1.Honourable Supreme Court of India , New Delhi
2.National Human Rights Commission , New Delhi
Dear Madam / Sir ,
Subject : Threats to JUDGE
The civil society organizations and concerned citizens have taken serious note of a news report (IE May 11, 2015) about the intimidation of a retired judge, Ms Jyotsana Yagnik, who, in her capacity as special judge had, in August 2012, convicted former Gujarat BJP minister Maya Kodnani, former Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 30 others in the 2002 massacre of 97 Muslims in Naroda Patiya. Ms Yagnik has received at least 22 threat letters since the verdict, as well as blank phone calls at her home. The 62 year old judge has informed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team about the threats and phone calls, but instead of strengthening her protection, the government has scaled down her security cover. The SIT convenor and Additional DIG of Police has denied knowledge of the letters, according to the news-report. Meanwhile convict Maya Kodnani, condemned to life imprisonment as principal conspirator in a massacre, has been out on bail since mid-2014, and convict Babu Bajrangi, sentenced to imprisonment till death is now about to enjoy three months bail for medical treatment.
The Indian criminal justice system is being politically degraded with every passing day. With regard to the violence in Gujarat in 2002, there have been instances of several encounter-accused policemen being re-instated and cases against them being quietly dropped. Meanwhile in Maharashtra, there is no sign that the murderers of Narendra Dabholkar and Gobind Pansare will ever be caught. In Bihar, the acquittals of those accused of massacring Dalits in Shankarbigha and Bathani-tola show that the justice system is incapable or unwilling to punish those who commit mass crimes. Now we have an upright judge being threatened, whilst murder convicts guilty of heinous crimes are out on bail, and suspended policemen obtain re-instatement.
An onslaught on justice is taking place in broad daylight. It is now clear that the Modi-led government finds India’s criminal justice system and independent judiciary to be an obstacle blocking its long-term plans. The incidence of prejudice in the courts is nothing new - the 1984 pogrom inaugurated a new era in the erosion of Indian justice. The NDA government has given impetus to this process. The ideological hooligans of the so-called ’Sangh parivar’ are convinced they are above the law. Corruption does not merely have monetary implications. The erosion of judicial independence taking place before our eyes is also corruption. Building trustworthy public institutions is a prolonged process that takes decades. But they can be destroyed very rapidly, especially when state power is used (covertly or openly), to intimidate judges like Ms Jyotsna Yagnik.
Criminals these days feel free to physically intimidate the judiciary, and the police appear to be treating it as a minor matter. Threatening a judge exemplifies a fascist mentality. Politicised justice breeds hatred and despair among its victims. Those who manipulate justice, on the other hand, are announcing their profound contempt for the very value of justice. They are sending all of us a sinister message – justice is whatever we say it is. Let us remind ourselves, therefore, that if justice becomes a device for strengthening one political group at the expense of others, for eliminating enemies and assisting allies, law will have cast off even the mask of neutrality. If judicial decisions become predictable, this can only mean that the judiciary has been compromised and hooliganism has entered the working of the state at the highest levels. Only an alert public can defeat this kind of politics.
By undermining the citizens’ faith in a fearless judiciary, the elimination of law will threaten the very foundations of the democratic state. All elected representatives should remember that the Constitution is the fundamental statute of the Indian Union, which protects us from violent and tyrannical behaviour by criminals and/or persons in power. If they keep silent in the face of the ongoing sabotage of justice, our MP’s and MLA’s shall be betraying their oath of office. We ask all judicial, police & IAS officials to remember their oath of loyalty to the Indian Constitution.
In light of the above, we demand that the Gujarat government take immediate steps to ensure Ms Jyotsana Yagnik’s safety, and investigate the threats she has received. If any harm comes to this judge, the Gujarat government and its patron at the Centre will be held responsible by public opinion.
We call upon all democratic civil society organizations and concerned individuals to launch a campaign to strengthen the criminal justice system and the autonomy of the judiciary. Instances of the perversion of justice by any party, official or civil, should be highlighted and resisted. Hereby , we appeal to Honourable Supreme Court of India & NHRC to protect the above judge from ruling junta.
Your’s sincerely ,
Nagaraja Mysore Raghupathi ,
Editor , SOS e Clarion of Dalit & SOS e Voice for Justice
An attempt to rape a judge, that too in Judges’ Compound in Aligarh which remains under twenty four hour vigil of the Provincial Armed Constabulary speaks volumes about the status of law and order in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India. Who will be safe on the streets when even a judge is not spared by the rapists? No one, in fact is, as evidenced by the recent spate of incidents of sexual violence against women from marginalised and dispossessed backgrounds. The gruesome gang rape and murder of two minors in Badaun, the most ghastly of them, has caused a national outrage just a few days before this incident. The brazen attack on the mother of a rape survivor in order to force her to withdraw the complaint against the accused, currently in jail, in nearby Etah was another glaring example of total collapse of rule of law in Uttar Pradesh.
Sadly, the state has never been known for maintaining even law and order, forget enforcing rule of law. It has rather had the dubious distinction of being the proverbial Bad Lands, the countryside run by might and not by rulebooks. With both political and bureaucratic leadership oscillating between the denial to dodging mode, the recent cases of sexual assaults have merely reinforced the image. Think of a Chief Minister saying that rapes were common and a Google search would return many “Badaun like incidents’. Think of his father, a former chief minister and current parliamentarian, terming rape as minor mistake. The Director General of Police of the state, however, took the crown by justifying the incidents of rape as ‘normal’ in a state of the size and population of Uttar Pradesh.
There were others, largely in the secular liberal intelligentsia of the country, who saw a political conspiracy hatched by the Hindu right behind defaming the state. They came up, rightly, with the data from the National Crime Records Bureau that shows Madhya Pradesh as the rape capital of India and raised questions over the undue scrutiny of Uttar Pradesh. The intelligentsia, unfortunately, seems to have got it wrong once again, first time being its silence on the cases where victims came from dispossessed and marginalised communities. The lack of outrage over sexual violence against women from Dalit, tribal, minorities and other such communities until the cases are really gory, as Badaun was, has led to a section of people losing faith in them, it would do better not to lose all.
The question, however, is if the failure of a state in providing security to its women can be used as an excuse to defend the total collapse of rule of law in another? Should not a single case of rape be horrifying enough for the state to wake up and fix the system? Can a state really take refuge in competitive statistics and shirk from its responsibility of maintaining law and order, at least? This is exactly where that the government of Uttar Pradesh has failed and failed absolutely. That’s not bizarre if one sees the number of criminals in it right from its ranks and files to the ministry. After all, the state has a dubious distinction of seeking the withdrawal of rape charges against a minister in ‘public interest’.
It is in this context that the rape attempt on a sitting judge must be seen as a wakeup call for both the citizenry and the state. No people can live in perpetual fear of violence against women and state's inaction will merely increase both vigilantism and control of the mobility of women in the name of safety, a dangerous thing for a democracy. Parrying away the questions over the state of governance in Uttar Pradesh is not going to serve any purpose, only bringing the criminals to justice will. The state government must ensure speedy and impartial justice to the victims and their families to restore their faith in the system.
NEW DELHI: A woman additional judge in Gwalior has resigned alleging sexual harassment by a judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The judge asked her to "dance to an item song" and influenced her transfer to a remote location, she has alleged in a complaint to the President, the Chief Justice of India and the Union Law Minister.
Chief Justice of India RM Lodha told NDTV on Monday morning, "I haven't received the complaint officially... once I get it I will go through the complaint. Normally we ask for a report on the complaint from the Chief Justice of the High Court. In this case, I will seek a report from the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court and take action accordingly. I will do my best for the institution."
The additional judge resigned on July 15 and wrote to the CJI and others on August 1, Friday evening. "If this is how a mother, sister and wife can be treated, who is herself no less than a judicial officer duty-bound to protect society and law, what constitutional goals are we serving?" said the woman, who ironically headed a Vishaka committee against sexual harassment.
She has alleged that the High Court judge constantly pestered her and once sent her a message through an official to "perform dance on an item song" at a function at his home. She said she excused herself saying it was her daughter's birthday.
She also alleged that when she spurned the judge's "various advances and malicious aspirations", he targeted her professionally. "The administrative judge, along with district judge and district judge (inspection), possibly made a false, frivolous, baseless and malicious reporting to the chief justice of MP and got me transferred on July 8, in the mid-academic session of my daughters to a remote place Sidhi by overruling the transfer policy of MP HC," she has complained.
She said her appeal for an eight-month extension to allow her daughter's academic year to finish was rejected and has alleged that the judge threatened to "spoil my career completely," when she pleaded against the transfer.
"I was left with no option but to resign, so, I resigned on July 15 in compelling, humiliating and disgraceful circumstances to save my dignity, womanhood, self-esteem and career of my daughter," she has written.