Archive for January, 2010

Bengal’s Ceausescu

January 10, 2010 2 comments

Jyoti Basu is in intensive care since the beginning of the new year. He was put on the ventilator on the 6th. Of course, under his rule, the state went on the ventilator many years ago, and has not come out yet.

Categories: Calcutta, Politics Tags: ,

Secrets of democracy

January 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Learned from Shamnad Basheer’s post that the new bill on copyrights will be kept secret from the public until it is tabled in the Parliament.

In other news, external affairs minister S.M.Krishna publicly rebuked minister of state Shashi Tharoor for expressing his reservations on twitter about new visa regulations. Krishna also said, “Well, these issues are not to be discussed in public … If there are any perceptions, they should be sorted out within the four walls of the two ministries.”

Both stories bring out the attitude typical of our democracy — don’t let the riffraff know what the rulers are thinking. The press has let go of both stories without further comment, which is a commentary on the press itself.

Oh My G – -!

January 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The new Irish anti-blasphemy law is a disgrace to Europe.

Categories: Law and governance Tags: , ,

New Laws, Post-Ruchika

January 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The Indian government wants to review and replace outdated laws. One of the cases which caused this decision was the one about Ruchika Girhotra.

Unfortunately, the focus of modification of the relevant laws seems to be the length and triviality of the sentence handed to Rathore — a suspended jail sentence for six months and a file of Rs. 10000. Our lawmakers have a habit of creating `non-bailable’ offences, and increasing maximum punishment for crimes. In the Ruchika case, the problem was not that Rathore got only six months of jail, nor that it was a suspended sentence, nor even that he was out on bail. The problem was that it took so many years to prosecute and convict him. His position of power protected him from even a police FIR, the basis of any criminal investigation. It allowed him to arrange for Ruchika’s brother to be picked up and tortured on false charges.

Changing the punishment structure will not affect such people, as they will continue to be (mostly) out of the reach of the law, like Runu was. The solution is to ensure that everyone gets treated equally by the law — all criminal charges must be investigated, regardless of the rank and title of the person accused. All laws that prevent such investigationsĀ  must be repealed, including laws which provide immunity for elected representatives, government officials, and in West Bengal, medical doctors.

In any case, one hopes this decision to modify existing laws is not a knee-jerk reaction, and the changes will be motivated by principles higher than those of immediate satisfaction.