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EDITORIALS

Death for Saddam
Iraq heading for more turmoil
N
O one in the world, perhaps, expected any other verdict than the one delivered by the High Tribunal trying former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The death sentence it pronounced on Sunday had always been feared from a system controlled by the US-led occupying powers ever since the tribunal was set up soon after Saddam was captured in December 2003. 

Trial by media
Press has its rights, and responsibilities 
S
upreme Court Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal has rightly voiced concern about trials by the media of the cases when they are pending before the courts. Addressing a judicial officers’ conference in Bangalore, he called upon the judges not to be influenced by the media opinion but to “strictly go by law and evidence without fear of becoming unpopular”. Few can disagree with what Justice Sabharwal has said. 


 

 

EARLIER STORIES



Jobless youth
Can be a source of political instability
T
hat the majority of the Indian population is young is not so cheering when confronted with the fact that a majority of them are unemployed. In the world of those who inhabit a “Shining India” — with prospects of 8 to 10 per cent growth, a bullish equity market, high-tech and higher incomes —the younger age of the greater population translates as a demographic advantage in the global market.
ARTICLE

A quagmire called Iraq
US looks for an exit strategy
by S. Nihal Singh
W
ill the death sentence handed out to Saddam Hussein by an American-choreographed court change anything in Iraq or the region? Is the coup Americans said they were undertaking in Iraq to spread democracy in West Asia a step closer to realisation? Put differently, is this the American neoconservatives' finest hour?

MIDDLE

On the banks of Cherwell
by Shelley Walia
T
HE President of Wolfson College in his ecclesiastical robes, with half a dozen dons sitting on either side, greeted me when I entered his office. I had decided on joining Wolfson, because it was more liberal than other traditional colleges. Moreover, its quiet surroundings, with its location on the River Cherwell and a beautiful harbour that comes right up to some of the residential flats, I couldn't have opted for any other college.

OPED

Hypocritical justice
The West cannot claim moral superiority
by Robert Fisk
SO America’s one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington’s best friend in the Arab world.

Save farmers from land woes
by Debi Singh Tewatia
A
farmer’s income depends on his land-holding and its productive capacity. You reduce the size of the land-holding, you proportionally reduce the income of the farmer, as more than 90 per cent of them are not equipped to do anything other than till the land.

Delhi Durbar
Serving Indian democracy

Great men who leave their imprint in history are remembered for their invaluable services in the field of their expertise. When the same problems they tackled surface before the nation again, it becomes obligatory for society to express its gratitude to such people for their insights.

  • Free with information

  • Pandits’ campaign

 REFLECTIONS

 

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Death for Saddam
Iraq heading for more turmoil

NO one in the world, perhaps, expected any other verdict than the one delivered by the High Tribunal trying former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The death sentence it pronounced on Sunday had always been feared from a system controlled by the US-led occupying powers ever since the tribunal was set up soon after Saddam was captured in December 2003. It remains to be seen whether it will help the rule of law and the US-espoused cause of democracy and stability in Iraq. Who will be the gainers in the emerging scenario? Will the disappearance of Saddam from the scene in any way even serve the interests of the US?

The reported celebrations in Iraq’s predominantly Shia areas, as also in Iran, provide proof that the Shia-Sunni tensions will further exacerbate in Iraq. The Sunnis, who have been on the forefront of insurgency, will find another motivating factor to continue their resistance, perhaps more forcefully. There may be more turmoil and bloodshed, which cannot lead to stability in Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s execution at the hands of the present regime, owing allegiance to the US, may make him a martyr in the eyes of the Sunnis. For them the overthrow of the Saddam regime, though tyrannical, marked the end of an era of Sunni domination in Iraq. A dead Saddam may also become more effective in strengthening the anti-American sentiment all over the Arab world.

President Bush’s Republican Party may gain a little in today’s Congressional elections, but the Americans as a whole appear to be the losers in Iraq. The dominant political forces in Iraq — which means the Shia clergy or the parties supported by it — draw their inspiration from Iran, a part of the Axis of Evil as described by the US President before the Saddam regime was toppled. Strangely, what Iran aspired for in Iraq has come about with US efforts and investment. Going by the situation that prevails now, it is almost impossible to reverse President Bush’s policy failure, particularly when he is looking for an exit route to leave Iraq to its miserable fate.

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Trial by media
Press has its rights, and responsibilities 

Supreme Court Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal has rightly voiced concern about trials by the media of the cases when they are pending before the courts. Addressing a judicial officers’ conference in Bangalore, he called upon the judges not to be influenced by the media opinion but to “strictly go by law and evidence without fear of becoming unpopular”. Few can disagree with what Justice Sabharwal has said. In a democracy, the functions of the press and the judiciary are clearly spelt out. Each has a distinct and crucial role to play. On its part, the media has also the duty to highlight the failures and weaknesses in the criminal justice system. However, it is for the judiciary to conduct the trial of the accused and not for the media. The media cannot usurp the judiciary’s functions and carry on the trial. At the same time, it can point out how the criminal law and the courts have failed to dispense justice at times.

Undoubtedly, it is only because of the sustained campaign by the media — print and electronic — that the Delhi High Court had reopened the Priyadarshini Mattoo case and finally awarded death sentence to Santosh Kumar Singh. Had the media failed to pick up the travesty of justice, the accused, who was acquitted earlier by the trial court, would have roamed about freely today. The same happened with the Jessica Lall murder case. There is a general impression that in this case, too, justice will prevail at last.

The media’s role in both cases shows the power of a united media, not trapped by competition, but by actual realisation that it has to serve a larger purpose. Unfortunately, however, some TV channels do not follow any code in reporting crime; their aim is to stay on top of the news and grab the maximum television rating points. How many crime stories today are based on hard documents, thorough investigation and follow-up? It is time the media saw itself as part of a larger process of inquiry and information and followed the norms of journalism scrupulously — at the same time retaining its right to raise its voice against a system where criminals are allowed to get away.

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Jobless youth
Can be a source of political instability

That the majority of the Indian population is young is not so cheering when confronted with the fact that a majority of them are unemployed. In the world of those who inhabit a “Shining India” — with prospects of 8 to 10 per cent growth, a bullish equity market, high-tech and higher incomes —the younger age of the greater population translates as a demographic advantage in the global market. However, this grand scenario is rooted in a grim reality where 58 per cent of Indians are without jobs. The maximum number of unemployed is in urban India and 8 per cent of urban households have no employed member. The figures are not very much better for rural India. While these facts and figures, revealed by the National Sample Survey, are known, a new report released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows that India is among the countries with the highest rate of youth unemployment.

The ILO report says that youth are more than three times as likely to be unemployed as adults and that the relative disadvantage is more pronounced among developing countries where they account for a much higher proportion of the labour force. The consequences of unemployment —which creates a sense of vulnerability, uselessness and redundancy as observed in the report — pose a serious threat to both economic and political stability. In India, the unemployed are easy prey for violent extremist and communalist forces. The jobless youth are potential recruits for lawless outfits, from the armed senas operating in Bihar to the gangsters thriving in the underworld of Mumbai and Delhi. There is no dearth of such options for youth who are not productively and rewardingly engaged.

No economy can sustain growth unless its benefits translate into incomes for the vast majority. For this to happen, it is essential to tackle unemployment on a war footing. Unless that is done, the army of unemployed seething with deprivation may upset the apparent political stability in the country.

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Thought for the day

A platitude is simply a truth repeated until people get tired of hearing it. 
— Stanley Baldwin

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A quagmire called Iraq
US looks for an exit strategy
by S. Nihal Singh

Will the death sentence handed out to Saddam Hussein by an American-choreographed court change anything in Iraq or the region? Is the coup Americans said they were undertaking in Iraq to spread democracy in West Asia a step closer to realisation? Put differently, is this the American neoconservatives' finest hour?

To anyone familiar with the region, the answers to these questions must be in the negative. America's failure in Iraq will not turn into a success. The Arab people might welcome accountability in governance in a region that has known little of it. But a foreign-orchestrated accountability while foreign troops occupy the country is another matter. And Arab rulers' reactions vary from ambivalence to downright hostility.

In Iraq, Shias and Kurds have welcomed the sentence on Saddam and others up to a point, given their history during nearly 30 years of Saddam rule. Sunnis, on the other hand, see the sentence as a further humiliation in marginalising them and will give a further fillip to the growing insurgency spilling into a civil war.

Back in December 2003, when Saddam was captured from a black hole in the ground, Americans had hoped it would help calm the situation in Iraq and help them proceed with "democratising" the country. Nearly three years down, Iraq is a starkly changed country, with Americans losing their men at the rate of 100 a month and Iraqis being killed 100 a day. Shias are killing Sunnis and vice versa. In desperation, Americans are looking for an exit strategy.

Saddam is no longer the leader of Iraq, but he remains an idea. Rather like former Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic at The Hague international court trial, Saddam used his trial to carve for himself the role of the Iraqi patriot and martyr, despite American efforts to stymie him through censoring television coverage and frequent changes of judges. Characteristically, he shouted, "God is great" on hearing the death sentence and berated the judge and the court as stooges of the occupation power. Earlier, he had suggested his preference for facing a firing squad, as befits a military man, rather than execution by hanging, the traditional Iraqi method.

The extraordinary security measures the US and Iraqi authorities undertook on the day of the verdict — timed two days before important US Congressional elections, with the Republicans facing an uphill struggle — speak for their fears of a Sunni backlash, which did not take long in coming. Even if President George W. Bush's party can save some Congressional seats, Iraq will remain what it has become: a quagmire for Americans.

It is a tragedy for the ruling neoconservatives in the US as much as it is for their nation that their efforts to build a new empire by using the Nine Eleven terrorist attacks on their soil to advance their agenda by invading Iraq after Afghanistan were impractical, if not fanciful. You cannot impose democracy — if that indeed was the American intent — by force by roiling a country that had been traditionally governed by an authoritarian system, the norm, rather than the exception, in the area.

On the face of it, Americans thought that Iraq was an attractive and easy target. It was in the doghouse for having invaded Kuwait until it was forced out by an American-led and United Nations-blessed coalition. It had been under draconian American-inspired UN sanctions. But Saddam survived these and other privations, contrary to American and world expectations.

The neoconservatives were chafing at the bit for going into Iraq to finish the job Mr Bush senior had left unfinished, after they had unfurled the flag of pre-emptive and preventive attacks in a paean to unilateralism seldom matched in American history. The Cold War had ended, the Soviet Union was gone, the Berlin Wall had fallen and America was pumped up, possessing more power than perhaps the rest of the world combined.

Traditionally, Americans have always believed in their exceptionalism and their God-given vocation of tutoring the world in democracy and morality. But outside of the days of the Latin American banana republics and the Monroe Doctrine, US rulers camouflaged their ambitions in suitably high-sounding rhetoric or expressed their resentment of others by streaks of isolationism — the vacillation between the so-called Jacksonian and Wilsonian themes. The traditional blue-blooded conservatives defined their philosophy as a blend of idealism with pragmatism.

The George W. Bush presidency changed the rules of the game because it fell in love with power and changing the world through it. In the end, Iraq became a nightmare, as Vietnam once was, because it displayed the limits of military power in a world grown wary of American boastfulness and unilateralism. To begin with, it was wrong to describe US counter-terrorism efforts as a "war on terror". Neither America nor the world can live in a perpetual state of fear; as Mao Zedong found out for himself, there cannot be a permanent revolution.

Instead of stabilising Afghanistan after invading it to punish the hosts of Al-Qaeda, President Bush and his advisers sought to co-opt Iraq into their anti-terrorism operations on false premises. Perhaps, there were other motives as well: Iraq's plentiful oil and helping Washington's staunch ally and protégé Israel eliminate one of its enemies. It is typical of the neocons' short-term thinking that in the process of toppling Saddam and destabilising Iraq, they were handing Iran the prize of a Shia-dominated Iraq; most of the present predominant Shia rulers in the Baghdad government were political refugees in Iran during the Saddam era and Tehran's influence over them is taken for granted.

Saddam has always remained in American military custody since his capture although Washington offered a sop to the interim Iraqi government in the form of giving legal custody on June 30, 2004. There was never a question in Iraqi or Arab minds about who was orchestrating his trial. It is something of a relief that the UN Secretary-General had refused to support the Saddam trial proceedings. As it is, the UN has compromised enough by being part of the quartet on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, distinguishing itself by rubber-stamping all US decisions.

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On the banks of Cherwell
by Shelley Walia

THE President of Wolfson College in his ecclesiastical robes, with half a dozen dons sitting on either side, greeted me when I entered his office. I had decided on joining Wolfson, because it was more liberal than other traditional colleges. Moreover, its quiet surroundings, with its location on the River Cherwell and a beautiful harbour that comes right up to some of the residential flats, I couldn't have opted for any other college.

After passing through Wolfson, the river passes under Rainbow Bridge to Parson's Pleasure and Dame's Delight which used to provide nude bathing facilities for male and female bathers respectively, but which are now defunct. Tradition harmonised with modernity, continuity with change, making Oxford profoundly vibrant and salubrious with the nearby Cotswold's the most stunning. Stay up all night, go for a punt ride with a bottle of Pimms tucked in the picnic basket, bike around the city or go for a concert; that is what Oxford was amazing for.

The smell of Wolfson is not musty like University College or Queens College. The river silently winds its way towards the famous Magdalene Bridge. My flat was right on the harbour and on weekends I could jump into a punt or sometimes carry my dingy to the river and row down to the Victoria Arms, an eighteenth century pub situated on a small hillock.

I cannot forget the wonderful Sunday afternoons sitting on the banks of the river sipping bitters, and watching the punts go by sometimes carrying noisy undergraduates and often a few solemn dons with their wives.

Apart from its broad-ranging interests and a cross disciplinary ambiance, I loved taking a walk through the college meadows so well preserved in their natural habitat for more than a thousand years.

And more than anything, I looked forward to the provocative lectures of scholars like Christopher Ricks or Edward Said, Chomsky or Amartya Sen. Often the seminars over a glass of wine at Rothermere American Institute in the afternoon along with a sandwich reminded me of the seminars and lectures back home lacking the relaxed air of academic exchange.

Over lunch in the college hall at Linacre or Wolfson, two colleges to which I had affiliation, one often chatted with Fellows working in areas remote from ones discipline. Expanding the boundaries of knowledge and passing it to generations ahead was a striking feature of the years I spent there.

Radical thought meshed with critical theory infused every moment. “Fact-grubbing” and textual minutiae gave way to working with a broad brush, rubbing shoulders with Fellows from various disciplines, having a hearty chat with Sir Isaiah Berlin over lunch or with the famous Sir Raymond Hoffenberg who had fought against the apartheid rule in South Africa.

The noticeable leftist environment of free spirit disregarded hierarchy, which so conspicuously prevails in other traditional colleges like Balliol or St John's. Oxford was deeply heady; we met a lot and disagreed passionately.

I think, Oxford was more a city of learning than education. Acquisition of skills or hoovering up well-defined knowledge was subordinate to the disinterested form of learning and intellectual inquiry. It was intellectual aestheticism and knowledge for its own sake that underpinned my time spent here. As F. R. Leavis would have said: “I see the word ‘teaching’ in inverted commas. I don't like it, because of the suggestion it carries of telling-authoritative telling”.

I go back to Oxford from time to time and often revisit the places where days were a fusion of work and play, body and spirit, art and life. I recollect lazing in the sun, engaged in simple pleasures of reading, the love of fine art, and indulging in free conversations about politics and literature. All the while, coffee, tea and wine accompanied all forms of intellectual thirst.

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Hypocritical justice
The West cannot claim moral superiority
by Robert Fisk
 

SO America’s one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington’s best friend in the Arab world.

Of course, it couldn’t happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn’t be a more just verdict – nor a more hypocritical one. It’s difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows. And so by hanging this awful man, we hope – don’t we? – to look better than him, to remind Iraqis that life is better now than it was under Saddam.

Only so ghastly is the hell-disaster that we have inflicted upon Iraq that we cannot even say that. Life is now worse. Or rather, death is now visited upon even more Iraqis than Saddam was able to inflict on his Shiites and Kurds and – yes, in Fallujah of all places – his Sunnis, too.

So we cannot even claim moral superiority. For if Saddam’s immorality and wickedness are to be the yardstick against which all our iniquities are judged, what does that say about us? We only sexually abused prisoners and killed a few of them and murdered some suspects and carried out a few rapes and illegally invaded a country which cost Iraq a mere 600,000 lives (“more or less,” as George Bush Junior said when he claimed the figure to be only 30,000). Saddam was much worse. We can’t be put on trial. We can’t be hanged.

“Allahu Akbar,” the awful man shouted – God is greater. No surprise there. He it was who insisted these words should be inscribed upon the Iraqi flag, the same flag which now hangs over the palace of the government that has condemned him after a trial at which the former Iraqi mass murderer was formally forbidden from describing his relationship with Donald Rumsfeld, now George Bush’s secretary of defence. Remember that handshake? Nor, of course, was he permitted to talk about the support he received from George Bush Senior, the current US president’s father.

Here are a few of the things that Saddam was not allowed to comment upon: sales of chemicals to his Nazi-style regime so blatant – so appalling – that he has been sentenced to hang on a localised massacre of Shiites rather than the wholesale gassing of Kurds over which George W. Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara were so exercised when they decided to depose Saddam in 2003 – or was it in 2002? Or 2001?

Some of Saddam’s pesticides came from Germany (of course). But on May 25, 1994, the US Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, produced a report which informed Congress about US government–approved shipments of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or earlier.

The same report stated that the US provided Saddam with “dual use” licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile–system programmes, including...chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans), chemical warfare filling equipment.

Yes, well I can well see why Saddam wasn’t permitted to talk about this or the 200,000 pounds worth of thiodiglycol, one of two components of mustard gas Britain exported to Baghdad in 1988 and another 50,000 pounds worth of the same vile substances the following year. We also sent thionyl chloride to Iraq in 1988 and 198 at a price of only 26,000 pounds.

Yes, I know these could be used for the manufacture of ballpoint ink and fabric dyes. But this was the same country – Britain – that would, eight years later, prohibit the sale of diptheria vaccine to Iraqi children on the grounds that it could be used for – you guessed it – “weapons of mass destruction”.

Now in theory, I know, the Kurds have a chance for their own trial of Saddam, to hang him high for the thousands of Kurds gassed at Halabja.

This would certainly keep him alive beyond the 30-day death sentence review period. But would the Americans and British dare touch a trial in which we would have not only to describe how Saddam got his filthy gas but why the CIA – in the immediate aftermath of the Iraqi war crimes against Halabja – told US diplomats in the Middle East to claim that the gas used on the Kurds was dropped by the Iranians rather than the Iraqis (Saddam still being at the time our favourite ally rather than our favourite war criminal). Just as we in the West were silent when Saddam massacred 180,000 Kurds during the great ethnic cleansing of 1987 and 1988.

And – dare we go so deep into this betrayal of the Iraqis we loved so much that we invaded their country? – then we would have to convict Saddam of murdering countless thousands of Shiite Muslims as well as Kurds after they staged an uprising against the Iraqi Baathist regime at our specific request – thousands whom we then betrayed by leaving them to fight off Saddam’s brutal hordes on their own.

I and my colleagues watched this terrible tragedy. I travelled on the hospital trains that brought the Iranians back form the 1980–88 war front, their gas wounds bubbling in giant blisters on their arms and faces, giving birth to smaller blisters that wobbled on top of their wounds. The British and Americans didn’t want to know. I talked to the victims of Halabja.

The Americans didn’t want to know. My AP colleague Mohamed Salaam saw the Iranian dead lying gassed in their thousands on the battlefields east of Basra. The Americans and the British didn’t care.

The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers, guilty of rape and massacre and throat – slitting and torture in the years since our ‘liberation’ of Iraq. Many of them work for the Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?

By arrangement with The Independent

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Save farmers from land woes
by Debi Singh Tewatia

A farmer’s income depends on his land-holding and its productive capacity. You reduce the size of the land-holding, you proportionally reduce the income of the farmer, as more than 90 per cent of them are not equipped to do anything other than till the land.

In the older Punjab, size of holdings was first reduced to seven and a half hectares, that is roughly 19 acres, for a family comprising five members. The next step that the urbanite, elite ruling class took was to deprive him of his land by forcibly acquiring the same.

The land is acquired for private companies who without exception would exaggerate their requirement and get land many times their requirement. Concerned authorities, for reasons well known, would indulge them and do their bidding.

The private company could take possession of the acquired land only after depositing with the collector the compensation amount awarded by him, which was usually very low.

The owners are then forced to file a reference application to get the measly compensation awarded by the collector enhanced to some extent. The dissatisfied land owner then approaches the High Court in an appeal where high stamp duty, with the court fee proportionate to the claimed enhancement amount, deters him from claiming full market value of his land. A substantial part of compensation gets paid out to the lawyers and is spent on court fee and his traveling expenses.

To his horror, the land is gone and a substantial portion of awarded compensation too is gone. Here are some suggestions to militate against this misery:

If the land is acquired for industrial concerns, then at least one family member of the farmer should be given employment as per his or her qualification. Arrangements to impart training to the wards of such farmers, to enable him or her to acquire skills and competence for more lucrative jobs, must also be made.

Land acquired on payment of ridiculously low amounts of compensation to the farmer is made over to public or private developers to develop residential colonies and industrial zones, who in turn sell the same to private individuals for residential or industrial purposes and charge from them exorbitant prices, at times fifty to hundred times of what has been paid to the farmers. Part of this profit should statutorily be made payable to such farmers according to the measure of land taken from him.

Over and above the compensation amount, 20 per cent thereof should be deposited in a common fund invested in Reserve Bank of India bonds, interest whereof should be distributed annually amongst the erstwhile owners of the acquired land in accordance with the measure of the land acquired from him.

Where the land is acquired for such roads where toll tax is imposed a reasonable percentage of the toll tax should be similarly invested and paid out.

If the land is acquired for commercial or residential purposes, then the compensation amount should be assessed by treating the land as being commercial or residential in character and not as agricultural land.

Such farmers whose land had been acquired should be allotted plots for residential purposes following certain reasonable norms at the price which had been paid to the farmer concerned, plus the development charges, and not at the price which is being charged from the individuals to whom the plots were being sold by the acquiring authority.

The period for giving the award should be reduced from two years to one year and the amount should be paid in one go. The minimum price of the farmers’ produce should be fixed at least 50 per cent above the cost price of his produce taking into account cost of the land, cost of the labour provided by farmers’ family members and other related inputs.

One may legitimately assert that the higher grain price paid to the farmer would increase the market price of the food grain and would adversely affect poorer strata of the society. This can be easily taken care of by subsidising the intake of food grains by the poorer sections of the society and the workers.

The writer is former Chief Justice, Calcutta High Court

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Delhi Durbar
Serving Indian democracy

Great men who leave their imprint in history are remembered for their invaluable services in the field of their expertise. When the same problems they tackled surface before the nation again, it becomes obligatory for society to express its gratitude to such people for their insights.

This is what happened in the Supreme Court during the hearing on the contentious issue of Parliament’s power to place laws in the Ninth Schedule, and the judiciary’s competence to review such decisions. Top legal brains of the country in unison expressed their indebtedness to Nani Palkhiwala for laying down the doctrine of the basic structure of the Constitution in the famous Keshwananda Bharti case.

Legal luminaries like Fali Nariman, Soli Sorabjee, Ram Jethmalani, Harish Salve, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said it was only because of the contribution of Palkhiwala that the theory of Constitutional balance was evolved in the Keshwananda Bharti judgement. All the nine judges in the Bench, headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, acknowledged his contribution to the nation, which they described as an invaluable gift to Indian democracy.

Free with information

The joke doing the rounds among scribes covering the ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences is that union minister Kapil Sibal is joining the Press Information Bureau. And why not? The minister of Science and Technology has addressed no fewer than five press conferences relating to his charge in the past ten days and is fielding questions in the PIB conference hall every other day.

On October 23 he met the press to talk about the international workshops on agro-meteorological risk management and four days later on October 27 unveiled a brand new natural disaster information dissemination system for the country. While on October 30, Sibal talked about a new system of digitised criminal investigation, the next day he met mediapersons in the MCD office. Then on November 3 he was back in the PIB conference hall talking about the recovery of the GSLV debris.

Pandits’ campaign

The Kashmiri Pandit community seems to have taken a cue from the sms and internet campaigns aimed at garnering support for its cause. The community, which lent its support to the “Justice for Priyadarshini” campaign recently, has come together to protest against the release of the infamous terrorist Bitta Karate on bail.

Messages are being sent to register protest against the release of Karate, who is reported to have confessed to killing more than 40 Pandits in the Valley. Questioning the government’s commitment to fight terrorism, the community says it is a travesty of justice that a criminal like Karate is allowed to roam free.

Contributed by S.S. Negi, Vibha Sharma and Smriti Kak Ramachandran

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Old feuds are like potent poisons. With age, they mature and grow virulent, From father to son, the hatred is passed one like life itself, to be cherished and nursed for the day of revenge.
— he Mahabharata

Hindus and Muslims fight in the name of Ram and Rahim to self-destruction. Neither of them understands the fact that the Almighty is one.
— Kabir

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