Amarnath, Terror & Memorial to an Ordinary Indian

One fearless bus driver of Amarnath victims, Saleem Mirza, who saved several lives by continuing to drive till he reached a point of safety despite being under attack was enough to foil the plans terrorists who wanted still larger casualties much as Brigadier Usman, the highest ranking officer of the Indian Army martyred in the Indo-Pak was of 1947 after resisting all pressure to opt for the Pakistani Army was enough to shame the Pakistani Army. The separatists and Pakistanis are yet persisting with the delusion of dismembering India. Every attack on India, however, brings forth the valour of an ordinary Indian and affirms that as a country India will remain indomitable. Every Indian has made himself count against aggression of enemies and artifices of conmen. And it is in this spirit of the ordinary Indian that India resides It is time we raise a memorial to the ordinary Indian and celebrate the everyday humdrum life of our fellow countrymen because it is that mingling, in the shared joys and common frustrations, in our fears and unfulfilled aspirations and in the realisation that India alone is home that India truly resides. The common man remains the crucible of all identities and is the quintessence of the country. We relate to the him, identify with him and will fight to preserve him. He may be a Saleem who save Hindu pilgrims or be a Shail Devi a frail old widow who saved Muslims from marauding mobs. Such memorials can be the sacred spots dotting the country for every Indian to pay homage be developed as tourist attractions and help foster a truly unique Indian identity. This could well be be the modern equivalent of Adi Shankar’s uniting holy spots across India through Jyotirlings, Shaktipeeths and Vishnu Dhams. We have spent a lot of time celebrating differences, It is time there is an acknowledgment of the nationalist identity based on a civic bond and commonalities.

Supreme Court & Justice Karnan – Judging the Judges!

A bench of five or more judges is constituted, under Article 145 of the Constitution of India, for the purpose of deciding a case involving substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. In Justice Karnan’s case it is digressing into areas it need not move to.

It is indeed odd that seven judges should, sitting as such a bench, be ordering medical examination of the person being proceeded against. This is more so because his behavior is not in any manner different from what was known when proceedings against him commenced. Notwithstanding the self-evident deviance and aberrancy he was yet considered, by the very bench, as possessed of sufficient understanding and competence to be served with summons of the case, be heard in his defense and be further directed to file a reply – himself and not through a person taking responsibility for him – to the charges levied against him. If a person can be trusted with the ability to understand the nature of the proceedings and give rational testimony the basic test of his competence is satisfied as not to warrant his medical examination.

Medical tests have been ordered to resolve a lis a court is seized of to ensure, as was felicitously put, that “justice is not compromised to notions of delicacy”. The application of this principle to the case at hand can be the subject matter of serious dispute and in the circumstances of this case Justice Karnan has the right to refuse the taking of the test. More significantly the ordering of such a test suggests that the bench is having second-thoughts of the very propriety of proceedings initiated suo-moto by it. In any event “proved incapacity” – provided it is established in the manner prescribed under Article 124 – is a ground for impeachment not contempt and will, in fact, negate the charge of contempt. Proceedings will have to be kept in abeyance pending resolution of doubts about mental capacity. Inexplicably, however, the Supreme Court not only reiterates that Justice Karnan, the very person whose competence and capacity it doubts, should file a response but further records that should he “not choose” to file “it shall be presumed he has nothing to say.” How can freedom of choice be conceded to one who cannot be trusted with that responsibility and how can his failure to exercise that choice be deemed an intelligent exercise of discretion when an apprehended defective intellect is the reason for constituting the Medical Board?

The Supreme Court has, under the constitutional scheme, a special role in the administration of justice and is obligated to take steps to ensure free and fair administration of justice throughout the country. This explains the unusual step of constituting a bench of seven judges proceeding with suo moto contempt proceedings against Justice Karnan. Curiously the notice issued had not set out the charge against Justice Karnan and the contempt itself is described as “civil” though the reason for the proceedings is not violation of any order the court may have passed but letters addressed to the Supreme Court (which fact is not mentioned in the order issuing notice.)  This discrepancy, however, does not affect the proceedings in any substantial manner as Justice Karnan, on appearance, appeared aware of the reason behind the proceedings and the right to proceed in contempt inhering in a Court of Record, the Supreme Court was exercising power under Article 129 and not under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. It would however have been appropriate if the not made itself vulnerable to any criticism about the manner in which it was proceeding more so because the jurisdiction it was exercising was of contempt and that too suo moto.

Ideally Justice Karnan should have contested the proceedings and presented whatever objections he had in law to the process – which would also served as a precedent checking any future misuse of such a power. His willful refusal to participate should, nevertheless, not have deflected the court from the purpose behind the institution of proceedings to make forays into areas irrelevant to the controversy. The bench would have been better advised to immediately proceed to decide the issue whether in exercise of its powers under Article 129 notwithstanding the bar against “removal” from office except in the manner prescribed by Article 124 (4) of the Constitution the Court could yet order that Justice Karnan “refrain from all handling judicial or administrative work” that is remove his adjudicative capacity which alone could make him act as a judge. Related issue would be whether judges of courts of record could be proceeded against under contempt if they interfered with the legal process (an issue which proceeded sub-silentio in Ramaswami’s case) or exercised power illegally (which distinguished Justice Karnan’s case from Prakash Chand’s case) and the limits of public interest restriction against initiation of proceedings against a Judge of a Court of Record – an issue which will always remain key in every contempt proceedings instituted against any superior court judge. However more than two months have elapsed and Justice Karnan will retire in a few weeks from now!

Even otherwise the question would yet remain how any order passed would be executed. While a method to take action against judges, apart from the process of impeachment, an oppressively cumbersome process made worse by the intrigue and artifice of the political process would be a welcome, making the method work would be the real problem. We will eventually return to the very point from where we started – ordering the withdrawal of judicial work – and the judge remaining defiant – apart from any other punishment devised to suit the contempt – the carrying into effect of which would be fraught with rather dangerous consequences as the judiciary would be bound to take the help of the executive to make any order effective which is bound to compromise its independence.

A public spat between judges with each side ordering medical examination of the other and issuing warrants demeans the judiciary as an institution. The fact remains Justice Karnan is responsible for this situation and by choosing not to appear and contest the notice has shown he is not serious about the allegations made by him being subject to rigorous scrutiny as to show they are not fanciful and frivolous. He is, in the circumstances, clearly liable to punishment but the fact is he is about to retire and more than two months have been spent by the Supreme Court without making any substantial progress only generating adverse publicity ridiculing the judiciary. Moreover we need to proceed with caution thinking out the consequences of any action lest this case becomes a precedent that returns to haunt the judiciary later.

Justice Karnan already stands discredited. Mr K.K. Venugopal’s suggestion of letting him fade into retirement ought to be seriously considered by the Supreme Court. The existence of the power in the Supreme Court has been demonstrated. It may not be worthwhile to exercise it in the instant case.

India’s not so dismal Justice Shah!

Justice A.P. Shah shares his initials with the first two letters of the adjective “apocalyptic” which aptly describes his M.N.Roy Memorial Lecture.

His prophesies of doom notwithstanding, India is not in so grim a condition as he suggests.

Yes there is a tumultuous clamour within the political landscape today. But is that not the norm of a free society? As long as a polity retains the legal capacity to control the consequences of social encounters between competing ideologies – which India undoubtedly possesses – dislike for a contrary point of view should provide no cause for apprehension or alarm.

Preference to one of a competing set of opinions and condemning the contrary as dangerous has little to do with the content of the opinion and is based exclusively upon the values the self appointed arbiter subscribes to. Justice Shah may be attaching little value to the legally enjoined political integrity of India giving preference to freedom to divide the country over its being kept intact as is constitutionally prescribed and hence worry about “attacks” on “institutions of learning” but how does he conclude therefrom that a view contrary to what he holds is dangerous or wrong and harmful for the country? What is misdescribed as an “attack” is actually the repulsing of an assault on a perception of India as envisaged by its constitution. A tolerant society without self-defence is doomed to destruction.

Reference to “online hate, abuse and threats” to a “21 year old university student” is clearly a case of cherry picking suggesting, wrongly, that one point of view alone is made subject of online harassment. Similar abuses and ad-hominem attacks apply to almost every point of view which is expressed. The partisan approach of Justice Shah sows a predisposition towards a particular point of view which robs his view both of balance and perspective.

UP finds a mention with a pointed reference to “harassment of Muslims” but are Muslims alone harassed in the country? What about the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from Kashmir or the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda on Janmashtmi by Christians in Orissa? Similar examples can be multiplied. India did not yet break into tumult nor into an uncontrollable frenzy or disorder! Is ignoring a large number of related cases which contradict one’s stated position not unprincipled and unfair ?

Yes, as Justice Shah said, we must be “wary of enforcing a single ideology on a country as diverse as India”. The comment was made in the context of Mohan Bhagwat’s call for a national law against cow slaughter. Notwithstanding Bhagwat, under the Indian constitution the state legislatures alone have exclusive powers to legislate on the subject which is the reason why many of the states have enacted no legislation on the slaughter of cows. Bhagwat is, however, entitled to his views. Committed as he is to freedom of speech, can Justice Shah deny Bhagwat the right to hold views which Justice Shah may not like? Or is he intending, through negative verbal remarks, to create an antipathy towards a contrary point of view not shared by him and imposing a “single ideology” on a country as diverse as India. In any event there is no prescription in India about what one may or may not eat and laws in place to deal with any form of intimidation or coercion.

Justice Shah referred to the Censor Board rendering Hanuman Chalisa silent because prayer was not answered but chose to ignore referring to the movie PK which dealt with fraudulent godmen (all of whom were incidentally Hindus) nor even to 3 Idiots where students were shown to be worshipping several Hindu Gods and even feeding a cow in a desperate attempt to pass the examination. I doubt if as liberal or expansive satirizing or mocking of religious habits of any religion other than Hinduism could have been dared by any director or producer of any movie in India. This is a tribute to its maturity, sense and large-heartedness.

There is nothing wrong with the retention of the offence of sedition, to which Justice Shah objects, as law must reconcile the right of private criticism with the necessity of securing safety and stability of state. Prosecution for sedition is in the interest of public order which is included in clause 2 of Article 19 of the Constitution. And his regret that defamation was not decriminalised does not detract from the fact the judgment the Supreme Court rendered was indeed a well reasoned one.

A prejudiced mind can easily stigmatise. And cherry picking facts to resonate with your belief system can only bring about a doctored reality. While becoming a Cassandra of doom Justice Shah forgot that what he felt was reality was actually one feigned, invented and imagined by him only. India needs no moralising discourses from Justice Shah or others.

The Padma Awards Controversy

Where cronyism becomes the creed only the craven can be celebrated. The annual brouhaha over the Padma awards therefore never ceases to startle me. Such honours are always conferred even where they are not actually deserved. The truly deserving seldom seek awards and, in the distorted scheme of things in which we live, thus become disentitled to receive them. After all it is not honour which is being bestowed but patronage!

Acharya Kriplani had, in 1970, moved a non-official Bill for the abolition of these awards. According to the Bill the decorations were not always according to merit with the Government of the day not the best judge of the merit or eminence of the recipients and what was intended to be for a few exceptionally talented individuals was transformed into a torrent of conferrals.

Quite predictably the Kriplani’s Bill was defeated. The Padmas had to be conferred by politicians on themselves (Indira Gandhi), their teachers (Rajiv Gandhi), their doctors (Vajpayee & Manmohan Singh) or on prospective political allies (MGR and now Sharad Pawar) or those who shout the loudest (Saina Nehwal). Bharat Ratna Tendulkar is busy endorsing products and teams on television while Dhyan Chand (a national icon but of a less favoured sport) lies obscure and anonymous in his grave. Dubious antecedents are no bar to the grant or holding of these awards – being shady or above-board has nothing to do with qualities intrinsic to the individual in question and is only a question of perception. And a favourable perception of those who have to confer awards is all that is required for entitlement!

Interestingly, the Supreme Court of India while rejecting a petition against conferring of awards nevertheless observed that it is necessary to ensure that the “recipient are subjected to feelings of respect rather than suspicion” and that “the number of awards should not be so large as to dilute their value.” The Court “did not say more” because it had entrusted the job to a Committee of “high level functionaries” which was to keep in view the “anxieties” expressed by the Court.

Judgments are not meant to be homilies which is the reason the Court’s exhortation has been treated with utter disdain and contempt.

As the RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal said “when the Awards Committee choose about 100 names from thousands of nominations in just a few hours over two to three meetings, it seems likely that a pre-decided list is put before the committee for endorsement.” No ennobling exercise this, just a kick in the teeth of the deserving while giving short shrift to the “anxieties” which led the Court to constitute the Committee itself.

It is apparent from the manner in which the Padma awards have been granted that what was meant to be an honour has been reduced to a mere title which is specifically barred by Article 18 of the Constitution of India and the breach of the condition precedent for their retention as declared by the Supreme Court renders the very process of granting these honours void in law.

Considering its process and its selectees I feel the Padma Awards should be re-named Padma’s Wards!

J&K Assembly Ruckus – A DISGRACE!

Asked about the disrespect shown to the anthem by National Conference, Congress and Communist party of India-Marxist,  the NC MLA and Provincial President Devender Singh Rana said, “Please ask BJP people who became champions of nationalism. They created an environment of anarchy in the state. Ask PDP who created such an environment. They created such a situation”.

Disrespect of the National Anthem is a wrong in itself and condemnation of that wrong cannot be met by attacking a perceived disreputability of others, an approach which replaces logic with invective and eliminates any possibility of argument with sheer abuse. The disgrace with which Rana and the others covered themselves will not be any less merely because BJP and PDP “created the environment”. There was no compulsion to be part of that environment created by BJP & PDP!

But there is something far more sinister in this comment. The suggestion is “if you are nationalistic there will be anarchy”! I am not dealing in this blog with the informal fallacy of False Dilemma which ignores not only that there can be position between two extremes  (nationalism and anarchy) or even that the alternatives themselves (that is nationalism and anarchy) can be completely different. I am more horrified by the fact that in linking nationalism with anarchy the comment mischievously attacks the very existence of a shared identity and proceeds to assail the very continuation of national identity by suggesting that it will only lead to confusion, chaos and disorder!

This utterly disreputable comment is made worse because it was made to defend sloganeering when the National Anthem was being played and the Governor’s address to the legislature had to be cut short. The National Anthem is symbolic of the values of a pluralistic constitutional polity and provides self-identification of citizenry with norms having nothing to do with ethnicity or culture creating a civic bond, building civic empowerment and creating what Muller said was “a plausible and appealing style of political allegiance.” And the anthem was being rendered in the legislature which is a legal construct implicit in whose establishment is limitation of authority which is but an instance of the norm of checking abuse of power the disruption of which negates the very concept lawfulness which pits an organised orderly polity against anarchy. Nationalism did not cause anarchy. The anti-nations caused it.

The comment in fact goes beyond Kashmir and attempts to hollow India out. There is a pattern in the behaviour. First ethnic basis of nationalism is denied. Then cultural unity is made an outcaste. Liberal values are next assaulted. Multicultural tendencies are thereafter derided. And now nationalism is reduced to an epithet and made to share space with anarchy.

The utterly appalling nature of the comment is made worse by the complete shamelessness with which it is expressed. Nationalism does not lead to anarchy. Shamelessness does!

Saif, Taimur & Name-Calling!

In an Indian Defence Review Blog it was mentioned that Pakistan is working on an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) named Taimur. India however has an Intercontinental Celebrity Baby Made (ICBM) in India with that name thanks to Saif! It is a sheer coincidence that Pakistani’s and Saif share the liking for that name. Pakistan chose it because of its visceral hostility towards India celebrating the Taimur’s invasion of Delhi and the brutal massacre which followed it. Saif however is the ultimate patriot – he has shown some Indians can do in India what Pakistan cannot from Pakistan!!

Then perhaps Saif chose the name because he is actually a Mongol. He wants to celebrate the Taimurian passion to restore and then expand the Mongolian Empire. It is a different matter that Ghengis Khan is credited with the largest contiguous Mongol Empire. The point Saif very intelligently notes is that Ghenghis’ military campaigns in India were not of the same ferocity for Saif’s son to proudly carry that name. Taimur is better! There is another reason; Ghengis was called “Great Khan” and Bollywood has too many great Khans to bother about that old chap!!

Or perhaps its got nothing to do with Mongols. In fact nothing at all to do with anyone. You see Saif, the eminent historian that he is, knows that in Taimur’s time everyone was fighting everyone else. Muslims fought Muslims too! Saif only likes the razing of cities and torturing and massacring of captives – the more cruel a person the better. And does Taimur not fit the bill. Come on the answer is an obvious YES!!

And are we not living in INTOLERANT times? The name should suit the times. Enough of secularism and tolerance – God its suffocating! The Sword of Islam is the answer. With whom is the Sword of Islam associated? Hehhehheh – Taimur!

Saif is just a loving parent choosing the best name for his son! No one from the Islamic Golden Age could be the right choice for him. Do you think we need to be bothered about Philosophy, Science, Mathematics or Art and Culture with whom have been associated very eminent Muslims? Not at all!

And now that Taimur is taken, Ghaznavi, Ghauri and Abdali remain as future choices. These are the names of the existing Pakistani missiles.

The supremely cultivated Rishi Kapur told everyone disapproving the choice to “shut the fuck up”! How will he respond to people like me who provide the justification for Saif’s choice?? 🙂

OMAR ABDULLAH- THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL OF KASHMIR

Omar Abdullah is the Scarlet Pimpernel of Kashmir. His real identity is secret. He assumes the role of Omar during the day but keeps the experience of his secret identity muffled as he addresses the people during the day. His harebrained, imbecilic and witless comments are but a disguise. He remains the ultimate Indian.

Omar, as Scarlet Pimpernel, knows former President of Pakistan Musharraf who admitted that Pakistan trained Lashkar-e-Taiba and other organizations to carry out terrorist attacks in Kashmir was in fact an Indian Agent. This is the reason why he is condemning the Indian Government.

Hafiz Syed who wants war against India “until liberation of Kashmir” is actually mole of the Indian Government. He may be ranting to frenzied crowd repeatedly shouting “Jihad” near Minar-e-Pakistan but India Gate is where his heart is. The Scarlet Pimpernel knows it and is dropping hints but Indians are too silly to take the hint.

Nagrota, Uri, Chursoon and Udhampur attacks were staged by the Indian Army! They are tired of fighting the Pakistanis all the time and are inventing new war-games to keep themselves occupied. How does the Indian Government condemn or warn Pakistan. One has to believe Scarlet Pimpernel.

Terrorists exchanged for hostages in the IC 814 hijacking and included Masood Ashar. Scarlet Omar knows Ashar was never released. The man who in a speech at Karachi vowed to liberate Kashmir from “Indian rule”and identified generally as Masood Ashar was not him but a body double created by RAW.

Pakistan has no interest in Kashmir. Its 22 Special Envoys only wanted a pleasurable excursion out of the country – sponsored by India. And Nawaz Sharif’s interest in Burhan Wani who sought Hafis Syed’s blessings for Jihad against India aside from the repeated references to the UN Resolutions on Kashmir was so acting because the Indian Intelligence had changed the script of the speech otherwise Indian envoys would have had nothing to respond to and their presence at the UN would have been seen as waste of public money.

And the exodus of Pandits from Kashmir is a lie only to defame the Kashmir. Jagmohan did it. He was the agent of the Central Government.

Omar Pimpernel knows Indians have got their heroes and villains mixed up. So he acts like a villain but he is actually the real hero. He has realised that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. And Omar has no intention of being a scoundrel!