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Archives for : April2017

Bangalore – BBMP issues notices, squads to raid illegal meat shops


BENGALURU: The city corporation has drawn up a list of 250 illegal meat shopsin the city and issued notices to them. It is in the process of forming two squads to conduct raids and enforce restrictions on animal slaughter.

More funds were allotted to the animal husbandry wing in the recent state budget. There are more than 3,600 meatshops in the city’s eight zones. “There are many illegal shops as well. They do not have licences or violate norms set by the civic body.We have information about illegal slaughter of animals in areas like DG Halli. We will soon form two squads, which will have vehicles, to conduct surprise inspections and shut illegal meat shops,” said Dr Sriram, in-charge and deputy director, animal husbandry, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

BBMP’s animal husband ry wing issues separate licences for shops for selling mutton, fish, chicken, beef, pork and eggs. There are two categories of licences: one for shops where fresh cut meat is sold (licence fee of Rs 2,000) and another for shops with cold storage facility (licence fee of Rs 10,000). The applicant has to get the consent of the owner of the building and neighbours.

For areas within Outer Ring Road, meat shops are allowed only if the road width is over 40ft. For areas beyond ORR, the road width has to be over 60ft. The animal husbandry wing checks cleanliness and hygiene of these shops. They are also responsible for issuing and renewing licenses.


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Babri demolition case: SC reserves its order on prosecution of Advani, Joshi and others

The CBI told the SC that charges against BJP leaders LK Advani, MM Joshi and others must be revived as the politicians were part of a bigger conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid.

Babri Masjid

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others must face trial for conspiracy in the Babri Masjid demolition case and that the trial must be completed in two years. The SC added that the trial could be held in Lucknow. However, it has reserved order on whether criminal conspiracy charges would be initiated against the politicians.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday told the apex court that charges against Advani, Joshi and others must be revived as the politicians were part of a bigger conspiracy to demolish the Babri Masjid. Advani and Joshi have reportedly agreed to face conspiracy charges.

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad HC had upheld the lower court’s order in the Babri Masjid demolition case and dropped criminal conspiracy charges against 21 others due to technical reasons that the court was not set up as per the government’s notification and that there was no concurrence of the High Court.


The investigating agency’s lawyer Additional Solicitor General NK Kaul added that the CBI had already examined 195 witnesses and 300 more were yet to be examined. The CBI further added that 57 witnesses had been examined in a Rai Bareilly court and over 100 are likely to be examined.

Last month, the SC had said that it would decide on April 6 whether Advani, Joshi and 19 other BJP and RSS leaders could be charged for criminal conspiracy. The bench had also said that it would combine the the two separate hearings going on in the Rae Bareli and Lucknow courts. Besides Advani and Joshi, politicians involved in the case include Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Kalyan Singh.

The CBI had booked Advani and 20 others under sections 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (false statements, rumours etc.circulated with the intent to cause mutiny or disturb public peace) of the IPC. It had then added charges under IPC section 120B (criminal conspiracy) which was quashed by the lower court. The decision was subsequently upheld by the Allahabad High Court.

Several Hindu extremists had demolished the centuries-old Babri Masjid in 1992 using hammers and other tools. Over 3,000 people lost their lives in the large-scale communal violence that followed the demolition of the Masjid. The demolition was the high point of a festering dispute between Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus believed that Mughal emperor Babur had demolished a temple at the site which is considered to be the birthplace of Hindu god Ram.


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Mumbai: This architect is addressing pressing urban issues through comics

Stills from Nikhil Chaudhary's new comics film, titled 'I, Pedestrian', which brings to the fore the need for safer infrastructure for pedestrians in urban spaces
Stills from Nikhil Chaudhary’s new comics film, titled ‘I, Pedestrian‘, which brings to the fore the need for safer infrastructure for pedestrians in urban spaces

Evoking the works of Joe Sacco, famous for his non-fiction graphic novels, Nikhil Chaudhary says, “If there can be comics journalism, then why not comics urbanism?” Take Gotham or Metropolis. The city has been the backdrop for many a grimy and gritty comic, but Chaudhary says, “How about if you bring city planning issues into popular thought through comics?”

Chaudhary has twin loves. He is an architect who works with World Resources Institute India, a non-profit and environmental think-tank that has looked into road safety, among other urban development goals, since inception. Alongside this, this urban design postgraduate from the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University, Ahmedabad, is also a comics creator commenting on issues of urbanism through the visual medium since 2011. After having discussed various aspects of road safety and planning in his comics, Chaudhary released his first comics video last week on his Facebook page, Linear Expression. The three-minute-long video, titled ‘I, Pedestrian’, highlights the poor design of infrastructure for pedestrians: loose paver blocks, garbage and potholes on the footpaths, and motorists who whizz by too close for comfort.

Nikhil Chaudhary


Mid-week, we met Chaudhary to take us around the Ghatkopar side of the 22-km-long LBS Marg, a road notorious for fatalities. “Data from a 10-km stretch of this road reveals that there have been 50 fatal accidents in the last 3.5 years, most involving two-wheelers and pedestrians. We are sending missions to the moon but have accidents on street corners,” he says. As an aside, Chaudhary suggests the need to change the vocabulary of road safety. “Road safety researchers and practitioners prefer not use the word ‘accident’. An accident implies fate. Instead the word ‘crash’ is preferable as it suggests flaws in urban design,” he explains.


He says that streets are like the skin of urban cities, the largest public spaces available, and therefore, must be paid utmost attention. Choosing a 10-km section of LBS Marg from BKC Junction to Vikhroli, a pilot study on improving its design under the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety is underway. World Resources Institute India and the MCGM are studying safe infrastructure in this project. Called the LBS Road Safety Improvement Plan, it is helmed by a five-member team and coordinated by Chaudhary with the end goal of reducing traffic fatalities through effective urban design. Suggested solutions based on findings from this study are likely to be implemented by the MCGM in the coming months. Chaudhary shares four major ways in which LBS Marg can be revamped to improve the safety of pedestrians using this major city road.

Unsafe in numbers
Experts point out that 51 per cent of Mumbai’s population chooses to walk to its destination. Private four-wheelers and two-wheelers form barely 2 per cent of the population. A study in 2015 indicated that 61 per cent of the fatalities in road accidents are not motorists but pedestrians and cyclists. In 2014, 1.4 lakh people died on the road across the country, while 600 died in Mumbai alone.

Intersection of LBS Marg and Hirachand Desai Road
Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Problem: With long stretches of the road to be crossed, there isn’t enough time for pedestrians, especially bunches of school-going children and their parents, to finish well within the signal’s duration. Pedestrians are left vulnerable to moving traffic and resort to safety in numbers.

Recommendation: Building more refuge islands across dividers will help people to be fortressed while crossing and also channelise traffic.

Throughout LBS Marg and intersecting roads

Problem: Footpaths are blocked by shops, hawkers, parked vehicles and garbage. This pushes pedestrians to the motorable area, leaving them exposed to traffic.

Recommendation: The National Standard of Indian Roads Congress states that the width for uninterrupted and dedicated width of paths for pedestrians is two metres. Whatever the encroachment or physical object may be, planners add two metres of pedestrian paths to the space.

Intersection of LBS Marg and andheri ghatkopar link road

Problem: Road authorities are misled that generosity of space for pedestrians leads to traffic congestions. Wide left turns allow vehicles to speed, and, with no pavement, puts pedestrians at risk.

Recommendation: Through the ideology of “safer by design”, minimising the space at intersections and having evenly wide roads will reduce bottlenecks. Reducing the curve of roads and narrowing the angle will force motorists to slow down as well.

Gandhi Nagar junction in Vikhroli

Problem: This intersection sees a number of fatal accidents and has earned the title of a black spot. A storm drain running underground has led to the footpath being built a metre high from the road level, making it difficult for pedestrians to cross the road.

Recommendation: Building more refuge islands and shorter crossings will help. A 3D model of a new accessible footpath has also been devised.

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Name initials on PAN could make #Aadhaar linking a pain

K Venkatesh never thought his initial would put him in a spot over filing his tax returns. When his PAN card could not be linked to his Aadhaar card, the Chennaibased banker consulted his accountant who discovered the problem: Venkatesh’s ini tial `K’ was expanded to Krishnaswamy–his father’s name–in the Aadhaar database. The PAN system just wouldn’t accept the `mismatch’.Millions of people across the country could be facing the same problem as the government insists on linking the two accounts by July 31–a prerequisite to filing tax returns. And with manual in tervention not possible to rectify even minor differences, chartered accountants are flooded with SOS messages.

For lecturer Eugenie D’Silva, even a CA can’t help. That’s because the Aadhaar database does not recognise special characters such as an apostrophe whch the PAN card does. In the same boat is K S Srini vas, whose PAN card deta ils have full stops between his initials, while the Aadhaar card does not. “It would be impossible for us to change our names on the PAN card as it would mean having to change several other documents. I will have to inform my banks, submit fresh KYC documents for three bank accounts, one DEMAT account, and inform the insurance companies. It’s a nightmare,“ says Srinivas.

Chartered accountants and lawyers feel that the govern ment should enable manual intervention for linkage, particularly in case of such minor discrepancies. “The government should form a special cell,“ says Pankaj Dharamshi, a CA in Bengaluru. “Many of my clients have PAN cards for 15-25 years. Now getting a new PAN card and updating all other documents would be impossible.It’s better to correct the details in the Aadhaar database.“

People can look up their name as in the PAN database by doing a mock self-tax assessment, or with their registered user ID, or through their linked bank account. Once they get the name as entered in the re cords, they can ensure the Aadhaar data matches that.

However, activists are angry. “This is threatening to turn tax payers into defaulters,“ says activist Gopal Krishna of Citizens Forum for Civic Liberties, New Delhi. For those still struggling to figure out how to file tax returns, a former chief justice of the Madras HC has this piece of advice: “File the returns by Speed Post and attach a copy of the recent Supreme Court order.There is no way they can refuse your I-T returns. In fact, the Income Tax Act has provisions that allow you to file income tax even without a PAN card.“

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Shot By Her Boyfriend And Now Using A Wheelchair, She Found A ‘New Me’ #Vaw

Malebogo Molefhe, a winner of the 2017 International Women of Courage award, at the U.S. Department of State

Ryan Eskalis/NPR

When people find out that Malebogo Malefhe uses a wheelchair because she was shot by her boyfriend, the first question they ask is: “What did you do to him?”

Now Malefhe, who sustained eight bullets from her boyfriend of 10 years, wants to make sure that no woman who has faced domestic abuse is asked this question ever again.

The incident in 2009 nearly cost Malefhe her life. Since then, she has devoted herself to fighting gender-based violence in her native Botswana and teaching women that when men hurt them, it’s not their fault.

This year, the U.S. State Department gave her the 2017 International Women of Courage award. Now in its 11th year, the prize recognizes women who have put their lives on the line to improve their communities.

“Malebogo is being honored for her tenacity, strength and resilience to help other women and girls overcome the scourge of domestic violence,” said Thomas A. Shannon Jr., undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, speaking at the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Malefhe, 37, a former basketball player for Botswana’s national team, also advocates for the advancement of women in sports, with a focus on women with disabilities. She spoke with us about the shooting, her goals and how she stays motivated to help others. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

It’s a tragic story. After your boyfriend shot you, he took his own life.

They call it passion killing, and it’s been a trend [in Botswana] over the past 15 to 20 years. You hear stories of men in relationships who disagree about certain things, then brutalize women or hang themselves.

Passion killings seem to be a common topic in the news, and there’s been a study about their portrayal in the media. And in a six-month period in 2009, the police reported 89 deaths in Botswana from crimes of passion — seven men and 82 women. Where do you think this horrific phenomenon stems from?

We have cultural norms that limit women, like the bride’s price — the dowry. It bounds women to men and makes men think that once they have paid the price, then they own the woman. Culturally, women are not allowed to speak out against their husbands. When they try to talk to them or voice their concerns, men become threatened. They don’t really like it. So they take action.

You barely survived. You were left with spinal cord injuries and now you use a wheelchair. How did you find the strength to overcome it all?

I don’t want to lie — it was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was not easy. My injury was extensive. I almost lost my life. I had to learn how to use my body again. I had to learn to live over again. My friends and family stood by me and gave me the hope to keep living my life.

To find myself in that bottomless pit took so much courage to rise. And when I did, I looked at my life and said, I can use my story to help women. If I don’t tell my story, who else is going to do that?

Did you ever feel sorry for yourself?

Yes I did. Absolutely, I felt [starts to cry] sorry for myself so many times. I regretted so much. It was not like it just happened that night. The red flags had always been there. I just needed to have spotted the moment and left.

How are you helping women make sure they never have to go what you went through?

I tell women to look at the signs while they still have the time. Walk out while they still have the chance. They may not have the same opportunity as me. Some women have lost their lives because of violence. Others have been locked up in a mental institution because they’ve lost their mind because of the beatings or abuse.

I tell women that every time a crime is perpetrated, they should report it. But they report issues of abuse, then withdraw them. It’s difficult for authorities to follow up on their issues or assist them accordingly. Women need education to open them up to the realization that abuse is prevalent and they need to find ways to overcome it.

What part of your story surprises them the most?

My strength. It still shocks me as well. I don’t drown in self-pity. That is past now. Now I am the new me, in a wheelchair.

You were a basketball player on Botswana’s national team before you were shot. How are you staying connected to sports?

I’m trying to get people in wheelchairs to partake in the Paralympics. I’m trying to get as many women involved in this as possible. At this point, I’m the only one playing [basketball] with men. But I know there are so many women who have this same potential.

You’re also a champion of “self-love.” What does that mean, exactly?

We meet monthly with a group of girls. They are from small villages, impoverished; many are school dropouts. We teach them the value of living your purpose. To do that, they have to look inside themselves and note what they want to do with their lives. If they know this, it will help them be vigilant about their own lives.

It seems like you’ve found your purpose.

I’m just in the right place.

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UP- #AntiRomeo squad ‘catches’ tutor, student exchanging notes in the most dramatic manner

40 officials of the anti-Romeo squad ‘nabbed’ a tutor and his female student without realising they were only exchanging notes.

by Vishakha Saxena
File photo of an anti-Romeo drive in Uttar Pradesh.


Yogi Adityanath‘s Anti-Romeo squad has run into a controversy, AGAIN.

More than 40 policemen of the anti-Romeo squad rushed to a house in Uttar Pradesh‘s Moradabad and forced a tutor and his female student to the police station, according to report in The Telegraph.

The officers let the two go when they realised that the female student had gone to the house to collect notes.


Here’s all you need to know about this bizarre operation:
  1. On Sunday night, 40 members of the Anti-Romeo squad turned up at a house in Moradabad in eight beacon-laden SUVs. The cops first surrounded the house then stormed in to nab a tutor and his female student. Eyewitnesses rightly likened the operation to one for catching “a terrorist or a big criminal.”
  2. The tutor kept requesting the police to let him go — with folded hands — saying he had done nothing wrong. While talking to Telegraph, the tutor alleged he was “paraded in the streets for a few minutes” before being shoved into an SUV. The female student was shoved into another SUV, and both were taken to Thakurdwara police station.
  3. Police say they arrived at the house after receiving a tip off on Dial 100 — Lucknow’s control room for public complaints. Some officers reportedly told eyewitnesses that they were just doing their jobs.
  4. After this dramatic “capture”, police let the two go after realising they were simply exchanging notes. “The man is a tutor and the girl his student. There were four men in the house but two had left by the time the police reached there. The girl had gone there to collect notes from his tutor. We released them after interrogation and handed them over to their parents,” Akhilesh Narayan, Moradabad superintendent of police (rural), told Telegraph.
  5. When the newspaper prodded Narayan if this was how anti-Romeo were going to function, he chose to say nothing at all.

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Telangana: Dalit man, who was in love with upper caste woman, killed

“They were planning to get married after taking permission from her parents but they were fiercely against it and warned Madhukar.”

By: Express News Service | Hyderabad |

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Representational ImageThe death of a Dalit youth who was in love with an upper caste girl in a village in Peddapalli district of Telangana is snowballing into a controversy. Parents of the youth Manthani Madhukar, 28, and Dalit organizations are alleging that it was a case of honour killing and that he was murdered by family members of the girl.

The incident occurred on March 14 in Khanapur village of Peddapalli district. On March 13, as both their families were opposed to their marriage, the lovers had allegedly attempted suicide by consuming pesticide. The girl consumed pesticide at her home while Madhukar allegedly went near a canal on the outskirts of the village and consumed it there. However, while the girl survived and was admitted to a hospital in a serious condition by her family members, the whereabouts of Madhukar were unknown.

Madhukar’s brother M Sammaiah said that Madhukar worked as a tractor driver in the farms belonging to Putta Shankar in the same village. While working there he met Shankar’s niece and they both fell in love. “They were planning to get married after taking permission from her parents but they were fiercely against it and warned Madhukar,’’ Sammaiah said. Her family was totally against the marriage as Madhukar was a Dalit.

Sammaiah said that they did not enter into a suicide pact but the girl tried to commit suicide while Madhukar was killed by her relatives. Sammaiah said that on March 13 morning Madhukar left home after receiving a phone call that the girl had tried to commit suicide and was admitted to hospital in serious condition in Karimnagar.

“After leaving home on March 13, my brother did not return and we were very worried and searched for him in the village. The next day Madhukar’s second mobile which he had left at home rang and when I answered it was the girl and she asked me about the whereabouts of Madhukar. I do not know how she managed to call from the hospital. When I told her we had no clue and were searching for him, she told us to look near the canal. She also asked us if her family members had given us any information or not. We found Madhukar’s body in the bushes near the canal. There were injury marks all over his body,” he said.

The girl who was a in a critical condition for nearly 10 days was discharged from hospital on March 26 but she initially refused to give a statement to police. Madhukar’s parents allege that after the girl attempted suicide, her relatives lured Madhukar to outskirts of the village and bludgeoned him to death. His brother claims that one of his eyes was gouged out and there were injuries all over his body. However, the post-mortem report does not mention any external injuries while viscera samples have been sent to FSL to check for poisoning-related death.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Peddapalli, Sindhu Sharma who is investigating the case said that photos and video of the body before post-mortem shows no signs of injuries and though one eye was shut, eyeball was intact.

“As parents have raised doubts about the post mortem report we have sought a re-postmortem by a different team of doctors. I have also requested the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Karimnagar to depute a judicial officer to witness the second post-mortem. It should be completed in a day or two,’’ ACP Sharma said.

As anger mounted in the village against police which initially claimed that it was a case of suicide, police is now saying that they are reconstructing the events that led to Madhukar’s death and will reveal all details after the inquiry is over. Parents and villagers alleged that the girl’s uncle Shankar is related to Manthani MLA Putta MAdhu of the TRS and belongs to same caste so the girl’s family is being protected. Several human rights activists, Dalit organizations and BAPSA held demonstrations at the village today.

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Rajasthan- Gau rakshaks killed a dairy farmer, not cattle smuggler #WTFnews

Alwar attack:

While most of the villagers in Jaisinghpur are farmers, there are about 10 dairy farmers. Pehlu Khan was one of them.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Mewat |

alwar, gau rakshak, alwar highway murder, cow smuggling, rajasthan gau rakshak, rajasthan cow smuggling, rajasthan gau rakshak murder, cow vigilante, indian expressPehlu Khan’s grieving wife and sons. Amit MehraWHEN PEHLU Khan, 55, set out on the 240-km road trip from his home in Jaisinghpur village, in Nuh tehsil of Mewat, to Jaipur last Friday, he was planning to buy a milch buffalo. A dairy farmer, he was hoping to increase milk production during Ramzan. But on Saturday, he decided to buy a milch cow instead, as the seller extracted 12 litres of milk in front of him and offered him a good deal. That decision cost him his life.

“That was the worst decision ever. It took my father’s life,” said his son Irshad, 24. He and his brother, Aarif, were with Khan when they were attacked by gau rakshaks in Behror area of Alwar, on National Highway 8, on Saturday evening. Khan succumbed to injuries on Monday.

“My father was in a pickup truck with a Rajasthan numberplate, along with Azmat, who is also from our village. There were two cows and two calves in the truck. Irshad, I and another villager were in the other pickup truck which had three cows and three calves,” said Aarif. He recounted how the gau rakshaks stopped their vehicles, dragged them out and assaulted them with sticks and belts. Stating that the police came about 20-30 minutes later, he said they were almost unconscious by then.

The gau rakshaks reportedly accused them of illegally smuggling cows for slaughter. The Rajasthan police have also registered an FIR against them for illegally transporting cattle for slaughter, based on a complaint filed by a person identified as Damodar Singh. The FIR states that Khan and the others did not have a purchase document or receipt.

But Irshad claimed they had receipts to show that they had purchased the cows. Showing the receipt, which has the stamp of the Jaipur Municipal Corporation (serial number 89942 dated April 1, 2017), he said: “I don’t know how an FIR was registered stating that that we had no purchase receipt. I bought the cows for Rs 45,000.”

The five men were also robbed of their wallets and cellphones. Irshad reportedly had about Rs 75,000 while another person lost about Rs 35,000.

While most of the villagers in Jaisinghpur are farmers, there are about 10 dairy farmers. Pehlu Khan was one of them. On Friday, four other dairy farmers from the village had also travelled to Jaipur to buy buffaloes and cows. Zakir Khan, the biggest dairy farmer in the village, was among them.

Zakir said he was carrying a cow, a calf and a buffalo in his pickup truck. He reached the spot where Pehlu Khan and the others were attacked about 45 minutes after the incident. “When I reached the spot, there were around 200 people along with the police. I saw Pehlu Khan’s vehicle and learnt that they had been beaten up. I escaped,” he said.

Zakir, who buys milk from the smaller dairy farmers in the village, confirmed that Pehlu Khan was one of his suppliers. He dug out his records to show that Irshad had been supplying milk to him for the last four years.

“The difference in cost is at least Rs 20,000 when we buy cattle from Jaipur,” said Zakir, showing receipts to prove that he had bought cows and buffaloes from Jaipur several times in the past too. “I bought a cow last year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the police are yet to arrest the six named in the attack — Hukum Chand, Jagmal, Om Prakash, Sudheer, Rahul Saini and Navin Saini. According to the FIR, the accused told Pehlu Khan that “whoever passes Behror with a cow will be beaten up”.

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India – #DeathPenality to be abolished ? Here’s what Law Commission has to say


Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir on Wednesday said that Law Commission in its 262nd report has recommended that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism-related offences and waging war.

death penalty, death penalty abolished, death abolished, capital punishment abolished in india, india death penalty abolished, capital punishment abolished, capital pubishment modi governmentThe report has been circulated to all state governments and union territories for seeking their views (Reuters)

The long pending issue of death penalty in India may reach an end soon. Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir on Wednesday said that Law Commission in its 262nd report has recommended that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes other than terrorism-related offences and waging war.  “As Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure are in the concurrent list of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, the report has been circulated to all state governments and union territories for seeking their views,” he said replying a written question.

The Union Minister was actually citing a report submitted by Commission to central government in August, 2015. The commission, headed by justice AP Shah, said that 10-member panel concluded that while death penalty does not serve the penological goal of deterrence any more than life imprisonment, concern is often raised that abolition of capital punishment for terror-related offences and waging war will affect national security. However, out of the 10 members three members of the commission including two representing the Ministry of Law and Justice — Law Secretary P K Malhotra and Legislative Secretary Sanjay Singh — submitted dissent notes against the recommendation. Along with Malhotra and Singh, former Delhi High Court judge Usha Mehra who referred to the rights of “innocent victims”.

There has been a sharp spike in death sentences handed out by the lower judiciary in India in recent years.  According to a study by Delhi-based National Law University’s Centre on the Death Penalty, 136 people were sentenced to death by sessions courts last year(2016) compared to 70 the previous year (2015). The rights group have been continuously calling for abolition of death sentences.  As per the apex court’s recommendations, death sentence can only be awarded only in the “rarest of rare” cases.

The Supreme Court in Bachan Singh vs Union of India, 1980, held that the law‘s instrumentality ought not to be used to take away life except in rarest of rare cases when the alternative options unquestionably foreclosed. But, what constitutes ‘rarest of the rare’ is subject to interpretation and thus a bone of contention.

The experience in India suggests that the phrase ‘rarest of rare’ crime is loosely interpreted to award death penalty in increasing array of offences. Even the Law Commission referred to the unguided discretion of sentencing courts. Capital sentencing in India is often based on the personal predilection of judges.

The Supreme Court in Bachan Singh and other subsequent verdicts held that the subjective opinion of individual judges as to the morality, efficacy or otherwise of a sentence, particularly death sentence, cannot be ruled out. If the law panel recommendation is adopted, the ‘rarest of the rare’ crimes would be concretely defined and shall prevent its wide applications.

Studies indicate that the death penalty has failed to deter heinous crimes. The Law Commission analysis reveals that there is no evidence to conclude that the death penalty has a deterrent effect over and above life imprisonment. The absence of the deterrent effect of death penalty is because most of these crimes for which such a harsher punishment is awarded are heat-of-the-moment  crimes unlike the acts of terror that are preplanned.

None can give any guarantee that a person is not falsely implicated given the levels of corruption and inefficiency in our criminal justice system. The majority verdict of apex court in Bachan Singh also held, “… such errors of judgment cannot be absolutely eliminated from any system of justice, devised and worked by human beings …”.

court in Ravji vs. State of Rajasthan, 1996, had in fact admitted such errors. The death penalty is an irreversible punishment and can only be awarded when such a foolproof system is assured at any cost. Even if the death penalty is awarded in the rarest of rare cases like terrorism or war, judicial errors cannot be totally eliminated. Thus, adequate safeguards and checks are an imperative.

The experience of death penalty in India also suggests a class divide among those who were sentenced for this. The rich and the mighty have manipulated the system to escape the clutches of law while the poor and marginalised were served with sentence to death.

Both the blood-thirsty demand for capital punishment or bleeding-heart urge for its abolition are unwarranted. The well laid down aspects in Indian jurisprudence like the rarest of the rare case test and the test of ‘amenable to reform‘ (Law Commission of India, 2015b)  should be applied and per incuriam should be avoided in delivering judgments in such sensitive cases.

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Director of feminist film’ Queen’ , Vikas Bahl faces sexual harassment charges #Vaw


The events at Bollywood’s hipster film company reveal a sordid murkiness.

A day after this newspaper ran a front page story about alleged sexual harassment by a top Bollywood director and his subsequent ouster from the film production house that he co-founded with three others in 2011, the dramatis personae at the heart of the controversy offered conflicting versions.

According to information available with us, a young woman working at Phantom Films had alleged that she was molested by Vikas Bahl, director of the much-acclaimed Queen, during a trip to Goa a few months ago.

Following her complaint to the other stakeholders at Phantom, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, the matter was escalated to Reliance Entertainment with whom Phantom has a 50-50 joint venture. The seriousness of the allegations resulted in the company setting up a committee as per the Vishakha guidelines to hear her grievance.

One of the stakeholders who spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “We (Reliance Entertainment and Phantom Films) have taken a hard stand, based on what we have heard and investigated.” According to him and several others close to the development, Vikas Bahl, who had already stopped attending office, was formally told on March 28 to step down from his position.

“The decision needed to be taken because it was getting too much,” said the stakeholder. “There are not one, two or three but multiple victims. I was in the middle of a film shoot when I came to know about the first incident and I had to stop my shoot and come to Mumbai… there is (after all) a young girl on whom an intoxicated Vikas forced himself while they were in Goa. He has behaved badly in the past as well but when this specific complaint came, we needed to act on it.”

But the man at the centre of these allegations denies them categorically, as does another Phantom partner, Madhu Mantena, who said no action had been taken against the Queen director. Bahl, 45, who is at present in Delhi tending to his ailing mother, spoke to this reporter on the phone, and this is what he had to say: “Nothing has happened. I am running the company. There is no complaint to HR and there is no Vishakha committee. I have heard about this particular lady you are speaking about and the Goa incident. She is not my employee. Yes, I am friends with her, we have worked together and there is a production job we have done together…but if she is feeling like this I would like to sit across a table from her and talk to her. I want to ask her if I have crossed a line, whether I have done anything to hurt her and if she feels that way I would like to apologise for it. I have known her for long. For two-and-ahalf years she has never made me feel as if she is uncomfortable (around me). I have worked very hard to be the person I have become. I do feel a little victimised but I don’t know what to do about that,” he said, adding that it was not a case of a relationship gone wrong either.

Contrary to his protestations one of his partners said: “There are lawyers crawling over the proceedings and the investigations are still on. They have been for a long time.” Proclaiming to be “heart-broken, disillusioned, angry and pissed off” the partner said the company’s action against Bahl had not been easy. “It’s a scary place to be in because he’s my best friend. It’s not easy, right?”

Citing the action against Bahl as a game changer in Bollywood, he added: “This industry is filled with instances like this aur yeh sadiyon se chalta aa raha hai. But it has to stop, and we will make sure it is done the right way. It is important to see this through. Vikas being sacked will affect everyone.”

Multiple messages, phone calls and detailed emails to Reliance Entertainment COO Shibashish Sarkar and Head of Marketing Sameer Chopra went unacknowledged.

For his part, Bahl said he had absolutely nothing to hide and said he had no idea why someone might try to make these allegations against him. “People really like me. I don’t know why anyone would stoop to this level.”

About possible fissures in Phantom, he claimed equal innocence. “Phantom Films is like my family. I gave up a huge job to start this company. My shares in Phantom are equal to the others. We are equal partners and best friends. If you have followed (the US sitcom) FRIENDS, you will know that after the first season of the show Ross had become the most popular guy and the makers of the show hiked his fee three times over. He went and told the producers if you are doing it for me you have to do it for the others too. And that was our learning. We will always be equal partners. It doesn’t matter whose movie does well and whose doesn’t. We will always be equal partners.”

Wonder where that leaves the alleged victims.

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