Tag Archive | Supreme Court Judge

Soumya Vishwanathan’s Employer Fined Rs 250 – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                                              March 26, 2009

Soumya Vishwanathan’s Employer Fined Rs 250

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Four months after a woman journalist was found shot in her car in the dead of night, her employer paid a Re 250 fine for breaking the Capital’s work hour norms.

TV journalist Soumya VishwanathanShot in dead of night (Photo: Mid-day.com)

The quantum of fine for the sort of violation incurred in Soumya Vishwanathan being at work till 3 am, some half an hour from a killer bullet, was set in the 1950s, shortly after India gained freedom.

Section 14 of the Delhi Shops and Establishments Act 1954 outlaws any establishment allowing women to work between 9 pm and 7 am in summer and, 8 pm and 8 am, in winter.

”Any contravention… shall on conviction, be punished with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees and which may extend to two hundred and fifty rupees,” Section 40 of the Act says.

Indian governance– no matter the political label– has let it remain, notwithstanding the fall in Rupee’s buying capacity, the changing values or conditions, the state of security and the level of law and enforcement half a century thence.

”It’s one of the outdated provisions,” V V Giri National Labour Institute researcher Sanjay Upadhyaya acknowledged in an interview with United News of India Special Correspondent Mukesh Jhangiani.

On September 30, 2008, Ms Vishwanathan, 26, left her place of work at 03:02 am, say police, who got word of the incident at 3.41 am.

Greeting the news of the arrest of her alleged killers some six months later her mother, Madhavi Vishwanathan, remarked: ”It’s unfortunate that another murder had to take place.” She was referring to the murder of Jigisha Ghosh, 28, killed last week returning home from work.

The Soumya Vishwanathan murder sparked a debate over a young woman driving home from work unescorted at such hours.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s reported remark that ”one should not be adventurous” shocked even admirers of a woman CM. It contorted a serious issue, critics said.

”The girl is being blamed for driving home late after work,” fumed Sudha Sundararaman of All India Democratic Women Association.

She said the Chief Minister should instead be ”finding out how this happened and looking at ways to strengthen the city’s security set-up.”

Angry netizens pointed out that a chief minister responsible for law and order must make the city safe and secure for residents.

One, G Sriniwasan, remarked: If Shiela has her Z security removed and has to work to earn a living possibly she will change her tone.

Chief Minister of Delhi

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit (Photo: Wikipedia)

Ms Dikshit acknowledged in a published interview that ”travelling at three in the morning is not a safe thing for anybody to do… even for boys.” She said, ”Companies employing young girls and boys 24 hours for that matter should provide escort for the safety of our girls and boys.”

Section 14 says ”no young person, or woman shall be allowed or required to work whether as an employee or otherwise in any establishment between 9 pm and 7 am during the summer season and between 8 pm and 8 am during the winter season.”

The Delhi government exempts employers who make workplaces ”secure and safe” for employees and provide them ”door to door pick-up and drop facility.”

Two weeks after the murder, New Delhi newspapers published her ‘Appeal’ reminding employers of exemption available ”subject to the safety and security of the women.”

But in a society where jobs are scarce and law enforcement scarcer– barely six per cent conviction rate for even heinous crimes– what happens when an employer does not obtain exemption ?

The city’s Shops and Establishments Chief Inspector filed a complaint naming the employer, Managing Director Aroon Purie, and the establishment, M/s TV Today Network, as accused no. 1 and no. 2.

K R Verma submitted that Ms Vishwanathan, working as producer with ”the aforesaid Management/Employer, met with an accident on her way home after leaving from work at 3.02.54 AM.”

The work attendance sheet showed that late Ms Vishwanathan and some other women employees ”worked during the hours prohibited under the Act,” the complaint said.

It said the management having ”not been granted any exemption” for Section 14, ”the employer committed an offence by violating the provision… and is liable to be punished” under section 40.

It prayed ”that the accused be summoned, tried and… punished according to law.” A lawyer for Purie urged the court to ”dispense with” his client’s personal appearance, saying he was ”falsely implicated” and ”impleaded for malafide reasons.”

Advocate Sushil Dutt Salwan pointed out that his client was ”a Padma Vibhushan Awardee” and ”not involved” in the company’s day to day administrative affairs.

On February 19, before Special Metropolitan Magistrate Javed Aslam at Karkardooma, the accusation was explained to a company executive, Puneet Jain, to which he pleaded guilty voluntarily.

Each accused was fined Rs 250 which was paid.

But if penalty is intended to deter violations then a Re 250 fine in 2009, specially when it is not reported by mass media, amounts to little, experts acknowledge.

The order is not even on the internet notwithstanding Rs 854 crore of Indian taxpayer money the Law and Justice Ministry is spending on computerising courts and judgements or orders.

In a newspaper interview as early as December 2002, Verma’s predecessor, M K Gaur, had warned that call centres faced prosecution unless they complied with law.

Incidents involving women employees returning home from call centres at odd hours show the inadequacy of deterrence at work.

Experts agree there is dire need for clear laws, with strong deterrence in terms of mandatory punishment not just for violations, but for any lapse in enforcement at any level.

The 1954 Act regulating work hours, pay and so on is one of two dozen laws on matters ranging from minimum wage to gratuity the city’s understaffed Labour Department enforces.

While commercial activity has mushroomed, hogging even space meant for homes and street traffic, law or its rule have yet to catch up.

The Department neither knows how many units do business in the National Capital Territory– having stopped counting two decades ago– nor makes inspections provided in law to catch offenders.

Asked by UNI in September 2008– just weeks before the murder– how many shop owners were prosecuted under the Act in the last three years, the Department replied: ”Nil.” But experts indicate more bad news– a trend gradually excluding more and more employees from the protective coverage of labour laws.

Upadhyaya cites the ”reversal” of a theory of notional extension of employers’ premises upheld in Supreme Court Judge S Jafer Imam’s judgement of April 28, 1958.

Recent apex court judgements– September 1996 and November 2006– do not appear to subscribe to the principle, he says, stressing the need for a ”more worker centric” approach by judiciary.

UNI MJ

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Spread Word About Legal Aid – Apex Court Judge – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                     October 19, 2008

Spread Word About Legal Aid – Apex Court Judge*

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Hoping to serve ”global legal community’s interest in India more effectively,” a New Delhi-based law publisher has been reminded of tasks at home– spreading word about legal aid, for one.

The suggestion from Supreme Court Judge Altamas Kabir came at a function this week celebrating the 4-month-old merger of Britain’s LexisNexis Butterworths with Indian law book publisher Wadhwa Nagpur.

A lot of people in India are not aware of the existence of legal aid cells in the country, said Justice Kabir, citing an instance of information people ought to have.
He said with the development of information technology industry and globalisation of laws, the legal and judicial fraternity in India frequently refer to legal developments and literature from abroad.
Justice Kabir touched on changes with which the Indian legal system must cope– and the consequent demands they pose, voicing hope that the company’s content suite will aid in the process.
The event was attended among others by Law Commission of India Chairman A R Lakshmanan, Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah and Senior Advocate K K Venugopal.
India has some 14,000 judicial officers presiding in courts and almost a million lawyers enrolled with the nation’s statutory Bar Councils.
Dr Justice Lakshmanan hailed the merger, saying the new entity would provide the best local and global content to Indian legal industry.
Justice Shah emphasised the need for easy access to information from various sources for providing litigants speedy justice given the rapidly growing volume of cases as well as arrears.
Noting the importance Indian courts give precedents, Justice Shah said systematic and comprehensive online databases and efficient law reporting would help lawyers and the judiciary serve people better.
Venugopal said a comprehensive database as a ‘readyreckoner’ was imperative for Indian lawyers and law students– given the value of knowledge and the high costs of journals or classics.
He suggested that the publishers focus on producing quality legal journals that can generate discussions on Indian laws, judiciary and the legal system.
The event marked the launch of DD Basu’s Shorter Constitution of India by Justice Kabir, first anniversary issue of Halsbury’s Law Monthly by Justice Shah and an Online LexisNexis Bookstore by Dr Justice Lakshmanan.
LexisNexis Group’s New York-based Senior Vice President Robert Rigby-Hall– the new company’s Managing Director– promised ”richer, more comprehensive solutions to the Indian legal industry.”
These, he said, would include integrated content from key markets such as the United States, Britain and Australia and could play a crucial role in such reforms as digitisation of courts and bringing efficiency into the Indian legal profession.
A statement by the Wadhwa Brothers of Wadhwa Nagpur said ”The merger will add significant value to the Indian legal market and enable us to serve the global legal community’s interest in India more effectively.
”With increased global demand for Indian legal content, and emergence of the Legal Process Outsourcing industry, it is an exciting opportunity to make Wadhwa Nagpur content available to the worldwide marketplace,” it said.
UNI MJ RP BD1520

How ‘Functional Felony’ Creeps Into Judiciary : CJI – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                                March 14, 2005

CJI R C Lahoti

How ‘Functional Felony’ Creeps Into Judiciary : CJI

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India

New Delhi (UNI) – Personal visits to Judges’ residences, dinner invitations from lawyers and political pressures are some of ways in which ”functional felony creeps into the judiciary,” India’s Chief Justice has cautioned.

As a counter, Justice Ramesh Chandra Lahoti has stressed such time-tested judicial ethics as independence, impartiality, integrity and propriety.

Justice Lahoti was delivering the Inaugural M C Setalvad Memorial Lecture on Canons of Judicial Ethics organised by the Bar Association of India recently.

It was an evening given to remembering one of India’s finest lawyers– a ‘grand’ practioner, who charged ‘reasonable’ fees irrespective of stakes and respected Judges, but declined Judgeship.

The hall packed mostly with judges and lawyers heard a message from former Supreme Court Judge V R Krishna Iyer: ”Today, when the decline and fall have become deleteriously visible in the two sister professions, the memory of Setalvad will be a necessary admonition.”

The ethics topic sat well with 2005 dubbed the Year of Excellence in Judiciary. Judicial misconduct in India has no legal remedy.

Codes of ethics have been tried time and again, Justice Lahoti said, adding that if required to make a reference to such documents, he would ”confine myself… to three”:

— The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life adopted by the Chief Justices’ Conference of India, 1999

— The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, 2002

— The Oath of a Judge as contained in the Third Schedule of the Constitution of India.

As Justice Lahoti spelt out the documents it became clear that a number of Judges are already in violation of one or another of the canons of ethics.

Take Canon 4 of the Restatement: A Judge should not permit any member of his immediate family, such as spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law or any other close relative, if a member of the Bar, to appear before him or even be associated in any manner with a cause to be dealt with by him.

Over a year ago, the Bar Council of India (BCI) asked the government to transfer 130 High Court Judges who have relatives practising in courts in which they function. That meant almost one in four HC Judges. India’s 21 HCs between them had close to 500 Judges in place, the remaining positions being vacant. No action ensued.

The BCI is the apex statutory grouping of India’s 800,000 or so lawyers.

The trouble, experts say, is that a code of ethics cannot be enforced.

Indeed, as Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj reminded audience, ethics cannot be foisted on anyone and should be left to the institution to evolve or embrace.

Nor does law in India make a proper provision to discipline Judges.

One option provided is impeachment, which, experts say, is more a political remedy than legal. It failed the only time it was invoked in 1992 against a Supreme Court Judge accused of corruption.

With Congress Members of Parliament under a whip to abstain in the vote to impeach Justice V Ramaswamy, Parliament virtually abdicated its duty to ensure accountability in Judiciary.

That was not perhaps the first time an Indian Judge had misbehaved. It certainly was not the last.

A spate of allegations has surfaced over the years involving HC Judges– in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Bombay, Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta and Punjab and Haryana– in bribery, sex and abuse of office, resulting in a few cases to transfer, removal, even arrest.

In one bizarre episode, dozens of HC Judges took leave en masse because two of them were asked by their Chief Justice to explain why they took complimentary membership from a club, which was a litigant.

One of Justice Lahoti’s predecessors, Justice Sam Piroj Bharucha told a lawyers’ meet in Kollam, Kerala three years ago that ”more than 80 per cent of the Judges in this country, across the board, are honest and incorruptible.

”It is that smaller percentage that brings the entire judiciary into disrepute. To make it known that the judiciary does not tolerate corruption in its ranks, it is requisite that corrupt Judges should be investigated and dismissed from service.”

A year later, Justice Bhupinder Nath Kirpal told a judicial colloquium that Judges ”are also Indian citizens who come from the same aggregate as those in the legislature and the administration.”

”Therefore,” Justice Kirpal said, ”there are also instances where corruption and incompetence have also pervaded the judicial establishment that cannot be denied.”

But as Justice Lahoti pointed out, ”The Judge can ill-afford to seek shelter from the fallen standard in the society.”

The trouble, experts say, is that in absence of a clearly laid down law, opacity takes over where will to cover up asserts itself.

Former Chief Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma, during whose tenure the Supreme Court Judges adopted the resolutions on Values of Judicial Life in May 1997, has called for a clear law to discipline errant Judges.

In a radio talk show aired two months ago, Justice Verma said: ”Time has come for enforcing judicial accountability.”

Asked to explain his insistence that the process be conducted by the judiciary itself, he said any external effort would be dangerous for judiciary’s independence.

Justice Verma said he sent the resolutions in December 1997 to then caretaker Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, requesting enactment of such a law. ”It has not happened so far.”

Some two months ago, Bhardwaj announced a Group of Ministers set up to suggest steps to strengthen the Judges Inquiry Act 1968 as part of an effort to ensure accountability in governance.

Asked after the Lecture as to when the group will give its findings, the Minister told UNI it would probably be after the Budget session.

Corruption in their ranks is not the only issue Judges must reckon with: they have a huge workload– 24 million pendencies– and inadequate strength– 14,000 judicial officers from district level upwards, as against an estimated need of 50,000, topped by a large many vacancies.

Experts question lingering HC vacancies considering that the five member apex court collegium expected to select appointees knows well in advance when a vacancy is due to arise.

Law Ministry officials say 222 HC positions were vacant against an approved strength of 719 last year when the United Progressive Alliance took over from the National Democratic Alliance.

Bhardwaj has said all vacancies will be filled by the end of this year.

”It is futile to think of excellence,” Justice Lahoti said in his lecture, unless judges– howsoever highly or howsoever lowly placed– ”were to follow the canons of judicial ethics.”

He recounted how veteran Judges handled ethical issues. One instance involved a dinner for Judges given by a lawyer– paid for by a client whose matter was to come up in the court a day later while another was about a Vacation Judge approached for ‘interim’ stay by an advocate who happened to be the son of the then Chief Justice.

The dinner story in former Chief Justice Pralhad Balacharya Gajendragadkar’s words: ”So far as I know, I and K C Das Gupta did not attend. Most of others did. The dinner was held on a Saturday at a hotel. On Monday next, before the Bench over which B P Sinha presided and I and K C Das Gupta were his colleagues, we found that there was a matter pending admission between the management of the hotel chain and its workmen.

”I turned to Sinha and said: ‘Sinha, how can we take this case? The whole lot of supervisors and workmen in the hotel is sitting in front and they know that we have been fed in the hotel ostensibly by the lawyer but in truth at the cost of the hotel, because the very lawyer who invited the judges to the dinner is arguing in the hotel’s appeal.’

”Sinha, the great gentleman that he was, immediately saw the point and said: ‘This case would go before another Bench’.”

Justice Iyer’s tale of the Vacation Judge: ”Naturally, since the caller was an advocate, and on top of it, the son of the Chief Justice, the vacation judge allowed him to call on him. The ‘gentleman’ turned up with another person and unblushingly told the vacation judge that his companion had a case that day on the list of the vacation judge. He wanted a ‘small’ favour of an ‘Interim stay’.

”The judge was stunned and politely told the two men to leave the house. Later, when the Chief Justice came back to Delhi after the vacation, the victim judge reported to him about the visit of his son with a client and his ‘prayer’ for a stay in a pending case made at the home of the Judge.

”The Chief Justice was not disturbed but dismissed the matter as of little consequence. ‘After all, he only wanted an interim stay’, said the Chief justice, ‘and not a final decision’.”

The incident, Justice Lahoti went on, ”reveals the grave dangers of personal visits to judges’ residences under innocent pretexts.

”This is the way functional felony creeps into the judiciary. A swallow does not make a summer maybe, but deviances once condoned become inundations resulting in credibility collapse of the institution.”

”A little isolation and aloofness are the price which one has to pay for being a judge, because a judge can never know which case will come before him and who may be concerned in it. No hard and fast rule can be laid down in this matter, but some discretion must be exercised.”

Audience were told of a lawyer who actually observed ethics.

Setalvad remained ever a lawyer and never agreed to become a judge. His fees ”were reasonable and did not vary depending upon the stakes involved in a case.”

He seemed to have instinctively grasped the true function of a Law Officer stressed in English Courts– Counsel for the Crown neither wins nor loses. He is there to state the law and facts to the Court.

Setalvad joined the Bombay Bar in 1911 and rose to occupy such high offices as Advocate General of Bombay 1937-42, Attorney General of India 1950-63, Chairman of the Law Commission 1955-58 and Member of Rajya Sabha 1966-72.

He also represented India before the Radcliffe Commission and the United Nations 1947-50.

”In those days,” Bhardwaj said, recalling the post independence era, ”there were no sharp practices at the bar at all. There was no need for such concerns. Such an occasion never arose.”

These are ”difficult times,” he acknowledged. Standards have ”gone down.”

He said the BCI had not performed its duty. The Bar has been ”left behind by many decades… So much adulteration has come into this institution.”

Many lawyers may not even know who Setalvad was, he remarked.

Organisers thanked Chennai-based Senior Advocate G Vasantha Pai, a former BAI General Secretary, who contributed Rs 15 lakh to conduct the lecture annually, for ”giving us back” Setalvad.

UNI MJ MM CS1100

 

MEA Acknowledges Correspondence With Moscow On Netaji – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                                                              September 6, 2006

 

Subhas Chandra Bose as the leader of INA.

Subhas Chandra Bose (Photo: Wikipedia)

MEA Acknowledges Correspondence With Moscow On Netaji

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – India’s External Affairs Ministry has acknowledged having corresponded with the Soviet and the Russian governments on the disappearance six decades ago of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, but declined to disclose the contents.

This was reported last evening by a research group– Mission Netaji– which invoked the year old Right to Information Act to get the Ministry to share the facts in the matter.

”The requisite copies of correspondence cannot be disclosed as it involves the relations with foreign State,” was what the Mission said it was told by the Ministry’s Central Public Information Officer, E Barwa.
The Mission had inquired whether ”serious efforts were ever made from a higher level to uncover the mystery surrounding the fate of one of the greatest Indians ever.”
A legendary figure of India’s independence movement, Bose disappeared after an alleged plane crash over Taipei on August 18, 1945, which the Taiwanese authorities later said had never occurred.
The Mission sought certified copies of the entire correspondence the Ministry had with the Soviet and the Russian governments in the matter.
Declining the request, Barwa wrote to the Mission that the data ”is exempt as per the provisions of Clause 8(1) (a)&(f).”
The clauses cover ”information received in confidence from foreign Government” and ”information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect” India’s ”security, strategic” interests.
The Mission also wrote to the Ministry, ”we understand that our Embassy in Moscow had taken up the matter with the Foreign Ministry of Russian Federation in 1992, 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003 with dissatisfying results.”
”The request to Government of USSR and the Russian Federation were made through diplomatic channels at appropriate levels,” the Ministry replied, without elaborating.
”There was no plane crash that day– August 18, 1945– or the day before that or the day after,” former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi told a conclave in New Delhi last month.

English: Gandhi and Subhas Bose, Haripura Cong...

Bose and Gandhi at 1938 Haripura Congress session (Photo: Wikipedia)

He and former Defence Minister George Fernandes were speaking on new findings that Bose ”did not die in the plane crash, as alleged” and ”the ashes in the Japanese temple are not of Netaji.”
Those conclusions by retired Supreme Court Judge Manoj Kumar Mukherjee countered the findings by two predecessors– Shah Nawaz Khan in 1956 and G D Khosla in 1970– that Bose was killed in a plane crash over Taipei, Taiwan.
Taiwanese authorities say there were no plane crashes in Taipei between 14 August and 20 September 1945.
Justice Mukherjee headed an Inquiry Commission set up by the National Democratic Alliance government in May 1999 following a Calcutta High Court order.

He gave his 672-page report in May 2006 to the United Progressive Alliance government which tabled it in Parliament declaring it has ”not agreed’ with either key finding.
The Mukherjee Commission was the first inquiry set up by a non-Congress government– the past inquiries having been ordered by Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
Critics have over the years charged both Khan and Khosla with having made half-hearted inquiries, intended essentially to endorse the view taken by the establishment in those years.
Speakers pointed to indications that the news of Bose’s death in August 1945 was a smokescreen for his escape to the Soviet Union to pursue the freedom struggle.
They suggested that Russia be requested formally at the highest level to open its archives to Indian scholars.
Controversy has dogged the issue over the past 61 years– with many Indians refusing to believe that Netaji was killed at the time of the alleged aircrash.
Speculation has been fuelled by the Indian authorities’ refusal to let investigators– even a retired Supreme Court Judge in this case– examine the supposedly secret files.

Published accounts say similar reluctance of Russian, British and Japanese governments to let investigators see relevant files ”strongly point to an international conspiracy.”
UNI MJ RP KN1543

India ‘Much More Divided’ Now Than By British: Rao – By Mukesh Jhangiani

                                                                                 December 4, 2009

Article 14 - Equality Before Law - At India Gate  -  By Mukesh Jhangiani

Article 14 – Equality Before Law – At India Gate – By Mukesh Jhangiani

India ‘Much More Divided’ Now Than By British: Rao

By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – Fifty nine years after resolving to promote fraternity among citizens, India is ”much more divided today” than during the British rule, a leading Indian advocate observed this evening.

The British policy of ‘divide and rule’– playing Hindus against Muslims and vice versa– ”was limited,” Senior Advocate P P Rao noted while delivering the tenth G V Mavalankar Memorial Lecture.
”Now, quite a few political parties thrive by relying on caste and community,” Rao pointed out, concluding that, ”India is much more divided today than during the alien rule.”
The Lecture, Reinforcing Institutions Of Governance, was sponsored by the Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, and presided over by retired Supreme Court Judge B P Singh who traced the decline in Indian public life through lapses in efficiency and integrity.
Rao recalled Dr S Radhakrishnan describing India at the inaugural sitting of the Constituent Assembly as ”a symphony where there are… different instruments… all combining to interpret one particular score.”
Dr B R Ambedkar, he recalled, was emphatic that ”castes are anti-national… in the first place because they bring about separation in social life. They are anti-national also because they generate jealousy and antipathy between caste and caste.”
”In 1950,” Rao said, ”we the people of India had resolved to promote fraternity among all citizens and promote unity and integrity of the nation. Now we find we are divided by the political class on caste and community lines for electoral gains.
”The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ was limited; playing Hindus against Muslims and vice versa. Now, quite a few political parties thrive by relying on caste and community. India is much more divided today than during the alien rule.”
Rao stressed a need for unity and reminded that former Vice-President Krishan Kant had suggested two simple amendments to the election law to eliminate the influence of caste and community in elections.
— Introduce a condition that in order to be declared elected from a constituency a candidate shall secure not less than 50 per cent + 1 votes of the total votes polled, failing which, there shall be a run off election limiting the contest to the two leading candidates in the first round; and
— Add one more slot in the ballot paper for negative vote– for rejecting all the candidates contesting.
”If a majority of the votes polled reject all the candidates there shall be a fresh election with new faces. If these are implemented, reliance on caste and community will vanish silently,” Rao said.
Remembering Lok Sabha’s first Speaker, Rao said, ”Mavalankar was a statesman… What is the position of the Speaker’s office today? It is perhaps one of the most challenging of all political offices, notwithstanding the additional power to adjudicate claims of disqualification of members under the Tenth Schedule.
”We saw on the TV the predicament of my friend Mr Somnath Chatterjee during the debate on the no-confidence motion last year. It was much more difficult than that of a Ring Master in a circus.
”The objectionable conduct of some Speakers of State Legislative Assemblies has been disapproved by the Supreme Court. Many Speakers in State Assemblies do not inspire confidence. The fall in standards is too glaring to ignore.
”Experts have rightly recommended shifting the power of disqualification to the Election Commission. It needs to be done as part of a package of legislative and executive reforms.”
Rao called regulation of political parties ”a felt necessity today” and recited Nani A Palkhivala’s view that ”If experts imbued with a spirit of dedication and wisdom were to be inducted into the cabinet and were to be allowed the requisite freedom of action, we could transform this country into one of the great economic powers.”
On linguistic chauvinism of the sort exhibited in Maharashtra, Rao said ”I cannot understand how this attitude can be tolerated by any Government.”
He recounted some of the Constitutional provisions:
— Article 14 mandates the State not to deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India;
— Article 16(1) assures equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State; and
— Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees to all citizens the right to move freely throughout the territory of India, to reside and settle in any part thereof, and to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business anywhere in India subject to reasonable restrictions.
”In India we have common citizenship and all Indians are entitled to equal rights, but in the land of the Thackeray’s– Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray– Maharashtra is for Maharashtrians; Indian Railways shall recruit only Maharashtrians; all employment opportunities – from the lowest to the highest in public as well as private establishments should be reserved exclusively for Maharashtrians; and every Legislator must take the oath only in Marathi language, otherwise they will let loose their sena’s to paralyse civic life, attack targeted people and destroy their property.
”I cannot understand how this attitude can be tolerated by any Government and how the political parties led by them can be allowed to enjoy the benefit of registration and recognition.
”Justice Sreekrishna Commission report named the leader of Shiv Sena as an accused in the Bombay riots, following the demolition of Babri Masjid. The State Government was reluctant to arrest and prosecute him fearing outbreak of uncontrollable violence.
”This policy has emboldened and encouraged them to become more defiant. It is necessary to amend At.355 to facilitate Central rule in a part of the State to tackle localised outbreak of communal violence in a State like Kandhamal in Orissa.”
UNI MJ SB 2220