Delhi High Court refuses to entertain PIL against Kamal Haasan’s remark

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL filed by a BJP leader seeking directions to the Election Commission to “restrict” misuse of religion for poll gains.

The high court also asked the EC to decide BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s representation against the remarks of actor-cum-politician Kamal Haasan that “free India’s first extremist was a Hindu”, referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.

The petition, filed by Upadhyay, has also sought debarring of candidates and deregistration of parties that “misuse” religion for electoral gains.

Defamation case against Rahul: Court defers framing of charges

Defamation case against Rahul: Court defers framing of charges
Defamation case against Rahul: Court defers framing of charges

A Maharashtra court today deferred till October 27 framing of charges against Rahul Gandhi in the defamation case filed against him by an RSS worker regarding his alleged statement about Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, a lawyer representing the Congress vice president said.

Magistrate Tushar Vaze was likely to frame charges today, but the matter was adjourned as Rahul Gandhi could not appear.

The court in Thane accepted the Congress leader’s plea for exemption from appearance, the lawyer said.

Framing of charges is a stage before the start of trial.

Advocate Narayan Iyer, Rahul Gandhi’s lawyer, told the court that his client could not remain present today as a Parliament session is underway and he has to also attend a meeting in Chhattisgarh.

The court granted the Congress leader exemption today and adjourned the hearing to October 27, Iyer said.

The case against Rahul Gandhi was filed by a local RSS functionary, Rajesh Kunte, over the Congress leader’s speech at Bhiwandi in Thane district on March 6, 2014 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.

During the rally, Rahul allegedly said, “The RSS people had killed (Mahatma) Gandhi.”

He had said he was ready to face trial after the Supreme Court refused to interfere in the criminal proceedings at Bhiwandi court.

( Source – PTI )

Was there a second assassin of Gandhi: PIL in SC questions

Was there a second assassin of Gandhi: PIL in SC questions
Was there a second assassin of Gandhi: PIL in SC questions

Was there a second assassin of Mahatma Gandhi?

Though the police went by the theory that three bullets were fired upon him, was there a fourth bullet also which was fired by someone apart from Nathuram Godse?

These questions are among several which have been raised in a petition before the Supreme Court with a plea that there is a compelling need to uncover the larger conspiracy behind the murder of Mahatma by constituting a new Commission of Inquiry.

The petition also raises questions about the investigation into Gandhi’s murder suggesting whether it was one of the biggest cover-up in history and also whether there was any basis to blame Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for his death?

The petition by Dr Pankaj Phadnis, a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, Mumbai, has claimed that the Justice J L Kapur Commission of Inquiry set up in 1966 had not been able to unearth the entire conspiracy that culminated in the killing of the Father of the Nation.

Phadnis has also questioned the three bullet theory relied upon by various courts of law to hold the conviction of accused, including Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, who were hanged to death on November 15, 1949, while Savarkar was given the benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence.

Inspired by Savarkar, Abinav Bharat, Mumbai, was set up in 2001 and it claims to work for the socially and economically weaker section with a focus on bridging the digital divide.

Phadnis claimed that his research and media reports of those days suggested that four bullets were pumped into Gandhi and the difference between three and four shots was material as the pistol by which Godse shot Mahatma on January 30, 1948 had a seven bullet chamber and the remaining four unspent bullets were recovered by the police.

“There was no way the fourth shot could have come from this (Godse’s) pistol. It had to be from the gun of a second assassin, no trace of whom survives in any record,” he stated in the petition.

Besides approaching the apex court, Phadnis has also shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for expunging of “adverse unfounded” remarks made by the Kapur Commission against Savarkar, whose portrait was unveiled in 2003 in the Central Hall of Parliament.

Coincidentally, Savarkar was born on this day in 1883 and today is his 114th birth anniversary.

In his May 10 letter to the Prime Minister, the Mumbai resident said during his birth anniversary, “vested interests will once again unleash the bogey of apology by Savarkar to the British.”

Elaborating on his efforts, Phadnis said for the last two decades, he has been “fighting a war to unearth the truth behind horrors of partition, clear the name of Veer Savarkar and bring before the nation, true murderers of the Mahatma.

“This quest has taken me to the doors of the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Bombay High Court and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Finally I have filed a Special Leave Petition (appeal against the High Court order) in the Supreme Court,” Phadnis stated in the letter to Modi.

He has challenged the decision of the High Court which on June 6, 2016 had dismissed his PIL on two grounds, firstly, that the findings of fact have been recorded by the competent court and confirmed right up to the apex court and secondly, the Kapur Commission has submitted its report and made the observations in 1969 while the present petition has been filed after 46 years.

The petitioner said the case is one which concerns the truth behind the real hands or culprits who performed the dastardly act of Gandhi’s killing and also their hidden agenda of derailing the Great Gandhi-Jinnah People-to-People Contact that the Mahatma had planned to embark upon.

This plan was derailed because of the assassination, the consequences of which are being felt even now, he contended.

( Source – PTI )

RSS defamation case: Rahul appears before court, plea to be recorded on Mar 3

RSS defamation case: Rahul appears before court, plea to be recorded on Mar 3
RSS defamation case: Rahul appears before court, plea to be recorded on Mar 3

Rahul Gandhi today appeared before a magistrate court here in connection with the hearing in the RSS defamation case over his alleged comments blaming people from the saffron fountainhead for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.

The court adjourned till March 3 the hearing for recording the plea of the Congress Vice President, who has preferred to face trial as an accused in the defamation case.

In a brief interaction later with waiting mediapersons outside the court, Rahul said that his fight is against the ideology which killed Mahatma Gandhi.

“The date granted for recording of his (Rahul’s) plea is March 3,” said Magistrate Tushar Vaze, adjourning the case.

The case against Rahul was filed by a local RSS functionary Rajesh Kunte over the former’s speech in Bhiwandi on March 6, 2014 in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls.

During the rally, Rahul had allegedly claimed, “The RSS people had killed Gandhi.”

Prior to the adjournment, Rahul’s lawyers Ashok Mundergi and Narayan Iyer told the court that they have not received the copy of the entire newspaper (which published the news item on the Congress leader) but only the cuttings.

Mundergi told the court that he will have to go through the entire documents and he will argue if needed, before the plea is recorded. He then, along with Iyer, moved an adjournment application.

However, Nandu Phadke, advocate of the complainant in the case, urged the court that Rahul’s plea may be recorded today but his request was turned down.

Rahul arrived in the court here at around 12.30 PM amid tight security accompanied by senior Congress leaders Ashok Chavan and Sanjay Nirupam, besides party supporters.

As the magistrate was dictating some order in another case, Rahul had to wait till 1.30 PM before his case was called out. He was also seen exchanging pleasantries and speaking with Kunte.

“My fight is against the ideology which killed Gandhiji.

I remember Gandhiji. My fight is against the ideology which removed his poster from Khadi (KVIC) posters.

“Gandhiji is in the heart of every Indian. He was killed but his thought can’t be erased,” Rahul, who was headed for a rally in poll-bound state Goa, told reporters.

At the last hearing in November, the Bhiwandi court had granted him bail in the case after former Union Minister Shivraj Patil stood surety.

When Mundargi had requested for a date and sought the court to exempt Rahul from personal appearance, owing to his political commitments, the complainant’s lawyer had urged that Rahul may be treated as an “ordinary citizen” and adjourned the hearing till today.

On September 1 last year, Rahul had preferred to face the trial as an accused in the defamation case, submitting before the Supreme Court that he stood by “every word” of his statement.

Rahul had expressed his readiness to face the trial after the apex court refused to interfere with the proceedings pending against him before the trial court.

He had then withdrawn the appeal filed by him against the Bombay High Court judgement refusing to quash the defamation case and summons issued to him by the trial court.

The apex court also declined Rahul’s plea that he be exempted from personal appearance before the Bhiwandi court which had taken cognisance of the complaint of the RSS functionary by summoning him as an accused in the case.

( Source – PTI )

Never blamed RSS as a body for Gandhi’s killing: Rahul to SC

Never blamed RSS as a body for Gandhi's killing: Rahul to SC
Never blamed RSS as a body for Gandhi’s killing: Rahul to SC

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today told the Supreme Court that he had never blamed RSS as an institution that killed Mahatma Gandhi but had stated that a person associated with it was responsible for his assassination.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman, which was hearing the petition filed by Gandhi challenging the summons issued to him as an accused in a defamation case, said it will dispose of the petition if the complainant agreed.

The bench noted that the Congress leader had filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court while seeking quashing of the defamation complaint against him stating that, at an election rally, he had not blamed RSS as an institution for the assassination of Gandhi but a person associated with it.

The bench, which posted the matter for September 1, asked the complainant’s counsel and senior advocate U R Lalit to seek instruction whether the complainant was ready to end the case if Gandhi’s statement is taken on record.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress Vice President, drew the attention of the bench to the affidavit filed in the high court.

The bench, which heard the matter for about half-an-hour, said “what we understand is that the accused never blamed RSS as an institution that killed Mahatma Gandhi but the person associated with it.

( Source – PTI )

Aruna Roy urges Sonia to give social schemes a push

aaNoted social activist Aruna Roy Friday urged Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene personally to give a “strong political push” to the UPA’s flagship schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Social Security Pensions.

In her letter to Gandhi, who heads the National Advisory Council, the former NAC member said as the term of the 15th Lok Sabha draws to a close “four important assurances” of the United Progressive Alliance government are “still to be implemented, despite being supported by a national political consensus”.

Besides MGNREGS and Social Security Pensions, the other two are accountability laws like the Whistleblower Protection Bill and the pre-legislative consultative process for all laws.

Roy said it is “imperative that we act now to ensure that important efforts made so far are not undermined by apathy, inertia, and the contrary designs of vested interests”.

On the rural employment guarantee scheme, Roy said while crores of people have benefited from the scheme, “its implementation remains unfortunately suspect”.

She pointed out the “falling figures of employment” as “proof of the lack of administrative and political will” to run the scheme, and said that “disturbing reports are coming in from different states and districts facing a cash crunch and their consequent refusal to implement it as a true demand-based programme”. Feb 2 is the eighth anniversary of the scheme.

Roy said the Kaam Maango Abhiyan launched by the central government in conjunction with state governments and civil society has shown “a dramatic increase in employment demanded and work provided and clearly demonstrated that a collaborative effort can go a long way in providing entitlements to the people”.

Initiatives like the Kaam Maango Abhiyan should be extended across the country and the government should pass a message at the “highest level” that the “demand driven aspect of MGNREGS is sacrosanct and adequate funds will be made available”, she said.

“Along with this, an unambiguous commitment should be made to the people of the country to deliver the entitlements as promised under the act,” she wrote.

Calling for the assurances on the Social Security Pensions to be honoured, Roy termed the government’s contention of lack of resources as “biased against the poor and objectionable” and criticised the finance ministry for seeking to “cut budgets from across the social sector spectrum”.

“Government claims that these are not budget cuts but unspent balances. Even a small portion of these could be used to fulfil the assurances that the government has given on social security pensions.”

“We would, therefore, like to make the limited demand that social sector expenditure not be cut by even a rupee and that any ‘savings’ be put into meeting the pension requirements,” she asserted.

(Source: IANS)

Irom Sharmila put on trial for attempting suicide

Paving the way for her trial, a city court charged Irom Sharmila Chanu, on fast for over 12 years demanding repeal of the controversial Armed forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), for allegedly attempting suicide by undertaking a fast unto death for two days in 2006.

If convicted, Chanu, out on bail in the case, will face a maximum jail term of one year. The human rights activist, who said her protest was non-violent, appeared before the court with her nose tube in place, a day after flying in from Manipur.

I don’t want to take my life, I want justice: Irom

As Sharmila entered the Patiala House Courts premises, 40-50 of her supporters shouted slogans outside the gate. “Repeal AFSPA, we are with you,” the supporters carrying placards shouted in unison.

Metropolitan magistrate Akash Jain framed charges under section 309 (attempting to commit suicide) of the IPC against 40-year-old Chanu, who pleaded not guilty. “It is alleged against you Irom Sharmila Chanu…that you on October 4, 2006 at about 8 pm sat at Jantar Mantar on fast unto death uptil 11.30 pm on October 6, 2006 and refused to get your medical check-up and thereby committed an act with an intention or knowledge that under such circumstances that death may be caused and thereby committed an offence under section 309 of IPC and within the cognizance of this court,” the trial court said, while fixing the next hearing for May 22 for recording of prosecution evidence.

During the hearing, Sharmila rejected the charge that she had attempted suicide over six years back saying, “I do not want to commit suicide. Mine is only a non-violent protest. It is my demand to live as a human being. I love life. I do not want to take my life but I want justice and peace”. To this, the magistrate said, “I respect you, but the law of the land does not permit you to take your life”.

The court gave some time to her and asked her counsel to make her understand the process of law and whether she was pleading guilty for the offence.

Sharmila’s counsel Svetlana told the court that Chanu, protesting in a non-violent way like Mahatma Gandhi, had been on fast for over 12 years for the people of Manipur. “People of Manipur are neglected by the government and this is our request that she should not be forced to take food orally,”  according to the counsel.

Keeping in view her fragile health, Svetlana requested the court that Sharmila’s should not be asked to repeatedly appear before it. The magistrate replied, “Regarding an exemption, if she is not capable to appear, an appropriate application should be moved. The matter will be fixed for evidence now. I cannot pass a blanket order”.

Later, the activist said, “If AFSPA is repealed by the government, then only will I take food and take out the food pipe” through which she is fed. The magistrate, however, told her, “This is a political process. Here I am concerned with this case only.”

Best Bakery riots case witnesses to get hiked compensation

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday hiked compensation to Rs. 3 lakh by terming the previous compensation as “inadequate”. The Gujarat government gave  Rs 2000 as compensation to four key witnesses in the post-Godhra ‘Best Bakery’ riots case.

 The High Court had on Monday heavily relied upon the testimonies of the four employees of the bakery, who had received grievous injuries during the riots, to uphold life sentence to four accused in the ‘Best Bakery’ riots case in which five others were acquitted for want of evidence.

 “Compensation given to these witnesses is inadequate taking into consideration the ordeal they have undergone. Hence we direct Gujarat government to deposit compensation of Rs three lakh each to these four eyewitnesses,” a division bench of justices V M Kanade and P D Kode ordered.

 Noting that a number of witnesses had turned hostile in the ‘Best Bakery’ riots case, the court said it was high time that the state government developed a mechanism for providing protection to witnesses.

 Relying on statements of four injured eyewitnesses—Tufil Ahmed Siddiqui, Raees Khan, Shahzad Khan Pathan and Shailun Khan Pathan— the court had upheld the conviction and life sentence awarded to the four accused – Sanjay Thakkar, Bahadur Singh Chauhan, Sanabhai Baria and Dinesh Rajbhar.

 It had, however, reversed the conviction of five other accused – Rajubhai Baria, Pankaj Gosavi, Jagdish Rajput, Suresh alias Lalo Devjibhai Vasava and Shailesh Tadvi- after observing that no witnesses identified them as part of the mob that attacked Best Bakery and no specific role was attributed to them.

 On March 1, 2002, two days after the carnage in which 59 kar sevaks were burnt alive in Sabarmati Express at Godhra, a mob had attacked Best Bakery in Vadodara, looting and burning it down and killing 14 people. The mob targeted the Muslims taking shelter inside, including the Sheikh family which ran the bakery. Three Hindu workers employed at the bakery were also killed.

 Apart from these four eyewitnesses, the bench also ordered a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to key prosecution witness Yasmeen Shaikh.

 Yasmeen, who had testified against the accused during the trial, had filed an application in the High Court early this year seeking her evidence to be recorded again as she was “tutored and misguided” by social activist Teesta Setalvad into giving false evidence against the accused.

 Setalvad had also filed an intervening application asking the court to hear her views while deciding the appeals. Though the court had yesterday disposed of the appeals of the accused, it had kept its decision on Yasmeen and Setalwad’s applications pending.

 While dismissing both the applications, Justice Kanade said, “Yasmeen’s evidence is not trustworthy and hence there is no need to further make inquiries into her statement and delay the case. Since we have not made any observations against Teesta there is no need to hear her application.”

 Pointing out to the number of witnesses who turned hostile in the case, the bench said it was high time the state government developed a mechanism for providing protection to witnesses.

 “It is high time the state government evolves a machinery to protect witnesses in sensitive cases like this. A witness protection programme should be enabled so that witnesses feel protected,” the court said.

 It said such a programme should be undertaken by the state government and not by non government organisations or private parties so as to avoid allegations of tutoring and misguidance.

 In a relief to defence lawyers Adhik Shirodkar and his team, the bench expunged the remarks made against them by the trial court.

 “Although the trial court has discharged its duty at its best, it should have refrained from using harsh words. Such observations against defence lawyers were uncalled for and hence they are expunged,” Justice Kanade said.

 Justice Kode said, “Sometimes words cause more injury than weapons. Injuries caused by weapons will heal.”

 The bench also asked the media to exercise caution while reporting sensitive matters like communal tensions.

 “India is witnessing communal tension since 1947. At that time we had a leader like Mahatma Gandhi who had a command over both the communities. But unfortunately today we have no such leaders,” Justice Kanade said.