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Absurd to say returning awards is paid propaganda: Shantha Sinha

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Jamshedpur: Child rights activist and Ramon Magsaysay Award winner Shantha Sinha says it is “absolutely absurd” to say that returning state awards as a show of dissent in the ongoing debate over intolerance in the country was “a paid propaganda”.

“I’m as worried as most in the country on the issue that there is polarisation that is happening through national discourse, especially going against the very mettle of the Indian Constitution – diversity,” Sinha told IANS in an interview here, where she is attending ‘Samvaad’, a pan-India tribal conclave.

Sinha added it was “absolutely absurd to say that people are returning awards because it’s a paid propaganda”.

Though she did not name anyone, her comment was obviously a retort to union ministers V.K.Singh and Arun Jaitley, who trashed both the debate on intolerance and the return of awards by artists and intellectuals.

“This particular debate (on intolerance) is no debate. It is the unnecessary creation of very imaginative minds who are being paid with a lot of money,” Minister of State for External Affairs Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. Follow their tweets and their stances on various social and political issues. You will find a lot of rabid anti-BJP elements in them,” Jaitley told reporters on October 29.

“I had already called it a manufactured rebellion. I stand by my phrase. And I think, the events as they are unfolding only indicate that kind of manufacturing is going on at faster speed,” Jaitley said when asked about artists returning awards to protest growing “intolerance”.

Stoutly defending the artists and intellectuals, Shantha Sinha said returning state awards was a form of protest and a way of making a statement that one was against what was happening in the country. She added that it was a way of creating consensus in the country in favour of a secular India.

“Due to the present kind of politics, there is no mature understanding of our society,” she said.

Sinha, who served as the first chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for two consecutive terms, was also honoured with the civilian honour, Padma Shri.

Asked if she would return her awards, Sinha answered in the negative, saying the awards were for the “idea that children should not be allowed to work, and not for me alone”.

The anti-child labour activist remarked that the amendments mooted by the current government to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, which allow children below 14 years of age to work in “family enterprises” or entertainment industry, were “extremely disappointing”.

She said it “reinforces invisibilization of child labour”.

Sinha added that it was the state’s responsibility to ensure a child gets all the support he or she needs so as to go to school and not to open him or her to greater exploitation.

“Need of the hour is to make a separate ministry for children, considering we have 420 million children in the country, out of which at least a 50 percent are school dropouts,” the activist said, and added that it would also be a way of fighting the thinking that it is a woman’s job alone to take care of children.

Sinha also expressed opposition to the move to lower the legally defined age of a “juvenile” as an adult for purposes of trial in the heinous crime. In the December 2012 Nirbhaya rape case, it was the “failure of the state to give guidance to the child”, she said.

Expressing discontentment with Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi’s move to allow the Juvenile Justice Board to decide whether a child had reformed or not, Sinha said, “It is against the very mettle of juvenile justice system, which is to help a child reform and give him/her a second chance at life.”

(Bhavana Akella, IANS)

 

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CJI faces revolt from four senior most SC judges

The four judges -- Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur besides Justice Chelameswar -- released a letter they wrote to Justice Misra a couple of months ago

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Supreme court went into a frenzy as four senior judges revolt against CJI. Wikimedia Common
Supreme court went into a frenzy as four senior judges revolt against CJI. Wikimedia Common
  • The sudden revolt against Chief Justice of India (CJI) by the four senior-most judges of Supreme Court has sent the whole judicial system into an uproar.
  • The four judges accused the CJI of corruption and breaches in a surprise Press Conference.
  • Judge Loya’s death’s controversy, supposedly, sparked this reaction out of the other judges.

Divisions in the Supreme Court burst out in the open on Friday when four senior-most judges took an unprecedented step of addressing the media to accuse Chief Justice Dipak Misra of breaching rules in assigning cases to appropriate benches, with one of them pointing to the plea regarding the mysterious death of Special CBI judge B. H. Loya.

The hurried press conference was called to reveal CJI's corruption. Pixabay
The hurried press conference was called to reveal CJI’s corruption. Pixabay

At a hurriedly called press conference at his residence, Justice J. Chelameswar and three other colleagues said the Supreme Court administration was “not in order” and their efforts to persuade Justice Misra even this morning “with a specific request” failed, forcing them to “communicate with the nation” directly.

The four judges — Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur besides Justice Chelameswar — released a letter they wrote to Justice Misra a couple of months ago, conceding that he was the master of roster but that was “not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues”.

Asked specifically if they were upset over reference of the matter seeking a probe into the suspicious death of Judge Loya, Justice Gogoi said: “Yes.”

Judge Loya's death is said to have happened due to a conspiracy. Pixabay
Judge Loya’s death is said to have happened due to a conspiracy. Pixabay

Judge Loya, who was hearing a case relating to the killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh in an alleged fake shootout in which BJP chief Amit Shah was named an accused (later discharged), died of cardiac arrest in 2014. His family has raised doubts over the circumstances in which Judge Loya died and have sought an independent probe into it.

Plea’s seeking probe came up for a hearing in the Supreme Court on Friday when the top court expressed concerns over it and said it was a “serious issue”. It asked the Maharashtra government to produce all the documents related to the case before January 15.

In a seven-page letter, the four judges said they were not mentioning details of the cases only to avoid embarrassing the institution because “such departures have already damaged the images of this institution to some extent”.

The clash among the judges in the highest court also comes in the wake of a controversial order in November in which Justice Misra declared that the Chief Justice “is the master of the roster” having exclusive power to decide which case will go to which judge.

The CJI called himself 'master of roster' further enraging other judges. Pixabay
The CJI called himself ‘master of the roster’ further enraging other judges. Pixabay

The CJI had given the order a day after a two-judge bench headed by Justice Chelameswar had passed an order that a five-judge bench of senior most judges in the apex court should be set up to consider an independent probe into a corruption case in which bribes were allegedly taken in the name of settling cases pending before Supreme Court judges.

Holding that the Chief Justice was only the first among equals, the four judges contended that there were well-settled and time-honoured conventions guiding the Chief Justice in dealing with the strength of the bench required or the composition thereof.

“A necessary corollary to the above-mentioned principle is the members of any multi-numbered judicial body, including this court, would not arrogate to themselves the authority to deal with and pronounce upon matters which ought to be heard by appropriate benches, both composition-wise and strength-wise with due regard to the roster fixed,” they wrote in the letter.

They said any departure from the two rules would not only lead to “unpleasant and undesirable consequences of creating doubt in the body politic about the integrity of the institution” but would create “chaos”.

The four judges also touched upon another controversial issue, the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on the appointment of judges over which the Supreme Court had locked horns with the government.

The four judges also touched upon other problematic issues. deliason.files.wordpress.com
The four judges also touched upon other problematic issues. deliason.files.wordpress.com

The government, the letter said, had not responded to the communication and “in view of this silence it must be taken that the MoP has been accepted by the government on the basis of the order of this court”.

Justice Chelameswar told the media that they were “convinced that unless this institution is protected and maintains its requirements, democracy will not survive in the country or any country… The hallmark of a democracy is independent and impartial judges.

“Since all our efforts failed… Even this morning, on a particular issue, we went and met the Chief Justice with a specific request. Unfortunately, we could not convince him that we were right.”

Justice Gogoi said they were “discharging the debt to the nation that has got us here”.

The government appeared to distance itself from the controversy, saying the judges should sort the issue themselves.

Minister of State for Law P. Chaudhary said: “Our judiciary is one of the known, recognised judiciaries in the world. It is an independent judiciary. At this stage, I think no agency is required to intervene or interfere. The Chief Justice and other members should sit together and resolve. There is no question of panic.”

the matter should be resolved among the judges themselves, says P. Chaudhary.

The Supreme Court split had an immediate political fallout, with CPI leader D. Raja saying after meeting Justice Chelameswar that Parliament will have to devise methods to sort out problems like this in the top judiciary.

Two judges, Justice S. A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageshwar Rao, are understood to have called on Justice Chelameswar. IANS