Indian Parliament showed no concern for the soul of India; President should refuse assent to the Juvenile Justice Bill 2015

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Majority of the members of Indian Parliament have shown no concern for the soul of India, as has been established by passing of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015 on 22nd December in the Rajya Sabha completing its parliamentary course that had got the stamp of adoption in the Lok Sabha on 7th May. It is such a mockery of legislation, having not paid any heed to cries of India for justice to its soul – Nirbhaya, that, the President should do good by refusing the Bill his assent.

Had Jyoti Singh of New Delhi not been brutalized by a gang of satyrs in December 2012, too savage and severe for medical science to save her life, this Bill would not have been generated at all. Her indomitable will to live to see the bruits punished by her motherland had kept her alive till in utter despair she allowed her breathe to pass away. Her desire to see the criminals punished did not die with her death. We the People of India took her to be the symbol of our tortured yet courageous entity by calling her Nirbhaya, the soul of India.

It was soon found that the youngest of the criminals that brutalized Nirbhaya was juvenile, four months to cross the age of 18 years.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 (as amended in 2006) was protecting him from punishment applicable to adult criminals. Hence, as demanded by whole of India, the Bill in question was conceived to reduce this age limit to 16 from 18 to give justice to Nirbhaya by punishing the youngest and yet the severest savage.

When the Bill was drafted it was inherently defective meant as if to ensure escapement to this young bruit. It was a haphazard draft very much in need of vetting in a Parliamentary Select Committee. The age factor was creating confusion. The approach was not based on criminology of rape. Before leaving the House in protest, Sitaram Yechury, leader of CPI (M), had rightly asked, “Today you are demanding the juvenile age to be reduced from 18 to 16 ; what if tomorrow a 15-year old commits a horrendous crime?” Members, who passed the Bill, did not bother about the question. Had the Bill been sent to Select Committee, members thereof might have stumbled upon the angle I am pointing to. But that did not happen.

The members did not bother to make the new law applicable to the juvenile criminal because of whose savagery Nirbhaya had lost her life. Minister-in-charge Maneka Gandhi had made it clear in the House that the Bill won’t be retrospective. Sad, the members could not catch even then that the main purpose of going for the new law was going to be defeated. They did not bother about this mischief.

The Supreme Court refused to intervene, because, by applying the old law of 2000 to set free the criminal in absence of any law to keep him under the Court’s clutch any further, the High Court had committed no illegality.

Before passing the Bill, the Rajya Sabha was aware of this. It was aware of the fact that unless given retrospective effect, the core purpose of engagement with the Bill before it was to be lost. It should have woken to the occasion and made the Bill retrospective. Had it acted diligently and passed the Bill in time with retrospective effect, at least from December 16, 2012 the day on which the horrendous crime having shocked the country had necessitated this new Law, the bruit that according to government has not reformed, could not have been put back in the society, to the panic of the society, as has been done.

It is better for the President, in the circumstances, to refuse his assent to this Bill, so that legislative wisdom may get a new chance to do away with the wrong the lawmakers have committed in this case in the aspect as discussed above.

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Saswat Pattanayak on Killing by the State

Saswat Pattanayak is a known voice of humanitarianism. He is known as a campaigner against capital punishment, against State becoming a killer. His views on final punishment given to Yakub Memon this morning in social media call for serious cogitation. I have picked up his words for esteemed visitors to these pages.

(Subhas Chandra Pattanayak)

There is no need for blame games, now that Yakub Memon has been killed by the Indian State. And there is no irony in Kalam’s funeral being held on the same day either. Nations that worship missile men don’t get to preach nonviolence and forgiveness at the same time. Just like Mukherjee, Kalam too had rejected mercy pleas. Just like Kalam, K. R. Narayanan also had rejected mercy pleas. And before him, S.D. Sharma. In fact, the only one in recent times who did not supervise execution was the only woman president: Pratibha Patil, although that could have been purely incidental. All presidents across religions and political affiliations have bossed over death penalty executions in India.

Institutional killing of people by India is so random and considered so casually, that the country does not even have any official figures available towards that to critique. However, from limited available data, it appears that well over 2,100 prisoners have been executed in India since its independence. And of course, countless more are “encountered” for being “Maoists”, “terrorists” and being just whatever the heck. “Encounter cops” are rejoiced protagonists of Bollywood movies. Private militia continuing caste-based murders are paramilitary heroes. Death penalty is in vogue – inside courtrooms, on the streets and in newsroom debates.

It is sick, it is tragic, it is macho, it is justice, it is time for ladoo. Call it what we may, India is the citadel of death penalty. The discourse needs to go beyond blaming the president alone. Presidents are merely symbolic representatives of our collective thirst for blood. Expecting them to get merciful or failing which, be termed monstrous is an exercise in moral high ground marathon. Well before mercy petitions arrive, it is our holy cow enlightened judiciary that already seals the deal by not resisting the urge to issue death sentences, dozens after dozens. It is our wise judges who have taken it upto themselves to decide that death penalties are necessary. It is our Constitution that provides for such an unchallenged option. It is our cops and military who receive medals for being killers. It is our children who aspire to join these violent clubs of future in name of showing off patriotism.

As of now, 140 countries in the world have outlawed death penalty. India the land of nonviolence and peace howsoever fabled, continues to adamantly oppose every UN resolution that seeks to ban death penalty. And it is therefore all of us who still take pride in such a heartless immoral construct of a country. It is not Mukherjee alone. And it is our humanity that is hanged in installments. It is not an Afzal Guru, or a Yakub Memon alone.

Stray Parrot adopts a HUMANE HOME

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Conscious of how brutally Ram Singh Munda was tortured by administration, I am not going to say where I found the parrot I am going to write about. But Mother Nature is so majestic that all of us – her children – ought to know how her magnificence manifests.

Around two weeks ago, Mancheswar area of Bhubaneswar got a sudden lash of ‘Kala Baishakhi’ (fierce flow of air often accompanied with thunder storm in last phase of summer, particularly in Orissa) that also dragged down the season’s first pre-monsoon downpour from the sky. A family was enjoying it from the comforts of a specious first floor balcony when a surge of rain-drenched wind threw thereto a bunch of green, which was making some shrilling sound. Full of curiosity, as the house lady inspected it, to her utmost surprise, she found that it was a green-feathered bird, a tender-aged parrot. Drenched thoroughly, it was trembling. The lady instantly took it into the adjoining dining hall and keeping it on her lap, covered it with worm cloths, and tried to comfort it just like she should have done to her child in similar situation.

The young parrot stayed on her lap for about an hour and revived. Then it came out of the cloth cover and jumped up to the dining table and sitting there, looked at the face of the lady as if in gratitude. The kind lady offered her fruits. But it did not accept. The family had never imagined that such a day should come when such a feathered guest would be entertained in the house. They had no cage to keep the parrot. It was already night and it would be merciless to leave it to the mercy of the inclement weather outside. So the house lady put it between pillows on her bed with the equally kind husband offering happy accommodation. But, a few minutes later, it slowly moved into her lap and spent there the entire night.

The stormy night gave birth to a bright sun. Birds flied on the sky. The family, absolutely unaccustomed with bird keeping, put the parrot on the balcony railings, so that it may fly away. But it refused to go. Rather, from the balcony railings, it jumped to the shoulder of the lady and again into the house and its body language convinced everybody that it doesn’t want to leave the house. A slice of mango was offered to it and to the family’s utmost pleasure; it happily ate the entire slice.

My sonly Pabitra Mohan Maharatha came to me day before yesterday to explore if I can suggest which department of the Veterinary Medical College Hospital should be consulted for a parrot. A parrot? I put the question, As I know he has not pet any parrot. He told me details that I have reduced to writing above and informed me the family is immensely worried as one of its legs is a bit swelling. I contacted a veterinary doctor who is very close to me and with him, we drove to the house which the bird has adopted as its own.

I found everybody in this remarkably humane house genuinely concerned for the parrot. As we occupied our seats, the house lady called the parrot with a lovely name she has given it and the response was immediate. It mounted the central table and cooperated with the doctor and sat there inspecting all of us.

photo(21)photo(20)
It had a very minor injury in the leg, which, perhaps the ‘Kala Baisakhi’ had given. Medicines were prescribed as I am writing this report, I am told that the swelling as almost gone and it is flying out to the nearby trees when its foster mother is in the balcony; but the moment she enters into the room, it is flying in instantly and following her wherever she goes.

The lady of such humane nature is like a daughter to me and the entire family is so very close. I should have proudly disclosed her identity. But the government is so swollen headed and the law is so blind that, this unique bond between her and the stray parrot may not be read rightly by any in administration. The mistreatment given to Ram Singh Munda is fresh in my mind.