Category Archives: Law

‘ईश्वर नहीं है’ कहने का अधिकार

Image result for periyar
Periyar : Image – Courtesy velivada.com

क्या अभिव्यक्ति की स्वतंत्रता का अधिकार महज आस्थावानों के लिए ही लागू होता है ?

कभी कभी साधारण से प्रश्न का उत्तर पाने के लिए भी अदालती हस्तक्षेप की जरूरत पड़ती है।

मद्रास उच्च न्यायालय की – न्यायमूर्ति एस मनिकुमार और सुब्रहमण्यम प्रसाद की – द्विसदस्यीय डिवीजन बेंच को पिछले दिनो ंयह दोहराना पड़ा कि अभिव्यक्ति का अधिकार – जो भारत के संविधान के तहत मिले बुनियादी अधिकारों में शुमार है – सार्वभौमिक है और इसे समयविशेष के बहुमत के आंकड़ों के आधार पर तय नहीं किया जा सकता।

मालूम हो कि किन्ही दैवानायागम ने न्यायालय में यह जनहितयाचिका दाखिल की थी और कहा था कि तमिलनाडु के त्रिची में पेरियार की मूर्ति पर जो नास्तिकता के उद्वरण दिए गए हैं, वह ‘सार्विक ईश्वर’ को माननेवालों के लिए आपत्तिजनक हैं और उन्हें हटा दिया जाए। याद रहे रामस्वामी नायक / 17 सितम्बर 1879-24 दिसम्बर 1973/ जिन्हें ‘पेरियार’ नाम से जाना जाता है, वह आत्मसम्मान आन्दोलन के अग्रणी थे, द्रविड कझगम के संस्थापक पेरियार एक जुझारू किस्म के समाज सुधारक भी थे। याचिकाकर्ता ने मूर्ति पर लिखे उद्धरण के बारे में ‘‘कोई ईश्वर नहीं है, ईश्वर नहीं है और वाकई ईश्वर नहीं है..’ के पेरियार द्वारा कहे जाने पर भी सवाल खड़े किए थे। Continue reading ‘ईश्वर नहीं है’ कहने का अधिकार

There is no God And You Can Say so

Academics focus on secularism when secularisation can save the day.

There is no God And You Can Say so

Image Courtesy : NDTV

A simple query sometimes occasions judicial intervention: Does the right to freedom of expression apply merely to believers? On September 6, the Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed by M Deivanayagam raising such a question. The petitioner wanted the atheistic inscriptions placed under the statue of Periyar, father of the Dravidian movement, installed in Tiruchirappalli, to be removed. He argued that the inscriptions are offensive to those who believe in a “universal god”.

The court upheld the right to freedom of expression—which is a part of the fundamental rights under India’s Constitution. It has reiterated that this right is universal and cannot be altered by numerical majority at any point of time.

Deivanayagam had also challenged the authenticity of the inscriptions attributed to Periyar. It reads as follows: “There is no god, no god, there really is no god/ He who created god is a fool/ He who preaches god is a scoundrel/ He who prays to god is uncivilised.”

The division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad dismissed the petition, emphasising that if a believer has the constitutional right under Article 19 to express her or his views on the existence of god and religion, then a non-believer has equal right to disagree and claim that there is no god.

Ramasamy Naicker, who is known as Periyar, pioneered the self-respect movement which sought equal status for the backward sections of in Tamil Nadu. He also founded the Dravida Kazhagham anti-caste movement and was a militant social reformer who died in 1978.

( Read the full text here :https://www.newsclick.in/There-no-God-You-Can-Say-so)

Lynchistan

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

The word lynching conjures up images of a dark period in the history of the United States of America. Between 1877 and 1950, white supremacist gangs murdered 4,000 African Americans, while the government and the police looked the other way. James Baldwin, whose essays Dark Days captures the unfolding violence, wrote, ‘A mob is not autonomous. It executes the real will of the people who rule the State’. In 1888, white supremacists lynched seven African American men for drinking from a well – which they had said was for ‘white’s only’. Baldwin recounts that story and writes, ‘The blood is on the hands of the state of Alabama which sent those mobs into the street to execute the will of the State’.

The lyrics quoted above are from the iconic song – Strange Fruit – written by the communist artist Abel Meeropol and sung by Billie Holiday. Continue reading Lynchistan

Exclusion of 19 Lakh People Shows the Irrationality of #NRC Exercise: Joint Forum Against NRC

The Final NRC published today has excluded a whopping 19.06 lakh persons in Assam. The NRC process had shifted the burden of proof of citizenship on to the entire population of Assam, with people undergoing deep travails over the past four years to get their names included. In a poor country like ours and in a state which witnesses frequent floods, it is not unnatural that lakhs of people were unable to produce documents to prove that they or their ancestors were inhabitants of Assam before 24th March 1971. To rob people of their citizenship and rendering them stateless on the basis of this flawed process would be a gross violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.

Continue reading Exclusion of 19 Lakh People Shows the Irrationality of #NRC Exercise: Joint Forum Against NRC

Books About Wars in Your Country

A brief history of books, resistance, the police and politicians.

War and Peace

It is humanly impossible for even the most learned judge to have read every book referred to in their court. For a brief while this week, the judge conducting the trial of activist Vernon Gonsalves, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon incident of 2018, became an example of this. That was until the judge clarified that he is, in fact, aware of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and his epical novel War and Peace.

His response when the Bhima Koregaon charge sheet was placed before his court proves he knew of the provenance and contents of War and Peace. The confusion, it now appears, arose because the charge sheet had mentioned another book with a similar title. That is how the judge had ended up asking Gonsalves’ lawyers why their client possessed a book about wars in “other countries.”

It is not the judge’s knowledge of great literature but his belief that books about wars in other countries should not be owned (or read) by Indians that is a bigger surprise. Of course, since that remark, many commentators have pointed out that Tolstoy’s writings supported peace and not war. Accordingly, Mahatma Gandhi’s long correspondence with the literary legend is being highlighted afresh.

That said, this is not the first time that judges have expressed a curious indifference to the value of the written word, whether fictional or literary. The question arises, how can we tell if this incident is an aberration or the tip of an iceberg of flimsy excuses to keep people behind bars.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/books-about-wars-your-country)

Queerness as disease – a continuing narrative in 21st century India: Kaushal Bodwal

Guest post by KAUSHAL BODWAL

In August 2018, it came to my knowledge that a few of my pictures wearing sarees were circulating in my extended family’s WhatsApp group. Phone calls from home regarding my “obscene” behaviour were followed by a shift in the entire conversation towards my having some illness that needed to be cured. At some point my mother called me to tell that one of my aunts knew a doctor who can heal me. My first thought was that she was joking; unfortunately, she was only too serious. Once I registered the gravity of the situation, I panicked. Even though I was staying in a closed campus, I was not sure of my family’s potential to do what they claimed they wanted to.

The issue was with both my gender expression and my sexuality. I was a male assigned at birth walking in a saree and they thought that it was because of my interest in men. One of my aunts assured my mother that my love for sarees will end once my homosexuality is cured. The next time I went home, I was anxious and terrified. I knew I had to speak to them and explain what was going on. There were going to be a lot of questions. It’s not as I had ready-made answers for them, especially since the understanding of gender and sexuality that I had was not easy to articulate in my native language of Haryanvi. Through whatever words I could, I came out to my parents. My mom cried and my father stood numb. But mostly, confused. Despite their anger and other emotional expressions, the overall emphasis was on going to a doctor to get me fixed. After all, I was sick. Continue reading Queerness as disease – a continuing narrative in 21st century India: Kaushal Bodwal

A Crime of ‘Pure’Indifference

The ethic that dehumanises dalits continues 72 years after the country’s Independence.

A Crime of ‘Pure’

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless… There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

These fiery lines from a speech delivered on July 4, 1852 in New York by Frederick Douglass, a former slave who had become a national leader of the abolitionists, rattled a predominantly White audience. The speech was delivered 10 years before slavery in the Southern states was abolished.

More than 80 years later, on August 14, 1931, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, a Columbia University and London School of Economics graduate, who was then leading a movement of the oppressed and exploited in India, met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time. “Gandhiji, I have no homeland,” Ambedkar told Gandhi, according to a transcript of that meeting. “No untouchable worth the name will be proud of this land.” As expected, the Varna (caste) mindset that dominated India then did not take kindly to Ambedkar’s charge.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/A-Crime-Pure-Indifference-Dehumanises-Dalits)