Mr. Rebates

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Centre withholds Rathore's pension permanently

June 30, 2010

New Delhi, June 30 (ANI): The Union Home Ministry on Wednesday decided to withhold former Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) SPS Rathore's pension in full on a permanent basis.

Rathore is serving jail terms after being convicted in the Ruchika Girhotra molestation case.

He belonged to 1965 batch of the Indian Police Service.

In a statement, the Home Ministry said, the decision was taken after the Chandigarh Chief Judicial Magistrate convicted Rathore.

In March, the Home Ministry stripped Rathore of the police medal awarded to him.

The Home Ministry had also written to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Ministry of Personnel, seeking their views on reducing and discontinuation of the pension and other post-retirement benefits being given to Rathore. (ANI)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Husband is the villain

June 23, 2010

Women too might be responsible for domestic violence, but the central fact remains

In a recent judgment, the Delhi High Court held that 'a woman can be prosecuted under the Domestic Violence Act as absence of such a provision can encourage men to instigate female members of a family to commit violence'. It is said to have further held that 'it is common knowledge that in case a wife is harassed by the husband, other family members may also join him in treating the wife cruelly and such family members would invariably include female relatives as well...If restricted interpretation is allowed, the very purpose for which this Act is enacted would be defeated. It would be very easy for the husband or other male members to frustrate the remedy by ensuring that the violence on the wife is perpetrated by female members'.

According to me, it is correct to say that remedies can be sought even against women if they are related to the husband or the male partner. I am not sure whether the men in a family will instigate women to perpetrate violence against other women to avoid being arrested, and if the Act does not allow women to be arrested, the men will take care to use other women in the family. I would say that the men do not even bother to think so much when they are cruel to the womenfolk inside their home. The violence is committed without sparing a thought that it is of any importance or that it could be a civil or criminal offence.

Coming back to the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (43 of 2005), the definition of Respondent, a person against whom you file a case, is very clear and, according to me, there is no ambiguity there.

Section 2(q) of the said Act defines Respondent as any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under the Act: Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.

Now, there are two things here. One is: what is the objective of the Act and what is the meaning of the proviso or why has the proviso been added?

The main objective of the Act is to provide protection for women from domestic violence. Another important objective is that the State or the government takes the responsibility to ensure justice. The Respondent can be a woman if she is related to the husband or a male partner, or a female partner. Here the male partner is with reference to a live-in relationship and the wife or the female partner is the aggrieved person as defined in the Act.

In this context, I would say that this is keeping in view our Indian context where a bride or a woman who marries stays or resides with her husband in his home or in her in-laws' residence after marriage. The concept is that it is kanyadhan, dulhan ka vidayi, or giving away of the bride. The woman is therefore taken away from her natal or parents' home and placed in the custody of the in-laws or her husband. Invariably, dowry becomes a customary right of the husband and in-laws and not treated as an offence. Therefore, in the same context and social mindset, Section 498A was added in the Indian Penal Code, which describes the offence committed by the husband or the relative of the husband. Husband is always a man and needs no clarification on that, but relative of the husband could be of any gender. I find, when I visit prisons, many women imprisoned therein are alleged to have committed dowry harassment under section 498A of the IPC or offences under the Dowry Prohibition Act. The concept of acceptance or sanction of violence, as it is perpetrated by the male partner or husband in an intimate relationship, is what makes the violence common and unavoidable. Many times, women, especially young ones, feel that the domestic violence could be committed by anyone irrespective of the gender and, therefore, the aggrieved person can be of either gender. They forget the objective of the Act.

Feud over Fernandes: Court steps in

July 1, 2010

New Delhi: The man India knew as the Giant Killer is now reduced to a battle between his wife and long time friend.

A day after Jaya Jaitly was stopped from entering the former Defence Minister's home, today a twist to the battle. The Delhi High court has ordered that George Fernandes appear in court on Monday. (Read: Jaya Jaitly kept out of Fernandes' home)

The court was hearing a petition filed by Fernandes' brothers, Richard and Michael, who want custody of their brother alleging that the former Union minister, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, is not being properly treated by his wife.

The court now wants to see for itself what George's condition is like.

The 80-year-old former Defence Minister is rarely seen outside. He lives with his wife, Leila Kabir, at a private house in South Delhi.

Fernandes brothers, supported by Jaya, have been locked with Kabir over George's property, which is believed to be more than 20 crores. (Watch: Fight over Fernandes' legacy)

"I am fighting for Fernandes' value system. I am fighting for the right to my own simple ordinary property, and I am fighting for justice for the sake of a man who has fought for it for everybody else all his life. I think they are undermining and humiliating Fernandes and that is what the shame is, and obviously the people who are doing this don't know what he stands for so, they don't deserve to be looking after him today," said former president of the Samata Party, Jaya Jaitly. (Read: I am fighting for George's values, says Jaya Jaitly)

"It's a not a question of money. I am a professional nurse and I want to ensure he is getting the best treatment," said Leila Kabir.

George's brothers also allege that Leila and her sons are not allowing them to meet him.

On Monday, the court will decide who gets custody of George, the man who once took crucial decisions for India, now has to depend on the court to decide for him.

Woman fakes kidnapping to swap religion

July 01, 2010

The South Delhi Police have recovered a woman who was so keen to convert to Islam that she staged her own kidnapping.

The woman, a boutique owner from Nagpur, who was reportedly kidnapped from Dilli Haat here, was spotted in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh and brought back to the Capital on Thursday.

Varsha Kangra was reported missing from Dilli Haat on June 25 by her husband.

"She was inclined towards to a particular religion and wanted to convert which was objected to by her husband. We found out that she was constantly in touch with several people in Lucknow and Bareilly. This input led to her rescue," said deputy commissioner of police (South) HGS Dhaliwal.

Varsha, her husband Jitendra Kangra and their adopted son had come to the city on vacation and had gone to Dilli Haat along with her cousin.

"Varsha and her cousin went to a washroom and after sometime, Jitendra called her on her mobile phone. Varsha said she had sent her cousin to fetch him. But when he reached near the washroom, he could not find her,” added Dhaliwal.

A little while later, Jitendra received a call from his wife who told him that she had been kidnapped by two-three persons and was inside the boot of their car. After that her cellphone was switched off.

The police conducted raids in the NCR on the basis of information given by the police.

"During interrogation of her relatives and husband, it was found that Varsha had been inclined towards to a particular religion soon after her marriage and wanted to convert but her husband had opposed it. It was further revealed that she was constantly in touch with several people in Lucknow and Bareilly," added Dhaliwal.

The police said Varsha had gone to UP to find ways to convert to the religion of her choice. The police then shifted their focus to the two cities and found Varsha in Bareilly.

Vijayashree flees again with son

January 25, 2010

Indian American V Ravichandran’s wait to be united with his seven-year-old son Aditya seems to be unending. The aeronautical engineer, who had been fighting a custody battle in India for 30 months, had won the case on Nov 17 and the Supreme Court had asked his ex-wife Vijayshree Voora to hand over the boy to him before Dec 17. But Aditya and Vijayasree are missing again since Dec 13, and Ravichandran has again approached the SC claiming that his wife is untraceable.

Agreeing with the New York Family Court, where the couple had been fighting a case before Vijayashree fled to India with the

Ravichandran, seen here with Aditya, has created a website to track the battle for his son’s custody from Vijayashree Voora

boy, the SC declared that the allegations levelled by her against Ravichandran were baseless. Ravichandran, who is currently residing here, fears for the safety of Aditya, as Vijayashree is suspected to be taking him from one city to another.

Ravichandran has now filed a habeas corpus and a contempt case against Vijayashree. The cases will come for hearing on Monday.

Ravichandran said he could not find Aditya or Vijayashree in the addresses she gave to the CBI. “It is a wilful flouting of the SC order. All registered documents sent to the two addresses in Chennai were returned, as Vijayashree was not found in those locations. I don’t know why she is doing this.”

Ravichandran believes that Vijayashree is hiding his son somewhere in Bangalore. “I had thought that at least now, I can live happily with my only son. But again, this woman is playing games. According to my information, she is somewhere in or around Bangalore,” he said.

Case history

Vijayasree allegedly kidnapped Aditya Chandran, a US citizen, from New York on June 28, 2007 and brought him to India. Ever since, Ravichandran has been fighting an unrelenting legal battle to secure his son’s custody.

On Sept 14, 2007, Ravichandran was given sole legal and physical custody of Aditya by a New York court. On Nov 15, 2007 the Madras High Court dismissed Vijayashree’s petition for sole legal and physical custody of Aditya. The court on Dec 20, 2007 ordered Chennai police to secure Vijayashree.

The New York Supreme Court had on Jan 7, 2008 issued a non-bailable warrant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest Vijayashree for international kidnapping. The US Department of Homeland Security had on Feb 7, 2008 ordered Vijayashree’s arrest upon reentry to the US.

A special order by the Supreme Court of India to Chandigarh and UP police to rescue Aditya from abuse was issued on April 28, 2008.

Spotted in city

Vijayashree was spotted along with Aditya at a lodge in Rajajinagar on Feb 17, 2009, but she managed to escape before Ravichandran could come down from Hyderabad.

Right-to-Know Law Gives India’s Poor a Lever (RTI)

If these poor, destitute people can figure out how to use RTI to get their work accomplished, I forgot to mention illitrate also, I think educated people should be able to accomplish the task at hand.

June 28, 2010

BANTA, India — Chanchala Devi always wanted a house. Not a mud-and-stick hut, like her current home in this desolate village in the mineral-rich, corruption-corroded state of Jharkhand, but a proper brick-and-mortar house. When she heard that a government program for the poor would give her about $700 to build that house, she applied immediately.

A goat herder and her children in Jharkhand, a corrupt state where the poor use India’s right-to-know law to solve basic problems. More Photos »

As an impoverished day laborer from a downtrodden caste, she was an ideal candidate for the grant. Yet she waited four years, watching as wealthier neighbors got grants and built sturdy houses, while she and her three children slept beneath a leaky roof of tree branches and crumbling clay tiles.

Two months ago she took advantage of India’s powerful and wildly popular Right to Information law. With help from a local activist, she filed a request at a local government office to find out who had gotten the grants while she waited, and why. Within days a local bureaucrat had good news: Her grant had been approved, and she would soon get her check.

Ms. Devi’s good fortune is part of an information revolution sweeping India. It may be the world’s largest democracy, but a vast and powerful bureaucracy governs. It is an imperial edifice built on feudal foundations, and for much of independent India’s history the bureaucracy has been largely unaccountable. Citizens had few means to demand to know what their government was doing for them.

But it has now become clear that India’s 1.2 billion citizens have been newly empowered by the far-reaching law granting them the right to demand almost any information from the government. The law is backed by stiff fines for bureaucrats who withhold information, a penalty that appears to be ensuring speedy compliance.

The law has not, as some activists hoped, had a major effect on corruption. Often, as in Ms. Devi’s case, the bureaucracy solves the problem for the complaining individual, but seldom undertakes a broader inquiry.

Still, the law has become part of the fabric of rural India in the five years since it was passed, and has clearly begun to tilt the balance of power, long skewed toward bureaucrats and politicians.

“The feeling in government has always been that the people working in government are the rulers, and the people are the ruled,” said Wajahat Habibullah, the central government’s chief information commissioner. “This law has given the people the feeling that the government is accountable to them.”

Rajiv Gandhi, a former prime minister, once said that only 15 percent of spending on the poor actually reached them — the rest was wasted or siphoned off.

That figure may have changed in the decades since he uttered it, but few Indians doubt that a good chunk of the roughly $47 billion budgeted this fiscal year to help impoverished citizens is lost.

India’s Right to Information law has given the poor a powerful tool to ensure they get their slice of that cake. The law, passed after more than a decade of agitation by good-government activists, has become embedded in Indian folklore. In the first three years the law was in effect, two million applications were filed.

Jharkhand is an eastern Indian state where corruption and incompetence are rife, fueled by mineral wealth and the political chaos that has gripped the state since it was carved out of the state of Bihar in 2000. Here the rural poor are using the law to solve basic problems. Their success stories seem like the most minor of triumphs, but they represent major life improvements for India’s poorest.

In one village near Banta, a clinic that was supposed to be staffed full time by a medical worker trained to diagnose ailments like malaria and diarrhea and provide care to infants and expectant mothers had not been staffed regularly for years. A local resident filed a request to see worker attendance records. Soon the medical worker started showing up regularly.

The worker, Sneha Lata, an assistant midwife whose government salary is $250 a month, denied that she had been neglecting her post. She said the information law was a nuisance. “Because of this law I have to listen to all these complaints,” she said. But with villagers now watching, she dares not miss work.

In a nearby hut, Ramani Devi sewed a blanket for a grandson born nine days earlier. In years past she would have been in the fields, toiling for a handful of change to make ends meet. As an elderly widow, Ms. Devi (no relation to Chanchala Devi) knew she was entitled to a $9 monthly government pension. That may not sound like much, but in a rural village, it is the difference between eating and starving.

Middlemen at the government office demand bribes of $20 to direct applications to the right bureaucrat, and many people ineligible for pensions were collecting them. When a local activist filed a request to find out which villagers were receiving pensions, Ms. Devi, who is a Dalit, formerly known as an untouchable, finally got her pension. Now she proudly shows off her savings account passbook.

Simply filing an inquiry about a missing ration card, a wayward pension application or a birth certificate is nowadays enough to force the once stodgy bureaucracy to deliver, activists here say.

But a more responsive bureaucracy is not necessarily less corrupt.

Sunil Kumar Mahto, 29, an activist in Ranchi, Jharkhand’s capital, said he quickly learned that using the law to expose corruption was pointless. He gave the example of a road project. “The money was spent, but there was no road,” Mr. Mahto said.

When he applied to find out what had happened, new money was allocated and the road was ultimately built. But no action was taken against whoever had pocketed the original money.

“The nexus of politicians, contractors and bureaucrats is very strong here,” Mr. Mahto explained. “To get action against someone is very difficult.”

Some critics wonder if the law is simply a pressure valve that allows people to get basic needs addressed without challenging the status quo. “It has been very successful in rooting out petty corruption,” said Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. “But our accountability mechanisms are weak, and transparency has no purpose without accountability.”

But Shekhar Singh, an activist who fought for passage of the law, said that in a nation recovering from centuries of colonial and feudal oppression, fighting corruption was secondary.

“Our main objective was to empower citizens,” Mr. Singh said. “This law has done that — given the people the power to challenge their government. That is no small thing.”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sexual harassment case: Kerala to consider closing centre

June 29th, 2010

Kerala Government on Tuesday said it would consider closing down the controversial 'Abhaya Kendram' centre at Agali in Palakkad district following complaints of sexual harassment from five girl inmates.

The home minister, Mr Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, said five cases, including attempt to rape, had been registered against two persons who run the centre of Kochi-based 'Raksha Villa'.

Police investigation are progressing and steps have been taken to arrest the culprits, he said in the Assembly, adding, the five girls, who made the complaint, were sent back home along with their parents.

The CPI (M) leader, Mr K.S. Saleeka, said 32 inmates were in the Kendra which was functioning "unauthorisedly" since 1993.

Among the inmates seven girls, including the complainers, were in the age-group of 15 to 25, she said.

She wanted strict regulations for the conduct of such centres and demanded closing down of the Kendram.

The harassment of the girls, all from Ernakulam district, came to light after they fled the centre on Friday last and were found at Olavakkode railway station the next day.

The girls were at the centre for the last two to three months to cure depression, it was stated.

Kerala Social Welfare Board Chairperson, Ms Girija Surendran, who visited the centre, is expected to submit a report to Chief Minister, Mr V.S. Achuthanandan, after a probe.

NRI girl poisoned to death by step-father

June 30th, 2010

In a suspected honour killing case, a teenaged NRI girl was allegedly poisoned to death by her stepfather, who disapproved of her relationship with a Belgium-based boy belonging to another caste.

18-year-old Amritpal Kaur, a permanent resident of Belgium, fell in love with Lakhbir Singh. The girl was brought to the country last week by her stepfather Mehtab Singh, who allegedly poisoned her to death, police said.

Amritpal was cremated clandestinely by her stepfather following which the matter was reported to the police by close family members. Mehtab Singh was arrested last night and interrogation is on, police said.

NRI jailed for 17 years for killing wife

June 30th, 2010

An Indian-origin man was sentenced to 17 years in prison by an Australian court for beating his wife to death after falsely accusing her of having an extra-marital affair.

Mohinder Kaur, a mother of four, was beaten "to a pulp" with a wooden stake by her husband, Sukhmander Singh, in the Valley Lake Boulevard area in Niddrie, a Melbourne suburb, May 7, 2009.

Singh, 44, pleaded guilty to the murder.

Singh's daughter Sarabjit Kaur told the court that there was fighting and arguing between her parents, which Justice Terry Forrest said was "instigated and propagated" by Singh.

"The children would stay outside the house crying while you set about beating their mother," he was quoted as saying by the Age.

Singh falsely accused his wife of having an affair and his daughter said if her mother even spoke to another man, there would be physical consequences.

"Over the last few years the fighting and beatings became considerably worse. You would kick your wife, hit her and use objects to inflict pain upon her," he said.

Sarabjit moved to Australia in 2007 to get away from her father but her mother could not leave India because of her younger brother and sister.

The court heard that Singh's behaviour was accompanied by an "extraordinary consumption of alcohol and perhaps opium" which included a bottle of whiskey a day and at least up to two kg of opium poppy husks each month.

Sarabjit sought help in Australia to remove her mother from the violent environment and a 12-month tourist visa was arranged. She arrived in October 2008 and spent some happy and fulfilling months with her daughter, the court heard.

"Some months later after extracting a promise from you that you would not drink, your daughter arranged for you to come to Australia," Forrest said.

"You arrived in March 2009. You had stopped drinking and whilst living with your wife and daughter your conduct towards your family improved significantly."

During his stay, the family arranged for Singh to spend time at the Sikh temple where they endeavoured to treat his alcohol addiction with prayer.

But Forrest said Singh's mood changed the week of his wife's death. He was seen crying and expressing a desire to die and again falsely accused his wife of having affairs.

The following day he went for a walk with his wife after dinner.

"At approximately 5 p.m. you and Mohinder left the house in Newsman Crescent, Niddrie to walk towards the lake a short distance away," Forrest said.

"Your daughter telephoned Mohinder at 6.24 p.m. Mohinder was crying and told Sarabjit that you had taken a wooden stick from the ground. She heard what sounded like a crack and the last words she heard her mother utter were: 'Neena, your father is killing me'."

Forrest described the attack as a "brutal conclusion" to his wife's life. "You beat her with a large heavy stake until she was dead."

A forensic expert described multiple skull fractures and estimated a minimum of three or four blows to the scalp-forehead region with further blows to the mid-facial and neck area. "In short, you beat your wife, the mother of your children, to a pulp."

"This murder was the culmination of a long history of brutality towards your wife," he said.

In sentencing, he took into account the fact that Singh spoke no English and would become the only Punjabi-speaking prisoner in the Victorian prison system.

"I accept the next phase of your life will be considerably more difficult for you than other prisoners and I have moderated the sentence that I will impose to reflect this."

Singh sat quietly with his hands clasped as he listed to an interpreter translate Forrest's sentencing remarks before he was taken away by court security.

Landlord held after Brazilian alleges rape

June 30th, 2010

New Delhi, Police have arrested a man, who had allegedly raped his 27-year-old Brazilian woman tenant here after mixing sedatives in her coffee.

The arrest came after medical examination of the woman confirmed rape, Additional Commissioner of Police (South East) Virender Chahal said on Wednesday.

He, however, refused to reveal the identity of the accused.

The incident reported from CR Park came to light on Tuesday after the woman lodged a complaint in which she claimed that her landlord raped her twice after giving her coffee laced with sedatives.

The woman, who is pursuing a Mass Communication course from a private institute in Noida, came to India in the first week of June. She has been staying in the rented accommodation since June 19.

She claimed that on June 20, her landlord came to meet her and offered coffee. She fell unconscious after drinking the coffee and the landlord raped her on that day. He allegedly raped her again on June 21.

"On June 27, when he tried to rape her, she resisted and asked him to leave the premises," a senior police official said.

Halted, on her marks!

May 28th, 2010

If there is one feeling that plagues all Indian girls, it is ‘expectation’. Girls are expected to defy society, get a job, get married, raise a family and love their elders. And now, they are officially expected to get better grades than boys! The recent move of many pre-university colleges to raise the cut-off percentage for girls has left Bengalureans wondering why the unfair gender bias? A move like this is not just about the ‘admission’ process but raises larger questions of gender equality and the ills of the Indian education system.

“The admission process of getting into Indian universities is complicated enough without further need to twist it with illogical ‘rules’ like this,” opines Vishaka George, 18, student, “Reservations and already high cut-offs make it tough for students in the general category to get into a college; now we have this unfair discrimination.”

How can a generalisation that girls fare better than boys be made into an official rule, without any consistent statistical data to back it? “Girls work harder than boys and it shows in the results, yet we are the ones to suffer!” says student Apeksha Arun, 19, “Rules like this don’t help students get the best education; they help colleges gain popularity and increase their chances of having the ‘best of the best’,” she adds.

So are colleges trying to get elitist or is this a measure to get girls to give more than 100 percent, since they are the so-called smarter lot anyways? Says Sriranjan Thirumalai, an 18-year-old student, “This move will not encourage girls to study harder, it will just discourage them. The guys-girl ratio will increase in different streams and girls might be forced to study in colleges of low repute. Even as a boy, I agree that grades matter, not the gender,” he says.

In a country that is raising its voice against female infanticide and other social evils, the girl child continues to get the short end of the stick. Not only is this legally and morally wrong, but proves that urban women are at risk of discrimination as much as their rural counterparts. “How can the government expect a woman to be independent and self-sufficient if she is not given an equal chance to attain education?” asks Philomena Peris, ex-chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Women, “Equality today is a fundamental right, yet shameless concepts like this are given a nod. It is no wonder we are facing brain drain.” she adds.

Looks like our brightest minds continue being a victim of the ‘Indian mindset’. Something is seriously going wrong and Gen Y want answers.

Still the unfair sex

December 27th, 2009

If the yardstick to classify a city as progressive is its economy, then Bengaluru could be described as such. But dig deeper and the picture that emerges is not very pretty.

Women are becoming targets of all sorts of crime more than ever before in the city, raising the hackles of activists, who would like to see a safer environment created for them.

The worst of it is , is that women are still being burnt for dowry and dying without a murmur for fear of the repercussions on the children they are leaving behind.

This year has seen a hundred per cent increase in crimes against women as compared to the first 11 months of the previous year. Until November 30 there were 1395 cases of crime against women in the city,including murder, molestation, eve teasing, rape and dowry deaths.

According to the Bengaluru police, there were 57 rapes, 30 eve-teasing and 239 molestation cases and 47 dowry deaths this year as against 15 rapes, 44 molestation cases and 18 dowry deaths last year. There were no cases of eve teasing at all last year, if the police is to be believed.

The rise in dowry deaths, which often pass off for ‘stove blast’ cases is particularly worrying.

On an average, six women are admitted every day to the specialised burns ward in Victoria Hospital and of them at least three succumb every 24 hours.

Says a policeman at the hospital, “The women seldom give a declaration holding their husbands or in-laws responsible for fear of their children being ill treated.”

Consequently most cases are registered as unnatural deaths and not as murders related to dowry harassment.

“There has been an alarming increase in newer forms of violence against women too. Sexual harassment at workplaces specially in call centres and the garment industry is increasing. But most cases go unreported,” says Donna Fernandes of Vimochana.

Domestic violence, which includes physical, sexual, verbal, mental and economic abuse is also a matter of concern as there is a 20 per cent rise in such cases every year. A voluntary counselling centre, Vanitha Sahayavani, run from the city police commissioner's office receives upto a dozen such complaints every day, besides telephone calls from women in distress. Most of them pertain to domestic violence and sexual harassment.

Nishi Mitra, a member of Mahila Jagriti Sangh observes that a “culture of silence” prevents women from talking about the violence they face in their homes.

Advocate Sanjana R. says that while there are several cases of domestic violence, only the extreme forms are recognised under the legal framework. For instance marital rape is not considered an act of violence, she points out.

Many offences never even reach the police due to the social stigma attached to victims of sexual offences, according to a senior police officer.

“However, the recent trend of women raising their voices against sexual offences is heartening,” he adds.

Police commissioner Shankar M. Bidari, meanwhile claims that crime against women is on the decline in the city.

“There have been cases of husbands killing their wives over trivial issues, of a son killing his mother, or of a paramour killing his partner, but in such cases the police can do little. We request women not to even contemplate suicide when they are harassed. Instead, they must fight and the police is always there to support them,” he says

His view that crime against women is on the decline has, however, surprised many. Says Rajini Kalwad, a software engineer, “Its high time the police did more to prevent crime against women. Before arguing that it has declined the police should look up its own statistics,” she advises.

Women battle gender bias, politics at work

April 26th, 2010

According to a recent survey conducted by the AbsolutData Research and Analytics it was found out that “threat of sexual harassment”, “office politics” and “discrimination in pay/promotion” are among the main challenges that working women face at their work place. We spoke to a few women to check if they too face similar incidents.

Though women are working with men, there are still a lot of areas in the employment sector where one can find a gender bias. Harpreet Singh, who works for a private bank mentions, “In banks, women face a lot of discrimination when it comes to increasing the salary or promotion. In our bank for instance, promoting women up to branch manger level is common, but it is really difficult for them to get promoted to the position of a regional head. Most of the time men bosses give excuses like, women can’t handle late night shifts and often take leave due to family affairs; hence they are unfit for top positions.”

Kirti Mathur, an interior designer agrees and adds, “In offices women workers still face discrimination and gender bias. In our field too when it comes to visiting worksites or running around to collect goods, men are preferred. Also if there are a fewer number of women in a department, usually men try to sideline them.”

Though, office politics and gender bias are common problems seen in most offices, some women also feel threatened by sexual harassment.

Arkiti Nath (name changed on request), an HR manager says, “I often get complaints from women about misbehaviour by their bosses. There are a few male bosses, who try and take ‘favours’ from their female subordinates in the name of work. Usually women workers avoid such issues because they fear it might jeopardise their career in later stages.”

However, Smriti Das, a PR professional sums up and opines, “All these issues are present in the corporate sector and if a woman has to survive, she has to be quite smart and efficient in her work to be on the safe side.”

Flirting with fire

June 27th, 2010

Stolen kisses and afternoon lunches. Reading poetry and exchanging gifts. Sounds like fairy-tale romance? Well, if claims of a certain Ms Lisa Rundle are to be believed, all this was, actually, sexual harassment! Stumped? Welcome to the 21st century work place — a space where the professional and the private converge to create an inadmissible but expected by-product– complications. And lots of it.

Until last week, all was going hunky-dory for David Davidar, poster boy of the publishing industry and the then CEO of Penguin Canada. He had an enviable job, a reputation as the man who made Penguin a name to reckon with in publishing in India, his wife to give him company, and he loved what he was doing. Then came the office romance (or shall we say “consensual flirting”). And the inevitable kiss-and-tell stories followed. Before he knew it, he had made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The clinical timeline of his relationship with Ms Rundle, published by his own counsel, only added fuel to the fire. As of today, Davidar is unemployed, back to swades and will possibly have to cough up damages worth $100,000. Lisa Rundle will walk away with a sack of money and all our sympathies.

It raises a million-dollar (excuse the pun) question: How difficult, or easy, is it for the woman in the Indian work place? With the rise of India Inc and the rise of the ambitious Indian career woman, are we set to witness a rise in harassment incidents within open-plan offices and close-knit teams? Who is to blame? Is it the women, fighting for survival and recognition among accounts and balance sheets? Or the sleazy male boss/colleague who believes his ‘yearly bonus’ includes the right to touch, letch, verbally harass the other sex sharing work space with him.

Closer home, recently, a teacher who had gone for a job interview was asked by the principal of a popular school in Chattisgarh to sing a ghazal and explain how she breastfed her child. She walked away, angry and hurt. In another incident, a female employee of a call centre was harassed by her team manager who constantly told her she had “a beautiful body”. He took the liberty to make his point by rubbing her thighs. What did she do? Nothing. She is the sole earning member of her family. Sexual harassment is also rampant in the garment industry, where the power play is between factory supervisors and higher officials and the young girls from poor families, who form the majority of the industry’s workforce.

Clearly, there’s something wrong with the work culture in India. What is it? Is our social conditioning contributing to such behaviour in the work place? Says Munira Sen, director, Common Purpose, “We need to re-examine the social mores of this country. Men and women are segregated right from childhood — they attend single-sex schools, sit in separate tents at weddings. But when they enter the workplace, these barriers are broken. Different genders, castes, classes and communities come together, often leading to a situation where many people don’t know how to handle being in a space with so much diversity.”

At the same time, corporates continue to make ever more ambitious plans to increase diversity at the work place. Without making some fundamental changes in attitudes and social mores, this can only fuel what’s already a raging problem.

Working in an office today is not just about one’s professional ability. It’s also about being able to handle relationships and situations. A woman, especially, has to maintain a balance between keeping her job and staying within the parameters she finds comfortable.

But that’s not to say that only women fall victim. Many corporate professionals believe that the new independent, ambitious Indian woman, eager to climb up the corporate ladder, poses a threat to men as well. Says Arunima Lahiri, consulting senior communications director, LinOpinion, Lowe Lintas, “Many girls use the system. They are ambitious and know this is a fast-track. They get starry-eyed about the rich boss with his flashy cars and unlimited credit cards. Slowly, it turns into a relationship. And when the promises made by the boss are not kept, the girl cries foul! I have been in the corporate world for over 25 years. I have never been harassed because I make my intentions very clear.”

Vijay Jacob, a vice president with Grey Advertising, agrees, “In the creative fields, women come to work in shorts and dresses. That does not mean the men automatically start sexually harass her. It’s not the clothing that is provocative, the behaviour is. If her persona is provocative, such incidents have a higher chance of occurring.”

Undeniably, though, it is usually the woman who is the victim —whether in plush corporate offices staffed by men in grey suits, in dingy government buildings where the babu reigns supreme, in flashy new-age technology and service companies, woman are crying harassment. And it’s getting widespread and worse, with students being harassed by professors, and hospital nurses complaining of rape by colleagues.

What can corporates and bosses do to save themselves the embarrassment and legal embroils of a sexual harassment charge? K. Vaitheeswaran, founder-CEO of online shopping mall Indiaplaza, offers a stringent code of conduct, “As a higher up, you must treat all employees in exactly the same manner — whether male or female. Also, avoid any physical or social contact unless absolutely necessary.”

But one wonders if that is a solution in an era when enterprise success also makes a very contradictory demand on the members of a team – that they share a certain sense of bonding and camaraderie?

With the ever-growing list of men who have faced ignominy including such names as Phaneesh Murthy, the former head of sales of IT giant Infosys, who had to quit following the charges, Punjab ‘supercop’ K.P.S. Gill, IAS officers, top military generals, and now David Davidar, it seems men in privilege positions seem unable to learn a crucial lesson — don’t misbehave ‘cause the women aint keepin’ quiet no more.

* * *

Priya Kapoor, editorial director, Roli Books

"Sexual harassment at the workplace is a sensitive topic, with many grey areas since it can be exploited by both men and women. In the publishing industry, forming a relationship with colleagues is important because you will be interacting with a large but close-knit team. When you spend a lot of time with a few people, these things can happen. It takes a lot for the woman to come out in the open and complain. Ultimately, individuals are responsible for their own actions. The higher a person’s position, the more careful he/she needs to be.

Vidisha Pavate, supermodel

"Models are like beautiful architectural buildings. People want to take photos of them, stare at them, try to touch them. This is our profession. We cannot be narrow-minded. Yes, you will find people taking extra time to drape a saree on you or trying to take advantage of you during a photo-shoot in an exotic location. But, sometimes, the designer might take time to drape a saree simply because he is a perfectionist.

So, we models learn to build an instinct that helps us differentiate the sleazeballs from the professionals. It is unacceptable to touch our thighs for no reason or make physical contact while talking to us. However, in the fashion industry, more than the females, it’s the men that complain about sexual harassment since many people here are gay.”

We are not sexual objects

June 27th, 2010

It is high time the ambitious Indian woman of today is able to articulate her desires and ambitions at the work place. Men have always had the privilege of being ambitious and treating career progression as their territory. Early on in my career, there were times when I was told by male colleagues, in very critical tones, that I was too ambitious for my own good. As if it was wrong for me to be treading on their ground!

The work place is a very difficult space for a woman to tackle because of the power relations that exist. Men still occupy positions of authority and they can use that power to get hold of the woman, which can take the form of harassment and, sometimes, even assault.

Although many organisations have mechanisms to deal with the problem, they do not address the root of the problem. The question we need to ask is, even if actions are taken against the perpetrator, say a loss of increment, a demotion and in extreme cases dismissal, is that justice enough for the victim? It cannot give back the loss of dignity in being treated as a sexual object.

The main problem in Indian society is that a lot of men are not aware that what they are doing is violating a woman’s dignity. This mentality has been naturalised in our society. You can be walking down the road in jeans and a spaghetti top and an unknown man feels it is okay for him to ask you to cover up! What is required in our workplaces are sensitisation workshops that can teach both men and women the red lines and what they must watch out for in the office space.

US mother accused of sexual exploitation of a minor

June 29, 2010

Washington, DC: A woman in the US has been accused of doctoring a pornographic photo of a woman having sex with a dog by putting the face f a 13-year-old girl in its place.

Danette Stark, 37, from Utah, appeared in court on June 28 to face 18 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, who was attending the same middle school as her daughter.

Prosecutors said she created the image, put it into fliers and distributed them at Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake City.

Stark was spotted on surveillance video entering the seventh-grade bathroom at the school on the second to the last day of classes.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller said a custodian found the fliers in the bathroom and contacted local authorities, and Stark admitted that she made 30, but police recovered only 18 of them.

"If anyone sees copies of these they need to turn them over to police immediately," the Media quoted Miller as saying.

"If they distribute it, make copies or put on the Internet, they are committing a crime of distributing pornography under Utah law," she stated.

Stark allegedly told police that she believed the unidentified girl "wronged" her in some way.

Police say Stark found the photos on the Internet and placed the fliers, which included derogatory comments directed toward the girl, into several students' lockers in addition to the bathroom.

Miller said that this is the district's first case of social networking bullying, and they are trying to keep the 13-year-old girl's identity as private as possible.

"She is traumatized by the event," Miller said.

"We are trying to keep her privacy protected as much as possible to help keep her life as normal as possible," she added.

Killing your ex and having his money too

June 17, 2010

It is Sleeping with the Enemy meets Ruthless People. But any way you cut it, this real-life story is such a perfect mix of Hollywood drama and comedy that it has doubtless got dozens of screenwriters scrambling for their pens across Beverly Hills.

When officials in California's legislative departments received a petition from police detective John Pomroy of Pomona, near Los Angeles, they must have felt they were watching the latest instalment of Basic Instinct.

Unusual plea

Mr. Pomroy approached California legislators, in particular Democratic Assemblyman Marty Block of San Diego County, with a very unusual plea. He requested Mr. Block's help in closing a particular loophole in Californian divorce law that had bitten him hard personally — the right to prevent your ex-wife from running off with a chunk of your life savings if she hires a hit man from a motorcycle gang to have you bumped off.

Yes, you read it right.

According to reports, Mr. Pomroy went through a contentious divorce back in 2002 and his ex-wife, after turning violent due to alcohol and drug abuse, lost custody of their two sons. She apparently also lost some of her appreciation for the law — and possibly her grip on reality.

Instead of seeking legal recourse, the former Ms. Pomroy approached members of the feared Vagos motorcycle gang in San Bernardino County to kill her ex. What she clearly did not bargain for was the gang members alerting the police. Policemen reportedly disguised as biker-assassins taped a conversation with the ex-wife, leading to her arrest and subsequent conviction for soliciting murder.

Think this is twisted? There's more.

Given the oddities of the law in California, Mr. Pomroy's ex-wife was actually able to claim half of his wealth because she had not tried to kill him herself.

In other words, hiring an even more efficient killer enabled her to get away with serving a mere 22 months in prison, and then collecting a cool $70,000 from her ex-husband's estate in the divorce.

Mr. Pomroy commented on his attempts to get the law changed, saying: “This Assembly bill is not going to award me anything retroactively; I'm not looking for that … I'm just trying to prevent some poor sap in the future who goes through this, to prevent him from losing his assets to somebody that's trying to kill him.”

Assemblyman Marty expects the bill to pass unopposed in the State Senate this week.

Women beat up Muslim clerics in Lucknow

June 30, 2010

Lucknow, June 30: Three Muslim clerics in a seminary beaten up by three women for allegedly not conducting their "talaq" (divorce) proceedings in accordance with Shariat (Islamic) laws, police said.

Mumtaz alias Hina, Nishat Fatima and Arshi barged into the Madrassa Sultan-e-Madari in the Wazirganj area and assaulted the clerics - Mohd Afzar Zaidi, Sayed Musa Rizvi and Mohd Raza Sajid.

"The women alleged that the clerics conducted their divorce, keeping them in the dark. We have initiated an enquiry," police spokesman Anand Srivastava told reporters here.

Meanwhile, the three clerics have registered a police complaint against the three women for assaulting them and damaging the property of the seminary.

Law: Weapon of vengeance

Jun 29 2010
Marriage, dowry, relationships, family, marital discord: it's a potent mix of human emotions and failings and nowhere is this more in evidence than in the misuse of the Dowry Prohibition Act (DPA).

Extreme Decision

Pushkar Singh, 34 Vineeta, 30 Mumbai

Singh, a teacher, committed suicide after his wife allegedly implicated him in a false case for which he had to spend four months in jail. He hanged himself after his release, blaming his in-laws for his plight. He leaves behind a minor child and his ailing, aged mother.

All in the Family

Brijesh Awasthi, 34 Sunita Awasthi, 33, Mumbai

Brijesh claims that his brother-in-law borrowed money which he did not want to repay and in turn told his sister that Awasthi was planning to remarry secretly. Sunita committed suicide and his in-laws charged him with dowry killing. He is now bringing up his two daughters.

An incredible 9,000 husbands and their relatives (10 per cent of the total jail population) are languishing in Uttar Pradesh prisons under the provisions of the Act. Parents of estranged brides are increasingly lodging cases against their in-laws under the Act to "punish the husbands" and to also conceal the actual cause of the dispute between the couple.

"After murder cases, if there is any other crime sending the greatest number of people to jail, it is the Dowry Prohibition Act," says senior IPS officer and Inspector General of UP Jails Sulkhan Singh. What that proves is that an Act meant to protect victims of dowry has become a weapon of vengeance and a mockery of the judicial system.

Indraneil Bhattacharya, a senior executive in a Lucknow-based private company, was married to Mausami Chatterji in 2002 and within five months their relations deteriorated. But they sustained their togetherness and had two children by 2008. "I requested her not to spend too much money on herself but she refused and finally filed a case under DPA as revenge," says Indraneil.

"We have lost all our money in courts and police stations. Mausami and her kin have driven us out of our house. My parents, who had built the house with their hard-earned money, are now living in a rented house," recalls Indraneil, who is now socially ostracised and economically broken.

The Act has caused so much trauma that Pushkar Singh, a teacher, even ended his life. Implicated under the Act, Singh was sent to jail for four months. He came back, wrote a letter blaming his wife and in-laws for implicating him in a false case of dowry and ruining his life. "I cannot face the society so I am ending my life" were his last words as Singh hanged himself. He left behind his aged and ailing mother and a child.

Another victim, Vikas Parihar, says his wife was a journalist who had illicit relations with the owner of a magazine, and when he protested she filed a case under the DPA. "I have lost my job, my money, my status in society and my family. My day ends running after police personnel and advocates. I have no money now. If I don't contest the case, I would be convicted and sent to jail for a crime that I did not commit. But if I challenge it, I lose everything and may soon turn a beggar. What is the use of such a life?" says an emotional Parihar.

In an unusual case in Barabanki district, Saroj of Belia village was married to Ram Saran of Bhaisupur in 2006. One morning she was found missing from her in-laws house. Her father charged Ram Saran and his family with killing his daughter for dowry and disposing of her body.

The sessions court pronounced rigorous life imprisonment for Ram Saran and his family. But during the high court proceedings, the "dead" Saroj presented herself before the court, saying that she had eloped with her paramour and her father had out of vendetta filed a case against her husband and in-laws under the dpa.

There are, however, larger social and judicial issues here. Between 2000 and 2007, 795 minor girls and 1,300 minor boys were also booked under the Act. "In most cases the bride's family lodges a complaint under the dpa against the husband and his family.

Instead of investigating the case, the police immediately arrests the accused. This is ridiculous. How can minor boys and girls be involved in a dowry case? They may not even know what dowry is," says a senior government official who himself faced such a case. While the situation in Uttar Pradesh is scary, chaos reigns across the country over the provisions of the Act.

National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) figures reveal that in the five years between 2004 and 2008, no less than 3,36,842 cases were registered under the Act and 94 per cent of the accused were absolved of the charges. The figures show that the DPA is being grossly misused by the bride's family.

The misuse has now triggered off counter activism with many organisations like Patni Pidit Sangathan, Save Family, All-India Male Welfare Association, Hyderabad MASA (Mother and Sister Initiative) and Forgotten Women coming up across the country. Salem in Tamil Nadu hosts a national-level meeting of victims of the wife in August every year.

"I have no hesitation in saying the Act has become a money-making machine for the police and lawyers," says Vikas Parihar, another victim. Swarup Sarkar, founding member of the Save Indian Family Campaign, said over 2,000 NGOs are working all over the country for women's welfare, but not a single one for the welfare of men.

Sarkar added that most dowry cases are registered against economically sound families and then a gang of police personnel and advocates start extorting from the groom's family. "How can a mere verbal statement by a woman be made the ground for the arrest of an entire family, including minors and elders without an investigation? This is unconstitutional and illegal. Even the Supreme Court has issued directives to first investigate DPA-related complaints and then make arrests," says Sarkar.

In view of a growing number of dowry-related cases, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has constituted a Mediation and Conciliation Centre in the court campus.

Senior lawyer I.B. Singh, chairman of the centre, said that in the last eight months, 622 cases were referred to the centre, out of which 500 cases were dowry related but there was not a single case in which dowry was the real cause of dispute. Shabnam Siddiqui, a member of the centre said: "The misuse is increasing in the middle and upper middle classes with a good economic and educational background."

After murder cases, if there is any other crime sending the largest number of people to the jails, it is the Dowry Prohibition Act.- Sulkhan Singh, IG Uttar Pradesh Jails

Even the President, the Supreme Court and a number of high courts have expressed their concern over the misuse of the Act. The apex court has even described the phenomenon as "legal terrorism."

Lucknow's Nari Bandi Niketan holds 151 elderly women. "Most of them have to serve life terms," says a senior jail official. Many of them cannot walk independently or perform their daily chores.

Most have been abandoned by their own relatives. A senior jail official said of these 151 inmates, 105 had no visitors in the last one year. The remaining 46 had just three visitors despite the fact that the jail manual allows 12 meetings. "These inmates are like our family members and we take care of them," says the official.

Indeed, it is common to see women and men between the ages of 65 and 70 years serving a life term. Apart from the mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law too were in jails with their children.

Now the All India Mother-In-Law Protection Forum has come up to fight for their rights. Parihar says that the Act is taking a heavy toll on men, adding that more than two lakh married men committed suicide between 2005 and 2008 while the number of housewives was much less.

Now, men are uniting across the country and demanding a review of the Act. That will be little consolation to the thousands of victims of vengeance and greed, stuck behind bars with their future in tatters.

Wanted: A fairer law

Mar 6, 2010

How could a woman of easy virtue claim to have been raped? The policemen accused of raping a tribal woman were let off on that reasoning. It took such a miscarriage of justice by the Supreme Court in the 1978 Mathura rape case to trigger a nationwide campaign against anti-woman laws. Many changes have since been made in the statute book, including the provisions relating to rape. Manoj Mitta looks at some of the more important gender law reforms that are overdue...


Despite misgivings of tokenism, the 1993 measure of reserving one third of the seats for women in the third tier of the Indian democracy - Panchayati Raj and Nagar Palika - has proved successful in empowering the targeted group. But all attempts to extend the same principle to state legislative assemblies and Parliament have come to naught because of resistance, overt or covert, from various political parties.

However, the latest attempt made in 2008 seems promising, not the least because the Bill was introduced for the first time in the Rajya Sabha and, therefore, did not lapse when there were elections to the Lok Sabha the following year.

One sticky issue that has remained is that the proposed rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from there.


In a bid to prevent child marriages, polygamy and desertions, the Supreme Court declared in 2006 that it was compulsory for all marriages to be registered. But when it reviewed the implementation of its verdict the following year, the apex court found that only some of the states had framed the necessary rules for compulsory registration of marriages. It was also noticed that those fresh rules were made only in respect of Hindus.

None of the states dared touch the Muslim law, partly because it apparently permits polygamy and partly because the Supreme Court judgment was liable to be misconstrued by minorities as an attempt to force a uniform civil code through the backdoor. The Hindu law was perceived to be more amenable to this reform as it already provides registration of marriage as an option.


While divorce by mutual consent or no-fault divorce was introduced way back in 1976, no government has so far mustered the will to enact the next logical reform. Namely, to empower the courts to grant divorce even when one of the two parties is opposed to it and none of the prescribed grounds for divorce could be established. The Supreme Court has repeatedly called for the introduction of "irretrievable breakdown of marriage" so that the judiciary in India, as its counterparts in advanced countries, is empowered to grant divorce on coming to the conclusion that the marriage was beyond repair.


The unfettered freedom among Hindus to bequeath their self-acquired properties to any person(s) of their choice has often worked against the interests of their female legal heirs, especially daughters. Experts have suggested that a Hindu should have the discretion to bequeath by a will only up to two-thirds of his properties. The remaining one-third of his estate should be governed by the succession law, which has been reformed in recent years to include daughters among legal heirs.


The abuse of Section 498A IPC is as patent as the need to confer such protection on the wife from the cruelty of the husband or his relatives for dowry or otherwise. There is clearly a need to amend this law, if nothing else because women too (mothers-in-law or sisters-in-law )are often casualties of its abuse. In a bid to save this well intentioned provision from the odium of being a cover for blackmail, the courts have repeatedly directed that the police should not resort to arrests till they complete their investigation and file a charge sheet.


In one of its most anti-feminist provisions, the Indian Penal Code 1860 defines adultery as an offence that is actionable only between the adulterer and the aggrieved husband. But if the husband commits adultery, the wife cannot seek action against him and his sexual partner. The husband can get into trouble only if his sexual partner happens to be married and, then too, only from her husband.

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court upheld this iniquitous provision in 1985 on the ground that it was dealing with "a wrong against the sanctity of the matrimonial home". But the Law Commission and the Malimath Committee on criminal justice reforms proposed that the adultery provision be made gender-neutral.


For all the possible ways in which this extremely violent offence is committed, the definition of rape, provided in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, hangs by a narrow thread. While "sexual intercourse" is a necessary condition, "penetration" is stipulated as a sufficient condition. This means that, however much he might have sexually assaulted the victim, the offence of rape is not made out unless the crime involved "penile-vaginal penetration".

The Law Commission, therefore, suggested a fresh definition, which makes it clear that penetration could be of vagina, anus or urethra, with any part of the body of another person or object manipulated by another person. It also seeks to include oral sex and manipulation of any part of the body with sexual intent.


One leftover of the old notion that the wife is the husband's property is the absence of any recognition of the fact that she could be raped even within the institution of marriage. Mercifully, the one circumstance in which marital rape is acknowledged by law is when the wife is less than 15 years old. Even so, she will have to lodge the complaint within a year and then the husband, upon conviction, would get a maximum sentence of two years. This is a far cry from the minimum stipulated sentence of seven years for rape.

Though child wives do need greater protection, there is no justification for the presumption that, unlike their counterparts in western countries, Indian wives above the age of 15 can never be raped by their husbands. The closest the law has come to recognising this crime is in the context of the 2005 Domestic Violence Act, which created a civil remedy for such victims even as it refrained from criminalising marital rape.


The Victorian vintage provisions dealing with "outraging the modesty" of a woman (Section 354 IPC) and "insulting the modesty" of a woman (Section 509) are clearly out of date. The notion of regarding a woman in terms of her "modesty" does not fit in with a world where she competes with men on equal terms. The Supreme Court sought to redress this anomaly in its landmark Vishakha verdict in 1997, when it laid down guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment at work place. This temporary measure, meant to be replaced by legislation, has proved ineffective as it depends on the responsibility of employers to create a remedial mechanism.

So, one option before Parliament is to enact a special law on the lines of the court guidelines. Another option is to amend the Indian Penal Code as suggested by the Law Commission in 2000. The panel recommended replacing the 'outraging the modesty' clause with one dealing with "unlawful sexual contact", which would cover touching the body of any person other than one's spouse "with sexual intent and without the consent" of such person.


The Ruchika Girhotra case of last year has served to highlight a lacuna in the Indian law which, contrary to a progressive global trend, does not contain any special provision for child victims of sexual molestation.

While there are special provisions in Section 376 IPC for child victims of rape, where the minimum punishment is 10 years jail as against the norm of seven years, Section 354 IPC, covering all forms of non-consensual contact other than rape, makes no such distinction between adult and child victims. Hence, the "unlawful sexual contact" provision suggested by the Law Commission is designed to enhance the penalty for child abusers to seven years from the present level of two years for any molester.


The strict restrictions imposed by the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act on where and how prostitution could be practiced resulted in action being taken most of the time against the victims themselves. An amendment Bill introduced by the Manmohan Singh government in the earlier Lok Sabha in 2006 seemed to be a step in the right direction. But after it lapsed in 2009, with the dissolution of that Lok Sabha, UPA II has not so far revived the proposal of reforming the trafficking law.

The reforms included deletion of the provisions that penalised prostitutes for soliciting clients. Instead, the 2006 Bill for the first time sought to punish any person visiting a brothel for the purpose of sexual exploitation of trafficked victims. The provision to penalise clients of prostitutes has, however, raised apprehensions that it could drive the flesh trade underground and thereby block legal channels of support to victims of trafficking.

Harassed for dowry, Bangalore teen kills self

June 30, 2010

Bangalore: A newly married girl in Bangalore committed suicide on June 29 after she was allegedly harassed by her husband and in-laws for dowry.

Nineteen-year-old M Nandini married Mohan G, a cabbie in Mysore, three months ago.

However, during the engagement, Mohan allegedly demanded 200 grams of gold and a bike as dowry. Nandini's parents offered 180 grams of gold and requested Mohan to wait for a while for the bike.

Mohan refused initially, but later agreed. When Nandini reached Mysore, her husband and in-laws subjected her to mental and physical torture for the bike.

Unable to bear the harrassment, Nandini asked her parents to arrange a two-wheeler within a fortnight.

Nandini's father gave Mohan Rs 30,000 and asked for a month's time to arrange for the remaining amount. This irritated Mohan, who subjected Nandini to more torture.

Fed up with the humiliation, Nandini committed suicide after writing a letter stating how her husband and in-laws tortured her.

Kyataraju J, assistant PSI, Amrutahalli police station, said, "From the suicide note, it's clear that the girl committed suicide following harassment meted by the husband. We have arrested Mohan and are looking for his parents who have gone absconding."

Following alleged torments meted by husband and in-laws, a newly married girl committed suicide in the city on June 29.

The police have arrested the husband, after they found a note that said that the husband and the in-laws were torturing her for dowry.

Ninteen-year-old M Nandini had married Mohan G, a cabbie in Mysore, three months ago.

However, during the engagement, Mohan allegedly demanded 200 gm gold and a bike as dowry. Nandini's parents offered 180 grams of gold and requested Mohan to wait for a while for the bike.

Mohan refused initially, but later he agreed. When she reached Mysore, her husband and in-laws subjected her to mental and physical torture for the bike.

According to the complaint filed by Nandini's father, the couple hadn't even consummate their marriage, as Mohan wanted the bike first.

Unable to bear the torments anymore, Nandini asked her parents to arrange a two-wheeler within a fortnight.

Nandini's father gave Mohan Rs 30,000 and asked for a month's time to arrange for the remaining amount. This irritated Mohan, who subjected Nandini to more torture.

Fed up with the humiliation, she hanged herself. However, before committing suicide, she wrote a letter stating how her husband and in-laws tortured her.

Kyataraju J, Assistant PSI, Amrutahalli police station, said, "From the suicide note, it's clear that the girl committed suicide following harassment meted by the husband. We have arrested Mohan and are looking for his parents who have gone absconding."

Woman, parents seek divorce in same court

Jun 22, 2010

MUZAFFARNAGAR: Years of marriage might have reconciled the warring couple, but after their daughter, who took the vow around 36 years ago, filed a case for divorce, the two did some soul searching and found they were not‘‘compatible’’. Nearly 50 years after they got married, the couple have decided to seek divorce in the same court where their daughter has filed her case.

Madhu, who had married Lalit Wadhwa in 1974, sought divorce from him in 2009 due to a family dispute. She cited ‘‘irreconcilable differences with her husband’’ and moved court. While her mother Prem Narula (70) supported her decision, Madhu’s father, Shiv Chandra Narula (72) opposed it. The mother felt that there was enough logic in her daughter’s decision to seek divorce. She opined that her daughter had ‘suffered’ a lot over the years. Her father, however, maintained she could give her husband another chance.

The father’s support for the son-in-law and mother’s support for the daughter created a rift between the elderly couple, and Shiv Chandra last week filed for divorce from Prem in the same court in Saharanpur where their daughter’s case is pending.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Increasing incidents of dowry deaths or harassment

June 23, 2010

KANPUR: The industrial city is already infamous for being a hub of crime and the recent spurt in the cases of dowry-related offences has added another cause for concern.

In a shocking incident on June 19, a woman registered a complaint against her husband and in-laws under section 302 of IPC. She claimed that her husband and in-laws tried to kill her first by strangulation, then by poisoning her and after failing in both attempts, they abandoned her at her parents' house in Kalyanpur police station limits. The harassment was allegedly over dowry demands for a motorcycle and cash. The hapless woman, Gudiya, tortured beyond endurance, collapsed as soon as she reached her parents and was admitted to Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital, where she died on Sunday morning.

In a similar incident on June 17, Ram Kumari of Dallapurwa in Bithoor, soon after `Tilak' ceremony, had the groom and his family arrested for demanding cash from her family.

The two incidents highlighted the prevalence of a social evil like dowry, even in this day and age. As per the records provided by an NGO, as many as 21 cases of dowry deaths (section 304 B of the IPC) have been reported in the district alone till June 20, while 40 cases have been listed under `cruelty meted out to woman by her husband and his relatives' (section 498 A of IPC), which is also linked with dowry demands.

"These crimes are in fact a matter of concern, as they reflect the condition of women in our society," said Neelam Chaturvedi, a social activist, who runs an NGO. Chaturvedi further feels that the dowry death cases in the district "need a thorough investigation to effect a decline in this ever-growing social evil". She is actively involved in the fight against crimes against women in the city.

Chaturvedi said that the crimes against women also have roots in the "peculiar masculine syndrome that exists predominantly in our society". After being subjected to physical or sexual abuse by husbands, the women either end their lives or are murdered, she added. Reports stated that the city witnessed at least one dowry death every day. Even though section 304 B of IPC imposes severe punishment against practice of dowry in any form, no marriage "can be solemnised' without some form of dowry, said an official, working for women who have faced harassment due to dowry demands. Police records say some 30-40 cases are filed every year. But few get relief from the courts, according to city-based Sakhi Kendra, an NGO that deals with women's issue.

For instance, Rashmi, a housewife, who had come to the city from Lucknow after a love marriage, is now fighting a dowry case against her husband's family for allegedly harassing her over dowry payments. Another activist, Archana said that two to three women are taken into Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital's burn unit every day. The latest arrival is a young woman from Kanpur Dehat, who has 80% burns. The victim said her husband poured kerosene over her and told her to die. Doctors at the burn unit told the Media that the condition of girl is critical. Another woman patient in the unit said that that her husband, who is an alcoholic, took all her jewellery and then demanded more dowry from her parents, so she went into the kitchen, poured kerosene over her body and set herself ablaze.

As per a senior high court lawyer, "It is all the more agonising that aggrieved persons, after the police refuses to buy their version, have to move court for relief and justice." In one such case reported from Narwal, Vinay Pandey, whose sister had died under suspicious circumstances owing to the alleged cruel treatment of her in-laws in December, 2009, failed to get a case of dowry death registered, he had to file a petition in local court, which has now issued a directive to the police to register a case against in-laws of his sister.

Another victim who testified in the court said she suffered regular beating and mental torture at the hands of her husband of 5 long years, before ending her marriage.

"Physical harassment and abuse was part and parcel of my three years of married life. My husband always demanded dowry from my parents, but as my parents were unable to give it, he used to beat me. I left my husband. At present I am staying with my parents," said a dowry victim from the city, who did not wish to be named.

Pacheco to move SC for anticipatory bail

June 26, 2010

Goa's former Tourism Minister Fransisco "Mickey" Pacheco and his close aide Lyndon Monteiro, wanted by the Crime Branch in the death of a 28-year-old woman Nadia Torrado, are likely to move Supreme Court with the anticipatory bail plea, sources said.

Goa's sessions court and Panaji bench of Bombay High Court have already rejected anticipatory bail plea of duo.

It was expected?

The possibility of Pacheco and Monteiro surrendering to the Crime branch was expressed since last couple of days after their anticipatory bail plea was rejected by High Court on merits.

Crime branch, which is investigating the case, has accused Pacheco of culpable homicide, while Monteiro is accused of destroying the evidence.

Nadia had allegedly consumed poison on May 15 and she was shifted to private hospitals in Goa, Mumbai and later at Chennai where she breathed her last.

The postmortem report had suggested around 14 injuries on her body, which had created suspicion in this case. Pacheco was interrogated by the Crime Branch on June 5 and thereafter he went missing.

Monteiro too went into hiding after June 6, when he was summoned by police.

American dream interrupted

June 29, 2010

Delhi Police arrests International gang of human traffickers

Living the American Dream isn't easy, especially if you come from a different part of the world. But if you are prepared to shell out a few lakhs, help is around. For human trafficking is big business in India.

The Delhi police claims to have solved 100 cases of human smuggling with the arrest of three travel agents on Monday. The anti-extortion cell of the crime branch nabbed Manoj Pandey (35), Jitender Mohan (49) and Mohan Kala (46) from Barakhamba Road in central Delhi.

"We had received information that some travel agents from Delhi and Punjab were involved in trafficking of Indian and Nepalese nationals to the US through Latin American countries like Mexico, Ecuador and Guatemala by using forged documents. They were charging Rs 25-30 lakh from each person. We conducted a series of raids and arrested Manoj, Jitender and Mohan from the Barakhamba Road area," said a police officer.

"Manoj Pandey was running his travel agency with the name of Sprite Tours and Travels from Inder Prakash Building at Barakhamba Road. Pandey hails from Bihar and is a graduate from Allahabad University. Jitender Mohan was running an office by the name of J M Tours and Travels from Prakash Deep Building on Tolstoy Marg. Mohan Lal is their accomplice; his family is settled in London," the officer added

The accused were well aware of visa norms in Latin American countries. They took advantage of the loopholes with the help of forged documents and had so far sent at least 100 people illegally to the US and Malaysia.

"In Latin American countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador etc. there is a facility of Visa on Arrival.

The culprits would send their clients to these countries first and would then take local help and traffic clients to the US through the Mexico border. They usually targeted Indian and Nepalese nationals. They also sent people to Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore by using tampered visas of different people. We have recovered 152 fake and tampered passports, 4 computers and 2.89 lakh rupees in cash from the accused," the officer concluded.


The United States has placed India on its second worst category on human trafficking for the seventh consecutive year in 2010, saying the latter has done significant work on sex trafficking, but not enough to check labour trafficking.

"The government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking," said the US State Department in its 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report places 13 countries including Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on its worst 'Tier 3' countries list not doing anything to fight the 'phenomenon of modern slavery' as Senator HillarClinton put it.

Woman ends up in no man's land

June 8, 2010

Smitten by colleague, techie divorced hubby only to be dumped by lover later

In an instance of love gone wrong, a 32-year-old software engineer left her husband for her boyfriend who later dumped her.

Kirthi, a resident of Sector I in HSR Layout, worked with a renowned IT company in Whitefield. Though she was married, she fell in love Sri Rangarajan, her colleague, who promised to marry her if she divorced her husband.

Smitten by Rangarajan, Kirthi filed a divorce petition in a family court and started living-in with him at his house in Banasawadi.

But after spending a few months with him, Kirthi realised that Rangarajan was just using her and had no intentions of marrying her. Also, she came to know that Rangarajan was planning to get married to another girl.

When she confronted Rangarajan, he allegedly hired some goons who threatened Kirthi to dire consequence if she made an issue out of it.

Disturbed by his behaviour, she had an argument with Rangarajan, after which he allegedly tried to set her on fire.

However, Kirthi managed to escape and later filed a complaint with the police.

Speaking with the Media, Inspector of HSR Layout police station Rajesh said, that he has summoned Ranarajan for enquiry.

"He admitted his mistake and has promised to patch up. I'll try to give him a chance. If he doesn't mend his ways, then I'll surely take legal action against him," Rajesh said.

Love, Sex, Dhoka

Last year, a girl created a sensation in the city by gate crashing a wedding and claiming she was pregnant with the groom's child. She alleged that her neighbour the groom, his neighbour, promised her marriage and tricked her into physical relations before deciding to get married to another woman.

My husband needs to pay for his crimes

June 18, 2010

The woman who alleged that her spouse forced her to have group sex with friends demands justice for six years of pain and humiliation

When she picked up the matrimonial advertisement placed by Delhi-based businessman Kuldeepak Arora in the summer of 2004, Rajashree did not have the slightest inkling of the horrors that awaited her.

Six years later, having sent Arora to jail for abusing her, forcing her to have group sex with his friends, forcing her to have unnatural sex and after enduring other forms of physical and emotional torture, Rajashree is taking stock of all that she went through and has decided to fight till the very end for justice.

"I want people, who made my life miserable, behind bars. I need justice for the six years of pain and humiliation I went through," said Rajashree, who registered an FIR against her husband in her hometown of Surat, Gujarat. Surat police arrested Arora from Delhi airport on April 5.

"I contacted Kuldeepak on his email ID after seeing the matrimonial ad in newspaper on July 6, 2003. We started chatting and met first in London and then in Dubai. Finally, our families met in Hong Kong to decide the marriage. We had a lavish wedding at Kamrej in Surat and then a reception in Delhi," she told MiD DAY over the phone from Surat.

"Soon after marriage my husband and in-laws started harassing me for dowry. Due to my husband's business in Mumbai and Hong Kong we used to stay in Delhi and Mumbai alternatively. They started beating me up and even tried to drown me," she said.

Rajashree wrote to her sister about her travails but she asked her to keep patience. Meanwhile, frustrated with his dowry demands not being met by Rajashree's family, Arora unleashed hell on Rajashree.

"I was forced to have unnatural sex but he did not stop at that. He forced me to make physical relations with his brothers Kulbhushan and Dharmender as also with his business partner NP Sehgal," Rajashree said.

When it crossed the limits of her endurance, Rajashree returned to her family in Surat and filed a police complaint against Arora after six years of marriage.

The accused Kuldeepak Arora is an exporter besides having business interests in Mumbai and Hong Kong. When the Surat police nabbed him at IGI airport, Arora was leaving for Nepal. He owns a company called Bombay Brothers Audio Visual Company Pvt Ltd. and imported cellphones to India. Arora, who owns a plush bungalow in the south Delhi's East of Kailash, used to stay most of the time at his Goregaon apartment in Mumbai.

"Recently, I got to know that my husband was married before he tied the knot with me. He had not divorced his first wife whom he married in 1997. Their divorce was not settled till 2006 and a case was on in Delhi's Tees Hazari court," she said.

When asked whether the women in Arora household did not sympathise with her for being subjected to such inhuman torture, she said even they helped her husband in 'subjugating' her.
The law finally catches up

Investigation officer Surendra Singh Wala told the Media from Surat over the phone that the FIR in the case was lodged on April 4, following which a look-out notice was issued against Kuldeepak Arora. "The FIR names the accused along with his brother, brother-in-law and his business partner. Apart from allegations of forced group sex, there are charges of torture and threats to life."

The FIR has been lodged under sections 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 506(2) (criminal intimidation) and 114 (abetment of any offence) and sections 3 and 7 of the dowry Act.

Arora was produced before a Surat court last week that remanded him to nine days' police custody. The police remand expires on Friday. Arora had also moved a bail application, which will be heard the same day.

No further arrests have been made as the police are still searching for his family members including his two brothers, their wives and a business partner, who have been named in the complaint.

Wala said police have evidence of the orgies that the woman was being forced into, adding she even had a miscarriage due to the ordeal.

Cops asked my son to rape me

June 9, 2010

Police officers, including a woman constable, asked a juvenile accused to strip and have sex with his mother inside a police post in Rajouri garden. The woman has lodged a written complaint with the police commissioner.

You may have heard shocking tales of nails being pulled out, beating up of suspects after making them lie naked on ice sheets, rendering of electric shocks etc as part of the police's third degree torture techniques. But if the story of a west Delhi family is to be believed, then the Delhi police has crossed the line between human decency and barbarism.

M. Jha (45), who lives in Mayapuri with his wife Pooja (30) and two sons Raju (12) and Ramesh (10), learnt on May 21 that his boys had been detained by the police on charges of theft (all names changed to protect identity). The husband and wife rushed to the local police station but failed to find the boys. **

"While returning home from the Mayapuri police station with my wife, I saw a crowd outside our house. While entering I saw a male and a female cop ransacking the place. When we objected and asked about our sons, the cops started hitting us," said Mukesh Jha.

"After beating us black and blue they took us to the Rajouri Garden police post around 7pm. I saw both my sons there; they had been severely beaten. The male and female police officers there started flogging all of us. They wanted to know about theft of certain items from a car," said Jha.

The torture ended at midnight. But only the parents were allowed to go. The children were kept in detention.

"They told me to go back home and come back the next morning at 10. But when we showed up the policemen asked us to go back and return at 4 pm. We went home. But suddenly around 2 pm on May 22, the cops came to our house and took us to the police post," Jha said.

"There they started beating us again. But after a few minutes one of the constables took me and my younger son out of the room and locked it from the inside. I was worried about the fate of my wife and elder son," he added.

Inside the room, something horrible was about to happen. And Pooja found herself right in the middle of it.

"They locked me and my elder son Raju. Then they started questioning us about the stolen goods. When my son and I denied all charges, the constable asked me to strip in front of my son. When I refused the constable started beating me with his lathi and forced me to strip," Pooja said.

"Then the cops asked me to have sex with my son. Both of us started crying and I begged them to let us go. Then one of the constables asked me to have sex with him instead if I couldn't do it with my son. We begged them again and again to let us go. Finally after about one or two hours they released us," she said. Terrified by the whole incident, Mukesh and Pooja went home, silently. But an NGO Society for Social Research Art & Culture got information regarding the episode. And they approached her for justice.
"One of Pooja's neighbours called us and related the whole incident. We found the victims and we encouraged them to file a complaint against the culprit cops. Then on June 8 Pooja wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police, relating the whole matter. We have already emailed the victims' story to the NHRC," said Shahnawaz Akhtar Khan, an NGO worker.

The Media has a copy of the letter written by the victims. When the accused policemen came to know that the family was planning to take action they allegedly tried to bribe them.

"They gave us Rs 3,500 and told us to go away from the area. But I declined and returned the money. They later offered me Rs 20,000 to back off," Jha claimed.

Mahesh's relationship with Lara started when we were still married

June 14, 2010

Mahesh Bhupathi's patni comes clean about her cheating hubby

Mahesh Bhupathi's wife, model Shvetha Jaishankar has spoken up for the first time. In this month's Savvy magazine, she reveals how her tennis ace hubby cheated on her and that he started going around with Lara Dutta even before their divorce came through.

Lara was not the first he was distracted by...

I don't know when Mahesh met Lara Dutta but all I can say is that she was the client of our celebrity and sports management company and their relationship did start while we were married. And she was not the first one he was distracted by. There were others and I have evidence, but who wants to get into the muddle now? I don't want to say anything more about Mahesh and Lara except that I wish he was sensitive enough to wait till our divorce came through, before being seen around with her so publicly.

I was nothing more than a new-age trophy wife for him...

He wanted out and I cooperated because I did not want to continue in a one-sided relationship. But this is not how a person who has been a supporting wife should have been treated. Men of this kind are so overtly ambitious that they have a partner who fits in with their ambitious streak. I think I served a purpose in his life at that point of time -- he wanted an educated, good looking partner from a good family but I now realise I was nothing more that a new-age trophy wife for him.

Lara probably fits in with his current plans...

Mahesh seems like he is in a frenzy, collecting trophies on and off the court and Lara probably fits in with his current plans. But again, if he did what he did to me -- a woman he loved -- he is capable of doing this to Lara as well.

Lara and I have been acquaintances...

Lara and I did shows together. So, in that sense, we've been acquaintances. I even recall initiating talks to bring her in as a client of our company. I remember Mahesh telling me that client relationships should be handled by our managers and not by him or me and that it was not professional for the directors of the company to be so close to them! Was it his way of distancing from his intentions? I will never know.

He never wanted to talk about what went wrong with him and Leander paes...

Regarding the whole Leander -Mahesh issue, people say it's such a tragedy for the country that they are not together. People always wanted to know what went wrong between Leander and him and he never wanted to talk about it. As a wife, even though in a sense I should have known everything about it, there are some lines that shouldn't be crossed. I felt this was a sensitive topic for him, so I never really asked him much. But very recently he made a comment saying: "You know I am going to play with Sania and the day Sania and I win a Grand Slam, the world will forget Leander." I wondered where this arrogance came from because it's not about forgetting Leander, but also about remembering you. He is an achiever, no doubt, but so are Leander and Sania. Where was the competitive spirit? That was a poignant instance when I discovered that he had changed.

Viveka Babajee suicide case: Traces of poison found in autopsy

June 28, 2010

Lethal mix of calmpose and hydrochloric acid found in Viveka's body during autopsy

There's a new twist to supermodel Viveka Babajee's death.

The police have learnt that poison has been found in her body during the autopsy examination conducted last evening.

"Five of Babajee's former boyfriends are being interrogated in connection with her death," said Senior Inspector Mangesh Pote of Khar police station. "We are probing the poison angle."

"We have found traces of a cocktail of hydrochloric acid and calmpose pills in Babajee's viscera," said sources at Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle. "The chemical mix is such that it can cause poisoning."

A doctor who conducted the procedure said Babajee could have consumed large doses of the lethal mix.

Samples of the viscera have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina. The result is expected in six days.

Dr A Dhere of Cooper Hospital, however, refused to comment on the findings.

Who gave calmpose?

The police will interrogate the former model's boyfriends to check if they could provide any clues as to where the deceased had got the chemicals from.

"We also need to check if the calmpose pills were prescribed to her by any doctor," said a police source.
Calmpose is a scheduled drug which can be bought only with a doctor's prescription.

Police sources said they are trying to establish if Babajee and some of her friends consumed a scheduled drug like calmpose.

About Calmpose

Calmpose is used to treat anxiety. The medicine is used to calm a patient. It may be prescribed for patients who have trouble sleeping.

They are also trying to find out if Babajee was administered drugs by a friend, which possibly pushed her to kill herself.

Pushed to end life?

A forensic examination is also being conducted to ascertain if any other person entered Babajee's Khar apartment before her death.

"The forensic report will throw light on whether she committed suicide or whether some person present with her spurred her to do so," said a senior police officer.

"We are also trying to find out if she was able to destroy all glass items in the apartment on her own after consuming such lethal dose of poison."

Police found a photograph of her stock analyst boyfriend Gautam Vora that had been ripped into two in her apartment.