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Married woman has the autonomy to choose termination of pregnancy, not medical board: Bombay HC

A recent court case, ABC vs. State of Maharashtra, held that it was the woman and not the medical board who could make this decision under Section 3(2B) of MTP Act.

03 Feb 2023

Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court in a recent judgement, in the case of ABC vs. State of Maharashtra has allowed a 33 week pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy under Section 3(2B) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971(MTP Act) .[1] Pregnancy can be terminated within 20-24 weeks of pregnancy provided some conditions are fulfilled. It was ground broken by the Supreme Court some months ago, however that has led to courts taking a more liberated view. The Supreme Court, some months ago, in the case of X vs. NCT of Delhi, has ruled that even unmarried women can get their pregnancy terminated under the 20-24 week timeframe as provided under the MTP Act, 1971. Now, since the Bombay High Court’s judgement is also a new interpretation in terms of allowing the pregnancy of 33 weeks to be terminated, it needs to be understood in greater detail.

Facts of the case

When the petitioner underwent a foetal anomaly scan, into 14 weeks of pregnancy, the result was normal i.e. the foetus was healthy. However, at 29 weeks of pregnancy, another scan revealed that the foetus was suffering from microcephaly and lissencephaly, two diseases that require special care for the infant and also might result in life threatening conditions before the child gets to the age of 10. The Medical Board constituted under the MTP Act, 1971 denied the request for termination of pregnancy in view of the advance gestation period which was way more than the “permitted” 24 weeks. The petitioner stated that she is not in a position to take care of the infant born with such conditions. When the petitioner approached the court, the court asked the board to consider the decision once more and answer two issues - whether infant born with these conditions is likely to require extensive and continuous or live long medical intervention; and whether a medical termination of the pregnancy at this stage poses a risk or danger to the Petitioner either physically and mentally and report the condition to the court.  The report tendered to the court stated that the foetal deformity being correctable at government and major municipal Corporation hospitals free of cost and considering the advanced gestational age the Medical Termination of pregnancy is not recommended even on directions of the High Court.

In November 2022, Citizens for Justice and Peace (cjp.org.in) had published a legal resource with an overview of abortion laws.

This article attempted to explain abortion laws in context their origin, development and current status. It also discussed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and its subsequent 2021 amendment; a very specific aspect with respect to the Indian legal system. This article then also explored the November 2022, three judge bench decision of Supreme Court of India in X vs Principal Health Secretary, NCT of Delhi and compared it with Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a diametrically opposite verdict of the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States).

 

Legislation

Section 3 of the MTP act, states that any registered medical practitioner will not be guilty under Indian Penal Code, if the termination is carried under certain conditions. The conditions are that if the pregnancy is 20 weeks old, with the opinion of one registered medical practitioner; and if the pregnancy is 24 weeks old, with the opinion of two registered medical practitioners. And there are only two opinions which would matter- one is that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.

Section 3(2B) of the act states as follows:

“The provisions of sub-sections (2) relating to the length of the pregnancy shall not apply to the termination of pregnancy by the medical practitioner where such termination is     necessitated by the diagnosis of any of the substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board.”

Arguments

First, the petitioners argued that the court is not bound by the medical board’s recommendation.

Secondly, the petitioners argued that Section 3(2B) does not explicitly talk about late detection of foetal abnormalities and therefore, Court’s writ jurisdiction is invoked. It was argued that the Medical Board is not entitled to a discretionary advisory position under the law on whether a termination can be performed or not. It only had to assess whether there is a substantial foetal abnormality and if medical termination is safe on an assessment of the mother’s mental and physical health.

It was also argued that uncertainties of pregnancy and parturition can sometimes confront a woman very late in her pregnancy with having to make a choice she never anticipated and that no Medical Board can wander outside the remit of the statute that creates it.

Judgement

The judgement borrowed the values to interpret the MTP Act from the judgement given by the Supreme Court in the X vs. NCT case only recently. The court stated as follows, regarding the Medical Board not recommending for termination due to a delay of 7-8 weeks:

“In refusing a medical termination of pregnancy only on the ground of delay, this Court would not only be condemning the foetus to a less than optimal life but would also be condemning the Petitioner-mother to a future that will almost certainly rob her of every positive attribute of parenthood. It would be a denial of her right to dignity, and her reproductive and decisional autonomy. The mother knows today that there is no possibility of having a normal healthy baby at the end of this delivery.”

The court interpreted Section 3(2B) as a section of the law as a ‘directory nature’ with powers accrued to Medical board to suggest and recommend and not as an ‘empowering section’ which gives final authority to the Medical Board to decide on the question of termination. To say that the foetal anomalies are curable, free of cost- the court stated- the medical board did not take into account the extra effort every day and week that the parents would have to put in giving the child such care only to see a chance at life threatening disease possibly be faced when the child is 10 years old.

Hence the court held as follows, with respect to the autonomy of the woman over her body and pregnancy, when the conditions in the law are met. The judgement reads:

“The Petitioner takes an informed decision. It is not an easy one. But that decision is hers, and hers alone to make, once the conditions in the statute are met. The right to choose is the Petitioner’s. It is not the right of the Medical Board. And it is also not the right of the Court to abrogate the Petitioner’s rights once they are found to fall within the contemplation of the law.”

Conclusion

The judgement although gave an expansive meaning with respect to autonomy of the woman in cases of Section 3(2B), it explicitly distances unmarried women from exercising the same autonomy. In fact, the Bombay High Court clearly stated that it is only considering the situation and rights that are available under Section 3 of the MTP Act when it related to the pregnancy of an adult married woman. The reasoning given by the court to arrive at this partial conclusion is that the petitioners did not ask the court to consider the case of unmarried women.
However, there was no clear reasoning as to why this logic of reproductive autonomy within the contours of law will not be applicable to unmarried women.

Despite this judgement being a progressive expansion of judgement of the Supreme Court in X vs. NCT, there is this significant gap yet that remains to be filled.

Married woman has the autonomy to choose termination of pregnancy, not medical board: Bombay HC

A recent court case, ABC vs. State of Maharashtra, held that it was the woman and not the medical board who could make this decision under Section 3(2B) of MTP Act.

Bombay HC

The Bombay High Court in a recent judgement, in the case of ABC vs. State of Maharashtra has allowed a 33 week pregnant woman to terminate her pregnancy under Section 3(2B) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971(MTP Act) .[1] Pregnancy can be terminated within 20-24 weeks of pregnancy provided some conditions are fulfilled. It was ground broken by the Supreme Court some months ago, however that has led to courts taking a more liberated view. The Supreme Court, some months ago, in the case of X vs. NCT of Delhi, has ruled that even unmarried women can get their pregnancy terminated under the 20-24 week timeframe as provided under the MTP Act, 1971. Now, since the Bombay High Court’s judgement is also a new interpretation in terms of allowing the pregnancy of 33 weeks to be terminated, it needs to be understood in greater detail.

Facts of the case

When the petitioner underwent a foetal anomaly scan, into 14 weeks of pregnancy, the result was normal i.e. the foetus was healthy. However, at 29 weeks of pregnancy, another scan revealed that the foetus was suffering from microcephaly and lissencephaly, two diseases that require special care for the infant and also might result in life threatening conditions before the child gets to the age of 10. The Medical Board constituted under the MTP Act, 1971 denied the request for termination of pregnancy in view of the advance gestation period which was way more than the “permitted” 24 weeks. The petitioner stated that she is not in a position to take care of the infant born with such conditions. When the petitioner approached the court, the court asked the board to consider the decision once more and answer two issues - whether infant born with these conditions is likely to require extensive and continuous or live long medical intervention; and whether a medical termination of the pregnancy at this stage poses a risk or danger to the Petitioner either physically and mentally and report the condition to the court.  The report tendered to the court stated that the foetal deformity being correctable at government and major municipal Corporation hospitals free of cost and considering the advanced gestational age the Medical Termination of pregnancy is not recommended even on directions of the High Court.

In November 2022, Citizens for Justice and Peace (cjp.org.in) had published a legal resource with an overview of abortion laws.

This article attempted to explain abortion laws in context their origin, development and current status. It also discussed the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and its subsequent 2021 amendment; a very specific aspect with respect to the Indian legal system. This article then also explored the November 2022, three judge bench decision of Supreme Court of India in X vs Principal Health Secretary, NCT of Delhi and compared it with Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a diametrically opposite verdict of the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States).

 

Legislation

Section 3 of the MTP act, states that any registered medical practitioner will not be guilty under Indian Penal Code, if the termination is carried under certain conditions. The conditions are that if the pregnancy is 20 weeks old, with the opinion of one registered medical practitioner; and if the pregnancy is 24 weeks old, with the opinion of two registered medical practitioners. And there are only two opinions which would matter- one is that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health; or that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from any serious physical or mental abnormality.

Section 3(2B) of the act states as follows:

“The provisions of sub-sections (2) relating to the length of the pregnancy shall not apply to the termination of pregnancy by the medical practitioner where such termination is     necessitated by the diagnosis of any of the substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by a Medical Board.”

Arguments

First, the petitioners argued that the court is not bound by the medical board’s recommendation.

Secondly, the petitioners argued that Section 3(2B) does not explicitly talk about late detection of foetal abnormalities and therefore, Court’s writ jurisdiction is invoked. It was argued that the Medical Board is not entitled to a discretionary advisory position under the law on whether a termination can be performed or not. It only had to assess whether there is a substantial foetal abnormality and if medical termination is safe on an assessment of the mother’s mental and physical health.

It was also argued that uncertainties of pregnancy and parturition can sometimes confront a woman very late in her pregnancy with having to make a choice she never anticipated and that no Medical Board can wander outside the remit of the statute that creates it.

Judgement

The judgement borrowed the values to interpret the MTP Act from the judgement given by the Supreme Court in the X vs. NCT case only recently. The court stated as follows, regarding the Medical Board not recommending for termination due to a delay of 7-8 weeks:

“In refusing a medical termination of pregnancy only on the ground of delay, this Court would not only be condemning the foetus to a less than optimal life but would also be condemning the Petitioner-mother to a future that will almost certainly rob her of every positive attribute of parenthood. It would be a denial of her right to dignity, and her reproductive and decisional autonomy. The mother knows today that there is no possibility of having a normal healthy baby at the end of this delivery.”

The court interpreted Section 3(2B) as a section of the law as a ‘directory nature’ with powers accrued to Medical board to suggest and recommend and not as an ‘empowering section’ which gives final authority to the Medical Board to decide on the question of termination. To say that the foetal anomalies are curable, free of cost- the court stated- the medical board did not take into account the extra effort every day and week that the parents would have to put in giving the child such care only to see a chance at life threatening disease possibly be faced when the child is 10 years old.

Hence the court held as follows, with respect to the autonomy of the woman over her body and pregnancy, when the conditions in the law are met. The judgement reads:

“The Petitioner takes an informed decision. It is not an easy one. But that decision is hers, and hers alone to make, once the conditions in the statute are met. The right to choose is the Petitioner’s. It is not the right of the Medical Board. And it is also not the right of the Court to abrogate the Petitioner’s rights once they are found to fall within the contemplation of the law.”

Conclusion

The judgement although gave an expansive meaning with respect to autonomy of the woman in cases of Section 3(2B), it explicitly distances unmarried women from exercising the same autonomy. In fact, the Bombay High Court clearly stated that it is only considering the situation and rights that are available under Section 3 of the MTP Act when it related to the pregnancy of an adult married woman. The reasoning given by the court to arrive at this partial conclusion is that the petitioners did not ask the court to consider the case of unmarried women.
However, there was no clear reasoning as to why this logic of reproductive autonomy within the contours of law will not be applicable to unmarried women.

Despite this judgement being a progressive expansion of judgement of the Supreme Court in X vs. NCT, there is this significant gap yet that remains to be filled.

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Delhi HC Approached for Separate Public Job Vacancies for Transgender Persons

The petitioner, Jane Kaushik, a transgender woman, says she is qualified for a teaching job in a government school but has had to face multiple refusals.

28 Jan 2023

Transgender

Even after three years of the implementation of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the ground reality has not changed much. Transgender persons remain ostracised and are often forced to hide their gender identity in public.

IN 2014, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment of the Supreme Court of India gave legal recognition to the third gender. The court’s NALSA guidelines ordered the Union and state governments to ensure the progressive realisation of the civil and socio-economic rights of transgender persons. Five years after these guidelines were laid down, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 (Transgender Protection Act) came into force. However, time and again, it has been highlighted that there is little to no adherence to the law by states.

On January 20, 2023, Justice Prathibha M. Singh of the Delhi High Court, in the matter of Jane Kaushik versus Lieutenant Governor, NCT of Delhi & Ors. issued a notice to implead the Union Government in a petition that seeks advertisement of separate vacancies for transgender persons in recruitment to teaching positions in schools in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi (Delhi).

The petitioner, Jane Kaushik, a transgender woman residing in Delhi, contends that she is adequately qualified for a teaching job in a government school in the city. Since 2019, she has been looking for employment in government schools in Delhi, only to face multiple refusals due to her gender identity. Finally, frustrated with the continuous rejections, she agreed to take up a teaching job at a private school on the condition that she will not reveal her gender identity. However, she was compelled to resign from the school last month because some students discovered her gender identity; even though she had been appointed after rigorous rounds of interviews.

According to the petition, all advertised vacancies for teaching staff for government schools are confined only to the binary male-and-female genders, thereby excluding transgender persons as a separate category. Discrimination in employment based on gender identity is prohibited under Sections 3(b) and (c) (prohibition against discrimination) and 9 (non-discrimination in employment) of the Transgender Protection Act as well as Rules 10(4), 11 and 12 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.

During the recent hearing of the petition, the Delhi high court recognised that the “petition raises an important issue in respect of recognition of transgender persons and their rights for employment and recruitments in state departments, schools etc…”

The Leaflet interviewed Jane Kaushik to know more about the issue of discrimination against transgender persons and her fight against it.

Q: Can you tell us about your latest employment and why were you forced to resign?

A: I was appointed as a Trained Graduate Teacher in Social Science and English at the Uma Devi Children’s Academy, a private boarding school in the Lakhimpur-Kheri district, on November 25, 2022. I was appointed ‘despite’ my gender identity but on the condition that I must not reveal it to anyone.

Despite my qualifications, I lose my job immediately after I reveal my gender identity. There have been instances where I was paid less for the same work as performed by persons of the binary genders. I have never had the opportunity to experience a normal recruitment process. 

However, on December 3, the school’s principal forced me to resign because some students got to know about my gender identity.

When the National Commission for Women took cognisance of my arbitrary termination, the school imposed a Rs. 1 crore defamation notice on me, alleging that I am ruining their reputation. The school claimed that I was not competent to teach the subject I was assigned. A four-member district-level panel was set up to investigate. They gave a clean chit to the school. According to the report, the school did not discriminate against me because they had hired me despite my gender identity.

Although the school has withdrawn the defamation notice after I sent them a reply with the help of lawyers, I cannot forget the humiliating treatment.

Q: Have similar incidents occurred in the past where you were discriminated against because of your gender identity?

A: Yes, it happens all the time. I am a highly qualified individual, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Arts, a bachelor’s degree in Education, as well as a two-year diploma in Nursery Teacher Training. Despite these qualifications, I lose my job immediately after I reveal my gender identity. There have been instances where I was paid less for the same work as performed by persons of the binary genders. I have never had the opportunity to experience a normal recruitment process.

Q: Can you tell us about the petition?

A: My grievance at the Delhi high court is that notices issued by the Delhi Subordinate Staff Selection Board (DSSSB), notifying vacancies in schools administered by the Directorate of Education of NCT of Delhi for the posts of teaching staff, particularly those for Trained Graduate Teachers, and for Post Graduate Teachers exclude transgender persons from applying for these posts.

The notices circulated by the DSSSB continue to seek applications from only male and female candidates. Two vacancy notices were issued on January 2, 2020, and May 12, 2021. Both excluded transgender persons. The online portal of the DSSSB, that is, the Online Application Registration System (OARS), when accessed, did not permit me to apply under the transgender person’s category. So, I had to misgender myself as female.

I have requested for the court to issue appropriate directions to adopt necessary relaxations in minimum qualification and age for vacancies to be issued to transgender persons, and to frame a policy for their recruitment in all public appointments in Delhi.

Moreover, the OARS mandated registration by the name recorded in Class X certificates issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). I was constrained to register my dead name because the CBSE is yet to set up a mechanism to allow transgender persons to change their names. After I underwent sex reassignment surgery, I legally changed my name and gender to align with my self-identity. Although the OARS has now incorporated an option for transgender persons, it is only available to new applicants.

In response to my petition, the respondents had filed a reply which stated: “…[I]t appears that the Petitioner identifies as ‘transgender-woman’ as the Petitioner’s self-identified gender is female only…” This is clearly a violation of my rights under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. It is also a violation of my fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14151619(1)(a) and (g), and 21.

Q: Did you try approaching the Delhi state authorities?

A: I wrote letters on the issue of exclusion of transgender persons to various state authorities, including the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi in 2021. I have also made representations to the Department of Social Welfare, the Government of NCT of Delhi, and the DSSSB. Through my lawyers, I sent a legal notice, in August 2021, calling upon the Department of Social Welfare and the DSSSB to issue separate vacancies for transgender persons. I have not received any response.

Q: Are there any other prayers in the petition?

A: Yes, I have requested for the court to issue appropriate directions to adopt necessary relaxations in minimum qualification and age for vacancies to be issued to transgender persons, and to frame a policy for their recruitment in all public appointments in Delhi.

I have also requested the court for directions to extend reservations to transgender persons in all public appointments in the NCT of Delhi. But the respondents to this prayer replied: “… [O]nly men and women are recognised by almost all states and the Central Government, transgender persons are not identified for the purpose of creating reservation. The Constitution of India is also silent as to providing reservation to the third gender, as it is only limited to men and women.”

As the matter is subjudice, I remain unemployed.


This article was first published on The Leaflet

Delhi HC Approached for Separate Public Job Vacancies for Transgender Persons

The petitioner, Jane Kaushik, a transgender woman, says she is qualified for a teaching job in a government school but has had to face multiple refusals.

Transgender

Even after three years of the implementation of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the ground reality has not changed much. Transgender persons remain ostracised and are often forced to hide their gender identity in public.

IN 2014, the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment of the Supreme Court of India gave legal recognition to the third gender. The court’s NALSA guidelines ordered the Union and state governments to ensure the progressive realisation of the civil and socio-economic rights of transgender persons. Five years after these guidelines were laid down, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 (Transgender Protection Act) came into force. However, time and again, it has been highlighted that there is little to no adherence to the law by states.

On January 20, 2023, Justice Prathibha M. Singh of the Delhi High Court, in the matter of Jane Kaushik versus Lieutenant Governor, NCT of Delhi & Ors. issued a notice to implead the Union Government in a petition that seeks advertisement of separate vacancies for transgender persons in recruitment to teaching positions in schools in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi (Delhi).

The petitioner, Jane Kaushik, a transgender woman residing in Delhi, contends that she is adequately qualified for a teaching job in a government school in the city. Since 2019, she has been looking for employment in government schools in Delhi, only to face multiple refusals due to her gender identity. Finally, frustrated with the continuous rejections, she agreed to take up a teaching job at a private school on the condition that she will not reveal her gender identity. However, she was compelled to resign from the school last month because some students discovered her gender identity; even though she had been appointed after rigorous rounds of interviews.

According to the petition, all advertised vacancies for teaching staff for government schools are confined only to the binary male-and-female genders, thereby excluding transgender persons as a separate category. Discrimination in employment based on gender identity is prohibited under Sections 3(b) and (c) (prohibition against discrimination) and 9 (non-discrimination in employment) of the Transgender Protection Act as well as Rules 10(4), 11 and 12 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020.

During the recent hearing of the petition, the Delhi high court recognised that the “petition raises an important issue in respect of recognition of transgender persons and their rights for employment and recruitments in state departments, schools etc…”

The Leaflet interviewed Jane Kaushik to know more about the issue of discrimination against transgender persons and her fight against it.

Q: Can you tell us about your latest employment and why were you forced to resign?

A: I was appointed as a Trained Graduate Teacher in Social Science and English at the Uma Devi Children’s Academy, a private boarding school in the Lakhimpur-Kheri district, on November 25, 2022. I was appointed ‘despite’ my gender identity but on the condition that I must not reveal it to anyone.

Despite my qualifications, I lose my job immediately after I reveal my gender identity. There have been instances where I was paid less for the same work as performed by persons of the binary genders. I have never had the opportunity to experience a normal recruitment process. 

However, on December 3, the school’s principal forced me to resign because some students got to know about my gender identity.

When the National Commission for Women took cognisance of my arbitrary termination, the school imposed a Rs. 1 crore defamation notice on me, alleging that I am ruining their reputation. The school claimed that I was not competent to teach the subject I was assigned. A four-member district-level panel was set up to investigate. They gave a clean chit to the school. According to the report, the school did not discriminate against me because they had hired me despite my gender identity.

Although the school has withdrawn the defamation notice after I sent them a reply with the help of lawyers, I cannot forget the humiliating treatment.

Q: Have similar incidents occurred in the past where you were discriminated against because of your gender identity?

A: Yes, it happens all the time. I am a highly qualified individual, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Arts, a bachelor’s degree in Education, as well as a two-year diploma in Nursery Teacher Training. Despite these qualifications, I lose my job immediately after I reveal my gender identity. There have been instances where I was paid less for the same work as performed by persons of the binary genders. I have never had the opportunity to experience a normal recruitment process.

Q: Can you tell us about the petition?

A: My grievance at the Delhi high court is that notices issued by the Delhi Subordinate Staff Selection Board (DSSSB), notifying vacancies in schools administered by the Directorate of Education of NCT of Delhi for the posts of teaching staff, particularly those for Trained Graduate Teachers, and for Post Graduate Teachers exclude transgender persons from applying for these posts.

The notices circulated by the DSSSB continue to seek applications from only male and female candidates. Two vacancy notices were issued on January 2, 2020, and May 12, 2021. Both excluded transgender persons. The online portal of the DSSSB, that is, the Online Application Registration System (OARS), when accessed, did not permit me to apply under the transgender person’s category. So, I had to misgender myself as female.

I have requested for the court to issue appropriate directions to adopt necessary relaxations in minimum qualification and age for vacancies to be issued to transgender persons, and to frame a policy for their recruitment in all public appointments in Delhi.

Moreover, the OARS mandated registration by the name recorded in Class X certificates issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). I was constrained to register my dead name because the CBSE is yet to set up a mechanism to allow transgender persons to change their names. After I underwent sex reassignment surgery, I legally changed my name and gender to align with my self-identity. Although the OARS has now incorporated an option for transgender persons, it is only available to new applicants.

In response to my petition, the respondents had filed a reply which stated: “…[I]t appears that the Petitioner identifies as ‘transgender-woman’ as the Petitioner’s self-identified gender is female only…” This is clearly a violation of my rights under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. It is also a violation of my fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14151619(1)(a) and (g), and 21.

Q: Did you try approaching the Delhi state authorities?

A: I wrote letters on the issue of exclusion of transgender persons to various state authorities, including the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi in 2021. I have also made representations to the Department of Social Welfare, the Government of NCT of Delhi, and the DSSSB. Through my lawyers, I sent a legal notice, in August 2021, calling upon the Department of Social Welfare and the DSSSB to issue separate vacancies for transgender persons. I have not received any response.

Q: Are there any other prayers in the petition?

A: Yes, I have requested for the court to issue appropriate directions to adopt necessary relaxations in minimum qualification and age for vacancies to be issued to transgender persons, and to frame a policy for their recruitment in all public appointments in Delhi.

I have also requested the court for directions to extend reservations to transgender persons in all public appointments in the NCT of Delhi. But the respondents to this prayer replied: “… [O]nly men and women are recognised by almost all states and the Central Government, transgender persons are not identified for the purpose of creating reservation. The Constitution of India is also silent as to providing reservation to the third gender, as it is only limited to men and women.”

As the matter is subjudice, I remain unemployed.


This article was first published on The Leaflet

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Independent Views, Gender Orientation must not affect candidacy for judgeship: SC

Making public the union government's objections to recent recommendations by the Supreme Court (SC) Collegium, the latter has reiterated its earlier choices and recommended the elevation of 17 advocates and three judicial officers as judges of the high courts of Karnataka, Allahabad and Madras.

20 Jan 2023

judge appointment
Image: The Leaflet

At a crucial meeting of the Collegium held on January 17 the apex court has reiterated the selection of five names and significantly recorded that the Centre can't repeatedly send back proposals. Thereby, the Collegium has now recommended the elevation of 17 advocates and three judicial officers as judges of the high courts of Karnataka, Allahabad and Madras. The five names of advocates that have been sent back by the SC collegium for elevation as HC judges are Saurab Kirpal, son of former CJI BN Kirpal, Amit Banerjee, Sakya Sen, Somasekhar Sundareshanand R John Sathyan. 

The Collegium consisting of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph held.

“All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for judgeship is a person of competence, merit and integrity.” 

With this decision significant developments have taken place. In recommending, again, it’s last year’s recommendation to the Centre to appoint Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan as Judge of the Bombay High Court the Supreme Court has held that his views on social media cannot be used to infer he’s highly biased opinionated person.

Background: The Collegium of Bombay High Court recommended the name of Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan on  October 4, 2021. On February 16, 2022, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the name of Somasekhar Sundaresan for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court. On 25 November, 2022, the Government has sought reconsideration of the said recommendation.

Reportedly, the Centre's objection was that he has aired his views in the social media on several matters which are the subject matter of consideration before the courts. According to media reports, reiterating Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan’s name the Collegium said,

“The manner in which the candidate has expressed his views does not justify the inference that he is a “highly biased opinionated person” or that he has been “selectively critical on the social media on the important policies, initiatives and directions of the Government” (as indicated in the objections of Department of Justice) nor is there any material to indicate that the expressions used by the candidate are suggestive of his links with any political party with strong ideological leanings.”

The remarks added that Advocate Sundaresan has specialised in commercial law and would be an asset to the Bombay High Court which has a large volume of cases of commercial and securities laws, among other branches. “The Department of Justice has adverted to paragraph 175 of the Second Judges Case [(1993) 4 SCC 441] to the effect that the candidate to be selected must possess high integrity, honesty, skill, high order of emotional stability, firmness, serenity, legal soundness, ability and endurance. The candidate fulfils these qualities.”

“The Collegium, therefore, resolves to reiterate its recommendation dated February 16, 2022 for appointment of Shri Somasekhar Sundaresan, Advocate, as Judge of the Bombay High Court.”

In addition, the Supreme Court Collegium has reiterated its recommendation for elevation of Advocate R. John Sathyan as a Madras High Court Judge, after Centre returned the file citing an online article critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that was shared by Sathyan.

The Collegium comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph has further said that all the consultee-Judges at the relevant time, when the recommendation was first made, had found him suitable for elevation and that nothing adverse has come to notice against his integrity. Reportedly, Sathyan had also shared a post he had shared a news article which was critical of PM Narendra Modi which was objected to by the union of India. His file was also returned since he had shared a post regarding an alleged suicide of a medical aspirant in 2017.regarding a medical aspirant committing suicide in 2017, which contained tags such as tag 'political betrayal', ‘shame of you India’.

The proposal to elevate him was made in February last year. The IB report notes that he does not have any overt political leanings. In this backdrop, the Collegium said,

"adverse comments of the IB extracted above in respect of posts made by him i.e. sharing an article published in ‘The Quint’ and another post regarding committing of suicide by a medical aspirant candidate in 2017 will not impinge on the suitability, character or integrity of Shri Sathyan. The Collegium is of the considered opinion that Shri R. John Sathyan is fit and suitable for being appointed as a Judge of the Madras High Court."

The Collegium therefore reiterated its earlier proposal and recommended that he be given precedence in the matter of appointment as Judge over certain names separately recommended today for appointment as Judges of the Madras High Court.

Victory for Gay Rights, Diversity

Pushing forward with a historic move towards diversity in gender orientation, the SC Collegium has yet again recommended the name of Advocate Saurabh Kirpal for elevation as a judge of the Delhi High Court (HC). Kirpal’s name was recommended unanimously by the Collegium of the Delhi HC in 2017 and has been pending for over five years. Kirpal’s elevation to the bench is being objected to by the union government due to the Swiss nationality of his partner as well as his intimate relationship and openness about his sexual orientation. 

Rejecting the centre’s objection to his sexuality, the SC collegium in its resolution has said, “The fact that Mr Saurabh Kirpal has been open about his orientation is a matter which goes to his credit. As a prospective candidate for judgeship, he has not been surreptitious about his orientation."

"In view of the constitutionally recognised rights which the candidate espouses, it would be manifestly contrary to the constitutional principles laid down by the Supreme Court to reject his candidature on that ground.”

The resolution further says that he possesses competence, integrity and intellect, and his appointment would add value to the Bench of the Delhi HC, and provide inclusion and diversity.

On the issue of the union government’s objection to his partner’s nationality, the resolution says, "There is no reason to pre-suppose that the partner of the candidate, who is a Swiss National, would be inimically disposed to our country since the country of his origin is a friendly nation. Many persons in high positions including present and past holders of constitutional offices have and have had spouses who are foreign Nationals. Hence, as a matter of principle, there can be no objection to the candidature of Shri Saurabh Kirpal on the ground that his partner is a foreign National."

While reiterating the names of advocates Amit Banerjee and Sakya Sen, whose names were first approved by SC collegium in 2019 for elevation as Calcutta HC judge but were sent back, the Collegium on Wednesday said, "It was not open to the Department to repeatedly send back the same proposal which has been reiterated by SC Collegium after duly considering the objections of the Government."

Interestingly, advocate Banerjee is the son of former apex court judge Justice U C Banerjee, who headed a commission that in 2006 ruled out conspiracy angle in the 2002 Sabarmati Express fire tragedy at Godhra that killed 58 'kar sevaks'. The Godhra incident had triggered widespread communal riots in Gujarat.

Advocate Sen is the son of Justice Shyamal Sen, who was elevated as a permanent judge of the Calcutta High Court in February 1986 and later became the chief justice of the Allahabad High Court. Justice Sen also served as the Governor of West Bengal from May 1999 to December 1999. Justice (retd) Sen had headed an inquiry commission which probed the multi-crore Saradha Group ponzi scam.

The Collegium in its remarks made public, also stated that views on social media attributed to the candidate, do not furnish any foundation to infer that he is biased.

The collegium also recommended for giving precedence to him in the matter of appointment over three other names (Judicial officers Periyasamy Vadamalai, Ramachandran Kalaimathi and K. Govindarajan Thilakavadi) which the collegium further recommended for elevation as Madras HC judges. 

(Based on reports by New Indian Express and LiveLaw)

Related:

Centre returns Saurabh Kirpal’s file to Collegium for the 5th time

SC Collegium recommends elevation of first openly gay judge to Delhi HC

Madras HC bats for LGBTQIA+ again, issues more directions to police, media

Independent Views, Gender Orientation must not affect candidacy for judgeship: SC

Making public the union government's objections to recent recommendations by the Supreme Court (SC) Collegium, the latter has reiterated its earlier choices and recommended the elevation of 17 advocates and three judicial officers as judges of the high courts of Karnataka, Allahabad and Madras.

judge appointment
Image: The Leaflet

At a crucial meeting of the Collegium held on January 17 the apex court has reiterated the selection of five names and significantly recorded that the Centre can't repeatedly send back proposals. Thereby, the Collegium has now recommended the elevation of 17 advocates and three judicial officers as judges of the high courts of Karnataka, Allahabad and Madras. The five names of advocates that have been sent back by the SC collegium for elevation as HC judges are Saurab Kirpal, son of former CJI BN Kirpal, Amit Banerjee, Sakya Sen, Somasekhar Sundareshanand R John Sathyan. 

The Collegium consisting of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph held.

“All citizens have the right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Expression of views by a candidate does not disentitle him to hold a constitutional office so long as the person proposed for judgeship is a person of competence, merit and integrity.” 

With this decision significant developments have taken place. In recommending, again, it’s last year’s recommendation to the Centre to appoint Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan as Judge of the Bombay High Court the Supreme Court has held that his views on social media cannot be used to infer he’s highly biased opinionated person.

Background: The Collegium of Bombay High Court recommended the name of Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan on  October 4, 2021. On February 16, 2022, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the name of Somasekhar Sundaresan for appointment as a Judge of the Bombay High Court. On 25 November, 2022, the Government has sought reconsideration of the said recommendation.

Reportedly, the Centre's objection was that he has aired his views in the social media on several matters which are the subject matter of consideration before the courts. According to media reports, reiterating Advocate Somasekhar Sundaresan’s name the Collegium said,

“The manner in which the candidate has expressed his views does not justify the inference that he is a “highly biased opinionated person” or that he has been “selectively critical on the social media on the important policies, initiatives and directions of the Government” (as indicated in the objections of Department of Justice) nor is there any material to indicate that the expressions used by the candidate are suggestive of his links with any political party with strong ideological leanings.”

The remarks added that Advocate Sundaresan has specialised in commercial law and would be an asset to the Bombay High Court which has a large volume of cases of commercial and securities laws, among other branches. “The Department of Justice has adverted to paragraph 175 of the Second Judges Case [(1993) 4 SCC 441] to the effect that the candidate to be selected must possess high integrity, honesty, skill, high order of emotional stability, firmness, serenity, legal soundness, ability and endurance. The candidate fulfils these qualities.”

“The Collegium, therefore, resolves to reiterate its recommendation dated February 16, 2022 for appointment of Shri Somasekhar Sundaresan, Advocate, as Judge of the Bombay High Court.”

In addition, the Supreme Court Collegium has reiterated its recommendation for elevation of Advocate R. John Sathyan as a Madras High Court Judge, after Centre returned the file citing an online article critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that was shared by Sathyan.

The Collegium comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph has further said that all the consultee-Judges at the relevant time, when the recommendation was first made, had found him suitable for elevation and that nothing adverse has come to notice against his integrity. Reportedly, Sathyan had also shared a post he had shared a news article which was critical of PM Narendra Modi which was objected to by the union of India. His file was also returned since he had shared a post regarding an alleged suicide of a medical aspirant in 2017.regarding a medical aspirant committing suicide in 2017, which contained tags such as tag 'political betrayal', ‘shame of you India’.

The proposal to elevate him was made in February last year. The IB report notes that he does not have any overt political leanings. In this backdrop, the Collegium said,

"adverse comments of the IB extracted above in respect of posts made by him i.e. sharing an article published in ‘The Quint’ and another post regarding committing of suicide by a medical aspirant candidate in 2017 will not impinge on the suitability, character or integrity of Shri Sathyan. The Collegium is of the considered opinion that Shri R. John Sathyan is fit and suitable for being appointed as a Judge of the Madras High Court."

The Collegium therefore reiterated its earlier proposal and recommended that he be given precedence in the matter of appointment as Judge over certain names separately recommended today for appointment as Judges of the Madras High Court.

Victory for Gay Rights, Diversity

Pushing forward with a historic move towards diversity in gender orientation, the SC Collegium has yet again recommended the name of Advocate Saurabh Kirpal for elevation as a judge of the Delhi High Court (HC). Kirpal’s name was recommended unanimously by the Collegium of the Delhi HC in 2017 and has been pending for over five years. Kirpal’s elevation to the bench is being objected to by the union government due to the Swiss nationality of his partner as well as his intimate relationship and openness about his sexual orientation. 

Rejecting the centre’s objection to his sexuality, the SC collegium in its resolution has said, “The fact that Mr Saurabh Kirpal has been open about his orientation is a matter which goes to his credit. As a prospective candidate for judgeship, he has not been surreptitious about his orientation."

"In view of the constitutionally recognised rights which the candidate espouses, it would be manifestly contrary to the constitutional principles laid down by the Supreme Court to reject his candidature on that ground.”

The resolution further says that he possesses competence, integrity and intellect, and his appointment would add value to the Bench of the Delhi HC, and provide inclusion and diversity.

On the issue of the union government’s objection to his partner’s nationality, the resolution says, "There is no reason to pre-suppose that the partner of the candidate, who is a Swiss National, would be inimically disposed to our country since the country of his origin is a friendly nation. Many persons in high positions including present and past holders of constitutional offices have and have had spouses who are foreign Nationals. Hence, as a matter of principle, there can be no objection to the candidature of Shri Saurabh Kirpal on the ground that his partner is a foreign National."

While reiterating the names of advocates Amit Banerjee and Sakya Sen, whose names were first approved by SC collegium in 2019 for elevation as Calcutta HC judge but were sent back, the Collegium on Wednesday said, "It was not open to the Department to repeatedly send back the same proposal which has been reiterated by SC Collegium after duly considering the objections of the Government."

Interestingly, advocate Banerjee is the son of former apex court judge Justice U C Banerjee, who headed a commission that in 2006 ruled out conspiracy angle in the 2002 Sabarmati Express fire tragedy at Godhra that killed 58 'kar sevaks'. The Godhra incident had triggered widespread communal riots in Gujarat.

Advocate Sen is the son of Justice Shyamal Sen, who was elevated as a permanent judge of the Calcutta High Court in February 1986 and later became the chief justice of the Allahabad High Court. Justice Sen also served as the Governor of West Bengal from May 1999 to December 1999. Justice (retd) Sen had headed an inquiry commission which probed the multi-crore Saradha Group ponzi scam.

The Collegium in its remarks made public, also stated that views on social media attributed to the candidate, do not furnish any foundation to infer that he is biased.

The collegium also recommended for giving precedence to him in the matter of appointment over three other names (Judicial officers Periyasamy Vadamalai, Ramachandran Kalaimathi and K. Govindarajan Thilakavadi) which the collegium further recommended for elevation as Madras HC judges. 

(Based on reports by New Indian Express and LiveLaw)

Related:

Centre returns Saurabh Kirpal’s file to Collegium for the 5th time

SC Collegium recommends elevation of first openly gay judge to Delhi HC

Madras HC bats for LGBTQIA+ again, issues more directions to police, media

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Sabrang

WFI leadership accused of sexual harassment by Indian women wrestlers, absence of redressal mechanisms the focus

The culture of harassment and impunity within WFI is underlined as Indian women wrestlers demonstrate outside Jantar Mantar

19 Jan 2023

WFI

“Gender equality includes protection from sexual harassment and right to work with dignity, which is a universally recognised basic human right”
- Supreme Court of India, Vishakha guidelines

The #metoo wave had hit India in the year 2018, with women from myriad sectors and industries coming forward with their stories of workplace harassment endured by them. While many such claims had led to criminal cases being filed, even against women who broke the walls of silence, many women had found strength in the solidarity. The front pages of many newspapers were filled with stories of women from all sectors, entertainment, films, journalism even. But the sport industry was majorly silent. Did that mean it was a safe haven for women? Recent disclosures, one after another have exploded this myth: clearly the sports industry of India is an industry, like a myriad others, pre-dominantly run by men, and the level of misogyny found in the sports industry is evidently high. Within the sports, coaches — mentors and purveyors of skill, wisdom and knowledge — hold a certain power over the students, making it easier for them to create an intimidating and fearful atmosphere.

The silence of the women who are a part of the sports industry has finally broken. On January 18, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, two of India's most esteemed women wrestlers, have come forth with accusations of sexual harassment against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) head Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The wrestlers have now gone further and staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to bring this issue to light and seek justice for herself and the other allegedly exploited women wrestlers. Vinesh Phogat, the country’s only double World Championship medalist, spoke to the media and said that coaches and the WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan have been sexually harassing women wrestlers at national camps. Women wrestlers have been subjected to sexual harassment by some of the coaches at the national camps for years. Additionally, as provided by the Indian Express, Vinesh further claimed that the WFI president is complicit in this pattern of sexual harassment.

Sakshi Malik, India's lone Olympic medalist, shared the dais with Vinesh and endorsed the accusations, saying that they had come to protect those other women wrestlers who had been and were being subjected to this. As reported by Indian Express, Sakshi said that it is for them that these protesting women are battling. She further declared that they will speak up when it's time and offer the names of other people who have been harassing them to the person conducting the investigation.

It is being alleged that Vinesh further said that while she never herself faced such exploitation, she claimed many wrestlers were intimidated from coming forward because of their humble origins. Vinesh provided more information on the ways that national and international wrestlers have been allegedly exploited by the WFI chief and coaches while stating that she worries for her own safety now because she is raising her voice against very powerful individuals. As provided by her, and reported by the Indian Express, this exploitation is happening every day.  She mentioned that they had written to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Sports. She subsequently also told the media that Singh's residence in Lucknow is the only reason the camps are taking place there since it makes it easier for him to take advantage of the girls. She continued by saying that the coaches delve into their personal affairs and relationships and demand full details.

Then Vinesh addressed the wrongdoings and Singh's alleged haughtiness, saying that Singh tortures Vinesh mentally for everything. She went on to say that the wrestlers have to grovel before Singh and his assistant secretary in order to obtain anything, particularly permissions. In order to enter the national camp, the younger generation is offering Singh gifts like money, milk, and ghee. To enter the national camp, coaches must also follow the same requirements.

She then gave the name of a person who traveled to Tokyo with the women's team and claimed that the person was a coach who had no knowledge in women's wrestling as he had accompanied them after paying money. She claimed that the lack of skilled physiotherapists had a negative impact on their chances of winning a medal at Tokyo Olympics.

Reaction of the WFI

Vinod Tomar of the WFI federation crossed the street to speak with the wrestlers in protest because the federation's headquarters proximity to Jantar Mantar and is located in Singh's MP residence. As his attempt at negotiating failed, stated the Indian Express. Before leaving, he told the reporters that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the WFI president, urged him to go speak with the wrestlers who were protesting and let them know they could come to the WFI headquarters and discuss any issues.

The reporters had gathered at Singh's home by that point. Singh has denied all charges even as he deals with the worst crisis of his ten years tenure at the head of Indian wrestling, so far an unblemished record. Following these allegations of harassment, the accused Singh also addressed the media and asserted that only Vinesh is alleging that the WFI had harassed a wrestler in a sexual manner. Nobody else has publicly stated that they have experienced sexual harassment. He added that he should be hanged on the day that even one more wrestler came forward to report that she had been sexually harassed.

“The age for delivering the best performance in wrestling is between 22 and 28 years. These wrestlers who are protesting can't win an Olympic medal. This is turning into anger and that is why they are protesting,” Singh was quoted as saying by the news agency ANI.

Supporters at the protest

Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia, Olympian Anshu, and world junior silver medalist Sonam Malik were among those who joined Vinesh and Sakshi in their protest against the "dictatorial practices" of the federation. Sangeeta Phogat, a nationally rated wrestler and wife of Bajrang, was also there.

According to Bajrang, who was quoted by The Indian Express, everyone rejoices when Indian wrestlers win medals but thereafter no one is concerned about how they are handled, particularly by the federation. If the PMO and the office of the Home Minister pledge that our concerns will be handled, then the protests will end. Else, Bajrang claimed that they will continue protesting as wrestlers can no longer be treated as “ghulams” of the Wrestling Federation of India. He further said that they will now talk about the rot in the federation and the “tanashahi” (autocratic functioning and environment) prevalent over many years.

Action taken against the claims made

In response to the events, Swati Maliwal, chairman of the Delhi Commission for Women, issued a notice against Singh, requesting the investigation and details of the case from the Deputy Commissioner of Police and the Secretary of Sports. A panel formed by the DCW has also sought details of Internal Complaints Committee formed by the Wrestling Federation of India. The panel also asked whether these complaints have been forwarded to the ICC and the Local Complaint Committee (LCC) as per Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has been asked for an explanation by the Indian Sports Ministry "within the next 72 hours." Within hours of the protest, the Sports Ministry made it plain in a statement that it "would move to take action against the federation in line of the articles of the National Sports Development Code, 2011" if the WFI does not answer within the next three days.

Previous instances where allegations of Sexual Harassment were made 

There have been 45 reports of sexual harassment in the last ten years, according to data presented by The Indian Express in the year 2020. It was further provided that 29 complaints of these above-mentioned complaints had been made against coaches. As was additionally provided by the newspaper in its investigative report, in numerous instances, the accused have received light sentences, with punishments varying from transfers to a slight wage cut or pension reduction. Investigations involving over a dozen accusations, however, have gone on for years without being resolved. These incidents, however, only form part of an extensive and deeply-rooted system of harassing women sportspersons.

A few instances wherein official complaints had been filed by sportspersons against their harassers, within the sports industry:

  • In June, 2022, an Indian cyclist lodged a grievance with the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The cyclist has accused their coach, R K Sharma, of sexual harassment in Slovenia in May 2022.   The complaint goes into detail about the coach's offensive remarks and sexual advances. The cyclist claimed that the coach "forced" himself into her room, suggested giving her a "post-training massage," offered to have her "sleep with him," and proposed marriage to her because she had no future in sports. A panel to look into the allegations had been established by both the SAI and the Cycling Federation of India (CFI).

  • In July 2021, seven sportspersons accused renowned coach P Nagarajan of sexual harassment. He already had a complaint filed against him and was reportedly abusing athletes for years. He had also threatened the athletes to cease their training.

  • In January 2020, an FIR was registered against a coach for allegedly harassing and molesting a woman cricketer. As had been provided, the victim had approached Gautam Gambhir.

  • A young female athlete claimed that a few senior athletes had sexually harassed her in May 2015. After the incident, the 15-year-old died by suicide, and three other people were hospitalized after ingesting toxic fruits in what appeared to be a suicide pact. The players were undergoing training at the Vembanad Lake, Alappuzha, Kerala, Sports Center of Sports Authority (SAI) water sports facility. An FIR had been filed.

  • During the Asian Games in 2014, a female gymnast accused Coach Manoj Rana and gymnast Chandan Pathak of sexual harassment. Allegedly, the duo made vulgar comments about her attire. It was promised by the Gymnastic Federation of India (GFI) that strict punishment would be handed out to both Pathak and Rana if they were found guilty. However, Jiji Thompson, director general of SAI, cried conspiracy which had resulted from an internal dispute in the GFI. He indicated that the 29-year-old woman was herself at fault for going to police we she was not from India and was practicing at the stadium under the 'Come and Play' scheme.

  • In 2009, a young boxer made the decision to take her own life because she could no longer stand her coach's relentless harassment. The 21-year-old S Amaravathi died by suicide inside the Lal Bahadur Stadium by ingesting poison when she could no longer tolerate the frequent altercations with her coach Omkar Yadav. She was a promising talent and the junior national boxing champion. After she passed away, an investigation was mandated. The hostel staff, however, refuted these accusations and said that she was simply experiencing poor self-esteem.

Sexual Harassment Redressal Mechanisms in place for Sportspersons

According to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, any workplace with more than 10 employees needs an internal complaints committee. The Section 2 (o) (iv) of the said act , which provides the definition of workplace and the institutions that fall under it, states that:

 “Any sport institute, stadium, sports complex or competitions or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto.”

Contrary to popular belief, sports facilities are thus considered workplaces for purposes of the law. Despite this, information about the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at various federations is hard to come by; the majority isn't posted on the organizations' official websites or on notice boards in training facilities around the nation.

The Act's operative phrase is "workplace." It also defines the terms "employer" (Section 2(g)) and "employee" (Section 2(f)). A person in charge of the "administration, supervision, and control" of the workplace is known as an employer. A workplace Internal Committee (IC) must be established by the company.

In relation to sports infrastructure, competition and event sites, dormitories, and games villages, to name a few sports workplaces, India's numerous sports federations and other governing bodies are employers. Therefore, in accordance with the law, these businesses are required to set up an IC to look into and ask questions about sexual harassment claims filed by sportsmen and sportspeople.

Athletes who were questioned by Scroll.in in 2018 on the existence of a sexual harassment grievance redressal mechanism stated anonymously that nobody has given this significant consideration, with the exception of a few federations. A few allegations continue to surface on a regular basis, but the most of the time the accused coaches are directly employed by the Sports Authority of India, thus federations have no control over them. However, all National Sport Federations (NSFs) are technically supposed to have a complaints procedure in place.

The National Sports Federations and other sport organizations are responsible for ensuring women's safety, under the National Sports Development Code of India from 2011. They are enjoined to establish policies that forbid sexual harassment, inform every one of these policies, and provide suitable platforms for women to bring up the subject. A complaints process must be established, and it must include provisions for a third party with knowledge of the problem of sexual harassment. The majority of federations are in violation of the law since they have not implemented these processes.

In most cases, young women with diverse family background, not all having access to vocal echelons of society make it to the top, after choosing this as a career over much is invested. The absence of a pro-active and sensitive environment can make them voiceless victims.

Although some of these NSFs have athletes' commissions to handle complaints and grievances, they are not - as required - specifically for sexual harassment and are not led by women. The standard method is to approach the president or secretary and speak with them directly. This indicates that there isn't a formal complaint, which is required by the ICC. This also explains why there are frequently no official complaints.

For women who have tackled this nightmare throughout their professional careers, sexual harassment in the sports industry has been a slow-burning fuse for ten years now. This raises serious concerns about women's safety in sports. As can be deduced from the cases provided above, the Sports Authority of India is not doing a fair job at protecting the women sportsperson in India. Through the cases provided about, it can be seen that the SAI is more inclined to protecting its employees, or burying down the case.

The protest staged by these wrestlers have brought across a major void that exists within the sports industry. The workplace sexual harassment law requires that internal complaints committees should contain at least three employees. As this is the general rule, it becomes even more difficult for the woman to approach the authorities with their complaints and receive an impartial treatment. This also depicts the internal hegemonies that exist within the sports industry and the dominance that a woman needs to fight against while approaching the authorities with complaint against their harassers.

Conclusion

Sports are mostly still exclusively a masculine domain despite the proficiency shown by more and more women. Not only when it comes to consumers or athletes, but also in coaching and administration, where the sex-ratio is greatly skewed. It is pertinent to note that in the case of WFI, there is an ICC in place. The question then arises is, why are these women wrestlers and their supporters not approaching them, and are rather opting to protest on roads? Is the redressal mechanism in place not enough to tackle with this issue in an unbiased and fair method?

It is further crucial to pay attention to the deep and serious allegations that are being made by Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik against the predatory behavior shown by the very people that are supposed to teach and train them. How many before had to, and how many after these two will have to suffer through this culture of dominance and impunity?

The authorities as well as the lawmakers need to go beyond just addressing this case and asking for explanations, and should consider if stricter laws are needed. It would be negligent to claim that sexual harassment does not happen to male athletes, especially minors, even though the bulk of cases involving sexual harassment include woman survivors. But, before we arrive at the issue of introducing gender neutral laws, it is essential that we first appropriately implement the protections are already existing to tackle with the systematic oppression of women, and then aim to bring in laws that protect every one, no matter their gender.

 

Related:

Microloans? 66% of rejected applications were from Dalit women, says research

Hindu College, denies entry to students wearing burqas, sparks protests: UP

Every 11 minutes a woman is killed by partner/family member: UN

What happened to Gauri Lankesh started with online threats: Activists

I’m a vocal Indian Muslim woman, not an object to be auctioned

WFI leadership accused of sexual harassment by Indian women wrestlers, absence of redressal mechanisms the focus

The culture of harassment and impunity within WFI is underlined as Indian women wrestlers demonstrate outside Jantar Mantar

WFI

“Gender equality includes protection from sexual harassment and right to work with dignity, which is a universally recognised basic human right”
- Supreme Court of India, Vishakha guidelines

The #metoo wave had hit India in the year 2018, with women from myriad sectors and industries coming forward with their stories of workplace harassment endured by them. While many such claims had led to criminal cases being filed, even against women who broke the walls of silence, many women had found strength in the solidarity. The front pages of many newspapers were filled with stories of women from all sectors, entertainment, films, journalism even. But the sport industry was majorly silent. Did that mean it was a safe haven for women? Recent disclosures, one after another have exploded this myth: clearly the sports industry of India is an industry, like a myriad others, pre-dominantly run by men, and the level of misogyny found in the sports industry is evidently high. Within the sports, coaches — mentors and purveyors of skill, wisdom and knowledge — hold a certain power over the students, making it easier for them to create an intimidating and fearful atmosphere.

The silence of the women who are a part of the sports industry has finally broken. On January 18, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik, two of India's most esteemed women wrestlers, have come forth with accusations of sexual harassment against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) head Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

The wrestlers have now gone further and staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to bring this issue to light and seek justice for herself and the other allegedly exploited women wrestlers. Vinesh Phogat, the country’s only double World Championship medalist, spoke to the media and said that coaches and the WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan have been sexually harassing women wrestlers at national camps. Women wrestlers have been subjected to sexual harassment by some of the coaches at the national camps for years. Additionally, as provided by the Indian Express, Vinesh further claimed that the WFI president is complicit in this pattern of sexual harassment.

Sakshi Malik, India's lone Olympic medalist, shared the dais with Vinesh and endorsed the accusations, saying that they had come to protect those other women wrestlers who had been and were being subjected to this. As reported by Indian Express, Sakshi said that it is for them that these protesting women are battling. She further declared that they will speak up when it's time and offer the names of other people who have been harassing them to the person conducting the investigation.

It is being alleged that Vinesh further said that while she never herself faced such exploitation, she claimed many wrestlers were intimidated from coming forward because of their humble origins. Vinesh provided more information on the ways that national and international wrestlers have been allegedly exploited by the WFI chief and coaches while stating that she worries for her own safety now because she is raising her voice against very powerful individuals. As provided by her, and reported by the Indian Express, this exploitation is happening every day.  She mentioned that they had written to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Sports. She subsequently also told the media that Singh's residence in Lucknow is the only reason the camps are taking place there since it makes it easier for him to take advantage of the girls. She continued by saying that the coaches delve into their personal affairs and relationships and demand full details.

Then Vinesh addressed the wrongdoings and Singh's alleged haughtiness, saying that Singh tortures Vinesh mentally for everything. She went on to say that the wrestlers have to grovel before Singh and his assistant secretary in order to obtain anything, particularly permissions. In order to enter the national camp, the younger generation is offering Singh gifts like money, milk, and ghee. To enter the national camp, coaches must also follow the same requirements.

She then gave the name of a person who traveled to Tokyo with the women's team and claimed that the person was a coach who had no knowledge in women's wrestling as he had accompanied them after paying money. She claimed that the lack of skilled physiotherapists had a negative impact on their chances of winning a medal at Tokyo Olympics.

Reaction of the WFI

Vinod Tomar of the WFI federation crossed the street to speak with the wrestlers in protest because the federation's headquarters proximity to Jantar Mantar and is located in Singh's MP residence. As his attempt at negotiating failed, stated the Indian Express. Before leaving, he told the reporters that Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the WFI president, urged him to go speak with the wrestlers who were protesting and let them know they could come to the WFI headquarters and discuss any issues.

The reporters had gathered at Singh's home by that point. Singh has denied all charges even as he deals with the worst crisis of his ten years tenure at the head of Indian wrestling, so far an unblemished record. Following these allegations of harassment, the accused Singh also addressed the media and asserted that only Vinesh is alleging that the WFI had harassed a wrestler in a sexual manner. Nobody else has publicly stated that they have experienced sexual harassment. He added that he should be hanged on the day that even one more wrestler came forward to report that she had been sexually harassed.

“The age for delivering the best performance in wrestling is between 22 and 28 years. These wrestlers who are protesting can't win an Olympic medal. This is turning into anger and that is why they are protesting,” Singh was quoted as saying by the news agency ANI.

Supporters at the protest

Olympic medalist Bajrang Punia, Olympian Anshu, and world junior silver medalist Sonam Malik were among those who joined Vinesh and Sakshi in their protest against the "dictatorial practices" of the federation. Sangeeta Phogat, a nationally rated wrestler and wife of Bajrang, was also there.

According to Bajrang, who was quoted by The Indian Express, everyone rejoices when Indian wrestlers win medals but thereafter no one is concerned about how they are handled, particularly by the federation. If the PMO and the office of the Home Minister pledge that our concerns will be handled, then the protests will end. Else, Bajrang claimed that they will continue protesting as wrestlers can no longer be treated as “ghulams” of the Wrestling Federation of India. He further said that they will now talk about the rot in the federation and the “tanashahi” (autocratic functioning and environment) prevalent over many years.

Action taken against the claims made

In response to the events, Swati Maliwal, chairman of the Delhi Commission for Women, issued a notice against Singh, requesting the investigation and details of the case from the Deputy Commissioner of Police and the Secretary of Sports. A panel formed by the DCW has also sought details of Internal Complaints Committee formed by the Wrestling Federation of India. The panel also asked whether these complaints have been forwarded to the ICC and the Local Complaint Committee (LCC) as per Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has been asked for an explanation by the Indian Sports Ministry "within the next 72 hours." Within hours of the protest, the Sports Ministry made it plain in a statement that it "would move to take action against the federation in line of the articles of the National Sports Development Code, 2011" if the WFI does not answer within the next three days.

Previous instances where allegations of Sexual Harassment were made 

There have been 45 reports of sexual harassment in the last ten years, according to data presented by The Indian Express in the year 2020. It was further provided that 29 complaints of these above-mentioned complaints had been made against coaches. As was additionally provided by the newspaper in its investigative report, in numerous instances, the accused have received light sentences, with punishments varying from transfers to a slight wage cut or pension reduction. Investigations involving over a dozen accusations, however, have gone on for years without being resolved. These incidents, however, only form part of an extensive and deeply-rooted system of harassing women sportspersons.

A few instances wherein official complaints had been filed by sportspersons against their harassers, within the sports industry:

  • In June, 2022, an Indian cyclist lodged a grievance with the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The cyclist has accused their coach, R K Sharma, of sexual harassment in Slovenia in May 2022.   The complaint goes into detail about the coach's offensive remarks and sexual advances. The cyclist claimed that the coach "forced" himself into her room, suggested giving her a "post-training massage," offered to have her "sleep with him," and proposed marriage to her because she had no future in sports. A panel to look into the allegations had been established by both the SAI and the Cycling Federation of India (CFI).

  • In July 2021, seven sportspersons accused renowned coach P Nagarajan of sexual harassment. He already had a complaint filed against him and was reportedly abusing athletes for years. He had also threatened the athletes to cease their training.

  • In January 2020, an FIR was registered against a coach for allegedly harassing and molesting a woman cricketer. As had been provided, the victim had approached Gautam Gambhir.

  • A young female athlete claimed that a few senior athletes had sexually harassed her in May 2015. After the incident, the 15-year-old died by suicide, and three other people were hospitalized after ingesting toxic fruits in what appeared to be a suicide pact. The players were undergoing training at the Vembanad Lake, Alappuzha, Kerala, Sports Center of Sports Authority (SAI) water sports facility. An FIR had been filed.

  • During the Asian Games in 2014, a female gymnast accused Coach Manoj Rana and gymnast Chandan Pathak of sexual harassment. Allegedly, the duo made vulgar comments about her attire. It was promised by the Gymnastic Federation of India (GFI) that strict punishment would be handed out to both Pathak and Rana if they were found guilty. However, Jiji Thompson, director general of SAI, cried conspiracy which had resulted from an internal dispute in the GFI. He indicated that the 29-year-old woman was herself at fault for going to police we she was not from India and was practicing at the stadium under the 'Come and Play' scheme.

  • In 2009, a young boxer made the decision to take her own life because she could no longer stand her coach's relentless harassment. The 21-year-old S Amaravathi died by suicide inside the Lal Bahadur Stadium by ingesting poison when she could no longer tolerate the frequent altercations with her coach Omkar Yadav. She was a promising talent and the junior national boxing champion. After she passed away, an investigation was mandated. The hostel staff, however, refuted these accusations and said that she was simply experiencing poor self-esteem.

Sexual Harassment Redressal Mechanisms in place for Sportspersons

According to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, any workplace with more than 10 employees needs an internal complaints committee. The Section 2 (o) (iv) of the said act , which provides the definition of workplace and the institutions that fall under it, states that:

 “Any sport institute, stadium, sports complex or competitions or games venue, whether residential or not used for training, sports or other activities relating thereto.”

Contrary to popular belief, sports facilities are thus considered workplaces for purposes of the law. Despite this, information about the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at various federations is hard to come by; the majority isn't posted on the organizations' official websites or on notice boards in training facilities around the nation.

The Act's operative phrase is "workplace." It also defines the terms "employer" (Section 2(g)) and "employee" (Section 2(f)). A person in charge of the "administration, supervision, and control" of the workplace is known as an employer. A workplace Internal Committee (IC) must be established by the company.

In relation to sports infrastructure, competition and event sites, dormitories, and games villages, to name a few sports workplaces, India's numerous sports federations and other governing bodies are employers. Therefore, in accordance with the law, these businesses are required to set up an IC to look into and ask questions about sexual harassment claims filed by sportsmen and sportspeople.

Athletes who were questioned by Scroll.in in 2018 on the existence of a sexual harassment grievance redressal mechanism stated anonymously that nobody has given this significant consideration, with the exception of a few federations. A few allegations continue to surface on a regular basis, but the most of the time the accused coaches are directly employed by the Sports Authority of India, thus federations have no control over them. However, all National Sport Federations (NSFs) are technically supposed to have a complaints procedure in place.

The National Sports Federations and other sport organizations are responsible for ensuring women's safety, under the National Sports Development Code of India from 2011. They are enjoined to establish policies that forbid sexual harassment, inform every one of these policies, and provide suitable platforms for women to bring up the subject. A complaints process must be established, and it must include provisions for a third party with knowledge of the problem of sexual harassment. The majority of federations are in violation of the law since they have not implemented these processes.

In most cases, young women with diverse family background, not all having access to vocal echelons of society make it to the top, after choosing this as a career over much is invested. The absence of a pro-active and sensitive environment can make them voiceless victims.

Although some of these NSFs have athletes' commissions to handle complaints and grievances, they are not - as required - specifically for sexual harassment and are not led by women. The standard method is to approach the president or secretary and speak with them directly. This indicates that there isn't a formal complaint, which is required by the ICC. This also explains why there are frequently no official complaints.

For women who have tackled this nightmare throughout their professional careers, sexual harassment in the sports industry has been a slow-burning fuse for ten years now. This raises serious concerns about women's safety in sports. As can be deduced from the cases provided above, the Sports Authority of India is not doing a fair job at protecting the women sportsperson in India. Through the cases provided about, it can be seen that the SAI is more inclined to protecting its employees, or burying down the case.

The protest staged by these wrestlers have brought across a major void that exists within the sports industry. The workplace sexual harassment law requires that internal complaints committees should contain at least three employees. As this is the general rule, it becomes even more difficult for the woman to approach the authorities with their complaints and receive an impartial treatment. This also depicts the internal hegemonies that exist within the sports industry and the dominance that a woman needs to fight against while approaching the authorities with complaint against their harassers.

Conclusion

Sports are mostly still exclusively a masculine domain despite the proficiency shown by more and more women. Not only when it comes to consumers or athletes, but also in coaching and administration, where the sex-ratio is greatly skewed. It is pertinent to note that in the case of WFI, there is an ICC in place. The question then arises is, why are these women wrestlers and their supporters not approaching them, and are rather opting to protest on roads? Is the redressal mechanism in place not enough to tackle with this issue in an unbiased and fair method?

It is further crucial to pay attention to the deep and serious allegations that are being made by Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik against the predatory behavior shown by the very people that are supposed to teach and train them. How many before had to, and how many after these two will have to suffer through this culture of dominance and impunity?

The authorities as well as the lawmakers need to go beyond just addressing this case and asking for explanations, and should consider if stricter laws are needed. It would be negligent to claim that sexual harassment does not happen to male athletes, especially minors, even though the bulk of cases involving sexual harassment include woman survivors. But, before we arrive at the issue of introducing gender neutral laws, it is essential that we first appropriately implement the protections are already existing to tackle with the systematic oppression of women, and then aim to bring in laws that protect every one, no matter their gender.

 

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Hindu society at war, natural to be aggressive says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Organiser

Bhagwat’s sudden verbosity on Muslims, LGBTQIA community and Hindu aggression is curious

12 Jan 2023

Muslims, LGBTQIA community
Image Courtesy: thewire.in

RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has rationalised and almost justified the sharp rise in communal sentiment and strife, and the impunity of Hindutva mobs, in an interview to the house journal, Organiser

“Hindu society has been at war for over 1,000 years ― this fight has been going on against foreign aggressions, foreign influence and foreign conspiracies. The Sangh has offered its support to this cause, so have others. There are many who have spoken about it. And it is because of all these that Hindu society has awakened. It is but natural for people at war to be aggressive.” 

Significantly, he also referred to Italy and its 19th century general, Guisseppe Garibaldi, also long-revered by the Sangh for his role in the Italian unification: “Garibaldi led the war, but once fighting stopped, he wanted others to lead. At the end, when they had to choose a monarch, Garibaldi refused the mantle and said it should go to someone else. Of the three leaders who rose to prominence during Italy’s rise, it was Garibaldi who led on the battlefield. However, at the end, he distanced himself, saying, this is not my job.”  The Sangh’s open admiration for Benito Mussolini if Italy and Adolf Hitler of Germany has been minutely documented by scholar ….. in …… In fact BS Moonje, founder of the RSS’ inspired and funded Bhosle Military Academies ater his ten day visit to Italy during the reign of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini an Hitler’s aggressive and exclusionary brand(s) of nationalism is what has inspired Sangh ideologues and cadres, alike.

Over the past week, Bhagwat has spoken often and audibly. The speculation that prime minister, Narendra Modi is now the voice that dominates dominant the sangh parivar, and not the Sarsanghchalak, may have been a factor that pushed Mohan Bhagwat to address this to his supporters, who may be “in awe of” Modi’s personality.  The Caravan from November: ‘Bhagwat eclipsed’. 

On Muslims and India

Seemingly out of the blue, Bhagwat, in the same interview given to both Organiser and Panchjanya controversially also said that while Muslims have nothing to fear in India, but they must abandon their "boisterous rhetoric of supremacy".

In an interview to Organiser and Panchjanya, Mr. Bhagwat said, "The simple truth is this, Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan. There is no harm to the Muslims living today in Bharat... Islam has nothing to fear. But at the same time, Muslims must abandon their boisterous rhetoric of supremacy." 

“We are of an exalted race; we once ruled over this land, and shall rule it again; only our path is right, rest everyone is wrong; we are different, therefore we will continue to be so; we cannot live together; they (Muslims) must abandon this narrative. In fact, all those who live here whether a Hindu or a communist must give up this logic,” the RSS chief said.

Reacting sharply to the remarks, senior advocate, Kapil Sibal said on Twitter, "Bhagwat: 'Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan', Agree. But: Insaan should remain Insaan." Mr. Bhagwat also stated (sic) the new-found aggression among Hindus the world over was due to an awakening in the society that has been at war for over 1,000 years.

On the LGBTQIA communities 

On “LGBT people” Bhagwat said “they had the right to live, without much hullabaloo”, and had “always been accommodated in society”. There was no need for a fuss about them.

Related:

Mohan Bhagwat and Indian Muslims

Hindus, Muslims and the lies of Mohan Bhagwat

Mohan Bhagwat gets another invite to debate reservation

Hindu society at war, natural to be aggressive says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Organiser

Bhagwat’s sudden verbosity on Muslims, LGBTQIA community and Hindu aggression is curious

Muslims, LGBTQIA community
Image Courtesy: thewire.in

RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has rationalised and almost justified the sharp rise in communal sentiment and strife, and the impunity of Hindutva mobs, in an interview to the house journal, Organiser

“Hindu society has been at war for over 1,000 years ― this fight has been going on against foreign aggressions, foreign influence and foreign conspiracies. The Sangh has offered its support to this cause, so have others. There are many who have spoken about it. And it is because of all these that Hindu society has awakened. It is but natural for people at war to be aggressive.” 

Significantly, he also referred to Italy and its 19th century general, Guisseppe Garibaldi, also long-revered by the Sangh for his role in the Italian unification: “Garibaldi led the war, but once fighting stopped, he wanted others to lead. At the end, when they had to choose a monarch, Garibaldi refused the mantle and said it should go to someone else. Of the three leaders who rose to prominence during Italy’s rise, it was Garibaldi who led on the battlefield. However, at the end, he distanced himself, saying, this is not my job.”  The Sangh’s open admiration for Benito Mussolini if Italy and Adolf Hitler of Germany has been minutely documented by scholar ….. in …… In fact BS Moonje, founder of the RSS’ inspired and funded Bhosle Military Academies ater his ten day visit to Italy during the reign of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini an Hitler’s aggressive and exclusionary brand(s) of nationalism is what has inspired Sangh ideologues and cadres, alike.

Over the past week, Bhagwat has spoken often and audibly. The speculation that prime minister, Narendra Modi is now the voice that dominates dominant the sangh parivar, and not the Sarsanghchalak, may have been a factor that pushed Mohan Bhagwat to address this to his supporters, who may be “in awe of” Modi’s personality.  The Caravan from November: ‘Bhagwat eclipsed’. 

On Muslims and India

Seemingly out of the blue, Bhagwat, in the same interview given to both Organiser and Panchjanya controversially also said that while Muslims have nothing to fear in India, but they must abandon their "boisterous rhetoric of supremacy".

In an interview to Organiser and Panchjanya, Mr. Bhagwat said, "The simple truth is this, Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan. There is no harm to the Muslims living today in Bharat... Islam has nothing to fear. But at the same time, Muslims must abandon their boisterous rhetoric of supremacy." 

“We are of an exalted race; we once ruled over this land, and shall rule it again; only our path is right, rest everyone is wrong; we are different, therefore we will continue to be so; we cannot live together; they (Muslims) must abandon this narrative. In fact, all those who live here whether a Hindu or a communist must give up this logic,” the RSS chief said.

Reacting sharply to the remarks, senior advocate, Kapil Sibal said on Twitter, "Bhagwat: 'Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan', Agree. But: Insaan should remain Insaan." Mr. Bhagwat also stated (sic) the new-found aggression among Hindus the world over was due to an awakening in the society that has been at war for over 1,000 years.

On the LGBTQIA communities 

On “LGBT people” Bhagwat said “they had the right to live, without much hullabaloo”, and had “always been accommodated in society”. There was no need for a fuss about them.

Related:

Mohan Bhagwat and Indian Muslims

Hindus, Muslims and the lies of Mohan Bhagwat

Mohan Bhagwat gets another invite to debate reservation

Related Articles


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Indian Courts on Marital Rape, an analysis: fresh petition in SC

As all eyes are on the SC, that issued notice on a latest petition, CJP analyses the current position of courts and parliament on the issue of Marital Rape

11 Jan 2023

Supreme Court
Image Courtesy: newsclick.in

On January 9, the Supreme Court tagged and issued notice on a plea seeking to strike down the provision providing blanket immunity to such husbands who commit the crime of rape on their wives. As per the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, a husband stands immune of criminal charges for non-consensual sex with wife (above the age of 15 years) in a marital relationship.

Section 375 of the IPC sets out the ingredients of the crime of rape, along with the all the penetrative, non-penetrative and non-consensual acts that fall under the ambit of rape. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, or in circumstances under which her consent is vitiated. The said exception to the provision states that forced sexual intercourse committed by a man with his wife is not rape unless the wife is below 15 years of age.*

A notice was sent to the Centre and the plea was listed with other outstanding petitions by the Supreme Court bench that was presided over by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha. Ruth Manorama, a Dalit, anti-caste, and women's rights activist, had filed this present petition through Advocate-on-Record Ruchira Goel. Ruth Manorama, the petitioner, received the Right Livelihood Award for her work in 2006. Manorama asserted that she had dedicated her life to promoting women's equality and the rights of people from socially and economically disadvantaged groups.

The petitioner stated that she was driven by her conscience to petition the Supreme Court since the current legal system disadvantages and excludes women across the nation who are raped by their spouses forcibly, leaving them without any legal recourse to legal action or protection under anti-rape laws. In her petition, the petitioner had said that the marital rape exception, which does not recognize a husband raping a wife as "rape," legitimizes and protects a man's marital right to his wife's body. This legally backed dominance has an impact on women who endure daily physical, mental, and emotional anguish as a result of the impunity of rape laws. The exemption still exists in the statute books notwithstanding the development of the law and the constitutional acknowledgement of the equality of men and women, even in marriage. 

Although society recognizes rape as an atrocious and brutal act, the vast majority of jurisdictions in the India deny an entire class of women- married women- the protection of criminal rape laws. The common law rule that a husband cannot rape his wife has been codified in statutory provisions which, in effect, exempt a class of perpetrators- married men- from prosecution for rape. It is also pertinent to note, that this blanket immunity deems consent, or lack thereof, as a moot point. 

A delayed yet welcome move by the Supreme Court

The above-mentioned move of the Supreme Court came after months of waiting. On September 9, 2022, the Supreme Court had adjourned a batch of petitions arising out of the Delhi High Court's split verdict on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape on September 16. Two petitions arising out of theDelhi high court's split verdict had come up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and BV Nagarathna. During the hearing, the Bench said that it would tag all similar matters together.

These petitions are being filed in the Supreme Court following the Delhi High Court's divided decision from May 11. The Court reached a decision, with one judge advocating the reading down of the legal exemption protecting spouses from prosecution for forced marital sex on their wives, while the other judge refused to declare it unconstitutional. However, given that the case includes important legal issues that the Supreme Court must decide, both judges had concurred in giving the certificate of permission to appeal to the apex Court.

According to Justice Rajiv Shakdher, one of the judges who gave the Delhi High Court judgement, it is unconstitutional to shield the husband from prosecution for the crime of marital rape. He ruled that the exception 2 of the IPCs 375 and 376B was invalid since it violated Article 14. Justice C. Hari Shankar, however, declared that he disagrees with Justice Shakdher. According to Justice Harisankar, Section 375's Exception 2 is not unconstitutional and is founded on an understandable difference. The issue raised by the current appeal for review in the Supreme Court is whether section 375(2)'s exclusion for marital rape from the crime of rape is unconstitutional and in violation of articles 14, 15, and 21.

The inconsistencies in judgments delivered by High Court in Marital Rape

It has become increasing essential for the Supreme Court to conduct the hearing over the issue of Marital Rape, and deliver a judgment criminalising the same, as an inconsistency can be found in judgments delivered by various High Courts of India. As even the Delhi Court delivered a split judgment on the issue of marital rape, there is still no guiding principle for the High Courts and the lower courts to follow. Thus, while one progressive judge holds the crime of marital rape to fall under the ambit of rape, the same opinion may not be upheld by some other court or another judge of the same court.

In August 2021, the Kerala High Court, in a landmark judgement, held marital rape to be a form of cruelty and a valid ground for divorce. The Division bench of Justices A Muhamed Mushtaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath held that a husband's licentious disposition disregarding the autonomy of the wife is a marital rape, albeit such conduct cannot be penalised, it falls in the frame of physical and mental cruelty, under the Hindu personal law. The court had further said that any disrespect or violation of bodily integrity is a violation of individual autonomy and in matrimony, a spouse possesses such privacy as an invaluable right inherent in him or her as an individual. The court also held that marital privacy is intimately and intrinsically connected to individual autonomy and any intrusion into such space would diminish privacy which would essentially constitute cruelty.

In contrast to this, in May 2021, the Allahabad High Court, while granting anticipatory bail to a lawyer accused of rape, observed that the allegation of rape against the applicant becomes false once marriage is admitted, observed the Allahabad High Court. Justice Siddharth was hearing an anticipatory bail of the accused, noting that the survivor “clearly got involved in a sexual relationship with him” and that she also admitted that he had married her later in Pashupati Nath temple, Nepal. The judge then held that the allegation of marriage is admitted, the allegation of rape against the applicant becomes false once marriage is admitted. In case dispute arose between the parties after marriage it cannot be covered by allegation of rape. 

The Karnataka High Court, in its judgment dated March 23, 2022, rejected the petition of a husband which sought to drop the rape charges, pressed against him by his wife. The Court said, “The exception now is of sexual intercourse and other sexual acts by the husband stand exempted. Therefore, a woman being a woman is given certain status; a woman being a wife is given a different status. Likewise, a man being a man is punished for his acts; a man being a husband is exempted for his acts. It is this inequality that destroys the soul of the Constitution which is Right to Equality. The Constitution recognizes and grants such equal status to woman as well.”

Supreme Court’s stand on inclusion of Marital Rape under Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and Rules

In its judgment on women's access to abortion, in the case of X vs Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Govt of NCT of Delhi, the Supreme Court's bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud ruled that "marital rape" must be included in the definition of rape for the purposes of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and Rules. According to the Court, wives who became pregnant as a result of their husbands forcing them into sexual activity will also fall under the definition of "survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest" as stated in Rule 3B(a) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules. In order to provide context, Rule 3B(a) lists the types of women who may request pregnancy termination between 20 and 24 weeks.

However, the bench clarified that including marital rape within the meaning of rape was solely to be interpreted for the purpose of the MTP Act ie related to the rights access to abortion.

The Parliament’s stand

On October 11, 2017, the Supreme Court pronounced a judgement that any intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife below the age of 18 years will be considered as rape. The verdict came in on the case of Independent Thought vs Union of India, wherein a plea was filed challenging the exception to the rape law that permits intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, even as the age of consent was 18 years. 

In the said case, the bench of tur apex court, comprising of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had held that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – which exempts marital rape of girls between the age of 15 and 18 from the purview of rape – is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

The conflict between the child marital rape exception and POCSO had a significant outcome of the case, as under POCSO, any sexual act with a child under the age of 18 years is a criminal offence. This became grounds for the court to not only hold that there was an arbitrary distinction in the way married minor girls were being treated, but also that the IPC provision would be overridden as regards minor girls, as required by S.42A of POCSO.

It is pertinent to note that, even though the last amendment to the IPC was passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in July and August 2018 respectively, the Exception 2 to the Section 375 has not yet been amended. In other words, the Exception 2 to Section 375 is still worded as “sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape, unless the wife is below 15 years of age” instead of 18 years. The reason behind this selective amendment is not clear. There has been no mention of the said misstep by the court too. While the landmark judgment of the SC still stands, it is worth questioning why the Parliament has overlooked the inclusion of said amendment to the Indian Penal Code, one of the main criminal legislations of our country.

Even during the hearing of case in the Delhi High Court seeking criminalisation of marital rape, a non-committal approach of the Union government was visible. The Centre repeatedly requested the Court to defer the hearing saying that it is undertaking a consultative process to review the IPC provisions. However, the High Court refused to accept the request saying "there is no terminal date when the consultation process will get over" and proceeded to reserve judgment after hearing the parties. 

Thus, the question that arises is, how far will these efforts of the courts go when Indian Parliament has not even implemented the judgments and decisions given in the past? How long will this fight for bodily autonomy go before dignity of married women is legally guaranteed?

Now notice to the Centre has been issued. One of the main arguments forwarded by the Centre while opposing the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the above-mentioned exception, was that if marital rape were to be a criminal offence, it would destabilise the institution of marriage and become a fresh tool to harass married men. The principal concern seems to be that abolition of the husband's immunity would lead to serious abuses of the law (e.g., false rape charges), while the issue of women who were suffering has not been paid much heed to. How differently will the Centre respond to the notice of the Supreme Court this time? Will there actually be any real, substantive change?

Conclusion:

The battle against this discriminatory provision has been an ongoing on and arduous one. The Indian Penal Code was framed during colonial rule and no substantive re-appraisal of offences, crimes and approach has really been undertaken post Independence. Amendments have been piecemeal. 

In the instant case, while all other men who commit crimes against women are punished, an exception for the husband is made out in Section 375. This exception and its implication, which treats a woman as a submissive and non-autonomous of  her husband begs re-interpretation guvrb the structural inequality even within the institution of marriage. Time then is for a consistent approach that frames and upholds the crime of marital rape. 

Several nations have criminalised the offence, defining it as marital or spousal rape. It is high time that India follows their footsteps, given its high aspirational position in the League of Nations, internationally.

Related:

Still no move on marital rape by the Centre
Karnataka HC refuses to drop rape charges against husband
Marital rape can be grounds for divorce: Kerala HC
Why Indian courts tip toe around issue of marital rape
SC stirs the hornet's nest on rape by intimate partner
Marital Rape: Supreme Court to hear batch of petitions on September 16

 

Indian Courts on Marital Rape, an analysis: fresh petition in SC

As all eyes are on the SC, that issued notice on a latest petition, CJP analyses the current position of courts and parliament on the issue of Marital Rape

Supreme Court
Image Courtesy: newsclick.in

On January 9, the Supreme Court tagged and issued notice on a plea seeking to strike down the provision providing blanket immunity to such husbands who commit the crime of rape on their wives. As per the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, a husband stands immune of criminal charges for non-consensual sex with wife (above the age of 15 years) in a marital relationship.

Section 375 of the IPC sets out the ingredients of the crime of rape, along with the all the penetrative, non-penetrative and non-consensual acts that fall under the ambit of rape. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, or in circumstances under which her consent is vitiated. The said exception to the provision states that forced sexual intercourse committed by a man with his wife is not rape unless the wife is below 15 years of age.*

A notice was sent to the Centre and the plea was listed with other outstanding petitions by the Supreme Court bench that was presided over by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha. Ruth Manorama, a Dalit, anti-caste, and women's rights activist, had filed this present petition through Advocate-on-Record Ruchira Goel. Ruth Manorama, the petitioner, received the Right Livelihood Award for her work in 2006. Manorama asserted that she had dedicated her life to promoting women's equality and the rights of people from socially and economically disadvantaged groups.

The petitioner stated that she was driven by her conscience to petition the Supreme Court since the current legal system disadvantages and excludes women across the nation who are raped by their spouses forcibly, leaving them without any legal recourse to legal action or protection under anti-rape laws. In her petition, the petitioner had said that the marital rape exception, which does not recognize a husband raping a wife as "rape," legitimizes and protects a man's marital right to his wife's body. This legally backed dominance has an impact on women who endure daily physical, mental, and emotional anguish as a result of the impunity of rape laws. The exemption still exists in the statute books notwithstanding the development of the law and the constitutional acknowledgement of the equality of men and women, even in marriage. 

Although society recognizes rape as an atrocious and brutal act, the vast majority of jurisdictions in the India deny an entire class of women- married women- the protection of criminal rape laws. The common law rule that a husband cannot rape his wife has been codified in statutory provisions which, in effect, exempt a class of perpetrators- married men- from prosecution for rape. It is also pertinent to note, that this blanket immunity deems consent, or lack thereof, as a moot point. 

A delayed yet welcome move by the Supreme Court

The above-mentioned move of the Supreme Court came after months of waiting. On September 9, 2022, the Supreme Court had adjourned a batch of petitions arising out of the Delhi High Court's split verdict on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape on September 16. Two petitions arising out of theDelhi high court's split verdict had come up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and BV Nagarathna. During the hearing, the Bench said that it would tag all similar matters together.

These petitions are being filed in the Supreme Court following the Delhi High Court's divided decision from May 11. The Court reached a decision, with one judge advocating the reading down of the legal exemption protecting spouses from prosecution for forced marital sex on their wives, while the other judge refused to declare it unconstitutional. However, given that the case includes important legal issues that the Supreme Court must decide, both judges had concurred in giving the certificate of permission to appeal to the apex Court.

According to Justice Rajiv Shakdher, one of the judges who gave the Delhi High Court judgement, it is unconstitutional to shield the husband from prosecution for the crime of marital rape. He ruled that the exception 2 of the IPCs 375 and 376B was invalid since it violated Article 14. Justice C. Hari Shankar, however, declared that he disagrees with Justice Shakdher. According to Justice Harisankar, Section 375's Exception 2 is not unconstitutional and is founded on an understandable difference. The issue raised by the current appeal for review in the Supreme Court is whether section 375(2)'s exclusion for marital rape from the crime of rape is unconstitutional and in violation of articles 14, 15, and 21.

The inconsistencies in judgments delivered by High Court in Marital Rape

It has become increasing essential for the Supreme Court to conduct the hearing over the issue of Marital Rape, and deliver a judgment criminalising the same, as an inconsistency can be found in judgments delivered by various High Courts of India. As even the Delhi Court delivered a split judgment on the issue of marital rape, there is still no guiding principle for the High Courts and the lower courts to follow. Thus, while one progressive judge holds the crime of marital rape to fall under the ambit of rape, the same opinion may not be upheld by some other court or another judge of the same court.

In August 2021, the Kerala High Court, in a landmark judgement, held marital rape to be a form of cruelty and a valid ground for divorce. The Division bench of Justices A Muhamed Mushtaque and Dr Kauser Edappagath held that a husband's licentious disposition disregarding the autonomy of the wife is a marital rape, albeit such conduct cannot be penalised, it falls in the frame of physical and mental cruelty, under the Hindu personal law. The court had further said that any disrespect or violation of bodily integrity is a violation of individual autonomy and in matrimony, a spouse possesses such privacy as an invaluable right inherent in him or her as an individual. The court also held that marital privacy is intimately and intrinsically connected to individual autonomy and any intrusion into such space would diminish privacy which would essentially constitute cruelty.

In contrast to this, in May 2021, the Allahabad High Court, while granting anticipatory bail to a lawyer accused of rape, observed that the allegation of rape against the applicant becomes false once marriage is admitted, observed the Allahabad High Court. Justice Siddharth was hearing an anticipatory bail of the accused, noting that the survivor “clearly got involved in a sexual relationship with him” and that she also admitted that he had married her later in Pashupati Nath temple, Nepal. The judge then held that the allegation of marriage is admitted, the allegation of rape against the applicant becomes false once marriage is admitted. In case dispute arose between the parties after marriage it cannot be covered by allegation of rape. 

The Karnataka High Court, in its judgment dated March 23, 2022, rejected the petition of a husband which sought to drop the rape charges, pressed against him by his wife. The Court said, “The exception now is of sexual intercourse and other sexual acts by the husband stand exempted. Therefore, a woman being a woman is given certain status; a woman being a wife is given a different status. Likewise, a man being a man is punished for his acts; a man being a husband is exempted for his acts. It is this inequality that destroys the soul of the Constitution which is Right to Equality. The Constitution recognizes and grants such equal status to woman as well.”

Supreme Court’s stand on inclusion of Marital Rape under Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and Rules

In its judgment on women's access to abortion, in the case of X vs Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Govt of NCT of Delhi, the Supreme Court's bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud ruled that "marital rape" must be included in the definition of rape for the purposes of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and Rules. According to the Court, wives who became pregnant as a result of their husbands forcing them into sexual activity will also fall under the definition of "survivors of sexual assault or rape or incest" as stated in Rule 3B(a) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules. In order to provide context, Rule 3B(a) lists the types of women who may request pregnancy termination between 20 and 24 weeks.

However, the bench clarified that including marital rape within the meaning of rape was solely to be interpreted for the purpose of the MTP Act ie related to the rights access to abortion.

The Parliament’s stand

On October 11, 2017, the Supreme Court pronounced a judgement that any intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife below the age of 18 years will be considered as rape. The verdict came in on the case of Independent Thought vs Union of India, wherein a plea was filed challenging the exception to the rape law that permits intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, even as the age of consent was 18 years. 

In the said case, the bench of tur apex court, comprising of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had held that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – which exempts marital rape of girls between the age of 15 and 18 from the purview of rape – is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

The conflict between the child marital rape exception and POCSO had a significant outcome of the case, as under POCSO, any sexual act with a child under the age of 18 years is a criminal offence. This became grounds for the court to not only hold that there was an arbitrary distinction in the way married minor girls were being treated, but also that the IPC provision would be overridden as regards minor girls, as required by S.42A of POCSO.

It is pertinent to note that, even though the last amendment to the IPC was passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in July and August 2018 respectively, the Exception 2 to the Section 375 has not yet been amended. In other words, the Exception 2 to Section 375 is still worded as “sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape, unless the wife is below 15 years of age” instead of 18 years. The reason behind this selective amendment is not clear. There has been no mention of the said misstep by the court too. While the landmark judgment of the SC still stands, it is worth questioning why the Parliament has overlooked the inclusion of said amendment to the Indian Penal Code, one of the main criminal legislations of our country.

Even during the hearing of case in the Delhi High Court seeking criminalisation of marital rape, a non-committal approach of the Union government was visible. The Centre repeatedly requested the Court to defer the hearing saying that it is undertaking a consultative process to review the IPC provisions. However, the High Court refused to accept the request saying "there is no terminal date when the consultation process will get over" and proceeded to reserve judgment after hearing the parties. 

Thus, the question that arises is, how far will these efforts of the courts go when Indian Parliament has not even implemented the judgments and decisions given in the past? How long will this fight for bodily autonomy go before dignity of married women is legally guaranteed?

Now notice to the Centre has been issued. One of the main arguments forwarded by the Centre while opposing the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the above-mentioned exception, was that if marital rape were to be a criminal offence, it would destabilise the institution of marriage and become a fresh tool to harass married men. The principal concern seems to be that abolition of the husband's immunity would lead to serious abuses of the law (e.g., false rape charges), while the issue of women who were suffering has not been paid much heed to. How differently will the Centre respond to the notice of the Supreme Court this time? Will there actually be any real, substantive change?

Conclusion:

The battle against this discriminatory provision has been an ongoing on and arduous one. The Indian Penal Code was framed during colonial rule and no substantive re-appraisal of offences, crimes and approach has really been undertaken post Independence. Amendments have been piecemeal. 

In the instant case, while all other men who commit crimes against women are punished, an exception for the husband is made out in Section 375. This exception and its implication, which treats a woman as a submissive and non-autonomous of  her husband begs re-interpretation guvrb the structural inequality even within the institution of marriage. Time then is for a consistent approach that frames and upholds the crime of marital rape. 

Several nations have criminalised the offence, defining it as marital or spousal rape. It is high time that India follows their footsteps, given its high aspirational position in the League of Nations, internationally.

Related:

Still no move on marital rape by the Centre
Karnataka HC refuses to drop rape charges against husband
Marital rape can be grounds for divorce: Kerala HC
Why Indian courts tip toe around issue of marital rape
SC stirs the hornet's nest on rape by intimate partner
Marital Rape: Supreme Court to hear batch of petitions on September 16

 

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Karnataka BJP accused of protecting rape accused, Dalit group warns of protest

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

05 Jan 2023

rape accused

Bengaluru: The ruling BJP government in Karnataka has been accused of protecting the accused in a rape case of a Dalit woman in Mysuru, with a group representing the community warning of staging a protest.

On Wednesday, the victim, an engineering graduate, filed a complaint in Mysuru city’s Vijayanagar police station against the accused K.S. Manjunath aka Santro Ravi, her husband who is alleged to have close ties with the state’s BJP leadership.

The incident had taken place in 2019.

The victim claimed that she had gone to Manjunath’s residence seeking a job as it was advertised in a newspaper on March 2, 2019.

The accused offered her a job and when she reported for duty, he gave her juice laced with drugs.

She alleged in the complaint that he raped her in a state of unconscious, took her photos and had also blackmailed her.

Later, Manjunath gave her life threat and got married to her forcefully.

Even after their marriage, he continued to harass and assault her, the victim told the police.

As the incident has come to light, Alagoodu Shivakumar, District Convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samithi, has warned that if the ruling BJP government does not initiate an action against the accused, they would stage a state-wide protest.

“The action should be taken against accused Santro Ravi. He has political connections, the government should take the case seriously,” he warned.

Meanwhile, JD (S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy accused Majunath of having connections with all Ministers.

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

In the conversation, he asks the cop to address him as ‘sir’ and mainted that the Chief Minister also addresses him as ‘sir’.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

Karnataka BJP accused of protecting rape accused, Dalit group warns of protest

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

rape accused

Bengaluru: The ruling BJP government in Karnataka has been accused of protecting the accused in a rape case of a Dalit woman in Mysuru, with a group representing the community warning of staging a protest.

On Wednesday, the victim, an engineering graduate, filed a complaint in Mysuru city’s Vijayanagar police station against the accused K.S. Manjunath aka Santro Ravi, her husband who is alleged to have close ties with the state’s BJP leadership.

The incident had taken place in 2019.

The victim claimed that she had gone to Manjunath’s residence seeking a job as it was advertised in a newspaper on March 2, 2019.

The accused offered her a job and when she reported for duty, he gave her juice laced with drugs.

She alleged in the complaint that he raped her in a state of unconscious, took her photos and had also blackmailed her.

Later, Manjunath gave her life threat and got married to her forcefully.

Even after their marriage, he continued to harass and assault her, the victim told the police.

As the incident has come to light, Alagoodu Shivakumar, District Convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samithi, has warned that if the ruling BJP government does not initiate an action against the accused, they would stage a state-wide protest.

“The action should be taken against accused Santro Ravi. He has political connections, the government should take the case seriously,” he warned.

Meanwhile, JD (S) leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy accused Majunath of having connections with all Ministers.

An audio clip of the accused talking disrespectfully to a senior police officer has also gone viral.

In the conversation, he asks the cop to address him as ‘sir’ and mainted that the Chief Minister also addresses him as ‘sir’.

Courtesy: The Daily Siasat

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Savitri rally to be held in Thane on January 3 for the first time 

The rally, organised by the Mali community, will start from Thane market go via Shivaji market and will end at Court Naka in front of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Thane 

02 Jan 2023

Savitri

The Mali community of Thane, will, for the first time organise a 'Savitri Rally' in Thane city on Tuesday, January 3 reported The Free Press Journal. The rally will start at 10 am in front of the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Thane railway station. The statue is located at Thane market via Shivaji market and will end at Court Naka in front of Babasaheb Ambedkar statue in Thane.

Speaking about the rally the Mali Samaj Sangh president Navneet Sinalkar said, " The main idea behind the 'Savitri Rally' is that the ideas of Savitribai Phule who was the pioneer of women's education will be promoted and disseminated through this rally. 

"More than 2000 people from Mali Samaj will be a part of the rally."

For years now, Dalit communities and several women’s organisations, January 3 is a crucial day that has been celebrated as Education for All Day, Savitribai Phule, along with Jyotiba pioneered education for girls of all castes, classes and communities in the state. In 1848, the school at Bhidewada, Pune saw a historic first: girls from various caste groups sittinh together to learn. When the couple were ostracised for their radical and transformative actions, Usman Shaikh a Pune based businessman gave them shelter. Fatima Shaikh was a fellow teacher with Savitribai Phule in the school.

Related:

Love-Letters like no other

Savitribai Phule: The Mother Of Modern Education

Savitri rally to be held in Thane on January 3 for the first time 

The rally, organised by the Mali community, will start from Thane market go via Shivaji market and will end at Court Naka in front of Babasaheb Ambedkar in Thane 

Savitri

The Mali community of Thane, will, for the first time organise a 'Savitri Rally' in Thane city on Tuesday, January 3 reported The Free Press Journal. The rally will start at 10 am in front of the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Thane railway station. The statue is located at Thane market via Shivaji market and will end at Court Naka in front of Babasaheb Ambedkar statue in Thane.

Speaking about the rally the Mali Samaj Sangh president Navneet Sinalkar said, " The main idea behind the 'Savitri Rally' is that the ideas of Savitribai Phule who was the pioneer of women's education will be promoted and disseminated through this rally. 

"More than 2000 people from Mali Samaj will be a part of the rally."

For years now, Dalit communities and several women’s organisations, January 3 is a crucial day that has been celebrated as Education for All Day, Savitribai Phule, along with Jyotiba pioneered education for girls of all castes, classes and communities in the state. In 1848, the school at Bhidewada, Pune saw a historic first: girls from various caste groups sittinh together to learn. When the couple were ostracised for their radical and transformative actions, Usman Shaikh a Pune based businessman gave them shelter. Fatima Shaikh was a fellow teacher with Savitribai Phule in the school.

Related:

Love-Letters like no other

Savitribai Phule: The Mother Of Modern Education

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Kabul University Prof Protests Taliban ban on Women’s Education, Tears Up Diplomas on TV

A viral clip shows the professor saying that if his mother and sister can’t study, he doesn’t accept the education system.

29 Dec 2022

taliban

Representational use only.Image Courtesy:Flickr

Protesting the Taliban’s hard-line strictures against women’s education, a Kabul University professor tore up his diplomas on live TV saying that he doesn’t “accept this education” if his “mother and sister can’t study”.

After seizing power last August, the Taliban have brutally clamped down on women in several ways, including a ban on returning to secondary schools in March and university education this month.

In a viral clip from the TV show, the professor shows his diplomas and then tears them one by one.

“From today, I don’t need these diplomas anymore because this country is no place for an education. If my sister & my mother can’t study, then I DON’T accept this education,” he says in the video, tweeted by Shabnam Nasimi, former policy adviser to the minister for Afghan resettlement and minister for refugees.

“Astonishing scenes as a Kabul university professor destroys his diplomas on live TV in Afghanistan,” Nasimi tweeted along with the video. 

 

 

Last week, minister for higher education Neda Mohammad Nadeem issued a letter to all government and private universities banning university education for Afghan women. “You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice,” Nadeem wrote.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) had termed the ban a “shameful decision that violates the right to education for women and girls in Afghanistan”.

“The Taliban are making it clear every day that they don’t respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women,” HRW said in a statement.

The US state department condemned the Taliban’s “indefensible decision to ban women from universities” as well.

After the Taliban takeover, women have been barred from working in most sectors, require a male guardian for long-distance travel and have to cover their faces in public.

Courtesy: Newsclick

Kabul University Prof Protests Taliban ban on Women’s Education, Tears Up Diplomas on TV

A viral clip shows the professor saying that if his mother and sister can’t study, he doesn’t accept the education system.

taliban

Representational use only.Image Courtesy:Flickr

Protesting the Taliban’s hard-line strictures against women’s education, a Kabul University professor tore up his diplomas on live TV saying that he doesn’t “accept this education” if his “mother and sister can’t study”.

After seizing power last August, the Taliban have brutally clamped down on women in several ways, including a ban on returning to secondary schools in March and university education this month.

In a viral clip from the TV show, the professor shows his diplomas and then tears them one by one.

“From today, I don’t need these diplomas anymore because this country is no place for an education. If my sister & my mother can’t study, then I DON’T accept this education,” he says in the video, tweeted by Shabnam Nasimi, former policy adviser to the minister for Afghan resettlement and minister for refugees.

“Astonishing scenes as a Kabul university professor destroys his diplomas on live TV in Afghanistan,” Nasimi tweeted along with the video. 

 

 

Last week, minister for higher education Neda Mohammad Nadeem issued a letter to all government and private universities banning university education for Afghan women. “You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice,” Nadeem wrote.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) had termed the ban a “shameful decision that violates the right to education for women and girls in Afghanistan”.

“The Taliban are making it clear every day that they don’t respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women,” HRW said in a statement.

The US state department condemned the Taliban’s “indefensible decision to ban women from universities” as well.

After the Taliban takeover, women have been barred from working in most sectors, require a male guardian for long-distance travel and have to cover their faces in public.

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai Padmashali

She wrote a letter to MP Sushil Modi after he opposed same sex marriages in his Parliament speech

28 Dec 2022

Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai PadmashaliImage: Facebook

Transgender and Sexual minorities Rights Activist, Akkai Padmashali wrote to MP Sushil Kumar Modi seeking an apology to the LGTBTQIA community for the hurt caused by his speech in the Parliament during the winter session.

Modi, who is from BJP and a member of Rajya Sabha said on December 19 in his speech that he opposes legalisation of same sex marriage and that activists want to impose western laws in the country. He urged the government to strongly oppose any attempt to legalise such marriages.

Padmashali thus wrote to him stating that she was born a male and later transitioned into a woman, “this denial of marriage to those of us who are not biologically women is a denial of the very principle of equality and the right to lead dignified lives,” she wrote.

She also emphasised that there are other who fall under the rainbow spectrum of gender and not giving them the right to marry violates constitutional mandate of equality, dignity and inclusiveness.

She also pointed out that the rich cultural traditions of India have always made space for different kinds of love and different kinds of marriage. Further addressing his comment that same sex marriage would create havoc in personal laws, she said that recognising same sex marriages would be under the Special Marriage Act thus personal laws will remain untouched.

She also recalled Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words that “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment; it has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic”.

She also pointed out that he was wrong to assume that this was an attempt by left/liberal people. She wrote, “I would like to remind you that I am a part of the transgender community which is very much part of Indian culture and tradition. I am fighting for the right to marry for all. Thereby I am fighting for the right to equality and dignity for all persons. Some of us may be left, other liberal and yet others part of the hijra, transgender and sexual minority communities. There is a rainbow spectrum of support for the right to marry for all persons.”

“Our support for marriage for all is deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this land and our interest in the right to marry cannot be dismissed as an elite concern,” she added.

In November, the Supreme Court bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli issued notice to the Centre seeking response on a plea filed by two couples for making Special Marriage Act gender neutral. The bench has also sought assistance from Attorney General R Venkataramani in this matter.

The letter by Akkai Padmashali may be read here:

 

Related:

What CJI Chandrachud’s two-year tenure looks like

SC Collegium recommends elevation of first openly gay judge to Delhi HC

Purge incorrect, derogatory references to LGBTQIA+ persons: National Medical Commission

 

Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai Padmashali

She wrote a letter to MP Sushil Modi after he opposed same sex marriages in his Parliament speech

Same sex marriage is not an elitist concern: Akkai PadmashaliImage: Facebook

Transgender and Sexual minorities Rights Activist, Akkai Padmashali wrote to MP Sushil Kumar Modi seeking an apology to the LGTBTQIA community for the hurt caused by his speech in the Parliament during the winter session.

Modi, who is from BJP and a member of Rajya Sabha said on December 19 in his speech that he opposes legalisation of same sex marriage and that activists want to impose western laws in the country. He urged the government to strongly oppose any attempt to legalise such marriages.

Padmashali thus wrote to him stating that she was born a male and later transitioned into a woman, “this denial of marriage to those of us who are not biologically women is a denial of the very principle of equality and the right to lead dignified lives,” she wrote.

She also emphasised that there are other who fall under the rainbow spectrum of gender and not giving them the right to marry violates constitutional mandate of equality, dignity and inclusiveness.

She also pointed out that the rich cultural traditions of India have always made space for different kinds of love and different kinds of marriage. Further addressing his comment that same sex marriage would create havoc in personal laws, she said that recognising same sex marriages would be under the Special Marriage Act thus personal laws will remain untouched.

She also recalled Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s words that “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment; it has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic”.

She also pointed out that he was wrong to assume that this was an attempt by left/liberal people. She wrote, “I would like to remind you that I am a part of the transgender community which is very much part of Indian culture and tradition. I am fighting for the right to marry for all. Thereby I am fighting for the right to equality and dignity for all persons. Some of us may be left, other liberal and yet others part of the hijra, transgender and sexual minority communities. There is a rainbow spectrum of support for the right to marry for all persons.”

“Our support for marriage for all is deeply rooted in the history and tradition of this land and our interest in the right to marry cannot be dismissed as an elite concern,” she added.

In November, the Supreme Court bench of CJI DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli issued notice to the Centre seeking response on a plea filed by two couples for making Special Marriage Act gender neutral. The bench has also sought assistance from Attorney General R Venkataramani in this matter.

The letter by Akkai Padmashali may be read here:

 

Related:

What CJI Chandrachud’s two-year tenure looks like

SC Collegium recommends elevation of first openly gay judge to Delhi HC

Purge incorrect, derogatory references to LGBTQIA+ persons: National Medical Commission

 

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