SC extends time limit to complete trial in I-T case

SC extends time limit to complete trial in I-T case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, while extending the time limit by three months for the trial court in Chennai to complete the trial in the income tax case, made it clear to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her close aide V.N. Sasikala that they should comply with the trial court’s order directing them to appear for framing of charges.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Vikramajit Sen, after hearing senior counsel V. Giri, said both Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Sasikala, who are partners in Sasi Enterprises, must appear in the court after the general elections on April 24. They had sought four months for the trial court in Egmore, Chennai, to complete the trial.

The apex court, while dismissing their appeal against the Madras High Court judgment on January 30, had directed the trial court to complete the trial in four months from the date of receipt of the order.

The trial court received the order on March 13. As per the judgment, the trial court was to complete the trial by July 13, which has now been extended till October 13.

Additional Solicitor-General Siddharth Luthra opposed the extension, stating that the trial was not progressing as the accused did not appear on February 6, 13, 27, March 13 and April 10. He said they must be directed to comply with the trial court’s order directing their appearance.

Justice Radhakrishnan told the counsel, “They will have to appear as nobody has stayed the trial court’s order. If the accused don’t appear, it is for the trial court to pass appropriate order to ensure their presence.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Sasikala are facing prosecution for an offence under Section 276 CC of the Income Tax Act for failure to furnish income tax returns. In the present application, the appellants said, “the date of polling in Tamil Nadu is April 24. Since Ms. Jayalalithaa being the leader of the party and currently the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is campaigning all over the State, she is finding it difficult to appear before the Magistrate for recording the statements under 313 (1) (a) of the Cr.PC .” Hence the appellants sought extension of time for completion of trial by four months.



Transgenders deserve a dignified life: SC

Transgenders deserve a dignified life: SC

Gender identity is one of the most fundamental aspects of life: Supreme Court

Gender identity is one of the most fundamental aspects of life which refers to a person’s intrinsic sense of being male, female or transsexual, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

“The transgender people, as a whole, face multiple forms of oppression in this country. Discrimination is so large and pronounced, especially in healthcare, employment and education, leave aside social exclusion. Now, it is time for us to recognise the rights of transgenders as a separate category and to extend and interpret the Constitution in such a manner as to ensure a dignified life for them,” observed a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri.

“All this can be achieved if a beginning is made with the recognition of transgenders as the third gender. By doing so, this court is not only upholding the rule of law but also advancing justice to the class, so far deprived of their legitimate natural and constitutional rights. It is, therefore, the only just solution which ensures justice not only to transgenders but also to society as well.”

Expressing its anguish at the plight of transgenders, the Bench said: “Seldom, our society realises or cares to realise the trauma, agony and pain which members of the transgender community undergo.” Nor did it appreciate their innate feelings, especially of those whose mind and body disowned their biological sex. “Our society often ridicules and abuses the transgender community and in public places like railway stations, bus stands, schools, workplaces, malls, theatres, hospitals, they are sidelined and treated as untouchables, forgetting the fact that the moral failure lies in the society’s unwillingness to contain or embrace different gender identities.”

The Bench said: “Social justice does not mean equality before law on paper but translating the spirit of the Constitution, enshrined in the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy, into action, whose arms are long enough to bring within its reach and embrace this right of recognition to the transgenders which legitimately belongs to them.”

The Bench gave a series of directions for enforcement. “Transgender persons’ right to decide their self-identified gender is also upheld and the Centre and State governments are directed to grant legal recognition of their gender identity such as male, female or third gender.”

It directed the Centre and State governments to operate separate HIV Sero-surveillance Centres as transgenders faced several sexual health issues. “The Centre and State governments should seriously address the problems being faced by them such as fear, shame, gender dysphoria, social pressure, depression, suicidal tendencies, social stigma, etc. and any insistence on Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) for declaring one’s gender is immoral and illegal.

The Centre and State governments should provide medical care to transgenders in hospitals and also provide separate public toilets.

The Bench said: “We are informed an expert committee has already been constituted to make an in-depth study of the problems faced by the transgender community and suggest measures that can be taken by the government to ameliorate their problems and to submit its report with recommendations within three months of its constitution. The recommendations [should] be implemented within six months.”



Reliance Industries a parallel state, says former governor to CBI

Reliance Industries a parallel state, says former governor to CBI

New Delhi:  Former West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi today dubbed Reliance Industries as a “parallel state” that exercised power “brazenly” over natural and financial resources.

“We used to talk of black money as a parallel economy and so it continues to be. But Reliance is a parallel state. I do not know of any country where one single firm exercises such power so brazenly, over the natural resources, financial resources, professional resources and, ultimately, over human resources as the company of the Ambanis.

“From (B R) Ambedkar who spoke of economic democracy to Ambani who represents a techno-commercial monopoly of unprecedented scale, is a far cry indeed,” he said delivering
the 15th D P Kohli Memorial lecture organised to mark the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the CBI.

Talking about the economic health of the country, Mr Gandhi said the economy had seen some phenomenal successes with many homeless getting houses and other items of necessity.

“Our economy is startling if you do not want to see its other side. If you see that side, you will see it is schizophrenic. Corporate greed has crossed all bounds, as has corporate tastelessness,” he said.

Holding that money was affecting democracy, he said, “Our democracy is large, vibrant, but is also deeply flawed. Size and scale cannot and do not in themselves validate a democracy. There is something called quality also.

“The monarch, the voter, is powerful but his power is constantly subverted by blandishment. Money is at our democracy’s throat. Money can and does do worse,” Mr Gandhi said at the function where CBI rank and file led by its Director Ranjit Sinha were present.



The echoing silence of caste

The echoing silence of caste

Whenever the caste issue is raised, it is alleged that it is a nefarious design to divide an otherwise united Hindu community, and a problem that is internal to it. How is it a ‘Hindu problem’ when Islam, Christianity and Sikhism in India are equally bedevilled by it?

What then did you expect when you unbound the gag that had muted those black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes?

Jean-Paul Sartre

Naran and Kuttan (not real names) were my childhood playmates. While I went on to study in a university, they struggled to complete school education, and became a daily wage labourer and a Class IV government employee respectively. Their parents and grandparents were landless agricultural labourers. Their great-grandparents were bought by friends of my forefathers, and then relocated to our family. Yes, bought.

When agrestic slavery was prevalent in Kerala until the late 19th century, you could buy and sell human beings like cattle, flog them like cattle to work your fields, and keep them as property along with the land you owned. And even as slavery was formally abolished, the violations of their bodies and lives continued for many more decades. But we do have to qualify human beings here — the slaves were overwhelmingly Dalits.

Quietude around caste

It is another election season, and we have the explosion of caste analysis in the media. Everything is about caste permutation and combination, caste vote banks, etc. Many “progressive-minded” Indians think that caste politics is the bane of India. If it were not for the politicians who are stoking the fire of caste, India would be tearing ahead to be a part of the developed world, à la China.

Sample the speculation before the release of the Congress Party manifesto that it would have reservation for the oppressed castes in the private sector. From the fearful prognosis, it seemed that a tsunami of soul-numbing “quotas” was going to be unleashed which would gobble up an otherwise meritorious India, and which would leave nothing but an economic Stone Age in its wake!

But what is farcical and dangerous in this analysis is the failure to recognise the biggest elephant in the room: caste, possibly one of the most abhorrent mechanisms devised by human beings to oppress other human beings. The greatest tragedy of India is the shocking silence about caste. Caste in India is like air, it is what you breathe but yet you cannot “see” it — an oppressive system that is not even recognised as generating oppression.

Whenever the issue of caste is raised, it is alleged that it is a nefarious design to divide an otherwise united Hindu community, and a problem that is internal to it. But this argument is itself a key tool in producing silences around caste. How is it a “Hindu problem” when Islam, Christianity and Sikhism in India are equally bedevilled by the monster of caste? What makes an “upper caste” Kerala Syrian Christian or a Goan Catholic revel in their supposed Brahmin origins, the ashraf Muslims to refuse to interact with, or marry a pasmanda Muslim, and caste divisions within Sikhs erupt in violence even outside the shores of India?

The irony of spewing venom on caste politics is that it is mainly politics that has delivered some limited empowerment and mobility to the oppressed castes, through reservations in Parliament, Assemblies, and in government jobs and public education. Dalit political struggles and the oppressor’s need to acknowledge the power of the oppressed in an electoral democracy, even if only symbolically, have given India a President, a Speaker of Parliament, and a Chief Justice from the Dalit communities.

But there is a mammoth and unbridgeable gap between caste in the political sphere, and caste in the cultural sphere and the private economic sector. There is some visibility in the former, which attracts derision (think Ms. Mayawati), and a deafening silence in the latter which leads to erasure. Of course, the latter is not legally mandated to accommodate the oppressed.

It is derision that leads Chetan Bhagat, the voice of the Indian youth, to ask: “When we choose a mobile network, do we check whether Airtel or Vodafone belong to a particular caste? No, we simply choose the provider based on the best value or service. Then why do we vote for somebody simply because he belongs to the same caste as us?” It is absolutely true that we do not necessarily check the caste of an MNC owner, but Mr. Bhagat does not go onto ask: if caste is irrelevant, then why is it often the only thing that matters in marriage, the crucial ritual in the reproduction of society?

It is silence that leads Mr. Ravi Shastri to respond to the question of a domination of cricket in India till recently by Brahmin players with the answer: “it’s a coincidence” and players are picked not because “they are Brahmins but because they’re Indians.”

American parallel

Is it also a coincidence that Dalits and other marginalised castes are equally and shockingly absent in other most lucrative and prominent sections of the society, the corporate sector, Bollywood, television, etc.? In a Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) survey of 315 important decision-makers in 37 Delhi-based publications and television channels, not one was found to be a Dalit or Adivasi, and only four per cent of them were Other Backward Classes. And capitalism is not casteless as Mr. Bhagat thinks. India’s 65 billionaires are emphatically savarna, and many come from just one caste! Where are the Muhammad Alis, Michael Jordans, Tiger Woods, Carl Lewis, Michael Jacksons, Oprah Winfreys, Denzel Washingtons and Serena Williams (the list is endless) of the Dalits? The African-Americans have similar histories of slavery and oppression as the Dalits, and even if their general condition is vastly inferior to the white population, American society has provided the conditions for the emergence of black icons who are celebrated across race barriers.

On the other hand, we think it is just a coincidence that a Dalit population numbering 20 crore (as large as the population of Brazil!) has hardly “produced” any national cultural icons in the non-political sphere without realising the colossal scale of our participation in denying them the opportunities, and the complicity in silencing their icons. It is considered as “tasteless” and “insulting” to even ask questions about representation of the marginalised castes in films, music, art, sport, television, etc because there could not be a greater affront to our identity of being an “Indian” first, and also to the idea of “merit.”

Cultural sphere and private sector

The recoiling in horror while even debating about affirmative action for the marginalised in the private sector is based on a gross ignorance of facts and histories elsewhere. What could be a better demonstration of the fostering of diversity, by representing the oppressed sections, than the quota system (even with its flaws) in South African cricket, a commercial capitalist venture (and now extended to all South African sports teams)? Is South Africa not the number one Test team in the world? And have not two of its “quota” players, Hashim Amla (of Gujarati Muslim origin) and Vernon Philander, been the number one ranked players in the world?

In India as well, the recognition of the vibrant struggles for empowerment of the oppressed castes has to expand beyond political confines to the cultural sphere and the private sector. But the annihilation of caste is hardly on the agenda as savarna India, especially the youth, rush to embrace neoliberal capitalist development (now in a heady mix with Hindutva lite) in which concepts like caste-based reservation are anathema. This is when 21st century India also explodes everyday, away from the media glare, in violence, punishing the Dalits for daring to love, for daring to wear footwear, and for daring to ride a scooter.

All the moral outrage that is directed against reservations should be targeted at dismantling the caste system. Then, we would not be holding on to a vacuous notion of merit which means keeping nearly 80 per cent of the population’s talents from flourishing. What is simply not understood is that discrimination does not always mean a deliberate picking of an “upper caste” over a “lower caste,” as Mr. Shastri argues, but a systematic exclusion which results from unequal starting points leading to a grossly unequal competition.


Naran, Kuttan and I are not equals for they do not enjoy the same material and symbolic capital of caste accumulated over centuries that I do. I cannot assuage my guilt by taking refuge in the fact that their children are brilliant students, for they are still in government schools, long abandoned by the elite and the privileged. And there are hundreds of other roadblocks that will haunt them at every step that my children will not face. Destroying caste is not “uplifting” the oppressed castes; it is about liberating ourselves from the labyrinth of caste — not by remaining silent about it, but by shamefully acknowledging the layers of historical privilege that have sedimented every pore of our existence.



Delhi: Cop Held for Allegedly Molesting Lover’s Daughter

Delhi: Cop Held for Allegedly Molesting Lover’s Daughter

A sub-inspector of Delhi Police has been arrested for allegedly molesting a 17-year-old girl in Gulabi Bagh area of north Delhi.

The victim was the daughter of a woman with whom he was in a live-in relationship.

The sub-inspector, identified as Sajjan Kumar Chauhan, was arrested on Monday’s morning and suspended.

The incident took place on Sunday night when Sajjan was drunk. After consuming alcohol, the policeman had a brawl with the victim’s mother and then allegedly molested the girl when she was sleeping.

After the incident, the girl approached police which registered a case against Sajjan.

“We have arrested Sajjan and charged him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences and other Sections of IPC,” said a police officer.