Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

Midnight masses

Christians have traditionally had midnight masses for Christmas, New Year and Easter. Some years back the Supreme Court of India banned use of loudspeakers in open spaces between 10.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. The Central Government passed a law permitting such use on 15 days in a year to be decided by State Governments. When the Supreme Court judgment came many churches held those masses at 8.30 p.m. of the previous day. Christians should fight for their right for midnight masses. Those 15 days can be increased to 18 days. Or midnight masses can be held within churches with use of loudspeakers.

Ministers without portfolios

Natwar Singh is minister without portfolio. Manmohan Singh holds External Affairs Portfolio. Previously too there were ministers without portfolios at certain times. Mamata Banerjee was minister without portfolio for some time. Dinesh Singh and Jaffer Sharief were ministers without portfolios when they did not resign. At the time of Nehru there were some ministers without portfolios.

It is meaningless to have ministers without portfolios. They do not do any work as ministers and are entitled to benefits due to ministers. Most of the times they are made ministers or allowed to continue as ministers due to political compulsions. This has to stop. Taxpayers’ money should not be wasted on them.

Extradition conditions

Abu Salem is in India extradited by Portugal on conditions that he would not be given death penalty and imprisonment would not be more than 25 years. TADA court judge told CBI that there could not be conditional appearance before court. It is the government of India that gave the undertaking accepting the conditions.

India should not have agreed to those conditions. TADA court is not bound by the undertaking. Abu Salem if found guilty will be sentenced as the court deems suitable. If the court sentences him to death or life imprisonment the government is likely to exercise power of president to pardon and commute sentences. When Abu Salem’s trial will begin and when final judgment will be delivered cannot be said at this time.

What happens to other accused in similar cases? They do not have the advantage of extradition conditions. India should not give any undertaking to other countries about punishment to criminals. They must be made to extraidite without conditions.

However the record of punishing people brought under extradition treaties does not inspire confidence. Most of them have been acquitted.

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