Month: February 2013

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

Letter to Altamas Kabir

You disappoint me Altamas Kabir. You failed as CJI. You stayed the execution of 4 bandits who murdered 22 policemen. You should have dismissed the petition and fined the petitioner(s) for wasting court’s time. Instead you have given more time for murderers to live and families of victims to mourn.
On 16/2/2013 you refused to immediately take up the petition for staying the execution and there was hope. On 18/2/2013 you stayed the execution for two days in spite of objection by Attorney General. That was a setback for justice but I hoped you would vacate the stay on 20/2/2013 and executions will take place. Instead you extended the stay. You encroached on the territory of executive.
Remember these bandits belonged to Veerappan gang who had murdered many people. Sandalwood smuggling and elephant poaching were some of the other crimes he committed. He abducted Rajkumar in 2000 and held the state to ransom. Karnataka government was ready to release many prisoners. A former police officer, whose son had been attacked and murdered by Veerappan, challenged the release in Supreme Court. S. P. Bharucha was the CJI. He did not allow the release of prisoners. He told the government, if you cannot control people you quit. Veerappan had escaped from prison. If he had been hanged while in prison many murders and Rajkumar abduction would not have taken place.
Delay in deciding mercy petition is not cruel. There is no double punishment. Delayed time is bonus for criminals. They get to give longer. There is no anguish or psychological trauma. There is hope. It is wrong to entertain petitions related to death penalty decided by Supreme Court and rejected by President.
In 1980 five of your predecessors violated the constitution, crossed their limits, encroached on the territory of legislature, and restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases. After that murders went up. The brazenness with which murders take place is appalling. Murders take place in many places. Many people watch murders take place. Murders take place in railway stations, police lock-ups, bars, buses, schools and so on. The blood of victims cries to heaven for justice. Their family members cry. Please set aside that judgment and deliver a judgment that makes death penalty mandatory in all cases of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hijacking, kidnapping, acid throwing, piracy and other such high crimes.
It is a shame that there have been many judges who do not believe in death penalty. They have betrayed their position, profession, and the trust placed in them. They have reduced death penalty to life imprisonment in many cases. The convicts spend some years in jail and come out.
I expect you to know Jessica Lall, Naina Sahni, Priyadarshini Matto, Pratibha, and Delhi gang rape cases. Talk to Sabrina Lall, Neelam Katara, Neelam Krishnamurthy, Chamanlal Mattoo, and others who have lost their near and dear ones due to murder or negligence leading to death.
In Priyadarshini’s case the criminal had committed house breaking, rape and murder. High Court had awarded death penalty. Supreme Court reduced it life imprisonment. As Adiya Nath Kaul said on CNN-IBN on 8/10/2010 life sentence in India is a joke. He gave the example of Manu Sharma.
In Pratibha’s case fast track court took five years. It awarded life sentence for rape and murder. Pratibha’s mother and family members wanted death penalty to the murderer.
Opponents of death penalty engage in misinformation and disinformation.
First disinformation is that life sentence is worse than death penalty. It is not. Criminals don’t want to die and are happy to live in jail as long as they can. Some faint on the day of their hanging.
European Union (EU) countries have abolished death penalty. That is not a reason for India to abolish death penalty. We don’t have to follow EU countries. Some of them are bankrupt. Some are on the verge of bankruptcy. See the mess in England. During riots even rich people go to rob. In Norway some want death penalty for the terrorist who killed 76 people. China, USA, Japan and many other countries have death penalty. India is equal to all EU countries put together. EU is not paradise on earth.
Second disinformation is that murders have gone down in countries which abolished death penalty. Those who say that do not give any proof or lie about statistics.
Third disinformation is that death penalty does not serve any purpose of justice i.e., reformative, retributive and deterrent. Death penalty serves retributive and deterrent purposes. In Saudi Arabia there is stoning and beheading and murders and few. Murders went up in Mexico and South Africa after the stopped death penalty. Without death penalty you have contract murderers who murder for money. Every death penalty prevents three to eighteen murders as proved in an article in Newsweek some years back.
What is this talk of human rights? Are only murderers, rapists and other criminals human beings? Are not victims human beings? It is perverse to talk of murderers as human beings and ignore the sufferings of victims and their families.
Some say this is the country of Gandhi and oppose death penalty. Gandhi was in favour of death penalty. He did not oppose death penalty to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev.
Some say a civilized country should not have death penalty. What is civilized about murder? Murder is a crime, pure and simple.
When death penalty was the norm there were not many encounter deaths and terrorist activities. After the Supreme Court strayed into the territory of executive and restricted death penalty to rarest of rare cases the situation changed.
Madras High Court should not have entertained the petitions of three convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and stayed the executions for eight weeks and when that happened Supreme Court should have intervened and vacated the stay. If waiting for death penalty is cruel why extend it? Please note that it is not only Rajiv Gandhi who died in that blast but 15 others with constitutionally guaranteed equality to Rajiv Gandhi.
A dead murderer cannot commit another murder. Sometimes murderers come out of jail and commit more murders. In 1980 William Spengler murdered his grandmother with a hammer. He spent 17 years in jail and came out on parole. In 2012 during Christmas time he set fire to his house. His sister died in the fire. The fire spread to other houses and caused loss. When firemen came to douse the fire he shot at them. Two died, two were injured. William Spengler shot himself. If he had been hanged for the murder of his grandmother, the two firemen would not have been shot by him. He used Bushmaster rifle. In Michigan, John D. White murdered a 26-year old woman and spent 12 years in jail. He came out and became a pastor. He murdered his fiancée’s 24-year old daughter Rebekah Gay, stripped her, and dumped her body. He wanted to have necrophilia with her. He said he did not remember whether he fulfilled his sexual fantasy. If John D. White had been executed for the first murder he would not have murdered Rebekah Gay. If some terrorists want “perverse glamour of judicial martyrdom” let them have it. In India, murderers while in jail or after coming out of jail have committed more murders.

Wish list for new pope

On 28/2/2013 at 8.30 p.m. Italian time Benedict XVI will quit as pope. A conclave will follow. I have my wish list for new pope.
The pope should have coronation. There are around 20 tiaras in Vatican. He can use one of them for coronation. If he finds it heavy he can have a new tiara made later on.
The pope should not create new cardinals till the number comes below 120 and gradually increase the age of cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave and when the number comes down to 120 should declare all cardinals are eligible. Thereafter the number of cardinals should not be more than 120. At present there are around 210 cardinals. It will take some years for the number to come down to 120.
The pope should resume the title Patriarch of the West.
The pope should restore the dress code for bishops and cardinals as was before 1969 which was changed by Paul VI.
The pope should restore subdiaconate, minor orders, and tonsure.
The pope may think about restoring rogation days, ember days and ember weeks.
The pope should write an encyclical mentioning death penalty as a just punishment in all cases of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hijacking, kidnapping, acid attack, piracy and such high crimes.
The pope should write against deficit budgets and reckless printing of notes. These cause inflation.
The pope should restrict fulfilling Sunday obligation to Sundays and do away with fulfilling it on Saturday evenings.
Sex scandals have buffeted the church. The pope may allow new rites with no obligation of clerical celibacy or in Latin rite allow those who have been permanent deacons for 10 years to be ordained priests.
Bring out an encyclical affirming marriage as between a man and a woman and denouncing efforts to the contrary. He should condemn legislators who vote for same sex marriages and judges who cross their limits and legalise same sex marriages.
The pope should write about alcoholism, corruption, drug addiction, drug trafficking, gun trade, human trafficking, smoking, gambling, betting, match-fixing and such problems. The bookies have not even spared the conclave and accept bets on the next pope.
The pope should encourage film and TV persons to make films and TV serials on Bible and saints. There are some films on Bible, not many on saints.
Popes have stood strong in their teaching when many said the teaching was antiquated. When many talked of population problem Paul VI came out with Humanae Vitae, affirming church’s traditional teaching. Later such people changed their talk and spoke of demographic dividend. On issues like abortion, birth control, women’s ordination no pope is expected to make any radical change which in any case will be a zero sum game. If any change makes some people happy some others will be unhappy and leave the church. Many left Anglican Church and jointed Catholic Church on the issue of women’s ordination. Catholics in generals do not want change in teaching. The church has allowed natural family planning while opposing artificial means of birth control. Now many countries want to increase their population and pay women and girls who give birth to children. In Argentina payment is made even during pregnancy.
Sometimes the church changes its teaching by changing the meanings. Boniface VIII in his bull Unam Sanctam claimed there is no salvation outside the church. Submission to pope was necessary to have salvation. Vatican II spoke of church in concentric circles with all belonging to the church. That meant even atheists who come in the last circle can be saved.
Some want the next pope from Africa or Asia or Latin America. Any cardinal in the conclave can become pope. Italy has 21 cardinals. USA has 11. India has five. Most popes have been from Italy. Germany had 11. France had some, possibly more than eight. Spain had two. England, Holland and Poland had one each. Some were from North Africa and West Asia. A pope from Poland gave hope to people in Eastern Europe and communism ended there. A pope from Germany did not result in much change in Germany. From 1523 to 1978 all popes were Italians.
Someone wrote that Benedict XVI did not resign, the pope cannot resign, there is no one to resign to, he renounced his ministry as Bishop of Rome. She is wrong. Canon Law talks of pope’s resignation. Canon 332-2 states “Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.” Benedict XVI resigned freely and manifested it in the consistory.
Some think since there is long time to elect pope, cardinals above 80 will influence cardinal electors in their decision. They presume that all cardinals above 80 want one particular cardinal to become pope. That does not happen.