allotments in Karunanidhi’s tenure have violated the rule book. Many bureaucrats and their relatives have been given plots or flats under the category of “social worker”. Some of these last did social work when they were in college; many of them claim to be volunteers in such routine activity as helping in blood donation or eye camps. Many have issued certificates to themselves; some have acquired letters from the Lions and Rotary Clubs with vague endorsements. In other violations, the rules say that no one who has any other land or property in Tamil Nadu or any other capital city, in either their own or spouse or minor children’s name, can apply for GDQ allotments. TEHELKA found this is routinely violated.
Many of the allottees issued certificates to themselves, while some got letters from Lions and Rotary Clubs
The other brazen violation lies in the claim of “unblemished” service records as a qualification for allotment. When RTI activist V Gopalakrishnan sought a list of such bureaucrats, Additional Secretary S Solomon Raj said, “As no unblemished government servant certificates are issued, the question of furnishing a list of names does not arise.” The additional secretary also clarified that the home department didn’t have such a list. This is the phantom category under which many public servants like Jaffar Sait, 1986 batch IPS officer, now Inspector General of Police–Intelligence, got large allotments of land in prime locations. Why them more than hundreds of others? That’s a democratic question the chief minister will have to answer.
Serving Judge, Madras High Court
FLAT NOS: MIG 249-250, SHOLINGANALLUR PHASE III, CHENNAI
DATE: 30 MARCH 2008
SIZE: 120 SQ M & 139 SQ M
PRICE: Rs. 27.55 LAKH & Rs. 30.05 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
The judge was allotted two adjoining plots on the same day (30 March 2008). According to her Disclosure of Assets statement of 2009, the judge already had a house in her name, and another plot in her husband, advocate K Ganesan’s name. The house, in the Uthangarai area of Krishnagiri district, was constructed in 1985 on a plot purchased in 1982. The plot of land is located in Saidapet and was purchased in 1993. She however admits in her declaration that she owns two plots, which she purchased from the TN Housing Board in 2008. But this allocation was made under the General Category. Since judges do not come under any of the quota categories, the government’s way of allotting land to them differs from the rest. Judges are informed about the availability of land. And when they apply for the same, the government facilitates the allotment.
K Raviraja Pandian
Retired Justice, Madras High Court
PLOT NO: B2/5, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 11 NOVEMBER 2009
SIZE: 3,117 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 68.54 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.2 CRORE
Close relative of DMK supremo Karunanidhi and the Chairman of the School Fee Determination Committee. Little wonder then he was also the recipient of special favours while he was still a serving judge. At the time of the allotment, the judge owned a 50 percent share in an ancestral house at Thiruveezhimizhalai village. The judge had also sold a property he owned at Pazhavatthankattali village near Kumbakonam. The land was purchased in 1991, a house was constructed on it in 1992 and sold in 2009. He had also sold the landed property of his wife in 2009.
PLOT NO: A8, KADAPERY, MADHURANTHAGAM
DATE: 16 FEBRUARY 2008
SIZE: 2,285 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 4.54 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 15 LAKH
The advocate owned landed property in more than one location when she was allotted the plot — one vacant house site in Karanai Puducheri village and another in Katrampakkam village, in Kancheepuram district. Her husband, Justice M Satyanarayanan of the Madras High Court, in his Disclosure of Assets, stated that he owns a repurchased MIG flat constructed in 1969 at Indra Nagar in Chennai. Ambika was allotted land under the GDQ.
FLAT NOS: 540, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR
DATE: 23 APRIL 2008
SIZE: 4,756 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.26 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 6 CRORE
Allotted under ‘unblemished’ government servant category. On 6 June 2008, the government transferred the ownership of the plot to his daughter Jennifer Jaffar, then a student. Jennifer made two payments of Rs. 46.03 lakh and Rs.1.73 lakh towards cost of the plot. In February 2009, she paid another Rs.60 lakh. After having paid Rs.1.07 crore, the ownership of plot was transferred to her mother Parvin Jaffar. Interestingly, Parvin also made the payment all over again. In October 2009, she paid Rs. 50.64 lakh and then again in November 2009, another Rs. 25 lakh was deposited. A further payment of Rs. 51.5 lakh in the same month was made. Income tax officials feel the Sait family made the double payment to avoid an IT investigation on Jennifer, who would not have been able to show any source of income. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board then returned the original amount paid by Jennifer. Now, Parvin in collaboration with Durga Sankar, son of an IAS officer, has commissioned a builder to construct a multi-storey complex in which 12 flats have already been built. Each flat is expected to fetch an estimated 1 crore. So, by paying Rs. 1.26 crore in 2009, the IGP’s family made a profit of more than Rs. 5.7 crore.
Joint Secretary, Industries
PLOT NO: S6, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 6 MAY 2008
SIZE: 3,829 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 76.58 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 4 CRORE
The former district collector of Tirunelveli issued himself a certificate for unblemished government service.
Retired IAS, Secretary to Governor at the time of allotment
FLAT NOS: S4, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 7 MAY 2008
SIZE: 6,023 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.20 CRORE. PAYMENT WAS MADE IN 33 INSTALMENTS FROM 18 JULY 2008 TO 6 MARCH 2009
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 6.8 CRORE (APPROX)
Her husband Dr S Rajakumar has a house in Chennai.
Former Regional Passport Officer, Chennai, and close relative of DMK minister K Anbazhagan
PLOT NO: 1050 HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 28 MARCH 2008
PRICE: Rs. 59.15 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 1 CRORE
Her husband Dr S Ravichandran owns a plot. Following an RTI probe, the TNHB issued a show-cause notice and placed the allotment under suspension.
Former MP, who left Vaiko to join DMK
FLAT NOS: 1052 HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 27 MARCH 2008
PRICE: Rs. 79.86 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
Ganeshan is a trade union leader with the DMK and is close to Karunanidhi. He owns property in his as well as his wife’s name.
Wife of late Chezhiyan and daughter-in-law of Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam
PLOT NO: HIG B 3/14, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 13 MARCH 2008
PRICE: Rs. 9.82 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 45-50 LAKH
Allotted flat under Social worker category. The tehsildar of Salem issued her a certificate though he is not empowered to. The certificate says she “is a well-known social worker involved in social welfare activities such as president of Poolavari village panchayat, head of parent-teachers association, participating in educational programmes of many schools”.
Wife of R Sakkarapani, MLA and DMK chief whip
PLOT NO: 1047, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 9 MARCH 2008
PRICE: Rs. 79.86 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.5 CRORE
She was allotted the flat under the Social Worker category. The supporting document was a letter from a Rotary Club. The letter from PNK Venkatachalapathy, president of the Rotary Club of Oddachatram, dated 31 March 2008, states that “she is known to me as a social worker who is participating in social service activities of our Rotary Club at blood donation camps, free health checkup camps and other welfare activities. She has also been helping in providing several other basic amenities for the people surrounding the slum area for the past several years. I wish her every success to do more services to needy people in and around the area”.
Congress MLA, Kancheepuram Congress MLA, Kancheepuram
FLAT NOS: A5, HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 19 DECEMBER 2008
PRICE: Rs. 59.56 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3 CRORE
A certificate from the Chennai Municipal Councillor stating she has been an active social worker for the past 40 years actively involved in helping the poor in the area.
Member of a DMK trade union
PLOT NO: A 11, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTENSION
DATE: 6 JUNE 2008
SIZE: 2,422 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 58.61 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 2.75 CRORE
Though a member of a DMK trade union, he was allotted land under the Social Worker category. Has three plots in his name and one in his spouse’s name. He has not produced any supporting document about the social work he has done.
Widow of Sivagangai politician Thennarasu
FLAT NOS: S7, THIRUVANMIYUR EXTN
DATE: 26 AUGUST 2008
SIZE: 3,879 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 79.13 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.75 CRORE
She was allotted the plot under the Social Worker category. An RTI application revealed that she had not been engaged in any kind of social work that would make her eligible for this category.
FLAT NOS: E2/6, MIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 5 DECEMBER 2008
PRICE: Rs. 72.5 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 4 CRORE
Allotted under the Social Worker category on a certificate issued by the Lions Club. Owns several plots in his and his wife’s name.
Daughter of Brinda Chezhiyan and grand-daughter of Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam
FLAT NOS: B3/13, HIG, MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 3 JUNE 2008
PRICE: Rs. 8.99 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 45-50 LAKH
Like her mother, the 20-year-old was given a certificate of social work and domicile by the tehsildar of Salem, stating that she “is a wellknown social worker who is involved in many social welfare activities, such as national social service, participating in eye camp, blood donation and giving education to poor students”. The certificate was issued on 27 February 2008, the same day her mother got one. Both got adjoining flats.
Kith and Kin
Daughter of Devaraj M, Private Secretary to the Chief Minister
FLAT NOS: 543, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR (PLOT ADJOINING SAIT’S AND SHANKAR’S)
DATE: 23 MAY 2008
SIZE: 4,466 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.08 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
Allotted plot under the Social Worker category but there’s no evidence to back it. Constructing a three-storey building involving a cost beyond the family’s known sources of income. Her husband owns another property in his name. Her plot is adjacent to the plots of IGP-Intelligence Jaffar Sait and Durga Shankar, son of the CM’s secretary.
Son of P Muthuveeran, IAS, who was District Collector, Theni, and close to the Chief Minister
FLAT NOS: 541, HIG, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR
DATE: 27 JULY 2008
PRICE: Rs. 1.06 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. He works in a software company in Chennai and submitted a salary slip of Rs. 20,000 per month at the time of allotment. Now, he is constructing a fourstorey structure on the plot.
J Naveen Ibrahim
Son of SI Jaffar Ali, IPS (retd)
FLAT NOS: AI HIG MOGAPPAIR
DATE: 31 MARCH 2009
PRICE: Rs. 64.95 LAKH
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: Rs. 3.25 CRORE
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. Certificate issued relates to 1983, when he was a student. The college principal says he actively participated in “many social activities conducted by us. He continues to evince interest in social service activities”. Curiously, the EMI of Rs. 74,000 is almost double his monthly salary.
Son of Rajamanikkam, IAS, Secretary to Chief Minister
FLAT NOS: 538, THIRUVANMIYUR, KAMARAJ NAGAR (PLOT ADJOINING SAIT’S AND SHANKAR’S)
DATE: 28 MARCH 2008
SIZE: 2,450 SQ FT
PRICE: Rs. 1.12 CRORE
CURRENT MARKET PRICE: NA
He is a businessman, but allotted the plot under the Social Worker category. He also submitted an affidavit that the plot would be used for residential purposes. But he violated the conditions and developed the property for commercial purposes.
IT Manager, DMK HQ, Chennai
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category on a certificate issued by the Lions Club. The certificate states that he “is participating in social service activities of Lions Club at blood donation camp, free health camps for the past several years”.
Allotted HIG flat under the Social Worker category on the basis of a certificate issued by a panchayat, which is not valid.
Junior attendant at the Supreme Court
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. Kannabiran, a Delhi resident, was issued a salary certificate by the SC registrar for purchasing land in Tamil Nadu. He was allotted on the recommendation of his superior, who has close links with the DMK.
C Ganeshan and C Vinothan
PSOs, CM’s Security
Allotted flats under the ‘unblemished’ government servants category. Documents reveal the Superintendent of Police, Security Branch, Chennai, issued vague conduct certificates after the duo were allotted the flats provisionally.
W/O P Pandian, PSO, CM’s Security
Allotted flat under the Social Worker category. She produced a letter from MS Velu of the Lions Club, who liberally issued certificates for sons and daughters of bureaucrats to help them avail of prime plots allotted by the TN Housing Board out of the government discretionary quota.
PHOTOS: THE HINDU, JEEMON JACOB
Reactions to Land Scam 3.0
D Yashoda, Congress MLA, Kancheepuram
“I have done a lot of work for Dalits throughout Tamil Nadu, especially in Sriperumbudur and Chennai. I have helped them in getting pattas for their land, recommending their names for loans from banks, distributing cycles to Dalits on the birthdays of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.”
Jaffar Sait, IPS, IG-Intelligence
“Government agencies have already probed the matter. I am being governed by the conduct rules, so I should not talk to you about the issue. It is advisable that you seek a response from the Tamil Nadu government. I would like to add that if any defamation or liability arises out of your article, necessary legal action would be taken.”
P Moorthy, Madurai MLA
“I don’t know much about the certificate, I think I got the plot because I’m an MLA. I have done a lot of work in uplifting the people in villages of my constituency. That amounts to social work. I don’t need a social work certificate from the Lions Club but my friends, partners and I took the certificate anyway. ”
‘GDQ is a way of making you part of the syndicate’
BY JEEMON JACOB
PHOTO: JEEMON JACOB
A1990 batch IAS officer, C Umashanker shot to fame during the AIADMK regime when he exposed a scam in the construction of sheds in a cremation ground under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana when he was additional collector in Madurai. His brush with AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s partymen resulted in his transfer out of the district.
Later, when the DMK came to power, he was appointed managing director of the state-run Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu and put in charge of procuring colour television sets for free distribution to the poor in the state, in keeping with an election promise of the DMK. He was transferred with immediate effect after he exposed corporate fraud committed by the joint venture promoter ELNET Technologies Ltd.
Later, he was posted as managing director of the state-run Arasu Cable TV Corporation. In this capacity, he opposed the monopoly of Sumangali Corporation run by Kalanidhi Maran. He also took steps to nationalise Sumangali Cable Vision. By that time, Maran had a patch-up with the Karunanidhi family and Umashanker was transferred with immediate effect.
Later, the anti-corruption and vigilance department registered a case against him for disproportionate assets. The government suspended him for claiming fake caste certificate as a Dalit when he is a practising Christian.
Plots are allotted even without any formal applications. There is no transparency at all
He lodged a complaint with the National Backward Commission against his suspension and got a favourable order from the High Court. At present, he is managing director of Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation.
Umashanker was allotted a plot (under government order 2D 325) on 3 April 2008 at Thiruvanmiyur Extension when he was in charge of the free colour television for the poor programme. For this, he would have had to pay 55.12 lakh. He wrote to the chief minister that he could not afford to pay such a huge amount. Later, his allotment was cancelled without stating any reason.
Umashanker revealed he had an MIG flat in his name when the plot was allotted and he was not aware about the rule of Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) that he can’t claim a plot when he has another flat in his name.
It certainly seems commendable that Umashanker turned down a chance to own a plot in Thiruvanmiyur Extension, one of the poshest areas of the city. The plot is just 300 metres from the beach.
Though the entire colony has been parcelled out to those close to the ruling establishment, it is the nouveau riche and the industrialists who dream of owning a house in Thiruvanmiyur, where they can rub shoulders with former judges, bureaucrats and political power brokers. If and when the allottees decide to sell their plots, they can demand extremely high prices.
In a frank chat, Umashanker talks about how the government discretionary quota has been misused. Excerpts:
Why are bureaucrats, judges, former judges and politicians given housing plots in posh localities under government discretionary quota?
Who can refuse a good piece of land in Chennai city? It’s a way of rewarding people for good work done. No inquiry has been conducted in this matter so far. Discretionary quota is the prerogative of the government. After RTI came into existence, several activists are taking up the matter in court. Basically, there is no control mechanism or checks and balances. There is little transparency while awarding the GDQ — the plots are allotted without formal applications.
You were also allotted a plot in 2008 under the ‘unblemished government servant’ category. What happened to the allotment?
Yes, I was allotted a plot in Thiruvanmiyur Extension. Initial payment for the plot was Rs. 25 lakh. I never had that much money. So I requested the government to reduce the price. But there was no response. I did not want a house to compromise my integrity. So I never took possession. Later, in 2009, the government ordered a vigilance inquiry against me and cancelled the allotment. Frankly, I was not aware about the TNHB rules that bars a person having a plot, a flat or a house from claiming another plot.
Do you think the GDQ quota is a way of silencing people, buying them out?
Yes, it is a way of making you a part of the syndicate. Plots or flats are given to those civil servants, judges or relatives of the bureaucrats or politicians for complying with certain requirements. There is no procedure for IAS or IPS officers to get a land or plot or flat in a transparent manner. So everybody uses short cuts.
Why The Armed Forces Special Powers Act Should Be Lifted From India’s Northeastern Region
By Madhu Chandra
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is a draconian and xenophobic law. It is draconian law because section 4 (a) of the AFSPA gives power to armed forces personnel to shoot at anyone suspicious, section 4 (b) to destroy the shelter of the armed rebels and section 4 (c) to search and arrest without warrant. This means that any army personnel can shoot at anyone suspected to have a gun. The section 6 of the AFSPA protects armed force personnel who carry out such actions from prosecution, suit or legal proceedings unless there is previous sanction from the Central Government.
After theThangjamManoram case in 2004, over 100 Manipuri women protested by stripping themselves naked in front of Kangla Fort Assam Rifle camp in order to challenge this section of the Act. Thereafter, the Central Government of India granted permission to prosecute army personnel involved in raping and killing. However, there is not even a single case where prosecution was carried out against any armed forces personnel under AFSPAwithout somewhat of a public outcry.
AFSPA is a xenophobic law because it is selectively imposed upon seven North East Indian states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura and extended to Jammu and Kashmir, but does not apply to the rest of the country.
There is no need to repeat the debate that AFSPA has failed to solve insurgency challenges; rather, it has only intensified the problem. Not much ideological debateis possible on the subject of why youngsters take up arms. How can we solve the problem without using armed violence? It will be worth focusing on other alternative to solve the five decades old socio-political crisis of North East India region.
The nation observed the 27th anniversary of India’s Prime Minister – Indira Gandhi’s assassination on October 31. The Ministry of Development for North East Region (DoNER) had an advertisement in The Times of India about the message of development initiated by Indira Gandhi in North East India!
Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi initiated the negotiation between Government of India with Mizoram’s separatist insurgents in 1971. Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 before she could present a solution to the problem. Thereafter, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi carried on the negotiations and achieved a solution in 1986.
The chapter of insurgency in Mizoram finally came to an end on June 30, 1986 with the signing of the Mizoram Peace Accord between the underground government of the Mizo National Front and the Government of India. Under the terms of the peace accord, Mizoram was granted statehood in February 1987.
The continuous negotiations and honest initiative from the Central Government of India brought a solution to the insurgencies in Mizoram, which lasted for 25 years from 1961 to 1986.
In dealing with the challenges of insurgency in North East India, could adopting the solutions that the Government of India arrived at with the insurgents of Mizoram be a means of solving insurgency problems in North East India as a whole?
Mizoram’s Problem Solved, AFSPA NOT Lifted
The problem of insurgency in Mizoram came to the end after singing the Mizoram Peace Accord in 1986. Since then Mizoram has been a peaceful state. Mizoram has highest literacy rate in whole of India today and it would have never been possible without solving the insurgency problem. It was not guns but honest, on-the-table negotiations that made this possible.
Interestingly, there was no attempt from the Government of India to lift AFSPA from Mizoram after the end of insurgency! Such a move might have conveyed to the whole region the message that AFSPA is not a permanent law and it will not remain in effect once the states become normal.
Winning people’sconfidence is the need of hour. So the best gesture at this moment could be lifting AFSPA from those states which have returned to normal life.
My Personal Observation
The people of Mizoram have returned to a peaceful life, but they are still under this draconian law. I have recently travelled from Aizwal, the state capital, to Champhai, a small town at Indo-Burma boarder. In all honesty, I did not see a single armed forces personnel except one or two police officers in uniform at check posts. Peaceful life has returned to Mizoram, but the shadow of AFSPA still hangs over the state.
The Mizoram State Assembly must pass a resolution to recommend to the Government of India to lift the AFSPA from entire territory of Mizoram. Once AFSPA isremovedfrom Mizoram, it will send out a message to the region that negotiations initiated by Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi led to a permanent and long lasting solution in Mizoram.
Last but not the least, after the fake encounter killings at Imphal on July 23, 2009,Tehelka exposed the dictatorial nature of Manipur police commandos in the state of Manipur. The state kept burning for months; the Central Governmenttook notice, and gave strict orders to law-enforcing agencies to refrain from any form of human rights violation. Since then, the killing has abated in Manipur and AFSPA has been lifted partially from the Great Imphal areas. But it still remains for the Union Home ministry to monitor the situation and consider the sentiment of the people of this peaceful state in favor of lifting the AFSPA from the entire state.
Madhu Chandra is a research scholar and social activist based in New Delhi. He works as Spokesperson of North East Support Centre & Helpline (www.nehelpline.net).
Ever Suffering Dalits
By Rahul Kumar Balley
No doubt ,India is making progress by leaps and bounds in every sector but the condition of the Dalits in India is deteriorating day by day in the society .Development of any nation has no meaning when a particular section of the society such as the downtrodden are socially & economically segregated from the mainstream . The situation is critical when we measure the overall development of the country in absence of equal opportunity for the minorities . Article 17 of the Indian constitution forbids the practice of untouchability .It runs as “Untouchability is abolished & its practice in any form is forbidden .The enforcement of any disability arising out of :untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law .Dalits are barred from temple entry in many states of the country even after independence .The District officers ignore the sufferings of the Dalits. Caste discrimination has made the life of the Dalits miserable and intolerable . They are ill treated by the upper caste officers in each department of the government .Dr B.R.Ambedkar was of the view that “caste has ruined the Hindus ***the reorganisation of the Hindu society on the basis of Chaturvarna is impossible because the varna Vyavastha is like a leaky pot or like a man running at the nose (Ambedkar ,B,R. Annihilation of Caste ;Appendix –II:A reply to the Mahatma ;Jalandhar ,Bheem Patrika Publications ,1987 P144)
It has been observed that successive governments at the centre as well as at the state largely ruled by the upper caste Brahmins are to be blamed for their worsening condition on all fronts . Data given by the Ministry of Home Affiars says that the country is on the rise in the crime against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes .The report says ,in the recent years 40,000 cases were registered during 2008 about 3600 more that the previous year .Uttar Pradesh has the highest registered cases in the country followed by Madhya Pradesh and Bihar .The data by the National Crime records Bureau (NCRB) , a nodal agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs indicates a total of 49,810 people were convicted out of 1,90,857 arrested between 2006-08 under various sections of the Act .
There has also been an alarming increase of violence against women. A study of 500 Dalit women’s cases of violence across AP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and UP between 1999 and 2004 revealed that the majority of the women faced several forms of violence from either or both perpetrators in the general community and the family . The most frequent forms of violence were verbal abuse (62.4%), physical assault (54.8%), sexual harassment and assault (46.8%), domestic violence(43.0%)andrape(23.2%).
Thousands of cases of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes are found to be unreported & unregistered due to political clot of the upper caste Brahmins who exercise money power as well muscle power to nip such cases in the bud In the existing atmosphere of deep rooted prejudice I am of the opinion that even a Dalit Prime Minister can not prevent atrocities against the Dalits in India unless or until mentality of the larger section of the people is not changed in favour of the Dalits in India . The Dalits have rightly nursed serious apprehensions and insist that Hinduism played a role in their social oppression. Sections of the secular lobby have rejected Hinduism as irrational and unscientific. The cultural nationalists have given it a bad image through their strident advocacy of a militant and aggressive Hindutva. Many feminists are shocked by patriarchal texts like the Manu Shastras. These are enough reasons for the liberal intellectual to consider throwing the baby out with the bath water. With all these serious anomalies would it not be better that Hinduism is at least ignored, insofar as that is possible, since it is unlikely to die a natural death in the near future ? Dr Ambedkar embraced Buddhism ,a religion of peace and p rosperity and adviced millions of so called Dalits to follow suit to lead a dignified life .
On Nov 2, 2006 , addressing the annual conference of the minorities commissions, the Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh had said “It is essential that communal peace and harmony should be maintained and the minorities get a fair share in Central and State Government and private sector jobs”. He also stated that the minority youth should be trained with skills which will enable them to get their legitimate share both in public and private sector. It seems these are talks and talks only nothing substantial is being done to ameliorate the worsening condition of the Dalits .
Congress party having ruled the country for larger period has not made sincere efforts to ameliorate the conditions of the Dalits in India . Welfare schemes launched by the central government as well as the state governments proved to be ineffective to improve the pathetic conditions of the Dalits since a large chunk of the funds earmarked for the welfare of the poor Dalits are eaten away by the upper caste Brahmins who control the government machinery . It has also been observed that some unscrupulous Dalits in connivance with the corrupt officials of the government are also involved in looting the welfare funds meant for the needy,poor Dalits .Fake NGOs in the name of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes being run by greedy Dalits need to be exposed .A new trend has been witnessed in the coming days that some of the upper caste Brahmins found to be running such NGOs and getting funds from different government ministries . The central as well as the state government should bar such fake NGOs running across the country and stop the loot .
Eminent social scientists have been warning the respective governments to take care of the minorities before a volcano of discontentment engulfs the country .Abraham Lincoln said You may fool all the people some of the time: you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.
Rahul Kumar Balley is Director of Buddha Education Foundation
Cleanup Indian Politics Of Criminal MPs
By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Corruption and Criminalization are two distinctive features of the Indian politics. The crusade against corruption was loudly articulated by the social activist Anna Hazare however, there is little noise being made by the civil society about the criminalization of Indian politics.
As a matter of fact, one out of four MP in India face criminal charges. There are 162 MPs in the current Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament that has criminal records. Out of these, there are 76 MPs having serious charges against them.
The total number of criminal cases against the MPs is 522 and out of these 275 MPs face
serious IPC sections charges against them.
The Bhartiya Janta Party has the highest number of criminal MPs that is 43, out of which 19 have serious criminal cases against them.
The Congress party comes next with 41 MPs having criminal cases, out of which 12 MPs face serious charges against them.
As compared to 2004, the number of MPs with pending criminal cases has gone up. There were 128 MPs with pending criminal cases against them in 2004 Lok Sabha out of which 58 had serious pending criminal cases. There is an increase of about 26% in MPs with pending criminal cases and 31% increase in the number of MPs with serious pending criminal cases.
Obviously, these are not the type of people that should represent we the people of India, but some how these heavy weight crooks have got themselves elected into the Parliament and have become part of the governing apparatus of the country by default.
The comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) have lambasted the government on this declining trend. “Governance is at its lowest ebb. The morale of civil servants is low. The situation is too deleterious for the nation. There is too much at stake for too many in such a situation,” CAG reportedly has said.
There has been an erosion of people’s faith in government. Their confidence in public institutions has declined. National trust in bureaucracy including the police force has collapsed. The integrity and professionalism of civil servants is being questioned,” it adds.
“We have chief ministers who have had to vacate their positions allegedly for graft, on whom courts and other judicial bodies have made adverse pronouncements. We have Members of Parliament who are being indicted by the judiciary for various acts including accepting cash for exercising their vote in Parliament.” CAG concludes.
So in such a situation the principal issue is how to make it harder for those with criminal cases to contest elections. Obviously, there is an urgent need of electoral reforms in this country that bars any convicted person from holding office till they are finally acquitted by a court of law.
The current legal position relating to a person convicted of criminal charges is that if the criminal charge, and not just the sentence, is suspended on an appeal, he has the right to contest elections.
One has to understand the nuance in the law and that depends on what order the court gives. If the conviction is suspended, then one can fight elections, if the sentence is suspended, which means no jail, but conviction stands, until such time that the appeal is heard, then one can not fight elections.
Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed has drafted a bill that plugs the loopholes and it could make it impossible for any convicted politician to run for office.
At the moment, those convicted of criminal charges have three months to appeal but that will not be available if the structure of amendments prepared by the Minister goes through the motion and get passed. In such a case the convicted members will be immediately excluded from Parliament.
According to the draft bill if one is convicted, then he can not fight elections, irrespective of what the appeal order is, until he is finally acquitted by the court of law.
Another amendment that is proposed in the draft bill is; crimes committed under section 153 (A), which pertains to creating enmity between communities to be put under the category of heinous crimes, and if that happens, politicians convicted under this clause will not have the right to contest elections.
All this is fine. The big question is will these proposals be acceptable to all the political parties. In fact, there is already a law in place to rein in the corrupt MPs, but many of them have found loopholes into it and have got stay order on their conviction to contest election.
Even the proposed amendment bill is being challenged by some unscrupulous MPs. They have threatened to derail the new bill, if and when, it comes for discussion at the all party meeting.
It’s an argument by those who have something to hide and they will use all kinds of tactics to continue their domination in power.
What is needed is to build consensus around the proposed amended in the electoral process initiated by the Union Law Minister. We have seen with the Jan Lokpal movement that people power can force the government to sit up and make changes.
We need to use the same strategy and generate massive public opinion to clean up Indian politics of its criminal crooks.
Unlike the herculean task of weeding out corruption from the Indian system, the task of getting rid of politician facing criminal charges is much easy.
The redemption of Indian politics from all its banes is long haul and cleaning Indian politics of criminal MPs could be a way forward for good governance and betterment of the country.
We have to watch every move about this bill as it gets drafted, placed before the all party meeting and discussed in the in the Parliament.
Even all this happens we have to built a momentum on the lines of Jan Lokpal movement and send a strong signal to the political party bosses to have a consensus on the draft bill and pass it in this winter session of the Parliament.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Advocates want CJI to probe corruption charges against Judge
The Advocates Association of the Madurai High Court Bench has appealed to the Chief Justice of India to probe charges of corruption against Justice C S Karnan as also the latter’s complaint that some of his colleagues on the bench practised untouchability against him. A resolution seeking setting up of a body to probe corruption charges levelled by some advocates against him as well as his complaint about untouchability was passed at a meeting of the Madurai Branch of the Madras Advocates Association here last night, a release said. After complaining to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes about being “harassed on caste grounds”, Karnan had last week claimed that some former judges had also faced similar ordeal. “Since April 2009 I faced harassment but remained silent to maintain the decorum of the court. I am a self respecting person,” he had told reporters. He had said there was no need for him to complain to the Chief Justice of the High Court as the Commission, functioning directly under the President, had been set up to look into problems faced by the SCs and STs.
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