The Asian Age – Day after SC judges questioned CJI’s conduct, Bar Association to meet today

Four Supreme Court senior judges on Friday questioned ‘unilateral and biased’ decisions of the CJI in allocation of ‘important’ cases to junior judges.

New Delhi-India, 13 January 2018. A day after four senior sitting judges of Supreme Court went public, questioning the conduct of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, the Bar Association has decided to hold a meeting on Saturday evening.

Senior advocate Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh said, “If they had to come for a PC (press conference) then they should have said something substantial. Just creating doubts in the minds of people will not serve the interest of the judiciary. This was not properly planned. They didn’t say anything about justice Loya”.

In an unprecedented move in the annals of judiciary, four senior most judges of the Supreme Court on Friday questioned the “unilateral and biased” decisions of the CJI in allocation of “important” cases to junior judges.

In a joint press conference, Justice J Chelameswar (number 2 in seniority), (Justices Ranjan Gogoi (number 3) Madan B Lokur (number 4) and Kurian Joseph (number 5), who felt that they were being sidelined, alleged that the situation in the Supreme Court was not in order and said many “less than desirable” things have taken place in the last few months.

The conference was held at the residence of Justice Chelameswar, who led the briefing.

In an apparent warning, the judges said lack of impartiality in allocation of high profile cases and constitution of benches with junior judges could imperil India’s democracy.

They said though they wrote a seven-page letter to the CJI two months ago (on allocation of work), the allocation of two petitions on Friday seeking a probe into the death of former CBI sessions judge B H Loya who discharged BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, to a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra (number 10 in the rank) triggered the controversy.

Justice Chelameswar said, “this is an extraordinary event for the history of any nation, more particularly this nation, an extraordinary event in the history of this institution of judiciary. It is with no pleasure we are compelled to take this call for a press conference but sometimes the administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable which have happened in the last few months”.

He said, “We tried to collectively persuade the Chief Justice that certain things are not in order and therefore remedial measures need to be taken, unfortunately our efforts failed.”

Asked whether allocation of petitions in Loya’s case was the flash point, they said, “we all met the CJI in his chambers this morning with a specific request, which unfortunately could not convince him that we were right; therefore, we were left with no choice to but to communicate it to the nation.”

They said, “All four of us are convinced that unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country or any country. For a survival of a democracy it is said that a hallmark of a good democracy is an independent and impartial judge.”

To a specific question “what are the remedies now? Do you want the Chief Justice of India to be impeached?” Justice Chelameswar said, “We are not saying anything now. Let the nation decide, we are nobodies to decide.”

On his part Justice Gogoi said, “Whatever Justice Chelameswar has told you is the whole of it, it is the discharge of a debt to the nation that has brought us here and we think that we have discharged the debt to the nation. More is in the letter, beyond this I don’t think there is any other issue we need to address.”

Justice Gogoi said, “I don’t want another 20 years later wise men in this country blame that Chelamesawar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph sold their souls, they didn’t take care of this institute. So we place it before the people of this country. We don’t want to say anything more. The letter speaks for itself.”


The Asian Age – Communal politics may create many Hafiz Saeeds among Hindus: Dalit leader

Prakash Ambedkar says that the new order, in the name of religion, that is coming into existence is like Hitler-shahi (Hitler’s rule).

Bhopal-Madhya Pradesh-India, 6 January 2018. The politics of religion, if not checked, could give rise to “many Hafiz Saeeds” among Hindus, Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar said on Friday.

“The politics of religion can become uncontrollable if it is not checked and it can give rise to many Hafiz Saeeds among the Hindus,” he said, referring to the Pakistan-based co-founder of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“This new order, in the name of religion, that is coming into existence is like Hitler-shahi (Hitler’s rule),” Ambedkar said, addressing the gathering at a programme, organised to mark the birth anniversary of former Satna MP, late Sukhlal Kushwaha.

Referring to the recent violence in Maharashtra over the 200th anniversary celebrations of the battle of Bhima- Koregaon, Ambedkar, who had subsequently called for a bandh which brought life in Mumbai and elsewhere in the state to a halt, said, “People belonging to Hindutva organisations attacked those from the backward classes.

We are demanding that the (Maharashtra) government arrest those who were involved, but the government appears to be helpless. It is the government’s responsibility to act and if not checked immediately, it (violence against Dalits) may spread to the other states.”

He urged the backward class communities to recognise their electoral strength and vote only for backward class, Dalit and tribal candidates, so that they could control the reins of power.

Referring to the BJP-led government at the Centre, Ambedkar said, “If it comes to power again, even the right to speak, which we are enjoying now, will be taken away. Therefore, we have to fight to save this right and the Constitution.”

The former MP, who is the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, urged the Congress to declare backward class leader and the president of the party’s Madhya Pradesh unit, Arun Yadav, its chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming state Assembly election.

“If the Congress fails to do so, we will have to choose our own way,” he said.

Arun Yadav and former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav were also present at the meeting.

The Asian Age – Lalu Yadav jail yatra may spell doom for RJD

Several senior RJD members may not agree to follow the orders of Lalu’s 26-year-old son Tejashwi Yadav, who has been asked to lead the party.

Nayear Azad

Patna-Bihar-India, 30 December 2017. The court verdict in the Deoghar fodder scam case has come as a major blow to RJD chief Lalu Yadav and his party.

According to JD-U sources, the conviction might end RJD supremo Lalu Yadav’s four-decade-long political innings, which had already got a body blow in 2013 after a six-year ban was imposed on his contesting elections due to his first conviction in the fodder scam case at Chaibasa.

Some leaders even predict that his latest jail stint, whose tenure will be decided by court on January 3, will not only break his party but also force a split in the grand secular alliance.

This was his second conviction in the fodder scam and was linked to swindling of Rs 89.27 lakh from Deoghar treasury between 1991 and 1994. The 2013 conviction dealt with fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.5 crores from Chaibasa treasury.

The Deoghar case verdict against Lalu Yadav has come at a time when he was preparing to stitch together a larger alliance at the national level to gain support from secular parties against the BJP.

Observers say that a lot will depend on whether the Congress will remain in an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) after Lalu Yadav’s conviction in the fodder scam case.

According to a report, a section of Bihar Congress leaders, opposed to continuing ties with tainted Lalu Yadav, are exploring the possibilities of contesting elections on their own.

After the dramatic collapse of the grand secular alliance in July, Lalu Yadav had managed to stay afloat with the Congress in Bihar despite opposition from several party leaders who wanted to end ties with RJD on grounds that the RJD chieftain and his sons were facing a string of corruption charges.

Party insiders claim that he had also managed to maintain unity within the party, despite reports that a large number of MLAs were planning to join hands with JD-U after Nitish Kumar formed a government with NDA in July.

However, party leaders fear the scenario may soon change as several senior RJD members, who had supported Lalu Yadav in his hard times, may not agree to follow the orders of his 26-year-old son Tejashwi Yadav who has been asked to lead the party.

The Asian Age – One who idolises Tipu Sultan cannot support Hindus: BJP

Adityanath during his visit to Karnataka had accused Congress of attempting to convert the state, into ‘a land of Tipu Sultan worshippers’.

New Delhi-India, 23 December 2017. Responding to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s remark on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having ‘leased out’ Hinduism, the latter claimed that one who idolises Tipu Sultan cannot support Hindus.

“Siddaramaiah is one who idolises Tipu Sultan, who caused a lot of harm to the Hindu community. It is natural that such a person will not support or think for the welfare of Hindus or Hinduism,” BJP MP Vinay Katiyar told ANI.

Earlier in the week, Adityanath during his visit to Karnataka had accused the Congress of attempting to convert the state, which is “the land of Lord Hanuman”, into “a land of Tipu Sultan worshippers”.

To this, Siddaramaiah took to twitter on Friday to question whether the BJP had “taken Hinduism on lease”.

“Are only the BJP leaders Hindus? Are we not Hindus? Has the BJP taken Hinduism on lease? My name is Siddaramaiah. Siddhu and Rama is in my name,” he said.

In a series of tweets in Kannada, the Chief Minister also called for equal respect to be given to all religions, adding that this was a sign of ‘true Hindutva’.

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The Asian Age – Rajasthan man shot dead for transporting cows, body thrown on railway track

The Meo Muslim community has, meanwhile, alleged an attempt to cover up the incident

Sanjay Bohra

Jaipur-Rajastan-India, 12 November 2017. A Muslim man, transporting cows in Alwar in Rajasthan, was shot dead allegedly by gau rakshaks on Friday, seven months after a dairy farmer named Pehlu Khan was lynched in a similar incident in the district.

The incident took place in the early hours of Friday. But no FIR has been registered in the case even after two days.

Ummar Khan, Tahir Muhammad and Tahir Khan were transporting cows to Bharatpur when they were waylaid by the mob and assaulted.

Ummar, 32, died of a bullet wound. His body was found on the railway track around 12 km from the Ramgarh police station. His body has been kept in a mortuary. He is survived by his wife and eight children.

The two others got minor injuries and ran away from the scene. Muhammad is being treated at a hospital in Haryana.

“The attack took place around five on Friday morning,” said Sher Muhammad, sardar (President) of district Meo panchayat.

He alleged that Ummar was killed by gau rakshaks, who threw his body near a moving train after shooting him. The family members recognised Ummar with the help of his slippers.

The Meo Muslim community has, meanwhile, alleged an attempt to cover up the incident. Several members of the community gathered outside the district hospital in Alwar and demanded action against the cow vigilante groups.

Ummar’s relatives filed a complaint against the assailants and alleged that Khan was shot dead by gau rakshkas.

“We won’t accept the body till the case is registered and copy of the FIR is given to us,” said Maulana Hanif, vice president of Jamait-Ul-Rajasthan.

Alleging cover up, Maulana Hanif said that two bullets were shot at Ummar – one in his chest and the other went through his left shoulder but the doctors now say that they can’t trace bullet marks in the body. “To remove evidence, they have disfigured the body,” he alleged.

However, the police remained tight-lipped about the incident. Superintendent of Police Rahul Prakash and SHO Govindgarh did not respond to repeated phone calls from Asian Age, while in-charge of the police control room said he has not received any information from the Govindgarh police station about this incident.

The latest incident comes months after Pehlu Khan, the dairy farmer, and at least four others in Alwar were brutally beaten to death by a mob of 15 cow vigilantes from Haryana on April 5. Pehlu Khan was transporting cows in vehicles on the Behror highway in Alwar.

In September, the Rajasthan Police had given a clean chit to six people named in the Pehlu Khan lynching incident.

Following this, his family had sought a court-monitored probe into the killing and said the case must be shifted out of the state.

The Asian Age – Bihar’s child bazaar: 2,000 kids trafficked annually

Once the child is handed over to members of these gangs, which pose as placement agencies, there is no end to their exploitation.

Nayear Azad

Patna-Bihar-India, 9 December 2017. There has been a steady increase in cases of child trafficking in Bihar, a fact accepted by the Nitish Kumar government which has launched a special drive to combat the menace which is suspected to be impacting 2,000 children every year.

Activists who have been fighting against trafficking claim that victims, including girls under the age of 18, from poor families are being pushed into slavery, prostitution and surrogacy by agents who manage to mislead poor parents with their lucrative offers of getting their children good jobs.

Once the child is handed over to members of these gangs, which pose as placement agencies, there is no end to their exploitation.

Government sources said that directions for a focussed drive against child trafficking came after activists involved in rescue operations demanded immediate action to stop the surge in such cases.

Statistics cited by Human Liberty Network, a social group involved in rescue and rehabilitation work, showed that 2,000 children disappear from the state every year.

In April, senior BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav, who was then in Opposition, had raised a question in the state Assembly claiming that over 572 children had gone missing from various locations in Patna district in last one year.

However, that is not all, Mr Yadav, who is now a senior minister in Nitish Kumar’s Cabinet, had cited National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data to point out that cases related to human trafficking in Bihar had increased in past few years.

“After I raised the issue in the state Assembly, several persons who have been involved in the racket were arrested, most of them were from Uttar Pradesh,” he said.

NCRB data shows that in 2015, 332 cases of child trafficking were registered in Bihar, the third highest in the country. Assam registered 1,317 cases and West Bengal had 1,119 cases.

Reports suggest that in 2017, around 160 persons involved in child trafficking were arrested by Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel on the Indo-Nepal border. Around 560 children were also rescued.

SSB personnel during their operation in 2016 had arrested 136 persons from border areas. These included 89 from Bihar and 47 from Nepal. Altogether 824 children, including girls, were rescued during this period.

According to an assessment, minor girls and women are the main targets of immoral trafficking in Bihar. Activists involved in combating child trafficking in the state recently claimed that 6,000 children from various parts of the country have been rescued in last couple of years.

“Areas surrounding Nepal border are highly sensitive. It is tough to rescue girls as they are often pushed into flesh trade by traffickers. We also found that underage boys were mostly sold to bangle and carpet factory owners outside the state and are forced into bonded labour,” activist Suresh Kumar told this newspaper.

Giving an account of an incident which occurred a few months ago, Mr Kumar said that a teenage girl from Patna was pushed into prostitution by people who posed as placement agents.

“We later came to know that the girl was taken to Uttar Pradesh and probably pushed into prostitution. Despite all our efforts, we couldn’t trace the whereabouts of the girl,” Mr Kumar said.

In another incident, a 12-year-old girl from Nawada was sold to UP-based traffickers by her own maternal grandmother and aunt for Rs 12,000. The girl was later rescued by a group called Tatwasi Samaj Nyas which also helped the police arrest people who were behind the racket.

According to a recent report, a majority of victims are from Patna, Gaya, Nalanda, Nawada, East and West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur, Madhepura, Supaul and Kishanganj.

Child rights organisations working to prevent such cases are of the view that the surge in immoral trafficking is also linked to pushing the victims into “forced surrogacy”, an emerging money spinner.

Earlier a group working against girl trafficking had rescued several victims out of whom four complained of being used as “surrogate mothers”.

Talking to this newspaper about the issue, an activist working with Human Liberty Network said, “Surrogacy racket is booming in the country. Young girls between the age of 17 and 20 are being pushed into the bearing children for others,” said the activist who helped rescue and rehabilitate nearly half a dozen such girls.

A Role model

Tronie Foundation CEO Rani Hong, a survivor of child trafficking, is a role model for all rescued children. She had earlier met Bihar government officials to launch a campaign against gangs who work as touts and exploit people, especially daily wage earners in rural areas and their children.

“I strongly believe that we need to stand up and if we can do that as a nation then we can drastically reduce, even prevent child trafficking. I want to work with the Government of India and launch a massive campaign against trafficking and slavery,” said Ms Hong.

Ms Hong was pushed into the slavery when she was just six years of age. She was kidnapped from Kerala and taken to Canada before being rescued. “I was tortured and treated like a slave and later abandoned as a destitue,” she said.

Ms Hong and her husband run special awareness drives in 20 countries, including India, through her US-based foundation. Till 2016, she served as special advisor, human trafficking, for the UN.

The Asian Age – Opposition should work together to save democracy, says Mamata

She accuses the NDA government of trying to halt the developmental process in her state.

New Delhi-India, 24 November 2017. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that democracy is under threat in the country under the BJP rule and called upon Opposition parties to work together for the greater interest of the people before the next Lok Sabha polls.

She accused the NDA government of trying to halt the developmental process in her state.

“Democracy is under threat in this country under the present central government. It is a super emergency that is going on in the country. I have been an MP for nearly two decades but I have never seen such a government at the Centre,” she said at the India Today Conclave East.

“I believe in collective leadership… At present all are working together and that is the best policy. Let us work together,” Banerjee said about the Opposition, adding she shares good relations with the DMK, the SP, the BSP and the BJD and is working with the Congress inside Parliament on various issues.

When asked whether she is hinting at a broader opposition coalition with the Congress before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, she said, “In Bengal, the Congress and the Left are working with the BJP at the state level. But at the national level for greater interests, I think we should work together.”

To a question whether the country would see a grand opposition coalition ahead of 2019, she said, “It depends. We are working together in Parliament. I went to (RJD chief) Lalu Prasadji’s programme in Patna.”

Banerjee said, “I have a good relationship with (Samajwadi Party chief) Akhilesh ji and (BSP chief) Mayawati ji in Uttar Pradesh, with Stalin ji (DMK), Naveen ji (BJP)… I maintain the best of relations with so many other people. Even, within the BJP I maintain good relation with some people, but not with all.”

Bengal will never accept divide and rule politics of the BJP, she asserted and dismissed that it was a challenger to the ruling (TMC) Trinamool Congress government. “The BJP is nowhere in Bengal but only on media and social media.
They only shout. Let the BJP shout along with their bike vahini, but they cannot do anything in Bengal,” Banerjee said.

The BJP is trying to position itself as the main opposition in the state.

The Asian Age – I’m Muslim, nobody forced me to convert, says Hadiya

Alleged victim of ‘Love Jihad’ to appear in top court tomorrow

Kochi-Kerala-India, 26 November 2017. Hadiya aka Akhila, who is allegedly a victim of “Love Jihad”, said on Saturday that she had embraced Islam on her own free will and wanted to go with her husband Shefin Jahan.

She also said she needed justice and that there was no compulsion from anyone in her changing the religion.

Hadiya, who will appear in the Supreme Court on Monday as directed by a bench headed by the Chief Justice, expressed her stand to mediapersons at the Nedumbassery airport before she was taken to New Delhi by a flight in the afternoon.

It was for the first time that she appeared in public after the Kerala high court, in May this year, had annulled her marriage to Shefin Jahan and given her custody to her father K M Asokan of T V Puram, Vaikom, Kottayam district.

Hadiya was taken to the airport amidst tight security by the police, who tried to prevent her from speaking to the media. However, she managed to say a few words to the reporters before she was whisked away to the airport building. Chaotic scenes prevailed at the airport as mediapersons jostled to get close to Hadiya to get a response from her.

She later took a flight to Delhi accompanied by her father, mother Ponnamma and a team of police personnel headed by Kaduthurthy circle inspector Johnson, another woman circle inspector, two women civil police officers and a male civil police officer. Hadiya and others are expected to stay in Kerala House in Delhi.

The Kerala high court had annulled Hadiya’s marriage after her father approached the court expressing fears that his daughter will be taken abroad for alleged terrorist activities. Her husband Jehan, who had married her while she was studying in a homeopathic college in Salem last year, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the HC verdict.

The apex court in October had ordered the authorities to produce Hadiya before it on November 27.

Hadiya and her parents were taken from T V Puram by the policemen around 2 pm, while their house was surrounded by hundreds of curious people and mediapersons from the morning itself. The police had provided unprecedented security at the village.

A number of police vehicles were lined up before their house and the cops tried to shield Hadiya from public view while she entered a police vehicle along with her parents.

Kottayam Special Branch DySP J. Santhosh Kumar, Vaikom DySP K. Subhash, Vaikom CI Binu, Sub-Inspector M. Sahil also accompanied the vehicle to the airport.

The Asian Age – Sasikala ’s family responsible for raids: Tamil Nadu CM

Edappadi Palaniswami on Saturday squarely blamed the ‘Mannargudi Family’ for the raids at a bungalow

Madurai/Chennai-Tamil Nadu-India, 19 November 2017 Declaring that the Income-Tax searches at the Poes Garden residence of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa has caused “great pain” to 1.5 crore cadre of the AIADMK, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday squarely blamed the ‘Mannargudi Family’ for the raids at a bungalow which is revered as a “temple” by millions across Tamil Nadu.

A combative Palaniswami, who spoke to reporters at the Madurai Airport on Saturday evening, termed rebel leader TTV Dhinakaran as a “media creation” seeking to know his “sacrifices” for the AIADMK and punched holes in his statement that he became the Chief Minister only due to the efforts of the Sasikala family.

“Everyone knows who is responsible for these raids at Poes Garden. It is the duty of the Income-Tax to raid those who evade Income-Tax, be it businessmen or those related to the government.

Only on that basis, the I-T sleuths had raided family members of Chinamma (Sasikala) and those related to them and now they searched Poes Garden after seeking permission of the courts”, Palaniswami told reporters, pinning the blame on Sasikala’s family.

“The searches have been conducted at the residence where Amma stayed. Amma’s rooms were not searched. Only due to the mistakes committed by a few people, Amma’s residence has been raided and the very same people have brought disrepute to the AIADMK as well.

All of you know who those people are”, he said, asserting that Tamil Nadu Government had doing to do with the raids.

Maintaining that the Income-Tax department was not under the control of the State government, the chief minister said the searches at Poes Garden have caused “great pain” to all 1.5 crore cadre of the AIADMK.

“We all considered and revered Poes Garden residence where Amma lived as a temple and today that temple has been searched. Only some people are responsible for this”, the chief minister said. Except for Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai and Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan who appeared to criticise the raids indirectly, the EPS-OPS camp spoke in one voice.

The Asian Age – Mob torches 30 Hindu houses in Bangladesh over Facebook post

Agitation over ‘a religiously defamatory post’ in Thakurpara village, Rangpur.

Dhaka-Bangladesh, 12 November 2017. A mob of protesters has set on fire at least 30 houses of Hindus in Bangladesh following rumours that a youth from the minority community published an offensive Facebook status, media reports said on Saturday.

One person was killed when police opened fire to disperse the crowd that launched the arson attack on the houses of Hindus on Friday the, Dhaka Tribune reported. The incident took place in Rangpur district’s Thakurpara village, about 300 km from Dhaka.

At least five persons were injured when police fired rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas shells to bring the situation under control, it said. The protesters claimed that they were infuriated by a defamatory status published from the Facebook account of a person who hails from the Thakurbari village a few days ago, the report said.

Before the police intervened, the perpetrators had torched at least 30 Hindu houses before looting and vandalising them, the report said. A crowd of 20,000 people had reportedly gathered from six to seven neighbouring villages before the attack was launched by a group of people, it said.

The police had a tough time dealing with the protesters and restoring the law and order situation in the area, the report said. Six persons with bullet injuries were rushed to a nearby hospital when one of them succumbed to his injuries, the report said. Police have detained 33 people in connection with the incident, bdnews24 reported.

There were traffic snarls after the mob blocked the Rangpur-Dinajpur highway to protest against the police action. A large number of police personnel have been deployed in the area where the situation was tense, Kotwali police station Officer-in-Charge (Operation) Moktarul Islam said.