Month: December 2009

Aruna Shanbaug and Right to live

Aruna Shanbaug was a nurse in KEM Hospital. In 1973 Sohanlal Walmiki, a sweeper, sodomised her and strangled her with a dog chain. This cut off air supply to her brain. Since then she is in a vegetative state in the hospital. In 1974 Sohanlal Walmiki was found guilty of “sodomy and attempt to commit murder” and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

For 36 years Aruna Shanbaug has suffered. Her family has abandoned her.

On 16/12/2009 Pinki Virani, a social activist, acting on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, moved a petition in the Supreme Court saying “It will be an act of mercy to stop giving mashed food and end the life of Aruna Shanbaug who has been immobile for 36 years in a hospital.

The petitioner is kept in this persistent vegetative state by the hospital authorities by feeding her mashed food, which she can hardly digest. She can not speak, hear or see, there is no element of human life in her body.”

The Supreme Court Bench observed that “Law of the country does not permit a person to die.”

But lawyer Shekar Nalpade said “Aruna Shanbaug can not be said to exist in the sense of human beings are supposed to live. It is only on account of the mashed food being put into her mouth that there is a facade of life which is totally devoid of any human element.”

The Supreme Court sought response from the Centre.

The issue was discussed on NDTV 24×7 on 16/12/2009 and on Headlines Today and CNN-IBN on 17/12/2009. Babu Joseph, spokesman of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, was present on all three channels. He said who are we to decide and it is for God to take away life. Dr. Deviprasad Shetty from Bangalore said five years later we may be able to find a cure and then what? Rani Jethmalani on NDTV 24×7 and Headlines Today and Flavia Agnes on CNN-IBN wanted Aruna Shanbaug to be allowed to die. They wanted her misery to end. Pinky Anand on Headlines Today wanted Aruna Shanbaug to live. There were other panellists who expressed their opinions.

Right to live with dignity is a vague concept. It can mean many things to many people. There is right to live. There is no right to die.

There will be people who say people with physical disabilities, mental retardation, old age, incurable sickness, homelessness, malnourishment etc are unable to live with dignity. We do not know where it will end.

Right to live with dignity is a euphemism for right to die which many times becomes duty to die.

If someone is in a vegetative state it does not mean we should put that person to death. Our knowledge about human body and sicknesses has increased over the years. Many diseased which were incurable at one time are curable now. Today we do not know how to bring back someone from vegetative state to normal state. It is possible that after some years we will know the answer and cure Aruna Shanbaug.

Nurses have taken care of her and for them she is not a vegetable but a victim. Ending the life of a victim for no fault of hers is cruel.

Aruna Shanbaug has not asked for her death or stop of food supply. Pinki Virani is not family member or relative of Aruna Shanbaug.

Aruna Shanbaug is not on life support system. She is not tube fed. She gets mashed food. Stopping giving mashed food to her will lead to death by starvation which will last several days which is cruel.

No one lives for ever. A time comes when a person had to die. A day Aruna Shanbaug will die. Let her live till that day.

Pinki Virani wrote a book about Aruna Shanbaug in which she mentioned sodomy as rape. It is misinformation. The book was written some years ago. How did she suddenly remember Aruna Shanbaug?

Aruna Shanbaug’s case is different from people going on fast unto death for some political reason for Jains going on santara. They are conscious of what they are doing.

Pinki Virani should try to change the law and make attempted murder punishable by death so that criminals who make the life of someone miserable by their act die rather than victims who suffer.

If you love a person you want him or her to live. You do not want to put to death that person. You will think how his or her life can be made better.

Meanwhile well-wishers of Aruna Shanbaug can pray that she becomes a normal person again. Miracles do happen.

Aruna Shanbaug and Supreme Court

Fall of CBI

On 14 December 2009 Jammu & Kashmir High Court said CBI report is not gospel truth. The report was about Shopian case dealing with rape and murder of two women. The CBI report said there was no rape and murder and deaths were due to drowning and the evidence of rape and murder was fabricated. The people of Kashmir are angry. Previously Kashmir sex scandal case was handed over to CBI and CBI’s record in that case had made the people of Kashmir lose confidence in CBI.

Over the years CBI has lost credibility. In many cases state police did a good job. After the case was handed over to CBI it was disaster. Cases of Aarushi-Hemraj murders, Scarlett Keeling murder and Telgi fake stamp paper cases suffered after they were handed over to CBI. Rajesh Talwar, Aarushi’s father, who was under arrest, was let off by CBI. CBI arrested three persons but did not file chargesheet within 90 days and the three got bail. In Rizwanur Rahman murder case CBI said it was suicide. In Telgi fake stamp paper case the amount of Rs.37,000 crores got reduced to few hundred crore rupees. There was narco test and name(s) of some politician(s) had come out but there was no investigation on that front.

Most of the time CBI is used for cover-up or to harass the opponents of the people in power at Centre.

CBI investigated Jain hawala case under the supervision of the Supreme Court. Nothing came of it. All were ultimately acquitted.

CBI’s stand on Taj corridor case kept changing depending on who was in power at the Centre and in UP and the equation between the two.
People who are fools ask any crimes to be investigated by CBI.

Supreme Court, Marriage and Murder

On 10 December 2009 a Division Bench of the Supreme Court, consisting Justice V. S. Sirupurkar and Justice Deepak Verma reduced the death sentence of Dilip Tiwari, a murderer, to 25 years of imprisonment because the victims were of “so called lower caste.”
Dilip Tiwari’s sister had married Prabhu, a member of Ezhavar caste of Kerala. Dilip Tiwari, a Brahmin, with the help of Sunil Yadav and Manoj, murdered Prabhu, Prabhu’s father Krishnan Nochil, Prabhu’s brother Bijit and a neighbour Abhyaraj at Andheri on 17 May 2004. They had hacked them to death. Prabhu’s mother India and sister Deepa were injured in the attack.
The Sessions Court had sentenced the murderers to death and Bombay High Court had confirmed it.
The judgment, inter alia, had the following sentences:
“…Caste is a concept which grips a person before his death and does not leave him even after his death. The vicious grip of the caste, community, religion, though totally unjustified, is a stark reality. The psyche of the offender in the background of a social issue like an inter-caste community marriage, though wholly unjustified, (Italics mine) would have to be considered in the peculiar circumstances.
It is common experience that when the younger sister commits something unusual and in this case it was an intercaste, intercommunity marriage out of the secret love affair, then in the society it is the elder brother who justifiably or otherwise is held responsible for not stopping such affair. It is held as the family defeat.
At times, he has to suffer taunts and snide remarks even from the persons who really have no business to poke their nose into the affairs of the family. Dilip, therefore, must have been (Italics mine) a prey of the so-called insult which his younger sister had imposed upon his family.
The murders were the outcome of a social issue like a marriage with a person of so-called lower caste. However, a time has come when we have to consider these social issues as relevant while considering the death sentence in the circumstances as these.”
This judgment is dangerous and should not be allowed to set a precedent. If something is wholly unjustified it should not be considered whether the circumstances are peculiar or otherwise. Intercaste marriage is not a peculiar circumstance, more so in Bombay.
The judgment says Dilip, therefore, must have been a prey. Either he was a prey or he was not. Even if he were a prey that did not give him a right to murder. If other people poke their nose they should be told to shut up. Since the judges were sure about him being a prey this sentence should not have been part of the judgment.
The judgment goes against equality enshrined in the constitution of India when it says “when we have to consider these social issues as relevant while considering the death sentence”. This justifies discrimination on the basis of caste and less punishment for people of “upper castes” for crimes against people of “lower castes”.
The Government of India must act. A review petition must be filed against this judgement in the Supreme Court. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Law Minister Veerappa Moily must begin the process of removal of these judges Justice V. S. Sirupurkar and Justice Deepak Verma.

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