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Delayed Assembly session leading to Constitutional crisis in Rajasthan

Former law ministers, and civil society leaders, remind Governor Kalraj Mishra to ‘follow the law’

28 Jul 2020

rajasthan

Kalraj Mishra, the Governor of Rajasthan has been at the centre of the political storm still raging in the state. The Assembly session is yet to be called, even after the courts’ directives, and the sit-in protests by the elected legislators led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Now, three former law ministers have written to the Rajasthan governor on the issue and have reminded him that the delay in convening a session of the state Assembly "has resulted in an avoidable constitutional crisis."

The three former ministers; Ashwani Kumar, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid who are all well known legal experts, have stated that the “Governor’s office, as envisaged under the country’s constitutional scheme, is above and beyond the constraints and compulsions of partisan politics, ‘so that its holder can act freely and fairly to uphold the Constitution’”.

They wrote, “Having served as Union ministers of Law and Justice in different periods of time and as students of Constitutional law, we are of the clear view that established legal position obliges the Governor to call the assembly session in accordance with the advice of the state cabinet. Any deviation from established constitutional position in the present circumstances would be an avoidable negation of your oath of office and will create a constitutional crisis.” 

The law is clear on the matter, and the former law ministers added that according to established conventions and the relevant articles of the Constitution, principles of parliamentary democracy and authoritative pronouncements of the Supreme Court, the governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

However, on Monday July 27, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra returned the cabinet note of CM Ashok Gehlot seeking an Assembly session, and sought additional information. This is the second time that he has returned the proposal and asked  the state government for clarifications. This time, Ashwini Kumar, took to social media and commented that, “The Governor’s decision to not honour the State Cabinet’s decision to convene the Assembly session is contrary to established constitutional position & conventions and will escalate inter institutional conflict.”

 

 

Sachin Pilot, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan had even approached the Rajasthan High Court against the notice of disqualification issued against him by the Speaker of the Assembly and the court accordingly granted stay. Then the Speaker, CP Joshi, approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the proceedings in the HC, which was rejected by the apex court.

Yet again, Joshi filed another petition for stay before the SC, which was then withdrawn as it was deemed infructuous by the petitioner. Kapil Sibal, however, weighed in on the possibility that they may approach the court again after reading detailed orders of the Rajasthan HC.

Kapil Sibal also questioned the delay and put the spotlight back on the Governor. He tweeted, “Has Kalraj Mishra : Taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and the Laws Or To uphold the political interests of the BJP ? Is the Rajasthan High Court not obliged to follow the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court Or Is there some other law that binds it ?”

 

 

In their letter, the former law ministers cited a order of the Supreme Court, and said, “The governor’s position, role and the limits of his circumscribed constitutional jurisdiction have been elaborated by the apex court in the “Shamsher Singh versus Union of India” case in 1974 and in the Nabam Rebia case of 2016.”

“As a holder of high public office, you are well aware that constitutional functionaries are charged by the oath of office to vindicate the Constitution in letter and spirit. This obliges the Governor, in accordance with established traditions of constitutional and parliamentary democracy, to defer to the wisdom of an elected government that expresses the will of the people,”   “We hope earnestly that true to the demands of your high office, you will not act in any manner that will countenance such a result,” they said, adding, “The Governor is expected to defer to the established constitutional position that binds him to act in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministers. Failure to do so has led to a constitutional stalemate and has made the Governor’s position untenable.”

The Congress government in Rajasthan, which is facing a political crisis following a rebellion by Sachin Pilot, and 18 other MLAs. Pilot has been seeking ‘recognition’ for his work in the state when he headed the state unit, and as reported in the media, had been hinting at being installed in the CM’s chair as a reward for the Congress’ win. But all the ‘rebel’ MLAs including Pilot say they remain members of the Congress, even if they do not have a ministerial portfolio anymore. On his part, CM Ashok Gehlot has been constantly seeking that an Assembly Session be called, and seems to be confident of winning a trust vote if that is called for as well. Hence, the delay in convening the session has fuelled concern in the civil society of the state in particular, and the country.

Meanwhile, over 200 representatives of 86 organisations from the state, and eminent citizens including Aruna Roy, Lad Kumari Jain, PL Mimroth, Dharam Chand Khair, Radha Kant Saxena, DK Changani, Mohammed Nazimuddin and others, have also written to the Governor of Rajasthan on the issue. They have expressed deep concern that the political crisis was ongoing  at a time when the whole world was combating the public health crisis caused by Covid-19. “When the people of Rajasthan needed a stable Government and good and just governance and redressal systems, to cope with the health crisis and the adverse impact that Covid-19 had caused, the state was being led into a Constitutional Crisis, which was very disheartening,” they wrote. 

The civil society representatives have urged that the Governor Kalraj Mishra, respect the cabinet decision to call an Assembly session “in order to give the people of the state political stability”.

They also presented the legal arguments provided by several Constitutional experts who had a consensus on the following issues. They are:

• According to the Article 174 of the Indian Constitution and the 3 Supreme Court judgments, in 1994, Bommai (Karnataka State), 2016. Rebiya (Arunachal State) and 2020, Shivraj Singh (Madhya Pradesh) only floor test in the vidhan sabha is the  Constitutional permissible way of establishing the majority of any party. 

• According to article 174 if the Assembly has to be convened the Governor "shall" act on the "aid and advise" of the Council of Ministers headed by the C.M.

• The only exception to this above process, where the cabinet has exclusive rights to call a session of the Assembly, at a timing of its choosing, is if the Governor believes based on an objective evaluation when it feels that party in power has lost its majority- the only way in which its majority can be tested is on the floor of the house and therefore, the Governor can use his discretion to call the assembly under such circumstances. 

• Thus under all other circumstances the Governor is bound by the advice of the cabinet where he can neither deny nor delay their suggestion of calling a session of the Assembly.

 

The letter by the former law ministers may be read here: 

letter

 

The letter by civil society members may be read here: 

 

Related: 

Rajasthan political crisis and the intervention of the courts

Remember when Rajasthan Gov Kalraj Mishra protested at UP Raj Bhavan?

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

 

Delayed Assembly session leading to Constitutional crisis in Rajasthan

Former law ministers, and civil society leaders, remind Governor Kalraj Mishra to ‘follow the law’

rajasthan

Kalraj Mishra, the Governor of Rajasthan has been at the centre of the political storm still raging in the state. The Assembly session is yet to be called, even after the courts’ directives, and the sit-in protests by the elected legislators led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Now, three former law ministers have written to the Rajasthan governor on the issue and have reminded him that the delay in convening a session of the state Assembly "has resulted in an avoidable constitutional crisis."

The three former ministers; Ashwani Kumar, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid who are all well known legal experts, have stated that the “Governor’s office, as envisaged under the country’s constitutional scheme, is above and beyond the constraints and compulsions of partisan politics, ‘so that its holder can act freely and fairly to uphold the Constitution’”.

They wrote, “Having served as Union ministers of Law and Justice in different periods of time and as students of Constitutional law, we are of the clear view that established legal position obliges the Governor to call the assembly session in accordance with the advice of the state cabinet. Any deviation from established constitutional position in the present circumstances would be an avoidable negation of your oath of office and will create a constitutional crisis.” 

The law is clear on the matter, and the former law ministers added that according to established conventions and the relevant articles of the Constitution, principles of parliamentary democracy and authoritative pronouncements of the Supreme Court, the governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

However, on Monday July 27, Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra returned the cabinet note of CM Ashok Gehlot seeking an Assembly session, and sought additional information. This is the second time that he has returned the proposal and asked  the state government for clarifications. This time, Ashwini Kumar, took to social media and commented that, “The Governor’s decision to not honour the State Cabinet’s decision to convene the Assembly session is contrary to established constitutional position & conventions and will escalate inter institutional conflict.”

 

 

Sachin Pilot, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan had even approached the Rajasthan High Court against the notice of disqualification issued against him by the Speaker of the Assembly and the court accordingly granted stay. Then the Speaker, CP Joshi, approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the proceedings in the HC, which was rejected by the apex court.

Yet again, Joshi filed another petition for stay before the SC, which was then withdrawn as it was deemed infructuous by the petitioner. Kapil Sibal, however, weighed in on the possibility that they may approach the court again after reading detailed orders of the Rajasthan HC.

Kapil Sibal also questioned the delay and put the spotlight back on the Governor. He tweeted, “Has Kalraj Mishra : Taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and the Laws Or To uphold the political interests of the BJP ? Is the Rajasthan High Court not obliged to follow the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court Or Is there some other law that binds it ?”

 

 

In their letter, the former law ministers cited a order of the Supreme Court, and said, “The governor’s position, role and the limits of his circumscribed constitutional jurisdiction have been elaborated by the apex court in the “Shamsher Singh versus Union of India” case in 1974 and in the Nabam Rebia case of 2016.”

“As a holder of high public office, you are well aware that constitutional functionaries are charged by the oath of office to vindicate the Constitution in letter and spirit. This obliges the Governor, in accordance with established traditions of constitutional and parliamentary democracy, to defer to the wisdom of an elected government that expresses the will of the people,”   “We hope earnestly that true to the demands of your high office, you will not act in any manner that will countenance such a result,” they said, adding, “The Governor is expected to defer to the established constitutional position that binds him to act in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministers. Failure to do so has led to a constitutional stalemate and has made the Governor’s position untenable.”

The Congress government in Rajasthan, which is facing a political crisis following a rebellion by Sachin Pilot, and 18 other MLAs. Pilot has been seeking ‘recognition’ for his work in the state when he headed the state unit, and as reported in the media, had been hinting at being installed in the CM’s chair as a reward for the Congress’ win. But all the ‘rebel’ MLAs including Pilot say they remain members of the Congress, even if they do not have a ministerial portfolio anymore. On his part, CM Ashok Gehlot has been constantly seeking that an Assembly Session be called, and seems to be confident of winning a trust vote if that is called for as well. Hence, the delay in convening the session has fuelled concern in the civil society of the state in particular, and the country.

Meanwhile, over 200 representatives of 86 organisations from the state, and eminent citizens including Aruna Roy, Lad Kumari Jain, PL Mimroth, Dharam Chand Khair, Radha Kant Saxena, DK Changani, Mohammed Nazimuddin and others, have also written to the Governor of Rajasthan on the issue. They have expressed deep concern that the political crisis was ongoing  at a time when the whole world was combating the public health crisis caused by Covid-19. “When the people of Rajasthan needed a stable Government and good and just governance and redressal systems, to cope with the health crisis and the adverse impact that Covid-19 had caused, the state was being led into a Constitutional Crisis, which was very disheartening,” they wrote. 

The civil society representatives have urged that the Governor Kalraj Mishra, respect the cabinet decision to call an Assembly session “in order to give the people of the state political stability”.

They also presented the legal arguments provided by several Constitutional experts who had a consensus on the following issues. They are:

• According to the Article 174 of the Indian Constitution and the 3 Supreme Court judgments, in 1994, Bommai (Karnataka State), 2016. Rebiya (Arunachal State) and 2020, Shivraj Singh (Madhya Pradesh) only floor test in the vidhan sabha is the  Constitutional permissible way of establishing the majority of any party. 

• According to article 174 if the Assembly has to be convened the Governor "shall" act on the "aid and advise" of the Council of Ministers headed by the C.M.

• The only exception to this above process, where the cabinet has exclusive rights to call a session of the Assembly, at a timing of its choosing, is if the Governor believes based on an objective evaluation when it feels that party in power has lost its majority- the only way in which its majority can be tested is on the floor of the house and therefore, the Governor can use his discretion to call the assembly under such circumstances. 

• Thus under all other circumstances the Governor is bound by the advice of the cabinet where he can neither deny nor delay their suggestion of calling a session of the Assembly.

 

The letter by the former law ministers may be read here: 

letter

 

The letter by civil society members may be read here: 

 

Related: 

Rajasthan political crisis and the intervention of the courts

Remember when Rajasthan Gov Kalraj Mishra protested at UP Raj Bhavan?

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

 

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Rajasthan political crisis and the intervention of the courts

The case of the disqualification of Sachin Pilot and the dissident MLAs is going back and forth between the High Court and the apex court, even as the Constitutional validity of the Tenth Schedule remains at stake.

27 Jul 2020

rajasthan

The Rajasthan political crisis is playing out in multiple cases in the courts of law. Sachin Pilot, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan approached the Rajasthan High Court against the notice of disqualification issued against him by the Speaker of the Assembly and the court accordingly granted stay. Aggrieved, the Speaker, CP Joshi, approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the proceedings in the HC, which was rejected by the apex court.

Yet again, Joshi filed another petition for stay before the SC, which was then withdrawn as it was deemed infructuous by the petitioner. Kapil Sibal, however, weighed in on the possibility that they may approach the court again after reading detailed orders of the Rajasthan HC.

Proceedings before Rajasthan HC

Joshi had served disqualification notices upon Sachin Pilot, former Deputy Chief Minister of the state and 18 other dissident MLAs of the Congress party. When Pilot approached the High Court, the bench led by Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty, on July 24, ordered a status quo and thus effectively stayed the disqualification notices against the dissident MLAs. As per clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, a legislator may be disqualified if they have voluntarily given up their membership of a political party on whose ticket they won the election. Pilot and the 18 MLAs contended that their act is not an act of defection and only an act of dissent and hence does not qualify for defection. They also contended before the court that the disqualification notices were only an attempt to stifle their voices while they only sought a change of leadership in the party.

This was objected to by the Speaker of the state Assembly saying that the court cannot interfere at the notice stage. This view was reiterated by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who was representing the Speaker in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s intervention. He said that the court can only interfere after the Speaker’s decision and the same can be challenged on four grounds – decision being malafide, contrary to constitutional mandate, perversity and violation of principles of natural justice. He cited the 1992 Supreme Court judgement in the Kihoto Hollohan case whereby a five-judge constitution bench had prevented the intervention of the court prior to the decision of the Speaker in the disqualification. No interference would be permissible at an interlocutory stage of the proceedings, the court had said. 

Expressing his disdain over the high court not following the precedent, Sibal told The Print, “So if courts don’t wish to follow the law, don’t give any reasons why the law should not be followed and are not bound by precedent, then I don’t know where democracy stands”.

Further, Pilot’s petition in the high court also challenges clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution saying that the provision cannot be so widely construed so as to jeopardise the freedom of speech and expression of the member of the house. “Mere expression of dissatisfaction or even disillusionment against the party leadership cannot be treated to be conduct falling within the clause 2(1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India,” said the petition. The petition demands the declaration of the clause as ultra vires of the basic structure of the Constitution.

The court also allowed impleadment of the Centre as a party to the case on the application of rebel Congress MLA Prithviraj Meena.

In the Supreme Court

The Speaker had moved the apex court when the first order from the high court on July 21 came, requesting Joshi to defer action on the disqualification notices. The apex court, however, refused to stay the proceedings before the Rajasthan High Court and allowed it to proceed and adjudicate upon the case. The bench comprising Justices AK Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari heard the parties and during the hearing of July 23, Justice Mishra said, “We are not saying about the Rajasthan case, but assume a leader has lost the faith of persons. While remaining in party they cannot be disqualified. Then this will become a tool and no one can raise their voice. The voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be suppressed like this”.

“As the high court has already heard the matter after prolonged arguments and reserved the order, we are not staying the passing of the order [by the high court]. However, whatever order is passed shall be ultimately subject to the outcome of this petition,” held the three judge bench on July 23.

Joshi, once again approached the court attempting to get the stay order passed by the Rajasthan High Court cancelled. However, the Congress seems to have had a change of mind and at the hearing scheduled for 11 A.M today, the petition was withdrawn. Sibal representing Congress said that since the high court had passed a detailed order on July 24 and they had challenged the July 21 before the apex court, and the petition had become infructuous. He further said that the July 24 order raised issues pertaining to the interpretation of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and they had to “weigh their legal options”.

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

Related:

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

 

Rajasthan political crisis and the intervention of the courts

The case of the disqualification of Sachin Pilot and the dissident MLAs is going back and forth between the High Court and the apex court, even as the Constitutional validity of the Tenth Schedule remains at stake.

rajasthan

The Rajasthan political crisis is playing out in multiple cases in the courts of law. Sachin Pilot, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan approached the Rajasthan High Court against the notice of disqualification issued against him by the Speaker of the Assembly and the court accordingly granted stay. Aggrieved, the Speaker, CP Joshi, approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the proceedings in the HC, which was rejected by the apex court.

Yet again, Joshi filed another petition for stay before the SC, which was then withdrawn as it was deemed infructuous by the petitioner. Kapil Sibal, however, weighed in on the possibility that they may approach the court again after reading detailed orders of the Rajasthan HC.

Proceedings before Rajasthan HC

Joshi had served disqualification notices upon Sachin Pilot, former Deputy Chief Minister of the state and 18 other dissident MLAs of the Congress party. When Pilot approached the High Court, the bench led by Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty, on July 24, ordered a status quo and thus effectively stayed the disqualification notices against the dissident MLAs. As per clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, a legislator may be disqualified if they have voluntarily given up their membership of a political party on whose ticket they won the election. Pilot and the 18 MLAs contended that their act is not an act of defection and only an act of dissent and hence does not qualify for defection. They also contended before the court that the disqualification notices were only an attempt to stifle their voices while they only sought a change of leadership in the party.

This was objected to by the Speaker of the state Assembly saying that the court cannot interfere at the notice stage. This view was reiterated by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal who was representing the Speaker in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s intervention. He said that the court can only interfere after the Speaker’s decision and the same can be challenged on four grounds – decision being malafide, contrary to constitutional mandate, perversity and violation of principles of natural justice. He cited the 1992 Supreme Court judgement in the Kihoto Hollohan case whereby a five-judge constitution bench had prevented the intervention of the court prior to the decision of the Speaker in the disqualification. No interference would be permissible at an interlocutory stage of the proceedings, the court had said. 

Expressing his disdain over the high court not following the precedent, Sibal told The Print, “So if courts don’t wish to follow the law, don’t give any reasons why the law should not be followed and are not bound by precedent, then I don’t know where democracy stands”.

Further, Pilot’s petition in the high court also challenges clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution saying that the provision cannot be so widely construed so as to jeopardise the freedom of speech and expression of the member of the house. “Mere expression of dissatisfaction or even disillusionment against the party leadership cannot be treated to be conduct falling within the clause 2(1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India,” said the petition. The petition demands the declaration of the clause as ultra vires of the basic structure of the Constitution.

The court also allowed impleadment of the Centre as a party to the case on the application of rebel Congress MLA Prithviraj Meena.

In the Supreme Court

The Speaker had moved the apex court when the first order from the high court on July 21 came, requesting Joshi to defer action on the disqualification notices. The apex court, however, refused to stay the proceedings before the Rajasthan High Court and allowed it to proceed and adjudicate upon the case. The bench comprising Justices AK Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari heard the parties and during the hearing of July 23, Justice Mishra said, “We are not saying about the Rajasthan case, but assume a leader has lost the faith of persons. While remaining in party they cannot be disqualified. Then this will become a tool and no one can raise their voice. The voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be suppressed like this”.

“As the high court has already heard the matter after prolonged arguments and reserved the order, we are not staying the passing of the order [by the high court]. However, whatever order is passed shall be ultimately subject to the outcome of this petition,” held the three judge bench on July 23.

Joshi, once again approached the court attempting to get the stay order passed by the Rajasthan High Court cancelled. However, the Congress seems to have had a change of mind and at the hearing scheduled for 11 A.M today, the petition was withdrawn. Sibal representing Congress said that since the high court had passed a detailed order on July 24 and they had challenged the July 21 before the apex court, and the petition had become infructuous. He further said that the July 24 order raised issues pertaining to the interpretation of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and they had to “weigh their legal options”.

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

Related:

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

 

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Remember when Rajasthan Gov Kalraj Mishra protested at UP Raj Bhavan?

As crucial political developments continue in Rajasthan today, social media had a lesson in political history

27 Jul 2020

Not many, at least those under 40, were aware that senior politician and current Governor of Rajasthan, Kalraj Mishra, who is at the center of the current political situation in the state, had once staged a demonstration at the Governor's residence in his home state of Uttar Pradesh. 

The photo, said to be dated June 2, 1995, shows a confident Kalraja Mishra, then a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, and its state president, in the midst of a sit-in demonstration, or dharna at the Uttar Pradesh Raj Bhavan. 

Today, the role reversed as last week when Kalraj Mishra was at his official residence as Congress MLAs held a sit-in outside demanding that he convene the Assembly Session.

 

 

This black and white photo, then taken by senior photographer Manoj Chabbra, and published in the Times Of India has evoked more than a sense of deja vu. It has also reminded political watchers how political responses also change with change in positions.

 

The recent sit in protest by Congress MLAs had prompted Mishra to write to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, stating that he was “sad and hurt” by the latter “giving a political hue to Raj Bhavan”. According to news reports Mishra had said that for a Governor to “feel threatened was a sad commentary on the state of law and order in Rajasthan.” He wrote to the CM stating, “If you and your home department cannot protect even the governor, then what is your opinion about the law and order situation in the state? With that, also tell which agency should be contacted for the governor’s security. In my long political career, I never heard such a statement from any chief minister. And, is the dharna inside the governor’s residence by elected legislators not a beginning of wrong practice and pressure politics?”


He had also met the CM inside his residence.

 

 

Now it is the turn of Congress supporters to take to social media and remind the Rajasthan Governor of days gone by. Telling him that as  the state president of UP BJP and “he had the right to stage a sit-in demonstration at the Raj Bhavan, but today he is under pressure!”

 

 

Interestingly Kalraj Mishra was also at the centre of events when unprecedented violence wrecked havoc in the UP Assembly in 1997. According to a report in India Today’s Novembre 1997 edition, the then UP Governor Romesh Bhandari, had expressed concern to everybody over possible violence in the Assembly during a vote of confidence. Former chief minister Mayawati “strode into Raj Bhavan on October 19 to inform Bhandari that the 67-member Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was withdrawing support to Kalyan, it seemed Uttar Pradesh was in for another spell of President's rule” said the news report.

Then too MLAs had been moved to ‘safe camps’, and accusations of horse trading flew thick and fast. Shockingly the Assembly session that was to see the vote of confidence soon turned violent as “files and chairs were flung at the Speaker. Soon microphones were uprooted and hurled at the BJP benches. One knocked out BJP minister Kalraj Mishra.” He recovered after first aid, rejoined the proceedings, and eventually went on to serve in many senior positions.

This was the image printed in India Today then: 



Related: 

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

Why is the Ashok Gehlot Govt invoking Sedition law in Rajasthan?

Remember when Rajasthan Gov Kalraj Mishra protested at UP Raj Bhavan?

As crucial political developments continue in Rajasthan today, social media had a lesson in political history

Not many, at least those under 40, were aware that senior politician and current Governor of Rajasthan, Kalraj Mishra, who is at the center of the current political situation in the state, had once staged a demonstration at the Governor's residence in his home state of Uttar Pradesh. 

The photo, said to be dated June 2, 1995, shows a confident Kalraja Mishra, then a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, and its state president, in the midst of a sit-in demonstration, or dharna at the Uttar Pradesh Raj Bhavan. 

Today, the role reversed as last week when Kalraj Mishra was at his official residence as Congress MLAs held a sit-in outside demanding that he convene the Assembly Session.

 

 

This black and white photo, then taken by senior photographer Manoj Chabbra, and published in the Times Of India has evoked more than a sense of deja vu. It has also reminded political watchers how political responses also change with change in positions.

 

The recent sit in protest by Congress MLAs had prompted Mishra to write to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, stating that he was “sad and hurt” by the latter “giving a political hue to Raj Bhavan”. According to news reports Mishra had said that for a Governor to “feel threatened was a sad commentary on the state of law and order in Rajasthan.” He wrote to the CM stating, “If you and your home department cannot protect even the governor, then what is your opinion about the law and order situation in the state? With that, also tell which agency should be contacted for the governor’s security. In my long political career, I never heard such a statement from any chief minister. And, is the dharna inside the governor’s residence by elected legislators not a beginning of wrong practice and pressure politics?”


He had also met the CM inside his residence.

 

 

Now it is the turn of Congress supporters to take to social media and remind the Rajasthan Governor of days gone by. Telling him that as  the state president of UP BJP and “he had the right to stage a sit-in demonstration at the Raj Bhavan, but today he is under pressure!”

 

 

Interestingly Kalraj Mishra was also at the centre of events when unprecedented violence wrecked havoc in the UP Assembly in 1997. According to a report in India Today’s Novembre 1997 edition, the then UP Governor Romesh Bhandari, had expressed concern to everybody over possible violence in the Assembly during a vote of confidence. Former chief minister Mayawati “strode into Raj Bhavan on October 19 to inform Bhandari that the 67-member Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was withdrawing support to Kalyan, it seemed Uttar Pradesh was in for another spell of President's rule” said the news report.

Then too MLAs had been moved to ‘safe camps’, and accusations of horse trading flew thick and fast. Shockingly the Assembly session that was to see the vote of confidence soon turned violent as “files and chairs were flung at the Speaker. Soon microphones were uprooted and hurled at the BJP benches. One knocked out BJP minister Kalraj Mishra.” He recovered after first aid, rejoined the proceedings, and eventually went on to serve in many senior positions.

This was the image printed in India Today then: 



Related: 

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

Why is the Ashok Gehlot Govt invoking Sedition law in Rajasthan?

Related Articles


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‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

State High Court orders status quo, CM demands Assembly session, Governor yet to agree, citizens wait

25 Jul 2020

rajasthan

As all eyes are focussed on Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan’s decision on calling an Assembly session as sought by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and also on rebel Sachin Pilot’s plan of action, an interesting name almost escaped the limelight. According to a news report in The Tribune, Rajasthan police are getting the man accused of ‘horse-trading’ to the resort in Haryana’s Manesar for investigation. The accused has been identified as Sanjay Jain, who has reportedly 'admitted’ to visiting the resort, reported the Tribune.

Jain is said to be a ‘power broker’ and is well connected with politicians from both  the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Congress leaders. The Rajasthan police investigating the allegations of horse trading is likely to conduct a ‘voice test’ on Jain, to determine if he was the one heard negotiating  the money allegedly being offered to politicians to switch camps.

According to the news report, a team of the Rajasthan police's special operations group (SOG), though unable to “get through to rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot's supporters camping in Manesar”, brought Sanjay Jain, to Manesar on Friday night to identify the resort he had visited to allegedly meet the rebel MLAs. 

According to the police, as quoted in the media, Jain has not yet accepted that he met anyone there. This then begs the question: why was Jain visiting the resort, which at that time, only had the MLAs as ‘guests’ in residence?

Jain has been named as one of the key accused in the horse-trading case, and the police took him to Best Western Country Inn, which he has reportedly “confessed” to have vitiated before. The news report quotes ADG (SOG) Ashok Rathore on the move, “We brought him here as part of the investigations to confirm if he had come here for a meeting. He himself led us to the other resort near ITC Grand Bharat. He says he came here but did not meet anyone. We are investigating.” Rathore said Jain alias Sanjay Bardia was nabbed a week ago, after his name surfaced in a viral audio clip purportedly mentioning horse-trading of legislators to topple the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan.

The Tribune describes Jain as a ‘known power broker’ who hails from Bikaner. According to news reports the  Congress had alleged that Jain was a ‘BJP leader’ and even shared his photos with Rajasthan’s former CM Vasundhra Raje. However, according to The Tribune. Jain “is believed to be close to both senior Congress and BJP leaders of the state.”

Tribune quotes its sources as claiming that the accused Jain “had identified and named the staff of the resort who led him in but said there was nobody inside and he met none.” The news report states that the Rajasthan SOG will now conduct a “voice spectrography on July 29, as per the Supreme Court guidelines.” Meanwhile efforts to contact the rebel MLAs continue.

Across the state borders, the Rajasthan High Court has put a status quo in place as it put off giving a verdict in Pilot vs Gehlot case. The HC told the state’s Speaker to maintain the status quo. According to news reports this means that the Speaker CP Joshi is now barred from acting on the July 14 disqualification notices issued to Sachin Pilot and the 18 rebel MLAs’ who support him.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the order came after the high court agreed to Pilot’s request to make Centre a party to the case. The application was moved by Pilot on the ground that Tenth Schedule’s constitutional validity was under challenge and therefore, the Union of India was a necessary party.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot continues to seek that Governor Kalraj Mishra convene the Assembly Session. Gehlot met the Governor and has continued to stage a protest on the lawns of Raj Bhawan with his supporters, and the  MLAs who are a part of his government. This is an unusual situation not seen in any state in recent time where the elected government is seeking an Assembly session this way. 

Gehlot is unlikely to back down anytime soon. He stated: “We will succeed…”

 

 

Gehlot has been openly critical of Governor Kalraj Mishra’s delay in  convening an Assembly session. According to a report in The Print he has said the session is: “to discuss coronavirus and issues related to the state’s political situation and economy.” Gehlot has alleged that the governor is delaying the Session “under pressure from the top”. The CM has also been seen on multiple news channels as saying that if the Assembly is not convened soon then the people of Rajasthan will express their anger and may even “lay siege to Raj Bhawan” in protest. He added that in that case, “I should not be held responsible”. 

He told the media that he “requested the governor through a letter that we want to convene an assembly session and discuss many issues related to the political situation, coronavirus, the aftermath of the lockdown, the economic situation, and other issues. We thought that the governor would give us a go-ahead… but that has not happened.”

Gehlot said they want the assembly session to begin Monday and has claimed a “full majority.”

Meanwhile the Governor continues to keep his plan of action a secret, though he has  acknowledged meeting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

 

 

Related:

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress
Sachin Pilot’s next move: Will he, won’t he?

 

‘Horse trader’ of Rajasthan politics may undergo voice test

State High Court orders status quo, CM demands Assembly session, Governor yet to agree, citizens wait

rajasthan

As all eyes are focussed on Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan’s decision on calling an Assembly session as sought by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and also on rebel Sachin Pilot’s plan of action, an interesting name almost escaped the limelight. According to a news report in The Tribune, Rajasthan police are getting the man accused of ‘horse-trading’ to the resort in Haryana’s Manesar for investigation. The accused has been identified as Sanjay Jain, who has reportedly 'admitted’ to visiting the resort, reported the Tribune.

Jain is said to be a ‘power broker’ and is well connected with politicians from both  the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Congress leaders. The Rajasthan police investigating the allegations of horse trading is likely to conduct a ‘voice test’ on Jain, to determine if he was the one heard negotiating  the money allegedly being offered to politicians to switch camps.

According to the news report, a team of the Rajasthan police's special operations group (SOG), though unable to “get through to rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot's supporters camping in Manesar”, brought Sanjay Jain, to Manesar on Friday night to identify the resort he had visited to allegedly meet the rebel MLAs. 

According to the police, as quoted in the media, Jain has not yet accepted that he met anyone there. This then begs the question: why was Jain visiting the resort, which at that time, only had the MLAs as ‘guests’ in residence?

Jain has been named as one of the key accused in the horse-trading case, and the police took him to Best Western Country Inn, which he has reportedly “confessed” to have vitiated before. The news report quotes ADG (SOG) Ashok Rathore on the move, “We brought him here as part of the investigations to confirm if he had come here for a meeting. He himself led us to the other resort near ITC Grand Bharat. He says he came here but did not meet anyone. We are investigating.” Rathore said Jain alias Sanjay Bardia was nabbed a week ago, after his name surfaced in a viral audio clip purportedly mentioning horse-trading of legislators to topple the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan.

The Tribune describes Jain as a ‘known power broker’ who hails from Bikaner. According to news reports the  Congress had alleged that Jain was a ‘BJP leader’ and even shared his photos with Rajasthan’s former CM Vasundhra Raje. However, according to The Tribune. Jain “is believed to be close to both senior Congress and BJP leaders of the state.”

Tribune quotes its sources as claiming that the accused Jain “had identified and named the staff of the resort who led him in but said there was nobody inside and he met none.” The news report states that the Rajasthan SOG will now conduct a “voice spectrography on July 29, as per the Supreme Court guidelines.” Meanwhile efforts to contact the rebel MLAs continue.

Across the state borders, the Rajasthan High Court has put a status quo in place as it put off giving a verdict in Pilot vs Gehlot case. The HC told the state’s Speaker to maintain the status quo. According to news reports this means that the Speaker CP Joshi is now barred from acting on the July 14 disqualification notices issued to Sachin Pilot and the 18 rebel MLAs’ who support him.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the order came after the high court agreed to Pilot’s request to make Centre a party to the case. The application was moved by Pilot on the ground that Tenth Schedule’s constitutional validity was under challenge and therefore, the Union of India was a necessary party.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot continues to seek that Governor Kalraj Mishra convene the Assembly Session. Gehlot met the Governor and has continued to stage a protest on the lawns of Raj Bhawan with his supporters, and the  MLAs who are a part of his government. This is an unusual situation not seen in any state in recent time where the elected government is seeking an Assembly session this way. 

Gehlot is unlikely to back down anytime soon. He stated: “We will succeed…”

 

 

Gehlot has been openly critical of Governor Kalraj Mishra’s delay in  convening an Assembly session. According to a report in The Print he has said the session is: “to discuss coronavirus and issues related to the state’s political situation and economy.” Gehlot has alleged that the governor is delaying the Session “under pressure from the top”. The CM has also been seen on multiple news channels as saying that if the Assembly is not convened soon then the people of Rajasthan will express their anger and may even “lay siege to Raj Bhawan” in protest. He added that in that case, “I should not be held responsible”. 

He told the media that he “requested the governor through a letter that we want to convene an assembly session and discuss many issues related to the political situation, coronavirus, the aftermath of the lockdown, the economic situation, and other issues. We thought that the governor would give us a go-ahead… but that has not happened.”

Gehlot said they want the assembly session to begin Monday and has claimed a “full majority.”

Meanwhile the Governor continues to keep his plan of action a secret, though he has  acknowledged meeting Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

 

 

Related:

Sachin Pilot grounded by Congress
Sachin Pilot’s next move: Will he, won’t he?

 

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ECI to probe Maharashtra electoral office hiring BJP linked firm

Election Commission of India's response to activist Saket Gokhale reveals Maharashtra CEO hired pro-BJP firm for voter awareness campaign

25 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

“Election Commission of India literally hired the BJP IT Cell for handling their social media in Maharashtra in the run-up to the 2019 State Assembly Elections,” posted journalist-activist Saket Gokhale.

 

Gokhale, well known to social media user as an activist, then went on to share the details of how he tracked the link between the election commission’s official Mumbai voter awareness campaign and a Mumbai based digital advertising, marketing, social media agency called Social Central. Gokhale tracked the digital footprints of the agency to discover that it was owned by one Devang Dave, who is the national convener of IT & social media for BJP's Youth Wing BJYM.

“Guess who shows up on his client list on his website,” asked Gokhale and posted all his findings on Social media. This created a sensation, and prompted a reaction from Election Commission of India spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan, who posted, “Regarding tweet of Mr Gokhale @SaketGokhale, Commission has sought detailed factual report in this matter from CEO Maharashtra with respect to alleged locale of the incidence immediately.”

 

As expected the CEO Maharashtra called Gokhale’s revelations “misleading and incorrect to suggest that the office of chief electoral officer has engaged any agency on political considerations.” It added that the electoral awareness campaign was “launched through an agency engaged by the information and public relations department(DGIPR), Government of Maharashtra.”

 

Nevertheless the Election Commission has sought a report from Maharashtra’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on the matter. Gokhale has put in public domain how he tracked the links between the Maharashtra CEO’s social media ads encouraging people to vote in the 2019 elections, and found that advertiser’s address was “202 Pressman House” in Vile Parle East, Mumbai. According to a report in The Hindu, the registrar of companies lists Signpost India Private Limited at this address, and another firm, named Social Central Media Solutions LLP (based at 70A, 601 Pressman House,) describes itself as “Signpost India Company” on its website, and listed the Maharashtra CEO among its clients.

Social Central’s managing director Devang Virendra Dave, was also listed as “Incharge” of “National Social Media and IT” on the website of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. The  Hindu reported that Social Central’s website carries a testimonial attributed to Shirish Mohod, deputy CEO during last year’s Assembly polls, that says, “I want to appreciate Social Central Media Solutions to all your creative inputs and effective implementation of the digital campaign which has helped us in our endeavour of reaching out to non-registered voters of our state.”

While trying to clear his stand, Devang Dave too posted a tweet that instead seems to link him to the CEO-sponsored campaign, “We do not earn our bread and butter by doing any kind of ‘Dalali’ but by Hardwork. The work assigned by Election Commission to Signpost was after following due process. There is no illegality whatsoever. Is it also forbidden for political activists to make an honest living?” he posted, adding, “ECI and the Industry has also appreciated the work done Am I Not allowed professional engagements just because I support an ideology, a certain people doesn’t agree with? Or is targeting people based on their ideological leanings the new thing to vent out frustration? (2/4)”

 

He went on to attack Gokhale without naming him and said, “(SIC) this are same people who were against CAA. This are same people who are against Ram Mandir. This are same people who are against Idea Of Bharat!”

Even as he constituted to share the links, Gokhale stated, “It is beyond SHOCKING that the Election Commission chose a BJP IT cell guy & his agency to handle their social media for Maharashtra elections. ECI is supposed to be monitoring social media of parties during election. Here, they *literally* worked with the ruling party.”

The Hindu reporter asked the ECI spokesman about the rules for hiring private firms, and was told that “the selection was done by the CEOs and that the Election Commission in Delhi was not involved.” The newspaper sought a reply from Baldev Singh, the current CEO, who sent a WhatsApp message stating, “It is misleading and incorrect to suggest that the office of chief electoral officer has issued any advertisement through any agency on political considerations. As per standard practice, electoral awareness campaign is launched through the information and public relations department (DGIPR), Government of Maharashtra. They, in turn, follow a laid-down procedure for selecting an appropriate agency for public awareness and not by CEO Office.”

He added, “For the specific imputation made in the tweet of Mr Saket Gokhale, an interim reply of facts has been sent to Election Commission of India. Meanwhile, some other representations on the matter have been received from some public representatives, which are also being addressed and a detailed response in this regard shall be sent to the commission soon.”

Gokhale, has called it “This was electoral fraud” adding that it is more than a political hold over  ECI’s social media, and alleged that “crucial voter data might have been transferred from ECI to the BJP.”

 

He stated that he has more to reveal on what he has termed a “nexus between the BJP/Modi govt & the Election Commission which gets bigger & goes beyond Maharashtra.?"

This of course has made him the target of trolls affiliated with the right wing. Some allegedly even reached Gokhale’s building, chanting “jai Shree Ram’ , and allegedly threatening the family. 

 

Gokhale complained to the local police, and an FIR was registered and security provided.

 

Related: 

Full page campaign ads on election day: Poll code violation?
ECI Silent on Serious Irregularities in May 2019 Gen Election

ECI to probe Maharashtra electoral office hiring BJP linked firm

Election Commission of India's response to activist Saket Gokhale reveals Maharashtra CEO hired pro-BJP firm for voter awareness campaign

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

“Election Commission of India literally hired the BJP IT Cell for handling their social media in Maharashtra in the run-up to the 2019 State Assembly Elections,” posted journalist-activist Saket Gokhale.

 

Gokhale, well known to social media user as an activist, then went on to share the details of how he tracked the link between the election commission’s official Mumbai voter awareness campaign and a Mumbai based digital advertising, marketing, social media agency called Social Central. Gokhale tracked the digital footprints of the agency to discover that it was owned by one Devang Dave, who is the national convener of IT & social media for BJP's Youth Wing BJYM.

“Guess who shows up on his client list on his website,” asked Gokhale and posted all his findings on Social media. This created a sensation, and prompted a reaction from Election Commission of India spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan, who posted, “Regarding tweet of Mr Gokhale @SaketGokhale, Commission has sought detailed factual report in this matter from CEO Maharashtra with respect to alleged locale of the incidence immediately.”

 

As expected the CEO Maharashtra called Gokhale’s revelations “misleading and incorrect to suggest that the office of chief electoral officer has engaged any agency on political considerations.” It added that the electoral awareness campaign was “launched through an agency engaged by the information and public relations department(DGIPR), Government of Maharashtra.”

 

Nevertheless the Election Commission has sought a report from Maharashtra’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on the matter. Gokhale has put in public domain how he tracked the links between the Maharashtra CEO’s social media ads encouraging people to vote in the 2019 elections, and found that advertiser’s address was “202 Pressman House” in Vile Parle East, Mumbai. According to a report in The Hindu, the registrar of companies lists Signpost India Private Limited at this address, and another firm, named Social Central Media Solutions LLP (based at 70A, 601 Pressman House,) describes itself as “Signpost India Company” on its website, and listed the Maharashtra CEO among its clients.

Social Central’s managing director Devang Virendra Dave, was also listed as “Incharge” of “National Social Media and IT” on the website of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. The  Hindu reported that Social Central’s website carries a testimonial attributed to Shirish Mohod, deputy CEO during last year’s Assembly polls, that says, “I want to appreciate Social Central Media Solutions to all your creative inputs and effective implementation of the digital campaign which has helped us in our endeavour of reaching out to non-registered voters of our state.”

While trying to clear his stand, Devang Dave too posted a tweet that instead seems to link him to the CEO-sponsored campaign, “We do not earn our bread and butter by doing any kind of ‘Dalali’ but by Hardwork. The work assigned by Election Commission to Signpost was after following due process. There is no illegality whatsoever. Is it also forbidden for political activists to make an honest living?” he posted, adding, “ECI and the Industry has also appreciated the work done Am I Not allowed professional engagements just because I support an ideology, a certain people doesn’t agree with? Or is targeting people based on their ideological leanings the new thing to vent out frustration? (2/4)”

 

He went on to attack Gokhale without naming him and said, “(SIC) this are same people who were against CAA. This are same people who are against Ram Mandir. This are same people who are against Idea Of Bharat!”

Even as he constituted to share the links, Gokhale stated, “It is beyond SHOCKING that the Election Commission chose a BJP IT cell guy & his agency to handle their social media for Maharashtra elections. ECI is supposed to be monitoring social media of parties during election. Here, they *literally* worked with the ruling party.”

The Hindu reporter asked the ECI spokesman about the rules for hiring private firms, and was told that “the selection was done by the CEOs and that the Election Commission in Delhi was not involved.” The newspaper sought a reply from Baldev Singh, the current CEO, who sent a WhatsApp message stating, “It is misleading and incorrect to suggest that the office of chief electoral officer has issued any advertisement through any agency on political considerations. As per standard practice, electoral awareness campaign is launched through the information and public relations department (DGIPR), Government of Maharashtra. They, in turn, follow a laid-down procedure for selecting an appropriate agency for public awareness and not by CEO Office.”

He added, “For the specific imputation made in the tweet of Mr Saket Gokhale, an interim reply of facts has been sent to Election Commission of India. Meanwhile, some other representations on the matter have been received from some public representatives, which are also being addressed and a detailed response in this regard shall be sent to the commission soon.”

Gokhale, has called it “This was electoral fraud” adding that it is more than a political hold over  ECI’s social media, and alleged that “crucial voter data might have been transferred from ECI to the BJP.”

 

He stated that he has more to reveal on what he has termed a “nexus between the BJP/Modi govt & the Election Commission which gets bigger & goes beyond Maharashtra.?"

This of course has made him the target of trolls affiliated with the right wing. Some allegedly even reached Gokhale’s building, chanting “jai Shree Ram’ , and allegedly threatening the family. 

 

Gokhale complained to the local police, and an FIR was registered and security provided.

 

Related: 

Full page campaign ads on election day: Poll code violation?
ECI Silent on Serious Irregularities in May 2019 Gen Election

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54 of 229 sitting Rajya Sabha MPs have criminal cases against them: ADR

A financial background analysis of the sitting RS MPs also showed that the average assets MPs analysed are Rs. 62.67 crores

22 Jul 2020

rajyasabha

The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch have put together an analysis of the criminal backgrounds and assets of 229 Rajya Sabha MPs. The report titled, ‘Analysis of Criminal Background, Financial, Education, Gender and other details of Sitting Rajya Sabha MPs 2020’ states that 54 (24%) of the Rajya Sabha MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves and 203 (89%) are crorepatis.

Criminal Background

Out of the 54 (24%) who have declared criminal cases against themselves, 28 (12%) have declared that they have been booked in serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and rape. The MPs have also been booked under charges of criminal conspiracy, punishment for rioting, armed with deadly weapons, fabricating false evidence, criminal intimidation, mischief by fire or explosive substance, attempt to commit culpable homicide and charges related to intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace among others.

One Rajya Sabha MP namely Bhonsle Shrimant Chh. Udayanraje Pratapsingh maharaj (BJP) from Maharashtra has declared cases related to murder (IPC section 302). Also, as many as four Rajya Sabha MPs have declared cases to attempt to murder (IPC Section 307).

Out of the four Rajya Sabha MPs who have declared cases related to crimes against women, KC Venugopal from the Indian National Congress (INC) from Rajasthan has declared a case related to rape (IPC Section 376).

A party –wise analysis of Rajya Sabha MPs with criminal cases – 14(18%) out of 77 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP, 8 (20%) out of 40 Rajya Sabha MPs from INC, 2 (15%) out of 13 Rajya Sabha MPs from AITC, 3(33%) out of 9 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJD, 3(50%) out of 6 Rajya Sabha MPs from YSRCP and 2(25%) out of 8 Rajya Sabha MPs from SP have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

A party –wise analysis of Rajya Sabha MPs with serious criminal cases – 5(6%) out of 77 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP, 6 (15%) out of 40 Rajya Sabha MPs from INC, 1 (8%) out of 13 Rajya Sabha MPs from AITC, 1(11%) out of 9 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJD, 3(50%) out of 6 Rajya Sabha MPs from YSRCP and 3(60%) out of 5 Rajya Sabha MPs from RJD have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

A state-wise analysis shows that Delhi has the highest percentage of Rajya Sabha MPs with declared criminal cases at 67%. Bihar comes next at 53%, followed by Kerala and Maharashtra. West Bengal has the lowest percentage (13%) of Rajya Sabha MPs with declared criminal cases.

However, the highest number of MPs with declared criminal cases are from Uttar Pradesh (30), followed by Maharashtra (19), Tamil Nadu (18), West Bengal (16) and Bihar (15).

Details of current Rajya Sabha MPs who lost earlier elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies but later elected to Rajya Sabha

Out of the 50 Rajya Sabha MPs who had lost earlier elections, 12 (24%) have declared criminal cases and 10 (20%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

Financial Background

Out of the 229 sitting Rajya Sabha MPs, 203 (89%) are crorepatis. Out of the 203, 86 (37%) have assets of Rs. 10 crores and above, 36 (16%) have assets worth Rs. 5 crores and above and 81 (35%) have assets worth Rs. 1 crore and above. Only 10% (22) MPs have assets ranging between Rs. 20 lakhs to 1 crore and only 2% (4) MPs have assets of less than Rs. 20 lakh. As many as 69 (90%) of 77 MPs, followed by the INC which has 37 (93%) of 40 MPs have declared assets valued more than Rs. 1 crore.

The average of assets per Rajya Sabha MP is Rs. 62.67 crores. The average assets owned by BJP MPs stand at Rs. 27.74 crores and INC MPs stand at Rs. 38.96 crores.

The top three Rajya Sabha MPs with high assets are Mahendra Prasad from JD (U) Bihar, Alla Ayodhya Rami Reddy from YSRCP Andhra Pradesh and Bachchan Jaya Amitabh from SP Uttar Pradesh with assets worth Rs. 4078 crore, Rs. 2577 crore and Rs. 1001 crore respectively.

The three MPs with the lowest assets – valued at less than Rs. 20 lakhs are Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba from BJP Manipur, Sanjay Singh AAP Delhi and Samir Oraon BJP Jharkhand with assets worth Rs. 5 lakhs, 6 lakhs and 18 lakhs respectively.

Uttar Pradesh (28) has the highest number of crorepati MPs, followed by Maharashtra (18) and Tamil Nadu (17).

Out of the 50 Rajya Sabha MPs who had lost earlier LS Elections but were elected to Rajya Sabha, 42 (84%) are crorepatis. Among major parties, 13 (100%) out of 13 Rajya Sabha MPs from INC, 9 (75%) out of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP, 3(100%) out of 3 Rajya Sabha MPs from SP and 4(67%) out of 6 Rajya Sabha MPs from AITC have declared assets valued more than Rs 1 crore. The average assets of these Rajya Sabha MPs is Rs. 77.40 crores.

The entire report by ADR may be read below.

 

Related:

Odisha Election Watch and ADR India analyze election expenses of MLAs in state assembly elections

BJP spent highest on publicity; travel of party leaders in 2019 LS elections, reports ADR

BJP gets lion’s share of donations in 2018 – 2019; a 70% increase in funding from ’17 - 18

 

54 of 229 sitting Rajya Sabha MPs have criminal cases against them: ADR

A financial background analysis of the sitting RS MPs also showed that the average assets MPs analysed are Rs. 62.67 crores

rajyasabha

The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch have put together an analysis of the criminal backgrounds and assets of 229 Rajya Sabha MPs. The report titled, ‘Analysis of Criminal Background, Financial, Education, Gender and other details of Sitting Rajya Sabha MPs 2020’ states that 54 (24%) of the Rajya Sabha MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves and 203 (89%) are crorepatis.

Criminal Background

Out of the 54 (24%) who have declared criminal cases against themselves, 28 (12%) have declared that they have been booked in serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and rape. The MPs have also been booked under charges of criminal conspiracy, punishment for rioting, armed with deadly weapons, fabricating false evidence, criminal intimidation, mischief by fire or explosive substance, attempt to commit culpable homicide and charges related to intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace among others.

One Rajya Sabha MP namely Bhonsle Shrimant Chh. Udayanraje Pratapsingh maharaj (BJP) from Maharashtra has declared cases related to murder (IPC section 302). Also, as many as four Rajya Sabha MPs have declared cases to attempt to murder (IPC Section 307).

Out of the four Rajya Sabha MPs who have declared cases related to crimes against women, KC Venugopal from the Indian National Congress (INC) from Rajasthan has declared a case related to rape (IPC Section 376).

A party –wise analysis of Rajya Sabha MPs with criminal cases – 14(18%) out of 77 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP, 8 (20%) out of 40 Rajya Sabha MPs from INC, 2 (15%) out of 13 Rajya Sabha MPs from AITC, 3(33%) out of 9 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJD, 3(50%) out of 6 Rajya Sabha MPs from YSRCP and 2(25%) out of 8 Rajya Sabha MPs from SP have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

A party –wise analysis of Rajya Sabha MPs with serious criminal cases – 5(6%) out of 77 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP, 6 (15%) out of 40 Rajya Sabha MPs from INC, 1 (8%) out of 13 Rajya Sabha MPs from AITC, 1(11%) out of 9 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJD, 3(50%) out of 6 Rajya Sabha MPs from YSRCP and 3(60%) out of 5 Rajya Sabha MPs from RJD have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.

A state-wise analysis shows that Delhi has the highest percentage of Rajya Sabha MPs with declared criminal cases at 67%. Bihar comes next at 53%, followed by Kerala and Maharashtra. West Bengal has the lowest percentage (13%) of Rajya Sabha MPs with declared criminal cases.

However, the highest number of MPs with declared criminal cases are from Uttar Pradesh (30), followed by Maharashtra (19), Tamil Nadu (18), West Bengal (16) and Bihar (15).

Details of current Rajya Sabha MPs who lost earlier elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies but later elected to Rajya Sabha

Out of the 50 Rajya Sabha MPs who had lost earlier elections, 12 (24%) have declared criminal cases and 10 (20%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

Financial Background

Out of the 229 sitting Rajya Sabha MPs, 203 (89%) are crorepatis. Out of the 203, 86 (37%) have assets of Rs. 10 crores and above, 36 (16%) have assets worth Rs. 5 crores and above and 81 (35%) have assets worth Rs. 1 crore and above. Only 10% (22) MPs have assets ranging between Rs. 20 lakhs to 1 crore and only 2% (4) MPs have assets of less than Rs. 20 lakh. As many as 69 (90%) of 77 MPs, followed by the INC which has 37 (93%) of 40 MPs have declared assets valued more than Rs. 1 crore.

The average of assets per Rajya Sabha MP is Rs. 62.67 crores. The average assets owned by BJP MPs stand at Rs. 27.74 crores and INC MPs stand at Rs. 38.96 crores.

The top three Rajya Sabha MPs with high assets are Mahendra Prasad from JD (U) Bihar, Alla Ayodhya Rami Reddy from YSRCP Andhra Pradesh and Bachchan Jaya Amitabh from SP Uttar Pradesh with assets worth Rs. 4078 crore, Rs. 2577 crore and Rs. 1001 crore respectively.

The three MPs with the lowest assets – valued at less than Rs. 20 lakhs are Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba from BJP Manipur, Sanjay Singh AAP Delhi and Samir Oraon BJP Jharkhand with assets worth Rs. 5 lakhs, 6 lakhs and 18 lakhs respectively.

Uttar Pradesh (28) has the highest number of crorepati MPs, followed by Maharashtra (18) and Tamil Nadu (17).

Out of the 50 Rajya Sabha MPs who had lost earlier LS Elections but were elected to Rajya Sabha, 42 (84%) are crorepatis. Among major parties, 13 (100%) out of 13 Rajya Sabha MPs from INC, 9 (75%) out of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs from BJP, 3(100%) out of 3 Rajya Sabha MPs from SP and 4(67%) out of 6 Rajya Sabha MPs from AITC have declared assets valued more than Rs 1 crore. The average assets of these Rajya Sabha MPs is Rs. 77.40 crores.

The entire report by ADR may be read below.

 

Related:

Odisha Election Watch and ADR India analyze election expenses of MLAs in state assembly elections

BJP spent highest on publicity; travel of party leaders in 2019 LS elections, reports ADR

BJP gets lion’s share of donations in 2018 – 2019; a 70% increase in funding from ’17 - 18

 

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Is this the "Ram Rajya" promised by the BJP: Congress attacks UP govt 

Politics, attempts of communalising journalist’s Vikram Joshi’s murder, expose the state yet again

22 Jul 2020

Rahul

The attack that led to Ghaziabad-based journalist Vikram Joshi, being shot at near his home, has yet again exposed all claims of Uttar Pradesh getting safer for ordinary citizens. Father of two young daughters, Joshi (34) has died in hospital, hours after he was shot in front of his children on Monday night. 

The tragedy has also fuelled a political reaction, with the Congress leadership highlighting the deteriorating law and order status of Uttar Pradesh under the Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government.

“They promised Ramrajya, they delivered Gundaraj,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi
 


Stronger words have come from Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surejwala, who has said that the Prime Minister is a member of Parliament from UP, and that the state’s CM came to power over Ramrajya. That is a distant promise, said RS Surjwala.

“Adityanath Ji if only you had daughters, and a family. If only you had felt the pain of your nieces being harassed. Only then you would understand the pain of losing a family member,” he minced no words at a press conference held on Wednesday. 

“Is this the "Ram Rajya", promised by which the BJP sat on the throne of power? 

 This is the "Gundaraja" in public. Neither journalists safe nor law keepers in UP. Then what hope does the common man have for justice? Uttar Pradesh has now become a crime state.”

 

 

There was no political response from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, who has now announced a ‘compensation’ of Rs 10 lakh for Joshi’s bereaved family, as reported by Zee news. 

After the journalist was shot, the UP police have arrested nine people so far, and identified them as: Vijay, Mohit, Dalveer, Aakash, Yogendra, Abhishek Mota, Abhishek, Shakir and the main accused, Ravi.  

 

 

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/nqOLyPIUKgYPB6yWx5EBEspAgQQZSH3CXVX0Fv9MnDrI6Y6fmW9EsCaonygD0aqbSgtT-YDDENSlGnoDpBihN0frec4MWdiG5mYyB_4z9i8POmU3TYxIuPhYYeoPOW5r1pccU027

However as soon as the names of the accused were revealed by the UP police, certain elements, including Right Wing affiliated social media ‘influencers’,  began to make sure the name of one of the 10 accused, who is a Muslim was highlighted in the public domain. This of course is yet another step to communalise a crime and change the narrative.

The murder and events that led to it, are in fact reflective of the law and order prepardness of Uttar Pradesh administration. A member of murdered journalist Vikram Joshi's family too has been shown demanding that the Muslim acused be arrested. Uttar Pradesh police had already arrested the accused and others hours before this statement came.

Joshi, a journalist with a local paper who was riding his two-wheeler while returning from a relative’s place at night with his two young daughters, was waylaid, beaten up, and shot at by a group of criminals. The attack was recorded on CCTV.  Horrific visuals later released, showed the young children instinctively running away to safety when the two wheeler fell, and her father was attacked. Joshi’s elder daughter returned to see that her father had been fatally wounded. The child tried to raise an alarm, but no one came to her aid immediately. 

The journalist succumbed to injuries, early on Wednesday morning, at a local hospital. According to news reports, his family members had alleged that the Uttar Pradesh police did not investigate the initial complaint that the journalist had filed alleging that his niece was being harassed. According to a report in the Indian Express, the journalist was attacked just four days after he filed the complaint. 

The UP Police, according to IE, said Joshi, who works with Jan Sagar Today, was shot in the Pratap Vihar area of Ghaziabad, he was rushed to Yashoda Hospital in a critical condition, and later succumbed to the injuries. The news report states that according to Joshi’s family the UP Police did not not investigate the initial complaint. “They claimed a police team only enquired about the location of the accused but they were not found. The family further alleged that on July 17, a letter had been sent via post to the SSP office demanding action but nothing was done,” stated IE.

However, the police maintained that they filed a molestation complaint on June 16, and registered an FIR the same day. The IE added that Ghaziabad SSP Kalanidhi Naithani has “suspended booth incharge of Vijay Nagar police station SI Raghvendra for alleged dereliction of duty, and an enquiry has been set up under a DSP-rank officer to ascertain the delay in action.”

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who had earlier clashed with the UP government over issues impacting the citizens said, “Ghaziabad is in NCR. If the law and order here is such, one can guess how it must be in the entire state. One journalist was shot because he complained against the eve teasing of his niece. How can a common man be safe in this ‘jungle raj’.”

 

 

The IE quoted the Dr Rakesh Mishra, CO 1st, Ghaziabad saying, “We are very strict when it comes to crimes against women. The family approached them with a case of molestation. The accused had also filed a counter FIR, alleging they were assaulted by Vikram’s relatives. But the policeman should have acted swiftly since it was a crime against a woman.” 

According to an IE, Joshi had been attacked by Ravi, the main accused, and his associates as they were “angered over a police complaint” filed against them by Joshi. Apparently Ravi and a few of his associates had also been arrested under preventive detention in connection with the  complaint filed by the family in March 2019, reported IE. They were out on bail.

The family later told the media that they had been facing harassment and were being abused by the accused even recently. “On the night of July 15, Ravi, Abhishek and a few others were outside our house. They hurled abuses… In 2019, during Holi, they had come to the house to create problems…,”  his sister was quoted by IE. According to police the “main accused, Ravi, also a resident of Pratap Vihar, confessed to us that he orchestrated the attack and carried it out with his accomplices.”

 

Related: 

HRDA India exposes UP Police’s tactics to muzzle voice of human rights defender Raja Bhaiyya

Bulandshahr violence accused expelled from post in PM Scheme after protests

They abused us, asked us to worship their idols: Christians attacked in UP

Man accused of killing Bulandshahr cop, gets plum role to run PM's welfare campaign

 

 

Is this the "Ram Rajya" promised by the BJP: Congress attacks UP govt 

Politics, attempts of communalising journalist’s Vikram Joshi’s murder, expose the state yet again

Rahul

The attack that led to Ghaziabad-based journalist Vikram Joshi, being shot at near his home, has yet again exposed all claims of Uttar Pradesh getting safer for ordinary citizens. Father of two young daughters, Joshi (34) has died in hospital, hours after he was shot in front of his children on Monday night. 

The tragedy has also fuelled a political reaction, with the Congress leadership highlighting the deteriorating law and order status of Uttar Pradesh under the Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government.

“They promised Ramrajya, they delivered Gundaraj,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi
 


Stronger words have come from Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surejwala, who has said that the Prime Minister is a member of Parliament from UP, and that the state’s CM came to power over Ramrajya. That is a distant promise, said RS Surjwala.

“Adityanath Ji if only you had daughters, and a family. If only you had felt the pain of your nieces being harassed. Only then you would understand the pain of losing a family member,” he minced no words at a press conference held on Wednesday. 

“Is this the "Ram Rajya", promised by which the BJP sat on the throne of power? 

 This is the "Gundaraja" in public. Neither journalists safe nor law keepers in UP. Then what hope does the common man have for justice? Uttar Pradesh has now become a crime state.”

 

 

There was no political response from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, who has now announced a ‘compensation’ of Rs 10 lakh for Joshi’s bereaved family, as reported by Zee news. 

After the journalist was shot, the UP police have arrested nine people so far, and identified them as: Vijay, Mohit, Dalveer, Aakash, Yogendra, Abhishek Mota, Abhishek, Shakir and the main accused, Ravi.  

 

 

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/nqOLyPIUKgYPB6yWx5EBEspAgQQZSH3CXVX0Fv9MnDrI6Y6fmW9EsCaonygD0aqbSgtT-YDDENSlGnoDpBihN0frec4MWdiG5mYyB_4z9i8POmU3TYxIuPhYYeoPOW5r1pccU027

However as soon as the names of the accused were revealed by the UP police, certain elements, including Right Wing affiliated social media ‘influencers’,  began to make sure the name of one of the 10 accused, who is a Muslim was highlighted in the public domain. This of course is yet another step to communalise a crime and change the narrative.

The murder and events that led to it, are in fact reflective of the law and order prepardness of Uttar Pradesh administration. A member of murdered journalist Vikram Joshi's family too has been shown demanding that the Muslim acused be arrested. Uttar Pradesh police had already arrested the accused and others hours before this statement came.

Joshi, a journalist with a local paper who was riding his two-wheeler while returning from a relative’s place at night with his two young daughters, was waylaid, beaten up, and shot at by a group of criminals. The attack was recorded on CCTV.  Horrific visuals later released, showed the young children instinctively running away to safety when the two wheeler fell, and her father was attacked. Joshi’s elder daughter returned to see that her father had been fatally wounded. The child tried to raise an alarm, but no one came to her aid immediately. 

The journalist succumbed to injuries, early on Wednesday morning, at a local hospital. According to news reports, his family members had alleged that the Uttar Pradesh police did not investigate the initial complaint that the journalist had filed alleging that his niece was being harassed. According to a report in the Indian Express, the journalist was attacked just four days after he filed the complaint. 

The UP Police, according to IE, said Joshi, who works with Jan Sagar Today, was shot in the Pratap Vihar area of Ghaziabad, he was rushed to Yashoda Hospital in a critical condition, and later succumbed to the injuries. The news report states that according to Joshi’s family the UP Police did not not investigate the initial complaint. “They claimed a police team only enquired about the location of the accused but they were not found. The family further alleged that on July 17, a letter had been sent via post to the SSP office demanding action but nothing was done,” stated IE.

However, the police maintained that they filed a molestation complaint on June 16, and registered an FIR the same day. The IE added that Ghaziabad SSP Kalanidhi Naithani has “suspended booth incharge of Vijay Nagar police station SI Raghvendra for alleged dereliction of duty, and an enquiry has been set up under a DSP-rank officer to ascertain the delay in action.”

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who had earlier clashed with the UP government over issues impacting the citizens said, “Ghaziabad is in NCR. If the law and order here is such, one can guess how it must be in the entire state. One journalist was shot because he complained against the eve teasing of his niece. How can a common man be safe in this ‘jungle raj’.”

 

 

The IE quoted the Dr Rakesh Mishra, CO 1st, Ghaziabad saying, “We are very strict when it comes to crimes against women. The family approached them with a case of molestation. The accused had also filed a counter FIR, alleging they were assaulted by Vikram’s relatives. But the policeman should have acted swiftly since it was a crime against a woman.” 

According to an IE, Joshi had been attacked by Ravi, the main accused, and his associates as they were “angered over a police complaint” filed against them by Joshi. Apparently Ravi and a few of his associates had also been arrested under preventive detention in connection with the  complaint filed by the family in March 2019, reported IE. They were out on bail.

The family later told the media that they had been facing harassment and were being abused by the accused even recently. “On the night of July 15, Ravi, Abhishek and a few others were outside our house. They hurled abuses… In 2019, during Holi, they had come to the house to create problems…,”  his sister was quoted by IE. According to police the “main accused, Ravi, also a resident of Pratap Vihar, confessed to us that he orchestrated the attack and carried it out with his accomplices.”

 

Related: 

HRDA India exposes UP Police’s tactics to muzzle voice of human rights defender Raja Bhaiyya

Bulandshahr violence accused expelled from post in PM Scheme after protests

They abused us, asked us to worship their idols: Christians attacked in UP

Man accused of killing Bulandshahr cop, gets plum role to run PM's welfare campaign

 

 

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What’s going to happen to CAA now?

Deadline to fix rules for implementation of the act lapses at it has been over 6-months since the passage of the act and issue of notification

22 Jul 2020

CAA

It has been over six months since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed and the Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to put together rules for its implementation. As per parliamentary procedure the procedures as per which the act is to be implemented need to be fixed within six months.

But a variety of media reports say that this deadline has passed. According to reports in The Wire, The Assam Tribune and The Hindu, this deadline ended anywhere between June 18 and July 10, depend on when one starts calculating; day of passage of the act or day of issue of notification. In such a scenario, the next step for the MHA is to apply for deadline extension.

According to the point 11.3.1 of the Manual of Parliamentary Procedure, “Statutory rules, regulations and bye-laws will be framed within a period of six months from the date on which the relevant statute came into force. Cases in which, for any reasons, this is not possible, will be brought to the notice of the Secretary and the Minister at the earliest possible stage.”

Moreover, according to point 11.3.2 of the same manual, “ In case the Ministries/Departments are not able to frame the rules within the prescribed period of six months, they should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation stating reasons for such extension; such extension being not more than for a period of three months at a time. The request should be made after obtaining the approval of the Minister.”

However, according to The Hindu, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Subordinate Legislation is yet to receive any such communication from the MHA. Chairman of the committee and YSRCP MP K. Raghu Rama Krishna Raju told the publication, “We will be writing a letter to the MHA as there is no request for extension of time (for notifying the rules), will send them a reminder to give us a status [report]. As per norms, MHA should have framed the rules within six months or seek extension.”

It is noteworthy that at present the BJP does not have a majority in the committee. The YSRCP has already done a u-turn on its stand on CAA after supporting it in both houses. Other member os the committee are D Raja of the DMK, three members of the Congress Party, one from the Samajwadi Party, and one TRS MP (whose stand is not yet known).

Taking to Twitter about the lapsed deadline, former Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha said, “Did you know that the CAA rules have not been framed and notified despite a lapse of 7 months. The act cannot be implemented in the absence of rules.? Do you realise how the whole thing was just meant to fool the people and win elections?”

 

 

The controversial act has already led to multiple protests across the country for different reasons. While those in Delhi, Aligarh, Mumbai etc. focused on how by exclusively excluding Muslim refugees from its fold the act violates the Constitution, in Assam the act has added more fuel to the fire amidst a raging citizenship debate in light of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was updated and published in the state after a long process last August. Elections are due in Assam next year, where despite the Covid-19 outbreak and devastation caused by floods, citizenship remains such a touchy subject that five people from flood-hit villages were issued ‘foreigner’ notice and asked to appear before a Foreigners’ Tribunal to defend their citizenship.

 

Related:

100 days and counting, free Gulfisha Fatima: Activists

Gauhati HC grants Akhil Gogoi bail in three cases

Flood-victims sent notice to defend citizenship in Assam!

What’s going to happen to CAA now?

Deadline to fix rules for implementation of the act lapses at it has been over 6-months since the passage of the act and issue of notification

CAA

It has been over six months since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed and the Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to put together rules for its implementation. As per parliamentary procedure the procedures as per which the act is to be implemented need to be fixed within six months.

But a variety of media reports say that this deadline has passed. According to reports in The Wire, The Assam Tribune and The Hindu, this deadline ended anywhere between June 18 and July 10, depend on when one starts calculating; day of passage of the act or day of issue of notification. In such a scenario, the next step for the MHA is to apply for deadline extension.

According to the point 11.3.1 of the Manual of Parliamentary Procedure, “Statutory rules, regulations and bye-laws will be framed within a period of six months from the date on which the relevant statute came into force. Cases in which, for any reasons, this is not possible, will be brought to the notice of the Secretary and the Minister at the earliest possible stage.”

Moreover, according to point 11.3.2 of the same manual, “ In case the Ministries/Departments are not able to frame the rules within the prescribed period of six months, they should seek extension of time from the Committee on Subordinate Legislation stating reasons for such extension; such extension being not more than for a period of three months at a time. The request should be made after obtaining the approval of the Minister.”

However, according to The Hindu, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Subordinate Legislation is yet to receive any such communication from the MHA. Chairman of the committee and YSRCP MP K. Raghu Rama Krishna Raju told the publication, “We will be writing a letter to the MHA as there is no request for extension of time (for notifying the rules), will send them a reminder to give us a status [report]. As per norms, MHA should have framed the rules within six months or seek extension.”

It is noteworthy that at present the BJP does not have a majority in the committee. The YSRCP has already done a u-turn on its stand on CAA after supporting it in both houses. Other member os the committee are D Raja of the DMK, three members of the Congress Party, one from the Samajwadi Party, and one TRS MP (whose stand is not yet known).

Taking to Twitter about the lapsed deadline, former Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha said, “Did you know that the CAA rules have not been framed and notified despite a lapse of 7 months. The act cannot be implemented in the absence of rules.? Do you realise how the whole thing was just meant to fool the people and win elections?”

 

 

The controversial act has already led to multiple protests across the country for different reasons. While those in Delhi, Aligarh, Mumbai etc. focused on how by exclusively excluding Muslim refugees from its fold the act violates the Constitution, in Assam the act has added more fuel to the fire amidst a raging citizenship debate in light of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was updated and published in the state after a long process last August. Elections are due in Assam next year, where despite the Covid-19 outbreak and devastation caused by floods, citizenship remains such a touchy subject that five people from flood-hit villages were issued ‘foreigner’ notice and asked to appear before a Foreigners’ Tribunal to defend their citizenship.

 

Related:

100 days and counting, free Gulfisha Fatima: Activists

Gauhati HC grants Akhil Gogoi bail in three cases

Flood-victims sent notice to defend citizenship in Assam!

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HRDA India exposes UP Police’s tactics to muzzle voice of human rights defender Raja Bhaiyya

The HRD had allegedly worked with an Aaj Tak journalist to expose how women were being sexually exploited in the Karwi mines in UP

21 Jul 2020

Image Courtesy:navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) India has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the illegal detention, inhumane treatment, abuse, intimidation and threats to human rights defender Raja Bhaiyya by the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Chitrakoot, Ankit Mittal and the Circle Officer (CO) of Sadar police station and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Chitrakoot.

HRDA India said that Raja Bhaiyya had been accused of accompanying and being the source of an Aaj Tak journalist who was reporting about the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district.

Human Rights Defenders and journalists, especially in Uttar Pradesh have become routine targets of the administration in previous years. From anti-CAA protestors like Sadaf Jafar, ex-IAS officer SR Darapuri, Mohammed Shoaib and journalists like Siddharth Vardarajan and Prashant Kanojia among others, the UP administration has constantly aimed at muzzling any voice that exposes the social rot in the state with violence, threats and intimidation to life and property. Now, the illegal detention of Raja Bhaiyya is just another example to which the state authorities will go to stop HRDs from reporting heinous incidents of violence against women in the state. The crackdown on HRDs has significantly increased during the coronavirus lockdown and increasing evidence of the police moving away from required protocol for detention has also emerged during this phase.

Chain of events

On July 11, three days after Aaj Tak had telecast a show on the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls working in the Karwi mines at Chitrakoot, Raja Bhaiyya was picked up from his NGO Vidhyadham Samiti in Atarra by policemen who entered the office without permission. The policemen told Raja Bhaiyya that they were from the Bharatkoop police station and had come on orders of the Chitrakoot SP, who had summoned him.

Raja Bhaiyya was not given any reason, notice or warrant for being summoned and was reportedly forcefully placed in the car “like a criminal” and presented at Chitrakoot SP Ankit Mittal’s office. HRDA said that once he was there, he was asked questions which were aimed at establishing that he was the source of the story done by the journalist.

HRDA India wrote, “SP Mr. Mittal asked Mr. Raja Bhaiyya questions like, 'Who went with Mausami Singh? (Aaj Tak reporter who did the story). Why did he go to Dafai? Why did he come to Chitrakoot? Was he the source who told the journalist and took her to the area?' All questions were aimed at establishing his source of the news story done by the journalist on the exploitation of local women. Mr. Raja Bhaiyya replied that he knows Ms. Mausami Singh since the past 5 years and she came to the region for a story and accompanied her to the Bharatkoop area since he goes there frequently. However he was not aware of what story she was filing because she talked to the women in that area without his presence. SP Mr. Mittal intimidated and threatened HRD Mr. Raja Bhaiyya that he will file a case against him under the SC/ST Act and the POCSO Act and that he is a criminal.”

Raja Bhaiyya was then ordered to be put in a lockup. Fifteen minutes later, he was called back to the SP’s office, where the SP shouted at him and accused him of lying stating that his photo was in the video which proved that he had accompanied the journalist. Even though he clarified once again that he hadn’t accompanied the journalists while she was taking the interviews, he was threatened of physical torture (ulta latka doonga) and asked to be taken away by the policeman and torture him with “a hunter”.

HRDA India said that Raja Bhaiyya was treated like a criminal at the Sadar police station where without any seizure document, his wallet and mobile were taken away and he was put in a lockup with other detained persons. Not only this, the CO of Sadar also allegedly accused Raja Bhaiyya of having intimate physical relations with the journalist and threatened him that his wife would be informed about it. Raja Bhaiyya was verbally abused and humiliated by the CO and other policemen who refused to listen to his clarifications. He was not given any food, was not allowed to go to the toilet and not allowed to call anyone for help as well.

The next day on July 12, at around 3 AM, the station in-charge asked Raja Bhaiyya to write that ‘he knew journalist Ms. Mausami Singh and she came here to report on how government schemes are reaching people. He accompanied her to Dafai, Bharatkoop but he had no knowledge about the news story that she had filed. He too found out about her story only when he saw the TV,’ HRDA India said.

Mr. Raja Bhaiyya wrote as directed, as this was the only way he would be released and was threatened with cases under the SC/ST Act and POCSO. He was released from lockup only at around 2 PM on July 12, 2020 – more than 24 hours of illegal detention. After this, he was repeatedly approached by various local authorities for a statement in the matter of the Aaj Tak report. However, Raja Bhaiyya said that he would only respond to an official summon and soon he received a letter from the Chitrakoot SDM for an inquiry who too asked him the same questions and said that ‘his inhumane treatment and detention by the police was valid as he was a liar’.

Police action obstructs work of HRDs and journalists

Given the treatment of Raja Bhaiyya by the police, HRDA India said that the actions of the district administration and the police in this case were heinous, arbitrary and illegal. They especially showed that they were more interested in finding the source of the story instead of investigating the actual crime of the alleged sexual exploitation of women.

HRDA India also said that the illegality of the interrogation exposed the malignant intention of the police – to create obstructions in the work of HRDs and journalists and also raised a question of the freedom of speech of HRDs in the state. The police action, HRDA India said, was violative of Article 19 of the Constitution, NHRC guidelines and also of the DK Basu judgement as the illegal detention and interrogation hindered the work of the HRD and journalists and muzzled their right to free speech and expression.

Therefore, HRDA India has appealed the NHRC to –

1.       Direct an independent team (with members of the NGO core group, if possible) to investigate the matter since the SP and SDM of Chitrakoot were directly involved.

2.       Direct the DGP of Uttar Pradesh to submit urgently with the NHRC the CCTV footage of SP Chitrakoot office for July 11, 2020, and Sadar Police Station for July 11, 2020 and July 12, 2020.

3.       Direct the DGP of Uttar Pradesh to submit urgently with the NHRC the vehicle logs of Bharatkoop police station and Sadar police station for July 11, 2020 and July 12, 2020.

4.       Direct the DGP of Uttar Pradesh to take urgent action against Chitrakoot SP Mr. Ankit Mittal, Circle Officer Sadar Police station Mr. Rajneesh Kumar Yadav and immediately suspend them for their illegal actions and misuse of power.

5.       Direct the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to take urgent action against the Chitrakoot SDM for knowing about the illegal actions of the police on Mr. Raja Bhaiyya by the police, holding it valid and refraining from initiating any action.

6.       Preserve the life and liberty of Mr. Raja Bhaiyya by urgently ordering the police and administration of Chitrakoot to desist from threatening, harassing or torturing him further.

The complete statement by HRDA India may be read below.

Related:

Human Rights Defenders’ Alert India asks NHRC to step in to probe Meeran Haider’s arrest
Webinar on rise in Human Rights violations in UP during lockdown

HRDA India exposes UP Police’s tactics to muzzle voice of human rights defender Raja Bhaiyya

The HRD had allegedly worked with an Aaj Tak journalist to expose how women were being sexually exploited in the Karwi mines in UP

Image Courtesy:navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) India has written to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the illegal detention, inhumane treatment, abuse, intimidation and threats to human rights defender Raja Bhaiyya by the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Chitrakoot, Ankit Mittal and the Circle Officer (CO) of Sadar police station and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Chitrakoot.

HRDA India said that Raja Bhaiyya had been accused of accompanying and being the source of an Aaj Tak journalist who was reporting about the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district.

Human Rights Defenders and journalists, especially in Uttar Pradesh have become routine targets of the administration in previous years. From anti-CAA protestors like Sadaf Jafar, ex-IAS officer SR Darapuri, Mohammed Shoaib and journalists like Siddharth Vardarajan and Prashant Kanojia among others, the UP administration has constantly aimed at muzzling any voice that exposes the social rot in the state with violence, threats and intimidation to life and property. Now, the illegal detention of Raja Bhaiyya is just another example to which the state authorities will go to stop HRDs from reporting heinous incidents of violence against women in the state. The crackdown on HRDs has significantly increased during the coronavirus lockdown and increasing evidence of the police moving away from required protocol for detention has also emerged during this phase.

Chain of events

On July 11, three days after Aaj Tak had telecast a show on the alleged sexual exploitation of women and girls working in the Karwi mines at Chitrakoot, Raja Bhaiyya was picked up from his NGO Vidhyadham Samiti in Atarra by policemen who entered the office without permission. The policemen told Raja Bhaiyya that they were from the Bharatkoop police station and had come on orders of the Chitrakoot SP, who had summoned him.

Raja Bhaiyya was not given any reason, notice or warrant for being summoned and was reportedly forcefully placed in the car “like a criminal” and presented at Chitrakoot SP Ankit Mittal’s office. HRDA said that once he was there, he was asked questions which were aimed at establishing that he was the source of the story done by the journalist.

HRDA India wrote, “SP Mr. Mittal asked Mr. Raja Bhaiyya questions like, 'Who went with Mausami Singh? (Aaj Tak reporter who did the story). Why did he go to Dafai? Why did he come to Chitrakoot? Was he the source who told the journalist and took her to the area?' All questions were aimed at establishing his source of the news story done by the journalist on the exploitation of local women. Mr. Raja Bhaiyya replied that he knows Ms. Mausami Singh since the past 5 years and she came to the region for a story and accompanied her to the Bharatkoop area since he goes there frequently. However he was not aware of what story she was filing because she talked to the women in that area without his presence. SP Mr. Mittal intimidated and threatened HRD Mr. Raja Bhaiyya that he will file a case against him under the SC/ST Act and the POCSO Act and that he is a criminal.”

Raja Bhaiyya was then ordered to be put in a lockup. Fifteen minutes later, he was called back to the SP’s office, where the SP shouted at him and accused him of lying stating that his photo was in the video which proved that he had accompanied the journalist. Even though he clarified once again that he hadn’t accompanied the journalists while she was taking the interviews, he was threatened of physical torture (ulta latka doonga) and asked to be taken away by the policeman and torture him with “a hunter”.

HRDA India said that Raja Bhaiyya was treated like a criminal at the Sadar police station where without any seizure document, his wallet and mobile were taken away and he was put in a lockup with other detained persons. Not only this, the CO of Sadar also allegedly accused Raja Bhaiyya of having intimate physical relations with the journalist and threatened him that his wife would be informed about it. Raja Bhaiyya was verbally abused and humiliated by the CO and other policemen who refused to listen to his clarifications. He was not given any food, was not allowed to go to the toilet and not allowed to call anyone for help as well.

The next day on July 12, at around 3 AM, the station in-charge asked Raja Bhaiyya to write that ‘he knew journalist Ms. Mausami Singh and she came here to report on how government schemes are reaching people. He accompanied her to Dafai, Bharatkoop but he had no knowledge about the news story that she had filed. He too found out about her story only when he saw the TV,’ HRDA India said.

Mr. Raja Bhaiyya wrote as directed, as this was the only way he would be released and was threatened with cases under the SC/ST Act and POCSO. He was released from lockup only at around 2 PM on July 12, 2020 – more than 24 hours of illegal detention. After this, he was repeatedly approached by various local authorities for a statement in the matter of the Aaj Tak report. However, Raja Bhaiyya said that he would only respond to an official summon and soon he received a letter from the Chitrakoot SDM for an inquiry who too asked him the same questions and said that ‘his inhumane treatment and detention by the police was valid as he was a liar’.

Police action obstructs work of HRDs and journalists

Given the treatment of Raja Bhaiyya by the police, HRDA India said that the actions of the district administration and the police in this case were heinous, arbitrary and illegal. They especially showed that they were more interested in finding the source of the story instead of investigating the actual crime of the alleged sexual exploitation of women.

HRDA India also said that the illegality of the interrogation exposed the malignant intention of the police – to create obstructions in the work of HRDs and journalists and also raised a question of the freedom of speech of HRDs in the state. The police action, HRDA India said, was violative of Article 19 of the Constitution, NHRC guidelines and also of the DK Basu judgement as the illegal detention and interrogation hindered the work of the HRD and journalists and muzzled their right to free speech and expression.

Therefore, HRDA India has appealed the NHRC to –

1.       Direct an independent team (with members of the NGO core group, if possible) to investigate the matter since the SP and SDM of Chitrakoot were directly involved.

2.       Direct the DGP of Uttar Pradesh to submit urgently with the NHRC the CCTV footage of SP Chitrakoot office for July 11, 2020, and Sadar Police Station for July 11, 2020 and July 12, 2020.

3.       Direct the DGP of Uttar Pradesh to submit urgently with the NHRC the vehicle logs of Bharatkoop police station and Sadar police station for July 11, 2020 and July 12, 2020.

4.       Direct the DGP of Uttar Pradesh to take urgent action against Chitrakoot SP Mr. Ankit Mittal, Circle Officer Sadar Police station Mr. Rajneesh Kumar Yadav and immediately suspend them for their illegal actions and misuse of power.

5.       Direct the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh to take urgent action against the Chitrakoot SDM for knowing about the illegal actions of the police on Mr. Raja Bhaiyya by the police, holding it valid and refraining from initiating any action.

6.       Preserve the life and liberty of Mr. Raja Bhaiyya by urgently ordering the police and administration of Chitrakoot to desist from threatening, harassing or torturing him further.

The complete statement by HRDA India may be read below.

Related:

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Stunned, speechless and ashamed: Lalita Ramdas reacts to NIA comments on Varavara Rao

NIA told Bombay High Court that Rao is trying to take undue advantage of Covid-19 and his old age to seek bail

21 Jul 2020

Varavara Roa

Activist and writer Lalita Ramdas has slammed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for suggesting that the nearly 80-year-old poet Varavara Rao who is now battling to survive Covid-19, and many other health issues, “is trying to take undue benefit of the pandemic and his old age and seeking bail.” The NIA made these shocking remarks in its submission before the Bombay High Court on Monday.

Reacting to this despicable accusation, Ramdas took to social media saying, “Stunned. Speechless. And Ashamed that this is happening in our greatest, largest, democracy?” She wondered how we have “ become so callous, so utterly lacking in compassion and humanity.” Ramdas has brought out a point many are missing as they follow the official apathy towards the ailing veteran poet today. She reminds everyone that “every regime has been complicit,” in this. This fact is seen in the “paralysis among all the political parties. But the brute majority in Parliament, seized by muscle and money power, has resulted in the exercise of brazenness and impunity, unparalleled in living memory…” 

Reflecting on the deeds of a heartless and vindictive regime, Lalita Ramdas shared these powerful words: 

“Dear citizens, read, share, and think about the implications of what is happening under our distracted and unseeing gaze. 

Raise your voices, write, speak, protest, stand up and say No more. 

OK, even if someone had been a member of a "banned" outfit ... Does that person still not deserve due process of law, compassion, dignity and adherence to basic tenets of human rights accorded to all prisoners? 

We are living in a totalitarian, dictatorial regime, masquerading as a democracy. And the words of the German Pastor Niemoller, come to mind repeatedly:

First they came for the Jews, and I was silent, for I was not a Jew;

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I was silent........

Then they came for the communists, and I was silent.....

And so on, pick your groups and categories,

Muslims, Dalits, Maoists, Dissenters, Anti CAA protesters, Adivasis, Migrants, Trade Unionists, Farmers, Feminists, Resisters and Protestors ..............and I was silent....I was none of those categories

And then they came for me........ 

There was no one left to speak up for me....” 


The Hindu reported that the NIA told the Bombay High Court that “the bail application, if any, is to be decided on the facts and circumstances of each case and perusal of the incriminating material against the person,” adding that “accused P Varavara Rao, 81 under the garb of the current situation on the account of global pandemic of Covid-19 and his old age is trying to take undue benefit of the situation in seeking bail.”

According to the news report the NIA had filed an affidavit on Monday stating, “Mr Rao and other accused in the case (Bhima Koregaon) have been charged with various offences under chapter IV (punishment for terrorist activities) and V (forfeiture of proceeds of terrorism or any property intended to be used for terrorism) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) as well as Indian Penal Code wherein the prescribed punishment is more than seven years and may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore even though the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra High Powered committee permits an under-trial prisoner above 60 years of age merely to apply for an interim bail [and not to be granted bail mechanically]. As it is purely the discretion of the court adjudication the bail application as such the court ought to have exercised its discretion.”

Varavara Rao’s nephew, N Venugopal, who has been keeping everyone up to date with all the information he has managed to gather even as the family is denying access to the seriously ill poet shared their anguish yet again,  “Are these people human beings? Is this rule of law? An eighty-year old prisoner has been languishing in jails for the last two years. The great courts rejected his bail application four times. At last his health deteriorates and he is brought to hospital in a fatal condition. At the same time a lethal infectious pandemic engulfs the country and turns everything upside down. The court is requested to grant him bail in the obtaining situation of the prisoner’s age, ill-health and the risk of infection. The agency that is investigating his case argues that he is taking “undue advantage” of his age, ill-health and pandemic and hence he should not be granted bail.”

The Hindu reported that this 170-page affidavit was filed by Vikram Khalate, Superintendent of Police, NIA, Mumbai. It added that any bail application, “is to be decided on the facts and circumstances of each case and perusal of the incriminating material against the person. Considering the charges and totality of facts including the fact that adequate evidence has been placed on record to prove the complicity of the accused Mr Rao.” It added, “It is very clear in the findings recorded that the prison authorities responded timely and provided necessary medical aid to him. He was admitted at JJ Hospital for the complaint of giddiness on May 28, 2020 and after medical treatment he was discharged on June 1, 2020 as he was found asymptomatic and haemodynamically stable.”

The news report added the NIA conclusions stating, “Cogent evidence has come on record that Mr Rao is a senior member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist)  and is not only involved in planning and preparing violence but was in the process of creating large scale violence, destruction of property resulting into chaos in the society and thereby destablising the government established by law to fulfil the objectives of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) a ban organisation which is listed in the First Schedule of the UAPA.”

Interestingly, even though Rao is suffering from Covid-19, the affidavit, as reported by The Hindu states, “The report submitted by the Superintendent of JJ Hospital does not suggest that he is suffering from any such ailment which necessitates him to immediately obtain treatment in multispecialty hospital from specific doctor. ‘Thus it is clear that the pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner (Mr Rao) is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief which is not available to him otherwise on the merits of the case.’”

According to Venugopal, it must be remembered that, “A prisoner by definition is one who is in judicial custody. A Court has all the powers to decide anything about a prisoner. Nobody else has any right to intrude. The investigating agency’s role ends at making allegations against the prisoner and gathering evidence to be placed before the court. Prisoners are not under the purview of the investigating agency. But it seems those sitting on the high pedestals of the courts do not have this simple legal knowledge. They do not seem to know their powers. They seem to be spineless. Now the question to be asked by all those who are concerned with democracy and rule of law, is whether the judges know jurisprudence, law and natural principles of justice.”

As Rao’s health further deteriorated, his family had approached the court to “at least allow them to see him and provide assistance”.  But as Venugopal says, “The honourable learned court asks the investigating agency whether the family could be allowed to see his family. In this process days and weeks roll on.  If you think you are a human being, the question you need to ask is whether these men making these arguments, decisions and procrastination, are really human beings.” 


Related:

Varavara Rao’ family demands official, and regular health updates

Only political vendetta can explain Varavara Rao's incarceration

NHRC demands report on Varavara Rao's health, jail condition

Does India uphold Prisoners’ Right to Health?

 

 

Stunned, speechless and ashamed: Lalita Ramdas reacts to NIA comments on Varavara Rao

NIA told Bombay High Court that Rao is trying to take undue advantage of Covid-19 and his old age to seek bail

Varavara Roa

Activist and writer Lalita Ramdas has slammed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for suggesting that the nearly 80-year-old poet Varavara Rao who is now battling to survive Covid-19, and many other health issues, “is trying to take undue benefit of the pandemic and his old age and seeking bail.” The NIA made these shocking remarks in its submission before the Bombay High Court on Monday.

Reacting to this despicable accusation, Ramdas took to social media saying, “Stunned. Speechless. And Ashamed that this is happening in our greatest, largest, democracy?” She wondered how we have “ become so callous, so utterly lacking in compassion and humanity.” Ramdas has brought out a point many are missing as they follow the official apathy towards the ailing veteran poet today. She reminds everyone that “every regime has been complicit,” in this. This fact is seen in the “paralysis among all the political parties. But the brute majority in Parliament, seized by muscle and money power, has resulted in the exercise of brazenness and impunity, unparalleled in living memory…” 

Reflecting on the deeds of a heartless and vindictive regime, Lalita Ramdas shared these powerful words: 

“Dear citizens, read, share, and think about the implications of what is happening under our distracted and unseeing gaze. 

Raise your voices, write, speak, protest, stand up and say No more. 

OK, even if someone had been a member of a "banned" outfit ... Does that person still not deserve due process of law, compassion, dignity and adherence to basic tenets of human rights accorded to all prisoners? 

We are living in a totalitarian, dictatorial regime, masquerading as a democracy. And the words of the German Pastor Niemoller, come to mind repeatedly:

First they came for the Jews, and I was silent, for I was not a Jew;

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I was silent........

Then they came for the communists, and I was silent.....

And so on, pick your groups and categories,

Muslims, Dalits, Maoists, Dissenters, Anti CAA protesters, Adivasis, Migrants, Trade Unionists, Farmers, Feminists, Resisters and Protestors ..............and I was silent....I was none of those categories

And then they came for me........ 

There was no one left to speak up for me....” 


The Hindu reported that the NIA told the Bombay High Court that “the bail application, if any, is to be decided on the facts and circumstances of each case and perusal of the incriminating material against the person,” adding that “accused P Varavara Rao, 81 under the garb of the current situation on the account of global pandemic of Covid-19 and his old age is trying to take undue benefit of the situation in seeking bail.”

According to the news report the NIA had filed an affidavit on Monday stating, “Mr Rao and other accused in the case (Bhima Koregaon) have been charged with various offences under chapter IV (punishment for terrorist activities) and V (forfeiture of proceeds of terrorism or any property intended to be used for terrorism) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) as well as Indian Penal Code wherein the prescribed punishment is more than seven years and may extend to imprisonment for life. Therefore even though the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra High Powered committee permits an under-trial prisoner above 60 years of age merely to apply for an interim bail [and not to be granted bail mechanically]. As it is purely the discretion of the court adjudication the bail application as such the court ought to have exercised its discretion.”

Varavara Rao’s nephew, N Venugopal, who has been keeping everyone up to date with all the information he has managed to gather even as the family is denying access to the seriously ill poet shared their anguish yet again,  “Are these people human beings? Is this rule of law? An eighty-year old prisoner has been languishing in jails for the last two years. The great courts rejected his bail application four times. At last his health deteriorates and he is brought to hospital in a fatal condition. At the same time a lethal infectious pandemic engulfs the country and turns everything upside down. The court is requested to grant him bail in the obtaining situation of the prisoner’s age, ill-health and the risk of infection. The agency that is investigating his case argues that he is taking “undue advantage” of his age, ill-health and pandemic and hence he should not be granted bail.”

The Hindu reported that this 170-page affidavit was filed by Vikram Khalate, Superintendent of Police, NIA, Mumbai. It added that any bail application, “is to be decided on the facts and circumstances of each case and perusal of the incriminating material against the person. Considering the charges and totality of facts including the fact that adequate evidence has been placed on record to prove the complicity of the accused Mr Rao.” It added, “It is very clear in the findings recorded that the prison authorities responded timely and provided necessary medical aid to him. He was admitted at JJ Hospital for the complaint of giddiness on May 28, 2020 and after medical treatment he was discharged on June 1, 2020 as he was found asymptomatic and haemodynamically stable.”

The news report added the NIA conclusions stating, “Cogent evidence has come on record that Mr Rao is a senior member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist)  and is not only involved in planning and preparing violence but was in the process of creating large scale violence, destruction of property resulting into chaos in the society and thereby destablising the government established by law to fulfil the objectives of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) a ban organisation which is listed in the First Schedule of the UAPA.”

Interestingly, even though Rao is suffering from Covid-19, the affidavit, as reported by The Hindu states, “The report submitted by the Superintendent of JJ Hospital does not suggest that he is suffering from any such ailment which necessitates him to immediately obtain treatment in multispecialty hospital from specific doctor. ‘Thus it is clear that the pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner (Mr Rao) is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief which is not available to him otherwise on the merits of the case.’”

According to Venugopal, it must be remembered that, “A prisoner by definition is one who is in judicial custody. A Court has all the powers to decide anything about a prisoner. Nobody else has any right to intrude. The investigating agency’s role ends at making allegations against the prisoner and gathering evidence to be placed before the court. Prisoners are not under the purview of the investigating agency. But it seems those sitting on the high pedestals of the courts do not have this simple legal knowledge. They do not seem to know their powers. They seem to be spineless. Now the question to be asked by all those who are concerned with democracy and rule of law, is whether the judges know jurisprudence, law and natural principles of justice.”

As Rao’s health further deteriorated, his family had approached the court to “at least allow them to see him and provide assistance”.  But as Venugopal says, “The honourable learned court asks the investigating agency whether the family could be allowed to see his family. In this process days and weeks roll on.  If you think you are a human being, the question you need to ask is whether these men making these arguments, decisions and procrastination, are really human beings.” 


Related:

Varavara Rao’ family demands official, and regular health updates

Only political vendetta can explain Varavara Rao's incarceration

NHRC demands report on Varavara Rao's health, jail condition

Does India uphold Prisoners’ Right to Health?

 

 

Related Articles


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