The dispute will linger until India learns coexistence from history.
Coexistence between social groups was a social reality and a primary tenet of Indian life, long before the word secular was included in its Constitution in 1976. Now that a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has delivered a “historic” judgement on the Babri Masjid dispute, there is a sense of disquiet. This is not just on account of the asymmetries and silences in the judgement that many writers have pointed out. It is because the court has ruled that the forces who brought down the Babri Masjid are entitled to the land on which it stood. The question remains whether there can be any real closure in a dispute if the pain it has caused continues to linger.
The Supreme Court judgment on women’s entry into Sabarimala has got Hindutva women in Kerala into a hand-wringing, hair-tearing frenzy, and that is to put it lightly. I say ‘Hindutva women’ deliberately, to refer to a sub-set of Hindu women, who (1) believe, like the RSS chief, that the Hindu(tva) lion is under threat from dogs (guess who the dogs are in this case) (2) identify craven submission to Hindutva commonsense about gender as ‘Indian tradition’ (3) are willing to sacrifice all public decency for the sake of upholding that common sense. Continue reading Do Not Ride the Tiger of Hindtuva: Sabarimala Entry and Hindutva Women→
There is all around jubilation in the anti-BJP, particularly the Congress camp that the Supreme Court has cut short the time given to Yediyurappa by the Governor to prove his majority from 15 days to 24 hours. This jubilation is extremely myopic and self serving and is in no way rooted in the tall claims that the Congress has been making about trying to save the Constitution. All the Supreme Court order does is reduce the window of opportunity for the BJP to indulge in horse trading and increase the chances of the Congress-JDS combine to keep their flock together and win the assembly – and also substantially reduce the resort costs.
The following petition initiated by Prasenjit Bose appeals to the Supreme Court to reconsider the verdict in the case regarding Judge Loya’s death. Since the launch of the petition, over 527 persons have already signed it. A list of 40 prominent signatories is provided below. A hard copy of the petition along with the total list of signatories will be sent to the Supreme Court judges once we collect thousand plus signatures. The petition can be signed here.
The Hon’ble Chief Justice
& His Companion Justices,
The Supreme Court of India
Most Respectfully Sheweth:
We the undersigned citizens of India are deeply anguished by the order passed by a three judge bench of the Supreme Court that there is no merit in the writ petitions seeking an Inquiry into the death of Justice Brijgopal Harkishan Loya on December 1, 2014 at Nagpur.
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 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.
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?
Guest Post by People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (P.A.D.S.)
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.
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→
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.
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→
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between
Sixteen year old Shahwan, from Ahmedabad, who is still waiting for his Class X results, was extremely happy that day, when India’s electorate gave its verdict. He hugged his Ammi and went out in his Mohalla along-with his brother Almas, yelling ‘we have won’, ‘we have won’. And not only Shahwan and his family members but one could witness similar joy in the houses of Mohammad Salim Hanif Sheikh, Abdul Qayyum Mansuri alias Mufti Baba and several others.
Interestingly Shahwan’s tremendous joy with tears flowing down the eyes of his Ammi Naseem (40) had nothing to do with the fact that Mr Narendra Damodardas Modi, had delivered a ‘historic victory’ to the BJP.
It was a strange coincidence that the day India’s electorate decided to give a mandate to the Modi led BJP to rule the country for coming five years also happened to be the day when Supreme Court of India in a historic judgment overturned a controversial decision take by him as home minister. It was related to the prosecution of those arrested for Akshardham attack under now lapsed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Continue reading Thinking About Adam Ajmeris in Saffron Times→
Our India is a religious country whose overwhelming majority believes in religion and upholds traditions of the east. All religions emphasize on construction of a family through marital relation between men and women, on which depend not only the existence of human race and lasting peace and tranquillity in the society but it also establishes the respected and central position of woman in the society.
The Constitution of the country has rightly described homosexuality as a punishable offence. It is because homosexuality not only prevents evolution and progress of human race but also destroys family system and social relations. Moreover, it is a great danger to public health. Medical research has also found it as a basic reason for the spread of AIDS…
[ Yesterday, the Supreme Court of India, dismissed the ‘review petition’ that had been filed with a plea to reverse the Supreme Court’s recent (December 2013) decision to uphold the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC. This decision effectively ‘re-criminalized’ Homosexuality in India and is a severe blow to human rights. Various religious groups, Hindu, Muslim and Christian had appealed to the Supreme Court to act against the rights and interests of homosexuals. In a sad instance of the erosion of secular and democratic values, the Supreme Court has endorsed their view. The Jamaat -e-Islami Hind, a right wing, muslim fundamentalist organization that claims to speak for Indian Muslims has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. This post by Fahad Hashmi attacks the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s position on homosexuality and challenges its claim to speak in the name of muslims and their faith. We see it as an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on section 377 on Kafila ]
“There was once…a sad city, the saddest of cities, a city so ruinously sad that it had forgotten its name. In the north of the sad city stood mighty factories in which (so I’m told) sadness was actually manufactured, packaged and sent all over the world, which never seemed to get enough of it. Black smoke poured out of the chimneys of the sadness factories and hung over the city like bad news”.
(Haroun and Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie)
It is one of the ironies of democracies across the world that minorities of all shades are always in the crosshairs of majoritarianism. This minority-majority is a function of numbers and power though this is not a thorough definition since we have had seen altered power equation of this binary. The apartheid South Africa is a case in point. For stating the obvious the strength of a democracy is a function of safety and rights that minorities enjoy in it. However, minorities on the whole are always drawing majority’s fire. On the subcontinent one could see this happening in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and of course India is not an exception.
SIDDHARTH NARRAIN based on his legal and extra legal expertise arrives at the conclusion that size does matter
A LETTER TO YOUR LORDSHIPS
Your Lordships have called us, LGBT Indians, a “miniscule minority”. Never mind that statistically we constitute at least four per cent of the population, which are over four million people. Your Lordships say that there are only 200 persons impacted by section 377 over the last 150 years. Never mind that there are millions of LGBT persons who have been under the shadow of this law over the last 150 years, discriminated against, blackmailed, harassed, outed to their families, driven to suicide, forcibly married, diagnosed as mentally ill, raped, assaulted, and disinherited.
Your Lordships say we are a “miniscule minority”. Since you are so fond of dictionaries, lets flip one open.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Suresh Kumar Kaushal v Naz Foundation has re-criminalized millions of LGBT persons, putting their lives at risk and subjecting them to the threat of violence, harassment and arrest. Despite this loss in court, we should not see this as a defeat. It is not a defeat because the mood of the country has changed, rising up in anger against prejudice masquerading as law. The public backlash against this decision has caught even LGBT activists by surprise. It is not a defeat because finally voices from the political establishment of this country have come out in support of LGBT rights. The top leadership of the Congress party, Cabinet Ministers, and spokespersons across the political spectrum have spoken out against the judgment. The BJP’s official stance supporting 377 appears out of step with reality, and there is a section of the party that does not support this view.
It is not a defeat because parents of LGBT persons have rallied around their children in this hour of crisis. It is not a defeat because friends, colleagues, students, teachers, and classmates have been shaken up by the injustice of this moment. The outrage and anger, the public show of solidarity and small gestures of support, has been overwhelming. The 377 judgment is not a defeat because commentators across the political spectrum have criticised the logic of the judgment. It is not a defeat because the legal community including the Advocate General of this country has questioned the rationale of this decision. Described as a judgment devoid of humanity and compassion, the Supreme Court’s decision has prompted many comparisons – A.D.M. Jabalpur, A.K. Gopalan,Mathura, Gian Kaur,Dred Scott, Plessy, and Bowers. It is not a defeat because this judgment has spawned a new generation of activism.
The Supreme Court’s decision has emboldened the human rights movement in this country, brought together diverse groups on a common platform. The Delhi High Court’s 2009 judgment affirmed the constitutional rights of millions of Indian citizens. The Supreme Court verdict has reversed this, but it can never erase that moment of freedom from our past. The mood of this country has changed. Public discourse has changed. People have changed. The law must change. There is no going back.
In cities across the world, people are mobilizing protests against the judgment. Join the Global Day of Rage on Sunday, 15th December.
MAYUR SURESH finds the Supreme Court guilty of contempt (of citizens)
Contempt: – The word ‘contempt’ comes from the Latin word “contemptus” and much like its modern counterpart, is the feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or deserving scorn.
Contempt is a feeling that is often felt by Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in India. It’s been meted out to LGBT people equally by the British who aimed to civilise us, and those today who seek to ‘preserve our culture’. An 1838 report on the Draft Penal Code called homosexual acts a “revolting subject” and said that the “frequency” of homosexuality in India “remained a stain on this land.” In 1934, the High Court of Sindh called a man who had consensual sex with another man “a despicable specimen of humanity”. Not to be left behind, those appellants who approached the Supreme Court reserved the choicest of contemptuous words for LGBT people in India: “disgusting”, “filthy”, “delinquents”.
A post on the cowardly judgment of the Supreme Court by DANISH SHEIKH. I term it a cowardly decision because if it had said that we are homophobic then it would at least have been admirable for its honesty if not for its belief. It instead chooses to mask its homophobia with crimes of unreason
Now you’re legal – Now you’re not!
With the ease of a particularly sadistic magic trick, a 98 page document has sent millions of LGBT individuals time-warping back into pre-2009 criminality. If there were any constitutional justifications for this act, they are not to be found lurking in the pages of this shockingly poorly reasoned decision. The Supreme Court has taken a chainsaw to one of the most beloved court decisions of our time, and surgically extracted everything that made it such an important verdict. Besides, of course, that little side business of equal-moral-citizenship granting. A broader walkthrough the shoddiness of the judgment can be found here, (http://kafila.org/2013/12/12/we-dissent-siddharth-narrain/) I’m presently looking at some of the more egregious of its violations. Continue reading Crimes of Unreason: Danish Sheikh→
A preliminary walk through the unreason of the Supreme Court in the 377 judgment by SIDDHARTH NARRAIN
We hope to see many more pieces which exposes the judgment for what it is- an example of judicial non application of mind. I have also written a short piece looking at the judgment in the context of the Mandela moment
The Supreme Court’s decision in Suresh Kumar Kaushal & Another v. Naz Foundation & Others is an unprecedented ruling, deciding to turn the clock back to pre-July 2009, when LGBT persons were criminalized by section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. On close reading, the judgment is based on a narrow and blindfolded interpretation of the law, ignoring the momentous changes in society and notions of morality that India is witnessing. Further, the judgment, in many parts, relies on shaky precedent, does not explain the logic of its conclusions, and is surprisingly dismissive of substantial evidence that was placed before it. Continue reading We Dissent: Siddharth Narrain→
Sometimes one needs to write pieces while breaking down into tears. That is the only way we can stay true to the fact that words are not enough to express our anguish and our disbelief but also our strength.
It isn’t surprising. In the land where the struggles of Soni Sori and Irom Sharmila not only continue but often go unnoticed, a regressive Supreme Court Judgment which sets the bar low for legality, constitutionality, justice and social morality isn’t out of the ordinary- all in a days work for some.
I spent the week articulating my loving critique of our movement. I thought we were past the idiosyncrasy of fighting an archaic law- one among the many scars of colonialism- being repeated with gusto by whom we can safely call the loony-right wing who claimed to represent all kinds of Gods and worse- many people. We all thought we could move on to fight the many fights that would give us the opportunity to fully shine bright in our creativity and vibrance. But here we are again- having to scream out loud the bare necessities of human existence to voices that have long forgotten the act of listening. Continue reading Justice will prevail→
The Supreme Court has struck down the Delhi High Court decision decriminalizing gay sex in what might go down as the most retrograde judgement in India’s history. While the details of the Court’s reasoning are still not available, we can perhaps easily imagine what they might be. This is time of civil disobedience. Time for protest.
Assemble at Jantar Mantar at 4.30 pm, today 11 December to announce to the world that ‘We Are All Queer’. To announce that this is not a struggle of just the ‘gay-lesbian community’ but a struggle for our most fundamental rights and cherished values.