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Archives for : February2018

Actor Jeetendra Accused Of Sexual Assault By His Cousin #Vaw

Jeetendra, whose real name is Ravi Kapoor, is the complainant’s maternal cousin.

The alleged incident took place in January 1971, when the victim was 18 and Jeetendra was 28

SHIMLA:  Veteran Bollywood actor Jeetendra has been accused of sexually harassing his cousin 47 years ago. The survivor filed a complaint against the actor on Wednesday.

Jeetendra, whose real name is Ravi Kapoor, is the complainant’s maternal cousin.

A complaint has been filed with the Himachal Pradesh’s Director General of Police.

As per the complaint, the alleged incident took place in January 1971, when the victim was 18 and Jeetendra was 28 and the actor “arranged” for the survivor to join him from New Delhi to Shimla on the set of his movie without her “awareness”.

The complainant has claimed that on the night they reached Shimla, Jeetendra returned to the room in an inebriated state, joined the two separate beds and sexually assaulted her.

The allegation comes amid the #MeToo campaign as part of which women have come out about facing sexual abuse at the hands of powerful men. While several ladies have accused Hollywood’s powerful men, the Hindi film industry — while admitting the prevalence of abuse — have not named and shamed as openly.

A statement issued by his lawyer said Jeetendra categorically denies any such incident took place. “..Such baseless, ridiculous and fabricated claims cannot be entertained by any Court of law or the law enforcement agencies after a span of almost 50 years. The Statute has provided a justice delivery system through the Courts, and the Limitation Act 1963 was specifically enacted to ensure that all genuine complaints are made within a maximum time limit of three years, so that a proper investigation is carried out and timely justice is delivered,” the statement issued by advocate Rizwan Siddiquee said.

“..the timing of this baseless complaint seems to be nothing but a miserable effort made by a jealous competitor to disrupt the business activities of my client and his esteemed company,” the statement said.

Jeetendra, now 75, is a well-known name in the Hindi film industry. He is also a film producer, and has daughter Ekta and son Tusshar with wife Shobhaa.

Jeetendra, 75, is a well-known name in the Hindi film industry.


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India – Why Health Budget is not about people, but about markets

The Budget speech pitch of ‘Swastha Bharat’ as ‘Samridha Bharat’ is deception, because the allocation for realising that is missing.


Each year when the Budget is tabled in parliament, there is excitement and expectations. Should we say this used to be? Things have changed dramatically over the years.

In the good old days, during the Budget session, we would wait excitedly to know about the price hike in petrol, diesel and kerosene. Now this happens each day and in recent months gradually the price of petrol and diesel has increased to an all-time high and there are no protests.

Grudgingly people accept, hoping that in the weeks ahead this may reduce. So budgets no longer excite. They are a mere public relations exercise, where the incumbent government and media compete with each other to come up with fanciful and creative headlines, though no doubt also useful information and analysis.

But the Budget is politics that underlines the government’s policy commitments. In every Budget speech, there are a number of headline-catching statements which are then hotly debated in panel discussions, on the media and even on the streets. While in the good old days, budgets balanced their commitments between people and markets, in recent years we see an increasing shift in budgets being focused on markets and the private sector.

While civil society’s main concern is with regard to the impact on prices and taxes on their income and how their spending capacities are affected, this too is now being done outside the Budget. The Goods and Services Tax Council takes decisions for taxes on commodities and services, and a new direct tax code will soon take charge of income taxes. So then what remains of interest to civil society in the Budget?

Increasingly, allocations for social sectors like health, education, food and social security and other welfare programmes are beginning to matter and draw increasing attention of citizens and the media.

At the national level, these account for over one-fourth of the Budget, but at the state-level over-two fifths. This implies that for these sectors, then, the state budgets matter much more as the bulk of resources for these sectors are with the states – and more so post the 14th Finance Commission which hiked the share of states in devolved taxes, and after the death of the Planning Commission, a number of planned schemes and centrally-sponsored schemes have been undermined.

At present, the prime minister’s office is at the centre of such decision-making, with some of its thinking being done by the NITI Aayog. The line departments have been sidelined completely and have a very small say in key decisions pertaining to their policies and budgets. Lets illustrate this with the example of the health sector in the context of the 2018-19 Budget launched on February 1, 2018.

Seeing the National Health Policy 2017 and the new health budget together

With the National Health Policy (NHP) mandating an increase in health spending to 2.5% of GDP, with 40% coming from the Union government, the current Budget is nowhere close to moving in that direction in terms of allocations. The NHP draft of 2015 reflected the mandate of the health ministry: strengthening the public health system, creating a right to healthcare legislation and reaching a public spend of 2.5% of GDP by 2018.

That draft was scrapped and the final version, NHP 2017 which was was tabled in parliament, focused on the private sector and the insurance model. The 2018-19 Budget health proposals should be thus contextualised in the 2017 NHP.

Did the new health budget increase by 11.5% or only 2.5%?

Last year the Centre’s budget increase for health (Ministry of Health including health research and AYUSH) was 25%. This year it has increased by only 12% (from Rs 50,281 crore in 2017-18 (BE) to Rs 56,226 crore in 2018-19). This is a mere 0.3% of GDP and 2.4% of the total Budget allocations. If we compare the 2018-19 allocation with the revised estimate for 2017-18 (Rs 54,852) then the increase is a mere 2.4%. This, in real terms, is a decline if we include the over 5% inflation.

If we compare the 2018-19 allocation with the revised estimate for 2017-18 (Rs 51,550.85 crore), then the increase is a mere 2.4%. In real terms, this should be seen not as an increase but as a decline if we include the over 5% inflation.

A health worker (R) weighs a child under a government program in New Delhi, India, May 7, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

A health worker (R) weighs a child under a government programme in New Delhi, India, May 7, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

Thus the Budget speech pitch of ‘Swastha Bharat’ as ‘Samridha Bharat’ is deception, because the allocation for realising that is missing in the Budget.

It also speaks of converting the 1.5 lakh sub-centres into health wellness centres for which Rs 1,200 crore has been allocated. However, the same announcement was also made in the 2017-18 Budget and nothing has happened on this front with the exception of Kerala, which recently began implementing this.

In addition, states are estimated to spend Rs 185,000 crore in 2017-18 and perhaps close to Rs 200,000 in 2018-19. Together, the Centre and state budgets would add up to around 1.3% of GDP, slightly higher than 2017-18 estimate of 1.14% of GDP. The total estimated public health expenditure for 2018-19 would be about Rs 1,969 per capita for Centre and states combined, which is about half of what is needed in terms of the NHP goal. The current incipient rate of incremental increase in the Budget will never get us close to that goal. What we need is a radical shift of 40-50% increase per year in public health expenditure.

What about the allocations for other health sector flagship programmes?

The lack of seriousness in the finance minister’s intentions to realise a Swastha Bharat is revealed when we look at allocations for some of the key flagship programmes.

Where the National Health Mission (NHM) is concerned, there is a decline in allocation from Rs 30,801.56 crore in the 2017-18 revised estimate to Rs 30,129.61 crore in 2018-19, largely due to cuts in the National Rural Health Mission from Rs 25,458 crore to Rs 24,279 crore, a decline of 5%. The NHM is the key to strengthening public health services, and a reduction in its budgetary allocations will only decimate the few gains that have been made over the last decade in improved rural healthcare services. These gains are reflected both in the 71st National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) round results as well as the latest National Health Accounts, which indicate improved access to public health services and their utilisation, at least in rural areas and especially for out-patient care across states. In the case of hospitalisations, rural areas seem to hold out for public health services, perhaps again reflecting the small gains of NRHM, though urban areas are increasingly shifting towards private hospital care, which the recent government-sponsored health insurance schemes are encouraging and supporting for those below the poverty line.

There is an small but interesting change to note in the 71st round of NSSO data. Where out-patient care is concerned, over the last two decades, there has been a small upward trend in public facility utilisation, especially in rural areas. This reflects the impact of the NRHM. The private sector appears to have reached saturation in provision of out-patient care, but also perhaps because of new medical technologies and diagnostics has probably become less affordable for the poorer quintiles.

In urban areas though, the same data says that across two decades, there has been a shift towards increased use of the private sector for hospital care. This is due to poor investments in the public health sector as well as an expansion of health insurance schemes, including government-financed health insurance for the poor that directs most patients to private hospitals.

Further evidence of the government’s disinterest in healthcare and consequent move towards privatisation is provided by budgetary cuts in other components of public health programmes. The Reproductive Child Health flexipool, which is mostly for immunisation and linked to reducing maternal and child mortality, has declined by 30%, from Rs 7,545 crore in 2017-18 RE to Rs 5,253 crore in 2018-19. Also, the communicable diseases flexipool, which is critical for primary healthcare and affects the poor, has also declined by 27% from Rs 2,648 crore RE 2017-18 to Rs 1,928 crore in 2018-19. How will the government meet its sustainable development goals if these key programmes are choked of resources? The 2018-19 Budget is a clear prescription for the decimation of primary healthcare, which was otherwise reviving with some efforts under the NRHM.

Ravi Duggal is country coordinator of the International Budget Partnership, and a health researcher and activist.

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Indian media seem happy to be co-opted by the government

His say and no more

Just a thought, if only as hors d’oeuvre: Sanjaya was arguably the first television reporter known to us, relaying the great battle live from a far distance. Imagine the consequences of Sanjaya telling Dhritarashtra what would please his ears rather than what transpired as the Kauravas and Pandavas had it off. All it would have taken for an epic subversion of the truth was one obsequious reporter willing to compromise with his craft to curry favour with his master.

After a prime minister lavishly lambasted for never speaking – “Maun Mohan Singh” – we elected a prime minister who never seems to tire of speaking. Some of that, we have been told by his own, amounts to no more than jumlas. But there is a more disturbing aspect to Narendra Modi’s mode of speaking. It’s one-sided.

Modi is into the final lap of his term and he is yet to open himself to questioning in a way that has been the assumed norm for all his predecessors. Our prime minister has his say and he would have no more. On Twitter. On diverse social-media platforms and dedicated web portals. On Mann ki Baat. To commissioned cameras from government-aided or government-allied operations that can be trusted to obey command, pack off and promote the puff. He does not grant interviews, not in the way we should understand them. The complicit silence over how interviews with the prime minister are conducted must be broken. Because people need to know. Here is how it’s done – you may mail a set of questions to one of the prime minister’s aides; they, or the prime minister himself, will examine them and pick which ones are convenient. Of those that the Prime Minister’s Office rejects or refuses to answer, there shall be no mention, or even a record. Subsequently, answers will be formulated and mailed back.

Then, at a convenient time, there shall be a window of time in which interviewer and interviewee will stage a photo-session to make it seem what it never was. The farce falls a bit during television interviews, of the kind Modi has deigned to recently grant; they are so scripted to one man’s purposes, they end up being choreographies of sycophancy.

Modi is the fullness of his mentor Lal Krishna Advani’s stinging compliment – event manager. The Modi interview is an event Modi manages, often even dictating how a question may be framed or intoned. It all ends up like the title of the celebrated Norman Mailer book of essays: Advertisements for Myself.

What is beyond him to manage, he merely brazens through. During his 2014 power-push, he once found himself arrested in the aircraft seat across from a reporter pressing for a response on the 2002 horrors in Gujarat. He kept admiring the far sunset through the cabin window as if he were sitting there solitary. When, having become prime minister, he decided to bundle the media off his official aircraft, he peddled it as a cut on freebies at public expense. Deboarding the media was never so much about accounting of public money as it was about minimizing his own accountability. Truth be told, all that the media took free on the prime minister’s trips were seats on a public aircraft that goes empty anyway. All other expenses were borne by media houses that assigned journalists to cover the prime minister. But Modi doesn’t want to get into situations where he faces questions and must answer them.

The highest virtue of a King is that he should do no wrong; the highest vice is that he should assume he can do no wrong. From such vice issues the notion of not being accountable or answerable.

But where does all this leave the media? And here’s where a return to Sanjaya, that original television reporter, is instructive. Are we reporting the Mahabharat as it plays out, or are we relaying a dictated version of it? Are we doing the watchdog job, as we should, or have we turned lapdogs? The call, frequently made by Modi himself, to “constructive” and “positive” journalism is a thing to be forever wary of, because it is the surest direction into alleys where the media can get lost on its purposes. In addition to the Soviet-style inheritance of a mammoth publicity machine that our governments have possessed in the name of the Press Information Bureau, there exists today an elaborate privately hired PR enterprise at Modi’s disposal. Rs 37,54,06,23,616 is how much he spent on propaganda between 2014 and last October. In addition, there thrives a swift and supple information disorder complex on social media that flaunts a stupefying repertoire of talents – it can invent, twist, distort, distract, divert, disrupt; it is swift to receive and comply with command. It can lie a thousand Goebbelsian times to make a lie sound like the truth: “Nothing happened in India until Narendra Modi ascended to command.” The scheme is as simplistic as it is mendacious; and it is probably also popular because it makes few demands of its consumer – nuance, analysis, understanding, study, scrutiny not required. It’s how most mobs behave, on leave from sense and sensibility, sublimated to a celebration of mindlessness. Collective derangement has frightening precedents. It’s what such a mindful disorder has partially already caused; the palpable lack of disapproval of lynch mobs is proof.

The means to curtail, contain and distract the media freedom have become far more diverse and subtle in our world and it isn’t unfair to suggest that the media themselves have become a party to this insidious process. We revel in a selfie moment with the prime minister, daftly unmindful that the prime minister has revelled in it more because he hasn’t been asked a question.

The media are only too happy to collaborate in its co-option by the government, so much so that the powers almost assume journalists to be their allies, if not adjuncts. Ready access to the powers, an appointment, or a story, your peers will not get. All these on the condition that the story the government does not want told shall not be told. We are, more and more, part of such convivial clubs. We have bartered away the essence of our calling for the seductions of an exaggerated, if altogether false, sense of power. We have allowed ourselves to be sucked in by the Establishment. We might know the inside story but we have become so much the Insiders ourselves that we will not tell it. We revel in carrying secret messages from this politician to that, not in revealing them. We are no longer content being reporters reporting on games people play; we want to be players ourselves. We do not want to be in the press gallery of Parliament, we aspire to sit in the House of Parliament. There was a time a journalist’s worth was measured by how much awe he inspired in the Establishment. Today, journalistic stature is about how much part of the Establishment you are. Partisanship, in its narrowest sense, isn’t a vice that stains journalistic careers, it has become a certificate of virtue. It’s price is our vocation itself. It’s the price Sanjaya would have paid to all posterity had he told the story according to Dhritarashtra.

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Kasganj Violence- Not a ‘ clash’ but a politically motivated communal attack on minorities





A Fact-finding team of the AIPF comprising senior journalists and activists John Dayal and Kiran Shaheen, activist Leena Dabiru, AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, Kisan Mahasabha Vice-President Prem Singh Gehlawat (all of whom are members of the Central Campaign Team of the AIPF) as well as student activists from AISA, JNU – Vijay Kumar and Tabrez Ahmad.

The fact-finding began on 5 February but was interrupted on 6 February around noon after police waylaid the team near the Kasganj District Jail, accused it of violating Section 144, detained it in a Mahila Police Thana for about an hour and then escorted it out of the district. After this, the team also visited Aligarh and met Akram, who lost an eye in the mob attack, and Chhotan, who lies unconscious since 28 January 2018 in JN Medical College Hospital Aligarh.

The main findings of the team are summarized below. 


Medical papers of Chhotan showing how he has severe head injuries
Medical papers of Chhotan showing how he has severe head injuries

Chhotan, aged 45, left his home in Ganj Dundwara near Kasganj on the afternoon of 28 January 2018 on his cycle to earn a living by setting up a stall selling chicken. He had not been able to do so for the past two days because of the disturbance, and he urgently needed to earn to feed his family. He is the sole earning member in a household that includes his wife Shehnaz, his own small son and daughter, as well as the three children of his deceased brother. When he failed to return by nightfall, his wife alerted neighbours who set out in a jeep to search for him. They found him lying in bushes on the road side in Chittera – his assailants apparently fled thinking the jeep was the police.

Chhotan has a grievous head injury and has been unconscious since then. He is in the ICU of the JN Medical College Hospital, Aligarh. He has had to have head surgery, and was on a ventilator. He is now off the ventilator but is still in critical condition and unconscious.

An FIR has been filed in the case – but what efforts and progress have the police made to find the perpetrators of this murderous attack on Chhotan – a defenseless labourer who was not part of any procession or riot, and whose only fault that he is a poor Muslim who needed to earn a living? What has the District Administration and Government of Uttar Pradesh done to compensate Chhotan and his family, for whom survival as well as medical care has been dependent on charity since the sole earning member lies unconscious and, even if he survives, is unlikely to be fit for work for several months?


All whom we spoke to – both Hindus and Muslims – told us that Muslims were hoisting the tricolour at Abdul Hamid Chowk when the ‘Tiranga Yatra’ by ABVP, Sankalp Foundation and VHP arrived, and insisted the Muslims hoist the saffron flag, and shouted inflammatory slogans including ‘Hindi Hindu Hindustan, Katue Bhage Pakistan’. After this a scuffle ensued, and the ABVP-VHP-Sankalp-Foundation rally dispersed in disordermany of them leaving behind their bikes which are now impounded by police and kept in the police station. The ABVP rally began with firing of shots at Prabhu Park – yet the police neither accompanied the rally nor ensured it maintained its officially-sanctioned route. Instead the rally came and attacked the Muslims’ Republic Day event which had official permission but no protection!

The ABVP cadres then regrouped at Bilram Gate Chauraha, where BJP leaders including the local MLA and BJP District President were present and instigated them further. They then collected more arms and ammunition and marched and rode towards kotwali via the Gali Niaryan. On the way they shot Naushad in the thigh. They stopped at the tehsil, where Chandan is supposed to have received the bullets that killed him.


There were numerous instances of caste and communal bias on part of the police that the team documented. Many told us that youth were being indiscriminately arrested by the police, and the religious and caste identity of the youth determined which sections they would be booked under. ‘LRs’ (Loda Rajputs) and other upper caste Hindus would generally be booked under Section 151 and released on bail; OBCs and Dalits would be booked under Sections 147, 148, 149, 336, 436, 427, 34 IPC and Section 7 of the UAPA; and Muslims would, in addition to the above sections, also have Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and in some cases 302 (murder) booked against them. When there is no evidence whatsoever of any pre-planned murderous intent and organized violence on part of Muslims why are they being booked for the murder of Chandan Gupta and attempted murder of others? Akram lost an eye, Naushad got a bullet in his thigh, Chhotan survived a murderous attack – yet no one has been booked on attempt to murder charges for these attacks – why?

List of 30 shopts etc damaged in the violence. There are reportedly 15 more, all belonging to Muslims.

The team was given a partial list of 30 properties (shops, homes, mosques) that were subjected to arson, vandalism, and loot; there are reportedly at least 15 more. We were told that in most of these cases, the police is refusing to file FIRs. The district administration is however doing a survey of what shops have suffered damage – for the purpose of compensation. The question is, if the district administration is admitting damage by doing a survey, why is it blocking efforts to file FIRs in most of these cases?


Note that Hindus and Muslims alike told us that NOT A SINGLE HINDU SHOP OR TEMPLE was subjected to any arson or any violence whatsoever. Clearly the communal violence – against persons on the basis of their faith identity alone – was completely one-sided against Muslims. Chandan’s killing – heinous as it is – has to do with his presence as a member of an armed communal political mob and not because he was a Hindu. Any reports of Muslims firing or pelting stones was in retaliation to violence by the RSS-VHP-ABVP mob, and such retaliation was not by Muslims alone: for instance, parents of both communities reportedly pelted stones at the violent and armed saffron mob to defend their children whom they had come to collect from the GGIC school.

We could not meet anyone who actually saw any Muslim armed with a gun; even those who assumed that Chandan was shot dead by Muslims in the tehsil area, did not say they had seen any Muslim with a gun, whereas they all testified to seeing the Sangh political mob armed with guns when they arrived at the tehsil area. 

Dainik Jagran story dt 6 Feb about mosque door burnt on 5 Feb morning


A mosque damaged by arson


At least 3 mosques have been burned. On the morning of 5February also, a mosque at Ganj Dundwara was burnt down – the incident is reported in local papers of 6 February 2018. We were told that Hindus and Muslims together had joined hands to protect the mosque from further damage by the communal assailants. 


One of the most startling cases of police bias was that of two friends Khalid and Pradeep, both from Badayun. Their advocate Hasin Ahmad told us that Khalid (son of Munnan Khan) and Pradeep (son of Chaturi), both from Shahbazpur, thana Sahawasan, district Badayun, were riding through Kasganj on a scooter, going to see Khalid’s grandmother at Bilram Kasba. They were stopped by the police. Khalid (FIR number 59/2018) was booked under sections 307, as well as 147, 148, 149, 336, 436, 427, 34 IPC and Section 7 of the UAPA; while Pradeep was booked under 151 CrPC only and offered to be released on bail. Pradeep, however, refused to accept the release and opted to go to jail with his friend Khalid.


The team visited the Kasganj District Jail, where the jailer and district administration refused either to let the team meet prisoners or even to speak to the team themselves. But the team met family members who were waiting outside to meet relatives who had been booked for rioting and jailed. All of them said that the jail administration was making it very hard for people to meet their relatives in jail – they would wait hours before being told that they would not be allowed to meet their relative. They all wanted the jail administration to issue passes till a given time in the morning, so that there was transparency about the norms and timings for meeting prisoners.

We met several Hindu and Muslim families whose relatives appear to have been jailed in spite of being completely innocent and uninvolved in the violence.

FIR by SHO Ripudaman Singh that names Anuj Tomar and Raj – both seemingly innocent – as accused.
FIR by SHO Ripudaman Singh that names Anuj Tomar and Raj – both seemingly innocent – as accused.
FIR by SHO Ripudaman Singh that names Anuj Tomar and Raj – both seemingly innocent – as accused.

Alok Tomar told us that his brother Anuj Tomar was picked up from near his home in Canara Bank lane, Luvkush Nagar, Kasganj, in the afternoon of 27 January 2018, when he had stepped out to buy medicine for their ailing father. Anuj had spent the holiday morning of 26 January sleeping, and had been warned by friends and his boss not to venture outside because of the trouble. He had stepped out on 27 January to the medical store nearby to buy medicine which had run out, when he was told by cops stationed there that all shops were closed so he should return. As he turned back, some police cars drove up and picked him up. He was taken away without informing his family. The FIR where the SHO Ripudaman Singh is the complainant, claims that Anuj was identified and arrested on 27 January at 11.40 am where he along with a mob had indulged in arson and vandalism of a furniture shop at Amapur Adda.

Rajvir Singh Yadav told us with tears in his eyes that his son Raj is a compounder at Dr Naveen Gaur’s clinic. On 27 January he and another compounder there were closing the shutters of the clinic after being warned that it would not be safe to keep it open, when the police came and arrested both. But Raj’s colleague who belongs to the Loda Rajpur (LR) caste – the same caste to which the sitting BJP MP Rajbir Singh and the VHP State President Pramod Jaju belong – was booked under Section 151 and released on bail, while Raj was booked under Sections 147, 148, 149, 336, 436, 427, 34 IPC and Section 7 of the UAPA. The same FIR by SHO Ripudaman Singh claims that Raj was identified and arrested at noon at Ghantaghar where he along with a mob had been involved in arson and vandalism at a shoe shop. Rajvir Singh points out that while the FIR claims Raj was ‘identified’, it does not mention his father’s name or full address, simply saying ‘Raj, Paisoi, Soron, Kanshiram Nagar).

Firon father of Imran Khan, in tears

Firoz wept inconsolably as he told us that his son Imran Khan, who runs a meat shop and hotel at Bilram Gate, was picked up by police on the street. Firoz is a labourer in Gujarat, and has rushed home because of this calamity. Firoz says Imran neither participated in the flag hoisting event at Abdul Hamid Chowk nor in any violence whatsoever.


Rajvir father of Raj, who says:
“Why has the police not yet arrested even one of the ABVP-VHP men who own those impounded motorbikes? Those men were surely part of the violent mob who have destroyed our Kasganj and its peace, and if these men are caught they can identify their other companions also. Instead, the police is just picking up innocents.”

Rajvir Singh, son of Raj who is in jail, had this to say when we asked him who the real culprits were: “The ABVP-Sankalp men rode motorbikes in the ‘Tiranga Yatra’ and came and demanded that the Muslims hoisting the tricolour at Abdul Hamid Chowk must also hoist the saffron flag. The Muslims refused and there was a clash, in which the ABVP mob (which at that point did not have guns) was forced to beat a retreat: several of whom abandoned dozens of motorbikes (reportedly around 60) which are now at the police station. The same people later met BJP leaders and regrouped, armed themselves with guns and sticks, and rode to the tehsil where Chandan’s body was found. Why has the police not yet arrested even one of the men who own those abandoned motorbikes? Those men were surely part of the violent mob who have destroyed our Kasganj and its peace, and if these men are caught they can identify their other companions also. Instead, the police is just picking up innocents.”









The team has photographs of number plates of around 50 of those motorbikes that are now lying at the police station. We concur with Rajvir: locating the owners of those bikes is key to identifying the real perpetrators of the trouble at Kasganj. Some photos are attached in this post.






Two young sisters Mahiru and Mehak told us that their father, 65-year-old Nasiruddin ‘Chawal vale’ was at his rice shop when he was picked up by the police on 28 January 2018. Their 16-year-old brother who had been having a bath, was made to dress and was also taken away on the pretext of questioning. Both have been booked under Sections 302 and 307 among others, and jailed. It appears that the 16-year-old has also been kept in the adult jail in violation of the JJ Act, since we noted at the District Jail that the enclosure for Juveniles was locked and reportedly had no occupants. Their mother has been paralysed for the past 4 months and since the arrest, has been unconscious.

One rickshaw puller Shamshad has also reportedly been falsely accused – eyewitnesses aver that if the CCTV cameras outside St Joseph’s School for 26 January are checked, he can be seen dropping kids off at the school for the Republic Day celebrations.

One youth – tempo driver Mohsin – picked up from a mosque was reportedly beaten up by some prisoners in the jail. 

All the above claims demand verification and follow-up enquiries – best done by a judicial enquiry.


Many questions surround the death of Chandan Gupta.

  • Many told us that no blood was found at the actual spot where Chandan’s body was reportedly found, near the tehsil

  • Eyewitnesses said that on 26 January, the ABVP-Sankalp mob rode up to the tehsil on their bikes, wielding guns and other weapons, and shouting communal slogans. They did not proceed past the tehsil.

  • There is a girls’ school – the GGIC school – opposite the main accused Salim’s house, where parents of both communities had gathered to collect their daughters. The parents of both communities, seeing the ABVP mob firing shots, had feared for their children’s safety and had pelted stones at the mob, forcing it to retreat.

  • Salim and two of his brothers, owners of the Barki Cloth Shop are accused of Chandan Gupta murder – only Salim has yet been arrested. But many questions surround this allegation also.

  • Police claim that the bullets that killed Chandan were fired from Salim’s balcony or rooftop – but the distance from Salim’s house and the spot where Chandan’s body was found makes that difficult to believe. Moreover, the manner in which the bullets reportedly entered Chandan’s body also make it unlikely that the bullets were fired from a rooftop so far away.

  • We were told that police – in the presence of journalists – picked up and brandished something in Salim’s house claiming it was a ‘US made gun’ that was used to shoot Chandan. Later, also in the presence of journalists, the ‘gun’ turned out to be a toy lighter. Two licenced guns belonging to Salim were also taken from his house, but the bullets found in Chandan reportedly may not match these guns, which are 12-bore guns. The police since then has reportedly claimed that Chandan was killed with a Desi Charra/Katta (local gun): such a gun would lack the power to shoot such a distance, and the question also is why a man who owned two licenced guns would choose to use a less powerful desi katta instead.

  • There are photos of Salim at the Republic Day celebration at a Ch. Mehdi Hasan School on Mulka Road. He was reportedly far away from the scene of the confrontation at the tehsil near his home. His brother Waseem, also accused, is reportedly away for the past one and a half months on a ‘jamaat’ (religious journey) with a group of others and was in Aurangabad, Maharashtra on 26 January.

  • Many alleged that Salim, Naseem and Waseem are falsely being implicated in the killing of Chandan Gupta because of business rivalry – their shop Barki Cloth Shop is very successful.

  • While all concerned said that Chandan must get justice and his killers must be punished, they also pointed out that Chandan has a criminal history. He was reportedly released on bail just a few weeks before his death – he was jailed on the allegation that he participated in the burning of his sister-in-law for dowry. He is known to be an ABVP-Sankalp cadre, but the claim about his having been in jail needs verification. Our team was unable to do so because police officers refused to speak to us or answer any questions and prevented us from visiting Chandan’s family and neighbourhood to pursue enquiries.


Akram whose right eye has been irreparably damaged by the communal mob.
Akram’s car with smashed windscreen
Akram’s car smashed on all sides

The team met Akram Siddiqui at his in-laws’ home at Aligarh, where his wife delivered a baby girl after he was attacked on 26 January.

Akram told us that he was on his way from Lakhimpur Kheri to Aligarh with a young domestic worker in his car, driving down to be in time for his wife’s delivery. When he entered Kasganj, he stopped at a tea shop: it was Friday and he needed to read namaaz at 6.45 pm. The tea-shop owner, clearly a Hindu because his shop displayed a big photo of Shankar, welcomed Akram into the inner room of the shop and asked him to read namaaz there as he prepared tea. Later, he told Akram that there had been some disturbance in the town. Asked about the nature of the disturbance, he said it was a ‘Hindu-Muslim riot’, and both men exchanged smile at the irony that Akram, a Muslim, had just read Namaaz in a devout Hindu’s shop while some others indulged in motivated communal violence. Akram drove on, and near Nadri Gate he saw a police barricade and a crowd, and slowed down, assuming the police had stopped traffic. He opened the window and asked a man on the street if he was on the right road for Aligarh. Seeing his beard and clothes and realizing he was Muslim, the man (a Hindu) told him ‘There are rioters ahead, turn back quickly.’ So, Akram had evidence of the goodwill of conscientious and secular Hindus on the same day that he lost an eye to a politically motivated communal mob.

Before Akram could turn the car, the mob was upon him, saying they would kill him to avenge ‘two Hindus’ whom they said had been killed by Muslims. Akram pleaded in vain that he was just a traveler in the area, on his way for his wife’s delivery. The mob beat his eye with the butt of a gun, smashing it. At some point, some members of the mob said ‘Enough’ and the violence stopped.

The police stationed at the barricade watched all this without lifting a finger to disperse the mob, arrest the attackers or save Akram. When Akram went to the police and said ‘Please help me’, one policeman said ‘No help for you today.’ But some senior officer then came up and directed his men to take Akram to the hospital. Akram refused to abandon his car, and so drove to the hospital himself. After receiving first aid, he drove back to Aligarh with just one eye functional – a courageous feat.

Akram said he was grateful to the almighty that he had one eye left to see his newborn daughter the next day. He said he only felt hurt at one thing, “I’m an Indian, why has not a single person from the district administration of Kasganj, Aligarh or Lakhimpur-Kheri visited me or enquired after my welfare?”


  • judicial enquiry is urgently needed, along with judicial monitoring of the investigation. If not, it is clear that the main perpetrators are going to be let off, since most of the FIRs involving violence against minorities are unnamed.

  • Arrests of people the police know well to be innocent is a hindrance to justice. Such people against whom there is no credible evidence must be released and cases against them withdrawn.

  • The families of those injured must be compensated immediately, and perpetrators of the violence identified and arrested

  • The owners of the bikes abandoned at Abdul Hamid Chowk on 26 January, as well as those ABVP-Sankalp men visible brandishing weapons in video footage of the tehsil must be arrested without delay. Leaders of these organizations must be arrested and booked for masterminding the violence. BJP leaders including the MP of Kasganj who made inflammatory speeches must also be arrested and booked without delay.

  • A team of juvenile justice board members as well as social activists and lawyers must be allowed to meet all those jailed without delay, so that it can be verified whether any juvenile is in the adult jail; and whether any prisoner has been attacked by any other prisoner.

All the people we spoke to told us that Kasganj has been remarkably peaceful and free of communal violence – even in 1992 after the Babri Masjid demolition, there were only two instances of violence. Kasganj has one of the best nursing colleges in the region. It is very clear that the RSS and BJP chose 26 January – India’s Republic Day – to assert the saffron flag as India’s national flag and thus foment violence by seeking to brand Muslims as “Pakistani” for refusing to hoist the saffron flag. This is a very deliberate attack on the Republic and the Indian Constitution, and an attempt to divide Kasganj and divide India too. The team stresses that while the situation in Kasganj is still tense and the minorities still extremely fearful, there have still been many instances of Hindus protecting Muslims in Kasganj. The situation in Kasganj can be normalized only if the perpetrators from the ABVP and Sankalp are arrested, and concerted efforts made to allow Hindus and Muslims to interact with each other peacefully, healing the wounds left by the violence.



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Over 100 parliamentarians petition President Kovind on Judge Loya’s death

Opposition parties to petition President Kovind on Judge BH Loya’s death: Reports

Over 100 parliamentarians have reportedly signed the letter, seeking a fair investigation.

Opposition parties will submit a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him to intervene and ensure further investigation into the mysterious death of Central Bureau of Investigation Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya (pictured above), ANI reported.

When Loya died in December 2014, he was hearing a case about the extrajudicial murder by the Gujarat Police of alleged extortionist Sohrabuddin Sheikh. Amit Shah, now the Bharatiya Janata Party president and then the Gujarat home minister, was among the accused in the case.

Several parliamentarians have signed a three-page letter to the president, unidentified leaders told The Indian Express. The letter talks about the suspicions over Loya’s death and the need for an independent investigation into it, said media reports.

The Congress party initiated the petition and over 100 MPs have signed it according to The Hindu. “The government is eager to brush the incident under the carpet,” a senior Opposition leader told the daily. “The president of the republic is the highest authority, so we decided to knock at his door.” Reports differ on when the leaders will submit the petition to Kovind.

A Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanvilkar and DY Chandrachud, is currently hearing petitions demanding an independent investigation into Loya’s death. In November, the Caravan magazine made some startling revelations that raised doubts on whether Loya’s death was natural.

Opposition MPs to submit a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind, appealing for further investigation into the death of judge B.H. Loya.

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India needs sewage systems, not free toilets Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should be modified from a scheme providing free toilets, to one encouraging and enabling local governments to construct sewage systems
India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

A policy announcement about the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) in the 2018 budget speech barely received any attention. Referring to the 60 million toilets already constructed, the finance minister declared the existing programme a success, and announced the intention to construct an additional 20 million toilets allotting a budget of Rs17,843 crore to this end. This has attracted little criticism or praise. The reason is that Indians are familiar with this policy; they are reminded of it daily while paying the Swachh Bharat cess. And there is little controversy over the need for greater levels of sanitation. Overall, this seems like a well-intentioned and sensible initiative.

Except for one thing. Access to free toilets has not helped resolve open defecation in India. And the SBA is unlikely to succeed in its primary task of eliminating open defecation by October 2019. The main reason is that Indians don’t want free toilets, they want sewage systems. India has far higher levels of open defecation than other countries of the same GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. For example, India has a higher GDP per capita than Bangladesh, but in Bangladesh only 8.4% households defecate in the open, compared to 55% in India. Basic latrines are not that expensive, and people in countries far poorer than India build inexpensive latrines to avoid defecating in the open. Typically, as nations get wealthier, open defecation decreases. Despite increases in GDP per capita, and increase in latrine availability through the SBA, India has witnessed little decrease in open defecation.

Why do Indians, even with accessible toilets, go in the open? Especially when open defecation is killing infants, making children sick, stunting their growth.

Diane Coffey and Dean Spears’ recent book, Where India Goes, argues that the problem is not just one of access to toilets. Even when toilets are provided for free by the government, Indians prefer defecating in the open to using basic latrines. The latrines provided by governments are often used for storage, washing clothes, and as play areas—everything except the intended use. The key reason for this is that basic latrines that need to be emptied out manually or pumped by simple machines are unacceptable to higher caste Hindus. It is considered polluting to the individual and the home, and historically associated with untouchability. The perceptions of ritual purity are particularly prevalent and persistent in rural India, with consequently the highest level of open defecation in the world.

So, Indian policymakers need to rethink the solution to this problem. It is not just a matter of access but a problem of perceptions of pollution, ritual purity, and caste. This in no way suggests that one should endorse the nonsensical and irrational caste perceptions and practices that are slowly and steadily killing and stunting Indian children. However, deeply entrenched cultural contexts must be taken into account for successful policy outcomes. India needs to change perceptions of ritual purity through education and awareness in rural areas. And if it is not possible to change perceptions quickly, India needs to think of policy solutions that can work around the perverse caste perceptions. Or pursue both paths simultaneously.

One solution is to change the SBA from a scheme providing free toilets, to one encouraging and enabling local governments to construct sewage systems. A toilet that is not connected to a functional sewage system needs to be pumped and transported, which runs counter to perceptions of ritual purity. A toilet that flushes away human waste into the sewage and waste management system solves the problem. If there is a functional sewage system, it is relatively low cost for households to build a toilet in every home that is connected to the sewage system. At the current levels of development in India, a much smaller proportion of the population will actually need a government subsidy to construct a toilet.

Building a sewage system is no easy task and raises classic collective action problems. All citizens do not face the costs equally when some streets and neighbourhoods are dug up for years on end. But everyone reaps the benefits of having a functional and sanitary waste disposal system. So this is a problem of concentrated costs and dispersed benefits, which leads to policy inaction.

There is a secondary problem of political incentives when it comes to building sewage systems. It takes years to build sewage systems, and local politicians face all the costs upfront, and the benefits are far in the future. Disgruntled citizens and voters complain about the digging of neighbourhoods for years, causing much nuisance to their daily lives. However, a different legislator or corporator may reap the benefits of better health outcomes far in the future. So, this is also a problem of immediate costs and distant benefits.

Both these problems essentially act as disincentives of the political class to take action to solve the sanitation problem. Providing free toilets is easier to achieve, and also easier to measure as a success at the distribution level, if one ignores the fact that they are not used for the intended purpose.

The SBA has minimal chance of success in the near future. Even if the government builds free toilets without any leakage or corruption, India will at best have 80 million new toilets that a large proportion of Indians do not want to use, and simultaneously high levels of open defecation. The government needs to rethink the solution to the problem of open defecation and focus on providing public goods like sewage systems instead of free toilets.

Shruti Rajagopalan is an assistant professor of economics at Purchase College, State University of New York, and a fellow at the Classical Liberal Institute, New York University School of Law.

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Kerala – ‘ Caste Wall’- Protest against Police Brutality


Social activists, writers, film makers, academicians and members of the civil society have condemned the police brutality unleashed by the Kerala Police against the Dalit Atmabhiman Convention organized by the Dalit Bhoo Avakasha Samara Munnani (Dalit Land Rights’ Organisation) in Vadayampadi, Kochi on 2nd February. Prominent signatories include Aruna Roy, Prafulla Samanthra, Kavitha Srivasthava, Teesta Setalvad, K. Sachithanandan, Paul Zakharia, Javed Anand,  John Dayal, Sarah Joseph, BRP Bhaskar, M. Geethanandan, Sunny Kapikkad, Anvar Ali, K.P.Sasi, TT Sreekumar, B. Ajith Kumar, C.R. Neelakandhan among many others.

Full Text of the Statement

We the following activists, writers, film makers, academicians and members of the civil society, hereby express our deep concern on the police brutality unleashed by the Kerala Police against the Dalit Atmabhiman Convention organized by the Dalit Bhoo Avakasha Samara Munnani (Dalit Land Rights’ Organisation) in Kochi on 2nd February. The convention was taking place peacefully while it was suddenly attacked by the police in the morning. As the police broke-in, many activists including the Chairman of Samara Munnani, C.S. Murali (also the President of Kerala Dalit Masabha) and Gomathi from Penpillai Orumai, were injured. Activists present at the protest site were dragged through the road and arrested.

For the last few days the NSS (Nair Service Society) has been occupying the public ground surrounding the Vadayambadi Temple in Vadayambadi in Ernakulam district, Kerala. Fortifying their occupation, NSS has built a ‘caste wall’ in order to prevent the Dalits entering the temple. A protest has been going on for the last few weeks by Dalit Bhoo Avakasha Samara Munnani to make available the property for public and to demolish the ‘caste wall’. The ongoing events are on air and many organizations and individuals have expressed their support to the movement.

On Ambedkar Jayanti last year (2017), a similar wall erected by the Society was pulled down by the protesters. The NSS then went on occupying the land producing fake land records and promptly built a huge arch entrance including a wall. The present protest programme, demanding the demolition of the wall, has been continuously facing threats from the government and police since its beginning. The activists till now have confronted all such threats and continued with the protest.

This uncompromising attitude, we feel, has resulted in successive attacks on the protest site and arrest of the activists, and even the media persons. During a similar incident on 21st January, two journalists Abhilash Padacheri and Ananthu Rajagopal Asha, along with one of the leaders of the movement, Mr. Sasidharan (KPMS Taluk Secretary), were arrested on false charges. Following their arrest, activist V.K. Joy was also put into custody.

Today’s convention was organized to protest these recent happenings, particularly against the anti-Dalit attitude demonstrated by the Kerala government and the Police-Raj going on the state. However, the protesters were continuously harassed by the state officials in order to suppress the voice of dissent. Last day the Collector denied the permission to conduct the convention. In a way, he threatened the protesters for any possible circumstances. In the morning of the day of the convention, i.e. today, 2nd February, the goons of the Sangh Parivar and other right-wing fundamentalists approached the protest site and created ruckus by manhandling and threatening the protesters.

As of now, police seems to be silent and not ready to take any action against the perpetrators. In contrast to the lawful duty entrusted upon a public servant, The SI of the concerned police station, Sajan Saviour has been trying his best to suppress the movement with different means including public caste defamation. Eventually, he is same person who led the force today to the arrests. Among the activists, Gomathi, has been badly injured during the police action and was denied the hospital facility. Dr. P.G Hari, who questioned this discrimination at the police station, had to face their rage and he was physically manhandled by the policemen.

We strongly feel that these incidents are a clear indication of the growing fascist and anti-dalit attitudes in Kerala State as much as elsewhere. We appeal to all secular and democratic individuals and organizations to express their concerns, support and solidarity in this grave social movement.

We also appeal to all sections within the left and secular forces in Kerala to maintain the values against casteism and communalism that is enshrined by Babasahib Ambedkar in our Indian Constitution, since this is the only document to bring together all sections of people as citizens of this country. The political leaders have an additional role to preserve these values since they have taken an oath to protect the Indian Constitution before becoming any State or Central Minister.

We hereby demand that all the arrested persons should be released immediately and the charges against the arrested persons should be cancelled immediately. We also demand that immediate actions are taken against the police officials who are responsible for such brutality.

We also condemn the attack by the Sangh Parivar on Kerala’s people’s poet, Kureeppuzha Sreekumar for supporting the Vadayambadi struggle. We appeal to the public consciousness in Kerala to isolate all forces which build caste and communal violence through their own ideological terms.

  1. Aruna Roy
  2. Prafulla Samanthra, Activist/NAPM
  3. Kavitha Srivasthava, PUCL
  4. Teesta Setalvad, Social Activist
  5. Sachithanandan, Poet
  6. Goldy M George, Chief Editor, Journal of People’s Studies
  7. Jagdish Chandra, New Socialist Alternative
  8. Amudhan R P, Film Maker
  9. Ram Puniyani, Former Professor, IIT, Mumbai
  10. Satya Sivaraman, Writer/Journalist
  11. Binu Mathew, Editor,
  12. Paul Zakharia, Writer
  13. Javed Anand, Writer/Journalist
  14. John Dayal, Writer/Activist
  15. M.K. George S.J.
  16. Stalin K , Film Maker
  17. Stan Swamy, Jharkhand
  18. Anjali Monteiro, Film Maker
  19. Ajayakumar Singh, Kandamal
  20. K.P. Jayashankar, Film Maker
  21. George Mutholil
  22. Henri Tiphagne, Human Rights Activist
  23. Mathew Philip, Human Rights Activist, SICHREM
  24. Jessy George
  25. Pankaj Butalia, Film Maker
  26. Sarah Joseph, Writer, Social Activist, Keralam
  27. BRP Bhaskar, Writer, Social Activist, keralam
  28. K. Venu, Writer, Social Activist, Keralam
  29. M. Geethanandan, Writer, Social Activist, Keralam
  30. Sunny Kapikkad, Writer, Social Activist, Keralam
  31. Rekha Raj, Writer, Social Activist- Amnesty International, Bangalore
  32. Ajay Kumar, Social Activist, RIGHTS- Keralam
  33. Anvar Ali, Poet, Social Activist, Film Maker, Keralam
  34. K.P.Sasi, Acivist Film Maker, Bangalore
  35. TT Sreekumar, Writer, Keralam
  36. Gomathy Pombilai Orumai, Social Activist, Keralam
  37. Prof. Kusumam Joseph, NAPM- Keralam
  38. Civic Chandran, Writer, Social Activist, Keralam
  39. B. Ajith Kumar, Film Maker, Editor, Keralam
  40. Vilayodi Venugopal, Plachimada Samara Samithy, Keralam
  41. Adv. C.R. Neelakandhan
  42. Ajitha Anweshi, Social Activist
  43. C.S. Rajesh, Poet, Keralam
  44. M.R. Renukumar, Poet, Keralam
  45. P.A . Pouran, Social Activist, Keralam
  46. T.M. Velam, Social Activist, Keralam
  47. Sathi Angamali, Writer, Social Activist, Keralam
  48. Sarath Cheloor, Social Activist, NAPM- Keralam
  49. John Peruvanthanam, Social Activist, Keralam
  50. Purushan Eloor, Social Activist, Keralam
  51. T.K. Vasu, Social Activist, Keralam
  52. Magline Philomina Yohannan, Social Activist, Keralam
  53. Sonia George, Social Activist, Sakhi, Keralam
  54. Roopesh Kumar, Film Maker, Keralam
  55. Elizabeth Philip, Social Activist, Keralam
  56. Gopinath, Journalist, Social Activist, Keralam
  57. Sanju surendran, Film Maker, Keralam
  58. P. Baburaj, Documentary Film Maker, Keralam
  59. Faisal Faisu, Queer Activist, Queer Collective, Keralam
  60. M.B Jayaghosh, Social Activist, Keralam
  61. Laly P.M, Social Activist, Keralam
  62. Micah Thampi, Research Scholar, CUK
  63. K. Sivaraman, Social Activist, Keralam
  64. Kamayani Bali Mahabal,  Human Rights activist, Mumbai
  65. Vinod Koshy, Dynamic Action, Keralam

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How to do court marriage in India

The procedures for a court marriage and the documents that are necessary for the court marriage.

What is a court marriage?

Court marriages, unlike ordinary Indian weddings, are the marriages solemnised under/in accordance with the Special Marriage Act, 1954 (hereinafter ‘the act’). The marriage can take place or be solemnised in the court itself in the presence of a Marriage Officer and three witnesses. These marriages do not have to include the elaborate customary or ritualistic steps of the personal laws of the parties to the marriage. Merely marrying in the presence of marriage officer in accordance with the act is sufficient for a valid marriage.

Who can marry through court marriage?

Any two persons (of different genders) belonging to the same religion or different religions can marry through a court marriage.

What are the conditions relating to solemnization of court marriages?

Chapter II, Section 4 of the act provides the following conditions for solemnisation of a court marriage:

  • No pre-existing marriage – The parties must not have spouses living.
  • Valid Consent – The parties must not be incapable of giving valid consent by reason of unsoundness of mind.
  • Age-The male has completed the age of 21 years and the female the age of 18 years.
  • Prohibited degrees of relationships -The parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationships. Provided that where a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage between them such marriage may be solemnised irrespective of the relation falling within the degrees of prohibited relationships.

Note: Degrees of prohibited relationships are mentioned in Part I and II of the first schedule.

The following are the procedures for a court marriage

The procedure for a court marriage, covered under Chapter II titled “solemnization of special marriages”, can be broken down into the following broad steps:

Step 1 – Notice of the intended marriage

Step 2 – Publication

Step 3 – Objection to Marriage

Step 4 – Declaration by parties and witnesses

Step 5 – Place and form of solemnization

Step 6 – Certificate of Marriage

The steps are elaborated below along with the documents required to be furnished during each of the steps. For the sake of convenience, the documents prescribed are in reference to Delhi.

Step 1 – Notice of the intended marriage

In the first step of the procedure for a court marriage, a notice has to be given to the marriage officer under section 5 of the act. It mandates that the parties to the marriage shall give notice of the intended marriage in writing and in the form prescribed in Second Schedule to the Marriage Officer. The Marriage Officer must have jurisdiction in the district where at least one of the parties must have resided for a minimum of 30 days prior to the giving of the notice.

Documents required

  1. Application form (notice in the form specified) duly filled and signed by the bride and the groom.
  2. Receipt of fees paid with respect to the application form in the District Court.
  3. Documentary evidence of the date of birth of both the parties (Matriculation Certificate/Passport/Birth Certificate).
  4. Documentary evidence regarding stay in Delhi of one of the parties for more than 30 days (ration card or report from the concerned Station House Officer).
  5. Separate affidavits from bride and groom giving:
  • Date of birth
  • Present marital status: unmarried/widower/ divorcee.
  • Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the degree of prohibited relationship defined in the Special Marriage Act.
  1. Passport size photographs of both parties (2 copies each) duly attested by a Gazetted Officer.
  2. Copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower.

The format of the notice is as follows:



Marriage Officer for the ……………………………………………………………….District.

We hereby give you notice that a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, is intended to be solemnized between us within three calendar months from the date hereof.

Name Condition Occupation Age Dwellingplace Permanent placedwelling if present

dwelling place not


Length ofresidence
A.B.(the Groom) Unmarried
C.D.(the Bride) Unmarried

Witness our hands this ………………………………day of…………………………………….20……

(Sd.) A.B.,

(the Bridegroom)

(Sd.) C.D.,

(the Bride)

Step 2 – Publication

The Marriage Officer shall publish the notice by affixing it to some conspicuous place in his office. The Marriage Officer shall keep all the true copies of the notices in the Marriage Notice Book.

If the parties are not permanently residing in the area within the jurisdiction of the Marriage Officer, then the Officer shall send a copy of the notice to the Marriage Officer of the place where the parties permanently reside so that the copy of the notice can be affixed to some conspicuous place in his office.

Step 3 – Objection to marriage

Any person, under section 7, can raise an objection against the marriage before the Marriage Officer on the grounds that the marriage would violate any conditions specified in section 4 of the act. The objection must be raised within 30 days of the publication of the notice by the Marriage Officer. The nature of the objection is to be recorded by the Marriage Officer in the Marriage Notice Book.

The Marriage Officer, under section 8, on receiving an objection would enquire into it within 30 days and solemnise the marriage if the objection doesn’t impede the solemnisation of the marriage. If the objection stands then the marriage officer shall not solemnise the marriage; this can be appealed before the District Court by the parties.

Step 4 – Declaration by the parties and witnesses

Before the solemnisation of the marriage, the parties to the marriage and three witnesses are to sign a declaration in the form specified in the Third Schedule, in the presence of the Marriage Officer and which is to be countersigned by the Marriage Officer.

Documents Required

  1. One passport size photograph of each of the three witnesses.
  2. Any document for identification of the witnesses by the Marriage Officer (Driving License, PAN Card etc.)

The format of the declaration form is as follows:


I, A.B., hereby declare as follows:―

  1. I am at the present time unmarried (or a widower or a divorcee, as the case may be).
  2. I have completed ….. years of age.
  3. I am not related to C.D. (the bride) within the degrees of prohibited relationship.
  4. I am aware that, if any statement in this declaration is false, and if in making such statement I either know or believe it to be false or do not believe it to be true, I am liable to imprisonment and also to fine.

(Sd.) A.B. (the Bridegroom).


I, C.D., hereby declare as follows:―

  1. I am at the present time unmarried (or a widow or a divorcee, as the case may be).
  2. I have completed …. years of age.
  3. I am not related to A.B. (the Bridegroom) within the degrees of prohibited relationship.
  4. I am aware that, if any statement in this declaration is false, and if in making such statement I either know or believe it to be false or do not believe it to be true, I am liable to imprisonment and also to fine.

(Sd.) C.D. (the Bride)

Signed in our presence by the above-named A.B. and C.D. So far as we are aware there is no lawful impediment to the marriage.

(Sd.) G.H.

(Sd.) I.J.

(Sd.) K.L.

(three Witnesses)

Countersigned E.F.,

Marriage Officer

Dated the                                            __day of                                                             20__

Step 5 – Place and form of Solemnization

The court marriage, under section 12 can be solemnised at the office of the Marriage Officer, or at such other place within a reasonable distance.

The marriage shall be binding only when each party in the presence of the Marriage Officer and the three witnesses says to the other party in any language understood by the parties “I, (A), take thee (B), to be my lawful wife (or husband)”. The parties may choose to solemnise their marriage in any form.

Step 6 – Certificate of Marriage

The marriage officer enters a certificate in the form specified in Schedule IV of the act in the marriage certificate book. If signed by both parties and three witnesses, such a certificate is conclusive evidence of the court marriage.

The certificate of marriage is as follows:


I, E.F., hereby certify that on the………………………………………………………………….day of

………………………………………………20………….., A.B. and C.D appeared before me and

that each of them, in my presence and in the presence of three witnesses who have signed hereunder, made the declarations required by section 11 and that a marriage under this Act was solemnized between them in my presence.

(Sd.) E.F.,

Marriage Officer for

(Sd.) A.B.,


(Sd.) C.D.,


(Sd.) G.H.

(Sd.) I.J.

(Sd.) K.L.

Three Witnesses

Dated the                                          __ day of                                                             20__

What are the complexities one faces in a court marriage?

The process of a court marriage is relatively simpler than the ordinary marriages which include customary rituals, elaborate religious steps and months of planning. The few complexities that one faces in a court marriage are as follows:

  • The dates are dependent on the Marriage Officer as to what date he allots the same for appearance and solemnisation of the court marriage. In the case of an emergency, the marriage cannot be done earlier than the allotted date (30 days after the notice is published only when no objection is raised by anyone).
  • A well-founded objection can stall the marriage for a long period and the decision depends on the determination of the Marriage Officer. If the Marriage Officer upholds the objection the parties have to appeal to the District Court for the same.
  • The whole process has to be done manually in most places by going to the office of the marriage officer, as working online portals are not present everywhere.
  • One has to be residing in a place for a minimum of 30 days for being eligible to give notice to the marriage officer of that area or district. So generally one can only apply for marriage where he/she resides and not some destination that he/she had planned to marry in.
  • The documents required, the fees to be paid and the persons appointed as Marriage Officers differ from place to place. It is generally as per the rules framed by the respective States.
  • If the marriage is not conducted within 3 months from the date of giving the notice then the notice lapses and a fresh notice is to be given to the Marriage Officer.
  • The legal complexities that one faces while marrying through a court marriage is that, in case one of the parties are either Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jaina and belong to a Hindu undivided family then such marriage would result in his/her severance from such family. The succession would be governed by the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850.

How much the process of court marriage costs overall?

The process of court marriage cost also varies from state to state and one has to individually look into the fees of the respective place where the marriage is to be solemnised. E.g. The total cost in SDM Court Saket in Delhi will be around ₹ 1000/-.

How long the entire process of court marriage takes to be completed?

The entire process, starting from giving notice, takes maximum up to 60 days. Provided that no objection comes up within 30 days from the date of publication of the notice.

If any objection comes up then the maximum inquiry period allotted for the Marriage Officer is 30 days. After the Marriage Officer upholds the objection the appeal can be raised in the District Court within 30 days from the date of the decision by the Marriage Officer.

Is the marriage process uniform for every religion?

Yes, the process of court marriage is same and uniform for every religion. The act is a secular act hence all religions are given similar treatment by the Act.

Advantages of court marriage

The court marriage has the following advantages:

  • It is less expensive and a simpler process.
  • The parties to the marriage get the option of solemnising the marriage in any way they want. E.g. two Hindus can solemnise their marriage through a Christian Style wedding if they choose to.
  • The married couple doesn’t have to reapply to the marriage officer for registration of the marriage. It is part of the process of court marriage.
  • The marriage certificate received at the conclusion of the court marriage is conclusive proof of the marriage between the parties and there is no necessity to prove it otherwise by evidence.

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Rajasthan: Teen slaps 45-yr-old Muslim man 25 times, forces him to say ‘JaI Shri Ram’ #WTFnews

A video of the act, recorded and circulated by the accused, 18-yr-old Vinay Meena, is doing the rounds on the internet.


 In the 3-minute clip, Meena is seen slapping Mohammad Salim 25 times and forcing him to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’, to which the victim responded, ‘Parvardigaar sabse bada hai (God is almighty).’ (Representational Image)

Jaipur: A video purportedly showing a teenager slapping a 45-year-old Muslim man and forcing him to say “Jai Shri Ram” in Rajasthan’s Sirohi district went viral, prompting a protest from the community.

The incident sent police into a tizzy.

A video of the act, recorded and circulated by the accused, Vinay Meena (18), is doing the rounds on the Internet.

In the three-minute clip, Meena is seen slapping Mohammad Salim 25 times and forcing him to say “Jai Shri Ram”, to which the victim responded: “Parvardigaar sabse bada hai (God is almighty).”


Members of the Muslim community protested the incident and filed a complaint at the Abu Road City police station against Meena.

“An FIR was registered yesterday based on a complaint we received from members of the Muslim community,” SP Sirohi Om Prakash said.

Meena has been nabbed for “voluntarily causing hurt, promoting enmity, hurting religious sentiments, breaking peace”, he said.

On December 6, a Muslim labourer, Mohammad Afrazul, was hacked to death and burnt in Rajasthans Rajsamand town.

A gruesome video of the crime had gone viral.

Pehlu Khan (55) died in Alwar in April last year after being brutally beaten up by cow vigilantes on suspicion of cattle smuggling.

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Waiting for justice – #BhopalGasTragedy

India had a regulatory system of governance already in place to avoid a disaster as big as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy

In post-Independence era, the greatest environmental disaster in terms of loss of human lives occurred in Madhya Pradesh in 1984.

The Bhopal gas tragedy struck 33 years ago after the formation of the Department of Environment on November 1, 1980 and 12 years after the Central Pollution Control Board was set up in 1972.

One may recall that Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act was also operative since 1981. So, one can say, India had a regulatory system of governance to avoid such a big disaster. A single disaster killed more than 15,000 people while maiming and injuring numerous others for life. The latest media report reveals that “lakhs of people are still affected and many are dying” (Millennium Post, December 6, 2017). Till date, adequate payments due to the victims have not been paid. The original owner, the US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), has sold the property to Dow Chemicals.

Huge losses

In 2006, a government affidavit stated that the gas leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently-disabling injuries.

Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases. The cause of the disaster remains debatable. The India government and local activists argue that slack management and deferred maintenance created a situation where routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a Methyl isocyanate tank, triggering the disaster. However, the UCC contends that water entered the tank through an act of sabotage.

According to a UCC statement, after the tragedy, UCC and UCC’s chairman at the time of the disaster, Warren Anderson, worked towards providing aid to the victims. Attempts were made on their part to set up a process to resolve their claims.

The statement further says that “all claims arising out of the release were settled in 1989 at the explicit direction and with the approval of the Supreme Court of India by means of a settlement agreement between the Government of India, UCC and UCIL. In 1991, and again in 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the fairness and adequacy of the settlement in response to court challenges from non-governmental organisations”.

Water pollution

Underground water supply has been polluted with toxic chemicals, which was not only due to the gas leak, but also due to UCC’s practices prior to the disaster. The water in Bhopal is also unsafe even now due to such contamination.

In 1998, the Supreme Court reached a settlement with UCC and paid US $ 470 million to India. At that time, it made a turnover of about US $ 9.5 billion, 20 times the amount. In return, there was no prosecution, but only a little amount of money reached the victims. The terrain where the plant is located is still contaminated with mercury and other carcinogenic substances.

Several cases have surfaced in India and the United States, demanding fair compensation for survivors and cleaning up the polluted environment, but in vain. Dow argued that since they purchased UCC 17 years after the tragedy, they did not inherit the liabilities of the former. But it should be taken into account that as a successor of UCC, Dow has inherited both its assets and liabilities. Anderson died a fugitive, never being tried for criminal charges (The Diplomat, April 19, 2017). Dow refuses to decontaminate the soil while Greenpeace estimates show that US $ 30 million would be required for it.

Just demands

Helpless people are demanding the following: adequate compensation, clean-up of the hazardous waste site, rehabilitation of survivors, pension to gas victims with medical treatment and exemplary punishment to offenders.

There are too many organisations fighting for the cause. All one can see was the setting up of a big hospital called Bhopal Memorial. Now, it is said to be in a bad state like many other government-run clinics lacking basic facilities.

Promises of employment also proved hollow. So, was the payment of providing pension to the widows of the victims as it was discontinued in 2016.

The question remains unanswered how the culprits went scot-free? Case histories of environmental disasters by US multinationals in other parts of the world reveal the hefty amount of penalty they had to pay, for example Exxon Valdez. Even though the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska was the nation’s 34th worst oil spill, the US Supreme Court’s verdict was Exxon owed US $ 507.5 million (The Balance, April 27, 2017).

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy is the world’s worst industrial disaster and one of the biggest examples of human rights violation. The question remains why India did not take it to the International Court of Justice, if it cannot handle UCC and Dow Chemicals. Why environmental groups around the world remained silent for more than three decades since the disaster? Had the same accident occurred in the US, what punishment the offenders would have received? There are multiple questions and no answer.

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