Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Intolerant India

These days many people speak about growing intolerance in India as if one bad day India suddenly became intolerant.  They hold the Modi government responsible.  Some have returned their awards.  BJP members have spoken against such people.  They say it is a conspiracy and manufactured rebellion.

India had always been intolerant.  In 185 BC Pushyamithra Shunga murdered Brihadratha and became ruler of Magadha.  He persecuted Buddhists and forced them to become Hindus.  Mihirakula (Ruler 515-530) and Shashanka (Ruler 590-625) persecuted Buddhists and forced them to become Hindus.

Many Jains are intolerant.  They don’t want others to eat meat, fish, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, honey etc.  They want ban on sale and eating of meat during Paryushan.

When khap panchayats murdered young couples no one returned awards.  Such murders continue.  Congress MP Naveen Jindal justified khap panchayats saying they went back to the time of Ashoka.  Riots take place.  No one returns awards.  Most of the riots took place when Congress was in power.  Rajiv Gandhi justified Sikh massacre by saying when a big tree falls the earth shakes.  Manmohan Singh’s apology many years later has no meaning.

Dalit women have been stripped naked and paraded in villages.  Some of them have been sarpanchs.  No one returned awards.

Those who returned awards include authors, historians, film persons and scientists.  Film persons returned their awards after FTII students strike flopped after 140 days.  The strike was against appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of FTII because he was BJP person.  Some said he did not have the stature to become FTTI chairman.  There were no protests when U. R. Anantamurthy who was hostile to Narendra Modi was made FTTI chairman or Leela Samson was made CBFC chairperson.

Shyam Benegal, Madhur Bhandarkar, Raveena Tandon, Anil Kapoor and some others have said awards should not be returned as they are given by the country.  Anupam Kher has spoken against people who returned awards and has organised a march opposed to Congress march.

Karan Thapar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Nidhi Razdan and some other journalists have been against Modi.  Law and order is a state subject.  Yet such journalists blame Modi for everything; want Modi to speak of everything.  BJP spokespersons like Shaina NC do a bad job in defending Modi.  Law and order in Delhi is a union subject and central government is responsible.  When rapes take place in Delhi these journalists do not question central government.

Nayantara Sahgal who returned Sahitya Akademi Award did not speak against mass murder of Sikhs in 1984 and accepted the award in 1986 when Rajiv Gandhi was PM.

President Pranab Mukherjee spoke thrice in recent days about tolerance and pluralism.  During his public life he had many occasions to speak about tolerance and pluralism.  He did not speak.

No one returned awards in 2008 when Kandhamal riots took place and churches were damaged in Mangalore.  There was no outrage when in Kerala a professor’s hand was cut off.

No one returned awards when Taslima Nasreen was physically attacked or a serial based on her book was prevented from telecast.

There is discrimination against Dalits.  No one returns awards.

Congress governments passed laws banning cow slaughter.  Congress governments passed anti-Christian laws in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.  Congress governments have banned books and films.  Congress-NCP government banned dance bars in Bombay and many dancers became unemployed.  No one returned awards.  I am not in favour of drinking of alcoholic beverages but since bars were permitted dancers should not have been deprived of employment.

Shah Rukh Khan talked of intolerance and BJP leaders attacked him.  They said he should go to Pakistan.  Shiv Sena, which some years back was against Shah Rukh Khan for his statement in favour of Pakistani players in IPL, came to Shah Rukh Khan’s defence more out of spite for BJP than love for Shah Rukh Khan.  Even Anupam Kher who is generally against people who talk of intolerance took Shah Rukh Khan’s side.

Manmohan Singh spoke against intolerance and murder of thinkers.  Narendra Dabholkar’s murder took place when he was PM and Prithviraj Chavan was CM.

BJP has said many who talk of intolerance are Congress or Left supporters and their outrage is selective and hypocritical.

Modi government has countered people who have talked of intolerance but it has a problem facing it.  Ex-servicemen are angry that One Rank One Pension is not notified and have planned to return medals to collectors on a single day in all districts of India.  Ex-servicemen outside India will return medals to diplomatic missions.  If that happens Modi government will lose many votes in future.

Supreme Court on NJAC

On 16/10/2015 a five judge bench of the Supreme Court by 4-1 majority struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission and restored collegium. Judges J. S. Khehar, Madan Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Goel held that the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act , 2014 which authorised National Judicial Appointments Commission Act is unconstitutional. Judge J. Chelameswar dissented.
This verdict is unconstitutional and a case of judicial tyranny. Constitution does not speak of collegium. The trial was loaded in favour of judiciary. In a dispute between executive and legislature on one side and judiciary on other side on who should appoint judges, judiciary decided in its favour. It is like in a cricket match between two teams, umpires are players of one team. It is like in an Australia versus India Test, Ricky Ponting saying Sourav Ganguly is out.
NJAC had provision for three judges consisting of Chief Justice of India and two senior judges of Supreme Court in a six member panel. Other three were Law Minister of India and two eminent persons. CJI had a say in the selection of two eminent persons. Judges did not want 50% + power. They wanted absolute power. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The government should bring another amendment and do away with any role for judges in appointment of judges. Judges of Supreme Court should be appointed by President after approval by House of the People (Lok Sabha). Judges of High Court should be appointed by Governor after approval by Legislative Assembly. States that share High Courts should have a High Court each.
Lawyers who opposed NJAC are a strange mix. Fali Nariman in one TV interview said there is no basic structure of the Constitution. The judges invented it. Then he argued NJAC violates basic structure of the Constitution. He got bail for Jayalalitha. Ram Jethmalani has defended criminals and engaged in character assassinations. Prashant Bhushan had said 8 of 16 former CJIs were corrupt and given their names in a sealed envelope to Supreme Court. Ashish Khetan had accused him of running PIL industry.
Some parts of the judgment had no relevance to the matter. There were references to Lal Krishna Advani’s statement that forces that could crush democracy were now stronger than ever before, and resignations of Governors with the change of government.
J. Chelameswar wrote the collegium system has become a euphemism for nepotism where mediocrity or even less is promoted. He did not agree with other judges that primacy of the judiciary in appointments of judges is a basic structure of the constitution. The exclusion of the executive has no parallel in any other democracy and it would be destructive to the basic structure of checks and balances. There is no accountability in collegium. The records are out of reach of any person except CJI.
One judge who was Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court had written that he was not promoted to Supreme Court because he did not support Altamas Kabir’s attempt to make his sister a judge of Calcutta High Court.
The collegium was invented by judges of the Supreme Court by their creative interpretation of the Constitution in 1993. They turned consultation into consent and CJI into five member collegium. Justice Jagdish Sharan Verma wrote the majority judgment. Later he spoke against the collegium system.
Many people have lost faith in the judiciary. Some said so when a judge of Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalitha in a case. Some lost faith after a three judge bench of Supreme Court did not jail Ansal Brothers for Uphaar fire tragedy in which 59 persons lost their lives. Instead they told Ansals to pay 30 crore rupees each. This judgment was like a khap Panchayat judgment.
The judges of Supreme Court want accountability and transparency for all except themselves. In a case of making assets of judges public they appealed to Delhi High Court. They lost the case and appealed to themselves.

Bose files

On 15/10/2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi met members of the Bose family and said the process to declassify Bose files will begin after 100 days on 23/10/2016 on the birth anniversary of Subhash Chandra Bose. That reminds me of his promise to bring back black money from foreign countries and put 15 lakh rupees in every Indian’s account within 100 days of coming to power.
Making public Bose files was one of the promises Modi made during his election speeches and it should have been fulfilled more than a year ago. Modi did not fulfil many of the promises he made. The promise of One Rank One Pension was partially fulfilled after ex-servicemen began fast unto death and there was huge negative publicity. In September West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made public Bose files with her government and that forced Modi’s hand. He agreed to meet Members of Modi family but delayed it by one month and process of publication is delayed by further 100 days.
Congress while in power refused to make public Bose files claiming it will adversely affect relations.
It is said there was surveillance on Bose family till 1968. It is known West Bengal State Intelligence Bureau opened letters addressed to Bose family members and some letters did not reach Bose family members.
Some claim Bose did not die on 18/8/1945. Some claim he was a prisoner in USSR for 12 years and died there. Some claim he went to China. WB files did not put an end to that speculation.
M. O. Mathai was Principal Private Secretary to Jawaharlal Nehru. Mission Netaji was an organisation involved in finding out about Subhash Chandra Bose’s death. Mission Netaji got hold M. O. Mathai’s letter UO No. DS/13170 dt. 2/12/1954 which indicated Bose’s ashes were received in India between 1950 and 1954. India’s official position is Bose’s ashes are in Renkoji Temple in Tokyo Japan. It is possible that some ashes were received in India and some are in Renkoji Temple. Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee had visited the temple.
Shah Nawaz Committee, Khosla Commission and Mukherjee Commission inquired into the death of Bose. Shah Nawaz Committee and Khosla Commission concluded Bose died in plane crash. Mukherjee Commission concluded Bose did not die in plane crash. The Government of India rejected the findings of Mukherjee Commission.
The publication of Bose files with the Government of India will hopefully put an end to speculation about Bose’s death.

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