Mr. Rebates

Thursday, August 26, 2010

As Saudi Women Meet Clinton, No Talk of Rights

Feb 16, 2010

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to young women at a Saudi women’s college here on Tuesday, the site of a spirited exchange five years ago with a female official of the Bush administration over the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

But despite Mrs. Clinton’s invitation to raise the issue, none of the women in the audience asked her about it. The discussion, while lively, focused on the same foreign-policy and security themes that have dominated her visit to the Persian Gulf, notably Iran and the Middle East peace process.

Mrs. Clinton said she wanted to hear the views of the students on women’s rights, noting that “American media presents a very unidimensional portrayal of Saudi women,” focusing on the black veils most wear.

She called for women to get better access to education and to play a bigger role in society. But she avoided criticism of Saudi Arabia, instead praising King Abdullah for his support of coeducational and women’s-only institutions, like the one that played host to her visit, Dar al-Hekman College.

None of the students picked up on Mrs. Clinton’s observation about how the American media portrays Saudi women, which had been a point of contention when Karen Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy in Bush administration, visited this college in 2005.

In that session, Ms. Hughes raised the hackles of some in the audience when she said the image of Saudi Arabia in the United States had been tarnished by the country’s refusal to allow women to drive.

On Tuesday, the students responded enthusiastically to Mrs. Clinton, though afterward, some expressed confusion about why women’s rights did not come up, given Mrs. Clinton’s iconic status.

“Maybe because it was Hillary Clinton, people wanted to ask her about issues bigger than whether Saudi women can drive,” said Duaa Badr, 18, a freshman management student from Jidda. She noted that many young women wanted to ask questions, but did not get a chance. The college appeared to exert tight control over who was handed a microphone.

Among the questions asked was why the United States was putting so much pressure on Iran not to make a nuclear bomb when other countries in the region, like Israel, possess nuclear weapons.

Mrs. Clinton did not answer directly about Israel, which has never confirmed its nuclear-weapons status. But she repeated the sharp criticism of Iran she has voiced at every stop on this three-day trip, saying the Iranian government was the world’s largest supporter of terrorism and backed radical Islamic groups that threatened its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

A young woman asked Mrs. Clinton to explain the debate in the United States over reforming the health-care system. Mrs. Clinton offered a short tutorial about the political complexities, and expressed sympathy that President Obama and his White House advisors were still grappling with it.

The earnest tone of the gathering was broken somewhat when a young man asked Mrs. Clinton whether she was horrified by the prospect of Sarah Palin becoming president, and if she were elected, whether Mrs. Clinton would consider emigrating to Canada or Russia.

“The short answer is no, I will not be emigrating,” she said with a laugh, before ducking the rest of the question.

“I’m not going to speculate on who might or might not be nominated by the Republicans,” she said. “I am very proud to support Barack Obama and I will continue to support Barack Obama.”

60 Lashes Ordered for Saudi Woman

Just imagine 60 lashes with a whip for possiblity of talking about Sex. This is the kind of justice that needs to be carried out on 498a women who are found to have made faslse accusations against their husbands family. The mear thought of such a penalty would deter false allegation and lies.
Saudi Arabia take punishment to one extreme and India to another low level, with male biased laws.

Oct 28, 2009

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A Saudi court sentenced a journalist on Saturday to 60 lashes after she was charged with involvement in a television show in which a Saudi man talked about sex.

The journalist, Rozanna al-Yami, 22, is believed to be the first female Saudi journalist to be given such a punishment. The charges included involvement in preparing the program and advertising it on the Internet. Ms. Yami said she had worked as a coordinator for the program but had not worked on the episode in question. She said the judge, in the western city of Jidda, had handed down the sentence “as a deterrence.”

“I am too frustrated and upset to appeal the sentence,” Ms. Yami said.

Abdul-Rahman al-Hazza, the spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Information, said he had no details of the sentencing and could not comment on it.

In the program, broadcast in July on the Lebanese satellite channel LBC, the Saudi man, Mazen Abdul-Jawad, described his active sex life and showed sex toys, which the station blurred. The same court sentenced Mr. Abdul-Jawad to five years in prison and 1,000 lashes.

The program scandalized this conservative country, and the government shut down LBC’s two offices in the kingdom.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Changes in the dowry law will shut out frivolous complaints

Aug 23, 2010

Changes in the dowry law will shut out frivolous complaints The Supreme Court’s decision to ask the government to reconsider the anti-dowry law — Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code — is welcome (Change dowry law: SC to govt, August 15). It is well-known that most dowry-related

accusations invariably lead to the imprisoning of the husband and his relatives. The draconian law does not have any space for judicial inquiry and relies solely on complaints. It should be withdrawn. There is an urgent need to re-examine other anti-dowry laws too, which are no better. At the same time, one wonders why courts do not put women complainants in jail for fraudulent cases that are filed only to harass husbands. There have been several instances when women have filed the cases, made their husbands and relatives appear before the courts and then have either failed to pursue them or withdrawn the cases later. Imagine the mental and physical torture that husbands have been made to undergo! Why can’t the courts jail the complainants for misleading the police, the judiciary and people?

15-yr-old domestic violence complaint too late, says HC

Aug 11, 2010

NEW DELHI: The plea of a woman living separately from her husband for more than a decade, seeking action against him for alleged torture which took place 15 years ago was on Tuesday rejected by the Delhi high court, which said the plea had come too late.

The court said cognizance of such an offence could be taken within three years and directed the police to quash the criminal case filed against the husband. "Under section 468 of CrPC ( Criminal Procedure Code), the cognizance of an offence where the maximum sentence of imprisonment is up to three years, can be taken within three years. Under Section 498A (cruelty) of IPC, maximum sentence is up to three years imprisonment. Thus, cognizance of the offences against petitioner cannot be taken by the court,'' justice S N Dhingra said.

Sudhir Kumar got married in 1984 but separated from his wife in 1992 and the wife filed a divorce petition against him in 1996. As per the case, the woman moved court after about 15 years of living separately from her husband and after about 11 years of filing the divorce petition.

The wife then lodged an FIR against Kumar 15 years thereafter, saying she was subjected to violence and cruelty during the period she was living with her husband. "The FIR lodged against the husband in respect of offences committed in 1992 or prior to that is barred by time limitation. I, therefore, allow the present petition and hereby quash the FIR,'' said Dhingra.

Earlier, filing the plea, counsel for the woman said the dowry articles given by the woman during the marriage were not given back. The court, while trashing the plea said the allegation had "no substance''. "The wife had all opportunities right from 1992 onwards to demand back her articles, if any, lying with the husband. The very fact that wife did not demand any article from the husband after 1992 till lodging of FIR shows there was no entrustment of property by wife to the husband or to his relatives,'' the court said.

Allow compounding of cognisable offences including 498A cases, says SC

Aug 5, 2010

NEW DELHI: To lessen the huge pendency of cases and encourage conciliation among warring litigants, Supreme Court has urged the Centre and Law Commission to examine whether non-compoundable offences under IPC, including those under Section 498A, could be closed after the parties settled.

At present, cases in which a husband or his relative is booked under Section 498A for subjecting a woman to cruelty or anyone charged under Section 326 for causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapon or means fall under the non-compoundable category and courts are barred from closing the cases even after the opposing parties have reached an amicable settlement.

Looking at similar cases before the court and in particular a case under Section 326 where the parties had arrived at an amicable settlement, a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and T S Thakur said, "There are several offences under the IPC that are currently non-compoundable. These include offences punishable under Sections 498A, 326 etc. Some such offences can be made compoundable by introducing a suitable amendment in the statute."

It added, "We are of the opinion that the Law Commission of India could examine whether a suitable proposal can be sent to the Union government in this regard. Any such step would not only relieve the courts of the burden of deciding cases in which the aggrieved parties have themselves arrived at a settlement, but may also encourage the process of reconciliation between them. We, accordingly, request the Law Commission and the government of India to examine all these aspects and take such steps as may be considered feasible."

The court asked the SC secretary general to send a copy of the order to the Law Commission and the law secretary. The Bench requested the law secretary to place this order before law minister Veerappa Moily.

Telugu film actresses among nine held for prostitution

Aug 23, 2010

Telugu film actresses Saira Banu and Jyoti and seven others were caught red-handed in a prostitution racket busted by Hyderabad police on Monday. Saira, who played lead role in few Telugu films, and Jyoti, a supporting actress in many films, were arrested along with a woman from Uzbekistan and

their customers from an apartment in the upscale Kundan Bagh neighbourhood.

The police have not revealed the identity of the other arrested but sources have not ruled out involvement of some rich and famous in the racket. Kundan Bagh is a high-security area having houses of ministers, bureaucrats and other VIPs.

The Commissioner's Task Force raided the apartment in the early hours of Monday on specific information.

This is not the first time that a Telugu film actress has been arrested for prostitution. In 2009, Seema was arrested during a raid in Hyderabad's Tarnaka area.

The latest sex racket has come as yet another shocker for the Telugu film industry and comes close on the heels of the arrest of the two brothers of actor Ravi Teja while buying drugs from a Nigerian national.

Police Commissioner AK Khan has gone on record that they were keeping a watch on 60 personalities, including Telugu film actresses, suspected to be consuming drugs.

Social evils and the law!

Aug 22, 2010

The Supreme Court’s diktat (?) to the government to take a re-look at the anti-dowry law - Section 498A of Indian Penal Code—on the grounds that it is increasingly being misused by women to lodge false complaints against husbands and their relatives brings to the fore the central dilemma in laws seeking to remedy social evils. How does one achieve the fine balance between meeting desired goals without going overboard so that legitimate rights are not trampled upon? In the context of laws against dowry, and more importantly dowry deaths, how can the state ensure that women who are ill-treated on account of un-fulfilled dowry demands receive the protection they deserve without going to the other extreme and risking its misuse so that innocent parties are denied due protection under the law.

Expressing concern over ‘a large number of complaints that are not bona fide’, the Court observed it is a ‘Herculean task’ to find out the truth in a majority of the complaints and urged the legislature to make suitable changes in the law after taking into account public opinion. Even if one were to take the Court’s statement about exaggerated complaints with a pinch of salt - remember the same apex court (but a different bench) had not long ago held that a husband and his relatives cannot be prosecuted for ‘cruelty’ towards the wife merely because the mother-in-law or other family members had kicked her – the fact is the laws, as they stand today, leave considerable scope for abuse.

The central question, therefore, is how does one reconcile the cardinal principle of our system of common law jurisprudence - ‘better that ten guilty escape than that one innocent suffer’ – without sacrificing the progress that has been made (thanks to such laws) in fighting a social evil like dowry?

To be sure, dowry deaths have not disappeared. On the contrary! According to data complied by the National Crime Records Bureau, 2,276 women committed suicide following dowry disputes in 2006. Even if this number is juxtaposed against increased reporting of such incidents, that’s an average of six dowry-deaths a day! A notorious statistic for a country that claims to be an emerging economic giant!

So while it would be naïve to dismiss the contribution made by Section 498 (A) (cruelty to a woman by her husband/his relatives) and Section 304 B (dowry death) of the Indian Penal Code, given the rampant misuse of the law it is time to do some serious thinking on the changes required to retain the essence of these laws while reducing the scope for their misuse.

Today, for instance, all that is required to attract section 304-B is that the woman’s death must have occurred within seven years of her marriage, in other-than-normal circumstances. Suicide due to harassment by in-laws for non fulfilment of dowry demands amounts to death under non-natural circumstances. It is not necessary to produce direct evidence.

Further, unlike in other offences where the accused is presumed innocent until his guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt and the onus of proving the guilt lies on the prosecution, in a case of dowry death, the prosecution has to prove only that death of a woman has occurred, otherwise than under normal circumstances, within seven years of her marriage and that ‘soon before her death’, she was subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection with demand for dowry. Once this is proven, the law lays down that Courts ‘shall presume’ the accused is guilty. The net result is that once an allegation of dowry death is made the dice is loaded against the husband/his relatives.

So what is the way out? One possibility is some kind of deterrent punishment for frivolous complaints. This will reduce, if not eliminate, false/trumped up complaints of dowry-harassment. Another possibility is a graded system of punishment for cruelty - harsh, harsher, harshest - the harshest (the present Section 304B) being reserved for cases where cruelty results in death. The advantage is that milder punishments might have a remedial effect and nip potential dowry deaths in the bud.

Ultimately of course, law alone will never succeed in eradicating social evils like dowry. That will happen only when society is convinced of the need to stamp it out. Hopefully the recent amendment to the Hindu Succession Act giving girls an equal share in property will, over time, do away with whatever ‘justification’ there was for dowry. And once that happens the scourge of dowry and of dowry deaths will, like Sati, become history.

HC accepts that Dowry Act is being misused

Aug 22, 2010

BANGALORE: The High Court has strongly condemned the investigating officers for blindly registering cases of dowry harassment, without looking into the provisions under section 498A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

While quashing the criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioners under 498A of IPC at the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate, Bangalore, Justice Subhash B Adi observed that the police had not taken into consideration section 498A of IPC to know whether the allegation amounted to cruelty, the court observed.

To prevent unscrupulous persons from misusing the law, a scrutiny of the complaint at the inception stage is advisable, the court told the investigating officers.

"Before proceeding with the criminal complaint, the investigating officer or the court must look into the allegation to find out whether it makes out a prima facie case to proceed.

"In most of the cases, the police use 498A of IPC more for harassment rather than it's real purpose. The police must use its authority to subserve the purpose for which the provision is made instead of misusing it," the HC told the investigating officers.

It is a common feeling that irrespective of the involvement or nexus to the alleged offence, even friends and distant relatives are implicated. This happens, because of non-application of mind by the police to the contents of the complaint and the offence alleged, which results in harassment of a person who is unconnected with the alleged offence.

Scrutiny of the complaint is necessary at least to know what offence is alleged. Particularly in the case of offence under section 498A of IPC and offence connected with matrimonial disputes, due care is necessary. In some cases, without even allegation, entire family, relatives and friends are made parties, the court observed.

PO Raju, Susamma, Joman Raju and Jolly Raju, all residents of Pathanamthitta in Kerala, filed a criminal petition challenging criminal proceedings initiated against them by Yelahanka New Town police station in a dowry harassment case filed by Raju's wife Jayashree.

Jayashree had alleged that her in-laws, residing in Kerala, threatened her not to come to Kerala after her husband had left the house in Bangalore.

She alleged that her in-laws instigated her husband to leave her company. Jayashree filed a complaint in jurisdictional police station against her in-laws. However, the petitioner's counsel stated that the allegations in the complaint did not constitute cruelty within the meaning of section 498A of IPC. The court upheld the contention and quashed the proceedings.

Check dowry law misuse by women: HC

Its good to look back at these old articles on High Court Judgements, it tells you one thing no one follows the law, no matter what judgements are passed down it is completly ignore by the law enforcement bodies, example the police. Corruption plays a major role in the way laws are enforced in India, its only getting worst. Ignorance is not a defence!

May 22, 2003

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday said that matrimonial offences where a woman is not physically assaulted should be compoundable and bailable.

Justice J D Kapoor upheld a trial court's order and said two provisions of anti-dowry law under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were being misused.

Justice Kapoor was hearing the petition of Savita Devi who had challenged the order of metropolitan magistrate Nisha Saxena. Devi claimed the magistrate had erred in not framing charges against her father-in-law and two sisters-in-law.

Saxena had only charged Devi's husband for dowry harassment.But Devi claimed before the court that the in-laws too had harassed her since they refused to accept the customary gifts.

Justice Kapoor, however, held that the only allegation of not accepting the customary gifts in a marriage does not amount to harassment or cruelty as contemplated under Section 498 A (harassment for dowry) of the IPC.

He further held the investigation into the offences pertaining to dowry should be held by civil authorities like executive magistrates. Cognizance, the judge said, should be taken only after the findings on the commission of offences.

And until such a mechanism is evolved, Justice Kapoor said only an assistant commissioner of police should investigate cases for dowry harassment and that a deputy commissioner of police should be the investigating officer in a case where a woman dies due to dowry harassment.

He also took a serious view of cases where some children are arrested under the charges of dowry harassment. Justice Kapoor ruled: ''There is a growing tendency among women, which is further perpetuated by their parents and relatives, to rope in each and every relative, including minors and even schoolgoing children of distant relatives.''

Where a schoolgoing child is named, the judge said, he or she shall not be arrested.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Will China ease its one-child policy?

Dec 13, 2009

A growing number of critics urge Beijing to relax the one-child policy to counter an aging population.

It might seem an innocuous move to outsiders but in China it was a game-changer. Authorities in Shanghai began encouraging newly married couples in the city to have two children.

The rationale: Under China’s vaunted one-child policy – a cornerstone of economic and social planning for decades – the population has been aging too rapidly. Indeed, Shanghai, which has always had a relatively youthful populace, now has the same proportion of retirees as an average city in the United States or Europe.

The move last summer by the city of Shanghai marked the first time since 1979 that officials have exhorted couples to have more offspring. More important, it symbolizes a sharpening debate in the world’s most populous country over one of Beijing’s most fundamental totems.

A growing chorus of critics is warning that unless the government changes course, the nation’s one-child policy will drive the Asian powerhouse into a demographic dead end. They see China growing old before it grows rich.

Officials are beginning to take note. Spooked by the prospect of only 1.7 active workers for every pensioner by 2050, they are quietly chipping away at Beijing’s signature population edict.

They have another reason to worry, too – forecasts that within 30 years, 15 percent of marriage-aged men will be unable to find brides. The combination of the one-child policy and the Chinese preference for male offspring has proved deadly for female fetuses: 120 boys are born for every 100 girls – the highest ratio in the world.

“This will cause a grave humanitarian disaster,” predicts Mu Guangzong, a professor at Peking University’s Institute of Population Research.

The one-child policy has always been controversial abroad and unpopular at home. More than 70 percent of Chinese women would like to have two or more children, a study released earlier this year by the National Family Planning Commission found.

It is nonetheless a policy to which the government has attached fundamental importance since it was written into the Constitution in 1978. Officials say it has prevented 400 million births, and raised living standards for the children that were born.

Maybe. But among the unintended consequences, or ones that were simply ignored, is a population aging twice as fast as America’s. There will be 400 million people over 65 by 2040 – a quarter of the population – estimates Chen Wei, an expert at Renmin University’s Population and Development Research Institute.

Not only will their pensions and healthcare become a “very severe burden on the government budget,” Professor Chen warns, but there will also be fewer working-age citizens to support them. And those still working will be older, and thus less productive, than today’s labor force. While China’s population growth has until now boosted economic growth, it will act as a drag when the labor force starts shrinking after 2020, economists predict.

The government is working on several fronts to head off disaster. It is setting up a rudimentary pension system for rural dwellers who still do not have any social security. It is paying lifetime grants to parents with only girl children. It is encouraging Chinese farmers to value their womenfolk more highly.

It is also listening to experts such as Hu Angang, a government adviser, who argues that “now is the right time for us to change the family planning policy. The longer we wait, the higher the cost will be.”

Still, any changes in policy will likely be incremental. Under the edict in Shanghai, for instance, the only couples who can have a second child are those who are only children themselves. The next step, says Chen, will be to allow couples to have two babies if either the mother or the father are only children.

“That will happen soon,” he says, perhaps when the next Five Year Plan is launched in 2011. Within a decade or so, he adds, China will have a two-child policy.

Yet for now, the one-child policy is sacred enough that no one predicts it will be ditched wholesale. “The regime has staked its credibility on the correctness of the one-child policy,” says Susan Greenhalgh, an expert on Chinese population issues at the University of California, Irvine. “It would be very, very difficult politically to announce that it has been abandoned.”

Protecting women and girls in China, where one child per family is the rule – and a boy the preference.

No one will make the Chinese government budge, theoretically speaking the Chinese government was ahead of the curve with their One Child Policy, unfortunatly individuals and social norms spoilt it with Sex selection. Lets see the Feminazi gang try their trick over in China, they will end up in prison for life!

August 16, 2010

Chai Ling was a leader of the 1989 student uprising at Tiananmen Square. Now she wants to help women and girls in her native China.

Twenty-one years ago, Chai Ling was a student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstration, speaking out against China's oppressive regime.

Lauded as their "commander in chief" by the democratic activists protesting at the vast Beijing public square, Ms. Chai was later denounced by the Chinese government as the second-most-wanted "culprit" of the political upheaval and forced to flee her native land. Hiding in a boat, she first reached Hong Kong and later settled in the United States in 1990.

Today Chai is a savvy businesswoman living near Boston and a mother of three, after marriage to an American citizen.

On June 3, the eve of the 21st anniversary of the Tiananmen bloodshed, she spoke at a church in Falls Church, Va. "[The] Tiananmen massacre is still happening every day!" she said as tears streamed down her face and her agitated hands whipped the balmy night air.

Chai was referring to China's one-child policy, in which officials force pregnant women to abort their babies. In place since 1979, the "one child" rule has prompted many Chinese to practice sex selection, using ultrasound screenings to determine whether the fetus is a boy or girl and then aborting females or abandoning them after birth to orphanages. More than 35,000 forced abortions were performed in China each day in 2009, Chai says – a death toll that far exceeds the estimated thousands of protesters who died in the 1989 massacre.

Chai now has begun a new humanitarian venture, a nonprofit group called All Girls Allowed (, which aims to provide legal aid, counseling, and other assistance to victims of forced abortions and sterilizations in China. She also plans to launch a campaign to change minds in China about the preference for male offspring and build orphanages.

Carl Minzner, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, says China's one-child policy is a "breeding ground of bad abuses" as local officials are pressured to meet targets for the number of births. China will need to use a wide range of incentives to address its widening gender imbalance, he says, which has created a large surplus of boys, who may not be able to find wives when they grow up.

The gender imbalance may make the country more prone to social instability, studies have suggested.

With China's population aging under the one-child rule, "we see some discussions and flexibility with the policy, but more needs to be done," Professor Minzner says. A policy in Shanghai, for example, allows a couple to have a second child if both parents are themselves single children.
Decades of infanticide has skewed China's population: China's boy to girl ratio, 110 to 100 in 2000, shot up to 118 to 100 in 2005, according to official figures.

Chai's audience in the Virginia church looked on in horror as she screened a slide show filled with photos taken in secret at China's squalid abortion clinics and detention centers, where disheveled pregnant women sobbed.

Chai said the idea of the charity project stemmed from her assignment last fall as an interpreter at a congressional hearing on China's one-child policy, where an abused Chinese woman testified.

Shrouding her face with a black veil (for fear of retribution), a soft-spoken woman with the pseudonym Jian Wu recounted how she was tortured by officials in her town. Ms. Wu, carrying her second child, came out from hiding after her father was severely beaten by authorities. She was dragged to an abortion clinic.

"Her [Wu's] only crime was being a mother," Chai says.

Now herself a mother of three girls, ages 5, 7, and 9, Chai is using seed money from the Jenzabar Foundation, the charitable arm of her fledging software business, to drive her human rights endeavor. She is partnering with and funding local women's rights groups in China. One day, she hopes to change the minds of China's birth control officials.

Xingdou Hu, a professor of economics and China issues at the Beijing Institute of Technology, says Chai's efforts are admirable, but she faces an uphill battle.

"[The] Chinese government is very cautious of any foreign entity trying to mess with its domestic affairs [such as the one-child policy], especially one with [a] religious tone," he explains.

What the country needs to do is provide pensions and basic insurance to its poor rural population, he says. Then they wouldn't have to rely on "having male offspring to care for them when they grow old," he says.

Chai converted to Christianity in April, a process that she says renewed her life.

"I thought I found a solution to China's problems by studying the democratic model of Taiwan," says Chai of the research she did in earning a master's degree in international relations at Princeton University in New Jersey.

But the US consultancy firms and banks with business ties in China that hired her after graduation weren't interested in causing trouble with the Chinese government.

"It turns out God gave me a new calling instead – to help China's women and girls," Chai now says.

Global norms on sexual harassment are necessary

This article is what I call reckless reporting. The CEO of HP was not embarrassed, or let go for Sexual Harrassment at all, actually the women involved has openly said she was not harrassed. HP's CEO was release because of improper reporting on his personal invoices to the board of directors. Shows you how foolish the India Media is. View some of my articles on the HP CEO case to read more accurate stories on the case.
Knowledge is power, Action gets things done.

Aug 22, 2010

Sexual harassment policies at the workplace, usually relegated to the recesses of companies’ voluminous employment policies, if they exist at all, have come to the centre stage again with two recent embarrassing exits of senior CEOs of reputed multinational companies—Penguin and HP. While the two incidents occurred abroad, the occurrences should raise questions about whether Indian companies are equipped to deal with issues related with sexual harassment at the workplace.

The fact is that human resources departments in the industry have still to realise the importance of framing sexual harassment policies. In little more than a decade, the Indian workplace culture has changed dramatically as more and more women have entered, and continue to enter, the once male-dominant workplace.

In 1997 the Supreme Court of India handed down a landmark judgment which it said, in exercise of the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, will be treated as the law of the land until the parliament enacts a statute to deal with sexual harassment at workplace. The Indian parliament, unfortunately, has yet to enact such a law. And unfortunately, in the absence of such a law, that Supreme Court judgment, in the case of Vishakha & Others vs State of Rajasthan, has hardly had any impact.

Any attention to issues relating to the work environment, including sexual harassment, has only been because of global best practices brought to India through the HR policies of Indian entities of large multinational companies. It is probably the first time that corporates have started explicitly declaring zero-tolerance for sexual harassment at the workplace in the company policy applicable to all employees.

Although the SC judgment of 1997 gave a wide definition of what constitutes sexual harassment at workplace, it isn’t difficult to assess what that is. An often ignored but interesting fact about such harassment is that when it occurs it does so because of the way people behave in the context of the larger societal culture. Identifying and specifying what is appropriate workplace behavior would make it easier for corporates and employees to stem inappropriate behaviour from the beginning. Indian corporates need to look at the issue from a socio-cultural perspective. A cultural shift has been the movement of an educated and skilled workforce from small towns and semi-urban areas to the metros due to rising work opportunities there.

The formal education system does not provide the requisite exposure to changes in lifestyle and behaviour that have occurred and continue to do so, due to increasing cosmopolitanism. For example, in interactions between men and women, what is ‘cool’ for someone brought up in an urban environment may be discomforting for a person not raised in such an atmosphere. Sometimes there is no recognition of the fact that comments about colleagues’ appearance and attire are inappropriate.

Reconcilliation is legalised blackmailing cum extortion

Aug 20, 2010

Some complaints/ representations alleging misuse of Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 have been received. These mainly relate to alleged harassment of husband and other family members using Section 498A of IPC.

A few suggestions were also received for amendment of these legal provisions. In order to lay to rest the allegations of misuse of Section 498A of IPC, the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the Ministry of Women & Child Development have issued an Advisory on 20th October, 2009 to all the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to comply with the procedures laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of DK Basu Vs. State of West Bengal (CRI CWP No. 539/86) and that in cases of matrimonial disputes, the first recourse should be to effect conciliation and mediation between the warring spouses and their families and recourse to filing charges under Section 498A IPC may be resorted to where such conciliation fails and where there appears a prima facie case under Section 498A and other laws.

This information was given by Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister of State for Women and Child Development in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today.

How HC FIRed away at courts, erring police officers

Aug 23, 2010

This month, High Court issued a series of verdicts aimed at rectifying the judicial and police systems

Now that the Delhi High Court has entered the scene, lodging an FIR may become much easier for the common man. No longer will he have to run helter-skelter for getting the police to act on his complaint, or search for the right connections in the Capital’s officialdom to get the work done.

Striking a balance between its verdicts, the High Court also maintained that people caught in the wrong end of an FIR should not be subjected to undue harassment.

The court, in a string of rulings delivered in August, handed out a list of do’s and don’ts to the city police and lower courts, which reportedly resort to a “hyper-technical” approach while handling complaints.

Verbal complaint

The first landmark judgment in the series of recent verdicts came when Justice S N Dhingra held that a person need not essentially file a written complaint to get heard by a magistrate for registering an FIR. So, when a victim appears before a trial court and raises a complaint on the commission of an offence, the judge cannot dismiss his plea by saying he must first submit his complaint in writing and then produce the evidence and record his testimony. The High Court order obligates a magistrate to record the victim’s statement and order the police to probe into the matter after lodging an FIR, if the statement recounts a serious offence.

No harassment

While an FIR should be registered promptly, the High Court balanced its views by making it clear that an FIR has to be based on a “preliminary inquiry from the complainant, who must be asked to appear in person first, and not otherwise.” According to the court, a lower court judge must be sure that the complainant’s story is an “actual version” and not one that is “drafted on advice”.

“Many times, it is noticed that order for registration of FIR is given by magistrates without making preliminary inquiries on the truthfulness of the petitioner’s allegations. This often results in misuse of the judicial process. It is the duty of every magistrate to ensure that the court is not allowed to be used as a tool of harassment,” said Justice Dhingra in a separate judgement.

Go slow with arrest

In another order, the High Court ruled that an FIR need not be necessarily followed by an immediate arrest.

Justice Dhingra observed that very often, police officials do not record evidence to see whether the offence was actually committed or not and proceed with the arrest of the accused on the presumption that as the FIR is registered on the direction of a magistrate, there can be nothing wrong with it.

FIRs not a business

Directing the police to be professional, the High Court also came down heavily on the “sordid story of the working culture of the Delhi Police”. Justice Dhingra, in yet another ruling, had observed that while it was difficult to get a case registered in genuine cases, one could – with the “right connections” – get false FIRs registered easily.

Quashing an FIR against a man at the instance of his estranged wife, even though the couple had always stayed in the US, the judge asked the police not to reduce the exercise of securing justice into a “profitable business”.