Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Right to eat meat

Right to eat meat is a natural right. It is implicit in the Fundamental Rights of life and liberty, religion, profession and equality. It is not right to demand and enforce ban on meat.
There is no compulsion to eat meat. There are vegetarians of different types who want to impose their views on others. Sometimes it is for religious reasons which amounts to imposing one’s religious practice on others.
India is a multi-religious country. When people of one religion demand that they should be respected and others should abstain from meat it leads to anger, resentment and hostility.
Beef, chicken, mutton and pork are eaten in many parts of the world. In India in some states beef is banned. After beef ban in Maharashtra prices of chicken, mutton and pork went up.
Sometimes people have gone to court against meat bans. When judges were vegetarians they did not succeed.
There are people who generally eat meat during the year but abstain during a season or on particular days. Different religions have different days of abstinence.
Some abstain from meat, fish and eggs. Jains abstain from meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, potatoes, ginger, carrot, other root vegetables and honey. Jains wanting to have meat ban for eight days during Paryushan this year led to hostile reaction. BJP was in favour of ban. Shiv Sena, MNS, Congress, NCP and MIM opposed ban. For once, Shiv Sena and MIM were on the same side. One member of Shiv Sena said it is violence in the name of non-violence. Another member of Shiv Sena said it is religious terrorism. Shiv Sena’s newspaper editorial warned Jains their wealth can turn to ash within minutes. BJP was accused of minority appeasement.
For Buddhists killing of animals is forbidden, eating meat is not forbidden.
For Jews and Muslims pork is forbidden.
For Christians laws differ according to the Church. Canon Law for Latin Rite forbids eating meat on Fridays but empowers Bishops’ Conferences to prescribe other measures. In place of abstinence other forms of penance or works of charity can be substituted. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of abstinence. Many Christians abstain from meat on Fridays and during Lent.
Vegans abstain from meat, fish, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, cream, yoghurt, ghee, and whey.
A day of fast for one can be a day of feast for another. It is not possible to please everyone and no effort should be made to please anyone and ban meat. Life will be impossible if everything someone or the other does not like is banned.
There should be no ban on sale or eating of meat on any day. Abattoirs should not be closed to please someone’s religious sentiments. Ban on beef should be lifted. For some meat ban means loss of work and income.

One Rank One Pension

On 5/9/2015 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced government’s version of One Rank One Pension (OROP) which failed to satisfy many ex-servicemen. The issue started in 1973 and the last word is not said.
In 2014 during Lok Sabha elections BJP had promised OROP within 100 days of coming to power. Ex-servicemen had faith in Narendra Modi and they voted for him. It took 15 months and 10 days to partially fulfil the promise.
Congress held a press conference. A. K. Antony, Kapil Sibal, and Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed journalists. Congress claimed credit for OROP because they had accepted it in principle in February 2014 and allotted 500 crore rupees in interim budget. It blamed BJP for dilution of OROP. Minster of State for External Affairs and former General Vijay Kumar Singh said those who did nothing for 42 years have no right to talk. Poor fellow was unaware that out of these 42 years Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister for six years (1998-2004), Janata Party was in power in 1977-79 and BJP had supported Vishwanath Pratap Singh government in 1989-90. Congress had supported Charan Singh in 1979, Chandra Shekhar government in 1990-91 and Deve Gowda and I. K. Gujral governments in 1996-97.
Vijay Kumar Singh can be excused for his ignorance. Not Narendra Modi. He said something similar on 6/9/2015.
What BJP has agreed to implement is One Rank Many Pensions. The average of maximum and minimum pension will be given to those who get less than average pension. Those who get more than average pension will retain their pension.
BJP had promised OROP with effect from 1/4/2014 in Parliament. Now it is with effect from 1/7/2014. The excuse is BJP came to power on 26/5/2014. But BJP had made that promise after they came to power. Veterans were not happy with it but they accepted it.
Revision of pension is every five years. Veterans wanted revision every year or at least every two years.
Government has announced one-member judicial commission on OROP for a period of six months. Veterans want five-member commission with three veterans as members for a period of one month. Government says calculations take a long time. Veterans say there is a computer programme that can calculate in 15 minutes.
Government said those who took VRS will not get OROP. Veterans said there is no VRS in armed forces, they have premature retirement. Government accepted that contention.
Congress claiming credit for OROP is laughable. For long they opposed OROP. In 2009 they had said there were administrative, technical and financial difficulties in implementing OROP. When elections drew near in 2014 they agreed for OROP to get votes of veterans. It was too late and was of no use.
Political reactions have been predictable. Those who are on BJP side have said it is a great achievement. Those who are on the opposite side have found faults with it.
Veterans have given up fast unto death and are continuing their agitation at Jantar Mantar with chain hunger strike.
One argument against OROP has been it will cost huge money and government cannot afford it. This argument is not valid. Central government is never short of money. Whenever it wants money it prints notes. Narendra Modi announced Bihar package of more than 2 lakh crore rupees. Public sector banks have lost lakhs of crores of rupees due to corporate debt restructuring. In the name of recapitalisation, government has printed notes and given to banks. Property of defaulters is not confiscated. Money is lost in NREGA and various schemes. Nothing is done to stop them.
Veterans waited for OROP. In March 2014 Defence Ministry finished its calculations and sent to Finance Ministry. According to veterans it was close to 8,300 crore rupees. Things got stuck up at Finance Ministry. Veterans waited for a year. They expected Narendra Modi to announce OROP at Mathura on 25/5/2015. That did not happen. Veterans lost patience. They began their agitation at Jantar Mantar. There was no effect. On 14/8/2015 NDMC officials and policepersons tried to remove veterans forcibly which created outrage. Modi did not announce OROP during his Independence Day speech at Red Fort on 15/8/2015. On 16/8/2015 two veterans began fast unto death and later some more veterans joined them. Veterans did not get appointment to meet Prime Minister. Veterans were angry. They threatened to intensify their agitation and spread it across the country and campaign against BJP in Bihar elections. Commemoration of 1965 War became a casualty.
Satbir Singh was on many TV channels giving the view of veterans. V. K. Gandhi and Amit Kaul were sometimes on TV.
MPs get pension irrespective of the time one was an MP. They get their salaries and allowances even when they disrupt Parliament and no work takes place. They have the power to increase their salaries, allowances, perks and privileges as they like. The bills get passed quickly without disruption and with unanimity. There is Parliament canteen subsidy. Bureaucrats get OROP.
BJP broke many promises. Prominent among them is to make public names of black money holders in foreign accounts and bring back black money from foreign countries and put 15 lakh rupees in account of every Indian within 100 days. Promises to make Henderson-Brookes Report and Subhash Chandra Bose files public were broken. If veterans had not started their agitation and resorted to fast unto death the promise of OROP which is fulfilled partially would have been broken.

Uphaar case

The judgment of the Supreme Court in Uphaar case on 19/8/2015 has left many people shattered and also raised questions about judges making their own laws or amending laws according to their whims and fancies. Instead of sending guilty persons to jail as per law for causing death by negligence of 59 persons, the judges ordered payment of 60 crore rupees to Delhi government when there is no provision for payment of money to anyone, that too a third party.
Neelam Krishnamoorthy (Krishnamurthy?) who lost her daughter Unnati and son Ujjwal has been the face of fight for justice for Uphaar theatre victims. She said “18 years ago I lost faith in God and today I lost faith in the judiciary. I am disappointed and disgusted. Money power augurs so well with the institutions that the death of 59 persons becomes a mere statistic.” On India Today channel to Rajdeep Sardesai she said “I should have taken a gun and shot dead the Ansals. I could have pleaded insanity. I would have come out after 14 years.” She blamed the judges for allowing Ram Jethmalani, lawyer of Ansals, to go on speaking, and for not giving time to Harish Salve, CBI lawyer, and KTS Tulsi, Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) lawyer, to speak.
On 13/6/1997 a transformer burst in Uphaar theatre resulting in 59 deaths and injuries to over 100 people. There were irregularities in theatre construction and maintenance and owners and municipal officials were responsible for deaths and injuries. CBI took over the case on 24/7/1997 and filed chargesheet on 15/11/2015 against theatre owners Gopal Ansal and Sushil Ansal and 14 others. Prosecution began in March 1999. In February 2001 sessions court framed charges under IPC sections 304 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, 304A for causing death due to negligence, and violation of Cinematograph Act. On 20/11/2007 sessions court Mamta Sehgal sentenced Ansals to two years imprisonment though she said it was not sufficient punishment in this case. On 4/1/2008 Delhi High Court granted bail to Ansals. On 11/9/2008 Supreme Court cancelled bail. Ansals went to jail. In December 2008 Delhi High Court reduced the sentence to one year. Ansals were out on bail. CBI and Avut appealed to Supreme Court for enhancement of sentence. On 5/3/2014 came split verdict of Supreme Court. Justice T. S. Thakur said the punishment should be one year each. Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said it should be two years each but instead of second year of jail Ansals should pay 100 crore rupees. Sushil Ansal need not complete one year due to his advanced age. The matter went to three-judge bench.
The bench consisted of Anil Dave, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh K. Goel. Anil Dave and Kurian Joseph hand formed a two-judge bench in Yakub Memon case and had disagreed on almost everything and the case had gone to a three-judge bench. It is strange that they were in agreement in Uphaar case. Anil Dave had said a judge fails in rajdharma if he gives less punishment for a crime.
Ansals dragged on the case by getting repeated adjournments and then pleaded leniency due to prolonged trial. That is like the young man who shot dead his parents and asked the judge to show him mercy because he was an orphan.
Many people have lost faith in the judiciary over the years. Some said so when Jayalalitha was acquitted in a disproportionate assets case by a Karnataka High Court judge.
The law needs to be changed regarding punishment to be awarded. There should be no discretion to judges. The quantum should be same and proportionate to the number of people affected. It should not be up to two years but two years so judges do not give less punishment. In case of death of 59 people the punishment should be 118 years. In case of death of 15,000 people as in Bhopal gas leak case the punishment should be 30,000 years.
On 20/8/2015 Harish Salve pleaded for more time from the Supreme Court. He said “The CBI was not given enough time. There were certain aspects that we could not argue. Give us some more time. 30 minutes or even 15 minutes. I have been doing this case pro-bono since 2000. Please grant us 15 minutes between 3.45 and 4 p.m. today. If the court is not convinced, then throw us out.” The judges did not agree and suggested he file review petition.
Neelam Krishnamoorthy and some others met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and asked him not to accept 60 crore rupees from Ansals. She said “If the Delhi government has any respect for a human life it should refuse to accept the Rs 60 crore that Ansals need to pay as fine. They should send it back to the judiciary and let them decide what they want to do with it.”

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