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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The delay syndrome

The phenomenon of ragging is inhuman. According to our Supreme Court it is violative of the human rights of the victim. The Court issued strict directions in the matter......

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee | March 15, 2009 12:52:32 am

The phenomenon of ragging is inhuman. According to our Supreme Court it is violative of the human rights of the victim. The Court issued strict directions in the matter,which are honoured more in breach than in observance. This is evident from the tragic death of 19-year-old Aman Kachroo in a medical college in Himachal Pradesh. The Prevention of Ragging in Colleges and Institutions Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2005. The Bill empowers the central government to ban ragging in educational institutions and make it punishable with rigorous imprisonment for three years and fine of Rs 25,000. It is pathetic that the Bill has not yet been enacted into law. There are other instances of the delay and procrastination syndrome that afflict our Parliament. The Supreme Court delivered its landmark judgement in Vishaka in August 1997. It issued detailed guidelines,virtually legislated,on the subject of sexual harassment at the workplace. Justice Verma who authored the judgement clarified that these guidelines would hold the field only till Parliament enacted legislation on this subject. Till date no parliamentary legislation has been enacted and sexual harassment continues unabated. The Parliament obviously has no time for this much needed legislation. There are complaints that the Supreme Court and in particular High Court collegiums in respect of appointment of judges are not working satisfactorily. It is widely accepted that the present method of impeachment of a judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court is time consuming and gets politicised as happened in the case of Justice V Ramaswami. Sadly legislation for a National Commission for appointment of judges and a National Judicial Council for disciplining errant judges for misconduct is not yet forthcoming. The most notorious instance is the absence of legislation for the institution of Lok Pal for which there have been demands for decades and which could be a potent instrument to curb corruption. In this instance is it the delay syndrome or is it lack of political will to eradicate corruption in high offices? Will these important issues find a place in the election manifestos of the major political parties and the motley Third Front? Or will people be beguiled by the usual promises of food,water and shelter? We await with bated breath.

Incredible America

The First Amendment of the US Constitution,the religious establishment clause,has been construed in some US court decisions to prohibit in schools recitation of prayers or meditation with varying references to religion on the ground that it breaks the wall of separation between the State and the Church. These decisions have been roundly criticised by Church authorities and religious groups as anti-God and anti-religion. This issue is highly emotive in the states. It is therefore incredible,though certainly welcome,that four US State legislatures are opening their sessions with Hindu prayers for the first time. The prayers would be recited by US based Hindu priest Rajan Zed,who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism and who had earlier recited the first Hindu prayers in the US Senate and many other State legislatures. After reciting in Sanskrit,he will read out the English translation of the prayer. Hurrah. It is hoped there will be no constitutional challenges to the recitation of these prayers. America indeed is incredible as it is unpredictable.

Shoe that pinched

Hurling a shoe at the visiting head of a foreign state and calling him a dog are certainly unpardonable even if the target is George W Bush,whose presidency has brought untold suffering to the Iraqi people. However,a punishment of three years’ imprisonment is grossly disproportionate. It smacks of vindictiveness and shows utter insensitivity to the motive impelling the act. A symbolic sentence of at the most a month’s imprisonment would have met the ends of justice. The sentence has transformed Muntazer al-Zaidi into a hero in Iraq and beyond. It has also refuelled anger against the United States. Is it not possible to grant a reprieve and introduce a leavening Obama touch which is the need of the hour?

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