What’s in a Name? The Demolition of ‘Babri Masjid’, the Name and the Mosque: Hilal Ahmed

Babri-Masjid – Before the Demolition, image courtesy Tehelka.com

The gradual erasure of the words ‘Babri Masjid’ from our everyday memory actually began in 1986, when the Hindu community was granted the exclusive right to worship there. This happened without any regard ownership disputes the and illegal conversion of this mosque into a temple in 1949.

This story of the dispute itself is disputable. It is imperative to revisit three interesting moments, which no one talks of these days.

The 1949 moment

On the night of 23 December 1949, a group of local Hindus entered the mosque and installed the idols of Lord Ram inside it. Although the police filed an FIR in which the building is clearly defined as a functional mosque, the local administration took charge of the building, and without removing the idols from the mosque space, declared it a legally “disputed site”. Read the full article here

 

The Indian Newspaper Industry – Response to Times of India Editorial: JAC for Implementation of Majithia Wage Board

The following is a response by M J Pandey on behalf of the JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF MAJITHIA WAGE BOARD, to a Times of India editorial calling for “reasonable tax and labour policies”.

With reference to the unsigned editorial ‘Indian Newspaper industry: Red Ink splashed across the bottom line’ (Times of India, Jan 19, 2017), a case is being made out for concessions to the newspaper industry on the grounds that it is in the doldrums and is beleaguered by various burdens, including that of wage board wages, GST, DAVP, etc.

Without mentioning the recent illegal closure of six editions of The Hindustan Times as the obvious peg for this, the editorial seeks a range of concessions – from a part-discontinuance of the wage board for newspaper employees, to subsidies on advertising and tax.

Clearly, what the newspaper industry has lost in judicial review, it is now seeking to stealthily recoup through administrative fiat.

Under the fig leaf of “freedom of speech”, the editorial makes a number of indefensible propositions. However, we will confine ourselves to the empiricial terrain of the Wage Boards and wish to make the following points:

That a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam had on Feb 7, 2014 (ABP Pvt Ltd and Anr vs Union of India and Ors), upheld ‘the constitutional validity of the Act and the Amendment Act, 1974’ (referring to the Working Journalists Act, 1955) and rejected the contention of improper constitution of the Wage Boards, irregularity in the procedure adopted by the Majithia Wage Board and that Majithia Wage Boards had overlooked the relevant aspects and considered extraneous factors while drafting the recommendations.

Continue reading “The Indian Newspaper Industry – Response to Times of India Editorial: JAC for Implementation of Majithia Wage Board”

Love Can’t Be Forced: Protest Against Sanghi Hubris at IFFK!

 

 I am hoping to protest at whichever venue of the International Film Festival of Kerala that I can manage to go to, wearing a printed badge saying ‘DEAR SUPREME COURT, NO LOVE CAN BE FORCED’. Yesterday, six people who did not stand up when the national anthem was played were arrested. Sanghi elements and overenthusiatic people who have picked up Modi’s style of projecting instant nationalism on the debris of Indian democracy have been heckling people who refused to comply with the SC’s order and filing complaints. Indeed, they took photos of people who didn’t stand up during the anthem. How come they have not insulted the national anthem according to their own standards since they too were expected to stand in attention?
 

Continue reading “Love Can’t Be Forced: Protest Against Sanghi Hubris at IFFK!”

Convention on the Degradation of the Criminal Justice System in India

Guest Post by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S.)

convention

People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism
Invites You to a Convention on
Degradation of Criminal Justice System
A fair, transparent and functional criminal justice system is essential for any democracy. It is necessary for the basic security of citizens, and also for creating conditions under which citizens can live a life of freedom. Unfortunately India’s criminal justice system has been undergoing a prolonged process of corruption by dominant class and caste interests. Rather than upholding justice in a fair and symmetric manner, it is often seen to be working for the powerful and the rich. After the victory of the BJP in the general elections of 2014, the communal manipulation of institutions of justice and police has been intensified. Within weeks of the election, selective leaks were made to derail Gopal Subramanium’s elevation to the Supreme Court. Earlier this year Public Prosecutor Ms Rohini Salian revealed that she was pressurized to soften the case against members of Hindutva terror groups accused in the Malegaon blast. Retired Sessions Judge Jyotsana Yagnik, who convicted Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi in the Naroda Patiya massacre case was targeted with threatening phone calls and letters. Prosecution witnesses in several such cases, including the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing case, have been changing their statements. Such incidents indicate a systematic political attempt to undermine the autonomous functioning of the criminal justice system by pressurizing or otherwise influencing the police, investigating agencies, public prosecution and the judiciary.
Why is there such a big gap between the liberal and social-democratic promises of the Constitution of India and the reality of the criminal justice system? What specific dangers do the majoritarian and authoritarian politics of the Hindutva forces present to this system? How can democratic forces counter this process of degradation? The Convention is a means of starting a long-term debate and a program of advocacy for an impartial system of criminal justice.
Dec 12-13, 2015
Gandhi Peace Foundation, D. D. U. Marg, New Delhi
The link for facebook event is https://www.facebook.com/events/1496545783979881/ .

NBA Welcomes SC Dismissal of MP Govt Application Denying Right to Land to Sardar Sarovar Oustees

We are publishing below the text of a statement issued by the NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN in New Delhi today following a significant Supreme Court order on the rehabilitation of Sardar Sarovar oustees

In a significant Order, the Social Justice Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Jst. Madan Lokur and Jst. Uday Umesh Lalit today dismissed an Application filed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) / Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) seeking a ‘modification / clarification’ of the Apex Court’s previous judgements of 2000 and 2005, thereby denying right to land of a few thousand adult sons of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) affected farmers.

The Hon’ble Court held among other things that the Application by State of MP suffers from gross delay / laches having being filed many years after the judgements were issued (upholding the right to land of the SSP adult sons) and the rights / entitlements already accrued to the oustees in principle cannot be taken away. The Bench also had to take note of the fact that while the entitlement of most of the adult sons have already been recognized many many years ago, one set of oustees have been offered land / Special Rehabilitation Package (5.5. lakhs for 5 acres) since the judgement of 15/3/2005 of the Apex Court and another set of oustees are being denied the same; this would result in a clear violation of Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees a fundamental right to equality. Terming this “not to be good governance”, the Court summarily dismissed the Application.   Continue reading “NBA Welcomes SC Dismissal of MP Govt Application Denying Right to Land to Sardar Sarovar Oustees”

The Death of 66A and The Dawn of a New Era of Free Speech Jurisprudence: Siddharth Narrain

Guest Post by  SIDDHARTH NARRAIN

It’s not often that India’s Supreme Court strikes down a law in its entirety as a violation of the free speech. But when it does, boy do you want to stand up and cheer. Before a packed courtroom, Justices Rohinton Nariman and G. Chelameswar, pronounced their judgment in Shreya Singhal & Ors. v. Union of India,, striking down, in its entirety, the controversial section 66A of the Information Technology Act in its entirety. The full text of the decision is not available yet. But Justice Nariman read out parts of the court decision, enough to give us a sense of what is to come.

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Thinking through the application for “clarifications” of transgender rights

Newspapers have been reporting about an application for clarification filed, it appears, by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the Supreme Court about the NALSA judgment on transgender rights. Here is the full text of that application, and here is a very useful and short summary of its content. The reflections below follow from that summary.

Any move that makes the inclusion of trans-men, non-hijra trans-women, and genderqueer/trans folks in the SC judgment explicit is welcome. Many had written to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment seeking this, following the MSJE report and the judgment. The principle of self-determination of gender identity without psychological and medical examination or surgery is upheld and that remains critical.
Continue reading “Thinking through the application for “clarifications” of transgender rights”