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Thursday, December 22, 2011

AMU – The rot within

Note: For complete article please visit "AMU – The rot within" By Ehtasham Khan,

In a meeting of the Academic Council held about a fortnight ago to discuss the entrance exam of the medical college, Aligarh Muslim University [AMU] vice chancellor Prof P K Abdul Azis reportedly hounded a senior professor out of the room. The professor had objected to a decision being taken by the vice chancellor. None of about a dozen senior professors sitting there objected to this behaviour.

In AMU, this autocratic and feudal style of functioning is a rule, not exception. ……
But how come one individual like Prof Azis be able to manipulate everything as per his convenience in this age of information, vigilance, alert media and active judiciary. The rot implies deep into the feudal culture of AMU…….

Syed Hamid, a person of international repute, has kept himself silent in the last five years even as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the judicial enquiry indicted...... Syed Hamid writes long essays in Urdu newspapers as soon as a VC leaves office. However, he maintains a comfortable silence, whenever corruptions are quite evident in the University.

Another important mute spectator is the former Chancellor of AMU Justice A M Ahmadi who was the former Chief Justice of India. Even Justice Ahmadi did not mince a word when the entire national media cried of the high-handedness and arbitrary actions of Prof Azis – from illegal termination of Prof Siras (who ultimately died) for having a different sexual orientation, to rusticating students who filed RTIs and exposed rampant corruption in AMU…..

Ray of hope: As the elite have almost been co-opted in power brokering, one can be quite hopeful of some students and teachers who have been fighting a solitary battle for the last five years. Despite victimisation, they have been filing RTIs and now even approached the court. The coming month would be crucial for AMU as it would set the agenda for another five years. Nobody knows what is in store.

Note: For complete article please visit "AMU – The rot within" By Ehtasham Khan,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Police Knocks on RTI Applicants Door

An RTI applicant Yusf Khan is reportedly being harassed by the Public Works Department (PWD) of UP Govt in Aligarh with the help of local police. The RTI activist had sought information related to horrible condition of rural roads and expenses incurred in their construction for 2009-10. He had appended a BPL Ration Card along with RTI application which the administration is contesting is "fake". It is to be noted that the information seeker claims that he is regularly being supplied ration and other items since 2006 on the same BPL Card. The Public Information Officer (PIO) instead of replying to queries, which was his duty, thought it proper to approach the police so as to harass the information seeker and warned his to desist from asking such questions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Problem is Judiciary: Sign this letter for Chief Justice of India, High Courts & Others

Dear All,

For 99.99 percent Indians, seeking judicial remedies is impossible. Going to court is full of hurdles, such as:

Terribly expensive lawyers
Tareekh pe tareekh i.e. endless adjournments
Stay Orders for flimsy reasons
Difficult and time-consuming court procedures
Slavish court language from the colonial era
Frequent court vacations that breaks the flow of justice and adds to the delay

We all know how the judiciary nullifies many administrative and quasi-judicial processes. For example, civic bodies are almost helpless to demolish illegal structures and evict encroachers because courts routinely stay the demolition and eviction notices without applying their mind to the long-term consequences. Numerous well-reasoned orders of Information Commissioners are rendered ineffective by Stay Orders every month.

But we dare not give the judges any feedback. Why? Because we are afraid of being jailed for contempt of court. We fear the unquestioned authority of the judges and their power to harm us, either directly or through the cases we are involved in.

See the irony: We are not afraid of criticizing the Prime Minister and the President. But we tremble at the thought of speaking the indisputable truth to judges.

Friends, let us stop being afraid. Let us speak up and clearly state the inconvenient truth. Let us ask the judiciary to reform itself. Please remember the courts exist only to serve the common man; there is no other reason for their existence. As they are consistently failing to serve the common man, it is time for We The People to point out the areas of failure, and ask for immediate changes.

Eight of us, including five advocates practicing in the Supreme Court, Delhi and Bombay High Courts, have decided to speak out. On 25th December, we will dispatch hard copies of this letter to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Justice of each and every High Court, President of the Bar Association of all High Courts, the Union Law Minister, and the Law Commission of India.

The below letter draft has been settled after many revisions, with key inputs from Supreme Court advocate Abdul Rasheed Qureshi and Bombay High Court advocate Ameet Mehta.

We urge you to join us by being signatories to this letter. Please send your email address and contact number for inclusion as signatories to .

Warm Regards,
98215 88114


25th December 2011

Hon. Justice S H Kapadia
Chief Justice of India
c/o The Registrar
Supreme Court of India
Tilak Marg, New Delhi-110 001

CC to:
Hon. Chief Justices of All High Courts
c/o The Registrar General

President, Bar Association
High Courts of all states

Shri Salman Khurshid
Union Minister for Law & Justice
South Block, New Delhi

Hon Justice P V Reddy
Chairman, 19th Law Commission
2nd floor, the Law Institute Building
Opposite Supreme Court
New Delhi 110 001.

You have placed Judiciary beyond the reach of the Common Man,
Especially Senior Citizens.
Please Remedy this Situation.

Dear Sir,

We The People of India are addressing ourselves to you as the administrative head of India’s Judiciary, and not in your judicial capacity. Sir, before you retire in a few months, we hope you will apply your wisdom as an enlightened administrative reformer and do away with some archaic judicial traditions that are harming our nation.

Sir, victims of the high-handed ways of the judiciary, such as defendants and petitioners, cannot speak out. They fear that your brother judges will harm their cause by issuing some arbitrary orders. We are speaking on their behalf.

India’s judicial machinery is no longer available to senior citizens. No senior citizen can file a case, as it is unlikely to reach final judgement stage before 15-20 years by when he/she will be senile or dead.

Common people – even reasonably wealthy ones -- cannot go to court because it requires uncontrollable expenses of lakhs of rupees, which drain away their life-savings.

Over the decades, there has been a gross failure in administration of the judicial machinery. Many judges are pointing this out in their speeches at various forums. These speeches only remain good to hear, as nothing gets done afterwards.

The zealously guarded doctrine of Independence of Judiciary has ensured inability of successive governments and parliament to reform our judiciary. Only the judiciary can reform itself. The Supreme Court is the overall court of superintendence. Sir, the administrative powers needed to pull up the socks of the judiciary which are centered on you and you alone. If you don’t do it, nobody can force you to do it. What is worse, nobody can even raise their voice, criticize you for your administrative failure, and threaten to replace you with a more competent administrator, because that would invite Contempt.

Only you, Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, can initiate reforms of our judiciary, and the first step will be for you to candidly admit the judiciary’s flaws, and set out a roadmap with a timetable for change.

Regardless of whether we are currently litigants before any court, all of us are suffering from severe handicaps and frustrations in our daily lives because of the judiciary’s unavailability to us, and lack of the judiciary’s protection. Please heed our voices, because we are aggrieved stakeholders.

Some Problems & Proposed Solutions:

Problem 1: Easy and indefinite Stay Orders. Sir, numerous well-reasoned judgments of lower courts, tribunals and quasi-judicial forums such as RTI Information Commissions are granted Stay for the asking. Various administrative orders and notices for demolition etc. issued by civic authorities, targeting unauthorized and illegal activity, are also indefinitely stayed. It requires great effort to get a Stay vacated. This nullifies various laws, creates a dead end for law enforcement agencies as well as law-abiding citizens, and creates widespread cynicism about lawful methods. Proposed Solution: Firstly, issue a directive that if a matter is stayed by any court, the case should automatically become fast-track. Please give short dates of maximum one-week intervals so that the party that has got a stay order does not enjoy undue benefit of judicial delay. The case should come to finality typically within three months, and in exceptional cases, six months. Secondly, make it mandatory that a stay order shall automatically lapse after six months have passed, so that the beneficiary of the stay does not seek refuge in delaying tactics.

Problem 2: Adjournments for the asking. The proceedings of High Court and all lower courts can be summed up in one Hindi movie phrase: tareekh pe tareekh (date after date). In Sessions and Magistrate’s Courts, the proceedings cannot even be understood. Undertrials and accused parties are summoned every 2-3 months, and sent back with a new date, clueless as to why their hearing did not happen. Their carefully submissions are not heard. Sometimes, if pressed, the court staff give flimsy explanations. Thousands of man-hours of the court, police and general public are being wasted, and as the years pass, memories fade, witnesses turn hostile, and justice becomes meaningless. Only lawyers gain from this ongoing delay. Proposed Solution: Please issue a directive mandating steeply rising penalty on both lawyers and parties for each successive adjournment sought e.g. first adjournment, Rs 2,000 penalty; second adjournment, Rs 5,000; and third and final adjournment, Rs 15,000.

Problem 3: Widely spaced dates. With dates that are sometimes six months apart, litigations drag on for years and decades – sometimes with the undertrial persons in judicial custody, denying them their fundamental right of life and liberty! Proposed Solution: Firstly, issue a directive mandating closely clustered dates of 15-30 days interval, and never more than a total of 10 dates. It is the studied opinion of many advocates that all cases in trial courts, High Courts and Supreme Court can easily be brought to finality in 7 to 10 dates. Secondly, make it mandatory to serve the opponents/respondents notice in advance, eliminating two dates at the outset.

Problem 4: Court of Surprises, not Court of Law. Hiding behind their ill-tempered behavior in court and their powers of Contempt, judges give utterly whimsical interim orders, reliefs and judgments that cannot be upheld by legal reasoning. Many well-reasoned orders and judgments of lower courts are struck down or re-opened by higher courts on flimsy grounds. Such judgments often favour influential or wealthy persons. Proposed Solution: Please set up a judicial audit mechanism to scrutinize suspicious judgments and their reasoning. Judges who do not reason well must be questioned and criticized by their own peers.

Problem 5: Astronomical charges of senior counsels, and network of kickbacks. Senior counsels are charging insane amounts, such as Rs 5-to-20 lakh per appearance. Even if they are merely required to stand up for a moment in court and request adjournment, they charge the full amount. They also charge several lakh rupees for a few minutes of consultation. If they appear in other courts, then the charges run into crores of rupees per appearance. Less-well-known advocates convince their clients to engage such senior counsels, in return of kickbacks. The clerks and juniors of such super-rich legal luminaries “manage” the courts, getting comfortable dates and bench re-assignments for getting “friendly” judges. Their face value and money power ensures even if the case has no merits, “strict” judges listen patiently to lengthy lectures from them before passing an order! Inspired by such senior counsels, lesser known lawyers hike their fees by leaps and bounds, taking justice out of the reach of the common man, and giving an undue advantage to the super-rich. Nowadays, only companies can afford lawyers. Proposed Solution: To make courts affordable to the common man, please impose a reasonable fee-structure on all lawyers practicing in every level of the judiciary, especially the higher judiciary. Those violating the mandatory fee-structure should be debarred from representing clients or appearing in court.

Problem 6: Culture of egotism and sycophancy. Lawyers continually pamper judges’ egos with servile colonial expressions like “Your Lordship”, “Milord”, “Prayers”, “We crave your leave,” “We humbly pray”, and “For this favour we will ever be ever in your debt”. Even court stationery comes with such slavish language, although the citizen is only asking for the rights guaranteed to him by the Constitution, and not begging for out-of-the-way favours. Judges deny justice to lawyers or citizens who resist this culture. Citizens who appear before court as Party-In-Person to represent their own cause are bullied and harried. This promotion of slavishness is a violation of fundamental rights of equality, life and liberty within the premises of the judiciary. Proposed Solution: Please ban such unwholesome language. Please ensure that henceforth, in speech and in writing, all judges are addressed only as ‘Sir’.

Problem 7: Civil contempt of court, giving false evidence, perjury etc. are taken lightly. Although the courts are quick to punish criminal contempt i.e. breach of court propriety, they are not offended when their judgments are disobeyed. Also, they wink at false documents, false evidence and outright lies in court. This gives crooks the upper hand over upright citizens. Proposed Solution: Please set aside a clear time-slot in every court for ensuring implementation of court orders, and taking up issues of false evidence etc.

Problem 8: Colonial practice of lengthy vacations & short working hours. Lower courts work for about 240 days in a year, High Courts for 210 days and Supreme Court for 188 days only i.e. 50% of the year. In summer, the entire judiciary – judges, lawyers, clerks and all – shuts down for 5 to 7 weeks of continuous holidays. The Supreme court goes on vacation from May 10th till June 30th. No other organ of administration takes such a luxury. The working hours per day are as little as 3-4 hours in many courts. In view of the rising pendency of cases, such luxurious working habits are not only unconscionable, but a waste of scarce national resources (the court infrastructure), and a criminal neglect of We The People! Proposed Solution: Firstly, please slash the number of holidays to 60 days, (which is still far more than anybody else takes nowadays, whether in government or in private sector). Secondly, let these vacations not be taken en masse, but in a staggered way so that the entire court does not shut down. Last but not least, please mandate that judges at every level must hear cases in court for at least six hours per day.

Sir, many citizens’ forums have patiently compiled and put across these points for several years, but the judiciary has been ignoring them. Everybody’s patience has reached a limit now.

We hope that before you retire, you will seize the opportunity given to you by your high office for implementing these urgently-needed reforms. And we hope you will frankly voice your intentions and enable right-minded citizens to strengthen your hands.

Yours Sincerely,

1.A Rasheed Qureshi, 7838408078 rasheed1357[at], Advocate, Delhi

2.G R Vora, 9869195785, grvora1[at], Pathologist, Mumbai

3.Krishnaraj Rao, 9821588114, thebravepedestrian[at], Journalist, Mumbai

4.Aires Rodrigues, 9822684372, airesrodrigues1[at], Advocate, Goa

5. Ameet Mehta, 9821283232, ameetvmehta[at], Advocate, Mumbai

6.Aryan Yadav,9717468613, aryanscadvocate[at], Advocate, Delhi

7. Rameez Tauheed, 09891664368, tauheedrameez[at], Engineer, Delhi

8. Vinod Sampat, 9324038095, vinodsampat[at], Advocate, Mumbai

List of mailing addresses of Chief Justices etc. (work in progress):

Saturday, December 10, 2011

CWG Scam: Shunglu Committee Spent Roughly 1 Crore a Month

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had on Oct 25, 2010 appointed a High Level Committee (HLC) under chairmanship of former Comptroller and Auditor General Shri V K Shunglu to look into look into various aspects of corruption and other issues relating to the organizing and conduct of Commonwealth Games 2010. The committee has submitted six reports on broadcasting, Games Village, city infrastructure, Games venues, Organising Committee and main report — Organisation and Conduct of CWG 2010.
The Sunnglu Committee in its various Reports has cited instances of irregularities, procedural lapses, delay in execution of the works, financial loss to the Government, favouring of Contractors, not following the proper procedure in awarding contracts, use of sub standard material and purchase of material at higher cost, irregular appointment of various staff/consultants, lack of supervision/control over the contractors/staff etc. It has in some cases also recommended investigations by various agencies. Apart from the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax authorities are also investigating alleged irregularities. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is also examining various complaints regarding the Games. The other recommendations of the HLC including those related to corrective action are also being examined carefully by the Government in consultation with the Ministries concerned.
In response to RTI query filed by Dr Mohammed Naved Khan , member of RTI Group and who teaches at Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Management Studies & Research, Aligarh Muslim University, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has provided that Shunglu Committee had spent roughly Rs 4 Crores (Rupees 40,000,000) in the first 4 months alone.

Dainik Jagran, National Edition, New Delhi, Dec 10, 2011, Front Page

शुंगलू समिति ने चार माह की जांच में खर्च किए चार करोड़

अलीगढ़, जागरण संवाददाता : राष्ट्रमंडल खेल घोटाले की जांच करने वाली शुंगलू समिति ने चार माह में करीब चार करोड़ खर्च किए थे। एक आरटीआइ अर्जी के जवाब में इसका खुलासा हुआ है। गौरतलब है कि राष्ट्रमंडल खेलों के आयोजन में मनमाने खर्चो और गलत फैसलों की जांच के लिए प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह के आदेश पर वीके शुंगलू की अध्यक्षता में इस समिति का गठन किया गया था। अलीगढ़ मुस्लिम यूनिवर्सिटी (एएमयू) के डिपार्टमेंट ऑफ बिजनेस स्टडीज के फैकल्टी मेंबर और आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता डॉ. नवेद खान ने इस संबंध में सूचना मांगी थी। दैनिक जागरण के पास मौजूद दस्तावेज बताते हैं कि शुंगलू समिति ने चार महीने में करीब चार करोड़ रुपये खर्च किए हैं। कॉमनवेल्थ घोटाले की जांच के लिए कैबिनेट सचिव ने 25 अक्टूबर 2010 को आदेश जारी किए थे। वीके शुंगलू की अध्यक्षता में उच्च स्तरीय समिति बनाई गई थी। सदस्य थे शांतनु कंसुल। कमेटी को जांच का काम पूरा करने के लिए दिल्ली के विज्ञान भवन में दफ्तर दिया गया था। खेल मंत्रालय को हिदायत थी कि वह जांच संबंधी दस्तावेजों को लाने-ले जाने और दूसरी प्रशासनिक जरूरतों में मदद करे। कमेटी ने 24 अक्टूबर को आदेश मिलने के साथ महा-खेल की जांच शुरू की। 23 मार्च तक कमेटी ने तनख्वाह पर 48.07 लाख खर्च किए। कार्यालय पर 14.18 लाख खर्च हुए हैं। सबसे ज्यादा पैसा फूंका गया प्रोफेशनल एक्सपेंसेस (जांच के लिए जुटाए गए संसाधन और सुविधाओं पर खर्च) पर। इसमें तीन करोड़ 39 लाख 32 हजार 250 रुपये खर्च आया है। कमेटी ने अंतरिम रिपोर्ट 29 जनवरी-2011 को दाखिल की थी, जिसके आधार पर केंद्र जांच सीबीआइ को सौंप दी।

Friday, December 9, 2011

Supreme Court: Reveal Answer Sheets to Students

A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik delivered the judgment in Civil Appeal No. 6454 of 2011 [arising out of SLP ( C) No. 7526/2009 on August 9, 2011] while allowing disclosure of answer sheets of students in public examinations.

Acknowledging that Right to Information is a cherished right and a formidable tool in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring about transparency and accountability, the Supreme Court, said the RTI Act provisions should be enforced strictly and all efforts made to bring to light the necessary information under Section 4 (4) (b) which “relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.”

Dismissing the oft repeated alibi that the examining bodies held the answer books in their fiduciary capacity, the Bench observed that “Once the examiner has evaluated the answer books, he ceases to have any interest in the evaluation done by him. He does not have any copyright or proprietary right or confidentiality right in regard to the evaluation. Therefore, it cannot be said that the examining body holds the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship, qua the examiner. As no other exemption under Section 8 of the RTI Act is available in respect of evaluated answer books, the examining bodies will have to permit inspection.”

Justices Raveendran and Patnaik while upholding Calcutta High Court order gave the ruling which allows students to see their answer scripts of any professional or educational exam once the result has been declared. However, to protect the safety and identity of the examiners, their details would not be shared with the RTI applicant. The apex court judgment is expected to bring in much needed reforms and transparency in the examination system of the country.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rebel with a cause: Meet India’s youngest RTI activist

Story by Pallavi Polanki Oct 27, 201:

.....On 20 December 2010, Mobashshir was sent an expulsion notice, banning him from campus and debarring him from exams for “unending complaints of misbehavior and indiscipline”.

In March, after his appeals to the administration fell on deaf ears, Mobashshir filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court challenging his expulsion. The school, since, has been directed by the high court to hold supplementary exams for Mobashshir and allow him to attend classes while the case remains pending.....

For complete Story Please visit:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why has Annaji’s roar silenced Mrs Smita Pednekar’s voice?

The Jan Lokpal Bill debate has marginalized the voices of public servants like municipal employees and bus drivers. Why? Don’t they deserve a say in framing a law that will affect their daily lives?

Fellow Members of Civil Society,

Come, let us put aside our virtuous outrage for a moment, and step into the shoes of one of those ordinary men and women running our public transport, water supply and other civic services. For instance, let us see life through the eyes of Mrs Smita Pratap Pednekar.

Mrs Pednekar sells tickets at a railway counter; you and your family members may have bought a ticket from her. She lives in the Railway Employees’ Colony at Dahisar, a distant suburb of Mumbai. She and her husband Pratap work for Indian Railways.

Every day after work, Mrs Pednekar commutes by train, buys vegetables and fish and gets home to her children and elderly mother-in-law. Then she cooks dinner before her husband returns home.

Mrs Pednekar does not get envelopes of cash under the table. Her conscience is clear, but she is afraid. What she fears most is office politics. She is worried about the prospect of being posted at a distant office. Both she and her husband have insecurities about loss of seniority, loss of increments etc, as some of their corrupt colleagues enjoy undue influence.

Mrs Pednekar avoids taking sides in any controversy. She pretends not to know anything. But in January, her husband was required to give evidence against a colleague at a departmental enquiry. Since then, some people at her office have been giving her dirty looks and stopped sharing their lunch with her. She is constantly afraid that they are looking for opportunities to victimize her.

With the whole of India shouting patriotic slogans like ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ in one voice, Mrs Smita Pednekar has lost her voice.

Nowadays, silence dominates the Pednekar household. There is none of the usual light conversation when the family sits down on the floor with stainless-steel thalis, and Mrs Pednekar serves fish curry and rice. She tells the children to eat in silence. She scolds her mother-in-law for switching on TV news channels, and makes her switch off the television.

Mrs Pednekar used to discuss current topics and politics within the family, but now she keeps her thoughts to herself. She changes the topic when the children ask why Anna Hazare fasted at Ramlila Maidan, and what is the Jan Lokpal Bill all about. One day, they came home from school wearing Gandhi topis painted with the words, ‘I am Anna Hazare’. She has had a sinking feeling in her stomach since that day.

On Raksha Bandhan, Mrs Pednekar visited her brother’s house on the 20th floor of Oberoi Woods, Goregaon. Her brother and sister-in-law are rich; they have private sector jobs. While they were having lunch together, a news channels was loudly discussing Anna Hazare’s insistence on including the junior staff of government under the Jan Lokpal Bill. This triggered a conversation about how the whole nation was up in arms against junior staff and their corruption. Her husband Pratap took a stand against the Jan Lokpal Bill, and loudly argued with her brother and sister-in-law, and everybody else who was working in the private sector. Alarmed by the rising voices, Smita gently pinched her husband, called him inside and pleaded with him. “What will people think? They will say that you are supporting corruption! We are government employees; remember that and keep quiet!” she whispered. The couple made some excuses and hurriedly left as the others loudly continued the discussion in their absence.

Mrs Pednekar is in awe of Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, and other great people fasting in all over the country and debating corruption on television. Surely they know all about corruption, otherwise why would they be talking so loudly, she reasons. She thinks that a “strong Lokpal Bill” is generally a good thing if it makes the country cleaner and less corrupt. But the point of the Bill should not be to threaten people like her with enquiries, penalties and imprisonment, she feels.

She feels greatly confused by Annaji’s demand for such harsh provisions against her; the fact that a good man like him says that he will go on indefinite fast for this demand makes her very uncomfortable. Is Annaji with me or against me, she wonders. “Annaji is a good and simple man. So why is he fasting for punishing good and simple people like me and my husband?” she wonders.

Mrs Pednekar’s experiences have given her reason to fear legal processes. She believes that proceedings generally go against those who are less able to defend themselves, rather than those who are truly guilty. So she fears that Jan Lokpal Bill will punish people like herself, who are voiceless. She is afraid that more resourceful colleagues will connive together to use such a law to target her and her husband.

But she is in no position to say all this, because she and her husband are government servants, and therefore excluded from “civil society”. Everybody is listening only to civil society nowadays; they think government servants are all corrupt, and therefore their views don’t count.

Respected Annaji & Arvind, the deafening roar of “civil society” has isolated and silenced Mrs Smita Pednekar’s voice. Will you please give her back her voice? Will you please hold consultations at Railway Employees Colony and other colonies where government employees live? Will you go to various employees associations?

Will you go there and explain to them why there is a need for a Jan Lokpal Bill that punishes Group B, C And D employees? And will you please hear and understand what such employees have to say in this matter?

Warm Regards,


98215 88114

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pictorial Analysis of Govt Lokpal & Jan Lokpal

How do the two Bills before the Standing Committee -- Govt Lokpal & Jan Lokpal -- propose to eradicate corruption from the country? Each proposes a very different mechanism. How is one superior to the other?
1) To form a visual idea of key differences between the Govt Lokpal and Jan Lokpal structure and workflow, see this flow-chart:

2) To understand merits and demerits of each system, see this comparison of the various sections of the two Lokpal Bills that are currently before the Rajya Sabha Standing Committee:

PLEASE BEAR IN MIND, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH. Jan Lokpal Bill specifies that the Lokpal’s budget may be one-fourth percent of the revenues of Govt of India, and will be directly charged to Consolidated Fund of India.
How much is one-fourth percent of the Union Govt’s Revenues? Let us calculate: Union Budget 2010-11 says that total receipts in Consolidated Fund (revenue plus capital receipts) are Rs 46,62,263 crore. One-fourth percent of that amount is Rs. 11,656 crore.

Just to give you an idea of how much money this is: This amount is more than 10% of Indian Railways gross earnings for the year. So, the ticket fare of one-in-ten passengers (and also the freight earning of one-in-ten goods trains may go directly to running the Lokpal establishment!

That is not necessarily a bad thing. But this enormous figure only confirms that this is an important issue, involving your money and mine. Please spend 10 minutes studying this and form your own opinion based on documents -- and not based on what everybody else is saying.

Carefully read the observations in the right-hand column of the table. If you disagree, look at the sections of both Lokpal Bills in the same row of the table to the left of the observations.

Remember, eternal vigilance is the price that we all have to pay for liberty. Don’t let other people do your thinking for you.

Warm Regards,
98215 88114

Dear Friends,

In the attached Lokpal Flow Charts:

  • RED ARROWS SHOW INPUTS AND OUTPUTS. Both the charts show inputs i.e. Citizens’ Complaints as red arrows. They also show the outputs i.e. action taken against corrupt public servants as red arrows. The only aim of our “inputs” is to get “outputs”. We write complaints only because we want action against Corrupt officials.

  • BLUE ARROWS SHOW INTERNAL PROCESSES OF LOKPAL AND COURTS. Once the complaint goes to Jan Lokpal, a chain of events happens inside the mechanism of Lokpal. Directions are given to Investigation Wing, Investigation Wing presents preliminary evidence to Lokpal bench, Lokpal Bench directs the Prosecution Wing to file chargesheet against the accused, etc. Some events happen between Lokpal and external agencies such as Police e.g. Police is directed to search and seize documents.

  • THE ARROWS ARE NUMBERED TO SHOW SEQUENCE OF EVENTS. The citizens’ complaint is event no. 1 – the trigger. The final events are directions given by Lokpal for Departmental Action against the public servant, or the Special Court’s judgment against public servant. This may be shown as event no. 5.

Friends, the attached flow-charts are only indicative. They are not exhaustive, and therefore, they do not enable us to compare ALL the salient features of the two systems.

For detailed study of the pros and cons of both systems, read:

The main points of comparison and remarks are in the right-hand column of the table. If you disagree with the remarks, please read the sections of each Bill on the left, and draw your own conclusions.

This is a crucial issue of the times we are living in. It is important to form a reasoned opinion, based on facts and scientific thinking. Don’t be led by the hype. Don’t let other people do your thinking for you.

Warm Regards,

Krishnaraj Rao


98215 88114


Saturday, July 30, 2011

How & Where to Complain: Friendly Guide for Problem-Solving in India

Dear Mr & Ms Activist,

All around us, people are struggling:

  • Aggrieved citizens wishing to get relief from personal problems
  • Victims of exploitation, ignorance and poverty trying to escape the clutches of their exploiters
  • Activists acting on behalf of society or downtrodden people
  • Lawyers, CAs and other professionals acting on behalf of clients

We often feel frustrated and hopeless. We blame police, courts and information commissions for being uncaring, inefficient and corrupt. Of course, there is a lot of truth in this, but…

But there is another truth which we don’t look at: We ourselves fail to properly present problems before various forums. We mix up important law points with trivial, unnecessary details. We cannot distinguish personal grievances from criminal breach of law. We fail to draw a line between private interest and public interest. And so we present a miscellaneous bag of personal problems, civil disputes and criminal complaints, plus anger and frustration. Even a well-meaning judge or appellate authority cannot make sense of such a mish-mash – and therefore, he postpones or gives half-baked judgments.

There is a simple principle that we must remember: TO GET A CLEAR OUTPUT FROM THE SYSTEM, WE MUST GIVE CLEAR INPUTS. Many problems, including lengthy pendency before courts, information commissions etc. are because citizens and activists have failed to give clear inputs.


A. EXCLUDE PERSONAL PROBLEMS. Things that trouble us personally (e.g. rudeness, bullying, playing politics, making us repeatedly visit the office etc.) must be separated from the legal problems (e.g. violations of law, denial of information, refusing to perform official duties, giving orders and directions that are not as per law etc). On most forums, exclude the personal matters and talk only about the legal ones.

B. CITE THE RELEVANT LAWS & RULES. Each forum operates from a distinct set of laws and rules, and we should cite them in our complaint. For instance, the State Information Commission (SIC) exists to implement and interpret the Right to Information Act 2005, and the State RTI Rules. Also, the working of the State Information Commission is governed by the state’s Appeal Procedure Rules. Therefore, invoke the correct sections of the RTI Act and Rules while drafting your complaint or appeal. Also, follow the dictates of the Appeal Procedure Rules. Another example: the police derives its various powers from the Bombay Police Act, the Bombay Police Manual and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). While registering the FIR, tolice refers to various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). When we file a police complaint, it helps if we know about these things, and are able to cite sections of the law where necessary.

C. EXCLUDE POLITICAL VIEWS. Avoid making remarks like, “Congress is behind all the corruption” or “Lawless Shiv Sena elements are behind all this trouble”. You never know the political views of the judge or appellate authority; if he holds views contrary to yours, such remarks will harm your case.

D. PRIORITIZE. On any forum, you are required to give complaint or petition IN WRITING. Usually 2-3 pages will be read, with only a passing glance at other pages. So you need to emphasize all the crucial points in the main 2-3 pages. When asked to state your problem ORALLY, you will be given 2-3 minutes maximum. So come to the point very quickly to retain the attention of the appellate authority, judge etc. As this person hears dozens of cases every day and is mentally tired, you must make the matter easy to understand within the first few sentences you speak, without rambling, preaching or going into too much history.

E. SEPARATE THE COMPONENTS. We must divide the problem in our own mind -- separate it into private or business dispute, civil dispute, criminal offences, emotional trauma etc. We must apply these criteria:

(i) What has proof (i.e. proper documents) versus what has no proof (i.e. improper or no documents)

(ii) What issues have importance before law, versus what issues are important for ego reasons of showing that we are “right”

(iii) Which battles are absolutely essential to our cause (as against the battles we can afford to retreat from in order to conserve our own energies)

(iv) What points must be communicated within limited attention span (Two page-letter, Six bullet points, Subject-line or heading of Maximum 10 words, first paragraph of 100 words only. What to say in a three-minute verbal presentation. What are the first four sentences to speak after saying “Good morning”.)

(v) What aspects must NOT be highlighted, in order to avoid muddying the waters or spoiling the case

(vi) Exactly which actions of the opposite party violates which section of the law, rules etc. Give facts and figures.

(vii) Which actions according to us may be genuine mistakes, and which ones are deliberate and in bad faith. Highlight the ones that show criminal negligence, fraud etc.

(viii) How exactly we (private individuals or public) are affected by each violation. Give facts and figures.

(ix) Which fundamental rights are violated – exactly which article of the Constitution

(x) What are the regulator’s responsibilities and legal mandates

(xi) What are our “Prayers”? What directions and order doe we require from this legal forum?

(xii) What “interim reliefs” do we “pray” for? What must be urgently granted by the appellate authority or regulator to prevent further harm?

F. BE REALISTIC. No single forum can solve all our problems. And if we activate half a dozen forums all at once, we will not be able to handle the pressure of attending various hearings etc. So we should decide which forums to activate, and which ones to forget for the time being.

By their nature, many problems come all mixed-up together. We have to separate and simplify them, and understand WHICH LEGAL FORUMS ARE COMPETENT TO HANDLE THIS, AND HOW.


Mr X and Mr Y are brothers having a property dispute. X has occupied Y’s share of the family house, which they inherited from their father. Desperate to reclaim his share of the house, Y breaks the lock and enters. X arrives on the scene and they fight. The local police station arrests Y and registers an FIR, with charges of house-trespass, attempted robbery etc. Now Y is in judicial custody.


· Reliable lawyer

· Husband must get bail and come home soon.

· Husband’s name must be cleared in court.

· Her half of the family house.

· Revenge or “justice”

· Peace and an end to all her problems

· Not having to endlessly attend court hearings and pay costly lawyers.

WHAT WILL YOU DO, MR & MS ACTIVIST? If you are willing to support Mr & Mrs Y in sorting out their problems, let us analyze this problem together.


· LAWYER OR FREE LEGAL AID. You have to introduce Mrs Y to a good lawyer to procure bail. If she is poor and unable to pay for legal services, a lawyer must take her case on a charitable basis. So Mrs Y must be introduced to a legal aid cell. You may also have to help her financially for the bail amount

· POLICE. If the criminal offences that Y is charged with are categorized as “compoundable” (i.e. they can be withdrawn by the complainant), then X can withdraw the complaint against him. The relevant portions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) must be understood and explained to X. If the offences are “not compoundable”, then Y needs legal advice as to what he should say or refrain from saying before the magistrate. For instance, when charged, he has the choice of whether to plead guilty or to remain quiet. The legal rights of Y, the powers and duties of the police, and the procedures followed by the police in criminal investigation and prosecution have to be clearly understood.

· OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT. If charges against Y are “compoundable”, then it may be advisable for Mrs Y to swallow her pride, approach Mr X and reach a settlement of some sort. Family elders and other respected people may invited to advise and mediate between the two sides for a reasonable solution.

· CRIMINAL COURT i.e. metropolitan magistrate’s court will decide whether or not Mr Y gets bail, and in the course of the trial, whether he is acquitted or punished. Court procedures and criminal law points must therefore be understood, and Mr & Mrs Y have to be suitably advised.

· CIVIL COURT. X is said to be in occupation of Y’s share. If there are documents to prove this, a case can be made out in civil court so that Mr & Mrs Y get back their share of the property.

· ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION i.e. ARBITRATOR / MEDIATOR. To resolve the property dispute, a formal arbitration agreement can be drawn up, and retired judge or professional arbitrator can be engaged. This may be a better option, compared to a case in Civil Court. But to bring X to the negotiation table, it is necessary that he should fear being dragged into a property dispute in civil court.

Thus we see that even a simple fight between brothers may involve many problem-solving forums. In the wider context of society – both private grievances and public interest issues -- let us look at all the forums applicable. The usefulness of each forum varies. Some are best avoided; for instance, going to civil court may take up so much time and money that it isn’t worth it! But we must know all our options before we decide.


1. POLICE and its specialized wings e.g. Cyber Crime Wing, Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Social Service wing of police, Women’s Cell, Senior Citizens’ Cell etc.

2. GOVT. AND ADMINISTRATION OFFICES. The recommendatory and decision-making powers of the Minister, Secretary of the Department etc. can be extremely useful. Each ministry and department is a forum e.g. Investors can complain against a company to Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

3. HEADS OF LICENSING AUTHORITIES e.g. Joint Secretary of Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for bad advertisements, Assistant Engineer Building Proposal Department (Municipal Corporation) for buildings

4. DEPARTMENTAL VIGILANCE OFFICER (DVO) of each department, bank etc.

5. VIGILANCE ORGANIZATIONS e.g. Bureau of Industrial Standards (BIS), Department of Weights & Measures, Food & Drugs Administration (FDA)

6. TRIBUNALS e.g. Income Tax Tribunal, Sales Tax Tribunal etc. (Presided over by Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT), Chief Commissioner of Sales Tax etc.

7. APPELLATE AUTHORITIES especially RTI First Appellate Authority and Information Commission

8. GOVT. REGULATORS e.g. Investors can complain to Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Electricity Consumers can complain to Maharashtra Elecricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). Mobile consumers can complain to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Bank depositors and borrowers can complain to Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

9. TRADE GUILDS e.g. Advertising Standard’s Council of India (ASCI) for bad advertisements, Indian Medical Council (IMC) for medical malpractices by doctors, Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) for fraudulent practices by architects etc.

10. OMBUDSMAN e.g. Insurance Ombudsman of IRDA, Banking Ombudsman of RBI, Ombudsman of individual newpapers for fairness in reporting, advertising etc.

11. LOK AYUKTA, LOK PAL and other bodies set up by govt. to receive public complaints such as Maharashtra Corruption Eradication Committee



14. OTHER COMMISSIONS such as Women’s Commission, Minorities Commission, Child Rights Commission etc.

15. MEDIATOR / ARBITRATOR appointed by parties. (Arbitration is covered under Arbitration & Conciliation Act 1996.)



18. JUVENILE JUSTICE NATIONAL DESK and other mechanisms set up under Juvenile Justice Act 2000

19. HIGH COURT -- APPELLATE SIDE as authority to hear appeals against lower courts, tribunals etc.)

20. HIGH COURT -- ORIGINAL SIDE as authority to hear Writ Petition, Public Interest Litigation etc.

21. CONSUMER COURT for taking up consumer related issues.

22. COOPERATIVE COURT for matters concerning cooperative societies of all sorts e.g. housing, cooperative banks, marketing cooperatives, etc.

23. FAMILY COURT for divorce, child support and child custody issues, etc.


25. CONSUMER GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL CELL of each Public Sector Unit, Public Limited Company etc.

26. GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL CELLS FORMED BY NGOs for women’s protection etc.

27. MEDIA & JOURNALISTS if your complaint has strong elements of public interest. Media helps to build up public pressure, which sometimes compels the authorities to act.

28. ADVISORS. Lawyers and experts who give legal advice, secretarial services etc. for filing complaints

29. GOVERNMENT INSIDERS e.g. MLAs, MPs, ministers etc. whose word matters, rightly or wrongly. Also retired officers etc who can put in a “friendly word” and speed up the action.

30. NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL, which exercises tremendous clout for policy decisions in public interest issues

31. LOK SABHA & RAJYA SABHA COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS, which exercise great influence in policy making in matters of public interest

32. NGOs, ASSOCIATIONS, CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE and other pressure groups help to amplify a citizen’s battle against companies or government, especially in matters of public interest

To approach any of these forums, there is a different requirement. Each issue or problem may have aspects that are relevant to one or more of these forums. Forget the limitations of these forums such as corruption, bureaucratic red-tape, pendency etc; let us first take care of our own limitations, and learn to complain in the proper ways to each forum.

YOU, MY FRIEND, ARE THE KEY TO YOUR OWN SUCCESS. Are you able to analyze the problem realistically, without too much emotion and ego? Are you able to free up enough time and mental energy from your day-to-day work for implementation of your various ideas? Are you passionate enough to devote serious time and money, day after day, week after week, year after year? Can you speak up confidently before your chosen forums for justice?

In the end, this makes the difference between winning and losing. This will determine your success in resolving private problems as well as public-interest issues.

Warm Regards,


98215 88114