Urgent need to ban porn websites: Chief Justice of India


NEW DELHI – Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan Sunday said there was an urgent need to ban websites that circulate pornography and hate speeches and emphasized the need for cyber law enforcement.The government can place bans on websites that exclusively circulate pornography and hate speeches. However, it would not be right to place a blanket ban on all categories of websites. It is also important to distinguish between intermediaries such as Network Service Providers, website operators and individual users for the purpose of placing liability for wrongful acts, the chief justice said.

Websites are created and updated for many useful purposes, but they can also be used to circulate offensive content such as pornography, hate speech and defamatory materials. In many cases, the intellectual property rights of authors and artists are violated through the unauthorized circulation of their works. “There has also been an upsurge in instances of financial fraud and cheating in relation to commercial transactions conducted online, the CJI emphasized at a Cyber Law Enforcement Programme and National Consultation meeting here.

Citing how more and more people are victimized because of increasing cyber crimes, the CJI said:, There have been numerous reports of internet users receiving unsolicited e-mails which often contains obscene language and amounts to harassment. Those who post personal information about themselves on job and marriage websites or social networking websites are often at the receiving end of cyber-stalking. Women and minors who post their contact details become especially vulnerable since lumpen elements such as sex-offenders can use this information to target potential victims.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister of Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily said: Cyber law enforcement is the need of the hour as the use of technology is increasing by leaps and bounds. We are able to optimize the use of Information Technology (IT) industry only when our cyber law is strictly enforced.

Highlighting how misuse of technology can lead to personal attacks on the individual, Moily said: In many cases, images or videos are created without the consent of the persons involved and they are unscrupulously circulated for commercial gain. Such practices are a blatant invasion of privacy as well as an attack on an individuals dignity. However, there are inherent difficulties in using criminal laws to clamp down on them, so there is need of cyber law enforcement.



The Supreme Court Friday asked all states and union territories to “forthwith” set up three types of statutory bodies in all districts, as mandated by a 2000 central law for the welfare of juveniles and children in the country. Two days after ordering Delhi government to establish night shelters for thousand of the capital’s homeless, a bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice A.K. Patnaik directed all states to set up statutory bodies under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, within six weeks.



“It has become imperative to direct all the states to implement the provisions of the law forthwith and establish Juvenile Justice Board, Child Welfare Committee and special juvenile policing units within 6 weeks from today,” the bench ordered.On a suggestion by Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, the bench also deputed the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights as the nodal agency to supervise the implementation of the apex court order.The three statutory bodies that the bench ordered state governments to set up in all districts as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act are: Juvenile Justice Board – a court to try juvenile delinquents, Child Welfare Committees (CWC), and the special police units to handle the cases related to juveniles.The bench gave the order while hearing a 2006 lawsuit by a civil society organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), which sought implementation of the various provisions of theJuvenile Justice Act, 2000.The bench gave the order as senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the BBA, told the court that various key provisions of the law remain unimplemented till date despite lapse of nearly a decade after the central legislation was enacted.During the hearing, the bench singled out poverty as the reason why the children keep returning to workplaces, including the hazardous ones, despite ban on child labour.Citing the example of Brazil, Chile and various Latin American countries, the bench observed that child labour was not unique to India and wanted the government to learn from Brazilian experience, where the government would give some financial incentives to the poor parents of the children withdrawn from workplaces and sent to schools.



We at Shakti Vahini and as Activist working on Child Rights term this order as an important Land Mark in the cause for proper laws on Child Protection.

Our crimes against our children

Praveen Swami IN THE HINDU JANUARY 21, 2001

By the grim standards of the dystopia India’s children inhabit, S.P.S. Rathore’s crime was utterly ordinary.

In December last, Indians watched in outrage as S.P.S. Rathore, former Haryana Director-General of Police, smirked at the end of court proceedings which saw him receive a six-month prison sentence for sexually abusing a teenager 19 years ago.

Not far from the Chandigarh courtroom where Rathore was convicted, a panchayat in Rohtak gathered to discuss the fate of a seven-year-old girl who had been sexually abused by a retired schoolteacher. The panchayat ordered that the hair of the perpetrator, Sushil Kumar, be shaved off — but asked the victim’s family not to inform the police. It was only three weeks later, after Kumar’s sons threatened the family, that the matter was reported to the police. The child’s story was buried in inside pages of local newspapers; the police say evidentiary issues render it unlikely the perpetrator will ever be punished.

Kumar is not the only paedophile who has not received national attention. Few know the story of a two-year-old raped by a construction contractor in Bangalore, a 10-year-old girl from Valsad raped by her uncle or the Latur teenager raped by three young men in her village and hanged from a jamun tree. Part of the reason Rathore’s appalling crime drew attention was that it fitted neatly with tropes of villainy familiar from pop-culture: among them, uniformed criminals immune from the law and powerful politicians who guarantee them impunity.

But the truth India has shied away from these past weeks is this: Rathore’s crime was, by the standards of our society, utterly ordinary. For the most part, India’s children live in a nightmare; a dystopia founded on our collective complicity and silence. By the Government of India’s account, more than two-thirds of Indian children experience beatings in their homes, schools, workplace and government institutions — beatings which, if conducted in prison cells, would count as torture. Every second child in India, the government says, also faces one or more forms of sexual abuse.

Yet, no government has found the time or energy to enact a law against the abuse of children — leaving the authorities, when they can bestir themselves to deliver justice, to respond using legalisation intended to prevent prostitution, beggary, trafficking and rape. There is no institutional machinery to investigate schools, homes and children’s workplace for sexual and physical abuse. There are no police officers trained in the special skills needed to deal with child abuse. Barring a handful of organisations and individuals working to address the needs of abused children, there is no resource which victims and their families can turn to for help.

Terrifying facts

In 2007, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development released the thoughtful —and terrifying — Study on Child Abuse in India. More than 12,000 children were polled to arrive at an empirical picture of the scale of beatings and sexual crimes that Indian children endure. Fifty-three per cent of the children said they had encountered “one or more forms of sexual abuse;” 68.99 per cent said they had suffered physical abuse, including beatings. More than a fifth reported severe sexual abuse, including assault, having been compelled to fondle adults’ private parts, exhibit themselves or be photographed nude. Well over half of those reporting severe sexual abuse were boys, the study found.

Popular wisdom holds that sexual abuse takes place when children are in environments outside the supposedly safe confines of their homes and schools. That, the study found, was simply not true. Fifty-three per cent of children not going to school said they had been sexually abused in their family environment. Just under half said they had encountered sexual abuse at their schools. These figures, interestingly, were about the same as children in institutional care who said they had been sexually abused — 47.08 per cent. Most vulnerable were children in workplaces, 61.31 per cent of whom had been sexually abused.

Boys in all but four of 13 States — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa — were found to be more at risk of sexual abuse than girls. In Delhi, a staggering 65.6 per cent of the boys reported that they had been sexually abused.

Most at risk of serious sexual abuse, the study found, were children between 11 and 18 — although the group between six and 10 also reported significant levels of assault. Analysed by age group, the study states, sexual abuse was reported by “63.64 per cent child respondents in the age group of 15-18 years, 52.43 per cent in the age group of 13-14 years and 42.06 per cent in the age group of 5-12 years.” Assam, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh were found to have the highest levels of sexual abuse, with Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Goa recording the lowest.

We know, from separate studies, that the use of children in prostitution is also widespread. In their 2005 study, Trafficking in Women and Children in India, S. Sen and P.M. Nair estimated that there are up to half-a-million girl children from across the South Asian region working as prostitutes in India.

Elsewhere in the world, the existence of well-functioning justice mechanisms — and an open public debate on child sexual abuse — seems to have helped contain the problem to at least some extent. In the United Kingdom, a 2000 study by the National Study for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found that about 16 per cent of children experienced sexual abuse before the age of 16. In the United States, one in four girls and one in six boys reported similar experiences. Horrific as these figures are, they are still well below the levels the Government of India’s study suggests are prevalent in our country.

Victims of violence

Depressingly, sexual abuse is only part of a wider gamut of violence. Sixty-nine per cent of the children polled reported having been physically abused — a term the authors of the Study defined as behaviour manifesting itself in kicking, slapping or corporal punishment at homes, schools, institutions and workplaces. In all the 13 States covered by the study, the incidence of physical abuse directed at children was above 50 per cent — a sign of just how widespread and legitimate the use of force is considered across the country. More than 80 per cent of children in Assam, Mizoram, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh reported physical abuse.

Most of the victims of physical abuse, the Study found, were very young children. Forty-eight per cent of the respondents who reported physical abuse were between five and 12 years old, while 26.29 per cent were 13 or 14. Older children, aged between 15 and 18, seemed to be targeted less for violence; just over a quarter reported encountering abuse. Boys reported encountering violence more often than girls in all States except Gujarat and Kerala. “In all age groups, an overwhelming majority of children (65.01%) reported being beaten at school, which means that two out of three children are victims of corporal punishment.”

The findings of the Study, its authors noted, were broadly corroborated by several other independent studies. Maulana Azad Medical College researcher Deepti Pagare found that over three-fourths of children in Delhi’s Child Observation Home had reported being subjected to physical abuse. Signs of abuse were found on the bodies of about half the children studied by Dr. Pagare. Fathers made up over half the reported perpetrators, and Dr. Pagare found a significant association between physical abuse of children and domestic violence in homes as well as substance abuse. Save the Children and Tulir, in a 2006 study conducted in West Bengal, found that almost three-quarters of child domestic workers had been physically abused. In 41.5 per cent of cases, the perpetrator was a member of the employers’ family.

What needs to be done? For one, India’s criminal justice system simply doesn’t have either the legal instruments or police infrastructure to deal with crimes against children. Despite calls from campaigners and child-rights groups, India is yet to pass a specific law on child sexual abuse — a legislative failure that makes prosecution in many situations almost impossible. Early this year, Punjab and Haryana High Court judges Mukul Mudgal and Jasbir Singh announced that they intended considering guidelines for the prosecution of child abuse cases. However, thoroughgoing criminal justice reforms will be needed for such efforts to yield results. Just 0.034 per cent of the Plan expenditure in 2006-2007 — an appalling figure — was committed to child protection.

In 1974, the National Policy for Children declared children a “supreme national asset.” No country in which two-thirds of children report beatings, and half experience sexual abuse, can make that claim with honesty. We must rip away the shrouds of silence that conceal the sheer pervasiveness of child abuse in our society. Our silence and inaction against the paedophiles in our homes, schools and neighbourhoods make us complicit in the horrific crimes being perpetrated against our children.

Source:  http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/21/stories/2010012155080800.htm

Rape of the law- State machinery has failed to act


India is not a banana republic. But certain incidents indicate that the country is rapidly forfeiting the right to be counted among the civilized nations. Take the rape of a Russian girl in Goa. Shanta Ram Naik, a member of the Rajya Sabha, the House which sets tone to public debates, wants a different treatment of the rape cases in which women move around with strangers after midnight. The member expressed no regret for the rape because the Russian girl was outside her place past 12 at night.

I thought Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat would have taken Naik to task. But nothing like that happened. Instead, the Chief Minister said that a girl who went out with a man at night was asking for something like rape. He did not care for the impression he was creating through his statement inside India and in foreign countries.

Asked about the action his government would take against the member, the Chief Minister said: “Let the Russian government write to me.” Yet his police has been trying to bribe the girl repeatedly. The last offer made to her was Rs. 15 lakh.

Congress Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna had no word of condemnation either. He merely said: “Foreigners should be more careful.” I do not know whether the Minister for Tourism would agree with the Foreign Minister. But how does Goa expect foreigners or, for that matter, Indians to visit the place where one of the ministers of the state says that Goa is the “rape capital of the world.”

The incident prompted Moscow’s Consul General in Mumbai, Alexander Mantytsky, to write to the Indian authorities about the concern he felt on behalf of his nation.

According to one estimate, the Russians make up about 40,000 of the 400,000 international tourists who visit Goa every year.

Sabina Martins, who runs the NGO, Bailancho Saad, has let the cat out of the bag when she says: “No longer does tourism advertisements talk about the natural beauty or the hospitable nature of the state. It is now promoted along the ‘wine, women and song’ line, which is different from the local culture.”

What has shocked me the most is the silence of Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president. She is probably busy calculating what political repercussion the action against the accused, John Fernandes, a heavyweight in the state, would have on the Congress government in Goa.

True, the party rule hangs in balance because the revolt of a few members can make the government fall or bring the opposition to power. But is this what counts ultimately? No morality, only politics!

A television network has asked for three days in a row why no action has been taken against the rapist. Some Parliament members have also posed the same question to the government. But it has preferred to remain silent.

The question is whether the state machinery has any responsibility to pursue the case where a rape has been committed. The accused may be let off or there may be nothing proved against him. But how can the police, looking after the law and order machinery, sit silent? It is apparent that political pressure can let off
the rapists.

This is confirmed by a case in Haryana. After 19 years, a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sentenced former state Director General of Police SPS Rathore to six months’ imprisonment and fined Rs 1,000. He was accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl. I

t is a travesty of justice that the police Director General gets only six months in prison. The court is not to blame for a light sentence because the CBI, for obvious reasons, refused to charge the DGP for the real crime. The FIR was filed nine years after the molestation and that too was changed to a memorandum. The pressure used can well be imagined. Still the state government found Rathore so useful, then IG, that he was promoted after four years of his committing the crime.

How powerful was Rathore can be judged from the fact that goons were placed outside the victim’s house to accost and harass her whenever she stepped out. Her house was pelted with stones, smattering the windows.

Three years later she consumed insecticide and died a day later. Her father sold the house in Panchkula, near Chandigarh, and went to Kolkata. Two brothers of the victim faced 11 cooked-up cases which went on for years before they were acquitted.

The mother says in a statement: “We were threatened when we filed a memorandum against Rathore for exemplary punishment.” But Rathore was given a bail even for the light imprisonment. The entire police system in Haryana and the CBI, which played with the investigation have to be cleaned up.

Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal can appoint a special team to reinvestigate the case. The Supreme Court did so in the case of Gujarat where it found the judgment was not correct.

It is time that the government introduces the much-awaited police reforms and overhauls the judicial system. How can a case of molestation against a former DGP go on for 19 years? All those ministers, bureaucrats and police officials who are responsible for the cover-up should be brought to justice.

Let this be a test case to punish even the highest in the country. After knowing the details, the nation feels abhorred and inaction would look like a compromise with pressure and power.

Yet another affront comes from an American Ice cream company, Haagen-Dazs. While opening its branch at Delhi, it puts outside a board to say that only international passport holders can buy ice cream, thereby meaning that no Indian could enter.

This was an outrage for a sovereign country. The company removed the board but it did not tender an apology. The company merely said that the advertisement idea did not work the way it imagined it would. A simple question that the company should answer is: Would it have dared to put up such a board in America, the country which owns the company?

The developed countries consider the Third World a playground to test their arrogant and bizarre ideas. But then the Third World has become prone to humiliation.

Rape of the law
State machinery has failed to act
by Kuldip Nayar

India is not a banana republic. But certain incidents indicate that the country is rapidly forfeiting the right to be counted among the civilized nations. Take the rape of a Russian girl in Goa. Shanta Ram Naik, a member of the Rajya Sabha, the House which sets tone to public debates, wants a different treatment of the rape cases in which women move around with strangers after midnight. The member expressed no regret for the rape because the Russian girl was outside her place past 12 at night.

19 years, 6 months


On August 12, 1990, police officer S.P.S. Rathore molested 14-year-old Ruchika Girhotra. That it has taken all of 19 years to be able to write that sentence without fear of libel tells us something of our criminal justice system. And in those 19 years Ruchika committed suicide, her family went through hell, Rathore rose up the ranks to become Haryana’s top police officer. When a beaming Rathore walked out of a Chandigarh court on Monday, convicted of molestation but sentenced to just six months in jail, the verdict mocked all that our law and justice system stands for.

In the 19 years between Ruchika’s first complaint to Monday’s judgment, the crime of molestation was compounded by many other horrors. First was the long delay in filing an FIR, despite the then Haryana DGP’s recommendation. Then there was the prolonged hounding of the Girhotra family. The many cases filed against Ruchika’s brother were finally halted only after the Punjab and Haryana high court stepped in. Meanwhile, the family went into hiding, and Ruchika killed herself. Even in death, she was besmirched. In court, the defence counsel’s lengthy arguments cast aspersions on her character and that of her father. Though no charges of abetment to suicide or criminal harassment have been successfully proved against Rathore, the travesty of justice that Ruchika and her family faced — over and above her molestation — is in plain sight.

In this context, it is still some consolation that Rathore’s crime has been confirmed by a court of law — even if the sentence seems paltry for such a crime and other accusations remain unresolved. The case shows once again how inept the system can be, by design or otherwise, in speedily processing cases. Prompt registering of an FIR, a speedy trial and swift conviction might have prevented the many horrors that followed Rathore’s original crime. Besides, when there is clear power asymmetry between the perpetrator and the victim, the judicial process must be extra-sensitive to protecting the victim and complainants against retribution. S.P.S. Rathore was even at the time of the crime a powerful officer; in a shocking act of political indifference, he was promoted all the way to eventually become Haryana’s DGP. As the higher judiciary and law ministry ponder ways to speed up justice delivery, the many injustices inflicted on Ruchika Girhotra during the agonisingly long wait for justice provides a salutary, if sobering, lesson.