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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped | Reflections

EDITORIALS

Verdict No. 1
Justice delayed, justice not attempted
I
T will take weeks, if not months, before Special Judge P.D. Kode completes delivering his judgement in the Mumbai serial blasts case. He has announced that he will give his verdict only on eight persons at a time in a case in which 123 are accused.

Safe flying
Helicopters are not forgiving machines
E
nsuring flight safety is a rigorous business in which all stakeholders, from passengers and pilots to regulators and manufacturers, have an equal part. 

Hockey horror
Time to find out reasons, not excuses
H
oping against hope has once again proved to be an exercise in futility. There has been only bad news on the hockey front.




EARLIER STORIES

Lucky escape
September 13, 2006
Pact with Taliban
September 12, 2006
Gandhi to Osama
September 11, 2006
Commercialisation of water must stop: Pandey
September 10, 2006
Courting disaster
September 9, 2006
Tale of Telgi
September 8, 2006
PM’s anguish
September 7, 2006
Wheat imports
September 6, 2006
Slow and steady
September 5, 2006
Coalition dharma
September 4, 2006
What ails India
September 3, 2006
Iranian rejection
September 2, 2006


ARTICLE

Balochistan after Bugti killing
Anti-Pakistan sentiment likely to grow
by Sushant Sareen
C
learly, the Pakistan army has miscalculated the public and political reaction to the murder of the Baloch nationalist leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti. In the initial flush of excitement over eliminating a thorn in the side of the Pakistan army, Gen Pervez Musharraf couldn’t stop congratulating his troops for having yet again conquered a part of Pakistan.

MIDDLE

“Your great country…!”
K. Rajbir Deswal
L
ondon to Paris is nearly a three-hour train journey on the Euro Star, through the Euro Tunnel. I was travelling with an English gentleman, sitting in front of me, when I occasionally hit him on his feet and legs. The leg space not being enough, and I being an Indian who shouldn’t know the niceties of “sitting properly”, I tried to pamper the Gora in an obvious bid to please him.

OPED

Newspapers on walls
Empowering rural India with innovative media
by B G Verghese
T
he National Readership Survey, 2006, has some interesting data. The country’s 230 million TV viewers (in 112 million homes) now exceed its 203.6 million newspaper readers. Cinema-going has declined from 51 million filmgoers to 39 million filmgoers a month. FM radio listeners now total 119 million.

Fishing at Sukhna can endanger birds
by Lt-General (retd) Baljit Singh
A
llow me to begin with a confession. I am an angling enthusiast, perhaps keener than the first hundred who were out licence-fishing at Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake on September 1, 2006. Yet I would desist from angling at Sukhna. Why ?

Legal notes
Country is now without Law Commission
by S S Negi
P
erhaps for the first time since Independence, the Law Commission, a statutory body under the Constitution, is not in place. The UPA Government has not been able to constitute it after the retirement of its chairperson, Justice M J Rao, as the head of 17th panel.

From the pages of

Editorial cartoon by Rajinder Puri


 REFLECTIONS

 

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Verdict No. 1
Justice delayed, justice not attempted

IT will take weeks, if not months, before Special Judge P.D. Kode completes delivering his judgement in the Mumbai serial blasts case. He has announced that he will give his verdict only on eight persons at a time in a case in which 123 are accused. The serial judgements will keep the nation in prolonged suspense while the judge will hog the limelight. Even otherwise, the track record of the case does not show the justice system in a good light. It is now 13 years ago since the nation was stunned by the serial blasts in Mumbai that left 257 people dead and several injured. It was the first time the nation woke up to mass terror and what a heavy mix of revenge and RDX could detonate. The case was heard by a special court under the now-defunct Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act to quicken the delivery of justice.

Between the registering of the case and the delivery of Verdict No. 1 on Tuesday in which four relatives of prime accused Ibrahim Mushtaq alias ‘Tiger’ Memon, who himself is absconding, were found guilty, 11 of the accused have died. By the time the whole verdict is out and the guilty have exhausted their right to appeal in the Supreme Court, many more years would have passed making a mockery of the justice system. That the case had no deterrent effect on the terrorists is apparent from the series of attacks they made from Mumbai to Delhi to Srinagar to Varanasi to Mumbai again to Malegaon. It is a failure of those who run the system that the case could not be heard more swiftly and the verdict pronounced without any wastage of time. The accused, who spent Rs 62 lakh on arranging the bombs, made good use of the loopholes in the system to make mincemeat of justice.

Acts of terrorism cannot be justified under any circumstances. The Mumbai serial blasts are no exception. Even so it is a discomforting thought that the riots that preceded the blasts, which were conveniently used by the likes of Dawood Ibrahim to justify their evil deed, have gone unpunished. The report of the Srikrishna Commission, which inquired painstakingly into the mass killings, has been gathering dust while the police officers indicted by it have either superannuated or are serving in higher posts. If justice delayed is justice denied, what about justice that has not even been attempted?

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Safe flying
Helicopters are not forgiving machines

Ensuring flight safety is a rigorous business in which all stakeholders, from passengers and pilots to regulators and manufacturers, have an equal part. It is unfortunate that in spite of several mishaps, some basic lessons are not being learnt, and a semi-casual attitude continues to prevail. While a probe will decide exactly what caused Captain Amarinder Singh’s helicopter to crash near Batala on Tuesday, it is a fact that more often than not, it is the human element that is at fault. And flying does not take abuse lightly.

Helicopters and small aircraft are increasingly being used for VIP transport in the country. While the high mobility, flexibility, speed and ease of travel provide many benefits, flight safety is vulnerable to the VIP and bade saab culture that prevails in our country. For a VIP used to having people at his beck and call, even an extra few minutes for a mandatory pre-flight check is an irritation. Weight restrictions are frequently overlooked to accommodate an additional passenger, often with serious consequences. Pilots, who should hold their ground, are bulldozed into submission. Combined with a general chalta hai attitude, one has a recipe for a fatal cocktail.

Helicopters are particularly unforgiving machines. A single problem can turn the craft into a falling rock. Over-loading, especially if it is combined with the presence of power lines, and tall buildings, can get fliers into serious trouble. Helicopters are prized for their go-anywhere, land-anywhere capability, but that does not mean that helipads can be located willy-nilly. Even as simple an expedient as sprinkling water to keep dust down while taking off or landing, can make a big difference. If the pilots, or any other person involved, are guilty of a violation or negligence of any kind, they should be dealt with suitably. Safety norms are a habit and a culture, and one that cannot be fostered without discipline.

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Hockey horror
Time to find out reasons, not excuses

Hoping against hope has once again proved to be an exercise in futility. There has been only bad news on the hockey front. Leave alone winning the World Cup, or even entering the semifinals for the first time in three decades, India had to face the ignominy of finishing the league matches without a single win, with only a draw in their kitty! Now that the boys have belied the expectations convincingly, the usual charade of fixing responsibility will start. The inquiries that will be conducted will be an exercise in finding scapegoats as usual. The accidental bullet injury to Sandeep Singh will be bandied about. “Poor coaching” has already been highlighted. The end result will be that the real causes will be conveniently glossed over.

The fact is that hockey is being run more like a government department today. It has been politicised and bureaucratised more than it can take. No wonder, it is tied in red tape hand and foot. Netas and babus vie with one another to become sports administrators. The fatal attraction is not because of any genuine love for the game but because of the influence and freebies that come with the posts. The result is that players and genuine sports lovers are reduced to non-entities. Petty regionalism and favouritism rule the roost in this game and almost all others.

That is why the country of a billion-plus is not able to identify and nurture a handful of world class players. Surely, that is not an impossible task, especially for a country which proudly wore the hockey crown for so long. Just look at the way Korea has risen through the ranks. Our hockey bigwigs used to make fun of them when Koreans would video-film almost every international match without themselves winning any. Little did the smirking heavyweights realise that the lowly-placed team had a long-term plan. But their officials act as a facilitator, not a hindrance. The time when India taught hockey to the world is long gone. Now is the time to learn a few things ourselves. 

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Thought for the day

Do your duty, and leave the outcome to the Gods.

— Pierre Corneille

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Balochistan after Bugti killing
Anti-Pakistan sentiment likely to grow
by Sushant Sareen

Clearly, the Pakistan army has miscalculated the public and political reaction to the murder of the Baloch nationalist leader, Nawab Akbar Bugti. In the initial flush of excitement over eliminating a thorn in the side of the Pakistan army, Gen Pervez Musharraf couldn’t stop congratulating his troops for having yet again conquered a part of Pakistan. But as is his wont, once the muck started flying, the commando ducked for cover and, in a rather disingenuous exercise, tried to launch a massive cover-up operation to hide the truth about the circumstances surrounding the assassination of an icon of the Baloch nationalist movement.

At the same time, to protect himself from the rising criticism, General Musharraf took cover of what is often the last refuge of the scoundrel — patriotism. Ironically, instead of snuffing out the still incipient Baloch rebellion against an overbearing Punjabi establishment, the Pakistan army has provided the Baloch movement a tremendous boost by gifting it with a martyr and cemented Nawab Akbar Bugti’s place in the pantheon of Baloch nationalists.

No doubt, by eliminating Nawab Bugti, the quasi-military regime in Pakistan has removed from the scene a figure around whom they believed the insurgency in Balochistan revolved. But the Baloch nationalist movement is much more than just Bugti and his supporters. Bugti was, in fact, a late convert to the nationalist cause. While his participation certainly added strength to the movement, his death will only redound in favour of the nationalists.

Of course, the future role of the fierce Bugti tribe in the nationalist movement is an open question as of now. The Pakistan army has adopted a two-pronged approach to curtail the power of the Bugti tribe. First, it exploited intra-tribe differences and used smaller clans in the tribe to divide it. Many of the clans opposed to Bugti were resettled in the Dera Bugti area as a counter-force to Bugti’s supporters. These clans recently held a Jirga and abolished the Sardari system from the tribe.

The second prong of the regime has been to sow divisions within the Bugti family. Bugti himself was grooming his grandsons, Barhamdagh and Ali, to succeed him as the tribal Sardar. It is still not clear whether his grandsons are alive or not. If they are dead, then the seeds of division will be firmly planted by finishing the Sardari system on the one hand and appointing a pliable son of Akbar Bugti as Sardar on the other. But if the grandsons are alive, then there could be a conflict on the issue of succession. In addition, Bugti’s successor will have to counter the rival clans who have abolished Sardari. This could mean that the internal rivalries of the Bugti tribe will dominate over the cause of Baloch nationalism. But individual members of the tribe, inspired by Nawab Bugti’s martyrdom, could join the ranks of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to avenge his death.

But even without the Bugti tribe, the nationalist movement is not likely to lose steam. Bugti’s killing has enraged the Baloch and enhanced their sense of alienation and discontent against the Pakistan army as well as against the Punjabis. Already there are signs of many fence-sitters (including tribal chieftains) jumping on to the nationalist bandwagon. This crystallisation of ranks could polarise the polity of Balochistan to an extent that reconciliation will become very difficult. More dangerously, there is the likelihood of a further radicalisation of the nationalist ranks.

The mainstream political parties, which do not necessarily identify with the aspirations of the Baloch nationalists, are also not averse to using the Bugti killing to further their political fight against the Musharraf regime. The disturbances in Balochistan will be used to highlight how General Musharraf is hell-bent on destroying inter-provincial harmony. This tactic is a double-edged sword. While it will enhance the pressure on the quasi-military government and damage its credentials, it will at the same time enhance support for General Musharraf within the army.

The general attitude in the Pakistan army is that the Baloch are traitors and deserve to be dealt with sternly. By not soft-peddling or succumbing to the “blackmail” of the Baloch Sardars or warlords, General Musharraf’s image within the army will at least temporarily get a boost. But if the events in Balochistan spin out of control, then the same logic will be used against him since he will be seen as the symbol of hate without whose removal reconciliation will not be possible with the Baloch.

While the disturbances that have erupted as a reaction to Nawab Bugti’s murder are widespread, it is still not clear if this will take the form of a civil insurrection or a mass political movement in Balochistan. If this happens then, of course, things could move very fast in the direction of destabilising the Musharraf regime. Even if the current disturbance quietens down, the anti-Pakistan and anti-Punjab sentiment is likely to grow, especially since the army regime will try and bulldoze its way on the issue of new cantonments, the mega projects like Gwadar and the continuing hounding of the nationalists.

Given the make-up of Baloch society and polity, the general Baloch character and the desperation of the nationalists, it appears that violence will only rise in the province. The reaction of the BLA will be critical in this context. So far nobody seems to know what or who comprises the BLA. At one level, the BLA is an amorphous organisation. There is more conjecture than any hard evidence regarding the form and structure of the BLA. Some people even doubt whether the BLA actually exists. They say that it serves as a cover for the activities of the recalcitrant tribes, namely the Marris, Bugtis and Mengals.

At another level, there is evidence to suggest that the BLA is an organisation that has a presence on the ground. While tribal chieftains like the Marris and even the Bugti chief might have some links with the BLA, the organisation appears to be more than just these tribal chiefs. It is entirely possible that the BLA is a diffused organisation, where different tribal groups or clans or set of people form a cell that operates in the name of the BLA. But clearly there is a common aspiration, ideology and programme that drives all those who act in the name of the BLA. Therefore, the assassination of the Bugti chief is not likely to have any major impact on the activities of the BLA.

It is this formless structure of the BLA that makes it such an enigma for the Pakistani security forces. This is also the factor that makes the BLA so dangerous. Being something of a phantom organisation, the BLA will continue using guerrilla tactics and avoid any frontal assault on the Pakistan army which will be suicidal. But to become more lethal, the BLA could adopt the tactics of the Taliban in the Pashtun Tribal Areas further north. This will mean planting roadside bombs and mines that target military convoys, targeting and eliminating people who are close to the government, targeting soldiers and officers randomly on and off-duty, carrying out reprisals against Punjabi settlers in Balochistan.

There is little doubt that all these tactics will invite the wrath of the state. But this action-reaction cycle is exactly what will ultimately destabilise both the Musharraf regime and the Pakistani state.

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“Your great country…!”
K. Rajbir Deswal

London to Paris is nearly a three-hour train journey on the Euro Star, through the Euro Tunnel. I was travelling with an English gentleman, sitting in front of me, when I occasionally hit him on his feet and legs. The leg space not being enough, and I being an Indian who shouldn’t know the niceties of “sitting properly”, I tried to pamper the Gora in an obvious bid to please him.

The entire experience that I had gathered in “handling” the foreign delegations, while working for the Government of India, was at my command. While a tendency to please, using all diplomatic jargon, was the most important thing to be borne in mind; starting every communication with “Your great country…!” was the hallmark, and it always clinched the issue.

Seeking to invite the Gora into a tête-à-tête, by virtually breaking the proverbial ice, more to please him than to have his reaction, since my long legs had been troubling him, I began: “Excuse me sir, don’t you think the cold climate of your great country is a boon for you. I mean, you can enjoy your icecream for a longer duration.” I grinned in quest of an answer. He looked up while reading from his book, only to offer a plastic smile, which did convey to me that he was interested neither in me, nor my “advances”.

I did neither relent, nor was I in a mood to surrender. Again I tried to broach the issue. “And don’t you think the shaving cream still stays hard in the cold climate of your great country and doesn’t flow like water, as it does in hot and humid lands, like India,” I said with some contempt meshed up for my “not so great a country”.

This time he did lift his eyes but dropped the gaze quickly to the pages, obviouly ignoring me.

I again spoke to the Gora caring two hoots if again he frowned at me: “Don’t you use the same set of undergarments for weeks altogether since you don’t seem to sweat and make your clothes smelly, in the cold climate of your great country?” The Englishman didn’t respond. He became deaf. Dumb. Stone.

I also thought it wise to keep my “bloody mouth shut” but not for long when the compulsive arguer in me shook me once again into making a comment, this time on the quality of being ever active in a cold climate in the Goras’ great country. “Sir don’t you think…!” “Why the hell khant yuuu mind yer oun biznis ther!” the Gora shouted. Our co-passengers looked at me with all the Great Britain’s contempt emptied on me.

I for a while lost my faith in the thawing of human relations and warmth that keeps various cultures glued to each other. I was reminded of what Margaret Drabble said in A Natural Curiosity: “England’s not a bad country… it’s just a mean, cold, ugly, divided, tired, clapped-out, post-imperial, post-industrial slagheap covered in polystyrene hamburger cartons”.

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Newspapers on walls
Empowering rural India with innovative media
by B G Verghese

The National Readership Survey, 2006, has some interesting data. The country’s 230 million TV viewers (in 112 million homes) now exceed its 203.6 million newspaper readers. Cinema-going has declined from 51 million filmgoers to 39 million filmgoers a month. FM radio listeners now total 119 million.

Indian language newspaper readership is fast growing, especially in the Hindi belt, while the comparable figure for English dailies has been stagnating at around 21 million.

If these figures tell any story, it is that rural India, and disadvantaged “Fourth World” groups among them, remain information poor, disempowered and unable to participate effectively in local governance or national affairs.

Radio remains a poor relative of Doordarshan, while most FM radio channels are urban-entertainment oriented. All India Radio’s (AIR) External Services and DD International are sadly in limbo even as the Government is now giving consideration to creating a Global (TV) Presence for Strategic Purposes to portray India’s culture and national interests through a projection of “soft power”. This is a laudable object in itself. But why jettison Prasar Bharati instead of giving it the true autonomy it needs to be a really effective public service broadcaster?

The content of Prasar Bharati has declined and the guidelines for community radio, which would genuinely reach down to the grassroots, is still too narrowly conceived and hedged around. In the bargain, India is losing a most powerful tool for local governance and empowerment.

However, the print media is thrusting out into the remoter countryside, albeit slowly. Among the many inspiring experiments under way is that of Janvani, an interactive Oriya newspaper that has taken on a Fourth World Mission to cater to the State’s many dalits, tribes and OBCs through rural reporters drawn from their ranks and trained for the job.

The National Institute of Social Work and Social Sciences, founded by Radhakant Nayak, Member of Parliament and former IAS officer born to SC and ST parents, aims to foster social entrepreneurship to transform our present non-egalitarian and feudal society. To this end he established the Janvani Trust, run entirely by women, to launch Janvani three years ago.

The daily is produced in Bhubaneshwar but circulates in 14,000 of Orissa’s 52,000 villages and enjoys a circulation of just under 24,000 copies a day. It has 150 active barefoot reporters and 1450 less frequent correspondents who double up as social animators and conduct community discussions through Readers’ Circles. Running the paper with insufficient production staff, lack of advertisements and infrastructure, and meeting operational costs, continues to be a challenge. But Janvani struggles on bravely.

Following another track, Anupam Srivastava, a communications graduate, kept wondering how he could reach out to the hitherto un-reached rural audiences. He tumbled upon an idea waiting to be exploited. He persuaded the Patna Dairy Cooperative that there could be synergy in his publishing a fortnightly wall newspaper that would carry news and information relevant to a rural readership, including messages about livestock health, animal feed, and other matters that the Dairy wished to propagate.

In return, the Dairy should carry the wall newspaper to the 950 villages (with a population of 35,000) in the four districts of Central Bihar falling within its twice-daily milk run and hand it over to the Milk Union Secretary to paste and distribute to potential subscribers at the milk-pouring counters.

A deal was struck and, after some pre-testing, Pratibadh (“Commitment”) was born in 1996 as a double-broadsheet. The Hindi used was simple and the type-size large. Village milk union secretaries took on the role of animators to pass on local news and report on community issues. Publication of these items evoked live interest in the paper while responses to grievances enhanced its credibility as a vehicle for social communication. Subscribers began to write letters, initiating an interactive dialogic process.

Subscriptions are flexible, ranging from 20-50 paisa and upwards, and are collected by milk union secretaries through deductions from individual subscriber’s milk sale proceeds. Locally drawn cartoons and illustrations are popular.

Answering a need, Pratibadh trained local reporters and today has a band of 350 village reporters, in some 20,000 villages that it now reaches through seven State Milk Unions in Bihar, West Bengal, Uttranchal, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra and Goa. It is currently printed in Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Marathi. Given an average of 50-60 members per village milk union, Pratibadh has a readership of over half a million.

Now that a reliable mechanism of two-way communication has been established, Pratibadh or its clones could reach out countrywide through other state milk cooperative unions. Here is a unique and perfect mechanism for vending rural papers that could carry a variety of messages or reading matter.

There are over a million primary milk unions in the country with a combined population of around 90 to 100 million living in these villages. One large corporate has offered to take advertising space at the rate of Rs 150 per square cm. There is a viable revenue model here to tap the vast, awakening rural market, not merely for goods and services, but for knowledge, education, information and empowerment.

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Fishing at Sukhna can endanger birds
by Lt-General (retd) Baljit Singh

Allow me to begin with a confession. I am an angling enthusiast, perhaps keener than the first hundred who were out licence-fishing at Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake on September 1, 2006. Yet I would desist from angling at Sukhna. Why ?

Of all the “field” sports (which in itself is a convenient euphemism to cloak the label of “blood” sport), angling alone demands an environment of solitude. Little has changed since 1653 when Izaak Walton in his classic book The Complete Angler described angling as “a contemplative man’s recreation”! To have a fish at the end of the line also has significance, but it is not the end in itself.

But when anglers are replaced by fish-vendors weilding rods-and-line as is happening at Sukhna, with the sole idea of landing a fish for profit, then little remains of the sport’s intrinsic charm. Of course, this view can so easily be misconstrued as elitism versus egalitarianism, which I deny emphatically here and now.

Then there is the fundamental principle of aquatic biology, that a living water-body needs to “breathe”. Now, if you crowd a small water-body like the Sukhna Lake with pedal-boats, sail-boats and motor-row boats, in time that will certainly impinge on its aquatic health. And if you insert a floating restaurant and ‘shikaras’ (a la the Dal Lake) which the administration often puts out through calculated press-leaks as its future intention for attracting foreign tourists to Sukhna, that would impact grievously with the photo-synthesis process and in due course asphyxiate the lake. The atrophied water and its aqua-biotica will become serious health hazards for the residents of Chandigarh’s northern segment, to say the least. Sukhna Lake would thus be reduced to a stagnant pond.

In any case, Sukhna Lake is essentially a man-made and aesthetically landscaped water-body as opposed to a water-sports facility. Standing or walking atop its bund, there is the sheet of rippling blue-green water lapping at the far bank where tall bull-rush reeds sway their plumed heads in the gentle breeze. The bottle green canopy of trees at the far bank, merges with the pale-green elevation of the Shivaliks. Then rises the first row of blue-grey Himalayas, their next higher ranges a soft grey and ultimately, on most good days, there is the blue sky above, flecked or spattered with white, woolly clouds. Not many cities in India can boast of such an unsullied landscape.

Now implant anglers or fishermen in the foreground, a floating restaurant and a few shikaras on the lake surface and you have smudged this most idyllic of views.

Lastly, if it is embarrassing for the Chandigarh administration to roll-back the decision let them at least put fishing on hold during the annual growth phase of the introduced fish fingerlings, particularly from November to February when Sukhna Lake is home to hundreds of resident and migratory water-fowl. As of now, these birds drift close to the shore-line allowing citizens to watch them from up close. This exclusive privilege of Chandigarh City will also vanish for ever once anglers and fishermen interpose in between.

And there will be countless avoidable bird deaths (some lingering and cruel), especially among the “Wader” and “Diver” species of water-fowl, as they get entangled in the snagged and submerged fishing lines. Almost all such bird deaths will go unnoticed because the ensnared birds would remain submerged never to re-surface from their ill-fated dives.

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Legal notes
Country is now without Law Commission
by S S Negi

Perhaps for the first time since Independence, the Law Commission, a statutory body under the Constitution, is not in place. The UPA Government has not been able to constitute it after the retirement of its chairperson, Justice M J Rao, as the head of 17th panel. The panel’s three-year tenure ended on August 31. Ideally, the 18th Commission should have been in place automatically with the appointment of its new chairperson well in advance.

In addition, an innocuous-looking amendment made in the rules governing the Law Commission by the NDA, virtually made the panel’s reports out of bounds for the public. The amended rule made it mandatory for the Centre to first place them in Parliament. Prior to this, the Commission could make the reports public simultaneously with its submission to the government.

Even Justice Rao was of the view that the reports of the Commission should not be barred from public scrutiny till laid before Parliament, as they were prepared after extensive public debates. But Law Minister H R Bhardwaj differed. Now the fear is that if the Government does not prefer to place them before Parliament, the reports would virtually go into cold storage.

Dismissal from job for bigamy

A man having a second wife in violation of the right of his legally wedded wife under the Hindu Marriage Act, has got a strong message from the Supreme Court. The man’s employers have every right to dismiss him on disciplinary grounds.

There was no scope for courts to interfere in such matters, except in the cases where the punishment awarded by a disciplinary authority was shockingly disproportionate to the offence and in defiance of moral standards. Otherwise, the administrative authority has full powers to take a logical decision in such matters, the apex court held, upholding the dismissal of K G Soni from service by the MP government for having a second wife.

Owners and drivers

Vehicle owners, especially transporters, have been provided a major relief by the Supreme Court in cases of claims due to the fault of their drivers. The court held that the owners would not be liable on the grounds that they had not verified the authenticity of the driving licence. The owner was expected to check, at the time of employment, the driver’s driving licence and test his skills on the vehicle he was being employed to drive, but was not obliged to ascertain the means by which the licence was procured.

If the insurance company wanted to get out of the obligation to pay compensation, it has to prove that the vehicle owner was guilty of negligence, in that he had not taken reasonable precautions to ensure that the vehicle was insured, that the person driving the vehicle was duly licenced, and had not been disqualified to drive at the time of the accident.

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From the pages of

February 19, 1980

Neither shock nor surprise

Such surprise as has been expressed over the dissolution of nine State Assemblies and the imposition of President’s rule can only be described as disingenuous and the sense of shock as simulated. The writing was on the wall for several weeks following the orchestrated protest by members of the Congress (I) in various parts of the country against the continuance in office of ministries represented by opponents of the ruling party at the Centre.

Three years ago the then Government said that the Congress ministries in nine States had forfeited their right to stay in office on the basis of the vote in the general election for the Lok Sabha. Mrs Gandhi’s Government has merely repeated that argument in relation to the general election of last month. Even the number of States covered by the decision is the same as the total in 1977. Here is the political parallel of the tribal code of revenge — an eye for the eye, a tooth for a tooth.

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God exists in one’s heart like the pupil in the eye. But ignorance causes a man to seek him far and wide.
— Kabir

Everything is swinging: heaven, earth, water, fire, and the secret one slowly growing a body. I saw that for fifteen seconds and it made me a servant for life. 
— Kabir

We see Him in Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
— Guru Nanak

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