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Archives for : January2018

Sexual Harassment case – Mahesh murthy- ‘I merely sent her kiss emoji’ #Vaw #WTFnews

Angel investor Mahesh Murthy has said in statements to police that he never met the Delhi-based complainant, only sent her a WhatsApp message that is being held against him

Angel investor Mahesh Murthy, who has been booked by Mumbai police for allegedly sexually harassing a Delhi woman, has told police that he has never met the complainant and that just one WhatsApp message — in which he reportedly sent her lips emoticons that many associate with kiss — is being held against him.

An FIR was lodged against Murthy, founder of Pinstorm and partner in venture capital firm Seedfund, by Khar police on December 29 after the National Commission for Women (NCW) intervened on the basis of complaints received from the victim and other women. Despite several past accusations of sexual misconduct against him, this is the first time a formal complaint was filed against Murthy.

Khar police have recorded the statements of both sides and are now gathering evidence to file a chargesheet in the case. The police said that they recorded Murthy’s statements twice and on both occasions, he denied knowing the complainant, who has accused him of making objectionable, derogatory and sexual remarks and obscene signs.

In his statements to police, Murthy said that he came to know the lady through a LinkedIn group, and had never actually met her. He claimed that they always interacted in groups as he was a financer and the woman was setting up her own start-up.

“On 25 December 2016, the lady sent me Christmas greetings via WhatsApp and I replied with the lips emoticon. She found this message objectionable and started venting her anger on social networking sites. When I came to know about it, I apologised to her and she accepted it,” a Khar policeman quoted Murthy as saying.

He also told the cops that he had sent the same message to other people in the LinkedIn group and that he never intended to hurt her. “But when things took an ugly turn, I filed a defamation case against the woman in a Delhi court in January 2017. The court issued a restraining order, asking her not to say anything defamatory against me anywhere. It was after this that she complained to the NCW,” Murthy reportedly told police.

He has got interim relief from a Mumbai court till January 30.

Meanwhile, the woman has submitted the details of her chats with Murthy to police. She has also said that she found the kisses emoticons that Murthy sent her objectionable.

In one of the social networking sites, the woman had written, “I wished Mahesh Murthy Merry Christmas n a new year I got a response something like that. Unfortunately my LinkedIn app allows me to add only one picture but I want to know from my fellow entrepreneurs and investors do we deserve this? So next time when you talk to investors you should mentally prepare yourself.”

Soon after her outburst, other women came up with similar allegations against Murthy. The police are now trying to contact those ladies, who had also share their bitter experiences on social media. “Two of them promised to come forward and record their statements, but till now, no one has turned up. We are waiting for their response,” said an officer from Khar police station.

Earlier a woman author had accused Murthy of sexual harassment 13 years ago, which he had denied as “absolute and complete lies”. This apart, a central government lady officer had alleged that Murthy had reached out to her for some professional advice last year and then around Diwali last year, sent her inappropriate electronic messages.

In 2013, a US national had made a similar allegation dating back to the time she had met Murthy in a coffee shop in Mumbai. She had posted that Murthy repeatedly brought up the topic of sex during their conversation, and tried to touch her several times. A student of SIES College, too, had said Murthy behaved inappropriately with her during a meeting at Taj Land’s End hotel in Bandra in 2003.

“A case has been registered against him under section 354 (D), 509 of IPC and under section 67 of IT Act,” said Ramchandra Jadhav, senior police inspector, Khar police station.


Murthy has told cops that he sent the lips emoticon (right) on WhatsApp in response to the woman’s Christmas greetings on Dec 25, 2016

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Haj subsidy -Team Modi Misusing Supreme Court Order

Brinda Karat

In a secular country such as India, should public money be used to fund individuals to join religious yatras of their choice? If someone wants to travel to Mecca or to Mansarovar, should the government use public money to fund them? These questions arise with the recent decision of the government to end the Haj subsidy.

Announcing the government’s decision to abolish the Haj subsidy, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the decision is in accordance with a 2012 Supreme Court order. He also said “It is part of the Modi government’s efforts to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement.”

If the end of government subsidies for individual pilgrims traveling to Mecca brings back dignity to Muslims, why not bring back dignity to Hindus? Why give subsidies to Hindu pilgrims? If it is appeasement to subsidize pilgrims to Mecca, is it empowerment to subsidize pilgrims to Mansarovar, Ayodhya and other such places considered holy by Hindus?

Within a week of taking over as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath announced a big hike in the subsidy for the pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar to upto one lakh rupees per yatri. The Rajasthan Government also provides a similar subsidy. The Madhya Pradesh Government provides a range of subsidies, including for senior citizens, to Ayodhya and Mathura and further afield to those travelling to temple destinations in Sri Lanka, Kampuchea and Pakistan. Other state governments which give such subsidies to individual Hindu pilgrims in organized yatras to identified religious destinations are Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Haryana, Tamil Nadu; more recently, Delhi has in a new scheme increased the subsidy to individual senior citizens participating in religious yatras. These subsidies range from 25,000 rupees to one lakh rupees given to individual pilgrims. This is apart from the other general arrangements made.

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Haj subsidy, besides cheaper fares on Air India, also included help to pilgrims to reach specially-designed Haj departure terminals at airports, food and medical care

There is certainly a difference between subsidies to individual pilgrims and money spent by governments to ensure the safety and well-being of the hundreds and thousands of people who participate in events such as the Kumbh Mela or the Sabarimala Yatra. When thousands and lakhs congregate at a particular site to offer worship without adequate arrangements made by governments, there could be accidents, injuries and sometimes tragic deaths. In that sense, it is wrong of Member of Parliament Asaduddin Owaisi to have compared Haj subsidies to expenses for arrangements at religious functions.

The Supreme Court order referred to by the Minority Affairs Minister was concerning funds for individual pilgrims. However, the order gave a ten-year period to the government to phase out the subsidies to Haj pilgrims. It stated “(we) direct Central Government, progressively reduce amount of subsidy so as to completely eliminate it within a period of ten years from today…” which would be May 2022. But the central government has terminated the subsidy for Haj completely within five years, which is a violation of the Supreme Court directions, even as state governments headed by the BJP-RSS are increasing subsidies for Hindu pilgrims.

It is these conflicting and contrasting policies on an issue of state subsidies for religious activities which underline the arbitrary and motivated nature of the decision to terminate the Haj subsidy.

 As far as the May 2012 Supreme Court judgement on the Haj is concerned, contrary to the claim of the minister, it had nothing to do with constitutional issues. The two-member bench of Justice Altaf Alam and Justice Ranjana Desai were hearing a bunch of petitions from private travel operators who were aggrieved by certain orders issued by the then union government setting down conditions for their registration. The Bombay High Court had stayed the government orders and it was the union government which approached the Supreme Court in a petition to lift the stay. The issue of the abolition of Haj subsidy was not asked for by the petitioners or by the union government. It was entirely extraneous to the matter at hand and was a most unexpected direction of the court. But even while giving such a direction, the court held that giving such a subsidy “was not unconstitutional.”
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Days ago, the government also allowed Muslim women above 45 to go on Haj without male company, in a group of at least four

It referred to an earlier court judgement in January 2012 in a case which had directly challenged the Haj subsidy as being unconstitutional and specifically against Article 27 of the constitution. This was a case filed by Praful Goradia, a former Rajya Sabha member of the BJP from Gujarat. Article 27 says “No person shall be compelled to pay any tax, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious domination.” The bench headed by Justices Markandey Katju and Sudha Mishra dismissed the petition, holding that Sec 27 was not violated since only a small portion of the tax paid by citizens for general use by the government was used for the Haj subsidy. The judgement also noted that the government affidavit in defense mentioned other subsidies given for religious pilgrimages including to Mansarovar and to facilitate “pilgrimages to Sikh and Hindu pilgrims to visit temples and gurudwaras in Pakistan.”

One may not agree with this judgement, but it clearly treats all pilgrims equally regardless of the religion they may believe in. But the government has ignored this judgement. This is the second such example within a month when the government has misread and misused a Supreme Court judgement to further a narrow agenda of targeting the minority community.

On the talaq-e-biddat judgement, the government brought a bill to criminalize triple talaq in the name of the Supreme Court when the court had not in fact suggested any such step even while it set aside this abhorrent practice. The bill has draconian features which gives the government and the police the power to target, charge and arrest Muslim men on a complaint by a third party who may have nothing to do with his victimized wife. Even while it professed its concern for the rights of Muslim women, the government was simultaneously moving towards relaxing the laws on domestic violence under Sec 498A linked to dowry and mental and physical harassment against women by diluting its provisions. While talaq-e-biddat is proposed to be a non-bailable crime, the present law against violence on dowry demands is sought to be changed to make it bailable. Why these double standards? Similarly, in the present case of Haj subsidy, the government has distorted the Supreme Court judgement to abolish the Haj subsidy while at the same time it is increasing subsidies for pilgrims of the majority community. Again, why these double standards?

The secular principle of the separation of the state from religion means that the government should phase out subsidies to all individual pilgrims across religions. This should not be confused with the government’s responsibility to provide security and other infrastructural facilities on occasions where large numbers of pilgrims congregate. In no case should the government discriminate among pilgrims of different communities in its approach. But in selectively abolishing the Haj subsidy while increasing and promoting other such subsidies, this is precisely what the Modi Government is doing.

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