Saturday, December 22, 2012

Aim not just to agitate, law on rape must change

हो गई है पीर पर्वत-सी पिघलनी चाहिए,
इस हिमालय से कोई गंगा निकलनी चाहिए।

आज यह दीवार, परदों की तरह हिलने लगी,
शर्त लेकिन थी कि ये बुनियाद हिलनी चाहिए।
हर सड़क पर, हर गली में, हर नगर, हर गाँव में,
हाथ लहराते हुए हर लाश चलनी चाहिए।
सिर्फ हंगामा खड़ा करना मेरा मकसद नहीं,
सारी कोशिश है कि ये सूरत बदलनी चाहिए।

मेरे सीने में नहीं तो तेरे सीने में सही,
हो कहीं भी आग, लेकिन आग जलनी चाहिए।
Poet Dushyant Kumar's immortal lines are so apt in the current scenario as crowds gather at Raisina Hill in Delhi, desperately hoping the powers that be, that claim to govern this country wake up,take notice and bring about that change that is so desperately required immediately. 
It is not just about the gang rape of the 23 year old in Delhi. It is a cry for justice. For her, and to ensure other men who may dare to rape girls in the future do not get away with `murder'. 
Rape and Acid Attack are two crimes worse than murder.Death penalty for the perpetrators should be mandatory.That present laws are inadequate is an understatement. Its implementation is worse. Investigation, prosecution and even the judiciary haven't given any reason to cheer either. 
The nation is agitated and rightly so. The crowds in Delhi and in cities across the nation rallying in support of the rape victim, point to the fact that this is not the problem of any one city in India.
I would have been satisfied had the prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh come out, met the agitators and dealt with the issue effectively. Why does he only stick his neck out only when the Indo-US nuke deal or FDI in retail are the issues? Isnt crime against women in India a much bigger and a far more emotive issue. His intervention is desperately required here. 
He needs to initiate steps to ensure rapists and acid throwers get the `special attention' that they deserve.Do rapists and acid thowers have the right to remain in society?
Sonia Gandhi, joined crowds at ITO and India Gate to celebrate India's world cup cricket victory. Where is she today? And what about the Yuva Neta of India - Rahul Gandhi?
I am singling out the powers that be since the Congress is in power today. They need to act and now. If only P. Chidambaram was in the union home ministry today. He conveys the impression of a man who means business.
The Congress, the BJP, the entire political class should actually be spearheading a movement for justice and for stronger laws for crime against women. Death penalty for rapists and acid throwers should be mandatory. Death penalty not just in the present case of the 23 year old victim but in every case of proven rape. 
Netas who cut across party lines to enhance their own salaries and allowances, should perhaps convene a special session of Parliament and debate laws on rape and acid throwers. Debate all the pros and cons of death penalty and life imprisonment. Debate possible misuse of the rape law. But because the law can be misused so we will not have a strong law is no answer. 
Debate effective systems of checks and balances. The Judiciary too need to figure out how rapists and acid throwers can be dealt with effectively. This is a national issue and must be addressed as such.
People today are angry. They are out on the streets. Their anger needs direction. A fast track court to try these six perpetrators may satisfy the anger for now, but that is not the solution. This people anger needs to be channelized and Parliament needs to debate stronger laws on rape and acid attack. A strong law and its effective implementation based on scientific investigation and a quick judicial process. 
As Poet Dushyant Kumar says the aim is not to just shake the walls, the foundation of this edifice needs to shake. The aim is not just to agitate, the system needs to change. And that change should come now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


GAURAV C. SAWANT 23 MAY, NEW DELHI It’s a sledge hammer blow that could effectively seal his fate and prevent him from taking over as army commander on June 1. The Chief of the Army Staff General VK Singh has issued a show cause notice to Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, the 3 Corps Commander for what Chief says is abdication of responsibility. Lt Gen Suhag based at Corps Headquarters Rangapahar (Dimapur), Nagaland has been given 7 days to respond. A censure, that the chief of the Army Staff has threatened Lt Gen Suhag with, will result in a ``Discipline and Vigilance Department ban’’ on promotion. This may mean that when Lt Gen Bikram Singh, army commander takes over as the Chief of the Army Staff on June 1, Lt Gen Suhag will not replace him as army commander. Lt Gen Suhag is seen as the next in line to be the army Chief after COAS designate Lt Gen Bikram Singh. But this show cause notice could alter the line of succession. Headlines Today has accessed the two page show cause notice dated May 19, 2012 signed by Gen VK Singh. The Chief in the confidential notice says: ``it appears to me that censure at the level of COAS in appropriate form is called for on account of the above lapses on your part….reply to this show cause notice is requested within 7 days of its receipt failing which it would be assumed that you have no grounds to urge against the proposed action and an ex party decision may be taken.’’ The matter pertains to a search operation conducted by the 3 Corps intelligence and surveillance unit at the house of Surajit Gogoi, at Jorhat where a pistol, a mobile phone and some items were removed from his house and not declared. The raid was carried out on December 20, 2011. The allegation is that Havildar Sanjay Thapa stole a pistol and a mobile phone during that raid. The Havildar owned up to the theft on December 28, 2011. The civil police initiated an investigation into the matter. The COAS on 18th May 2012 recorded his censure in the form of ``severe displeasure’’ for the commanding officer of the intelligence unit. The COAS also expressed his displeasure with the conduct of Brigadier Abhay Krishna, Brigadier General Staff (Operations) – which have since been stayed by the Armed Forces Tribunal. And on the 19th of May (12 days before he bids farewell to arms) the army chief issued a notice to Lt Gen Suhag and says: ``actions taken by all concerned in the command chain including you as General Officer Commanding 3 Corps were not adequate to deal with the situation.’’ The Chief goes on to say: ``That brigadier Abhay Krishna BGS Ops, having come to know of the offences did not display adequate urgency to deal with the situation…Various intelligence reports have also indicated complicity of the unit in many earlier acts against military ethos.’’ Sources say the crux of the army chief’s anger lies in point D of the show cause notice. ``That it is also learnt that the CO 3 CISU during his absence from the unit on leave was masquerading in Delhi as CO Army HQ CIU and interacting with the media, giving anti organisation stories. The above chain of circumstances indicate that 3 CISU has been handled in a most unprofessional and lackasidical manner and the chain of command including the GOC 3 Corps abdicating their responsibility.’’ ``The timing of the notice is suspect. The move appears to be an effort to prevent Lt Gen Suhag from taking over as army commander by hook or by crook,’’ says Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, former deputy chief of army staff. ``If there was a case of theft of pistol and mobile phone by a Havildar, how can you hold the Corps commander responsible? There is a chain of command – the platoon commander, Commanding Officer and at the most for lapses of supervision at the level of a Brigadier. Under what circumstances can the corps commander be held responsible for failure of command,’’ he adds. Sources in 3 Corps insist that Lt Gen Suhag was on leave at the time of the incident and was in no way involved with either the intelligence operation or its investigation at a later date. In fact eyebrows are being raised by the ``personal interest’’ that the army chief is taking in this matter. On 20th April 2012, an ``OP Immediate’’ signal was sent to the discipline and vigilance branch of eastern command saying: ``request do not initiate any proceedings as per directions of the GOC-in-C. Further action to be initiated on the issue of directions of COAS.’’ On April 7th another message sent said: ``the COAS has directed that Havildar Thapa of 3 CISU be handed over to the civil police in the ongoing case and completion be forwarded on phone.’’ Says Maj Gen Ashok Mehta, former GOC 57 Div: ``for someone who has 6 working days in office, instead of showing some grace, the COAS is being vindictive. Because he wants one of his men to become the chief after Lt Gen Bikram Singh. It is unprecedented that a show cause notice is issued to a corps commander a week before he takes over as army commander.’’ General VK Singh had earlier complained to the CBI about Lt Gen Suhag in an alleged ``procurement scam’’ during his stint in the cabinet secretariat. The CBI did not prima facie find evidence against Lt Gen Suhag, giving him a clean chit based on investigations conducted by the Research and analysis wing (R&AW). Sources in army headquarters insist: ``There should have been an impartial probe by an outside agency. That was never done.’’ However, once he got a clean chit, the MoD sent Lt Gen Suhag’s name to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for promotion to the rank of army commander. Now a DV ban could effectively prevent Suhag’s elevation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Document after document in the Chief of the Army Staff General Vijay Kumar Singh’s 66 page petition and 150 page annexure in the Supreme Court give evidence of his ``correct’’ date of birth 10 May 1951.

The best legal minds in the army and the country have launched the final assault on the Government of India and the Ministry of Defence for quashing his statutory complaint to `reconcile’ the discrepancy in his age.

From his matriculation certificate issued by the Rajasthan Board to his father Major Jagat Singh’s service records, letter written by Officer Commanding, 14th Battalion of Rajput Regiment, letters written by DIG CID, query made by UPSC at the time of joining NDA, IMA, his commissioning identity card, awards, citations and promotion Boards, the army chief has attached documents to show how he has been wronged by both the Army Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence.

The Chief in his petition says`` respondent (Ministry of Defence) without going into the factual aspect as well as the law settled by this Hon’ble Court has dismissed the Statutory Complaint filed by the petitioner under section 27 of the Army Act. While dismissing the complaint, the respondent failed to appreciate that Matriculation Certificate and Date of Birth mentioned in the Service Records can only be the authentic proof of Date of Birth.’’

To strengthen his case, he has also annexed the opinion of former Chief Justice of India, JS Varma, taken by the Adjutant General’s Branch. The petition says:

``That it is also important to mention that the AG Branch also sought the opinion of Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of India, who also concluded that the Petitioner’s date of birth is 10.05.1951 and all records need to harmonise accordingly.’’
Giving a brief history of the issue, the petition says: ``since there was no certificate regarding DOB available for submitting with the UPSC application form including the class X certificate from the Rajasthan Secondary Education Board, a certificate from Officer Commanding, 14 Rajput Regiment dated 03.08.1965, certifying the date of birth of petitioner as 10.05.1951 as per the official records of his father, Shri Jagat Singh who was Major in the Army, was obtained and submitted to UPSC just before the written examinations.’’

The Army chief is also relying on CID investigation done way back in 1966 which show his ``correct’’ DoB as May 10 1951. In his petition he says:
``candidates seeking commission in the armed forces are required to undergo verification and are required to fill up Form SP-103 for this purpose, which has to be attested by the DIG of Police, C.I.D. of the respective States. The form for verification was filled by petitioner on 09.05.1966 and duly verified by the D.I.G., C.I.D., I.B., Rajasthan and the D.I.G., C.I.D., I.B., Punjab on 22nd June, 1966. The verification also reflects petitioner’s date of birth as 10th May 1951.’’

The Chief insists he was under the impression his correct DoB had been recorded as his I-Card at the time of commissioning showed so.
He writes: ``it is relevant to point out here that every cadet before his commissioning to the Army from the IMA receives an identity card which is carried on for life by every officer. The identity card as issued to petitioner reflects his date of birth as 10th May 1951. The date of birth in the identity card is cross-checked from relevant document and there exists an elaborate procedure for this. On commissioning of an officer on joining the unit, a Record of service is also prepared and counter-signed by his commanding officer. Petitioner was commissioned in the Indian army on 14th June 1970 in Infantry in 2nd Battalion of the Rajput Regiment and his record of service at the time of his commission in 1970 also has the date of birth as 10 May, 1951. ‘’

The Chief has also hinted at his seniors – naming then COAS General Deepak Kapoor having let him down.

``That since the then Chief of Army Staff had personally assured him that he will resolve the issue regarding petitioner’s date of birth, but when nothing had been done for almost three months thereafter, the petitioner vide letter dated 1st July 2008 addressed to the then Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor requested for justice to be done in his case. Petitioner also enquired as to the constraints mentioned by the MS Branch which compelled them to maintain DOB as 10th May 1950 despite petitioner’s having submitted the SSC Certificate in 1971 and mentioning his date of birth as 10th May 1951 in all his confidential reports.’’

The Chief in his petition says it is almost unbelievable that the government would get wrong advise from the Attorney General.

``It also seems almost unbelievable that the Attorney General would give precedence to the inadvertent mistake of wrongly writing the date of birth over the prescribed procedure such as preparation of IAFZ-2041 and therefore, the petitioner doubts as to whether a correct query was asked from the Ld. Attorney General.’’