Atrocious Verdict on the Atrocities Act (Not Really Atrocious)

A bench of Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit yesterday announced a new procedure to be followed while dealing with complaints under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, thus nullifying the automatic arrest.

Before we discuss the verdict, the media and the political society has been touched by the judgement in every spirit where they are attempting to either justify or mollify the verdict, and press for a review.

The act was brought on the statute book in 1989 to provide for prevention  of atrocities on the persons of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The section 3 of the act defines ‘atrocity’ and lists out all the possible acts that may amount to humiliation and shaming of the members of the persons from the concerned communities.

To put an end to all such atrocious conduct of the high caste towards to low caste, the act was  brought in to add force to the existing constitutional protections. The act added a punitive angle to the atrocities and made it a fast track measure to be had recourse to in the wake of a violation. The act contemplated urgent imprisonment based on a complaint, and was also amended in 2015 by NDA government to make a more stringent set of laws.

Despite the efforts, the civil society may not expect a radical change in the attitudes of the people, and at the same time, we may also not expect the SC/ST to be honest, so as to avid misuse of the law.

Thus, this gave the Supreme Court the fertile ground to put in place the procedural reforms. It may be noted here that the NCRB data for 2015 reveals that there has been a clear 16% were false while 75% cases ended up in acquittal or withdrawal! Also there have been cases where the NCRB has recorded a rise in the number of cases and there has been a failure on the part of the  State to ensure convictions.

The above extremes may easily be interpreted to mean that there exists a situation which may have caught the attention of the judges. The Judges saw that there were instances where the SC/ST colleagues or juniors used the act as a weapon, or a threat to coerce the higher officials belonging to the higher caste. There have been many cases which have been settled outside the Court, and there have been many occasions which have witnessed animosity between the two rungs of the society.

The Act was a necessity, but also added fuel to the fire of casteism where it fanned the ill-will harboured between the individuals  of the two castes. The Court has also accepted the fact that the re needs to be a balance between protection of interests and abuse.

Now, the new procedure which the Court has tried to bring in place seeks to put in place a mandatory approval of the Appointing Authority in the cases where a government employee is concerned and the approval of the Senior Superintendent of Police in cases of non-government employee, for arrest. Thus, prior to arrest there has to be  detailed inquiry which produces sufficient proof of the culpability of the individual which will not ensure greater transparency while it will also give a fair trial.

There is one aspect that may be looked into is, the abuse of the process of inquiry by the police, which may often prove to be contrary to the in-house inquiries. We don’t assume that the police establishment will abuse the process but the officers in responsible posts must be made responsible for the same.

Let me die in peace: Supreme Court’s Living Will Verdict

The Supreme Court of India has recently shed off its reservations of not trying to meddle with the right of an individual over their body, and has moved a level up since Aruna Shanbaug’s passive euthanasia plea was granted by Marakndey Katju.

The case of Aruna Shanbaug is one which may not have any parallels in the legal history of many countries. The woman was brutally raped, and she was living in a vegetative state, where she was attended to by the staff of the hospital she used to work for. Her family members seemingly gave up on her. The hospital, and the doctors used all kinds of biomedical apparatus to keep her alive.

It may also be very common to hear these days that someone close to us, or in our vicinity who was terminally ill, had been through a failed treatment was breathing their last breaths on a mechanical life support system known as the ventilator.

The rigours of the medical profession require the doctors to try out every possible set of physical as well as biological procedures on a human being who is faced with certain illness. The illness may never be cured but the medical fraternity will try all the possible combinations and in the absence of any sound form of consent, either on the part of the patient or the family of the patient, they may or usually do land up dissecting the body of the patient or impressing tubes and syringes in the body of the patient.

The pain and the trauma that follows, the feeling of being penetrated, and the self-pity is demeaning. The patient and their kin realise that the experimental procedures may not just save the person nearing the grave though there exists a halo around the heads of those trying to cure the man.

The Supreme Court, has acknowledged the right to live with dignity, yet there isn’t much that can be done to provide every Indian a dignified life. Yet, taking a step further the Supreme Court has made the death more dignified as it has acknowledged that there is a possibility that a patient may, while they are in pink of health, grant their consent to be withdrawn from all kinds of physical and chemical life support systems when a medical practitioner feels that there is no way ahead with the endless treatment being meted out to the patient.

This is another check to facilitate the passive euthanasia that Aruna Shanbaug gave us, and there is a long road to provide for active euthanasia to patients of diseases like alzhiemer’s and cancer.

The move is based on the right of an individual to die with dignity. Which implies that the individual may choose the warm and comfortable setting of his home over the grim setting of a hospital in his last days.

The procedural aspects have been laid down that the living will must be verified by a medical board, and must also have been upheld by a High Court. These provisions need to be there to prevent any abuse that may be caused by the human nature at play, and the one thing that was left out was, none of the doctors involved shall be held guilty for not being  able to deliver in the aforesaid event.

The move is worth the praise, and must be dealt with immediately by the Parliament, as it will be a boon for so many terminally ill patients, who live a life on the gallows.

Demeaning the Economy: NiMo Fiasco

Not that Vijay Mallya’s loan fraud was in the minds, while Sahara, Unitech, JayPee and others too remain in the fray, the Diamond Czar Nirav Modi, who is now treading in deep waters, is yet another blow to not just to the banking industry, but also the economy.

While the ED and the CBI are probing the Letters of Understanding issued by Punjab National Bank to foreign Indian banks, who raised money from foreign market, the amount being revealed is tuned at Rs 11 Lakh Crore.

It is not just the PNB, who has faced the risks, while there are other banks too like the Indian Bank, Canara Bank, among others which will set the ball rolling to the chain effects of the overall loss of money posted by the second largest Indian public sector bank.

The central government has planned to pump in Rs 2 Lakh Crores over a period of 2 years in the banking sector, restricting the activity to public sector banks only, while the private banks under the NPA burden will have to service their loans all by themselves.

This is phenomenon which has also triggered the heavy selling the stock markets of various banks, and India’s largest general insurer, Life Insurance Corporation of India, which is set to loose Rs 1400 crores in the aftermath of the disclosure of the fraud, as it owned a stake in the banks, as well as the Gitanjali Jewels the company of Nirav Modi, and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi.

The LoUs ave underestimated the banking sector and have brought to  the fore the lack of efficiency and accountability as the Indian public sector  banks since the dawn of nationalisation, have been marred with a lack of professionalism, while rampant administrative discretion has again robbed the common people of their hard-earned money.

While both the Congress and BJP are not facing each other on the issue, the majority of the LoUs that have been issued or renewed, have happened in 2017 . This does not imply anybody’s influence as of yet, but the administrative efficacy is absolutely absent.

The brunt of added 11 L crores, will eventually be borne by the taxpayer’s money, if Mr NiMo fails to repay the amount. Also, if by surname, one  might wish to find the  proximity between NiMo and NaMo, then there aren’t many except the fact that they belong to the same state, and the same caste.

While the entire gamut of events seems to be one mired in more webs, the only thing that remains clear is the effects that the event will have in the coming days on the economy.

The banks which have come in the fold, will be at peril, and the taxpayers and the investors will loose confidence. It will affect the investments while at the same time slow-down lending.

To amend the scenario, one would need a bail-out in terms of stake sale for PNB and a fresh investment in LIC. The investments will have to be foreign to ensure buoyancy in the markets.

#FindingNimo PC-Satish Acharya

Budget 2018: Reading the Signs

The Finance Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley, presented the last full term budget of the BJP before the 2019 elections take place. Also, BJP lost the Rajasthan Lok Sabha bypolls to Congress. The economic credentials of India, as advocated by our Finance Minister, remain strong on the macro-economic front, yet there is a larger picture that has been avoided by the minister. That picture is the micro-economic position of the nation.

Coming over to the budget now, the last budget was expected to be one that gives freebies to all the classes of the Indian economy, though this did not happen. The budget has rather than being populist, is remarked as one to be status-quoist.

This budget, has only tried to address the farm sector issues which remain a crucial issue for the current regime. Compared to the last budget presented by the UPA, this budget has many things that do not conform to the common notions of the masses. The government has carefully put the moves, while keeping in mind the losses incurred due to implementation of the GST.

The GST, is one of the most important tax reforms that were actually needed by the country that is the largest indirect tax based economy in the world.

The Budget-2018 has not only kept in mind the after-effects of the Demonetisation exercise of November-2016 but has also kept the idea to push make in India when the for import duties on electronic peripherals which will be witnessing a surge in demand, have been raised including LEDs . The budget has taken care of the corporate demands of keeping the tax regime in the medium range, so that the flight mode Prime Minister, may host the foreign corporations in India, and tap the benefits of improvement in the ease of doing business index for India.

The effects, further, have been that due to mid-size businesses falling behind in accounting and tax compliance the Indians, today are facing trouble. The budget has tried to go soft on all quarters of the economy when the tax slabs have been kept unchanged, and that too at a time when the government is in the need of funds.

The FM fixed a disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore, which needs to be looked at from the perspective that what does an entrepreneur do when his one business registers losses. The government in the current financial year had met the target for disinvestment and earned a revenue of Rs 90,000 crores. The present budget aims to compensate for the losses that are being incurred due to various reasons, while the unproductive government companies don’t have be a burden on the government, while they may be more productive in a different corporate setting.

Coming over to the imposition of cess on fuel, and the prices being kept the same, the principle here is in line with many nations, whereby India, being the world’s second largest democracy, is catering to various social relief initiatives which need a collective approach, where the people need to contribute to the State. Thus, while the prices of crude may see an upward trend, in the light of corruption clean up in Saudi Arabia, the nation will still be in a stable price regime, thus the prices of oil remain unchanged.

The interest rates of loans will remain unchanged as we are vying for conservationism in the economy to push growth, thus the taxpayers may hope to have a better prospect of growth in the following quarters.

The budget is a conservationist one, and has pushed for keeping the Indian economic-ecosystem protected while the economy adapts to the new normal.

Lokniti-CSDS Mood of The Nation Survey: Inside Story

Ahead of the full budget of the Narendra Modi led BJP government, the Lokniti-CSDS a research foundation conducted a survey for the ABP News, to bring out the ground realities of what is the mood of the nation today.

Amazingly, the survey which was conducted across India has sought responses over a varied level of questions which have been answered by the respondents to the Questionnaire of the CSDS.

The most important feature of the CSDS survey is the it gauged the general perception of the voters in India. The scales tilted in favour of Narendra Modi, who triumphed as people’s favourite, and not just in the Hindi heartland but in the eastern part of the country.

The NaMo is known to have reduced political bastions to zero and based on the current popularity of his leadership, the fortunes for the  BJP seem to be bright in the future, where they may garner as much as 50-54% support from Indians exercising their franchise in the Lok Sabha polls.

Also, the survey included the response on economic conditions of the economy. This is the most tricky part of the survey because the people have expressed divergent opinions on the questions relating to the economic scenario.

There is not much popularity attached to demonetisation but GST implementation has had some approval from the people.

There is further appreciation for the international diplomacy, Pakistan and China issues and Kashmir issue. Thus, the only problem remains the economy, which the government accepts will grow slowly, and will soar in a while.

The survey also tried to draw a contrast between RaGa and NaMo, while NaMo is 44% popular in the country, RaGa is just 9% popular.

This will also make us think, whether people want to see NaMo coming back to power, the answer is a yes. Despite the confusion over the economic affairs of the country, the majority population wants to see him as the PM.

The lower sections, of both urban and rural areas alongwith the Dalits have also shown a positive shift towards the BJP, and the penetration of the BJP to the far regions of the country has increased by 29% (approx).

This survey, indicating the mood of the nation, assures the BJP that they will be voted back to power if elections are held today, and this also makes them aware that they need to responsibly cater to the overwhelming support of the electorate.

While the government needs to work their math to improve the economic status of the people, the nation is thumbs up with Narendra Modi and his vision for India.

This simply proves that the opposition is totally unable to produce a leader who matches the caliber of NaMo.


Chai-Samosa in SC and Leave for HC Judge

When Justice Kurian Joseph walked in to attend the launch of SCBA Times, a newsletter by the Supreme Court Bar Association, all eyes hovered around the venue to find Justice(s) Chelameshwar, Gogoi and Arun Mishra.

While Justice Kurian Joseph and MB Lokur were present, the Chief Justice had the occasion to shake hands with them and spend some leisurely moments with the Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and CJI Dipak Misra.

In another development, the Lucknow High Court Judge, Shri Narayan Shukla, was sanctioned a leave for 90 days. The judge had been found guilty of passing favourable orders while deciding the GCRG Medical College case, which was also similar to that of the Prasad Institute case.

While the Prasad Institute case, saw the CBI putting up the name of Judge Shukla as an accused, which was denied by the CJI, the act to set the house in order has been already done.

While Judge Shukla is on leave, and will not be assume office again most likely, the impasse at the Supreme Court which followed after the press conference on 12th of January, 2018, may not have cooled down.

The media might be rushing over to click shots of Justice Dipak Misra and Lokur, and Joseph enjoying the high tea at the event, the absence of Justice Chelameshwar, Gogoi and Arun Mishra has something sufficient to say.

While the Supreme Court judges have been functioning normally, there is no further comment from any  of the  judges involved in the impasse. While the public onslaught of the judiciary has been afforded no explanations yet, there is only one incident whereby the judiciary may declare that the impasse is resolved.

The issue of favourable allotment of cases, and deeper alleged irregularities have not been discussed in the public domain, but the overall equation between the CJI and the other judges does not seem to have settled on a pleasant note.

Justice Chelameshwar was learnt to have openly declared that he will not be vying for any future assignments from the government as he is to retire this year. This signaled his reservations about some events which he is possibly  not able to share nor resolve.

The impasse though may have settled for now, and the judges trying to undo the doing, yet there is a possibility that not just because of personal issues something had to blow out of proportions.

The SCBA Times, is another opinion builder that will voice the  Bar, and the Bench may  also communicate within the community and seek to address all the issue that need to be addressed.

While the judges enjoyed their chai and samosa, the media took turns to frame the judges and the law minister together, which is more than enough for the aam aadmi to believe ‘all is well’.


The Caste Patronization Needs to End

With Karni Sena grabbing the spotlights and Mr Jignesh Mewani calling the status of the scheduled castes in India as deplorable, the patronization of castes by political parties needs to come to an end.

Since Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, India has witnessed several caste agitations demanding something or the other. The stirs began from Jats in Haryana trying to muscle-flex the Khattar government, and then spread to Patels and Brahmins in Gujarat.  The recent Gujarat elections saw a Dalit saga rising up to the fore and giving a walk over to Jignesh Mewani to the legislative assembly.

The loudest caste assertion and muscle flexing has been that has been done by the Karni Sena of Thakur Kalvi and Surya Pal Singh Amu. The Karni Sena threatened not just the cinema hall owners, but the entire governments of various states with stir over Rajput pride being traded for money and entertainment.

The movie, Padmaavt/i got unprecedented publicity under the loud protests of Karni Sena. The extent and the support from various governments shook the Constitutional machinery.

The caste plays, but a very important role in the Indian political scenario. The various quarters and math that applies to the possibilities of the candidates’ winning an election, are purely reliant on the caste combination of votes.

The Indian political discourse before BJP also was defined by caste and communal considerations.

Today, it was the Karni Sena that tried to blot the image of India, y staging protests and riots across India, some other organization may do it some other day.

With the advent of liberalisation, and a shift towards capitalism today, the Indian political narrative must be about class friction and segregation over castes.

The dominant castes of the yester years are the deprived classes today, while the deprived ones are dominant.

This pattern will result in deeper caste divide, thus at the right time, specially when the tax compliance becomes the new normal, the Indian governments must implement the class based social support system.

The blunt patronisation of a caste and its struggles must be done away with through a common consensus to promote nation building over community building.

The seeds that we sow today will reap rich dividends in the future, and there may be a stable sociological equation than the one we have today.

The incidents like Karni Sena must not be allowed to brew in the future as they divide the masses purely on hypothetical schisms that do not exist in reality. The works of literature, art and culture are beyond the divide that humans create.

It is not about any Utopia that we are trying talk about here but, it is just what the  world deserves. A nation.