Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Accidental Prime Minister

Sanjaya Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister is in news. Congress members have denounced it. BJP members have welcomed it. Journalists have differing opinions, depending on their equations with Sanjaya Baru. Sanjaya Baru appeared on some TV channels and defended his book. Karan Thapar interviewed him on Headlines Today. Till some days back Karan Thapar was on CNN-IBN with his programmes The Last Word and Devil’s Advocate. Sanjaya Baru claimed his book is mostly favourable to Manmohan Singh. Hostile reaction by Congress members gave the book more publicity. Prabhu Chawla said he had used the expression accidental prime minister on the cover of India Today some years back and Sanjaya Baru had protested as others are protesting against Sanjaya Baru’s book now.
Sonia Gandhi being super prime minister and NAC being super cabinet is not news. Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of NAC had cabinet minister rank and was entitled to access to files.
When there were floods or other calamities Sonia Gandhi went to the places accompanied by cabinet ministers. Representatives of foreign countries met her.
Sanjaya Baru said Manmohan Singh was accidental prime minister in 2004. In 2009 Congress fought elections under his leadership and he was prime minister in his own right and was not accidental prime minister. In 2004 Congress got 145 seats. In 2009 Congress got 206 seats. The extra 61 seats were due to Manmohan Singh. He did not get the credit. It went to Rahul Gandhi. When something good happened the credit went to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. When something bad happened the blame went to Manmohan Singh.
When Manmohan Singh became prime minister many expected him to carry on economic reforms which he did when he was finance minister. That did not happen. Many blamed Left Front for that. When Congress won in 2009 many were happy. However their hopes were dashed. Some knew Left Front was an excuse; many in Congress did not want reforms. Manmohan Singh lost credit for reforms in 1991-1996 and people said P. V. Narasimha Rao was responsible for reforms. In fact the reforms came about because of IMF conditions. India had taken loan from IMF and it had to agree to the conditions which led the reforms. There was one cartoon. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh were carrying sacks on their backs. Their arms were twisted. Narasimha Rao says to Manmohan Singh if anyone asks who twisted our arms we will say nobody twisted our arms, we twisted them ourselves.
Manmohan Singh’s second term as prime minister was marred with controversies over Commonwealth Games, 2G, coal block allocation and so on. His reputation suffered. When Pawan Kumar Bansal had to quit following his nephew’s involvement in bribes for railway appointments, some asked how much Manmohan Singh was getting. Congress core group and cabinet had decided on an ordinance to save convicted MPs from disqualification. It was mainly for Laloo Prasad Yadav. There was criticism in the media. President did not sign it. Many Congress ministers had defended it. Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora spoke against it. That was a sign that they had the backing of Rahul Gandhi. Manmohan Singh was in USA. Rahul Gandhi appeared in a press conference and said that ordinance should be torn up and thrown out. It was public humiliation for Manmohan Singh. Rahul Gandhi projected himself as crusader against corruption and criminals and Manmohan Singh appeared to be defender of corruption and criminals.
Manmohan Singh has himself to blame. He did not assert when he should have. He should have reprimanded or sacked ministers who defied him. Otherwise he should have quit. He continued as prime minister. He gave the impression that he was ready to swallow insults to continue as prime minister. He cuts a sorry figure.

Sack Ujjwal Uke

Maharashtra government should sack principal secretary of Women and Child Development Department Ujjwal Uke for his comments against judgment in Shakti Mills gang rape case in which three repeat rapists got death sentence under IPC 376E. The post of principal secretary of Women and Child Development Department should have been held by a woman. A government employee has no liberty to go against government and when he does he should be sacked immediately. Ujjwal Uke has posted his comments on web sites. He has asked “What is this concept of justice? An eye for an eye. Does the quantum of punishment really act as an effective deterrent? What are the victims feeling? Do they feel justice is done or will they be carrying another load on their heads?”
An eye for an eye is proportionate punishment. If it is not effective deterrent we can make it two or more eyes for an eye. In case of repeat rape it means castration and death on the same day. Victims are feeling fine. They want repeat rapists to be hanged. They are waiting for all appeals to be over and president to reject mercy petitions and after that within 14 days hanging of repeat rapists. They feel justice is done by Bombay City Civil Sessions Court Principal Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi by her landmark judgment that sentenced Vijay Jadhav (18), Mohammad Qasim Shaikh (20) Salim Ansari (27) to death and other judges have to do justice.
Ujjwal Uke says “As per the chargesheet, Tarun Tejpal committed rape twice. If there are separate convictions for November 7 episode and the November 8 episode, he too will be liable for the death penalty.”
No tears need to be shed for Tarun Tejpal. What Ujjwal Uke calls episodes are legally rapes which are crimes. If Tarn Tejpal hangs for repeat rapes so be it.
A dead man cannot commit another rape or murder. There was a man who was acquitted in an attempted murder case. He met 22 women at different times. He lied about his identity. He married them. He had sex with them. Next morning he gave them cyanide pills saying they were birth control pills. The women died.

Bharat Ratna for judges and lawyers

Judges and lawyers have great influence. Some do good work. Some do bad work. A few judges have given judgments that are great. Some lawyers as prosecutors have fought important cases. Such judges and lawyers should get Bharat Ratna.
Bombay City Civil Sessions Court Principal Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi should get Bharat Ratna for her landmark judgment that sentenced Vijay Jadhav (18), Mohammad Qasim Shaikh (20) and Salim Ansari to death under Section 376E of Indian Penal Code for the rape of a photojournalist for being repeat offenders in rape cases.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam should get Bharat Ratna for his work in Shakti Mills cases, 26/11 case and many other cases.
Justices G. S. Singhvi, S. J. Mukhyopadhaya should get Bharat Ratna for upholding IPC 377 and striking down Delhi High Court judgment that it violated the principles of equality and non-discrimination contained in Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and another judge H. L. Dattu who was part of the bench that rejected review petition should get Bharat Ratna.
Justice Santosh Hegde and two other Supreme Court judges should get Bharat Ratna for increasing punishment of four Veerappan gang members from life sentence to death sentence. Veerappan gang had committed 122 murders. It was involved in sandalwood smuggling and elephant poaching. When it abducted Rajkumar, Karnataka government agreed meet all conditions of Veerappan. One of them was release of some criminals in jail. A police officer Abdul Kareem who had lost his son Shakeel Ahmed in the fight against Veerappan went to court and stopped the release. Justices S. P. Bharucha and Y. K. Sabharwal told Karnataka government that criminals should not be release in exchange for Rajkumar and if they cannot control law and order they should quit. As per Dinakaran’s book Veerappan was paid 20 crore rupees as ransom which was not made public.
S. P. Bharucha and Y. K. Sabharwal did well by not allowing the release of criminals in exchange for Rajkumar. However there are controversies regarding some of their judgments and actions.
Judges who were soft on criminals and acquitted them or reduced their sentences should not get Bharat Ratna. Judges who reduced death sentence to life sentence should not get Bharat Ratna. Lawyers who defended criminals should not get Bharat Ratna. Lawyers who represented criminals whose mercy petitions were rejected by President should not get Bharat Ratna. Judges who admitted such appeals and set aside President’s rejection and reduced the sentences from death to life should not get Bharat Ratna. Judges who restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases should not get Bharat Ratna. Judges who allowed Navjot Singh Sidhu to contest Lok Sabha election after he resigned following conviction in a homicide case should not get Bharat Ratna.
The fury of many women who call themselves activists against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s statement is hollow. They say the same thing in a different way. Mulayam Singh Yadav opposes death penalty for rape. These women oppose death penalty for rape. Mulayam Singh Yadav said boys commit mistakes and they should not be punished with death. He said it in an election meeting close to a village of a repeat rapist. Perhaps he hoped to get votes of villages. He talked about boys and girls living together and when the relationship goes sour they complain of rape. These women say rape is a crime but say they are against death penalty. The net result is the same.

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