J VENKATESAN IN THE HINDU
“He shall take care of safety, food and basic amenities of the child”
The Supreme Court has directed the Director-Generals of Police of all the States and Union Territories to ensure that at least one police officer in every police station is designated as Juvenile/ Child Welfare officer to deal with the children in conflict with law. In its interim order, a Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran (since retired) and A.K. Patnaik said: “The Home departments and the DGPs of States/UTs will further ensure that Special Juvenile Police unit, comprising all police officers designated as Juvenile or Child Welfare Officer, is created in every district and city to coordinate and upgrade the police treatment to juveniles and the children as provided in Section 63 (2) of the Juvenile Justice [Care and Protection of Children] Act, 2000.”
According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection Children) Rules 2007, as soon as a juvenile is apprehended, the designated juvenile/child welfare officer of the nearest police station shall be asked to take charge of the matter. The officer shall produce the child before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) within 24 hours.
He shall intimate the parent or guardian, collect his socio-economic background and report the matter to the JJB.
Except in grave offences like rape, murder or one committed jointly with an adult, the case against a juvenile or child shall not be registered as an FIR and no charge sheet shall be filed, except making an entry in the general diary of the police station. The officer shall be responsible for the safety, food and basic amenities of the offender. Since the Act and the Rules framed were not being followed, the Supreme Court had been monitoring the implementation of the Act on the writ petition filed by Sampurna Behura and passed orders to the States/UTs from time to time. The court has already passed several orders for constitution of JJBs under Section 4 of the Act and Child Welfare Committees under Section 29 of the Act and most of the States and UTs have taken steps to constitute them.
Monitoring to continue
The Bench in its recent order made it clear that it would continue to monitor implementation of the provisions of the Act and asked the District Legal Service Authorities to provide the required training to the officers. It directed the matter to be listed in the first week of January, when the State governments and the UTs would file an affidavit outlining steps taken by them pursuant to this order.
- Court orders for Training of all Juvenile Police Officers (equalityindia.wordpress.com)
“Bail is rule, jail exception”, Khurshid reminds SC
In a balancing act, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said that while it was for the courts to decide as to who should be locked up, the dictum of bail being the rule and jail an exception has been laid down by the Supreme Court itself. Elaborating on his controversial statement that the judiciary needs to understand the ‘political economy’ in the country, Mr. Khurshid told PTI on Tuesday night that “it is not for me to lock up people, it is for the courts to decide”.
At the same time, he recalled that the Supreme Court had laid down the law “bail is the rule, jail is an exception”. The Law Minister was speaking in the backdrop of his comment, “if you lock up top businessmen, will investment come”, which was termed as “disturbing” by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Mr. Khurshid said his comments had nothing to do with the 2G case but agreed with the questioner that a lot of people think that many of those long detained in the scam had been deprived of their liberty.
In a changing society every institution has to respond to the demands of changing time and the courts had done that in the case of protection of environment for which they needed to be complimented.
Similarly, “the demands of our time are that we must appreciate what dissent is”, the minister said adding that it was the Supreme Court that had given bail to Maoist sympathiser Binayak Sen without saying that he was guiltless.
“They (the apex court) said he will be tried. If he is wrong he will be punished. But that is no no reason to keep him in prison. They gave him bail,” Mr. Khurshid said describing the order as “brilliant“. He went on to ask, “But when economic issues come does the Supreme Court pay the same attention to developing economic issues as the rest of us do”.
If you lock up businessmen, will investment come: Law Minister
At a time when the judiciary is seized with cases concerning corruption, black money and the 2G spectrum scam, Law Minister Salman Khurshid has said that the judiciary needs to understand the “political economy” in the country.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said: “What will affect the functioning of the government is if other institutions do not understand the kind of political economy we are faced with today: what is needed to encourage growth and investment? If you lock up top businessmen, will investment come? What optimal structure should be put in place for investment to come?”
Asked if he meant the judiciary when referring to “other institutions”, he replied: “Yes, judiciary is as important a player in the entire effort. Each of the three wings — judiciary, legislature and executive — has to understand the political economy and respond to it. The judiciary can’t be immune to the demands of society in changing times. The judiciary has been making positive interventions in the field of environment, fight against corruption, protection of human rights and social welfare, but it also has to understand the political economy.”
On why the UPA government has been increasingly facing flak from the judiciary, Khurshid said, “It’s not the entire judiciary. There are some judges who have felt that things need to be set right. Sometimes, we may not agree. For instance, we did not agree on the black money verdict and hence sought its recall. Two judges disagreed among themselves. These are difficult issues of political economy. We don’t blame the judges for getting it wrong. On certain things, the executive and the legislature also get it wrong.”
Asked about the controversial Finance Ministry’s note regarding Home Minister P Chidambaram’s stand on the 2G spectrum allocation issue when he was the Finance Minister, Khurshid said, “Even the worst interpretation of that document does not drag in the then FM.”
- ‘If judges show anger unnecessarily, people will feel we are just like ordinary people. We have to show our stature is above that.’ (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Justice Bhagwati pleads guilty for ADM Jabalpur Case (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Justices delayed: SC down, Judge vacancies pile up (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- The Collegium Controversy (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
T R ANDHYURUJINA IN HINDU
Procrastination on mercy petitions is inhumane to death-convicts.
An inordinate delay of 11 years occurred in considering the mercy pleas of the three death-convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan, with their pleas being ultimately rejected on August 11, 2011 by the President of India. This is only one instance of the inhuman, unconscionable and arbitrary manner in which mercy pleas of convicts condemned to death are kept pending by the government for years on end.
Simultaneous with the rejection of the pleas of these three convicts, the Home Ministry has recommended to the President to reject the mercy plea of Afzal Guru. He was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court on August 5, 2005 and the government has not taken a decision on his clemency petition for six years now.
These are some of the prominent cases among pending mercy petitions, but not the only ones. Eighteen mercy pleas are pending with the President as on August 16, 2011, the earliest among them dating back to 2005. The government seems to be totally indifferent to the pathetic plight of such convicts who are kept in suspense for many years. Courts in all civilised states, including India’s Supreme Court, have recognised that any prolonged delay in executing a death sentence can make the punishment, when it comes, inhuman and degrading. The trauma and psychological stress, coupled with solitary confinement, creating a conflict known as the “death row phenomenon,” in themselves amount to a cruel punishment. The prolonged anguish of alternating between hope and despair, the agony of uncertainty and the consequence of such suffering on the mental, emotional and physical integrity and health of not only the convict but also his family members should never be allowed in a civilised society.
In a leading case from Jamaica decided by the Privy Council in 1993, the court said: “There is an instinctive revulsion against the prospect of hanging a man after he had been under sentence of death for many years. What gives rise to this revulsion? The answer can only be our humanity. We regard it as inhuman to keep a man facing the agony of execution for a long extended period of time. To execute these men now after holding them in custody in agony of suspense of so many years would be inhuman punishment.”
In 1983, the Supreme Court of India observed that a self-imposed rule should be followed by the executive authorities that every such petition should be disposed of within a period of three months from the date it is received. In other cases, the Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment because of the unconscionable delay and suspense involved for the convict. As recently as on September 18, 2009, the Supreme Court specifically reminded the government of its obligations with regard to the 26 mercy petitions that were then pending with the President. The Government of India has been not only oblivious of the inhuman aspect of the procrastination but has disregarded the repeated directions of the Supreme Court.
The case of Afzal Guru has been a gross instance of political considerations coming in the way of deciding a mercy plea. Afzal Guru has been a political pawn, with the Bharatiya Janata Party in an unseemly manner demanding his immediate execution and making it an election issue. Meanwhile, for political considerations the government has delayed taking a decision, giving flimsy grounds such as that the file was not returned by the Delhi Government for four years.
As a matter of fact, it was revealed by the Delhi Chief Minister that the previous Home Minister had deliberately instructed the Delhi Government not to take action promptly on Afzal Guru’s file. Afzal Guru’s mental agony can be seen from a pathetic statement he made in June 2010. He said: “I really wish L.K. Advani becomes the next Prime Minister as he is the only one who can take a decision and hang me. At least my pain and daily suffering will ease then.” On the United Progressive Alliance government’s ambivalent attitude, he said: “I don’t think the UPA government can reach a decision. The Congress party has two mouths and is playing a double game.” Whatever his crime, surely Afzal Guru does not deserve this agony.
On September 30, 2009, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said he would consider afresh the cases of the 26 convicts awaiting the death sentence whose mercy petitions had been lying with the President for several years. He said the Home Ministry would examine each case turn by turn — as if deciding petitions submitted to the President was an act of grace or mercy.
It is a fallacy to believe that the power of granting pardon given to the President and the Governor under the Constitution is an act of grace or mercy. The power conferred on the President and the Governor is a part of India’s constitutional scheme and is an integral part of the criminal justice system in the public interest. The convict has a constitutional right to have his or her petition considered by the President or the Governor on relevant grounds, including miscarriage of justice. And it should be decided expeditiously. To use the felicitous words of a U.S. Supreme Court judge: “When granted the pardoning power is the determination of the ultimate authority that public welfare would be better served by inflicting less punishment than what the judgment has fixed.”
It appears that the Home Ministry has now fast-tracked death penalty cases because of petitions filed in courts. On June 12, 2011, the Gauhati High Court issued notice for the delay of 12 years in the case of Mahendra Nath Das. In July this year, the Supreme Court issued notice to the government in the case of Devender Singh Bhullar, forcing it to speed up the rejection of his mercy petition. On July 8, 2011, in a Public Interest Litigation petition moved by a non-governmental organisation against the government’s inhuman and arbitrary practice of keeping such petitions pending, the Supreme Court issued notice to the government.
It is time the entire system of disposal of the so-called mercy petitions was set right once and for all by an authoritative pronouncement and correction by the Supreme Court. Individual cases such as those of the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case that are now in court would raise the larger question of the working of the pardoning system by the government, and why cases of the other convicts on death row who are kept in similar suspense should not be simultaneously considered. This can only be done if the present system is examined and corrected by the Supreme Court for the benefit of all mercy plea petitioners.
(The writer is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court, and former Solicitor General of India and Advocate-General of Maharashtra.)
Police/SJPU – how they can choose to be an adversary or a friend of Children in Need of Care & Protection and Juvenile in Conflict with Law
SUMAN NALWA , ADDL DCP / SPUWC -DELHI POLICE
For any social and reformative legislation to be successful, it requires not just the good law but dedicated and motivated functionaries of the criminal justice system as well as the administrative wings of the govt in addition to responsive and responsible society. In the absence of these prerequisite, the law is but just a piece of paper and can never hope to make the impact it was intended to make.
The same stands true for our Juvenile Justice system as well. the object of juvenile justice system is prevention (ensuring that children do not come in conflict with the law), diversion (that children are kept away from formal criminal justice system and into community based and restorative processes to prevent repeat delinquency), protection ( of CICL from human rights violations and the children from exploitation and abuse). the mission being to not to simply punish the violators but to help the young violators of law to get back in the society on the right path. The focus being to look into the complexity of the life situation of the child and thus offering commensurate rehab program in the best interest of the child. Further, in case of CNCP, to reach out to them and ensure their proper care and rehabilitation. Thus ensuring aftercare and reintegration of all the children who have been left out, back into the society.
Considering these objectives, it was felt that the existing machinery was not in sync with the need of the children and that it requires a separate juvenile justice system which will cater to the specific needs of the children through a sensitive police, informal and flexible judiciary ready to intervene in the best interest of the child and institutions who are well equipped to design and implement the individual rehab and reintegration programs.
At the police level, a separate system of Juvenile Welfare Officers at the Police Station level, Special Juvenile Police Units at the District levels and State Nodal Unit at the state level were set up to upgrade the treatment meted out to the children at the hands of police to a more humane and sensitive approach. The Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards were also set up to look into the best interest of the child. However it has to be understood that the Juvenile Justice Act is a social legislation, aimed at changing the way our children get treated in the society and the system, and just putting the administrative structure alone is not enough to reach the goals set up by the JJ Legislation, it requires corresponding change in behavior as well as mindset at all levels to make a real impact in the life of a child.
From the police perspective, the JJ act lays down the groundwork of what police is expected to do or work in a given set of circumstance relating to children who are in need of care and protection as well as those in conflict of law, that they are specially instructed and trained and have an aptitude to handle the children. The rules go further and extols the police agency to be proactive. the rules bring out the proactive approach by making SJPUs the watch dog for providing legal protection against all kinds of cruelty, abuse and exploitation of child or juvenile and to take serious cognizance of adult perpetrators of crimes against children in addition to other duties mentioned thereof.
Role of police under the JJ Act
Police plays a substantial role in the juvenile justice system be it vis a vis the child in need of care and protection (CNCP) or the child in conflict with law (CICL). How it plays this role i.e., by taking the child along , in his best interest or considering him as any regular criminal or a victim depends on their level of sensitivity and commitment. In almost all the cases of CNCP as well as CICL, the police are usually the first point of contact with the child. This is indeed an important role as it means that the police officer, invariably the first contact point, now determines whether the child becomes the part of the juvenile justice system to begin with or not. And what kind of intervention the officer is going to make in the situation vis a vis the child often determines the future of this child.
The jj act and the modal rules lays specific duties for the police especially SJPUs vis a vis children such as to upgrade the police treatment of all juveniles and the children (Section 63), to coordinate and function as a watch dog for providing legal protection against all kinds of cruelty, abuse and exploitation of child or juvenile (rule 84(5)), to take serious cognizance of adult perpetrators of crimes against children and to see to it that they are without delay apprehended and booked under the appropriate provisions of the law (rule 84(6)), identifying CICL and CNCP in association with civil society(rule 84(7)) to name the few.
Child in Need of Care and Prptection: The specific role of police in how to address the situation when a child victim comes within their jurisdiction, is laid down in CrPC as well as JJ Act. This is more the procedural part which at best is but a skeletal and has to be augmented by the right attitude and inclination to do whatever is required in the best interest of the child. The police however, has historically and from the nature if its work profile is more inclined towards law and order and has more of crime criminal orientation. The change from crime and criminal orientation to victim orientation needs loads of efforts, interest and dedication in addition to a sensitized and dedicated police force. Whether it’s a case of physical, emotional or sexual abuse of the child, whether the child has been exploited for his work, whether the child is a street child with nowhere to go, a beggar, whether this child who is in need of care and protection of the law comes within the purview of law requires a sensitive citizen who is ready to intervene as well as a sensitive police force which is duty bound to take such children within its cudgels so that the JJ system becomes operational . These children invariably cannot stand up for themselves and need all the support possible to access to the services available to them under the law. The children being children are afraid of the formal system be it the police which goes to rescue them or the judicial system and the children homes where they are taken. At that point a soft and sensitive approach wherein the child can trust and find a friend and a guide in police will definitely mean a new life for the child and give him courage to break out of the shackles and rise towards a better destiny in addition to helping the police to nail the culprits.
There have been instances where in the children were so afraid of police with stories as well as image of police brutality that it often took lot of time to allay their fears and establish a congenial rapport with them, remove that hostility and build a confidence that police is acting in their best interest.
Child in Conflict with Law
First of all it has to be realized that any interaction with a juvenile delinquent is an opportunity to prevent him from committing the crime again. This missed opportunity often leads to juveniles downslide into involvement in repeated, serious and often violent crimes.
The jj act gives lot of discretion to police while dealing with children. The very concept of giving the discretion is so that the police person can act responsibly in the best interest of the child. As stated earlier, the police at the first point of contact with CICL and decides whether the child will be a part of criminal justice system at all or not. Thus the most important decisions in law enforcement are made by the police officers. At this point of contact is required the most balanced and appropriate response.
Under the JJ Act there are three categories of juvenile offenders, firstly those involved in petty offences where in the police officer has been given the discretion to sort the matter at the PS itself without resorting to any procedural requirements. The second category is of juveniles involved in non serious offences i.e. those entailing punishment of less than 7 years under the IPC. In this category the police officer can apprehend the juvenile only when it is in his best interest and then also can state that the child be treated as CNCP rather than the one in conflict with law. In serious offences wherein the punishment is more than 7 years, the police officer again has discretion on how he wants to treat the child. Thus the discretion comes with a responsibility to see to it that the police child encounter results in a positive intervention.
What is required to fulfill the objectives of JJ Act is sensitive, proactive and dedicated policing wherein the theory can be converted into practice because on the police interaction lies the outcome of a situation as well as the future of the child. Now the question that arises is how to make the force proactive? what are the kind of officers who are becoming JWOs? what is there orientation and interest? what are the perks and resources available with the commensurate challenges in handling juveniles?
Till these questions are dealt with, we have to make do with getting the job done through administrative directions and strict supervision. Thus we need to develop code of conduct for police personal in the lines of SOPs while dealing with children in different situations. Next step is involving the society at large. We need to rope in NGOs, other public spirited individuals, RWAs and other institutions like state legal service authorities which not only help the police agencies but also act as checks through their feedback mechanisms.
In Delhi Police, the SJPUs were created in each and every district. To bring about attitudinal and behavioral changes, training and sensitization programs were conducted for police officers at two level i.e., the police station level for all the functionaries at all level who are working in the field and at State level for all the JWOs of the Police stations. The idea was to have a sensitized police force at all levels including the field staff that invariably were the first point of contact with the child. The unique part of the police station sensitization programs is that it is being done by the NGOs working in the field of child rights. The NGOs resource persons visit the police stations regularly and interact with the police staff at all levels thus bringing in an outsiders perspective on how Delhi police is responding to children issues.
In addition to this we have an excellent networking with governmental as well as nongovernmental organizations working on child rights. It is a kind of symbiotic relationship wherein both are working for a common goal in an atmosphere of trust, support and mutual respect. The end result is that NGOs and other organizations now work hand in hand with police in the best interest of the child.
PROBLEMS FACED BY POLICE in performing their duties vis a vis children
One of the major problem faced is that there is still no separate exclusive JWO or SJPU in the distt. Role conflict and lack of time as well as lack of logistic support affect the expectations from the police as the time and patience required to deal with the child is seldom there. Some of the other problems faced are
- the need for specialized training for appropriate handling of children
- the role conflict experienced by the police officer in solving a crime and helping the child.
- low community participation in addressing juvenile delinquency.
- poor police image and perception makes it difficult to establish a rapport with the child and to work within the community with mutual trust and goals.
- police has very little intervention or say when it comes to the orders for release or incarcerations given by the JJBs. police rarely has any role in the after release processes that too when rules state that juvenile delinquency prevention is also one of the role of the JWO. Infect some of the orders of JJB have criticized the police officer from visiting the juvenile offender.
- the important point is that the positive efforts of the police do not get reflected in their output as it is measured more on crime and law and order data thus the stakes or value additions for taking on this additional work is not there in our tangible goal oriented organization as well as society.
Need of the hour is to deal with juvenile delinquency and cncp in a holistic manner, addressing at risk families so that preventive strategy can be put in place. At present there are not enough institutions and programs to help the delinquents to re-integrate in society and lead the life without crime. At times the trust that they can indeed successfully do so is also missing. Recently prayas has taken up this initiative and have started a program “yuva connect” in this regard.
Police actions have to be accompanied by actions from other institutions. Police has a limited role and cannot make any promises vis a vis resources, professional counseling and reintegration and on its own has nothing much to offer. What is required is a holistic interdepartmental approach in dealing with the delinquent and preventing them in future. In the absence of any concrete and effective rehab program and liberal courts and the fact that the repeat offenders are ever increasing, forming gangs, becoming hardened and getting involved in heinous crimes, there is chronic frustration in the police and thus the whole JJ system appears to be more symbolic than actually addressing the issue of juvenile delinquency.
Also we need to inculcate responsibility in the juvenile for his acts and omissions, the intervention of JWO should be encouraged to ensure that juveniles do not return to crime. The community service should be encouraged for reparation of their wrongs and last but not the least there is a need to develop competencies to develop the delinquents as productive citizens.
Paper delivered by Ms. Suman Nalwa, Addl.DCP/SPUW&C, Nanak Pura, New Delhi to National Seminar on Access to Justice-What it means to a child on 9th & 10th July, 2011 at Hall No. 6, Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi
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- 23 kids rescued, 5 held for abduction (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- Juvenile Justice Leader Releases Interactive U.S. Data Map Revealing Racial Disparities by State (prweb.com)
- The state of America’s children (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- “Should A Juvenile Ever Be Sentenced To Life Without Parole?” and related posts (lawinfo.com)
The Supreme Court has issued notice to all States and Union of India on the issue of Rehabilitation. This is the right time we thought seriously about rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking. We don’t need to think about ifs and buts- it is time for action.
Ravi Kant , Advocate Supreme Court of India & President, Shakti Vahini
Recently the Supreme Court had issued notice to all states while noting down the concern on the pathetic conditions of Sex Workers:
“ Although we have dismissed this Appeal, we strongly feel that the Central and the State Governments through Social Welfare Boards should prepare schemes for rehabilitation all over the country for physically and sexually abused women commonly known as prostitutes as we are of the view that the prostitutes also have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India since they are also human beings and their problems also need to be addressed. As already observed by us, a woman is compelled to indulge in prostitution not for pleasure but because of abject poverty. If such a woman is granted opportunity to avail some technical or vocational training, she would be able to earn her livelihood by such vocational training and skill instead of by selling her body. Hence, we direct the Central and the State Governments to prepare schemes for giving technical/vocational training to sex workers and sexually abused women in all cities in India. The schemes should mention in detail who will give the technical/vocational training and in what manner they can be rehabilitated and settled by offering them employment. For instance, if a technical training is for some craft like sewing garments, etc. then some arrangements should also be made for providing a market for such garments, otherwise they will remain unsold and unused, and consequently the women will not be able to feed herself.
We propose to have the response of the Centre and the States in this regard and hence the case shall be listed before us again on 04.05.2011 to be taken up as first case on which date the first compliance report indicating therein the first steps taken by the Central and the State Governments in this regard shall be submitted. Issue notice to the Central Government and all the State Governments which will also file responses by the date fixed for hearing.”
The court was expressing anguish and concern about failure of the Union of India and the States to effectively implement the National Plan of Action 1998 to combat trafficking and Rehabilitation has caused irreparable damage to lakhs of victims who have been caught in this illegal trade. The applicants states that this Honourable Court in Gaurav Jain Vs Union of India keeping in view of the legislative inertia and the consequent failure of the government directed that a high level committee be constituted to make an indepth study of these problems and to evolve such guidelines to protect the rights and interest of victims of sexual exploitation. It also laid down certain guidelines and further directed that a high level committee be constituted to make an indepth study of these problems and to evolve such suitable schemes as are appropriate and consistent with the guidelines.
The central government pursuant to the directions issued by this Honurable Court in Gaurav Jain case constituted a “Committee on the Prostitution , Child Prostitutes & Plan of Action to combat trafficking and commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children”. In 1998 a Report containing an Action Plan was prepared by the Department of Women and Child Government of India . Apart from the highlighting the problems faced in addressing issues of commercial sexual exploitation which are set out hereinafter detailed recommendations were made with a view to arrest the systematic problem , including issues relating to law enforcement and legal reforms.
The above recommendations have not been implemented. In fact there has never been any serious attempt by Respondents to address the issues /recommendations made by the committee. Further the Action Plan does not have any budgetary or non budgetary support from the Government. The petitioner believes that there has been no study relating to the economic cost of implementing the recommendation and the sources through which such costs could be met. In the years from 2001- 2010 the Government of India has focused its initiatives on the issue to combat trafficking. It has formulated the Swadhar and Ujjwala initiatives which are primarily aimed at rehabilitation of trafficked victims. The Government of India in 2010 has formed special Anti Human Trafficking Units across the country under the Ministry of Home Affairs . Apart from the above mentioned initiatives the respondents have failed miserably to formulate special schemes for rehabilitation of women who are in prostitution and also failed to implement the guidelines which were formulated in the National Plan of Action 1998 for rehabilitation of women in the red light area.
The Govt of India , UNIFEM and National Human Rights Commission undertook a study on the issue of Human Trafficking and to propose recommendations to combat this crime. The NHRC report came out with a set of recommendations which have till date not been complied with. The failure to implement the measures set out in 1998 Plan of Action and also the recommendations of the NHRC report has caused severe injury and prejudice to the victims of prostitution . The legislative deficit, coupled by callousness displayed by the respondents continues to ruin the lives of lakhs of women who are caught up in the Illegal Sex Trade being openly run from the red light areas. The respondents have failed and neglected to accept responsibility and discharge their duty as mandated by law.
Due to the callous attitude of the Union of India and the various state governments the trade in the red light area has been thriving. Combined with lax law enforcement and insufficient support structures the trafficking in Human Beings is on the increase. It is due to the problem of trafficking the victims are forcefully pushed into this illegal and viscous trade. The victims are mostly minors when they are brought and are sold to the organized crime thriving in the red light areas. From there these victims are tortured and forced into prostitution. The victims are kept in bonded conditions and are forced to live a life of bondage , sexual slavery , repeated and forced rape , deprivation of basic human rights and hidden away from law enforcement agencies. The victims after repeated human rights violation , continued torture and bodily harm are forced to do and act as there captors desire. These victims are then forced to cater to ten to fifteen men each day . This bonded conditions continue for at least seven to ten years or until the victim can be rescued. The seven to ten years of bonded and sexual slavery is serious violation of Article 23 (3) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India. During this period the victims is forced to suffer repeated rape ten to fifteen times and also during this process of forced and sexual slavery the victim also gets exposed to Sexually Transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. The economics of the illegal trade of human misery and also the the exploitation has been vividly explained in the NHRC / UNIFEM
The victim after immense suffering and years of exploitation and sexual slavery multiplied with lax law enforcement is left with no choice but to continue in the illegal trade. The victims cannot return to their homes for the fear of stigma and shame. They are left to their pathetic situations. Some of them are forced to continue in the trade and many with no choice left become part and parcel of the illegal trade. The Victims continue to suffer and with no rehabilitation or support from the government are left to beg and die in utter neglect. They don’t even venture out as they will be further exploited. Thus the suffering and violation of basic human rights and fundamental rights continue .
The Honourable Court in VishalJeet Vs Union of India explained the pathetic situation of the victims:
“No denying the fact that prostitution always remains as a running sore in the body of civilisation and destroys all moral values. The causes and evil effects of prostitution maligning the society are so notorious and frightful that none can gainsay it. This malignity is daily and hourly threatening the community at large slowly but steadily making its way onwards leaving a track marked with broken hopes. Therefore, the necessity for appropriate and drastic action to eradicate this evil has become apparent but its successful consummation ultimately rests with the public at large.
It is highly deplorable and heart-rending to note that many poverty stricken children and girls in the prime of youth are taken to ’flesh market’ and forcibly pushed into the ’flesh trade’ which is being carried on in utter violation of all cannons of morality, decency and dignity of humankind. There cannot be two opinions–indeed there is none–that this obnoxious and abominable crime committed with all kinds of unthinkable vulgarity should be eradicated at all levels by drastic steps.”
The Honurable Supreme Court in Vishaljeet Vs Union of India laid down certain guidelines for eradication of the malady :
This devastating malady can be suppressed and eradicated only if the law enforcing authorities in that regard take very severe and speedy legal action against all the erring persons such as pimps, brokers and brothel keepers. The Courts in such cases have to always take a serious view of this matter and inflict consign punishment on proof of such offences. Apart from legal action, both the Central and the State Government who have got an obligation to safeguard the interest and welfare of the children and girls of this country have to evaluate various measures and implement them in the right direction.Bhagwati, J. (as he then was) in Lakshmi Kant Pandey v.Union of India,  2 SCC 244 while emphasizing the importance of children has expressed his view thus: “It is obvious that in a civilized society the importance of child welfare cannot be over-emphasized, because the welfare of the entire community, its growth and development, depend on the health and well-being of its children. Children are a ’supremely important national asset’ and the future wellbeing of the nation depends on how its children grow and develop.”
We, after bestowing our deep and anxious consideration on this matter feel that it would be appropriate if certain directions are given in this regard. Accordingly, we make the following directions:
1. All the State Governments and the Governments of Union Territories should direct their concerned law enforcing authorities to take appropriate and speedy action under the existing laws in eradicating child prostitution without giving room for any complaint of remissness or culpable indifference.
2. The State Governments and the Governments of Union Territories should set up a separate Advisory Committee within their respective zones consisting of the secretary of the Social Welfare Department or Board, the Secretary of the Law Department, sociologists, criminologists, members of the women’s organisations, members of Indian Council of Child Welfare and Indian Council of Social Welfare as well the members of various voluntary social organisations and associations etc., the main objects of the Advisory Committee being to make suggestions of:
(a) the measures to be taken in eradicating the child prostitution, and
(b) the social welfare programmes to be implemented for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of the young fallen victims namely the children and girls rescued either from the brothel houses or from the vices of prostitution.
3. All the State Governments and the Governments of Union Territories should take steps in providing adequate and rehabilitative homes manned by well-qualified trained social workers, psychiatarists and doctors.
4. The Union Government should set up a committee of its own in the line, we have suggested under direction No.(2) the main object of which is to evolve welfare programmes to be implemented on the national level for the care, protection, rehabilitation etc. etc. of the young fallen victims namely the children and girls and to make suggestions of amendments to the existing laws or for enactment of any new law, if so warranted for the prevention of sexual exploitation of children.
5. The Central Government and the Governments of States and Union Territories should devise a machinery of its own for ensuring the proper implementation of the suggestions that would be made by the respective committees.
6. The Advisory Committee can also go deep into devadasi system and Jogin tradition and give their valuable advice and suggestions as to what best the Government could do in that regard.
7. The copies of the affidavits and the list containing the names of 9 girls are directed to be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi for necessary action. We may add that we are not giving an exhaustive list of the members for the constitution of the committee. Therefore, it is open to the concerned Government to include any member or members in the committee as it deems necessary.
We hope and trust that he directions given by us will go a long way towards eradicating the malady of child prostitution, Devadasi system and Jogin tradition and will also at the same time protect and safeguard the interests of the children by preventing of the sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Honourable Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain vs Union of India had keeping in view the legislative inertia and the consequent failure of the Government to protect the rights and interest of the victims ,laid down certain guidelines and further directed high level committee be constituted to make an indepth study of these problems and to evolve such suitable schemes as are appropriate and consistent with the guidelines. The Supreme Court realizing the enormity of the problem and the need to urgently mend the systematic and symbolic failures proceeded to give further directions in the manner as follows:
“The Minister of Welfare, Government of India will constitute a Committee consisting of the Secretary in charge of Department of Women the Child Development as the chairperson and three or four Secretaries from the concerned State Governments, to be nominated by the Minister of Welfare. They would make an in-depth study into these problems and evolve such suitable schemes as are appropriate and consistent with the directions given above. The Committee should be constituted within one month from the date of the receipt of this judgment. The Committee should finalise the report within three months thereafter. As soon as the report is submitted. the same may be communicated to all the State Governments and the concerned Ministries for their examination. Within two month from date of the communication, the Minister of Welfare, Government of India, in coordination with the Prime Minister Office should convene a meeting presided over by the Prime Minister, with Minister of Welfare, Home Minister, Human Resource Minister, the concerned Minister, Human Resource Minister, the concerned Ministers of the State Governments and their Secretaries as well to discuss the problem and take decision. The Committee should finalise the report with further suggestions or amendments, if suggested in the conference. Thereafter, the report should be finalised and then direction would be given to the State Governments for effective implementation of the schemes. The nodal Department would enforce and regularly be supervised by the Ministry of Welfare, Government of India. A permanent Committee of Secretaries should be constituted to review the progress of the implementation on annual basis, and to take such other steps as may be expedient in the effective implementation of the schemes. Periodical progress as to funding and enforcement of the scheme should be submitted to the Registry of this Court. If further directions would be needed, liberty is given to the parties to approach this Court. In that view of the matter, it is believed and hoped that the above law and directions would relieve the human problem by rehabilitation of the unfortunate fallen women cought in the trap of prostitution ; their children would be brought into the mainstream of the social order ; these directions would enable them to avail the equality of opportunity and of status, with dignity of person which are the arch of the Constitution.”
The Advisory committee formed pursuant to the judgement of this Honourable Court in Vishal Jeet vs Union of India have remained defunct and many states have not even convened meetings of the committee. The Central Advisory Committee formed by the Government of India , Ministry of Women and Child has been meeting regularly since 2005 and has been addressing the problems of trafficking. Though the committee has not focused on the issue of rehabilitation of women in prostitution. These committees were formed with the intention to promote inter department cooperation and approach the problem in a unified manner.
When Shakti Vahini (Writ Petition 190 0f 2002) had petitioned to the Supreme Court that such committees were not functional and pursuant to the Supreme Court notice many governments had formed the committees just to file affidavits in the Supreme Court. After that again these committees became non functional. The National Plan of Action 1998 formed pursuant to the Honourable Supreme Court order has remained a dead document as nothing much has been done for the emancipation of women victims.
The National Human Rights Commission in 2006 has also framed a Plan of Action to combat Trafficking but the same has also remained as a dead document. The Government of India has initiated several initiatives in collaboration with NGOs to combat trafficking and has also formed a special cell in the Ministry of home Affairs , Government of India as the Nodal Agency for the Anti Human trafficking Units. The law enforcement agencies are also being sensitized on the issue of Trafficking and several modules for police trainings have been formulated by United Nations office on Drugs and Crimes ( UNODC) , Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) and Ministry of Home Affairs. The Union of India in collaboration with NGOs has launched Ujjwala and Swadhar Schemes which are more focused towards trafficked children and as short stay homes.
The Government of India unfortunately has till date not devised any proper scheme for rehabilitation for women in prostitution so that they can become part of the mainstream.
Ratification of the UN Protocol on Human Trafficking
The Government of India has recently ratified the UN Protocol . This also implies that Government of India formally adopting definition of Human Trafficking which is :“Trafficking in persons” which shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
The UN Protocol makes Human Trafficking and Smuggling a organised crime and call upon states to provide victim support , victim repatriation , witness support and protection , Joint Investigations between member nations etc. It specially calls upon nations to ensure implementing measures to provide for the physical, psychological and social recovery of victims of trafficking in persons, including, in appropriate cases, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society, and, in particular, the provision of: (a) Appropriate housing; (b) Counselling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights, in a language that the victims of trafficking in persons can understand; (c) Medical, psychological and material assistance; and (d) Employment, educational and training opportunities. It mandates nations to ensure that take into account the age, gender and special needs of victims of trafficking in persons, in particular the special needs of children, including appropriate housing, education and care. It also provides for nations to provide for the physical safety of victims of trafficking in persons while they are within its territory and ensure that its domestic legal system contains measures that offer victims of trafficking in persons the possibility of obtaining compensation for damage suffered. It takes a commitment from nations that they shall establish comprehensive policies, programmes and other measures inter alia to prevent and combat trafficking in persons; and (b) to protect victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, from revictimization. States Parties shall endeavour to undertake measures such as research, information and mass media campaigns and social and economic initiatives to prevent and combat trafficking in persons. Policies, programmes and other measures established in accordance with this article shall, as appropriate, include cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society.States Parties shall take or strengthen measures, including through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity. States Parties shall adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measures, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.
It mandates that nations shall, as appropriate, cooperate with one another by exchanging information, in accordance with their domestic law, to enable them to determine: (a) whether individuals crossing or attempting to cross an international border with travel documents belonging to other persons or without travel documents are perpetrators or victims of trafficking in persons; the types of travel document that individuals have used or attempted to use to cross an international border for the purpose of trafficking in persons; and the means and methods used by organized criminal groups for the purpose of trafficking in persons, including the recruitment and transportation of victims, routes and links between and among individuals and groups engaged in such trafficking, and possible measures for detecting them.
It ensures that nations shall provide or strengthen training for law enforcement, immigration and other relevant officials in the prevention of trafficking in persons. The training should focus on methods used in preventing such trafficking, prosecuting the traffickers and protecting the rights of the victims, including protecting the victims from the traffickers. The training should also take into account the need to consider human rights and child- and gender-sensitive issues and it should encourage cooperation with nongovernmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society.
The Government of India and the various states have failed in their duty as the problem of prostitution is a serious violation of Fundamental Rights as enshrined in Article 21 and Article 23 of the Constitution of India. India is also a signatory to international conventions such as the Convention on Rights of the Child (1989), Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000) and the latest South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution (2002). The Constitutional , International, Statutory obligations and orders of the Honourable Supreme Court makes it mandatory for the Government of India and the different state Government to combat this heinous organised crime and also to provide support to the victims of Prostitution.
Rehabilitation / Compensation approach
The Supreme Court in Bandhua Mukti Morcha 1984 (3) SCC 161 has elucidated the rehabilitation of Bonded Labour and directed the Government to award compensation to Bonded labour under the provisions of Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 after taking note of serious violation of Fundamental & Human Rights :
“The other question arising out of the implementation of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 is that of rehabilitation of the released bonded labourers and that is also a question of the greatest importance, because if the bonded labourers who are identified and freed, are not rehabilitated, their condition would be much worse than what it was before during the period of their serfdom and they would become more exposed to exploitation and slide back once again into serfdom even in the absence of any coercion.
The bonded labourer who is released would prefer slavery to hunger, a world of ‘bondage and (illusory) security’ as against a world of freedom and starvation. The State Governments must therefore concentrate on rehabilitation of bonded labour and evolve effective programmes for this purpose. Indeed they are under an obligation to do so under the provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976. It may be pointed out that the concept of rehabilitation has the following four main features as admirably set out in the letter dated 2nd September 1982 addressed by the Secretary. Ministry of Labour, Government of India to the various States Governments:
(i) Psychological rehabilitation must go side by side with physical and economic rehabilitation;
(ii) The physical and economic rehabilitation has 15 major components namely allotment of house-sites and agricultural land, land development, provision of low cost dwelling units, agriculture, provision of credit, horticulture, animal husbandry, training for acquiring 134 new skills and developing existing skills, promoting traditional arts and crafts, provision of wage employment and enforcement of minimum wages, collection and processing of minor forest produce, health medical care and sanitation supply of essential commodities, education of children of bonded labourers and protection civil rights;
(iii) There is scope for bringing about an integration among the various central and centrally sponsored schemes and the on-going schemes of the State Governments for a more qualitative rehabilitation. The essence of such integration is to avoid duplication i.e. pooling resources from different sources for the same purpose. It should be ensured that while funds are not drawn from different sources for the same purpose drawn from different sectors for different components of the rehabilitation scheme are integrated skillfully;and
(iv) While drawing up any scheme/programme of rehabilitation of freed bonded labour, the latter must necessarily be given the choice between the various alternatives for their rehabilitation and such programme should be finally selected for execution as would need the total requirements of the families of freed bonded labourers to enable them to cross the poverty line on the one hand and to prevent them from sliding back to debt bondage on the other.
We would therefore direct the Government of Haryana to draw up a scheme on programme for “a better and more meaningful rehabilitation of the freed bonded labourers” in the light of the above guidelines set out by the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Labour in his letter dated 2nd September 1982. The other State Governments are not parties before us and hence we cannot give any direction to them, but we hope and trust that they will also take suitable steps for the purpose of securing identification, release and rehabilitation of bonded labourers on the lines indicated by us in this Judgment.”
The compensation since 1978 has undergone a change and presently the compensation is Rs20,000 and access to Government schemes of poverty alleviation and also housing under Indira Awas Yojana .
Supreme Court in MC Mehta vs State of Tamil Nadu and Others – Writ Petition (Civil) No.465/1986 seeing the severe violation of fundamental rights in cases of child labour laid down guidelines for compensation and rehabilitation :
“ It may be that the problem would be taken care of to some extent by insisting on compulsory education. Indeed, Neera thinks that if there is at all a blueprint for tackling the problem of child labour, it is education. Even if it were to be so, the child of a poor parent would not receive education, if per force it has to earn to make the family meet both the ends. therefore, unless the family is assured of income allude, problem of child labour would hardly get solved; and it is this vital question which has remained almost unattended. We are, however, of the view that till an alternative income is assured to the family, the question of abolition of child labour would really remain a will-o’-the wisp. Now, if employment of child below that age of 14 is a constitutional indication insofar as work in any factory or mine or engagement in other hazardous work, and if it has to be seen that all children are given education till the age of 14 years in view of this being a fundamental right now, and if the wish embodied in Article 39(e) that the tender age of children is not abused and citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocation unsuited to their age, and if children are to be given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and childhood is to be protected against exploitation as visualised by Article 39(f), it seems to us that the least we ought to do is see to the fulfillment of legislative intendment behind enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Taking guidance therefrom, we are of the view that the offending employer must be asked to pay compensation for every child employed in contravention of the provisions of the Act a sum of Rs.20,000/-; and the Inspectors, whose appointment is visualised by section 17 to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act, should do this job. The inspectors appointed under section 17 would see that for each child employed in violation of the provisions of the Act, the concerned employer pays Rs.20,000/- which sum could be deposited in a fund to be known as Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum-Welfare Fund. The liability of the employer would not cease even if he would desire to disengage the child presently employed. It would perhaps be appropriate to have such a fund district wise or area wise. The fund so generated shall form corpus whose income shall be used only for the concerned child. The quantum could be the income earned on the corpus deposited qua the child. To generate greater income, fund can be deposited in high yielding scheme of any nationalised bank or other public body.
As the aforesaid income could not be enough to dissuade the parent/guardian to seek employment of the child, the State owes a duty to come forward to discharge its obligation in this regard. After all, the aforementioned constitutional provisions have to be implemented by the appropriate Government, which expression has been defined in section 2(i) of the Act to mean, in relation to establishment under the control of the Central Government or a railway administration or a major port of a mine or oil field, the Central Government, and in all other cases, the State Government.
Now, strictly speaking a strong case exists to invoke the and of an Article 41 of the Constitution regarding the right to work and to give meaning to what has been provided in Article 47 relating to raising of standard of living of the population, and Articles 39(e) and (f) as to non-abuse of tender age of children and giving opportunities and facilities to them to develop in healthy manner, for asking the State to see that an adult member of the family, whose child is in employment in a factory or a mine or in other hazardous work, gets a job anywhere, in lieu of the child. This would also see the fulfillment of the wish contained in Article 41 after about half a century of its being in the paramount parchment, like primary education desired by Article 45, having been given the status of fundamental right by the decision in Unni Krishnan. We are, however, not asking the State at this stage to ensure alternative employment in every case covered by Article 24, as Article 41 speaks about right to work “within the limits of the economic capacity and development of the State”. The very large number of child-labour in the aforesaid occupations would require giving of job to very large number of adults, if we were to ask the appropriate Government to assure alternative employment in every case, which would strain the resources of the State, in case it would not have been able to secure job for an adult in a private sector establishment or, for that matter, in a public sector organisation., we are not issuing any direction to do so presently. Instead, we leave the matter to be sorted out by the appropriate Government. In those cases where it would not be possible to provide job as above-mentioned, the appropriate Government would, as its contribution/grant, deposit in the aforesaid Fund a sum of Rs.5,000/- for each child employed in a factory or mine or in any other hazardous employment.
The aforesaid would either see an adult (whose name would be suggested by the parent/guardian of the concerned child) getting a job in lieu of the child, or deposit of a sum of Rs.25,000/- in the Child Labour Rehabilitation-cum- Welfare Fund. In case of getting employment for an adult, the parent/guardian shall have to see that his child is spared from the requirement to do the job, as an alternative source of income would have become available to him.”
The Supreme Court in Delhi Domestic Working Women’s Forum Vs. Union India and others writ petition (CRL) No.362/93 in recognition of severe violation of Fundamental rights of Rape Victims had directed the National Commission Women to evolve a “scheme so as to wipe out the tears of unfortunate victims of rape’’. The Supreme Court observed that having regard to the Directive Principles contained in Article of the Constitution, it was necessary to set up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, as rape victims besides the mental anguish, frequently incur substantial financial and in some cases are too traumatized to continue in employment.
“ In this background, we think it necessary to indicate the broad parameters in assisting the victims of rape.The complainants of sexual assault cases should be provided with legal representation. It is important to have someone who is well- acquainted with the criminal justice system. The role of the victim’s advocate would not only be to explain to the victim the nature of the proceedings, to prepare her for the case and to assist her in the police station and in court but to provide her with guidance as to how she might obtain help of a different nature from other agencies, for example, mind counseling or medical assistance. It is important to secure continuity of assistance by ensuring that the same person who looked after the complainant’s interests in the police station represent her till the end of the case.
(2) Legal assistance will have to be provided at the police station since the victim of sexual assault might very well be in a distressed state upon arrival at the police station, the guidance and support of a lawyer at this stage and whilst she was being questioned would be of great assistance to her.
(3)The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions were asked of her and that the police report should state that the victim was so informed.
(4) A list of advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station for victims who did not have a particular lawyer in mind or whose own lawyer was unavailable.
(5)The advocate shall be appointed by the court, upon application by the police at the earliest convenient moment, but in order to ensure that victims were questioned without undue delay, advocates would be authorised to act at the police station before leave of the court was sought or obtained.
(6)In all rape trials anonymity of the victim must be maintained, as far as necessary.
(7)It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(1) of the Constitution of India to set up Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss. Some, for example, are too traumatised to continue in employment.
(8) Compensation for victims shall be awarded by the court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction has taken place. The Board will take into account pain, suffering and shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of child birth if this occurred as a result of the rape.
16. On this aspect of the matter we can usefully refer to the following passage from The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (1994 Edn.) at pages 1237-38 as to the position in England:
”Compensation payable by the offender was introduced in the Criminal Justice Act, 1972 which gave the Courts powers to make an ancillary order for compensation in addition to the main penalty in cases where ‘injury, loss, or damage’ had resulted. The Criminal Justice Act, 1982 made it possible for the first time to make a compensation order as the sole penalty. It also required that in cases where fines and compensation orders were given together, the payment of compensation should take priority over the fine. These developments signified a major shift in penological thinking, reflecting the growing importance attached to restitution and reparation over the more narrowly retributive aims of conventional punishment. The Criminal Justice Act, 1988 furthered this shift. It required courts to consider the making of a compensation order in every case of death, injury, loss or damage and, where such an order was not given, impose a duty on the court to give reasons for not doing so. it also extended the range of injuries eligible for compensation. These new requirements mean that if the court fails to make a compensation order it must furnish reasons. Where reasons are given, the victim may apply for these to be subject to judicial review ….
The 1991 Criminal Justice Act contains a number of provisions which directly or indirectly encourage an even greater role for compensation.”
17.Section 10 of the Act states that the National Commission for men shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:, (a) Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws. (b) Call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints so as to recommend strategies for their removal.
18. Having regard to the above provisions, the third respondent will have to evolve such scheme as to wipe out the tears of such unfortunate victims. such a scheme shall be prepared within six months from the date of this judgment. Thereupon, the Union of India, will examine the same and shall necessary steps for the implementation of the scheme at the earliest.
The National Commission for Women pursuant to the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court has drafted a scheme for Compensation. Some states have already started the implementation of the scheme. The scheme The scheme has proposed a compensation of Rs2 to Rs3 Lakhs for Rape victims.
The Government of India has recently amended the The Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 as amended by The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2008 ( 5 of 2009) has now an added provision in the form of the section 357-A on victim compensation.
“357A. Victim compensation scheme. — (1) Every State Government in co-ordination with the Central Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who, require rehabilitation.
(2) Whenever a recommendation is made by the Court for compensation, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, as the case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme referred to in sub-section (1).
(3) If the trial Court, at the conclusion of the trial, is satisfied, that the compensation awarded under section 357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation, or where the cases end in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to be rehabilitated, it may make recommendation for compensation.
(4) Where the offender is not traced or identified, but the victim is identified, and where no trial takes place, the victim or his dependents may make an application to the State or the District Legal Services Authority for award of compensation.
(5) On receipt of such recommendations or on the application under sub-section
(4), the State or the District Legal Services Authority shall, after due enquiry award adequate compensation by completing the enquiry within two months.
(6) The State or the District Legal Services Authority, as the case may be, to alleviate the suffering of the victim, may order for immediate first-aid facility or medical benefits to be made available free of cost on the certificate of the police officer not below the rank of the officer in charge of the police station or a Magistrate of the area concerned, or any other interim relief as the appropriate authority deems fit.”.
Article 23of the Constitution of India prohibits ,”Traffic in Human Beings” this Honourable Court has held that the expression “Traffic in Person” in Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India is evidently a very wide expression which includes the prohibition of traffic in women for immoral and other purposes . In the case of women in prostitution the failure to implement the National Plan of Action drafted pursuant to the Judgement in Gaurav Jain vs Union of India has resulted in serious deprivation of fundamental rights.
The trafficked victims and women in prostitution go through serious fundamental rights violation which includes bondage and sexual slavery and repeated rape and gang rape. The crimes are very serious in nature which results in deprivation of Fundamental Rights and therefore the state is liable. As mentioned above this Honourable Court has already ordered compensation in Bonded Labour and for victims of Rape , the victims of Human Trafficking and women in Prostitution also are eligible for compensation from the State.
The failiure of the Union of India and the State Governments to draft a suitable rehabilitation scheme for women in prostitution is a serious violation of orders of this Honourable Court and also violation and deprivation of Article 21 and Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India. Article 23 read with Article 39, 41 and 42 together constitute inalienable rights and the failure to grant such right would constitute deprivation of basic fundamental rights. The problem of trafficking and prostitution is also serious violation of Article 14 , Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
A way forward – Suggested Recommendations
Shakti Vahini after held several meetings with women victims of the red light area of GB Road on the issue of Rehabilitation after the Honourable Supreme Court issued notice to the Union of India and all states in the present case. The victims have provided suggestions as to how the State can formulate schemes which can help them to reintegrate back to the society. The victims have also come out with suggestions so that they can be reintegrated in the society and also be rehabilitated which are as follows:
1. Compensation to be paid for serious violation and deprivation of Fundamental rights.
2. The women in prostitution are in bondage condition for several years . As a result there is a serious loss of identity and the organised crime changes their names frequently. This ultimately leads to having no identity and hence access to government schemes and government facilities are completely not available to the Victims. The Government of India and the State Government should at once issue identity cards , Ration Cards , UID Cards so that domicile can be proved. Without these documents the women have no approach to the government facilities.
3) The Women victims of prostitution and Human Trafficking undergo serious violation of Fundamental rights and are forced to live a life of sexual slavery and bondage. They have no source of income and they should be treated as Below Poverty Line. This will enable them to access the schemes for Poverty Alleviation.
4) Most of the victims of Human Trafficking and Women in Prostitution belong to the lower strata of the society and are tribals and belong to the SC and ST communities. The schemes for alleviation of these communities should be open to all those victims who belong to such communities
5) The Government should provide schemes for training and Income generation programme and also link these schemes with Nationalised Banks and agencies like Rashtriya Mahila Kosh . The training provided should encourage entrepreneurship and this needs to be supported by easy and low interest credit. Services of NGOs can be asked to provide mentor support.
6) The victims of trafficking and prostitution who want to leave the place should be provided residential facilities and rehabilitation scheme as soon as possible.
7) All schemes of social security and Health facilities should be accessible to victims of trafficking.
Legal aid and legal support should be provided to the victims .
9) States in destination area should also accept responsibility of victims as they are liable because their fundamental rights violation has taken in the destination areas. This is because many a times states pass on the responsibility of the victims on the home state and the home states accepts no responsibility.
10) The present schemes of swadhar and Ujjwala are completely irrelevant compared to the magnanimity of the crime.
11) Any scheme devised by the Government of India should have strong budgetary support.
12) The victims of trafficking and women in prostitution categorically state they are victims of organised crime and have landed in this situation due to they were forced in this situation. They all agree that in no case prostitution should be allowed or regulated.
13) Government should frame stringent laws to convict traffickers who indulge in trafficking of women and children. The Law enforcement agencies should take action against such criminals.
14) The whole illegal business of prostitution is run by organised crime who have links across the country. The honourable court should direct the law enforcement agencies to launch investigation against these perpetrators
When the Supreme Court said that the victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation should be provided “ a life of dignity” it should not be meant that the court is talking about legalization. Organizations and individuals with vested interest who have to gain from such illegal trade start speaking about the legalization issue.
It is a reality that Govt of India has never had a serious view on the issue of rehabilitation. It may be thing of past as the Government of India with the liberalization of the economy has now no dearth of the funds to do it. The Government is already spending huge amounts in National Rural Health Mission, Sarva Shiksha Abhjiyan , National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme, Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) & etc.
Recently the Government of India has launched Anti Human Trafficking Units across the country. This is a specialised force which will work exclusively to combat Human Trafficking. The results are already being felt with more such gangs being busted. This is the right time we thought seriously about rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking. We don’t need to think about ifs and buts- it is time for action.
The writer is practising advocate in the Supreme Court of India and is President of Shakti Vahini a leading non governmental organization working on anti trafficking. He can be reached at : email@example.com
Uttam Sengupta IN THE TRIBUNE
THE Supreme Court earlier this month declared as ‘unconstitutional’ the temporary recruitment and arming of tribal youth. The ruling was clearly unexpected and the Union Home Minister , while refraining from commenting on the decision, announced that he would have to discuss the issue with the Chief Ministers since it concerned not just Chhattisgarh but nine other states as well. According to reports in the media, both the Union Government and the Chhattisgarh government are preparing to file a petition for reviewing the decision.
The ruling has indeed put the government in a fix. After the apex court’s ruling, the entire force and structure of the SPOs has become illegal. The government would not only have to disband and disarm the SPOs in the shortest possible time, it would also have to stop paying them the token honorarium, ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 a month. Many of these SPOs, who have acted as the “eyes and ears” of the police in Maoist affected districts, may , in desperation, even cross over to the ‘enemy’ and share information and intelligence that they may have gathered as SPOs. Others may refuse to return the firearms given to them, supposedly to defend themselves.
A Superintendent of Police at Raipur was quoted as exclaiming in dismay, “ How do you tell them they cannot carry a weapon ? After all, they have been fighting the Maoists for long. They have been targets and could get killed anytime.” Both the Union Home Minister and the Chhattisgarh government acknowledged that the ruling had come as a major setback to anti-Maoist operations.
The dictionary defines ‘special’ as ‘uncommon’. And an ‘officer’ is of course a person who commands authority and holds an office. But in independent India, the SPOs, numbering over 70,000 this year and spread across nine states, are neither special or equal to policemen and nor are they officers, for reasons that will become clear later in this write-up.
The antiquated Indian Police Act ( IPA) of 1861 first provided for the appointment of SPOs. If there was an apprehension of rioting or any breach of peace and the regular police force was found to be inadequate to cope with the situation, any police inspector could apply to the court for permission to appoint a specified number of people as SPOs for a temporary period of time.
This allowed the colonial government to maintain a loyal band of ‘bonded’ people , it could fall back on in times of emergency. The provision was also used to reward police informers from the secret fund. The institution was apparently found to be convenient and has been in the statute books since then. Intervention by the Supreme Court of India actually prompted the Chhattisgarh government to enact its own Act, Chhattisgarh Police Act ( CPA) under which it went ahead to appoint 6,500 SPOs.
Those who have visited police camps in Maoist-affected states would have come across these SPOs. Young men or boys in their late teens, wearing ill-fitting uniforms, they generally appear even more scared than the visitors to their camps. They should have been far away from the war-zone, singing love songs and wooing soul-mates, raising families and pursuing their dreams. But here they are huddled like cattle in barracks with no space to stand or walk. The available space is generally occupied by folding cots and the ‘officers’ are forced to roll over cots to reach their own.
They are required to man the watch-towers and crouch in bunkers. They usually lead the security forces during Long Range Patrols, carefully watching out for landmines or sniper-fire. They do the night shifts and of course, as members of a disciplined, uniformed force, they are required to clean the barracks, toilets, fetch water, work in the kitchen as part of daily chores, acutely conscious that their lives can be cut short at any time. Officers indeed.
Still the judgment has come in for considerable criticism. While Congress leaders have been understandably silent on the issue, BJP leaders have made no secret of their disappointment, describing the judgment as dangerous. The Supreme Court, it was insinuated, has gone a little overboard in striking down a seemingly reasonable and valid administrative arrangement. The ruling smacked of a political and ideological bias and would be an impediment to good governance, commented an editorial. It was a setback for anti-Maoist operations and would make it tougher for governments and police to enforce law and order in Maoist strongholds, it was eloquently argued.
Others frowned on the judgment that waxed eloquent on an “amoral political economy”, prevailing inequalities in society and the ‘corrupt social and state order’. The Supreme Court’s “lecture” reminding the state of its responsibility to ensure security to all citizens and prevent emergence of great disaffection also did not go down too well. The more charitable of the critics pointed out that the comments made by the Supreme Court were unnecessary and not really relevant. Others bitterly questioned whether it was the court’s business to quote from literature, philosophy and economic treatise and serve a sermon on morality.
The debate is not really central to the issue. The more relevant question is whether the apex court really had an option but to strike down the recruitment of SPOs ? The court has been deliberating on the case for nearly four years and quoted equally extensively from the affidavits filed by both the Union government and the state government in its judgment. For good reason, the critics have refrained from citing these passages from the judgment.
The Union government and the Chhatisgarh government, one also suspects, were far too confident and, therefore, casual about the case. The petition, after all, was filed way back in 2007 by “ Maoist sympathisers” and outsiders like Nandini Sundar and Ramchandra Guha. The apex court had passed a series of interim orders, had asked Chhattisgarh to vacate the schools occupied by security forces and directed the National Human Rights Commission to report on the ground situation. It had also ordered that the SPOs should be recruited strictly in accordance with the law and had refused to impose an interim ban on the recruitment. That possibly convinced both New Delhi and Raipur that the apex court was not inclined to strike at the edifice so painstakingly built by them.
The affidavit of the Chhattisgarh government claimed that there was an acute shortage of security personnel in the state. While the state required a minimum of 70 battalions to take on the Maoists, it had only 40 battalions at its disposal. Worse, 30 of them were central forces comprising “outsiders” who are neither familiar with the local terrain nor with the local dialects. That is why, it was claimed, it was necessary to recruit local, tribal youth as “guides” and “interpreters”.
The affidavit then argued that the tribal youth had actually volunteered to fight the Maoists. They had been victims of Maoist violence and hence they wanted to avenge the loss of lives and property their families had suffered.
The same affidavit then stated that the tribal youths were armed because they were soft targets and were vulnerable to attacks by Maoists. Arms were given to them in “self-defence”.
At some point, however, they seemed to discard the ‘self-defence’ explanation. It had become necessary to arm the tribal youth, stated one of the affidavits, because the Maoists had also raised local militias with intimate knowledge of the local terrain and the people. It was important, therefore, to raise a “force multiplier” with equally intimate knowledge of local dialects, terrain and customs.
It went on to argue that there was nothing illegal about the recruitment of SPOs since it was being done under a legislation passed by the state legislature and also provided in the Indian Police Act.
The affidavit by the Union government endorsed the claim and asserted that the SPOs played a crucial role in maintaining law and order, which, it pointedly stated, was a state subject. The Union of India claimed to have a limited role to play in the recruitment of SPOs. It merely fixed the upper ceiling of SPOs in each state, primarily because it bore 80 per cent of the expenses incurred on the SPOs. Thereafter, it had only an advisory role. The recruitment, training and deployment were responsibilities of the respective state governments.
The Supreme Court wanted to know the qualifications required for recruitment as SPOs, the kind of training imparted to them, how and when were they discharged and what kind of protection has been offered to them by the state. It also asked what kind of control the state exercised over the SPOs and what could it do if the SPOs refused to be disarmed whenever ordered ?
The affidavit admitted that the SPOs were barely literate. Pointing out that the law was silent on minimum qualification for SPOs, it added that preference was given to those who have passed standard five in school. In other words, they would not be eligible even for appointment as police constables, which requires them to pass standard eight.
It admitted that no training is given to the SPOs till they completed at least one year in “service”. Then also it was at the discretion of the Superintendent of Police. Later, a fresh affidavit claimed that a training module had been drawn up for the SPOs and they were being schooled in “ Human Rights, the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and Forensic Science etc.” among other classes.
The Chhattisgarh Police Act made it clear that the SPOs are to be recruited on a purely temporary basis and they can be terminated at any time without assigning any reason. But the same Act also makes it clear that the SPOs would ‘always’ be deemed to be on duty and they could not take up any other assignment.
There was no answer to the obvious question, namely what prevented the state government from recruiting local tribal youth as regular policemen and training them.
The two governments also missed the irony. While they had failed to educate the tribal youth, they saw nothing wrong in using them as “cannon fodder” in the fight against Maoists. The state, exclaimed the Supreme Court Bench, should have been distributing books to them, not guns. Also paradoxical is the claim to train “in two months” the barely literate youth in complex laws and forensic science.
The government was also clearly tempted to take shortcuts. While Chhattisgarh paid Rs 3,000 p.m. to the SPOs, several other states apparently paid much less. Raising a regular police force would have called for a much higher salary payment and a lot more investment on their perks, pension and training. The principle of “equal pay for equal work” does not seem to impress the government. But the affidavits insisted that the SPOs were subject to the “ same discipline and the same chain of command” as applicable to the regular police force.
Indeed, the Chhattisgarh Police Act specified that the SPOs would be responsible for preventing crime, preserving internal security, maintaining public order, enforcing the law, providing security, providing public property, detect offences and arresting offenders.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Supreme Court would be horrified at the brazen bid of the state to raise armed, vigilante groups that operate under the veneer of state patronage. The illiterate or the barely literate tribal youth, sandwiched between the Maoists on the one hand and the police on the other, may have had no option but to accept the ‘generous’ offer of the state, howsoever unfair, uncertain, unequal and humiliating.
But can the state really get away by treating citizens in such a cavalier manner ? The shameful and embarrassing conduct of the state has been redeemed somewhat by the ruling of the Supreme Court. It remains to be seen if our elected governments redeem themselves.
Neither special nor officers
- Number : 70,000
- Spread over : 9 states
- Recruitment : Temporary
- Discharge : Any time without assigning any reason
- Training : Nil or farcical
- Protection : Uncertain
- Discipline : Same as the police
- Duties : Same as policemen
- Salary : `1,500 to `3,000 p.m.
- The state cannot push illiterate, untrained youth to fight
- It is the state’s duty to protect citizens. Civilians cannot be armed to defend themselves.
- Armed vigilante groups can turn into a Frankenstein
- Tribal youth have a right to education, liberty and choice
- Equal work should be compensated with equal pay
- The cycle of violence has not abated. So, the problem lies elsewhere.
- A supreme misjudgment (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- ‘The horror! The horror!’ (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- India’s Supreme Court Bans Anti-Maoist Policemen (online.wsj.com)
- Govt to seek recall of SC black money verdict (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Mughal-era law still governs road accident relief: SC (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Full support to Chhattisgarh, Orissa to tackle Maoists: Centre (hindu.com)
- ‘Full support to Chhattisgarh, Orissa’ (hindu.com)
- Can’t do much to curb honour crimes: Centre (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
By Naziya Alvi in New Delhi IN MAIL TODAY
A DAY AFTER five rape cases were reported within a span of 48 hours in the Capital, the ministry of women and child development came up with a scheme to compensate the victims by providing them financial assistance up to ` 3 lakh.The scheme was announced after the Delhi High Court rapped the central and the state governments for the delay in setting up a compensation scheme for rape victims. The court ordered the implementation of the scheme within the next six weeks.
Under the scheme, if a rape case is prima facie made out, the victim will receive an interim financial assistance of ` 20, 000 within 15 days. After giving due consideration to the physical injury and emotional trauma faced by the victim, she will be provided with further financial aid up to ` 50,000.
However, in view of the rampant trend of rape victims turning hostile or going missing after lodging the FIR, the major chunk of the compensation amount— ` 1.30 lakh — will be handed over to the victim only after she makes the final deposition before the court.
The scheme has fixed the compensation amount for victims at ` 2 lakh, but can it be enhanced up to ` 3 lakh if the victim is a minor, differently- abled, mentally challenged or in any other case where the designated authority finds it necessary.
The scheme, prepared with the assistance of NGOs, lawyers and activists, aims at providing psychological, medical and legal assistance to the affected woman. It also has the provision to provide counselling support to the victim, including her spouse if the affected woman is married.
Depending upon their needs, the victims will also be provided various support services such as educational and vocational training so as to help them overcome the trauma and lead an independent life.
A Criminal Injuries Relief and Rehabilitation Board will be set up at the district, state and national level for the implementation of the scheme. The announcement of the scheme on Wednesday evoked mixed responses from social activists, lawyers and academicians.
“ I think it will lead to so much ugliness. My concern is that the government promises a lot but its delivery mechanism is so poor that everything becomes either a farce or a source of corruption,” social activist Madhu Kishwar said.
“ What a woman needs more than anything else is swift, speedy and dignified judicial process and a police station that works lawfully. What is most worrisome is how they will ensure that the compensation reaches the victim,” she added.
“ The Supreme Court, while pronouncing the judgment in the Delhi Domestic Workers Association case in the early 90s, had directed the government to formulate a similar scheme.
They should have ideally done it within a year. The fact that they have not done it till date shows the intent and prioritisation of the government and the bureaucrats towards women’s issues,” Meenakshi Lekhi, a Delhibased advocate, said.
Yasmeen Abrar, chairperson of the National Commission for Women, said she was happy that the government finally came up with such a scheme. “ However, we feel that ` 2 lakh is not a sufficient amount and should be increased to at least ` 5 lakh,” Abrar said. But for some, the scheme is just an eyewash. “ Compensation is meaningless so long as the guilty are not punished.
Rape is not an accident where a money claim will heal the wounds,” a rape victim said.
20,000 will be given to the victim in the event a rape case is prima facie made out. The district board shall order the assistance as far as possible within 15 days and, in any case, not later than 3 weeks from the date of receipt of the application ` 50,000 is the maximum amount the victim will receive as further aid after giving due consideration to the physical injury and emotional trauma faced by her
1.3 lakh will be given to the victim as final assistance within one month from the date on which the victim gives her evidence in the criminal trial or within one year from the date of receipt of the application in cases where the recording of evidence has been unduly delayed for reasons beyond her control
ENHANCEMENT OF AID IN SPECIAL CASES
3 lakh is the enhanced compensation an affected woman will be entitled to if she
- is a minor
- is mentally challenged or differently abled
- is infected with STD, including HIV/ AIDS as a consequence of rape
- gets pregnant
- in case of severe physical and mental ailments
- any other ground as may be deemed fit by the board
WHEN CAN THE BOARD REJECT THE CLAIM?
- Avictim’s claim can be rejected under the following circumstances
- she fails to inform, without delay, the police or any other appropriate authority about the incident
- she fails to give reasonable assistance to the board in connection with the application
- the FIR is filed so late that it is difficult to verify the facts of the case
- she turns hostile during the trial
- the case appears to be collusive in nature
- bona fides of the victim are suspect, such as in a case involving solicitation, and not based on verifiable facts
- case is of elopement of girls above 16 years of age
WHO MAY APPLY AND BY WHEN?
An application for financial assistance and support services has to be filed within 60 days from the date of recording of the FIR either by the victim or by any person/ organisation/ department/ commission on her behalf, with the application duly signed by her
WHERE THE AFFECTED WOMAN IS:
A minor: By her parent/ guardian . Mentally ill or is mentally challenged: By the person with whom she normally resides or a duly authorised medical officer of the institution
ON THE DEATH OF THE AFFECTED WOMAN:
by her legal heir( s) . Where the application is filed after 60 days, the board may condone such delay where it is satisfied with the reasons for the same.
- Complaints of growing abuse by placement agencies in Delhi (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- Two alleged human traffickers held (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
- Indias Efforts to Curb Trafficking in Persons Recognised by the Us Trafficking in Persons Report. India Upgraded to Tier 2 (equalityindia.wordpress.com)
- Trafficking victim allegedly raped by agent (shaktivahini.wordpress.com)
Following is the text of the speech of Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law & Justice IN Calcutta on the campaign mode approach to reduce pendency in couts:
“Jawaharlal Nehru, on the afternoon of March 19, 1955, while addressing the members of the Punjab High Court at the inauguration of its new building in Chandigarh, said, “Justice in India should be simple, speedy and cheap.” He remarked that litigation was a disease and it could not be a good thing to allow any disease to spread an then go out in search of doctors.
At a Joint Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices held on August 16, 2009, the Hon’ble Prime Minister observed :
“Judicial review has breached unprecedented frontiers. Yet, amidst such strengths, brilliance and dynamism, India has to suffer the scourge of the world’s largest backlog of cases and timelines, which generate surprise globally and concern at home. The expeditious elimination of this scourge is the biggest challenge for such conferences and should constitute the highest priority for all of us.”
The judiciary realised that one of the drawbacks of the justice delivery system was denial to the common man, of access to justice. This truism was recognised by the judiciary and concern of the Courts in that behalf was reflected in Bihar Legal Support Society vs Chief Justice of India (1986 (4) SCC 767) where the Court said:
“….that the weaker section of Indian Humanity have been deprived of justice for long, long years: they have had no access to justice on account of their poverty, ignorance and illiteracy. They are not aware of the rights and benefits conferred upon them by the Constitution and the law. On account o their socially and economically disadvantageous position they lack the capacity to assert their rights and they do not have the material resources with which to enforce their social and economic entitlements and combat exploitation and injustice.”
To quote from the figures compiled by the Supreme court, a total of 42,17,903 number of cases were pending in the High Courts as on 30th September, 2010 comprising of 33,36,256 Civil Cases and 8,81,647 Criminal cases. In the Subordinate Courts, this figure was 2,79,53,070 comprising 78,56,456 Civil Cases and 2,00,96,614 Criminal cases. It is estimated that in some of the subordinate courts over 30-40 percent of arrears relate to petty cases and out of the total pending cases, 9% of the cases were pending for 10 years and above and 24% cases were pending for 5-10 years in both, High Court and Subordinate Courts. Alarmed with the increasing number of pending cases, a Vision Statement was adopted in the National Consultation on Strengthening Judicary towards Reducing Pendency and Delays held on October 24-25, 2009. The Statement contained a roadmap for improving justice delivery and legal reforms and steps to reduce pendency in Courts from the present 15 years to 3 years by 2012. In the backdrop of this, a campaign mode approach is being launched from today the 1st July, 2011 till 31st December, 2011 to reduce pendency. It is also the endeavour to dispose of long pending cases pertaining to senior citizens, minors, disabled and other marginalized group.
Though the target may not be reached in 2012, ongoing efforts to reduce pendency need to be given greater momentum, in view of the various measures initiated by the Government in recent times and the substantial funding made available.
Government had, in 2007 envisaged a programme under e-Courts Project for computerization of 12000 Courts with a cost of Rs. 441.8 Crores. However, with the pace of time, the Project cost has also increased and the Government has now approved a revised cost of Rs. 935 Crores for the computerization of 12000 Courts by March, 2012 and another 2249 Courts by March, 2014. West Bengal is one of the high performing States wherein we are aiming to complete the connectivity by July-August this year, ahead of the targeted time. Citizen centric services will be available through this project and a national arrears grid will come into being.
The Law Commission of India in their 230th Report have taken a serious note of the ever mounting arrears in the Courts and have suggested the following measures to reverse the trend:
(i) Grant of adjournments must be guided strictly by the provisions of Order 17 of the Civil Procedure Code;
(ii) Many cases are filed on similar points and one judgment can decide a large number of cases. Such cases should be clubbed with the help of technology and used to dispose other such cases on a priority basis; this will substantially reduce the arrears;
(iii) Judges must deliver judgments within a reasonable time and in that matter, the guidelines given by the apex court in the case of Anil Rai v. State of Bihar, (2001) 7 SCC 318 must be scrupulously observed, both in civil and criminal cases;
(iv) Considering the staggering arrears, vacations in the higher judiciary must be curtailed by at least 10 to 15 days and the court working hours should be extended by at least half-an-hour;
(v) Lawyers must curtail prolix and repetitive arguments and should supplement it by written notes. The length of the oral argument in any case should not exceed one hour and thirty minutes, unless the case involved complicated questions of law or interpretation of Constitution;
(vi) Judgments must be clear and decisive and free from ambiguity and should not generate further litigation. Lord Macaulay’s following statement made 150 years ago must be a guiding factor:
“Our principle is simply this –
Uniformity when you can have it,
Diversity when you must have it,
In all cases, Certainty”
(vii) Lawyers must not resort to strike under any circumstances and must follow the decision of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of Harish Uppal (Ex-Capt.) v. Union of India reported in (2003) 2 SCC 45;
(viii) Judges and Lawyers, both have to change their mindsets. Unles the mental barriers to reforms are mellowed, all doses of external remedies are bound to fail.
One must remember Gandhiji’s words “If you want to change anything, you be the change.”
During the campaign for disposal of cases, following steps need to be taken:
(a) All Session Trials are required to be dealt with by Fast Track Courts;
(b) All cases where the offences are compoundable are required to be disposed of on priority basis;
(c) All Magistrates need to be directed to dispose of the cases under Motor Vehicles Act on priority basis;
(d) A special time-bound drive to be donducted to sispose of Summary Trials under Chapter XXI of Cr.PC by the District Judges and Judicial Magistrates;
(e) District Judges and Chief Judicial Magistrates to take up applications for withdrawal of prosecution u/s 321 of Cr.PC on priority basis;
(f) In Courts where criminal appeals have also been given in the cases of criminal revisions pending in any court in excess of twenty five in number to be withdrawn and transferred to courts where such appeals are below twenty five in numbers.
(g) Frame Case Flow Management Rules for the Subordinate Courts. The Rules also provide to put the cases into three different tracks, specifying time limit for each track;
Some of the High Courts have already drawn up their plans for taking up the mission mode approach for reduction in the pendency. Their plan consists of the following measures:
(a) Instructed Magistrates to hold Courts in Jails for disposal of petty cases involving undertrial prisoners;
(b) Constitute Committees at District level involving District Judge, Collector, Superintendents of Police and Jails etc. for discussing the issues relating to criminal justice system;
(c) Notify case flow management rules;
(d) Presiding Officers of Magisterial Courts are ordered to hold Courts on Saturdays, alternatively to dispose of petty cases under the Motor Vehicle Act, NI Act, Municipal laws and other such acts.;
(e) District & Sessions Judges have been directed to rationalize the work load in different Courts;
(f) Set up Morning/Evening/Shift/Holiday Courts;
(g) Organise Mega Lok Adalats in each District and in the High Court during the financial year 2011-12;
(h) Incorporate new Rules for providing faster service of process, hearing on day to day basis, automatic termination of stay after the expiry of two months in cases seeking challenge/stay/transfer the lower court proceedings.
To facilitate the momentum for reduction in pendency, Government of India has made substantial funding. Rs. 5000 Crores have been awarded by the 13th Finance Commission for utilisation during the next 5 years for improving the justice delivery system through setting up of morning/evening/shift courts, Lok Adalats, Mediation, etc. Funds for infrastructural development have increased five fold in the current Budget to Rs. 500 Crores.
The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 was enacted by the Government on 2nd October, 2009 to provide for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas at the grass root level to provide access to justice at the doorsteps of the citizens with a view to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of social, economic or other disabilities. A sum of Rs. 150 Crores has been provided in the current financial year for starting the Gram Nyayalayas. States like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Orissa have already notified and operationalised them. The Gram Nyayalayas have been envisages to grant relief to the litigants within six months of the registration of cases.
While Government of India is providing sufficient funds for speedy disposal of cases and reduction in the pendency, unless the vacancies are filled up, both in the Higher and Subordinate Judiciary, all efforts being made would not be able to bring about desired fruits. I would, therefore, urge the Chief Justices to embark upon a plan to fill up as many vacancies in the High Court and the Subordinate Courts during this campaign mode approach for reduction in pendency.
I would like this opportunity to thank the Chief Justices and the State Governments in their approach for the Mis sion Mode Programme for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms which commenced on 26th January, 2010 with a view to reduce congestion in jails. The leadership rendered by all the Chief Justices for realizing the goal and to take further steps in this regard, resulted in deciding cases of over 7.10 lakhs undertrials till 31.5.2011. This must have brought cheers to as many families also. I hope that the interest and the leadership shown for the cases of the undertrials by the Chief Justices and the State Governments would be carried forward during this campaign for reduction of overall pendency in the Courts which would help in mitigating the miseries of the litigants and their families.”
- Recent Initiatives of the Government for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Meeting of Consultative Committee on Law & Justice Discussions on E-Courts, Justice Delivery System, Law Commission Report (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Lawyers can practise in all courts soon: Veerappa Moily (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Government Approves Setting up of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Keep PM, higher judiciary out of Lokpal: ex-CJI (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Lawyers can practise in all courts soon: Veerappa Moily (thehindu.com)
- No more ‘My Lord’, ‘Your Lordship’ in Punjab & Haryana HC (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Indias Efforts to Curb Trafficking in Persons Recognised by the Us Trafficking in Persons Report. India Upgraded to Tier 2 (equalityindia.wordpress.com)
Siddharth Varadarajan IN THE HINDU
|For decades, the victims of communal and targeted violence have been denied protections of law that the rest of us take for granted. It’s time to end this injustice.|
In a vibrant and mature democracy, there would be no need to have special laws to prosecute the powerful or protect the weak. If a crime takes place, the law would simply take its course. In a country like ours, however, life is not so simple. Terrible crimes can be committed involving the murder of hundreds and even thousands of people, or the loot of billions of rupees. But the law in India does not take its course. More often than not, it stands still.
If the Lokpal bill represents an effort to get the law to change its course on the crime of corruption, the new draft bill on the prevention of communal and targeted violence is a modest contribution towards ensuring that India’s citizens enjoy the protection of the state regardless of their religion, language or caste.
The draft law framed by the National Advisory Council and released earlier this month for comment and feedback is a huge improvement over the bill originally drawn up by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2005. The earlier version paid lip service to the need for a law to tackle communal violence but made matters worse by giving the authorities greater coercive powers instead of finding ways to eliminate the institutional bias against the minorities, Dalits and adivasis, which lies at the heart of all targeted violence in India.
The November 1984 massacre of Sikhs provides a good illustration of how the institutionalised “riot system” works. Let us start with the victim. She is unable to get the local police to protect the lives of her family members or property. She is unable to file a proper complaint in a police station. Senior police officers, bureaucrats and Ministers, who by now are getting reports from all across the city, State and country, do not act immediately to ensure the targeted minorities are protected. Incendiary language against the victims is freely used. Women who are raped or sexually assaulted get no sympathy or assistance. When the riot victims form makeshift relief camps, the authorities harass them and try to make them leave. The victims have to struggle for years before the authorities finally provide some compensation for the death, injury and destruction they have suffered. As for the perpetrators of the violence, they get away since the police and the government do not gather evidence, conduct no investigation and appoint biased prosecutors, thereby sabotaging the chances of conviction and punishment.
With some modifications here and there, this is the same sickening script which played out in Gujarat in 2002, when Muslims were the targeted group. On a smaller scale, all victims of organised, targeted violence — be they Tamils in Karnataka or Hindi speakers in Maharashtra or Dalits in Haryana and other parts of the country — know from experience and instinct that they cannot automatically count on the local police coming to their help should they be attacked.
If one were to abstract the single most important stylised fact from the Indian “riot system”, it is this: violence occurs and is not immediately controlled because policemen and local administrators refuse to do their duty. It is also evident that they do so because the victims belong to a minority group, precisely the kind of situation the Constituent Assembly had in mind when it wrote Article 15(1) of the Constitution: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them”.
How are policemen and officials able to get away with violating the Constitution in this manner? Because they know that neither the law nor their superiors will act against them. What we need, thus, is not so much a new law defining new crimes (although that would be useful too) but a law to ensure that the police and bureaucrats and their political masters follow the existing law of the land. In other words, we need a law that punishes them for discriminating against citizens who happen to be minorities. This is what the draft Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 does.
The CTV bill sets out to protect religious and linguistic minorities in any State in India, as well as the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, from targeted violence, including organised violence. Apart from including the usual Indian Penal Code offences, the NAC draft modernises the definition of sexual assault to cover crimes other than rape and elaborates on the crime of hate propaganda already covered by Section 153A of the IPC. Most importantly, it broadens the definition of dereliction of duty — which is already a crime — and, for the first time in India, adds offences by public servants or other superiors for breach of command responsibility. “Where it is shown that continuous widespread or systematic unlawful activity has occurred,” the draft says, “it can be reasonably presumed that the superior in command of the public servant whose duty it was to prevent the commission of communal and targeted violence, failed to exercise supervision … and shall be guilty of the offence of breach of command responsibility.” With 10 years imprisonment prescribed for this offence, superiors will hopefully be deterred from allowing a Delhi 1984 or Gujarat 2002 to happen on their watch.
Another important feature is the dilution of the standard requirement that officials can only be prosecuted with the prior sanction of the government. The CTV bill says no sanction will be required to prosecute officials charged with offences which broadly fall under the category of dereliction of duty. For other offences, sanction to prosecute must be given or denied within 30 days, failing which it is deemed to have been given. Although the bill says the reasons for denial of sanction must be recorded in writing, it should also explicitly say that this denial is open to judicial review.
Another lacuna the bill fills is on compensation for those affected by communal and targeted violence. Today, the relief that victims get is decided by the government on an ad hoc and sometimes discriminatory basis. Section 90 and 102 of the CTV bill rectify this by prescribing an equal entitlement to relief, reparation, restitution and compensation for all persons who suffer physical, mental, psychological or monetary harm as a result of the violence, regardless of whether they belong to a minority group or not. While a review of existing state practice suggests victims who belong to a religious or linguistic ‘majority’ group in a given state do not require special legal crutches to get the police or administration to register and act on their complaints, the CTV bill correctly recognises that they are entitled to the same enhanced and prompt relief as minority victims. The language of these Sections could, however, be strengthened to bring this aspect out more strongly.
The CTV bill also envisages the creation of a National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation. The authority’s role will be to serve as a catalyst for implementation of the new law. Its functions will include receiving and investigating complaints of violence and dereliction of duty, and monitoring the build up of an atmosphere likely to lead to violence. It cannot compel a State government to take action — in deference to the federal nature of law enforcement — but can approach the courts for directions to be given. There will also be State-level authorities, staffed, like the National Authority, by a process the ruling party cannot rig. The monitoring of relief and rehabilitation of victims will be a major part of their responsibilities.
On the negative side of the ledger, the NAC draft makes an unnecessary reference to the power of the Centre and to Article 355 of the Constitution. The aim, presumably, is to remind the Centre of its duties in the event of a State government failing to act against incidents of organised communal or targeted violence. But the Centre already has the statutory right to intervene in such situations; if it doesn’t, the reasons are political rather than legal. The draft also unnecessarily complicates the definition of communal and targeted violence by saying the acts concerned must not only be targeted against a person by virtue of his or her membership of any group but must also “destroy the secular fabric of the nation.” Like the reference to Art. 355, this additional requirement can safely be deleted without diluting what is otherwise a sound law.
The BJP and others who have attacked the bill by raising the bogey of “minority appeasement” have got it completely wrong again. This is a law which does away with the appeasement of corrupt, dishonest and rotten policemen and which ends the discrimination to which India’s religious and linguistic minorities are routinely subjected during incidents of targeted violence. The BJP never tires of talking about what happened to the Sikhs in 1984 when the Congress was in power. Now that a law has finally been framed to make that kind of mass violence more difficult, it must not muddy the water by asking why it covers “only” the minorities. In any case, the Bill’s definition covers Hindus as Hindus in States where they are in a minority (such as Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland), as linguistic minorities in virtually every State, and as SCs and STs. More importantly, persons from majority communities who suffer in the course of communal and targeted incidents will be entitled to the same relief as minority victims. If someone feels there is any ambiguity about this, the bill’s language can easily be strengthened to clarify this.
At the end of the day, however, we need to be clear about one thing: India needs a law to protect its most vulnerable citizens from mass violence, its minorities. This is a duty no civilised society can wash its hands of.
- Consultation Paper-cum-Questionnaire regarding Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- “Draft Bill on communal violence more draconian than TADA” (hindu.com)