Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Ban surrogacy

No right is absolute. Right to have a child is not absolute. Right to have a grandchild is not absolute.
Some people go to great lengths to have children. Science has made possible to have children in many ways. What is possible is not always desirable.
It is possible for a child to have five parents; one is legal father, one is legal mother, one is sperm donor, one is egg donor, one carries the child and gives birth.
Some countries have banned commercial surrogacy. It is not known how many of them allow altruistic surrogacy. Some people are in favour of altruistic surrogacy and oppose commercial surrogacy. Some say commercial surrogacy is commodification of child. Some say commercial surrogacy is by free choice. Some say poverty is the reason why women opt to become surrogate mothers.
Cases of altruistic surrogacy are rare. Mostly women within the family become surrogate mothers. It may be legal mother’s mother or sister.
A woman who gives birth to a child should be its mother in all respects. Biological mother should be legal mother.
In one case in USA a couple hired a woman to have a child. During pregnancy the couple came to know the foetus had some abnormalities and wanted to abort it. The surrogate mother did not want to abort it. She went to Michigan where biological mother is legal mother and gave birth there. Someone adopted that child.
In India to be a surrogate mother one has to be mother of two children and she can have three surrogate pregnancies.
Due to exchange rate India is a cheap destination for Americans and Europeans who want to hire surrogate mothers. It means 10,000 dollars is around 5,50,000 rupees and 10,000 euros is around 7,00,000 rupees and many women become surrogate mothers for 5,00,000 rupees.
If a couple hires a woman to be surrogate and later the marriage of the couple ends due to divorce and both of them do not want the child the surrogate mother is left holding the child. A Japanese couple’s marriage ended in divorce and the child remained in India. A German couple’s child did not get any citizenship and is stuck in India. Norway recognizes only biological parents and a child is stuck in India.
The child is taken away from the surrogate mother. After that she feels the need to breastfeed the baby but unable to do so.
Related to surrogacy is the problem of sperm donation. Many donors remain anonymous. In one town the sperm donor to around 150 women was the same, the doctor who performed artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. With surrogate motherhood chances of men and women who have different legal parents but same biological parents are high.
There are women who keep their dead husband’s sperm frozen and want to conceive one day. There is one case where a couple has kept their dead son’s sperm frozen and wants a woman to become surrogate mother.
No thought is given to what the child will feel when it comes to know its legal parents are not its biological parents or it was conceived years after the death of its father who was married or not married to its mother.
Surrogacy should be banned.

USA shall have death penalty

There are some Americans who want death penalty in India abolished. They do not want to see the evidence that death penalty is a deterrent. They are dogmatic in their opposition to death penalty. Otherwise they would have seen what has happened in Mexico after abolition of death penalty. It is said that you can wake up a person who is asleep but cannot wake up a person who pretends to be asleep. Opponents to death penalty are like the person who pretends to be asleep.
In USA for most crimes death penalty is decided by states. LADP (lobbies against death penalty) had some success in USA. They want to abolish death penalty in all states but have not succeeded.
Chicago is in Illinois. Illinois abolished death penalty in 2011. After that murders in Chicago have gone up. Wolf Blitzer and Jesse Jackson (Sr.) discussed increased shootings in Chicago on CNN.
LADP say death penalty cannot be fairly implemented in USA. In that case efforts should be made to see that it is fairly implemented. When constitutions of USA and India were written, those who wrote them did not expect judges of Supreme Courts to amend constitutions by creative or rather destructive interpretations. When judges amend constitutions it is tyranny of the unelected and unelectable. Congress in USA and Parliament in India should not allow Supreme Courts this tyranny. Congress in USA shall add an article to their constitution that Federal Supreme Court has no right to limit the right of states to make laws on death penalty as it did in 1972 and 1976 and execution of juveniles and people with “severe mental retardation” is not cruel and unusual punishment. Parliament in India should pass similar law or amendment.
LADP say DNA evidence has shown a high level of wrongful convictions. They are wrong. Convictions were right. DNA was wrong. Due to corruption wrong DNA is sent for testing. John commits murder and DNA of James is sent for testing. John will be acquitted. It has happened many times. In Kashmir when it was done for the first time it was easily discovered because the accused or the dead were men and DNA of women was sent. In another case the woman doctor sent her DNA instead of the victim. USA is not a corruption-free country.
LADP say serial killers and terrorist/political killers are unlikely to be deterred by death penalty. The key word here is “unlikely”. They are not sure of what they say or they know death penalty deters but don’t want to admit it. Anyway, a dead serial killer cannot commit more murders and executing terrorist/political killers deters others. Keeping terrorist/political killers alive means there will abductions, kidnappings, and hijackings to secure their release. If they are released they commit more terrorist acts. Besides, death penalty puts an end to contract killers. If terrorist/political killers want martyrdom let them have it. Security persons, policepersons, and ordinary citizens should not become martyrs.
LADP do not say anything about cases where there is no doubt about murder or terrorist act. There is CCTV footage, many witnesses, the criminal is proud of his crime. LADP do not find any excuse to oppose death penalty is such cases and are silent.
Death penalty is necessary to maintain law and order. Otherwise there will be anarchy and criminal gangs will shoot at each other with impunity as happens in Chicago. Sometimes bystanders will get killed. A girl who attended Barack Obama’s inauguration got killed in Chicago. She would have been alive if Illinois had death penalty and murderers were executed.
It is evil to call death penalty mob justice or revenge. Law takes its course. Not to have death penalty is unfair to victims. If death penalty is irrevocable, so also is the evil done by murder.
In USA, Alaska (1957), Connecticut (2012), Hawaii (1957), Illinois (2011), Iowa (1965), Maine (1887), Massachusetts (1984), Michigan (1846), Minnesota (1911), New Jersey (2007), New Mexico (2009), North Dakota (1973), Rhode Island (1984), Vermont (1964), West Virginia (1965), Wisconsin (1853), and Washington DC (1981) should bring back death penalty. New York should lift the partial ban imposed in 2007. In other states where it is not carried out, it should be carried out. States that carry out death penalty should continue to do so. Rick Perry won applause for executions in Texas.
In USA, 43 criminals were executed in 2012, in India only one that too after many years. USA’s population is less than one third of India. If death penalty in India had been a state subject, executions in India in 2012 could have been around 150. LADP had more success in India than in USA. People of India should resist LADP.
Washington DC and every state of USA shall make death penalty mandatory in all cases of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hijacking, kidnapping, acid throwing, piracy and such high crimes. Hanging is the best way to carry out death penalty. Electrocution, firing, and lethal injection have limitations. No need to worry about not getting lethal injections from EU.

Letter to Pranab Mukherjee

Mr. President,
On 16/2/2013 you said “Of late, the judiciary has been perceived to have assumed an expanded role… As is inevitable, the courts at times are perceived as having strayed into areas which are best left to the executive or to the policy makers in the legislature. The separation of powers is a constitutional feature over which there has never been any doubt, and should be respected at all times.”
Your words did not have the desired effect. On 20/2/2013 CJI Altamas Kabir said “We have had to force the hand of the executive or legislature. Direct them, when the executive does not provide the relief. It’s not like we like to do that. But we have been given the overall responsibility of making sure that the common man gets justice.” He further said “If there is interference, then it is good interference.”
Mr. President, it is time to assert your authority. You have taken oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. You have a duty to take on people who violate the Constitution. You have to put an end to judicial overreach and undo the damage done by judiciary in the past.
When you reject a mercy petition of a criminal sentenced to death by Supreme Court that should be the last word. However, we see that some people go to High Court or Supreme Court and get a stay on hanging on some excuse. This should not be tolerated. Recently you rejected mercy petitions of four bandits and Supreme Court has stayed the hangings. On 18/2/2013 Supreme Court stayed the execution for two days and on 20/2/2013 extended the stay. This is neither justice for common man, nor good interference. You should issue an order that once you reject a mercy petition it is final, no court has the authority to entertain any petition on it on any ground, and execution shall be carried out without delay. You should issue an order that Supreme Court stay on execution of four bandits is unconstitutional, the bandits shall be hanged. You should issue an order setting aside Supreme Court judgment that restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases and state that death penalty is for all cases of murder, conspiracy to murder, and such crimes. You should issue an order increasing life imprisonment to death penalty in every case where Sessions Court sentenced someone to death and High Court or Supreme Court reduced to life imprisonment. The names of all such convicts should be mentioned in the order and date of hanging set.
A Bench headed by Justice Singhvi on 19/4/2012 reserved its judgment on the question of commuting death sentences to life imprisonment due to the years spent by convicts in prison. Ten months have passed without judgment. You should issue an order stating that stay by that Bench was unconstitutional, the convicts shall be hanged.
You should tell the judiciary to do its job properly and expeditiously. Cases drag on for years. Common man does not get justice. Even fast track courts take years. In Delhi gang rape case fast track court has not given verdict.
You should issue an order setting aside Supreme Court judgment that amended the Constitution, interpreted consultation as consent, and took away the power of the executive to appoint Supreme Court judges and vested it with a collegium of five Supreme Court judges.
You should issue an order setting aside commutations granted to death row convicts by former Presidents since 1980. Those who are out of jail should be brought back and hanged.
You should issue an order stating asking for mercy for someone convicted of waging war against the state is treason and the punishment can be confiscation of property, exile, or death. The names of people who asked for mercy for Ajmal Kasab and punishment for them should be mentioned.
I understand Governors want pension of Rs.25,000/- p.m. and you are sympathetic to them. Do not be sympathetic. Governors are for five years. Pension should not be for service of five years. It should be for lifetime of service. Most of them are former politicians, bureaucrats, generals, judges, or public servants. They get pension. Politicians get pension as former MPs. Others get pension as per their service. There was no provision for pension for MPs. MPs began with a law that gave pension to those who served close to five years. Later they changed it to those who served even for a day. Some politicians after being Governors become ministers again. Sushilkumar Shinde is an example. If Governors get pension, they may demand a free house, car, cook, driver, and so on. Last year two former Lok Sabha Speakers made similar demands.
There was One Billion Rising on 14/2/2013. Women danced against sexual violence. That day three girls were raped and murdered in Bhandara. Those who did that do not deserve to live. The girls were sisters. Tanuja Borkar was 10, Prachi 9, and Priya 6. A mother and widow lost her three daughters in a single day.
On 14/2/2013 Kavita Srivastava on NDTV 24×7 called you a serial killer. Ankita Mukherjee who was the anchor did not contradict her. You should sue her and the channel for 800 crore rupees each. You should sue everyone who defames you for hundreds of crores of rupees. If Arindam Choudhuri of IIPM can sue for 500 crore rupees and block defamatory content in 70 or so sites you can do better.
Mr. President, there is Union Council of Ministers to aid and advise you. You do not have to follow anyone else’s advice. It does not matter whether they are former judges or self-styled women’s rights activists. Some women had to gall to tell you not to sign the ordinance on sex crimes.
Mr. President, when the country was agitated after Delhi gang rape and students came to meet you, too bad and too sad you did not meet them. They faced lathis, water cannons, and tear gas shells. One report said Ahmed Patel, who does not hold any constitutional position and is secretary to Congress President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, told you not to meet the students as it is against protocol. Since you or anyone from your side has not contradicted the report it can be assumed as true. Ahmed Patel is no one to advise you. I understand you do not want to be addressed as Your Excellency. What is the use of simplicity when you refuse to meet students and common people? Don’t be misled by talk of protocol.
On 21/2/2013 there were blasts in Hyderabad. Terrorism continues to be a threat. Showing mercy to murderers is foolishness. Do not succumb to pressure by LADP (lobbies against death penalty).
Mr. President, uphold the Constitution. Take on everyone who does unconstitutional acts. Don’t worry about popularity.
Yours truly,
Vincent Augustine D’Souza

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