Skip to main content
Sabrang

Rule of Law

Sabrang

Who killed the Hyderabad rape accused?

This is not the first time that guns and the bullet have been used to get at those labelled criminals. For Sajjanar, handling the high profile rape case of Hyderabad veterinary doctor, of the three ‘encounters’ of non-Maoists in Telangana in 10 years, two were led by the same cop

06 Dec 2019
hyderabad cop
Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar 


The police officer from the Hyderabad police, was SP Warrangal ( Sajjanar), when three persons accused of throwing acid on two girls were shot dead in an encounter on December 12, 2008. Now at about 3 a.m. on December 6, 2019, media reports tell us that the ‘encounter of four accused’ in the rape and murder of the 27 year old veterinarian doctor in Hyderabad that had generated nationwide outrage is the third in 10 years in Telangana not involving Maoists by the same officer. The accused were reportedly taken to Chattapally, 30 km from Hyderabad, post-midnight in an attempt to recreate the crime scene when they allegedly tried to escape after attacking the police. Officials have been on record with sections of the media stating that the police fired at them in self-defence and killed all four on the spot.


2008 ‘encounter’ in acid attack case 

The first encounter dates back to December 12, 2008, when the Warangal police shot down, in cold blood, three persons allegedly accused of throwing acid on two girls. It was none other than present day Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar, who is handling the Hyderabad rape case, led the 2008 action as the SP of Warangal.

At that time 11 years ago too, the police had claimed that those ‘accused’ in the acid attack case were shot dead in self-defence as they had tried to attack the police and escape. According to the police, the trio was taken to a place near Muvunur where they had hidden the motorcycle used during the incident. But as soon as they neared the vehicle, the accused whipped out a revolver and knives hidden in the motorcycle and tried to attack the police.

Police had claimed that the men had asked the escort to stop to answer nature’s call and while reboarding the bus, tried to snatch weapons from the police. All five of them were killed in self-defence, police had said. The encounter took place a week after two SIMI activists shot dead four policemen while trying to escape a check post in Nalgonda district. Civil rights activists have however repeatedly claimed it was a staged encounter and that the five men were killed to avenge the death of the policemen.

Who killed the Hyderabad rape accused?

This is not the first time that guns and the bullet have been used to get at those labelled criminals. For Sajjanar, handling the high profile rape case of Hyderabad veterinary doctor, of the three ‘encounters’ of non-Maoists in Telangana in 10 years, two were led by the same cop

hyderabad cop
Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar 


The police officer from the Hyderabad police, was SP Warrangal ( Sajjanar), when three persons accused of throwing acid on two girls were shot dead in an encounter on December 12, 2008. Now at about 3 a.m. on December 6, 2019, media reports tell us that the ‘encounter of four accused’ in the rape and murder of the 27 year old veterinarian doctor in Hyderabad that had generated nationwide outrage is the third in 10 years in Telangana not involving Maoists by the same officer. The accused were reportedly taken to Chattapally, 30 km from Hyderabad, post-midnight in an attempt to recreate the crime scene when they allegedly tried to escape after attacking the police. Officials have been on record with sections of the media stating that the police fired at them in self-defence and killed all four on the spot.


2008 ‘encounter’ in acid attack case 

The first encounter dates back to December 12, 2008, when the Warangal police shot down, in cold blood, three persons allegedly accused of throwing acid on two girls. It was none other than present day Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar, who is handling the Hyderabad rape case, led the 2008 action as the SP of Warangal.

At that time 11 years ago too, the police had claimed that those ‘accused’ in the acid attack case were shot dead in self-defence as they had tried to attack the police and escape. According to the police, the trio was taken to a place near Muvunur where they had hidden the motorcycle used during the incident. But as soon as they neared the vehicle, the accused whipped out a revolver and knives hidden in the motorcycle and tried to attack the police.

Police had claimed that the men had asked the escort to stop to answer nature’s call and while reboarding the bus, tried to snatch weapons from the police. All five of them were killed in self-defence, police had said. The encounter took place a week after two SIMI activists shot dead four policemen while trying to escape a check post in Nalgonda district. Civil rights activists have however repeatedly claimed it was a staged encounter and that the five men were killed to avenge the death of the policemen.

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

All four accused in Hyderabad vet rape & shot dead

06 Dec 2019

Hyderabad Police Encounter

Hyderabad/New Delhi: The extra judicial killing took place at 3 am on Friday, close to where the accused had allegedly burnt the woman's body. The Cyberabad police has given this information to the media and world. According to police officials, the accused were taken to the crime scene to recreate the incident of the crime, when they reportedly tried to escape. 

 DCP Shamshabad Prakash Reddy said, “Cyberabad Police had brought the accused people to the crime spot for re-construction of the sequence of events. The accused snatched weapon and fired on police. In self defence, the police fired back, in which the accused were killed.”

The men were rushed to a nearby hospital but they succumbed to bullet injuries.  The father of the veterinarian said, “It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and the government for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now.”

Speaking to media, the sister of the Hyderabad vet said, "I am happy the four accused have been killed in an encounter. This incident would set an example. I thank the police and media for their support."

The men, identified as Mohammed (26), Jollu Shiva (20), Jollu Naveen (20) and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu (20), were arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the woman by smothering her and later burning her body.

The police alleged that one of the four accused had gestured to the other three to flee after attacking the cops. The four tried to run towards a deserted pathway when cops opened fire in self-defence, an official told The Indian Express. He added the accused were taken for the recce in the middle of the night “to avoid confrontation with the public, who are angry.”


Also Read
Revisiting the Justice Verma Committee report of 2013: #JusticeForRapeVictims
Five Actions You Can Take To End Gender Based Violence
35 year-old attempts to rape 4 year-old, paraded naked: Nagpur
Sultanpur rape case: CJP moves NHRC citing lacunae in police investigation
Reject culture of misogyny, democratise socio-cultural spaces: #Justice4RapeVictims

All four accused in Hyderabad vet rape & shot dead

Hyderabad Police Encounter

Hyderabad/New Delhi: The extra judicial killing took place at 3 am on Friday, close to where the accused had allegedly burnt the woman's body. The Cyberabad police has given this information to the media and world. According to police officials, the accused were taken to the crime scene to recreate the incident of the crime, when they reportedly tried to escape. 

 DCP Shamshabad Prakash Reddy said, “Cyberabad Police had brought the accused people to the crime spot for re-construction of the sequence of events. The accused snatched weapon and fired on police. In self defence, the police fired back, in which the accused were killed.”

The men were rushed to a nearby hospital but they succumbed to bullet injuries.  The father of the veterinarian said, “It has been 10 days to the day my daughter died. I express my gratitude towards the police and the government for this. My daughter's soul must be at peace now.”

Speaking to media, the sister of the Hyderabad vet said, "I am happy the four accused have been killed in an encounter. This incident would set an example. I thank the police and media for their support."

The men, identified as Mohammed (26), Jollu Shiva (20), Jollu Naveen (20) and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu (20), were arrested on November 29 for allegedly raping and killing the woman by smothering her and later burning her body.

The police alleged that one of the four accused had gestured to the other three to flee after attacking the cops. The four tried to run towards a deserted pathway when cops opened fire in self-defence, an official told The Indian Express. He added the accused were taken for the recce in the middle of the night “to avoid confrontation with the public, who are angry.”


Also Read
Revisiting the Justice Verma Committee report of 2013: #JusticeForRapeVictims
Five Actions You Can Take To End Gender Based Violence
35 year-old attempts to rape 4 year-old, paraded naked: Nagpur
Sultanpur rape case: CJP moves NHRC citing lacunae in police investigation
Reject culture of misogyny, democratise socio-cultural spaces: #Justice4RapeVictims

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

GOI relents to Parliament pressure, will consider legal provisions against lynching

Sabrang India has been reporting on the questions raised by the Members of Parliament and the answers given by the ruling government in response. It has been observed that the question about the government’s intention on introducing a law against lynching has been asked 13 times in the Parliament until now.

06 Dec 2019

Mob Lynching

It has been observed that up until December 4, the government had been giving the same monotonous answer to these questions, which reads as follows:

“A Group of Ministers was constituted by the Government to deliberate on the matter and make recommendations. The Group of Ministers has since met and the Government is seized of the matter.”

This answer does not say that the law will be eventually passed and still keeps the topic in a grey area so that the government can fall back on this answer and say that it is considering the same.

A question that has been raised repeatedly on the floor of both houses has compelled the government to consider it. So much so that the Union Home Minister on December 4, said in Rajya Sabha that the government will keep in mind the need to have specific legal provisions against lynchings as it mulls an overhaul of the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Amit Shah further said, “I have written to chief ministers and lieutenant governors to provide suggestions about the amendments required to the IPC and the CrPC. The Bureau of Police Research and Development has set up a committee to consider comprehensive changes to the IPC and the CrPC. We will keep in mind the Supreme Court order too.”


Supreme Court’s say on lynching

In July 2018, the Supreme Court, while condemning mob lynching, had given directions, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps to deal with the crime of lynching and in July 2019 it even issued notices to the Centre and the states on a PIL filed for implementing the apex court’s July 2018 order.


Proactive state governments

Manipur and Rajasthan Governments have submitted their respective bills on mob violence for the President’s assent and the government says that it is sill holding consultations on the laws of both the states.

Meanwhile, the Congress is riding high on the BJP’s failure on implementing a law on mob lynching by promising in its manifesto for Jharkhand polls that it will bring out a stringent law for mob lynching in the state.


The NCRB excuse

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also stated that although NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) had collected data under crime heads like mob lynching, it found the data to be unreliable and the definition to be prone to misinterpretation, and hence the same was not published by the bureau in its 2017 report which was released much belatedly only recently.


Callous parliamentarians on lynchings

While on one hand, parliamentarians are insisting so vehemently on a law against mob lynching, some irresponsible and callous MPs like Jaya Bachhan went ahead and called for lynching of those accused of rape and murder of the Hyderabad vet, a case that has caught the nation’s attention and has led to a huge outcry. The same institution which has members pushing for a law against lynching has such members who are encouraging the same behaviour. The irony cannot be more obvious.

Former law Minister and Congress leader, Ashwani Kumar said, “calls by parliamentarians for public lynching and castration of the accused is a constitutional affront and militate against the first principles of the rule of law. Such calls of retribution unknown to civilised societies and constitutional democracies do no justice to the duties of law makers.”

 

Related:

Will keep lynch law in mind: Shah
Voice against calls for public lynching
We are violent!
USCIRF report says India saw declining religious freedom conditions in 2018
Two men killed over suspicion of cow theft in Bengal
Kalna Lynching case: 12 get life term
Another cattle trader killed: Bihar’s losing count of lynchings
Jharkhand becomes ‘lynching capital’, records one more death by mob violence

GOI relents to Parliament pressure, will consider legal provisions against lynching

Sabrang India has been reporting on the questions raised by the Members of Parliament and the answers given by the ruling government in response. It has been observed that the question about the government’s intention on introducing a law against lynching has been asked 13 times in the Parliament until now.

Mob Lynching

It has been observed that up until December 4, the government had been giving the same monotonous answer to these questions, which reads as follows:

“A Group of Ministers was constituted by the Government to deliberate on the matter and make recommendations. The Group of Ministers has since met and the Government is seized of the matter.”

This answer does not say that the law will be eventually passed and still keeps the topic in a grey area so that the government can fall back on this answer and say that it is considering the same.

A question that has been raised repeatedly on the floor of both houses has compelled the government to consider it. So much so that the Union Home Minister on December 4, said in Rajya Sabha that the government will keep in mind the need to have specific legal provisions against lynchings as it mulls an overhaul of the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Amit Shah further said, “I have written to chief ministers and lieutenant governors to provide suggestions about the amendments required to the IPC and the CrPC. The Bureau of Police Research and Development has set up a committee to consider comprehensive changes to the IPC and the CrPC. We will keep in mind the Supreme Court order too.”


Supreme Court’s say on lynching

In July 2018, the Supreme Court, while condemning mob lynching, had given directions, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps to deal with the crime of lynching and in July 2019 it even issued notices to the Centre and the states on a PIL filed for implementing the apex court’s July 2018 order.


Proactive state governments

Manipur and Rajasthan Governments have submitted their respective bills on mob violence for the President’s assent and the government says that it is sill holding consultations on the laws of both the states.

Meanwhile, the Congress is riding high on the BJP’s failure on implementing a law on mob lynching by promising in its manifesto for Jharkhand polls that it will bring out a stringent law for mob lynching in the state.


The NCRB excuse

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also stated that although NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) had collected data under crime heads like mob lynching, it found the data to be unreliable and the definition to be prone to misinterpretation, and hence the same was not published by the bureau in its 2017 report which was released much belatedly only recently.


Callous parliamentarians on lynchings

While on one hand, parliamentarians are insisting so vehemently on a law against mob lynching, some irresponsible and callous MPs like Jaya Bachhan went ahead and called for lynching of those accused of rape and murder of the Hyderabad vet, a case that has caught the nation’s attention and has led to a huge outcry. The same institution which has members pushing for a law against lynching has such members who are encouraging the same behaviour. The irony cannot be more obvious.

Former law Minister and Congress leader, Ashwani Kumar said, “calls by parliamentarians for public lynching and castration of the accused is a constitutional affront and militate against the first principles of the rule of law. Such calls of retribution unknown to civilised societies and constitutional democracies do no justice to the duties of law makers.”

 

Related:

Will keep lynch law in mind: Shah
Voice against calls for public lynching
We are violent!
USCIRF report says India saw declining religious freedom conditions in 2018
Two men killed over suspicion of cow theft in Bengal
Kalna Lynching case: 12 get life term
Another cattle trader killed: Bihar’s losing count of lynchings
Jharkhand becomes ‘lynching capital’, records one more death by mob violence

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Foot in the door? SC agrees to hear ADR’s plea seeking stay on disputable electoral bonds scheme

A bench led by the CJI SA Bobde has agreed to hear the plea by ADR in January

05 Dec 2019

Electoral Bonds

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it would hear a plea by the NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) that is seeking a stay on the controversial electoral bond scheme, in January.

On behalf of ADR, the plea was filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan who informed the court that around “6,000 crore had been collected under the scheme so far, which is being misused by the party in power”. The contentious electoral bond scheme had earlier been flagged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission of India (ECI) as well.

“Not more than half of the political parties have submitted their annual audit report for 2018-19. BJP and INC (Congress), the two largest national parties, are yet to submit their audit reports for 2018-19,” the petition says.

It says the total income through electoral bonds as declared by the parties that have submitted their audit reports for the 2018-19 fiscal amounts to Rs 599.07 crore, which it says is only 23.5 per cent of the total electoral bonds bought that financial year.

“In other words, the two national parties together could have cornered more than 70 per cent,” it asserts.

Going by these calculations, the total worth of the electoral bonds bought in 2018-19 would be about Rs 2,550 crore.

According to The Telegraph, the petition says, “As of November 2019, nearly 76.5 per cent of the electoral bonds purchased during 2018-19 cannot be traced to any specific political party. The delay and non-compliance by political parties defeats the purpose of any such reporting.”

Live Law reported that ADR had filed a writ petition in 2017, challenging the provisions of the Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds. These bonds were introduced after amendments made by the Finance Act 2017 to the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Representation of Peoples Act 1951, Income Tax Act 1961, Companies Act, Income Tax Act and Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.

Earlier this year, the apex court had asked political parties to furnish details of donors, amounts and details of payments made through electoral bonds, to the poll panel. However, most political parties ignored this order and opposed the plea stating that the electoral bonds scheme would ensure ‘transparency and accountability’ in political funding.

Bhushan sought a stay on the scheme stating that it was akin to accepting a bribe, money laundering and just another way to channelize black money. He also asserted in his plea that, it was only the general citizens who wouldn’t know of the details of the donations.

It has been found that the proof of the knowledge of donations is only and only being denied to the public, because the promissory notes carry an alphanumeric code that can be used to track the donation. Hence, the tracking can very well be done by the finance ministry and they will tabulate all information of the donors – including the ones of their bank accounts, transaction and most importantly political preferences.

ADR said that the amendments made to the above mentioned acts, opened doors to funding from foreign companies, thus legalizing anonymous donations.

The complete petition by the ADR may be read below.
 

Concerns by RBI and ECI

Last week, ADR had moved the apex court for an interim stay on the scheme citing reports that the Central Government had gone ahead with the scheme even after objections raised by the RBI and ECI.

The ADR in its plea had stated that the RBI had warned that the scheme had the “potential to increase black money circulation, money laundering, cross-border counterfeiting and forgery.”

The plea had also noted the objections raised by the ECI which, calling for its withdrawal, described the scheme as a “retrograde step as far as transparency of donations is concerned.”

The ECI had also mentioned that the scheme’s implementation opened up the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of donations to political parties.

Since the plea on the matter has been ignored twice, Advocate Bhushan filed a fresh plea once more and the bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant agreed to an early hearing.

No bones have been made by the opposition about how BJP has gained a lion’s share of electoral bond donations. Out of the Rs. 6,000 crore bonds that were sold in 2018 – 19, bonds worth Rs. 4,500 crore went to the BJP. It has also been noted that the BJP arm-wrested the RBI into the sale of expired bonds and not just that, it opened an extra window of the sale of bonds just before the Karnataka elections, which is completely against the rules set by the RBI.

The influx of illegal turned to legal funding, is the only reason the BJP is fighting tooth and nail to continue with electoral bonds. It has up until now been overturning and quashing all guidelines set with regards to the electoral bonds scheme. Whether or not the plea by ADR will be successful is to be seen. But can the BJP answer one question – after wanting to paint itself a saint by propagating transparency and accountability in the election funding process, why is it so scared to reveal the sources of its donations?
 

 

Related:

Electoral bonds: Why the BJP is batting so hard for it
Govt Made SBI Accept Expired Electoral Bonds Sold In Illegal Window
Election Commission reveals Tatas gave Rs 356 crore to the BJP in 2018-19

Yes, its BJP that received maximum corporate donations in 6 years: ADR report
SBI issued electoral bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore in March and April: RTI
Electoral Bonds: SC directs all parties to reveal political funding details to EC

 

Foot in the door? SC agrees to hear ADR’s plea seeking stay on disputable electoral bonds scheme

A bench led by the CJI SA Bobde has agreed to hear the plea by ADR in January

Electoral Bonds

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it would hear a plea by the NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) that is seeking a stay on the controversial electoral bond scheme, in January.

On behalf of ADR, the plea was filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan who informed the court that around “6,000 crore had been collected under the scheme so far, which is being misused by the party in power”. The contentious electoral bond scheme had earlier been flagged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission of India (ECI) as well.

“Not more than half of the political parties have submitted their annual audit report for 2018-19. BJP and INC (Congress), the two largest national parties, are yet to submit their audit reports for 2018-19,” the petition says.

It says the total income through electoral bonds as declared by the parties that have submitted their audit reports for the 2018-19 fiscal amounts to Rs 599.07 crore, which it says is only 23.5 per cent of the total electoral bonds bought that financial year.

“In other words, the two national parties together could have cornered more than 70 per cent,” it asserts.

Going by these calculations, the total worth of the electoral bonds bought in 2018-19 would be about Rs 2,550 crore.

According to The Telegraph, the petition says, “As of November 2019, nearly 76.5 per cent of the electoral bonds purchased during 2018-19 cannot be traced to any specific political party. The delay and non-compliance by political parties defeats the purpose of any such reporting.”

Live Law reported that ADR had filed a writ petition in 2017, challenging the provisions of the Finance Act 2017 which paved the way for anonymous electoral bonds. These bonds were introduced after amendments made by the Finance Act 2017 to the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Representation of Peoples Act 1951, Income Tax Act 1961, Companies Act, Income Tax Act and Foreign Contributions Regulations Act.

Earlier this year, the apex court had asked political parties to furnish details of donors, amounts and details of payments made through electoral bonds, to the poll panel. However, most political parties ignored this order and opposed the plea stating that the electoral bonds scheme would ensure ‘transparency and accountability’ in political funding.

Bhushan sought a stay on the scheme stating that it was akin to accepting a bribe, money laundering and just another way to channelize black money. He also asserted in his plea that, it was only the general citizens who wouldn’t know of the details of the donations.

It has been found that the proof of the knowledge of donations is only and only being denied to the public, because the promissory notes carry an alphanumeric code that can be used to track the donation. Hence, the tracking can very well be done by the finance ministry and they will tabulate all information of the donors – including the ones of their bank accounts, transaction and most importantly political preferences.

ADR said that the amendments made to the above mentioned acts, opened doors to funding from foreign companies, thus legalizing anonymous donations.

The complete petition by the ADR may be read below.
 

Concerns by RBI and ECI

Last week, ADR had moved the apex court for an interim stay on the scheme citing reports that the Central Government had gone ahead with the scheme even after objections raised by the RBI and ECI.

The ADR in its plea had stated that the RBI had warned that the scheme had the “potential to increase black money circulation, money laundering, cross-border counterfeiting and forgery.”

The plea had also noted the objections raised by the ECI which, calling for its withdrawal, described the scheme as a “retrograde step as far as transparency of donations is concerned.”

The ECI had also mentioned that the scheme’s implementation opened up the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of donations to political parties.

Since the plea on the matter has been ignored twice, Advocate Bhushan filed a fresh plea once more and the bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices Bhushan Gavai and Surya Kant agreed to an early hearing.

No bones have been made by the opposition about how BJP has gained a lion’s share of electoral bond donations. Out of the Rs. 6,000 crore bonds that were sold in 2018 – 19, bonds worth Rs. 4,500 crore went to the BJP. It has also been noted that the BJP arm-wrested the RBI into the sale of expired bonds and not just that, it opened an extra window of the sale of bonds just before the Karnataka elections, which is completely against the rules set by the RBI.

The influx of illegal turned to legal funding, is the only reason the BJP is fighting tooth and nail to continue with electoral bonds. It has up until now been overturning and quashing all guidelines set with regards to the electoral bonds scheme. Whether or not the plea by ADR will be successful is to be seen. But can the BJP answer one question – after wanting to paint itself a saint by propagating transparency and accountability in the election funding process, why is it so scared to reveal the sources of its donations?
 

 

Related:

Electoral bonds: Why the BJP is batting so hard for it
Govt Made SBI Accept Expired Electoral Bonds Sold In Illegal Window
Election Commission reveals Tatas gave Rs 356 crore to the BJP in 2018-19

Yes, its BJP that received maximum corporate donations in 6 years: ADR report
SBI issued electoral bonds worth Rs 3,622 crore in March and April: RTI
Electoral Bonds: SC directs all parties to reveal political funding details to EC

 

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

SC releases P Chidambaram on bail

He had spent 106 days in jail following arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case

05 Dec 2019

chidambaram

106 days after he was arrested, P Chidambaram walked of Tihar jail a free man on Wednesday after the Supreme Court granted him bail in the money laundering case lodged against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Stepping out of jail, he was greeted by his son Karti Chidambaram and other Congress leaders. The former Finance Minister has been granted bail in the INX Media case on a bond of Rs. 2 lakh with two sureties each and with the condition of him not leaving the country without permission. Other conditions of his bail are as follows:
 

· He shall not tamper with evidence or influence witnesses

· He shall make himself available for interrogation for further investigation whenever required

· His passport shall remain deposited in court


The three-judge bench comprising of Justice R Banumathi, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Royset agreed with the HC order that economic offences came under the category of grave offences. However, it noted that denying bail was the exception to the law of basic jurisprudence. It said that the grant of bail continued to hold field to ensure that the accused had their chance at seeking a fair trial.

The senior Congress leader addressed his first press conference after being granted bail on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Expressing gratitude for his release, Chidambaram said that he would not comment on the case as it was sub-judice and instead turned to speak about matters related to the economy.

He said, “The government is wrong. It is wrong because it is clueless. It is unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralized control of decision-making in the PMO.”

Calling out PM Modi on his silence related to the economic slowdown he said, “The Prime Minister has been unusually silent on the economy. He has left it to his ministers to indulge in bluff and bluster. The net result, as The Economist put it, is that the government has turned out to be an ‘incompetent manager’ of the economy.”

Speaking about the Modi government, he said, “Government is calling the present slowdown ‘cyclical’. Thank god they have not called it ‘seasonal’. It is ‘structural’ and the government has no solutions or reforms that would address the structural problems.”

Citing that the UPA lifted 140 million people out of poverty between 2004 and 2014, he accused the NDA saying that it has, since 2016, “pushed millions of people below the poverty line.”

Addressing the people, he asked them to pay close attention to the numbers that pointed in the direction of a “floundering economy.”

He expressed his optimism about the economy coming out of the slump and that parties other than the BJP were better for the job, saying, “The economy can be brought out of the slowdown, but this government is incapable of doing that. I believe that the Congress and some other parties are better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth, but we have to wait for better times.”

He also attacked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament today for saying that her family didn’t eat onions – this especially at a time when consumers are struggling to buy the key food staple that is priced at Rs. 120 per kg.

"That shows the mindset of this government," he said and was later seen joining a protest by the Congress at Parliament against rising onion prices.

Speaking to the media about Kashmir he said, “As I stepped out and breathed the air of freedom at 8 pm last night, my first thought and prayers were for the 75 lakh people of the Kashmir Valley who have been denied their basic freedoms since August 4, 2019. I am particularly concerned about the political leaders who have been detained without charges. Freedom is indivisible: if we must preserve our freedom, we must fight for their freedom.”

One cannot forget the witch-hunt the CBI / Ed went on trying to arrest Chidambaram. The event was played on every TV screen in India. After the high-voltage drama that lasted for over an hour, Chidambaram was taken for a medical check-up and then to the CBI headquarters.

Congress leaders had then vehemently accused the BJP of misusing its power and arm-wresting national agencies to fulfil their agenda against the leaders of the Opposition Party.

It looks like the SC has overstepped the BJP and finally taken back charge of the investigation. Will it face any repercussions by the autocratic Centre or will it retain its autonomy in judicial matters?


Related:

Karnataka High Court quashes Enforcement Directorate’s order of freezing Greenpeace India’s bank accounts
What Happened to Tax Investigations on Ambanis?

SC releases P Chidambaram on bail

He had spent 106 days in jail following arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case

chidambaram

106 days after he was arrested, P Chidambaram walked of Tihar jail a free man on Wednesday after the Supreme Court granted him bail in the money laundering case lodged against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Stepping out of jail, he was greeted by his son Karti Chidambaram and other Congress leaders. The former Finance Minister has been granted bail in the INX Media case on a bond of Rs. 2 lakh with two sureties each and with the condition of him not leaving the country without permission. Other conditions of his bail are as follows:
 

· He shall not tamper with evidence or influence witnesses

· He shall make himself available for interrogation for further investigation whenever required

· His passport shall remain deposited in court


The three-judge bench comprising of Justice R Banumathi, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Royset agreed with the HC order that economic offences came under the category of grave offences. However, it noted that denying bail was the exception to the law of basic jurisprudence. It said that the grant of bail continued to hold field to ensure that the accused had their chance at seeking a fair trial.

The senior Congress leader addressed his first press conference after being granted bail on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Expressing gratitude for his release, Chidambaram said that he would not comment on the case as it was sub-judice and instead turned to speak about matters related to the economy.

He said, “The government is wrong. It is wrong because it is clueless. It is unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralized control of decision-making in the PMO.”

Calling out PM Modi on his silence related to the economic slowdown he said, “The Prime Minister has been unusually silent on the economy. He has left it to his ministers to indulge in bluff and bluster. The net result, as The Economist put it, is that the government has turned out to be an ‘incompetent manager’ of the economy.”

Speaking about the Modi government, he said, “Government is calling the present slowdown ‘cyclical’. Thank god they have not called it ‘seasonal’. It is ‘structural’ and the government has no solutions or reforms that would address the structural problems.”

Citing that the UPA lifted 140 million people out of poverty between 2004 and 2014, he accused the NDA saying that it has, since 2016, “pushed millions of people below the poverty line.”

Addressing the people, he asked them to pay close attention to the numbers that pointed in the direction of a “floundering economy.”

He expressed his optimism about the economy coming out of the slump and that parties other than the BJP were better for the job, saying, “The economy can be brought out of the slowdown, but this government is incapable of doing that. I believe that the Congress and some other parties are better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth, but we have to wait for better times.”

He also attacked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament today for saying that her family didn’t eat onions – this especially at a time when consumers are struggling to buy the key food staple that is priced at Rs. 120 per kg.

"That shows the mindset of this government," he said and was later seen joining a protest by the Congress at Parliament against rising onion prices.

Speaking to the media about Kashmir he said, “As I stepped out and breathed the air of freedom at 8 pm last night, my first thought and prayers were for the 75 lakh people of the Kashmir Valley who have been denied their basic freedoms since August 4, 2019. I am particularly concerned about the political leaders who have been detained without charges. Freedom is indivisible: if we must preserve our freedom, we must fight for their freedom.”

One cannot forget the witch-hunt the CBI / Ed went on trying to arrest Chidambaram. The event was played on every TV screen in India. After the high-voltage drama that lasted for over an hour, Chidambaram was taken for a medical check-up and then to the CBI headquarters.

Congress leaders had then vehemently accused the BJP of misusing its power and arm-wresting national agencies to fulfil their agenda against the leaders of the Opposition Party.

It looks like the SC has overstepped the BJP and finally taken back charge of the investigation. Will it face any repercussions by the autocratic Centre or will it retain its autonomy in judicial matters?


Related:

Karnataka High Court quashes Enforcement Directorate’s order of freezing Greenpeace India’s bank accounts
What Happened to Tax Investigations on Ambanis?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Journalist threatened by police for reporting inaction in Sultanpur rape case: UP

The UP police have been intimidating him for exposing a rape case that they tried to conceal

03 Dec 2019

attack on journalist

In the petition filed on November 29, CJP has detailed how the intimidation from administration and police –including threats to file false cases – arose after Mishra’s not only broke the story but pursued coverage of the Sultanpur rape case that took place in September 2019.

Dharmendra Mishra is a recognised journalist working with an established publishing house from their Uttar Pradesh office in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He is known for unbiased and brave coverage of crucial stories that reveal corruption and injustice, and is the recipient of a national award from Indian Media Welfare Association along with an order by the World Health Organization. The government has initiated many inquiries on the basis of his investigative journalism.

As the application notes, due to his brave journalism, Mr. Mishra is being allegedly threatened by the Superintendent of Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh Himanshu Kumar. Mr. Mishra has stated that Kumar has threatened him on his way to work and had other people threaten him in his Sultanpur office. Dharmendra Mishra is also under the apprehension that Kumar has roped in a local politician and a local gangster to threaten him for his life. The said local politician had earlier pressurised Mr. Mishra to write positive news article about him during the state elections.

The journalist in question, Dharmendta Mishra has been harassed to the extent that in September, he has filed a complaint with the offices of the Prime Minister as well Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister explaining the facts of the case and the apprehension of threat to his life. In his complaints, he has said Himanshu Kumar, his department and the local Sultanpur administration should be held responsible for any untoward incidents that may occur in the future, such as an attack or assault on him or any imposition of false cases or even worse, his death.

In the NHRC petition, CJP has prayed that the Commission take suo motu cognisance of this case under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), conduct an investigation against the Superintendent of Sultanpur Himanshu Kumar and take stern action as probable under the PHRA.

On September 10, villagers from Baijapur in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh woke up to the mutilated body of a young girl hung from a tree, not much unlike the Badaun rape case. The incident was also reminiscent of the Nirbhaya rape case given how a stick had been inserted in the victim’s private parts. But even after all this time, police investigations have proceeded at a snail’s pace, with allegations of deliberate delays and procedural lapses. Then, CJP had moved the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter to ensure justice. The NHRC has issued notice to the UP authorities following this complaint.

CJP’s petition emphasises that “the police, clearly failed to follow protocol in terms of primary investigation and on top of that are making false claims with respect to the post mortem and are representing false facts and the reason for the same is still unknown.” Our petition urges the National Human Rights Commission to “take suo motu cognisance of this case under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA)” and also seeks “an inquiry into this case involving the SP of Sultanpur District and the police personnel concerned with this case (FIR no. 0423 of 2019)”

The petition observes that the press is considered to be the fourth estate of a democracy. It quotes the Madras High Court in saying, “If the voice of the Fourth Estate is stifled in this manner, India will become a Nazi State and the hard labour of our freedom fighters and makers of our Constitution will go down the drain.”

Last year, India ranked 138 in the Freedom of Press Index released by Reporters with Borders. “Brave and investigative journalism can only thrive in a conducive environment that safeguards its freedom and where there is no constant threat to life,” the application states.

The petition memo to the NHRC may be read below.

 

Related:
Sultanpur rape case: CJP moves NHRC citing lacunae in police investigation
Mutilated body of girl found hanging from tree in Sultanpur, Badaun 2.0?
Over a fortnight, no arrests: Activists protest ‘police inaction’ in Sultanpur rape case: UP

Journalist threatened by police for reporting inaction in Sultanpur rape case: UP

The UP police have been intimidating him for exposing a rape case that they tried to conceal

attack on journalist

In the petition filed on November 29, CJP has detailed how the intimidation from administration and police –including threats to file false cases – arose after Mishra’s not only broke the story but pursued coverage of the Sultanpur rape case that took place in September 2019.

Dharmendra Mishra is a recognised journalist working with an established publishing house from their Uttar Pradesh office in Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He is known for unbiased and brave coverage of crucial stories that reveal corruption and injustice, and is the recipient of a national award from Indian Media Welfare Association along with an order by the World Health Organization. The government has initiated many inquiries on the basis of his investigative journalism.

As the application notes, due to his brave journalism, Mr. Mishra is being allegedly threatened by the Superintendent of Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh Himanshu Kumar. Mr. Mishra has stated that Kumar has threatened him on his way to work and had other people threaten him in his Sultanpur office. Dharmendra Mishra is also under the apprehension that Kumar has roped in a local politician and a local gangster to threaten him for his life. The said local politician had earlier pressurised Mr. Mishra to write positive news article about him during the state elections.

The journalist in question, Dharmendta Mishra has been harassed to the extent that in September, he has filed a complaint with the offices of the Prime Minister as well Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister explaining the facts of the case and the apprehension of threat to his life. In his complaints, he has said Himanshu Kumar, his department and the local Sultanpur administration should be held responsible for any untoward incidents that may occur in the future, such as an attack or assault on him or any imposition of false cases or even worse, his death.

In the NHRC petition, CJP has prayed that the Commission take suo motu cognisance of this case under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), conduct an investigation against the Superintendent of Sultanpur Himanshu Kumar and take stern action as probable under the PHRA.

On September 10, villagers from Baijapur in Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh woke up to the mutilated body of a young girl hung from a tree, not much unlike the Badaun rape case. The incident was also reminiscent of the Nirbhaya rape case given how a stick had been inserted in the victim’s private parts. But even after all this time, police investigations have proceeded at a snail’s pace, with allegations of deliberate delays and procedural lapses. Then, CJP had moved the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in the matter to ensure justice. The NHRC has issued notice to the UP authorities following this complaint.

CJP’s petition emphasises that “the police, clearly failed to follow protocol in terms of primary investigation and on top of that are making false claims with respect to the post mortem and are representing false facts and the reason for the same is still unknown.” Our petition urges the National Human Rights Commission to “take suo motu cognisance of this case under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA)” and also seeks “an inquiry into this case involving the SP of Sultanpur District and the police personnel concerned with this case (FIR no. 0423 of 2019)”

The petition observes that the press is considered to be the fourth estate of a democracy. It quotes the Madras High Court in saying, “If the voice of the Fourth Estate is stifled in this manner, India will become a Nazi State and the hard labour of our freedom fighters and makers of our Constitution will go down the drain.”

Last year, India ranked 138 in the Freedom of Press Index released by Reporters with Borders. “Brave and investigative journalism can only thrive in a conducive environment that safeguards its freedom and where there is no constant threat to life,” the application states.

The petition memo to the NHRC may be read below.

 

Related:
Sultanpur rape case: CJP moves NHRC citing lacunae in police investigation
Mutilated body of girl found hanging from tree in Sultanpur, Badaun 2.0?
Over a fortnight, no arrests: Activists protest ‘police inaction’ in Sultanpur rape case: UP

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

K’taka HC questions on detention centres reveals govt’s plans to build 35 centres across state

This is probably the first case where the crucial issue of detention centres has been brought forth by Karnataka High Court. With the increasing furore around NRC (national Register of Citizens) and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which is yet to be tabled in the Parliament, the question of detention centres --which have their deplorable unaccountable trajectory in Assam-- has now a relevance in Karnataka.

02 Dec 2019

detention centre

The discussion around detention centres has come up in a case of bail application filed by Babul Khan and 11 other Bangladeshi immigrants who were arrested at Kommasandra village in Anekaltaluk on August 22, 2018. The court is monitoring the actions initiated by the State to identify overstaying foreigners and setting up of FDCs.In previous hearings in this case, the court had even, reportedly, raised serious questions from the additional chief secretary  (ACS) Home department, on the detention of immigrants in the centre.

During the hearing on the same day, ACS, Home department had filed an affidavit before the court on Monday stating that illegal immigrants would be treated as per the guidelines and will be kept in the detention centre. The court, however, asked the government to file an affidavit on the facilities available in the detention centre,  at the next hearing.
 

Previous submissions by the government

It was also submitted before the court by Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) of India C. Shashikantha, that overstaying foreigners and illegal immigrants will have to be kept in FDCs in India till deportation. However, in case their country disowns them, then as per international conventions they have to be permanently lodged in FDCs and to be looked after till death. The government also informed the court that 612 cases had been registered against 866 foreigners for overstaying their visa period, and for violation of various laws, including provisions of Indian Penal Code and Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

The Karnataka government also informed the court that it has identified 35 spaces for temporary Foreigners Detention Centres (FDC) in all the districts for lodging illegal immigrants after they are either released on bail or on completion of imprisonment in criminal cases.


Court unhappy with govt’s answers

During the recent hearing, however, the court was disappointed with the response of the government and found it insufficient. As reported in detail by the Deccan Herald, the court expressed it unhappiness over the information submitted by the government regarding the ‘temporary detention centre’ at Sondekoppa of Bengaluru north taluk. Hence, the court has now asked the Home department to submit an affidavit on the permanent detention centre to house illegal immigrants or foreign citizens in various cases.


Other concerns raised by HC

The High Ciurt also asked the government on it plans on dealing with children of alleged undocumented immigrants and how will these children be protected if their parents are detained. The judge said,“If the child is a minor, they can be allowed to be kept with their parents. But what if he/she is not and the parents don’t have the capacity to take their care, outside the detention centre. What is the fate of such children? The state will have to make arrangements. If there is no solution, we will have to pass directions.” The judge further added, “However, dignity of foreign nationals will have to be maintained. The detention centres should be like hostels for students or senior citizens with all basic facilities. Court cannot issue directions to foreign nationals to report attendance to FRRO offices.”

The court also told the government that deportation process of accused must begin as soon as FIR is registered, irrespective of the outcome of the case. The ASG submitted that once detention centres are established in the state, all children will be housed with their parents. The first detention centre, near Bengaluru, will be established in early-2020.

The High Court judge further clarified that if offence is minor or under Foreigners Act then the foreign national can be kept in detention centres with bifurcation of male/female but if it’s a serious offence then bail will probably be rejected. This was probably made clear by the court since the main consideration in the case is of granting bail to the alleged undocumented immigrants.

In further hearings, it is likely that if the High Court continues its probe, the government will have to reveal more of its plans for detention centres, giving a peep into the preparedness of the BJP-run State for the impending and controversial NRC. Will the government submit to the Court the “Model” detention centre manual issued to it by the Centre, that has still not been released in public domain? Will the centre finally admit that states apart from Assam are in the process of building detention centres / camps as per tis instructions?

The next date of hearing in the case is December 4.


Related:

‘35 spaces identified for foreigners detention centres in districts’
'How Will You Safeguard Interest Of Children Of Foreign Nationals Who Are Kept In Detention Centres' : Karnataka HC Asks Centre/State
How Will Children of Detained Foreigners Be Protected: Karnataka HC Asks Govt
Illegal immigrants will be in detention govt tells HC
HC asks home dept for details on detention centres
So, what exactly is a ‘model’ detention camp?
“There are detention camps only in Assam, but Centres being set up in States/UT”: MHA

K’taka HC questions on detention centres reveals govt’s plans to build 35 centres across state

This is probably the first case where the crucial issue of detention centres has been brought forth by Karnataka High Court. With the increasing furore around NRC (national Register of Citizens) and the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which is yet to be tabled in the Parliament, the question of detention centres --which have their deplorable unaccountable trajectory in Assam-- has now a relevance in Karnataka.

detention centre

The discussion around detention centres has come up in a case of bail application filed by Babul Khan and 11 other Bangladeshi immigrants who were arrested at Kommasandra village in Anekaltaluk on August 22, 2018. The court is monitoring the actions initiated by the State to identify overstaying foreigners and setting up of FDCs.In previous hearings in this case, the court had even, reportedly, raised serious questions from the additional chief secretary  (ACS) Home department, on the detention of immigrants in the centre.

During the hearing on the same day, ACS, Home department had filed an affidavit before the court on Monday stating that illegal immigrants would be treated as per the guidelines and will be kept in the detention centre. The court, however, asked the government to file an affidavit on the facilities available in the detention centre,  at the next hearing.
 

Previous submissions by the government

It was also submitted before the court by Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) of India C. Shashikantha, that overstaying foreigners and illegal immigrants will have to be kept in FDCs in India till deportation. However, in case their country disowns them, then as per international conventions they have to be permanently lodged in FDCs and to be looked after till death. The government also informed the court that 612 cases had been registered against 866 foreigners for overstaying their visa period, and for violation of various laws, including provisions of Indian Penal Code and Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

The Karnataka government also informed the court that it has identified 35 spaces for temporary Foreigners Detention Centres (FDC) in all the districts for lodging illegal immigrants after they are either released on bail or on completion of imprisonment in criminal cases.


Court unhappy with govt’s answers

During the recent hearing, however, the court was disappointed with the response of the government and found it insufficient. As reported in detail by the Deccan Herald, the court expressed it unhappiness over the information submitted by the government regarding the ‘temporary detention centre’ at Sondekoppa of Bengaluru north taluk. Hence, the court has now asked the Home department to submit an affidavit on the permanent detention centre to house illegal immigrants or foreign citizens in various cases.


Other concerns raised by HC

The High Ciurt also asked the government on it plans on dealing with children of alleged undocumented immigrants and how will these children be protected if their parents are detained. The judge said,“If the child is a minor, they can be allowed to be kept with their parents. But what if he/she is not and the parents don’t have the capacity to take their care, outside the detention centre. What is the fate of such children? The state will have to make arrangements. If there is no solution, we will have to pass directions.” The judge further added, “However, dignity of foreign nationals will have to be maintained. The detention centres should be like hostels for students or senior citizens with all basic facilities. Court cannot issue directions to foreign nationals to report attendance to FRRO offices.”

The court also told the government that deportation process of accused must begin as soon as FIR is registered, irrespective of the outcome of the case. The ASG submitted that once detention centres are established in the state, all children will be housed with their parents. The first detention centre, near Bengaluru, will be established in early-2020.

The High Court judge further clarified that if offence is minor or under Foreigners Act then the foreign national can be kept in detention centres with bifurcation of male/female but if it’s a serious offence then bail will probably be rejected. This was probably made clear by the court since the main consideration in the case is of granting bail to the alleged undocumented immigrants.

In further hearings, it is likely that if the High Court continues its probe, the government will have to reveal more of its plans for detention centres, giving a peep into the preparedness of the BJP-run State for the impending and controversial NRC. Will the government submit to the Court the “Model” detention centre manual issued to it by the Centre, that has still not been released in public domain? Will the centre finally admit that states apart from Assam are in the process of building detention centres / camps as per tis instructions?

The next date of hearing in the case is December 4.


Related:

‘35 spaces identified for foreigners detention centres in districts’
'How Will You Safeguard Interest Of Children Of Foreign Nationals Who Are Kept In Detention Centres' : Karnataka HC Asks Centre/State
How Will Children of Detained Foreigners Be Protected: Karnataka HC Asks Govt
Illegal immigrants will be in detention govt tells HC
HC asks home dept for details on detention centres
So, what exactly is a ‘model’ detention camp?
“There are detention camps only in Assam, but Centres being set up in States/UT”: MHA

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Guwahati HC raps Assam govt, salaries of 221 Foreigner Tribunal members unpaid

Days ago, the non payment of salaries of members of Foreigners Tribunals (FTs), once again, invited the Guwahati HC’s censure. At a hearing held on Constitution Day, November 26, the court questioned the Assam govt’s treatment of these Tribunals, and demanded compliance by December 4

30 Nov 2019

foreign tribunals

From functioning of the Tribunals, pulled up for their lack of transparency to procedures adopted, Assam’s Foreigners Tribunals have come in for much public scrutiny. The state executive’s blatant moves to curtail their independence and autonomy by tinkering and interfering with payment of dues appears brazen.
 

Salaries of new FT members still pending

Further, in the hearing held on November 26, it was submitted to the court that due to attachment of several newly appointed Members under one Foreigners Tribunal, there has been some delay in transferring the amount to their respective accounts. The approval from the Finance Department for releasing salaries of as many as 221 members of FT was still pending despite of the assurance given by the departmental secretary on the last hearing (October 29, 2019) that the salary would be released within 2 weeks’ time.

The court expressed extreme displeasure and directed that the salaries be paid within 7 days and asked the Secretary, Home and Political Department, Assam to furnish a compliance report to that regard by December 4, 2019.

This is not the first time this issue has been raised in the HC. For many months in 2015-16, the members of Foreigners Tribunals did not receiving their salaries on time (delay of about 2-3 months). In fact, the salaries were being referred to as “professional fees” in government documents, an error that was later corrected. In fact, the salaries were being referred to as “professional fees” in government documents, an error that was later corrected. The bench had reprimanded the government and said, “which goes to show that the State Government is not aware of the real functioning of the Tribunals and the learned Members presiding over such Tribunals”.
 

Professional fees of Government pleaders still pending

It was also brought to the court’s attention the fact that the Assistant Government Pleaders (ASG) were also not in receipt of their professional fees since several months “as a result of which, functioning of the Tribunals have been affected”. The Court hence issued a direction to the State respondents to release the professional fees of the AGP in the existing Tribunal within 2 weeks.


Background

Following a Supreme Court (SC) order dated December 17, 2014 a special bench was constituted at the Guwahati High Court to monitor the functioning of the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. The hearings of this special bench began on March 27, 2015 and since then subsequent hearings have taken place every month. Since the hearings are under directions of the SC, there is no petitioner but an amicus curiae who assists the court in this matter, helping in monitoring of the functioning of Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. CJP did a concise write up onthe orders of the Monitoring Bench since 2015 which can be read here.

Ever since the first hearing, various issues have come up before this Special Bench and it has, through its directions at every hearing kept a watch on the functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals right from supervising the setting up of requisite number of Foreigners Tribunals, recruitments of FT members, appointment of Assistant government pleaders, training of members of FT as well as of Assistant Government pleaders, timely payment of salaries of employees of FTs, among other things.

In the past 4 years many issues have come to light with respect to the hurdles in the day to day functioning of these Tribunals. These raise questions on the autonomy, integrity and efficiency of the Tribunals further testing the credibility of the orders passed by them.


Absence of redressal mechanism

Since July this year, the court has been concerned about the lack of redressal mechanism to deal with complaints against members of FT. A committee comprising of the Secretary, Home and Political Department, Assam and Registrar (Judicial) submitted to the court a proposal indicating the guidelines to be adopted for building a grievance redressal mechanism.


Miscellaneous

A vendor who supplies vehicles to FTs on rent, also submitted a letter to the court stating that his outstanding dues have not been paid by the government for several months causing him much hardship. The Court ordered the Home department to look into the same.

Whether it comes to its infrastructure or managing its finances, the Assam government is being increasingly seen –deliberately or otherwise-- as incapable of handling the functioning of the FTs. The hurried manner in which this enormous task was carried out by the government is reflected in the faults in the daily functioning.

The Tribunals which have been assigned the vital task of adjudicating on citizenship, that basic right to have rights, on deciding who is an Indian citizen and who is not, are just not being paid on time. What motivates this delay?

The non-payment of salaries of FT members and of professional fees by Government pleaders leaves them at the mercy of the State government, compromising both their independence and integrity. This in itself is the biggest malady suffered by the FTs, already criticised for their unprofessional functioning. Until a more accountable and proper adjudication system comes in place, the poor and unlettered persons of Assam –19 lakh have been left out of the NRC’s final list—and another 2,00,000 face procedures within Tribunals, have been left to the mercy of an ill-managed system, which will arbitrarily decide their fate.

The next date of hearing is December 6.

The order can be read here

Related:

A look at how Foreigners’ Tribunals have fared since 2015
EXCLUSIVE! Assam FT declares 282 people foreigner: Signed orders MISSING or full of errors
More than 200 new FT members appointed in Assam
Proceedings before Foreigners’ Tribunals are really the issue: Teesta Setalvad
CJP works towards release of detainees in Assam
Assam NRC: Deprivation of citizenship should be through rigorous procedure, says People’s Tribunal

Guwahati HC raps Assam govt, salaries of 221 Foreigner Tribunal members unpaid

Days ago, the non payment of salaries of members of Foreigners Tribunals (FTs), once again, invited the Guwahati HC’s censure. At a hearing held on Constitution Day, November 26, the court questioned the Assam govt’s treatment of these Tribunals, and demanded compliance by December 4

foreign tribunals

From functioning of the Tribunals, pulled up for their lack of transparency to procedures adopted, Assam’s Foreigners Tribunals have come in for much public scrutiny. The state executive’s blatant moves to curtail their independence and autonomy by tinkering and interfering with payment of dues appears brazen.
 

Salaries of new FT members still pending

Further, in the hearing held on November 26, it was submitted to the court that due to attachment of several newly appointed Members under one Foreigners Tribunal, there has been some delay in transferring the amount to their respective accounts. The approval from the Finance Department for releasing salaries of as many as 221 members of FT was still pending despite of the assurance given by the departmental secretary on the last hearing (October 29, 2019) that the salary would be released within 2 weeks’ time.

The court expressed extreme displeasure and directed that the salaries be paid within 7 days and asked the Secretary, Home and Political Department, Assam to furnish a compliance report to that regard by December 4, 2019.

This is not the first time this issue has been raised in the HC. For many months in 2015-16, the members of Foreigners Tribunals did not receiving their salaries on time (delay of about 2-3 months). In fact, the salaries were being referred to as “professional fees” in government documents, an error that was later corrected. In fact, the salaries were being referred to as “professional fees” in government documents, an error that was later corrected. The bench had reprimanded the government and said, “which goes to show that the State Government is not aware of the real functioning of the Tribunals and the learned Members presiding over such Tribunals”.
 

Professional fees of Government pleaders still pending

It was also brought to the court’s attention the fact that the Assistant Government Pleaders (ASG) were also not in receipt of their professional fees since several months “as a result of which, functioning of the Tribunals have been affected”. The Court hence issued a direction to the State respondents to release the professional fees of the AGP in the existing Tribunal within 2 weeks.


Background

Following a Supreme Court (SC) order dated December 17, 2014 a special bench was constituted at the Guwahati High Court to monitor the functioning of the Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. The hearings of this special bench began on March 27, 2015 and since then subsequent hearings have taken place every month. Since the hearings are under directions of the SC, there is no petitioner but an amicus curiae who assists the court in this matter, helping in monitoring of the functioning of Foreigners Tribunals in Assam. CJP did a concise write up onthe orders of the Monitoring Bench since 2015 which can be read here.

Ever since the first hearing, various issues have come up before this Special Bench and it has, through its directions at every hearing kept a watch on the functioning of Foreigners’ Tribunals right from supervising the setting up of requisite number of Foreigners Tribunals, recruitments of FT members, appointment of Assistant government pleaders, training of members of FT as well as of Assistant Government pleaders, timely payment of salaries of employees of FTs, among other things.

In the past 4 years many issues have come to light with respect to the hurdles in the day to day functioning of these Tribunals. These raise questions on the autonomy, integrity and efficiency of the Tribunals further testing the credibility of the orders passed by them.


Absence of redressal mechanism

Since July this year, the court has been concerned about the lack of redressal mechanism to deal with complaints against members of FT. A committee comprising of the Secretary, Home and Political Department, Assam and Registrar (Judicial) submitted to the court a proposal indicating the guidelines to be adopted for building a grievance redressal mechanism.


Miscellaneous

A vendor who supplies vehicles to FTs on rent, also submitted a letter to the court stating that his outstanding dues have not been paid by the government for several months causing him much hardship. The Court ordered the Home department to look into the same.

Whether it comes to its infrastructure or managing its finances, the Assam government is being increasingly seen –deliberately or otherwise-- as incapable of handling the functioning of the FTs. The hurried manner in which this enormous task was carried out by the government is reflected in the faults in the daily functioning.

The Tribunals which have been assigned the vital task of adjudicating on citizenship, that basic right to have rights, on deciding who is an Indian citizen and who is not, are just not being paid on time. What motivates this delay?

The non-payment of salaries of FT members and of professional fees by Government pleaders leaves them at the mercy of the State government, compromising both their independence and integrity. This in itself is the biggest malady suffered by the FTs, already criticised for their unprofessional functioning. Until a more accountable and proper adjudication system comes in place, the poor and unlettered persons of Assam –19 lakh have been left out of the NRC’s final list—and another 2,00,000 face procedures within Tribunals, have been left to the mercy of an ill-managed system, which will arbitrarily decide their fate.

The next date of hearing is December 6.

The order can be read here

Related:

A look at how Foreigners’ Tribunals have fared since 2015
EXCLUSIVE! Assam FT declares 282 people foreigner: Signed orders MISSING or full of errors
More than 200 new FT members appointed in Assam
Proceedings before Foreigners’ Tribunals are really the issue: Teesta Setalvad
CJP works towards release of detainees in Assam
Assam NRC: Deprivation of citizenship should be through rigorous procedure, says People’s Tribunal

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

Lower Courts warming up to the idea of taking evidence via Video Conference

The practice of recording evidence via video conference is one that strengthens the idea of witness protection. It is also a mark of adaptive change in the judiciary which is allowing itself to be in line with technological advancements for better and efficient dispensation of justice. In 2003, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court interpreted Section 273 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) to allow recording of evidence through video conferencing.

29 Nov 2019

Lower courts

In a first, a sessions court in Karnataka, evidence of victims of bonded labour was ordered to be taken through video conferencing. The third Additional and Sessions Judge, Anekal even allowed such deposition of 3 witnesses in the case via video conferencing from a civil court in Bolangir.

The case pertains to 2014, when the anti-human trafficking unit, along with the district administration and the police arrested a brick kiln owner for trafficking people and employing them as bonded labourers. A senior advocate called this move to be unprecedented coming from a lower court and said, “Witnesses fail to depose before the court due to various reasons, including fear of the accused. Allowing them to depose from their hometowns will reduce such incidents”.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) which works for rescue and rehabilitation of bonded labourers welcomed the order and said, “This has the potential to set a precedent for future bonded labour and trafficking cases, whereby victims can depose via video conferencing from their native places. It may also assist in the speedy and efficient disposal of bonded labour cases,”

State of Maharashtra vs. Praful B Desai[1]

Section 273 of CrPC deals with “Evidence to be taken in presence of accused”

“Except as otherwise expressly provided, all evidence taken in the course of the trial or other proceeding shall be taken in the presence of the accused, or, when his personal attendance is dispensed with, in the presence of his pleader.”

The Supreme Court had held that in a video conference the accused and the pleader can see the witness as clearly as if the witness was actually sitting before them. In fact, the accused may be able to see the witness better than he may have been able to if he was sitting in the dock in a crowded court room. Facility by play back would enable better observation of demeanour. The court also dispensed with the personal physical attendance of the accused and held that presence of the pleader of the accused is deemed to be presence of the accused and the word “presence” used in section 273 can be constructive presence and it does not have a restricted meaning of physical presence.

Since after the apex court judgment of 2003 many courts have adopted the practice and among the many such cases, one may quote SujayMitravs State of West Bengal[2] in which the Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore had allowed deposition of the complainant who was living in Ireland and the same when it went into appeal, was affirmed by the Calcutta High Court as it found no infirmity in the order allowing evidence through video conferencing.

It was reported in January 2019 that the Madras High Court issued rules relating to video conference facilities thus enabling the courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to record evidences and submissions form witnesses or persons involved in court proceedings where it would be expensive, inconvenient or otherwise not desirable for a person to attend the court in person. The notification read, “An over-riding factor is that the use of video conferencing in any particular case must be consistent with furthering the interest of justice and should cause minimal disadvantage to the parties.”

The lower courts are the epicentre of the criminal justice system and such precedents being applied by lower courts shows their readiness to accept change and make justice delivery effective, efficient and their endeavour to improve the system clearly shows. This not only furthers the interest of justice in terms of speedy trials which avoids adjournments due to inability of witness to attend in person, but also proves as a foolproof system in the interest of witness protection. Although India has a long path to tread with respect to witness protection, the practice of recording evidence via video conference is a big step and will go a long way in furthering protection to witnesses in criminal cases.

Related:

Court allows trafficking victims to depose from Odisha

Tamil Nadu, Puducherry courts to record evidence through video conference facility

 

[1]2003 Cri.L.J. 2033 at 2041 (S.C.)

[2] CRR No. 1285 of 2015; Decided on June 17, 2015 at Calcutta High Court

Lower Courts warming up to the idea of taking evidence via Video Conference

The practice of recording evidence via video conference is one that strengthens the idea of witness protection. It is also a mark of adaptive change in the judiciary which is allowing itself to be in line with technological advancements for better and efficient dispensation of justice. In 2003, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court interpreted Section 273 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) to allow recording of evidence through video conferencing.

Lower courts

In a first, a sessions court in Karnataka, evidence of victims of bonded labour was ordered to be taken through video conferencing. The third Additional and Sessions Judge, Anekal even allowed such deposition of 3 witnesses in the case via video conferencing from a civil court in Bolangir.

The case pertains to 2014, when the anti-human trafficking unit, along with the district administration and the police arrested a brick kiln owner for trafficking people and employing them as bonded labourers. A senior advocate called this move to be unprecedented coming from a lower court and said, “Witnesses fail to depose before the court due to various reasons, including fear of the accused. Allowing them to depose from their hometowns will reduce such incidents”.

The International Justice Mission (IJM) which works for rescue and rehabilitation of bonded labourers welcomed the order and said, “This has the potential to set a precedent for future bonded labour and trafficking cases, whereby victims can depose via video conferencing from their native places. It may also assist in the speedy and efficient disposal of bonded labour cases,”

State of Maharashtra vs. Praful B Desai[1]

Section 273 of CrPC deals with “Evidence to be taken in presence of accused”

“Except as otherwise expressly provided, all evidence taken in the course of the trial or other proceeding shall be taken in the presence of the accused, or, when his personal attendance is dispensed with, in the presence of his pleader.”

The Supreme Court had held that in a video conference the accused and the pleader can see the witness as clearly as if the witness was actually sitting before them. In fact, the accused may be able to see the witness better than he may have been able to if he was sitting in the dock in a crowded court room. Facility by play back would enable better observation of demeanour. The court also dispensed with the personal physical attendance of the accused and held that presence of the pleader of the accused is deemed to be presence of the accused and the word “presence” used in section 273 can be constructive presence and it does not have a restricted meaning of physical presence.

Since after the apex court judgment of 2003 many courts have adopted the practice and among the many such cases, one may quote SujayMitravs State of West Bengal[2] in which the Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore had allowed deposition of the complainant who was living in Ireland and the same when it went into appeal, was affirmed by the Calcutta High Court as it found no infirmity in the order allowing evidence through video conferencing.

It was reported in January 2019 that the Madras High Court issued rules relating to video conference facilities thus enabling the courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to record evidences and submissions form witnesses or persons involved in court proceedings where it would be expensive, inconvenient or otherwise not desirable for a person to attend the court in person. The notification read, “An over-riding factor is that the use of video conferencing in any particular case must be consistent with furthering the interest of justice and should cause minimal disadvantage to the parties.”

The lower courts are the epicentre of the criminal justice system and such precedents being applied by lower courts shows their readiness to accept change and make justice delivery effective, efficient and their endeavour to improve the system clearly shows. This not only furthers the interest of justice in terms of speedy trials which avoids adjournments due to inability of witness to attend in person, but also proves as a foolproof system in the interest of witness protection. Although India has a long path to tread with respect to witness protection, the practice of recording evidence via video conference is a big step and will go a long way in furthering protection to witnesses in criminal cases.

Related:

Court allows trafficking victims to depose from Odisha

Tamil Nadu, Puducherry courts to record evidence through video conference facility

 

[1]2003 Cri.L.J. 2033 at 2041 (S.C.)

[2] CRR No. 1285 of 2015; Decided on June 17, 2015 at Calcutta High Court

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Sabrang

FIR filed against NRC ex-coordinator on graft charges

Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the ongoing Supreme Court case about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has alleged that Prateek Hajela, former NRC state coordinator who was in charge of conducting the exercise, has misappropriated government funds allocated to the project.

29 Nov 2019

Prateek Hajela

APW member Rajib Deka filed the FIR with the anti-corruption branch of the CBI alleging that Hajela had appointed several retired government officials as his advisors paying them high salaries and giving them new vehicles. However, Deka alleges that there is no record of the work done by these people and neither has the expenditure on them been audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Deka has also alleged that a large number of school teachers had been appointed to help with the NRC process, and though the records show that they were paid a remuneration, actually the teachers have not received any money. He also alleges that about 10,000 laptops that actually have a market value of Rs 22,500 were purchased at an inflated price of Rs 44,500 and that 11,000 electrical generators were also purchased at double the market price.

Asking for a detailed investigation into how the Rs 1600 crores allocated for the project were actually used, in his complain Deka says, “As per information, an amount of approximately Rs 1600 crore has already been released and we request you to inquire into the whole process of utilisation of the funds as several illegalities and financial irregularities has been committed in making different expenditures.”

It is noteworthy that Hajela came under fire from various right-wing supremacist groups, ethno-linguistic chauvinist forces as well as the Assam state government after the final NRC was published on August 31, 2019. In fact, the first few FIRs were filed against him in early September alleging that under him the NRC had excluded genuine citizens. Hajela had also reportedly received death threats and was shunted out of Assam to Madhya Pradesh at the directions of the Supreme Court given security concerns.

On November 20, Assam Finance Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had told reporters that “The state government cannot accept this NRC. People who should not have been included in the list have made it, while those who should have in have been excluded.”

He had further told NDTV, “We believe that the NRC prepared by former state coordinator Prateek Hajela has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Assam. There are many shortcomings, as we have already pointed out. While various groups in Assam have already filed review petitions before the Supreme Court, we now want this faulty list to be scrapped in favour of a nationwide NRC.”

The final NRC left out over 19 lakh people, and a vast majority of those excluded turned out to be Bengali Hindus rather than Muslims who BJP chief Amit Shah had dubbed ‘infiltrators’ and ‘termites’. This inability to exclude a large number of Muslims was seen as Hajela’s failure by right wing supremacist groups determined to derive political capital using communally divisive tactics.

Also Read

Good bye! Prateek Hajela leaves Assam riding a wave of strong emotions
Once debarred from NRC, Hitesh Dev Sharma in charge of new NRC Coordinator
Prateek Hajela shunted out of Assam, what happens next on the NRC front?

FIR filed against NRC ex-coordinator on graft charges

Assam Public Works (APW), the original petitioner in the ongoing Supreme Court case about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has alleged that Prateek Hajela, former NRC state coordinator who was in charge of conducting the exercise, has misappropriated government funds allocated to the project.

Prateek Hajela

APW member Rajib Deka filed the FIR with the anti-corruption branch of the CBI alleging that Hajela had appointed several retired government officials as his advisors paying them high salaries and giving them new vehicles. However, Deka alleges that there is no record of the work done by these people and neither has the expenditure on them been audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Deka has also alleged that a large number of school teachers had been appointed to help with the NRC process, and though the records show that they were paid a remuneration, actually the teachers have not received any money. He also alleges that about 10,000 laptops that actually have a market value of Rs 22,500 were purchased at an inflated price of Rs 44,500 and that 11,000 electrical generators were also purchased at double the market price.

Asking for a detailed investigation into how the Rs 1600 crores allocated for the project were actually used, in his complain Deka says, “As per information, an amount of approximately Rs 1600 crore has already been released and we request you to inquire into the whole process of utilisation of the funds as several illegalities and financial irregularities has been committed in making different expenditures.”

It is noteworthy that Hajela came under fire from various right-wing supremacist groups, ethno-linguistic chauvinist forces as well as the Assam state government after the final NRC was published on August 31, 2019. In fact, the first few FIRs were filed against him in early September alleging that under him the NRC had excluded genuine citizens. Hajela had also reportedly received death threats and was shunted out of Assam to Madhya Pradesh at the directions of the Supreme Court given security concerns.

On November 20, Assam Finance Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had told reporters that “The state government cannot accept this NRC. People who should not have been included in the list have made it, while those who should have in have been excluded.”

He had further told NDTV, “We believe that the NRC prepared by former state coordinator Prateek Hajela has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Assam. There are many shortcomings, as we have already pointed out. While various groups in Assam have already filed review petitions before the Supreme Court, we now want this faulty list to be scrapped in favour of a nationwide NRC.”

The final NRC left out over 19 lakh people, and a vast majority of those excluded turned out to be Bengali Hindus rather than Muslims who BJP chief Amit Shah had dubbed ‘infiltrators’ and ‘termites’. This inability to exclude a large number of Muslims was seen as Hajela’s failure by right wing supremacist groups determined to derive political capital using communally divisive tactics.

Also Read

Good bye! Prateek Hajela leaves Assam riding a wave of strong emotions
Once debarred from NRC, Hitesh Dev Sharma in charge of new NRC Coordinator
Prateek Hajela shunted out of Assam, what happens next on the NRC front?

Related Articles


Theme

Campaigns

Videos

Archives

IN FACT

Podcasts

Podcasts

Podcasts

Analysis

Archives

Podcasts

Subscribe to Rule of Law