Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Jury system

Zaccharias Moussavi trial shows how one juror can make the system ineffective. The juror opposed death penalty and did not assign any reason. Hence Zaccharias Moussavi was sentenced to life.

There is one film in which Demi Moore acts the role of a juror. A criminal is on trial. William Baldwin acts the role of an associate of the criminal. William Baldwin befriends Demi Moore and later threatens her in taking the side of the criminal. Demi Moore wants to opt out of the jury. She approached the judge. The judge tells her he had warned her and whatever she has to say has to be in the presence of defence and prosecution lawyers. Demi Moore is not ready for that. She follows instructions of Alec Baldwin. She is asked to carry a devise which enables William Baldwin to hear jury deliberations. Demi Moore convinces most of her colleagues that the criminal is innocent and the criminal is acquitted.

Zaccharias Moussavi case also may have suffered due to the juror who was threatened.

Rodney King episode shocked USA and led to riots. Blacks could not believe that the found the policemen who hit Rodney King not guilty. Later some blacks who hit a white man in a similar manner were aquitted by jury.

It is good to discard jury system. If USA, UK and other countries want to continue with the jury system the rules must change.

The jury decision should be by majority. It need not be by unanimity even if the punishment is death penalty. If the jury can not decide, the judge should decide.

The jurors should be free to decide as per law. They should not be restricted. In Rodney King case the jurors were asked to identify which act of the police was excessive force. Breaking down the act into 56 parts and asking which part was excessive force was wrong.

To be a juror for several days the person has to be rich or self-employed or unemployed or must take leave from job. One who has to attend to his business or work regularly can not be a juror.

In one case, murder of child of Eappen couple, jury reached the decision that Louise Brown was guilty of second degree murder. BBC threw objectivity to the wind and sided with Louise Brown stating she could not have committed the murder. They did not know how difficult it is to control a crying baby. Judge overruled jury and Louise Brown was allowed to walk free.

Assumptions of titles

For a long time monarchy was universal. Over the last 250 years many countries have abolished monarchy and the titles of monarchs are not used.

This year Pope Benedict XVI gave up the title of Patriarch of the West. Annuario Pontificio 2006 did not mention it. I had written to the Pope to assume it again but the Pope has not done so.

I assume the following titles:

1) King of Konkan
2) Patriarch of the West
3) Czar of Russia. Russia includes territories under Czars.
4) Kaiser of Germany.
5) Emperor of India, China, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Mexico and Austria. India includes territories that were part of Mauryan and Mughal Empires, British India and princely states.
6) High King of Ireland
7) King of Portugal, Italy, Iceland, Poland, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lybia, Brazil and other countries. Other countries include all countries without monarchy. If a country has monarchy now and it is abolished in future the title of King of that country will be added to the list.

Minority status

Jains are a minority. Recognising them as a minority by the Government of India is right. In India Hindus are a majority. Jains are not Hindus. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis are recognized as minorities. Jains, Jews, Bahais and others who are not Hindus and are not recognized as minorities should be recognized as minorities.

Status of a community as majority or minority has nothing to do with citizenship.

The right to establish and administer educational institutions is given to religious and linguistic minorities.

Minorities are counted statewise. In six states Hindus are a minority.

Hindus who do not speak the majority language of a state are entitled to this right in that state.

Ramakrishna Mission claimed to a minority and won the case in High Court. It is not easy for any community which is considered to be Hindu to claim and prove that it is not Hindu and hence a minority. If they succeed they are on solid ground.

If all are able to establish and administer educational institutions there will not be clamour for minority status. Ramakrishna Mission was supposed to be Hindu Missionary Movement. For the benefit of establishing and administering educational institutions as per their choice they opted for minority status. Now with reservations in private educational institutions many may opt for minority status.

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