Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: high court

Passive Euthanasia

On 7/3/2011 the Supreme Court bench consisting Justices Markandey Katju and Gyansudha Misra dismissed Pinki Virani’s petition to end Aruna Shanbaug’s life. The matter should have ended there. But the bench commended Pinki Virani for her “compassion” and said passive euthanasia is permissible on a case-by-case basis. Pinki Virani deserved to be condemned for trying to end a life. The decision on passive euthanasia is valid till Parliament makes a law on euthanasia. It is for the legislature to make law and judiciary should not encroach on legislature’s domain.

KEM nurses were happy. They distributed sweets and shouted slogans against Pinki Virani.

The Supreme Court laid down guidelines for allowing passive euthanasia.

1) Every High Court to have a special two-judge bench.

2) The bench to nominate a committee of three doctors in every city.

3) The committee to examine the patient and consult the hospital staff and submit report to the High Court Bench.

4) The bench to issue notices to the State and close relatives or next friend of the patient.

5) After hearing them the bench to give its verdict.

Our courts are busy with many cases and lakhs of cases are pending in courts. Cases drag on for years. Cases of passive euthanasia will put additional burden on High Courts. Sikkim High Court has two judges. Both judges will be members of special bench.

What happens when there is disagreement among close relatives of the patient? A woman is sick. Her husband wants her dead. He has been living in adultery for the past eight years and has fathered two children. Her parents and brother want her alive and are ready to bear the expenses. Whose will should prevail?

What if there is difference among doctors? Two doctors want the patient dead, one wants alive or two want the patient alive, one wants dead? Will it be by majority opinion? What if one wants dead, another alive and the third has no opinion?

Some talk of right to life with dignity. What is life with dignity?

Is the life of a murderer, rapist, molester, abductor, drug trafficker, human trafficker, hijacker, kidnapper, pirate, bandit, blackmailer, fraudster a life with dignity?

Is the life of a woman who defends her molester or rapist husband or abets him in rape or molestation a life with dignity?

Is the life of a corrupt politician, bureaucrat, judge, policeman or policewoman, prosecutor, tax official, government employee, journalist a life with dignity?

Is the life of a prostitute or callgirl a life with dignity? Is the life of a man who has sex with a prostitute or callgirl a life with dignity? Is the life of a criminal who forces women into prostitution a life with dignity? Is the life of a pimp or procurer a life with dignity?

Is the life of an industrialist who borrows hundreds or thousands of crores of rupees from a public sector bank and defaults a life with dignity?

Is the life of a person who leaks question papers and puts lakhs of students to give re-exams a life with dignity?

Is the life of a swindler a life with dignity?

Is the life of a lawyer who engages in character assassination during a trial a life with dignity?

Is the life of a man who has sex with a woman and when she gives birth to his son sends the woman out and sends the child to an orphanage a life with dignity?

A person is more than his/her brain. Brain death is not death. As long as there is heart beat the person is alive. Heart is symbolic of the person. We say “Hearty congratulations”, “From the bottom of my heart”, “kind-hearted person”, “heartless man” etc. It was wrong to define brain death as death. Organ transplants have resulted in changes of personalities.

What is permanent vegetative state? If a person can react to sound, make some noise, swallow food, is it permanent vegetative state? In England, 43% of patients who were said to be in vegetative state have recovered and led a normal life.

Living will should mean something written. It can not be presumed to be what the person would have preferred. If there is nothing written, the person should live.

The story could have been killed

When Manu Joseph was asked on Last Word why he did not talk to journalists to get their side of the story regarding Nira Radia tapes the answer was the story could have been killed.

The tapes were in circulation for a long time. Headlines Today had telecast some excerpts that had conversations of Kanimozhi and A. Raja. It did not telecast any excerpt that had conversations of Barkha Dutt or Vir Sanghvi. One possibility is that Headlines Today contacted them for their version and the story was killed. Another possibility is that one tape had Prabhu Chawla’s conversation, so they did not want to telecast anything about journalists.

Why other channels did not telecast anything? Why no newspaper or magazine published the transcripts till Outlook and Open published? Possibly, the story was killed.

After Outlook and Open went public about the tapes CNN-IBN discussed it on Last Word. After that the story could not be killed.

Previously Outlook had reported on phone tapping which had exposed crime and corruption. No guilty person was punished. We do not know the names of a bureaucrat who wanted Rs.8 crores bribe, a minister in UP who wanted a bribe from engineer, the wife of an air vice marshal who talked to a beautician about prostitution racket and an industrialist had sent a starlet to Calcutta. The story was killed. It would have been good if Outlook had mentioned the names of guilty persons. Now also Outlook can reveal the names. Better late than never.

In one conversation there was mention of a Delhi High Court judge who was paid nine crore rupees bribe. He became Chief Justice of a High Court. Who was the judge? Who benefitted from his judgment? Who lost? The story has been killed.

Who murdered Arushi and Hemraj? The story has been killed.

How many stories have been killed over the years? Those who own a channel or newspaper or magazine decided the content. Ad revenue is a consideration.

Sucheta Dalal is blacklisted by RBI, SEBI and Finance Ministry. People who expose corruption do not get invited on TV channels. People like Rahul Mehra and Arun Kejriwal are not seen on TV nowadays.

Ratan Tata said the real scam was out of turn allocation of spectrum. Rajeev Chandrasekhar has written that Tata Teleservices received out of turn spectrum that resulted in a loss of 19,074.8 crore rupees to the exchequer.

Supreme Court remarked that something is rotten in Allahabad High Court. The Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court must transfer incorrigible judges. How things came to such a pass? Before the judgment on Babri Mosque came out Harish Salve had hinted that it will not be judgment giving everything to somebody and others getting nothing. Different parties will get different parts. How did he know that? The story has been killed.

The Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court did not take action. All judges of Allahabad High Court decided to appeal to the Supreme Court to delete the remark.

How some reports get leaked and several channels claim they have exclusive excess? If one channel gets a report, that is exclusive. If several channels gets a report, that is not exclusive. Who leaks for what purpose? Every such leak is a story by itself.

Madras High Court and Tamil

Madras High Court and Tamil Language

Madras High Court

There is a demand in Tamil Nadu to make Tamil the language of Madras High Court. According to the constitution of India English is the language of High Courts and Supreme Court. Making Tamil the language of Madras High Court requires constitutional amendment.

If UPA decides to go for constitutional amendment to make Tamil the language of Madras High Court other states will demand their languages be made languages of their High Courts. The amendment will have to apply all High Courts.

If the amendment is passed it will create the problem of translation of High Court judgments when people want to appeal to Supreme Court against High Court judgments. With English as the language of High Courts it takes several days to get a copy of the judgment. It will take more days to translate the judgment from state language to English. Computers can be used for translation but someone has to check it for accuracy. We have the example where computer translated “out of sight out of mind” as “invisible idiot”.

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