The Punjab and Haryana High Court must be lauded for taking the first step in the direction of prison reform by allowing inmates the right to conjugal visits (‘Prisoners have right to conjugal visits: HC’, IE, January 7). The Indian judicial system is grappling with huge pendency of cases, which means a large number of undertrials languish in prison. Some of them spend more time in prison than a formal sentence would have required them to, if they were convicted at all. Prisons should be treated as reform institutions, not dumping grounds for humanity with abysmal living conditions. The government should realise this and initiate reforms.
— Nivedita Dwivedi, Mumbai
Offence and defence
The editorial ‘Charlie Hebdo’ (IE, January 9) reflects widespread sentiments. While no one disputes the value of freedom of speech, the idea that it includes the right to offend is hard to digest. It is this assumption that has led to one community lashing out against another or being insensitive, whether in writing or in visual art. The anger of one community against the renowned artist, M.F. Hussain, stemmed from the perception that he had not been sensitive to its religious sentiments. The media, authors and so-called intellectuals have always championed freedom of speech, but this freedom should not be absolute in the name of art. It must not include the right to offend.
— B.N. Anand, Mohali
The dastardly terror strike targeting cartoonists and editors of a satirical magazine in Paris is reprehensible. The violence unleashed by jihadi groups invoking the name of Islam has created a situation where Muslims across the world are perceived as potential terrorists by others. With their inhuman acts, Islamist terror groups have brought shame and disrepute to their peace-loving religion. It is time the moderate and liberal voices of Islam rose to the occasion and spoke above the din.
— M. Jeyaram, Sholavandan
This refers to ‘AIBA seeks SC regional branches’ (IE, January 9). If as many as four branches of the Supreme Court are set up, the power and authority of the apex court will be diluted, though the popular demand of setting up a branch in south India may be considered by the government. It may be impossible to bar the relatives of judges from practising in the SC. The AIBA’s demand for “equitable distribution” of judges from various states may not be workable either. The only valid point the association makes lies in its demand that the two eminent persons involved in the appointment and transfer of judges not be kith or kin of advocates or judges.
— Ganapathi Bhat, Akola
This refers to ‘Pesticide on your plate’ (IE, January 5). Doctors are always encouraging people to include more vegetables (especially raw or half-cooked) in their diet. But how can the layman trust these vegetables? Can anyone certify them free of pesticides? These pesticides are also said to have contributed to the collapse of bee colonies essential for agriculture and pollinating food crops.
— Simi Paramban, Keezhallur, Kannur