Police Reforms – Priority ignored [Republished from Epilogue Press]

By | Blogging, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
In a recent case Dr.T.P.Senkumar (IPS)VS Union of India & Ors Hon’ble Supreme on 24th April 2017 observed:
…“Before detailing the controversy before us it is necessary to refer to the decision of this Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India and Ors. In that case, this Court dealt with the issue of police reforms in the context of the far-reaching changes that had taken place in the country after the enactment of the Indian Police Act, 1861. It was noted that no comprehensive review had been undertaken in this regard at the national level and therefore, the Government of India appointed a National Police Commission on 15th November 1977 which recommended significant police reforms. It was also noted that subsequently, there were other half a dozen reports on the same or similar subject but no substantive reforms were brought about.”
In the course of its judgment, this Court referred to a research paper titled the Police “Political and Administrative Manipulation of the Police”  published in 1979 by the Bureau of Police Research and Development. The research paper contained a caution to the effect that excessive control by the political executive and its principal advisers over the police had the inherent danger of making the police a tool for subverting the process of law, promoting the growth of authoritarianism and shaking the very foundations of democracy.
We may add that one of the findings in the research paper is “The present predicament of Police is that they have been exposed to a two-pronged pressure vertically from the Administration and laterally from the politicians.” With these two pressures, the independent functioning of the police can and sometimes does get compromised at the hands of very important persons and those claiming proximity to very important persons.”
The crux of the police reform is to secure professional independence for the police to function truly and efficiently as an impartial agent of the law of the land and, at the same time, to enable the Government to oversee the police performance to ensure its conformity to the law. A supervisory mechanism without scope for illegal, irregular or mala fide interference with police functions has to be devised. The commitment, devotion, and accountability of the police has to be only to the Rule of Law. The supervision and control has to be such that it ensures that the police serves the people without any regard, whatsoever, to the status and position of any person while investigating a crime or taking preventive measures. Its approach has to be service oriented, its role has to be defined so that in appropriate cases, where on account of acts of omission and commission of police, the Rule of Law becomes a casualty, the guilty Police Officers are brought to book and appropriate action taken without any delay.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE:
In 1774 Warren Hastings introduced, for the first time under the company’s rule, several measures of police reform. These were the first of the reforms culminating in Act V of 1861, which gave the police of Bengal a modern shape and structure the need for a common pattern of police organization and properly trained and disciplined body of men exclusively devoted to the prevention and detection of crime police system on a provisional basis were employed Inspector General as the head of the provincial police administration provinces were divided into districts who were controlled by the Superintendents of Police who heads of the police administration under the control of Magistrates. Further improvements, recommendations of the Police Commission of 1902-03 enhanced their scope. Indian Police Service took time to acquire the designation 1890s and later known as the Imperial branch of the colonial police service – officers of the Imperial service wore shoulder badges of their Provinces: e.g., “P.P.” for Punjab, “B.P” for Bengal.
In the year 1907 the Secretary of State in London directed officers to wear the “I.P.” epaulettes to distinguish from the Deputy Superintendents of Police new rank, which could be stated as the starting point for Indian Police Service after a span of another 10 years they officially came to be known as the Indian Police Service. Referred for the first time based on designation in the year 1917 Islington Commission Report. Further enhanced their powers. 1932  ‘Service’ dropped from designation as demanded by the Indian Police Association and simpler designation  “Indian Police” – again officially adopted – till independence. After independence Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the first Union Home Minister stated that no democratic government effectiveness would be ensured without a proper, well-organized, well-educated, well-disciplined, well-paid and independent civil service to carry out its will and to advice it on how to give its policies concrete and practical shape – saw the importance of organizing the civil services on all-India basis.  On October 10, 1949 Constituent Assembly wherein Sardar Patel emphasized the importance of having a ring of services to help the country remain intact under a Federal Constitution – “… the Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind…” And after that the Indian Police Service had born as an All India Service, which can be stated as the successor service to the I.P.
Post Independence  the Constitution of India became the fountain-head of power  and the sovereign power was distributed amongst the three organs of the govt, it becomes imperative to understand the governing principle i.e.,the doctrine of separation, In Ram Jawaya v state of Punjab case Hon’ble Supreme court observed that ‘‘The limits within which the executive Government can function under the Indian Constitution can be ascertained without much difficulty by reference to the form of the executive which our Constitution has set up. Our Constitution, though federal in its structure, is modelled on the British Parliamentary system where the executive is deemed to have the primary responsibility for the formulation of governmental policy and its transmission into law though the condition precedent to the exercise of this responsibility is its retaining the confidence of the legislative branch of the State. The executive function comprises both the determination of the policy as well as carrying it into execution. This evidently includes the initiation of legislation, the maintenance of order, the promotion of social and economic welfare, the direction of foreign policy, in fact the carrying on or supervision of the general administration of the State.
 In India, as in England, the executive has to act subject to the control of the legislature; but in what way is this control exercised by the legislature ? Under article 53(1) of our Constitution, the executive power of the Union is vested in the President but under article 75there is to be a Council of Minister with the Prime Minister at the head to aid advise the President in the exercise of his functions. The president has thus been made a formal or constitutional head of the executive and the real executive powers are vested in the Ministers or the Cabinet. The same provisions obtain in regard to the Government of States; the Governor or the Rajpramukh, as the case may be, occupies the position of the head of the executive in the State but it is virtually the council of Ministers in each State that carries on the executive Government. In the Indian Constitution, therefore, we have the same system of parliamentary executive as in England and the council of Ministers consisting, as it does, of the members of the legislature is, like the British Cabinet, “a hyphen which joins, a buckle which fastens the legislative part of the State to the executive part.” The Cabinet enjoying, as it does, a majority in the legislature concentrates in itself the virtual control of both legislative and executive functions; and as the Ministers constituting the Cabinet are presumably agreed on fundamentals and act on the principle of collective responsibility, the most important questions of policy are all formulated by them.’
Thus, Executive undoubtedly is the most powerful and influential organ of the Government.
Res extra commercium (“a thing outside commerce” is a doctrine originating in Roman law, holding that certain thing may not be the object of private rights, and are therefore insusceptible to being traded. ) is a doctrine introduced by Chief Justice Das of the Supreme Court of India in the 1957 case, State of Bombay v. R.M.D. Chamarbaugwala, which has the effect of constricting the scope of fundamental rights by rendering as constitutional outcasts certain purportedly “immoral” or “noxious” activities. It does this by blocking these activities from falling within the purview of the protection of fundamental rights.  it was the doctrine of “police powers” (the specific conception of the doctrine advanced by Justice Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court in Mugler v. Kansas), which lies behind Chief Justice Das’s invocation of res extra commercium. Curiously, however, the police power doctrine, now masquerading, as the doctrine of res extra commercium has come to be well ensconced in the constitutional law of India virtually unchallenged for over four decades now though it is incongruous with the scheme of the Indian Constitution.
Police power does not specifically refer to the right of state and local government to create police forces, although the police power does include that right. Police power is also used as the basis for enacting a variety of substantive laws in such areas zoning, land use, fire and building code, gambling, discrimination, parking, crime, licensing of professionals, liquor, motor vehicles, bicycles, nuisances, schooling, and sanitation.
Thus granting the Police ultimate authority and powers to lurge into every aspect of the life of the citizenry.
Obvious powers and tremendous avenues for ill-gotten money made law and order jobs hotly sought after posts. Politicians and people in power are the bestowers of these jobs on favourite few. The result is the desperate concours of police officials of all ranks to agrace politicians and people in power to corner right spots. And the situation leads to law and order functions losing the edge of fairness and objectivity in efforts to keep right people in right side. This is how law and order police become law for themselves or for their political masters against the raison d’etre of a law and order machinery. The situation breeds corruption and encourages partisan policing. Law and order duties being closely interlinked with the everyday life of the people, police on the duties come in contact with them everyday and present the image of the entire police force. The image, corruption, inefficiency, meekness before the mighty, insensitivity, arrogance and impunity to the hoi polloi, these are the cornerstones of the epinosic image, the law and order police spawned for the benefit of the Indian police.
People were forced to pursue illegal and unwholesome means in their dealings with the State and the police for survival. Laws as means of the state power became loathsome objects for the common man.
But as goes the famous quote of Willink The Police have by long tradition a duty to befriend anyone who needs help, and they may at any time be called upon to cope with major or minor emergencies.
According to a study by the Bureau of Police Research & Development, Government of India, 90% of the Police Staff currently work for more than 8 hours a day. 68% of Officers report that their staff works for more than 11 hours a day and 28% report that the staff works for more than 14 hours a day. Nearly half of them report that they are called 8-10 times a month during their off period. To move to a shift system, 68% addition to the current sanctioned strength is needed. India’s current Police to Population ratio is 145 personnel per one lakh population, much below the UN prescribed ratio of 222 personnel per one lakh population.
The study also suggested that invariably most of the functionaries, especially constable, head constable, SubInspectors and SHOs at the police stations, opined that they are asked to put in consistently 16 to 18 hours of duty on a continuous basis. They also reiterated that fatigue caused by long hours of duty is reflected in their general behaviour towards public, thus affecting their public relations. The majority of the functionaries at the police stations have pointed out that they are being denied the weekly off as well. This may, perhaps, be due to a shortage of manpower with reference to situations they have to deal with every day there is no provision of a reliever, which is a normal practice in any shift operation. Poor physical facilities in all most all the police stations are one of the major areas of concern, which is also resulting in a variety of perpetual behavioral consequences of police personnel.Even in those police stations, which are housed in pucca buildings, as some have to manage in tents as well, the facilities such as toilets and drinking water are of sub-standard. In many places,  many of the functionaries at the lower level do not have any office facilities. Even the furniture is inadequate and the stationery items were not provided to the police stations.
While some of the police stations have got housing facilities, these are not available to most of the police personnel. Inadequate housing facilities coupled with low compensation and insufficient House Rent Allowance forces them to hire houses at far away places, which create a serious commutation problem. During the Workshop, especially with the Constables and Head Constables, it was pointed out that the Department also takes advantage of such a situation by continuously putting them on long hours of duty. This affects their normal family life to a great extent and results in behavioural consequences. 6.4 Inadequate Growth Opportunities Majority of the police personnel joining at the Constable level either retire as Constable or Head Constable. Very few reach the level of Sub-inspector or Inspector, this has got serious repercussions on motivation level of police personnel and works as a hindrance factor in the discharge of their normal duties.
It is a fact that most of the police personnel are expected to perform a variety of duties pertaining to maintenance of law and order in different situations. Of late, deployment of police personnel on VIP security and bandobast duties especially in  Cities result in too frequent changes in the nature of duties which not only brings the constraint on them but also affect their normal discharge of duties at the police stations.
TRAINING- RELATED CONCERNS
Mismatch between Training and Job Responsibility During our interactions, time and again as well as our perception the present training approach is more militaristic in nature having less compatibility with the job responsibilities of the police personnel, particularly in the context of civic society. Also, it was pointed out that the present training especially in certain areas is far short and is unable to keep pace with the type and nature of modern crime taking place in the society. The existing curricula have not been able to effectively address these prime issues. For example, the use of the latest weapons in crime, computer related crime, financial crime and other white collared crimes are not adequately covered in the existing induction training.
The National Police Commission (NPC) was appointed by the Government of India in 1977 with wide terms of reference covering the police organisation, its role, functions, accountability, relations with the public, political interference in its work, misuse of powers, evaluation of its performance etc. This was the first Commission appointed at the national level after Independence. The Commission produced eight reports between 1979 and 1981, suggesting wide-ranging reforms in the existing police set-up.
  • In 1995, Prakash Singh, former DGP of Uttar Pradesh filed a PIL regarding police reforms in India.
  • This led to the government constituting a new committee under the chairmanship of Julio Ribeiro, and the Julio Ribeiro Committee was formed in 1998.
  • This was followed by further committees like Padmanabhaiah, Malimath committee, Soli Sorabjee Committee.
  • In 2006, since there were no movements in the direction of reforms, the Supreme Court made the police reforms a mandatory reform to be taken up by the central and state governments.
The Court put on record the deep-rooted problems of politicization, lack of accountability mechanisms and systemic weaknesses that have resulted in poor all round performance and fomented present public dissatisfaction with policing. The directives can be broadly divided into two categories: those seeking to achieve functional responsibility for the police and those seeking to enhance police accountability. The order states;
“…the following directions to the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories for compliance till framing of the appropriate legislations : State Security Commission (1) The State Governments are directed to constitute a State Security Commission in every State to ensure that the State Government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution of the country. This watchdog body shall be headed by the Chief Minister or Home Minister as Chairman and have the DGP of the State as its ex-officio Secretary. The other members of the Commission shall be chosen in such a manner that it is able to function independently of Government control. For this purpose, the State may choose any of the models recommended by the National Human Rights Commission, the Ribeiro Committee or the Sorabjee Committee, which are as under:
NHRC Ribeiro Committee Sorabjee Committee
  1. Chief Minister/HM as Chairman.
  2. Minister i/c Police as Chairman
  3. Minister i/c Police (ex- officio Chairperson.
  4. Lok Ayukta or, in his absence, a retired Judge of High Court to be nominated by Chief Justice or a Member of State Human Rights Commission.
  5. Leader of Opposition.
  6. Leader of Opposition.
  7. A sitting or retired Judge nominated by Chief Justice of High Court.
  8. Judge, sitting or retired, nominated by Chief Justice of High Court.
  9. Chief Secretary
  10. Chief Secretary
  11. Chief Secretary
  12. DGP (ex-officio Secretary)
  13. Leader of Opposition in Lower House.
  14. Three non-political citizens of proven merit and integrity.
  15. Five independent Members.
  16. DGP as ex-officio Secretary.
  17. DG Police as Secretary.
The recommendations of this Commission shall be binding on the State Government.
The functions of the State Security Commission would include laying down the broad policies and giving directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police, evaluation of the performance of the State police and preparing a report thereon for being placed before the State legislature. Selection and Minimum Tenure of DGP:
(2) The Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation. The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the State Government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties.
Minimum Tenure of I.G. of Police & other officers: (3) Police Officers on operational duties in the field, like the Inspector General of Police in-charge Zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge Range, Superintendent of Police in-charge District and Station House Officer in-charge of a Police Station shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years unless it is found necessary to remove them prematurely following disciplinary proceedings against them or their conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption or if the incumbent is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his responsibilities. This would be subject to promotion and retirement of the officer.
Separation of Investigation:
(4) The investigating police shall be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. It must, however, be ensured that there is full coordination between the two wings. The separation, to start with, may be effected in towns/urban areas which have a population of ten lakhs or more, and gradually extended to smaller towns/urban areas also. Police Establishment Board:
(5) There shall be a Police Establishment Board in each State which shall decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The Establishment Board shall be a departmental body comprising the Director General of Police and four other senior officers of the Department. The State Government may interfere with decision of the Board in exceptional cases only after recording its reasons for doing so. The Board shall also be authorized to make appropriate recommendations to the State Government regarding the posting and transfers of officers of and above the rank of Superintendent of Police, and the Government is expected to give due weight to these recommendations and shall normally accept it. It shall also function as a forum of appeal for disposing of representations from officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above regarding their promotion/transfer/disciplinary proceedings or their being subjected to illegal or irregular orders and generally reviewing the functioning of the police in the State.
Police Complaints Authority:
(6) There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, there should be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The district level Authority may be headed by a retired District Judge while the State level Authority may be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court/Supreme Court. The head of the State level Complaints Authority shall be chosen by the State Government out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice; the head of the district level Complaints Authority may also be chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice or a Judge of the High Court nominated by him. These Authorities may be assisted by three to five members depending upon the volume of complaints in different States/districts, and they shall be selected by the State Government from a panel prepared by the State Human Rights Commission/Lok Ayukta/State Public Service Commission. The panel may include members from amongst retired civil servants, police officers or officers from any other department, or from the civil society. They would work whole time for the Authority and would have to be suitably remunerated for the services rendered by them. The Authority may also need the services of regular staff to conduct field inquiries. For this purpose, they may utilize the services of retired investigators from the CID, Intelligence, Vigilance or any other organization. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel, which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody. The district level Complaints Authority would, apart from above cases, may also inquire into allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority. The recommendations of the Complaints Authority, both at the district and State levels, for any action, departmental or criminal, against a delinquent police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority. National Security Commission:
(7) The Central Government shall also set up a National Security Commission at the Union level to prepare a panel for being placed before the appropriate Appointing Authority, for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO), who should also be given a minimum tenure of two years. The Commission would also review from time to time measures to upgrade the effectiveness of these forces, improve the service conditions of its personnel, ensure that there is proper coordination between them and that the forces are generally utilized for the purposes they were raised and make recommendations in that behalf. The National Security Commission could be headed by the Union Home Minister and comprise heads of the CPOs and a couple of security experts as members with the Union Home Secretary as its Secretary.”
As per Seventh Schedule, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Constitution, and as such the primary responsibility of prevention, detection, registration, investigation, and prosecution of crimes, including the reforms lies with the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. But Supreme Court in its directives have already addressed that issue, which can form the baseline or the necessary skeletal but as David H. Bayley points out in “Democratizing the Police Abroad: What to Do and How to Do it” there are four general principles that ought to be used to establish a democratic police force. These four principals are (quote):
  1. Police must give top operational priority to servicing the needs of individual citizens and private groups
  2. Police must be accountable to the law rather than to the government
  3. Police must protect human rights, especially those that are required for the sort of unfettered political activity that is the hallmark of democracy
  4. Police should be transparent in their activities. This has been a problem that institutional design alone cannot deal with effectively. The Police system reflects the criminal justice system in any country and so it is essential that this agency of the State can deliver to the best of its potential so that it can fulfill the purpose of its formation. In conclusion, we contend that it is a right time for the policy makers to take any strong step for Police reforms in India.
For understanding the urgency of bringing forth the necessary reforms in Police and Policing it is imperative to understand the purposes of Policing and the relationship between Policing and Government.As Cohen and Feldberg put it: “Police work is a form of Public Science…in a modern society, providing police service is a fundamental duty of Government…the moral basis of Police work can be found in the moral basis of Government itself.”
If we analyse there are four broader dimensions of the relationship which are an essential part of any consideration of the formal mission of Policing.
  1. POLICING AND THE SOCIAL CONTRACT:
Many authors have seen the morality of policing springing from the lockean concept of the social contract. Locke contrasted the state of nature with that of state of civil society. In the former ,whilst man was free from the constraints of Government, he was also at the mercy of others and beset by such inconveniences as would prompt any rational being to choose the latter. In the civil society ,a legislature, a judiciary and an executive supplement the law of nature. The individual consents to these three as long as they protect life, liberty and property. The executive in particular must only restrict the individual’s liberty as far as is absolutely necessary to secure those rights for all. The three key, inter related concepts that remain highly relevant are those of contract, consent and balance, particularly the balance between state power and  freedom. Good policing, in this dimension ,is carefully controlled and respectful of rights.
  1. POLICING AND THE OPEN SOCIETY:
Locke’s ideas have been crucial in liberal ideas and government. So are the ideas of Karl Poppers in underlining social democratic thinking. Popper advocated an “open society” which is pluralistic and within which incompatible views are expressed and conflicting aims pursued, in which everyone is free to propose solutions to problems and governments are open to criticism and to change in the light of criticism. From popper one can draw three significant principles: beneficial intervention; problem solving, with an implied reliance on evidence based methods; and tolerance. Good policing involves using evidence to intervene and solve problems, but doing so in a way that is tolerant and unintrusive.
  1. POLICING AND SOCIAL CONTROL:
As Reiner puts it ,which provides a limited view of policing, as ‘an aspect of social control processes involving surveillance and sanctions intended to ensure the security of the social order’. Role of Policing is, therefore, an essentially conservative one. This view emphasizes the fact that the policing is not the exclusive province of the police, but a much broader concept embracing individual, collective, private and state policing. Good Policing is therefore, minimal policing-minimally intrusive and carefully controlled in its use of force. Policing has clear moral overtones embedded in the idea of good policing meaning balanced and diverse policing.
  1. POLICING, DEMOCRACY AND THE CITIZEN:
The dimension which is critical for defining policing is the relationship between police and citizen. This relationship is the cornerstone of democracy. In the totalitarian states of former Soviet eastern bloc, the prime purpose of the police was to protect the government from the population. In modern democracy the police are both the symbolic of the state’s authority and responsible for protecting individual and collective freedoms and the principles of equity; appropriate service delivery; responsiveness; distributed power; openness of information; redress; participation are the guiding forces.
These four dimensions are rather like the faces of a prism. Each provides a view and the importance of the relationship of policing and the state to ensure that the rights and freedoms of citizens guaranteed by the constitution are upheld.
Would like to conclude with the words of Prakash Singh IPS (Retd.), Person who is fighting for the cause, The state and central police forces are bearing the brunt of insurgents’ onslaught. It is essential therefore that the police have the resources, the capability and the motivation to deal with these challenges. Unfortunately, however, the state police are in shambles. They are saddled with a colonial structure and are completely under the thumb of the executive. The political directions have to be carried out, right or wrong, lawful or unlawful. Transfers have become an industry. Discipline has taken a nose-dive. Morale has touched the nadir. The institution has degenerated into an instrument at the disposal of the political masters to further their agenda. As David Bayley said, “The rule of law in modern India, the frame upon which justice hangs, has been undermined by the rule of politics”.

Article originally published HERE

20 years on, revisiting the Uphaar Tragedy – How the System failed its people

By | Conflict Chronicles, Featured, INTERVIEWS., Uphaar Fire Tragedy | No Comments
(Prakash Singh/ Hindustan Times File photo)
The Uphaar cinema tragedy that took place on June 13, 1997, claiming the lives of 59 people and injuring over 100 was one of the worst fire incidents in Indian history. The incident that took place in the midst of the matinee show screening of ‘Border’ has also gone down the annals of legal history in the country as being the cause behind the filing of the landmark civil compensation case by the families of the victims through their organization, AVUT (Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy). 
In this exclusive interview, Sourya speaks to the President of AVUT, Mrs. Neelam Krishnamoorthy, whose 17-year-old daughter Unnati and 13-year-old son, Ujjwal, were also among the victims of the incident. 


Sourya (S): Please paint a word picture for us of the fateful day of 13th June 1997 and how tragedy broke out.


Ms. Neelam Krishnamoorthy (NK): It was the month of June 1997, vacation time for the children. On Friday the 13th June, Unnati and Ujjwal planned to go watch a movie. They were very excited about watching the much-awaited and controversial new movie “Border”. The tragic day started off normally. Unnati asked me to book tickets for the matinee show of Border on the day it hit theaters. The four of us had lunch together. Naturally, none of us knew or imagined that it would be the last meal we would have together as a family. After lunch Unnati planted a loving kiss on my cheek; I forgot to wipe off the mark her lipstick left on my skin. I had no clue that this would the last time Unnati would ever kiss me. Soon we also left for work. After work, we went to look up my brother –in – law who was admitted to the hospital. I gave a call at around 7.30 pm, to check if the kids had reached home, but there was no response.We rushed home, to check if the kids had returned, but they had, not. The house was in darkness and I quickly went to my puja room and lit a lamp and prayed to god asking for the well-being of our children. I tried calling up Uphaar Cinema but could not get through to their number. I also tried AIIMS but the number did not get through. Just then one of Unnati’s friend called us and inquired about her. When I told him about our predicament, he informed us about the fire in the Uphaar cinema. We rushed to Uphaar cinema and on the way informed all our friends about the fire. Throughout the way we were praying for the well-being of Unnati & Ujjwal. We could not enter the Uphaar cinema as the entire area was cordoned off and we were asked to check at AIIMS or Safdarjung hospital. On reaching AIIMS neither we could locate our children nor were their names in the list of injured. We were taken to the OPD where we saw the bodies of Unnati & Ujjwal lying on a stretcher. Our lives came to a dreadful standstill. This nightmarish turn of events destroyed us completely and changed our lives forever. 


The fire had originated from the Delhi Vidyut Board transformer at 4.55 pm, which was located in the parking area of the cinema complex on the ground floor. The “B” phase cable detached from the bus bar and fell on the fin of the transformer as result the oil from the fins leaked and caught fire. The fire came in contact with a car parked illegally right in front of the transformer room. The fire spread to the other cars parked in the area. The smoke entered the hall due to chimney effect through the staircase and air-conditioning ducts. Soon the cinema hall turned into a gas chamber.

The 750 patrons sitting on the first floor of the auditorium escaped immediately thanks to the properly spaced exits. The staff in the basement and the tenants on the ground floor, those closest to the fire, along with those in the third and fourth floor, all escaped.

As smoke and carbon monoxide engulfed the balcony, the patrons began to suffocate and there was complete pandemonium. Despite the fact that a fire had broken out, the projector operator was not instructed to stop the film; neither were the patrons informed of the accident nor were they given instructions on how to leave the auditorium and the balcony. When the electricity failed completely it became even more difficult for those in the balcony to make their way out. 302 patrons in the balcony were trapped due to non-availability of gangway and exit. 


The gangway was blocked to accommodate additional 52 seats in violation of the statutes to make extra profit. The exit gate on the right side was blocked by erecting an eight seater private viewing box for the comfort of Ansal’s family. The basic fire safety provisions such as exit light, foot lights, emergency lights and public address system were non-functional. The cinema management abandoned the patrons and ran out of the cinema hall. 59 people were asphyxiated to death due to carbon monoxide poisoning and, over 103 were grievously injured.


(S): When did you decide to, gather all other victims and their relatives and form the Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy (AVUT)

(NK): After performing the thirteenth day rituals for our children, Shekhar and I went through each and every paper that came out on 14 June, and then every single day after that, to try and figure out what exactly happened. As per the newspaper reports the deaths occurred only in the balcony due to violations and deviations of the statutes. Additional seats in the balcony were accommodated by the management by blocking the gangway and exits. We decided to take legal recourse. We were advised by a good friend to seek a legal opinion from senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi. Mr Tulsi had strong views on those who seemed responsible for the tragedy. He told us that since the Ansals were part of the powerful builder lobby, we should fight this legal battle collectively. He suggested that we contact other affected families and form an association.

We did not know any of them personally. We took the initiative and contacted members of the victims’ families. Some were downright dismissive of our efforts, but a few of them listened to us very patiently. Ultimately, nine families responded positively to us and we proposed a meeting. The Association was formed on 30th June 1997 . AVUT was born out of terrible rage and endless grief.

(S): There were charges against the family of the accused, of trying to cover up the matter during the initial investigation. How reliable had you found the initial investigation conducted by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police? Was the Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy’ (AVUT) relieved when the investigation was handed over to the CBI instead? 


(NK): The initial investigation into the Uphaar Cinema fire was handled by the Hauz Khas Police Station. The First Information Report (FIR) was lodged on the basis of a complaint made by the security guard of the hall. The Delhi Police lodged the FIR under section 304 (II), i.e. culpable homicide not amounting to murder with a punishment of up to ten years in prison. Considering the gravity of the incident, the investigation was then transferred to the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police. Initially, the investigation conducted by the Crime Branch seemed to be reliable. After almost over a month Sushil Ansal and his son Pranav Ansal were arrested from Mumbai on 22nd July 1997, but however, Gopal Ansal was absconding. We were assured by the Crime Branch that they would file the charge Sheet by August 1997. The Association was satisfied with the progress of the investigation that was being conducted by the Crime Branch, Delhi Police. But, to our utter shock and disbelief, the Government of India took a suo moto decision to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 23 July. AVUT never made any representation to the Government to transfer the investigation to the CBI. 
It was our belief that this was done with the motive of delaying the filing of the charge sheet and, in the process, making it possible for the accused to seek and obtain bail. Our apprehensions were proved right when CBI filed the charge sheet on 15th November 1997, charging Sushil & Gopal under a lesser offense i.e 304 (A) death caused due to rash and negligent Act, contrary to what Delhi Police had charged them.



(S): The Prosecution, the Judiciary or the CBI – who among these would you blame for the unreasonable delay caused in this case despite, in your instance, the Delhi High Court rapping the lower court for the slow proceedings in the case.

(NK): I would blame the defense counsels who sought frequent adjournments and moved frivolous application which delayed the proceedings considerably. The courts too accommodated the defense counsels by giving frequent adjournments sought by the defense counsels. Since I was present in the court for each and every hearing, I ensured that the Prosecuting agency does not delay the proceedings by seeking adjournments.
AVUT had to approach the High Court thrice during the trial to expedite the proceedings. But for the intervention of the higher court the case would have been still in the session court.


(S): What was your reaction when you heard that the initially Delhi High Court had granted compensation of 18 crores? At that moment did you have hope that the Justice would ultimately be served and the accused sent to jail for a long time?


(NK): After going through the judgment pronounced by the Delhi High Court on 24 April 2003 wherein the court held that the fire had originated at the DVB transformer due to negligence in its maintenance. The fire would not have been so tragic had the cars not been parked right outside the transformer room and the exits not blocked to create a private box for the owners. The court also observed that had exits been located on both sides of the balcony, precious lives might have been saved as the patrons could have made their way outside the theater quickly. The licensee (the owners) had committed statutory violations in order to obtain illegal profits. The licensing departments of the Delhi Police, Delhi Vidyut Board and Municipal Corporation of Delhi were all found guilty of contributory negligence due to their apathy and indifference to the critical matter of public safety. After such detailed and comprehensive judgment, we were hopeful that in the criminal case Ansals would be convicted and would be incarcerated for a long time.

(S): What was your reaction when on 19th August 2015 the Supreme Court let off the Ansals directing them to pay Rs 60 crore for a trauma center and the subsequent order in the review filed by AVUT & CBI?

(NK): The Ansals were convicted on the 5th March 2014, the bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court differed on the quantum of sentence after concurring on their guilt under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code for negligent acts.The bench referred determination of sentence to a three-judge bench.

The matter was listed after seventeen months that too after AVUT & CBI had moved applications for early hearing. The matter was finally listed on 19th August 2015.

The SC verdict of 19th August 2015 left me distraught and disappointed. The Judgement was pronounced without giving the Petitioner or the Special Public Prosecutor any chance of meaningful and effective hearing. We were appalled when the judges pronounced the operative portion of the verdict, sentencing the Ansals to the period undergone and directed them to pay Rs 60 Crore to the Delhi Government for a Trauma Centre in lieu of a sentence.

Aggrieved by the judgment a review petition was filed by both CBI &AVUT since it suffered from serious errors which were apparent on the face of the record. The review petition was heard in an open court on 14th December 2016 and the judgment was pronounced on 9th February 2017. The court sentenced Gopal Ansal to one-year imprisonment; however, Sushil Ansal was allowed to walk free. His sentence of imprisonment was reduced to the period undergone.The court also held that there is no provision under the IPC for substitution of the sentence by fine. Hence Sushil & Gopal Ansal were sentenced to a fine of Rs 30 Crore each for a Trauma Centre.
With this judgment, the message was loud and clear that the law of the land is not the same for the rich and powerful. I realized that I had made a mistake of going to the courts to seek justice for my children. I should have rather shot those responsible for the death of my children. By now I would have finished serving the sentence as well. Such a judgment will only embolden the owners of public spaces to violate safety rules and compromise on safety, with no thought of endangering human lives.


(S): What according to you, would be been Justice?


(NK): Looking at the gravity of the offense the Ansals should have been convicted u/s 304 (II) IPC (Culpable homicide not amounting to murder). But since they were convicted u/s 304 (A) (Rash and Negligent Act) the Supreme Court should have given maximum sentence of 2 years to send a strong message to the society.


(S): Despite the system failing you, do you have hope that the evidence tampering case pending against the accused might bring about some redemption?

(NK): The conviction in the evidence tampering case will bring some redemption unless the same magnanimity is shown to Ansals as in the main Uphaar Case taking their age into consideration. After all, they are growing older and not younger anymore.

(S): Throughout the last 20 years you have faced some of the worst’s sides of litigation and judiciary in the capital. You have also faced a lot of trauma, harassment, and hardships from the Counsels of the accused. In the opinion of a citizen and a victim, do you belief that lawyers have any moral right to consider themselves to be a part of a “noble profession”.
(NK): The behavior and the attitude of the defence lawyers representing the Ansals has been a cause of great pain and agony for us. While we hold no malice towards them for representing the Ansals, and we also understand their professional commitment towards their clients, we cannot forgive them for the personal attacks they made against us repeatedly. 

Lawyers are expected to be the guardians of rule and law. They are the officers of the court and hence, cannot play its spoilers. It does not behoove members of the bar to glorify themselves over hapless victims and litigants who are constrained to visit the court on the dates of hearing, hoping for justice.


The entire legal fraternity cannot be painted with the same brush though. We have also come across some deeply committed lawyers who have shown immense conviction in the case and have stood by our side in this epic battle for justice.

(S): You, along with your husband, wrote a book “Trial By Fire” detailing your experiences during the trial. Did somewhere, the process of writing the book, lessen the pain and the burden?

(NK): The process of writing “ Trial By Fire” was challenging. We had to come out of our comfort zone to narrate the personal tragedy we had undergone. It neither lessened the pain nor the burden. 


(S): Beyond this case has AVUT gone beyond into policy making sphere to make sure such a horrible incident never happens again. Could you please tell us about that.

(NK): We at AVUT could not comprehend how man-made disasters could be treated merely as a rash and negligent act. Hence we made a representation to the government to bring about a new law to deal with man-made disasters. AVUT presented the petition for a proposed legislation to prevent man-made tragedies in public places to the then President, Pratibha Patil, the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, Sonia Gandhi, and the then law minister, Veerappa Moily. In 2009, the law ministry forwarded our petition to the Law Commission, directing it to come out with a law to deal with such disasters on a priority basis. We had several meetings with the chairman of the Law Commission and gave him many inputs, illustrating how such cases were dealt with in other countries. In 2012, the Law Commission published a consultation paper dealing with man-made disasters, which we are sure is collecting dust in an obscure corner of the ministry.Maybe the Government will bring in a law when a VVIP’s kith & kin are victims of such a man-made disaster.
(S): Does AVUT have plans to file a curative petition against the discharge of one of the accused? And what action is AVUT planning to take to counter the mercy petition filed before the President for the other accused? 
(NK): Yes, AVUT would be filing the curative petition at the appropriate time. As regards mercy petition filed by Gopal Ansal, the same was forwarded by the MHA to Lt. Governor and the Delhi Government for their opinion. AVUT gave representation to both Lt Governor and the Chief Minister not to consider the mercy plea filed by Gopal Ansal since using discretionary powers to provide mercy for the rich and powerful is sure to send a wrong signal to other wrongdoers who will doubtless be emboldened by any mercy shown. Hence, we requested to reject the blatantly undeserving mercy plea filed by a convicted mass murderer.


The Lieutenant Governor and the Delhi Government have given their recommendation to reject the mercy petition.




[From Arguendo: We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Advocate Kinnori Ghosh for coordinating this interview and making the same possible.]

Supreme Court Division Bench Refuses to Grant Stay On Government Notifications Mandating Aadhaar For Social Schemes

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate | 2 Comments
The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the government notifications that make it mandatory to furnish Aadhaar cards from July 1 to avail social security benefits, including availing scholarships, right to food and mid-day meals.


[Read more about Aadhaar being made compulsory for TB-related welfare schemes HERE]

A vacation Bench of Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and Navin Sinha declined to pass any interim order till the Center filed its response through Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who also contended that the cut-off date for those who do not possess the Aadhaar card has been extended till September 30, by virtue of Office Memorandum dated 22nd June 2017 and hence no interim measures need be passed till the Center had filed its reply. 
The Court stated that “In view of this submission and the observations found in the judgment in the case of Binoy Viswam vs. Union of India and Others [Writ Petition (C) No.247 of 2017] decided on 9th June 2017, no further observation is required.”

In the case of Binoy Viswam vs the Union of India, the Hon’ble Court had held that does without Aadhaar could not be forced to get Aadhaar till the Aadhaar Act withstood the test of Constitutionality under Article 21 in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) And Anr. vs Union of India and Others [WP (c) 494 of 2012.]
The matter has been listed again for the 7th of July, 2017.
Read the Supreme Court Order dated 27/06/2017 HERE

International Patent Drafting Competition (IPDC) – 2017 – Organized by IIPRD and Khurana and Khurana Advocates and IP Attorney

By | Competitions, Drafting, IPR, Patents | No Comments

IIPRD, along with Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys (K&K) and its foreign associate, noted the United States based Law firm, Sughrue Mion, is organizing their Third International Patent Drafting Competition (IPDC) as an earnest initiative with a sincere objective of spreading awareness of patent drafting as a skill across technology domains, and for helping practitioners, colleagues, and stakeholders understand various intricacies of patent drafting as a skill and learn from each other as to nitty-gritties involved therein.
IPDC is a new Initiative by IIPRD and its prestigious Indian and Foreign Associates to bring about greater awareness and respect for Intellectual Property (IP) Issues, particularly Patents, which have, over time, become more relevant to the Indian Ecosystem than ever.

Why IPDC?
With rising Patent Litigation in India, quality of patents and the scope provided thereby is a crucial aspect that is evaluated/scrutinised by the Courts/Appellate Boards. Furthermore, gone are the times when Indian Companies, Universities, and Individuals were only looking forward to creating Defensive Patent Portfolios in India, whereas they are now looking towards the aggressive portfolio with sustainable commercial value. More and more PCT and Convention Applications are being filed each month/year by Indian Applicants with around 30 Indian Priority Taking PCT Applications being published each week. Most of these patents are filed with an objective of either Licensing, or Enforcement, or In-House Commercialization, and hence the quality of patent drafting including claim drafting, the scope of protection accorded, a variety of embodiments presented, support in the specification, limitations provided, among other aspects are crucial to Patent Applications.

This initiative of IPDC comes with an earnest effort by IIPRD and its associates and leading sister Law Firm Khurana & Khurana, IP Attorneys (K&K) to promote development of Patent Drafting as a Skill Set and encourage more and more technical people to take up Patent Drafting as a Professional Competency, along with identifying and encouraging Top Patent Drafters.


How do you take part in IPDC?

Step 1: On 1st August 2017, IIPRD and K&K, on their websites (www.iiprd.com and www.khuranaandkhurana.com), would put forth Three Invention Disclosures (describing three Inventions), one each in the domain of Electronics/ Hi-Tech, Mechanical, and Chemistry/Pharmaceuticals. The Competition would be active till 20th August 2017, within which timeframe, participants would need to write Complete Patent Applications/Specifications (along with Drawings, if any) .

Step 2: Drafted Patent Application can be sent to Competition@iiprd.com or can be sent in Hard Copy to IIPRD’s, Greater Noida Office. In either way, drafted patent applications should be received by IIPRD on or before 20th August 2017.

Step 3: In order to enable serious participants to submit their specification, a small Participation Fees of INR 1000 (USD 50) is to be submitted by each participant, which can either be paid by means of Bank Transfer or though a DD or a Cheque in favor of “IIPRD”. The Draft should reach IIPRD’s Office by 20th August 2017.


Winners Declaration & Prize Amount:

On 1st September 2017, two winners for each technology domain would be announced on the websites of IIPRD and K&K. 

On around 28th September 2017 (exact date to be confirmed later), during the 3-Days International Pharmaceutical Patent Conference being organized by IIPRD at Hotel Hilton (Andheri East) Mumbai, prize distribution of the winners would take place from 1700 hrs to 1800 hrs, wherein the first winner for technology domain would be given a price of Rupees One Lakh Only (INR 100000) or USD 2000, and the second winner for each technology domain would be given a prize of Rupees Fifty Thousand Only (INR 50000) or USD 1000.


Eligibility Criteria:


Any Practitioner having a Technical/Science Background is eligible to Participate in the Competition. For instance, the Participant could be a student, a practicing Attorney, an in-house counsel, a scientist, a faculty, or any other stakeholder having a technical qualification.

Important Dates:
Invention Disclosures on IIPRD/K&K Websites 
(www.iiprd.com, www.khuranaandkhurana.com): 1st August 2017

Submission of patent drafts along with participation fees 
(by Bank Transfer/DD/Cheque): 20th August 2017
Announcement of Winners: 1st September 2017
Prize/Certificate Distribution: 28th September 2017(to be confirmed soon


Contact Details:

For any query/question, please feel free to write to competition@iiprd.com, and/or call 0120-4296878/2342010 and speak with Mr. R. Srinivas.

Download Competition Brochure Here

Aadhaar Now Compulsory To Claim Benefits For TB Cure Under RNTCP Scheme

By | Aadhaar; Right to Privacy, Newsupdate | One Comment



Despite the fact that the question of the Constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 itself, is pending before a Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Justice K.S.Puttaswamy(Retd) & Anr vs the Union Of India and Ors, and the latest the Order of the Supreme Court in Binoy Vishwam vs Union of India declaring that people without Aadhaar cannot be made to get Aadhaar and link it with PAN till the validity of Aadhaar itself is decided, the Central Government has brazenly gone ahead  declared Aadhaar mandatory not only for for Financial Transactions over Rs. 50,000/- , but now also mandatory for prevailing benefits under the RNTCP Scheme.

Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) (sometimes known as RNTCP 1) was started in 1997. The RNTCP was then expanded across India until the entire nation was covered by the RNTCP in March 2006. At that time the RNTCP also became known as RNTCP II. RNTCP II was designed to consolidate the gains achieved in RNTCP I, and to initiate services to address TB/HIV, MDR-TB and to extend RNTCP to the private sector. RNTCP uses the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) strategy and reaches over a billion people in 632 districts/reporting units. 

As per the National Strategic Plan 2012–17, the program has a vision of achieving a “TB-free India”, and aims to achieve Universal Access to TB control services.The program provides, various free of cost, quality tuberculosis diagnosis, and treatment services across the country through the government health system.
The Gazette notification makes Aadhaar compulsory for benefits including compulsory cash assistance, free medical aid etc. It is important to note here that the well endowed can practically afford TB medicines, but those who are genuinely poor and suffering cannot afford the medicines and absolutely need the benefit of the scheme. As such the scheme cannot be made conditional to registration under an Act (Aadhaar) whose very locus is under challenge. 


Apart from this, on the basis of flawed understanding of the Lokniti Foundation judgment, the Government has already started forcing people to link their Aadhaar with their mobile numbers. 

First, they try to get people to link Aadhaar to PAN via a Money Bill and are stopped by the Supreme Court and now they go full steam ahead despite the matter being sub judice. The only explanation to this can be that the Government intends to put us in a scenario where Aadhaar has already been made 100% enforced, thus making any possible negative judgment against Aadhaar in the case of KS Puttaswamy redundant.


List of resources to read with respect to problems with Aadhaar here, here, and here

Narmada Bachao Andolan – The tale of non-existing Compensation, Rehabilitation, and lives of 40,000 Families

By | Campaigns; Public Awareness; Your Voice, Conflict Chronicles, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Newsupdate, YOUR VOICE | No Comments

Via a Press Release dated 17th June 2017, the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has cleared the final raising of Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) in Gujarat by lowering of gates and impounding of water in the reservoir upto its Full Reservoir Level (FRL) of EL 138.68 mts. The NCA which under the Chairmanship of Dr. Amarjit Singh, Secretary (WR, RD & GR) considered all aspects of environmental and Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) issues.

Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar Sarovar dam on the River Narmada was laid the Gujarat government got permission from the Centre to shut its gates. While 30 gates of the dam have been closed, it will open the gates of misery for more than 100,000 people, whose houses and land are likely to get submerged.


Besides the statement issued by noted activist Medha Patkar (viewed above) Narmada Bachao Andolan also issued a statement on 17th June. 2017 stating that;
“The level of falsehood involved in the decision taken by NCA on the closure of Sardar Sarovar gates is unprecedented.” Even the media has been spreading such lies about resettlement of Narmada affected families, even the the government cannot claim this: “A total of 46,840 PAFs have been resettled in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.”


On the 19th June 2017, supporters of Narmada Bachao Andolan laid siege to the entrance of Ministry of Water Resources protesting against the undemocratic and unjust decision of Narmada Control Authority to close the gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, in its June 16th meeting. The decision paved the way for imminent submergence of 192 villages and one township of Madhya Pradesh this monsoon season when the full reservoir level will be achieved. 

In past two months, despite many assurances from NCA, NVDA and govt. officials, including citing the Supreme Court order of February 2017, the decision had been taken without verifying actual ground conditions in Madhya Pradesh. The Andolan supporters strongly pointed out that the claims of the almost complete disbursement of the compensation, as per SC judgment, is not at all true since a number of applications are still pending infront of the Grievance Redressal Authority in Madhya Pradesh. 
In these matters, the claims of the project affected families for disbursement of the appropriate amount for the land lost hasn’t been settled yet. It also needs to be noted that those who have received cash compensation, are yet to receive their due R&R entitlements for the loss of their houses and other common facilities, simply because 88 R&R sites in Madhya Pradesh are not complete. In such a situation, it is impossible for nearly, 40,000 families to move to these sites, which lack even most of the basic facilities, including drinking water.

Graphic: Raj Kumar Singh


The Supreme Court order while bringing down curtains on the legal battle had brought relief to the 2,039 displaced families. However, those facing displacement to allow the dam to function at its full capacity say they have nowhere to go


Down To Earth, an on the ground organization which has spoken to many locals shared a grim picture of those trapped on the ground with no place to go. 

“In 2003, I was given Rs 40,000 and a plot on the floodplains of the Khooj rivulet ( a tributary of the Narmada) in compensation,” one Iqbal Reyaz from Dharampuri, who works as a daily-wage labourer, told DownToEarth. Five years ago, Reyaz decided to relocate to the rehabilitation colony, aptly named Dharampuri Basahat, literally Dharampuri resettled. He was the first one to build a house there. But it got submerged the very next year, during the floods of 2013. “No one compensated me for the loss of the new house, and I had to return to my old house,” Reyaz stated. “I was a fool to go there. Since the colony is in the floodplains, no one from my town dares to shift there,”.


But going by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award guidelines, the authorities should also provide a primary school for every 100 families, a drinking water well for every 50 families, a seed store for every 500 families, before initiating the eviction process. Barely a month left to meet the apex Court’s deadline, it is unlikely that the requirements would be met. 

The South Asian Network on Dams, Network, and People wrote a detailed article questioning the legality of the lower of the gates of the Dam. 

[Story to be updated. Last updated 20/06/17]

Interview with Team Periferry-Providers Of Equal Employment Opportunities To Transgenders

By | Featured, INTERVIEWS. | No Comments
PeriFerry is an equal opportunity job consultants for Trans person; that is PeriFerry provide alternative job solutions for them. Accessing the untapped talent pool, and bridging the gap between an inclusive employer and a deserving candidate is their forte. 



Sourya (S): How do you generally introduce yourself? Social activists? Entrepreneurs? Crusaders?
Neelam (N): “Social Entrepreneurs”
(S): What is the story behind the name PeriFerry?
(N): The name actually comes from the word “Periphery” which means the edge. We thought that was a word we could relate to the people who are living their lives on the edge – and how we could, as facilitators, probably act as a ferry and help them get to their desired destinations.
(S): How did this idea germinate?
(N): Doing something for the Trans* community has been on my mind for a long time, ever since college days. Mainly because I’d never really hesitated talking to them whether it was in Trains or beach or anywhere else and I really understood their stories. So during my stint at Goldman Sachs, I had to come up with an idea for an initiative which would have a social impact as part of an internal competition. I came up with the idea of an inclusive workplace focusing on the transgender community. My team in Bangalore and I happened to develop this project along with Solidarity Foundation. Eventually, I realized I was passionate about this cause and so quit my job to start working on this idea.

(S): Neelam, was your family open to the idea of your quitting your job at Goldman Sachs for this? 
(N): I am where I am only because of my family. My parents have taught me from a very young age to take my own decisions and also have, in the process, made me strong enough to face the brunt of bad decision making. That’s the only reason I could take such a big step and never regret it. I also have two older siblings, sister, and brother who are also particularly supportive of the things I do. 
(S): Do you think most workplaces can be considered safe and/or equipped for transgenders?
Nanditha (Na): It differs from one workplace to another, to be honest. Fortunately, quite a lot of companies seem to focus on diversity and inclusion these days, which means they are more welcoming towards the third gender. However, not a lot of them are equipped to have them in their offices, when it comes to having inclusive facilities. We are trying to meet these needs through our sensitization workshops.

(S): Have you ever faced trouble convincing potential employers to give transgender/transsexual citizens a fair chance of employment?  

(Na): Yes, most of them think of hiring Trans* community only as a societal initiative so dismiss us thinking we are trying to sell something out of sympathy. What they don’t realize is that they’re equally or more skilled and sometimes possess great education qualifications as well. They can help a team become much more diverse and also bring new perspective and viewpoints in a team. We have to make them look at the business objectives when they hire them.


(S): How does PeriFerry sensitize a workspace to make sure it is easier for the employee to fit in?

(Na): We take on a two-fold approach for this. One is to ensure the employee is given personalized training for him/her to fit in a corporate environment through skills development and training. The other is to sensitize the existing employees in a workplace to ensure they know how to be inclusive through their communication, the facilities they offer and the benefits they extend to the third gender.


(S): Does PeriFerry periodically follow up with both employees and employers? 

(Na): Yes, we have the policy to follow up consistently until the first six months of placement to make sure things are going smooth. Also, take feedback through the lifetime of the placement. 

(S): What would you consider to be the proudest/defining moment of PeriFerry yet?

(Na): Well, naturally when we made our first placement. Our candidate had struggled for a really long time in getting a job despite having good education qualification. She had gone door-to-door at different companies all rejecting her only because she was a trans-woman. And seeing someone as deserving as her get an opportunity through PeriFerry made it worth the effort. 

(S): Where do you see PeriFerry in a year? 

Team: We ourselves covering all the major cities in India, in terms of employment opportunities. Also, our objective is to see a less transphobic and homophobic society through our awareness programs. 


(S): Have companies been generally receptive to transgender/transsexual employees?

(Na): Definitely! In fact, the team was overwhelmed by the response we received from them after we launched. We had so many employers reaching out to us expressing interest in collaborating with us or even to just appreciate us for our initiative. It was indeed heartening.

(S): In case there is a potential employer reading this, could you briefly describe the process via which someone could employ a transgender through PeriFerry?

(Na): We would request them to fill out a form on our website www.periferry.com We would then reach out to them, understand their requirements or profile they are hiring for and put them in touch with a client who would be suitable for the role. In the meantime, the team would conduct sensitization workshops in their company. If our client gets placed in that company, we would ensure we follow up with the employee and the employer as well till the client settles down in the workplace.

MP, Gujarat Police Stop Narmada Bachao Andolan – Protesters Arrested.

By | Conflict Chronicles, Newsupdate | No Comments
On the 3rd day of the ‘Rally For The Valley’, which is a campaign of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, leaders of the rally, Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Soumya Datta, Dr. Sunilam, Jasbir Singh (All India Kisan Sabha, MP), Nita Mahadev (a noted Gandhian, Gujarat) along with hundreds of protestors have been detained at Kavta check post, kavta village of Chhota Udaipur district.

Police check post at Katva Village

As per reports, the rally was going to visit the Jeevanshala (a school run by Narmada Navnirmaan Abhiyan) of Chimalkhedi, Maharashtra when police officials stopped them from crossing the Gujarat border. The police officials failed to produce any written order. Even the vehicles with Gujarat number plate and local buses were stopped from crossing the border.
The protestors, under the leadership of social activist Medha Patkar have been detained by the Gujarat Police while they were moving from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra via Gujarat. The protestors have been stopped at the Gujarat Border and are not allowed to cross the Gujarat border.

Activist Medha Patkar (second from the right) with an injured boy
“A group of people, who were on their way to Chhota Udepur, were detained at Kavta check-post on Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border,” the police official from Kawant police station said to Newsd.
“They were detained as per the notification under section 144 of CrPC, which prohibits unlawful assembly or processions in the district,” district collector Vijay Kharadi said to Newsd.
According to Idrish Mohammed, a law student at Jamia Milia Islamia University took to Facebook and posted a picture of detained school kids from Kerala who joined the rally, the Gujrat Police assaulted protesters infront of the Madhya Pradesh Police. 
As seen above Idrish last posted on Facebook 11 hours ago painting a bleak picture of the administration stating, The kids who were beaten up by the police were sent to the hospital for medical examination. The medical officer is completely drunk and not in his senses. He SLAPPED the kids and harassed them badly. Another face of Justice System”

Local villagers gathered for Protest. 

The Narmada Bachao Andolan has been going on since 1985. 




Story to be Updated.
All Pictures are sources from the Facebook of Mr. Idrish Mohammed and are his property.

Wanna Cry? All You Need To Know About The Ransomeware

By | Newsupdate, tech law | No Comments
A ransomware is a software which scrambles information stored on a computer system to make it inaccessible. The process of scrambling is done through known methods of encryption. The purpose is to then ask for an amount of money to decrypt valuable information. 

So how does Ransomware work?

How does it get through?

Imagine you hired the best architects and got a palace built for your yourself. Little known to you or the architects, there exists a weak wall near your garage. This can be broken by application of minimal force and people can get in through that and steal your expensive car. They can also disrupt your telephone and gas lines to cause you further harm. Or worse even, plant a bomb below your bedroom. Scary isn’t it?
Something similarly keeps happening with all software companies. They hire the best developers to write the most intricate codes, and little known to them they leave out vulnerabilities which can be brute forced and broken. Now people can get in and cause all sorts of mayhem.
If these vulnerabilities are unknown and not solved, they are called ‘zero-day exploits’. 
A ransomware may or may not use a zero-day exploit to leverage the attack. A ransomware might just promise you a lottery ticket, free coupons, facebook or gmail hacking, etc.

What does it do?

A ransomware is a simple software which encrypts and decrypts data based on a condition. Once the ransomware is loaded onto the computer using a vulnerability, it will instantly encrypt and make the data unusable.
It may ask for a password to decrypt. Or, It may show a message communicating the condition for decryption. It may also ask for payment, it may ask for release of a prisoner, it may ask for change in politics, anything.
Once the condition is met, a password is provided which can be used to unscramble the information and make it usable again.

What is WannaCry?

Just last month I was thinking there is not much interesting things to write about. I was not wrong but impatient.
WannaCry gets onto the system through common phishing tactics. An email containing an attachment is circulated. Upon downloading the attachment it instantly freezes the system and asks for a payment of $300 in BTC. If not paid within three days, the payment amount is doubled to $600.
However, it promises to hold events (time periods) when data can be decrypted for free by clicking the decrypt button, after expiry of six months. This is for poor people 
WannaCry got first reported on Friday the 12th of this month (May, 2017), and within a day it spread over to a quarter of a million computers across the globe.

How did it start?

WannaCry reportedly used a vulnerability on older Microsoft Windows operating systems. Mostly Windows XP and 7 attacks were reported. Microsoft held that systems running updated versions of Windows 7 and above were immune to it.1 There has been no reports negating this. 

Who got affected?

It started with the crippling effect on Britain’s National Health Service. Unlike in the US where people pay for healthcare in hefty bills, medical service in UK is free of cost. Therefore, outdated systems dying for lack of attention.
While Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April 2014 many UK agencies missed that. A Freedom of Information Act request by Citrix in December, 2016, reported 90 percent of UK hospitals had computers running outdated Windows XP.2
As it was not a targeted attack, it spread on to many other parts of the globe, some reports on Middle Eastern banking systems also surfaced.

Resolution

Microsoft

To Microsoft’s credit they had already released the security updates back in March, here is a compilation of all the relevant security updates.3 If you have not updated your system you should go through them.
Code Name Solution
EternalBlue Addressed by MS17-010
EmeraldThread Addressed by MS10-061
EternalChampion Addressed by CVE-2017-0146 & CVE-2017-0147
“ErraticGopher” Addressed prior to the release of Windows Vista
EsikmoRoll Addressed by MS14-068
EternalRomance Addressed by MS17-010
EducatedScholar Addressed by MS09-050
EternalSynergy Addressed by MS17-010
EclipsedWing Addressed by MS08-067
Microsoft also released a malicious software removal tool specifically for WannaCry on 22nd May for a permanent resolution.

Other quirky solutions

young cyber security expert from London figured that the WannaCry malware repeatedly tries to connect with a website. If the website responds it shuts down. So he bought the website and made it respond.
For instance, a malware may check if http://aabbccdd.com is live or not. Depending on that there can be further instructions for the malware to commit.
This shows that WannaCry was not remote controlled. It means it is an independent malware which is supposed to run and spread all on its own.

Global Politics

It would be unfair to not talk about National Security Agency of the United States, Shadow Brokers, and the lesser known philosophy behind hacking.
A lot of internet develops due to constant work by different anonymous groups. As soon as one attack is launched, and gets enough attention, the global internet fortifies against it. Much like our bodies’ immune systems. Therefore, more the attacks, better the internet gets in the long run.
Sometimes attacks are just attention-seeking in nature, and sometimes they are deadly. In my opinion, WannaCry was seeking attention towards larger societal flaws. If it meant to cause real damage it would not have been made into a ransomware virus asking for $300 to $600. Also total revenue from WannaCry is said to be around $50,000 at max. It uses technology which can be used to target core banking companies and siphon off millions of dollars never making it to global media. Or worse, target nuclear plants where a lot of devices still run on outdated Microsoft products.

Attention sought for what?

The National Security Agency of the United States has been in the offensive since its inception. It is unofficially known that 90% of NSA’s budget goes into development of offensive weapons. The NSA constantly researches and adds to it’s library weapon grade software. The EternalBlue vulnerability used in WannaCry is just one among million options that NSA has for itself. Other deadly offensive weapons released in the past include the billion dollar STUXnet virus, which was recently linked to NSA.
Especially in EternalBlue’s case, NSA had found it long back but decided not to report it to Microsoft. It was the Shadow Brokers group who stole a considerable part from NSA library and reported it to Microsoft. Enabling it to release an update in March 2017, much before the breakout of the virus.
When hacker groups like Shadow Brokers get hold of such software they either report it for money or release it on the internet. The public quickly gets immune to it, thereby spoiling the weaponry NSA spends millions to build. And the best part is that NSA does all of it legally.
Anonymous Internet groups across the globe are fighting against orchestrated surveillance, censorship and rogue government agencies. One thing that’s for sure, our immune systems may make us feel sick, but if we fight our immune systems we will be dead faster.
  1. Customer Guidance for WannaCrypt attacks
  2. Nine in Ten NHS Trusts Still on Windows XP
  3. Microsoft Security Updates


This article has been republished with due permission of the Author, Mr. Donnie Ashok, from his website IndianTechLaw.
Original article can be viewed here


Donnie Ashok is a freelance technology advisor, cyber security advisor and a final year law student studying B.A.LL.B at Gujarat National Law University. IndiaTechLaw is an initiative by Donnie Ashok.

Root Cause of Crime In India – Lack of Education

By | Blogging, Life, YOUR VOICE | No Comments
Lack of education is a fundamental problem, it marginalizes the people, forcing them to live in depravity. The poor are desperate to move out of depravity, they don’t have much of a choice as such when they decide to walk the criminal path. This becomes evident when one takes a look at the prison statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau of India for the year 2015, which states that nearly 27% of the convicts are illiterate and 42% of the convicts have studied up till 10th class. While According to the report by Annual Survey of Education Report, a substantial number of students’ up till class 8th in government schools are devoid of skills expected of an average 2nd class child. Further, the infrastructural state and poor qualification of the school teachers is also highly worrisome. 40% of the schools were without electricity and 31% of the teachers not being graduates. All this creates a predicament for the socio-economically deprived groups, who can’t afford a private school to educate their child. While some children get involved in menial labor in order to earn a living, many of them get entrapped within the criminal world as the prison statistics show.


Despite of this the government continues to hold back on financing the education sector in the country, back in 1960s Kothari education commission had suggested that budget allocation for education should be 6%, but even now the budget allocation is just 3.8%, despite the promise made by the government to bring it up to 6%. Along with this right to education (RTE) a fundamental right as provided under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India has not been implemented effectively, presently only 9.5% of the schools being RTE compliant. RTE itself is not completely inclusive in nature, considering the fact that it provides only for children aged between 6-14 leaving the older children to fend for their own. Considering the current employment status, with forty percent of the people being unable to find a full-time job, where even post-graduates are finding it difficult to get a job it seems unfair to take away state-support when the child turns 14.

Children can be easily influenced, making it highly important for them to have positive vibes around them, but the failing education system of India pushes them into working small jobs where they come across agents of exploitation who use them for illegal purposes as depicted quite explicitly in movies like Salaam Bombay and Slumdog Millionaire. It is the responsibility of the state that its people should be provided with adequate support so that they become capable of leading a healthy life and it is the failure of the state if its people have to resort to criminal practices in order to survive. Thus, it becomes important that RTE should encompass all the children up to 18 years of age within its ambit. Although, presently this seems to be a far-fetched expectation, considering that substantial implementation has not been possible of the original program itself. 


Lastly, it is important that the criminal justice system should make attempts to incorporate the nuances of the life of the downtrodden while deciding their case. Considering the fact that most of the acts are born out of a desperate push to survive, it is important that the accused should not be further tormented by being incarcerated. Attempts should be made to maintain adequate rehabilitation centers for such people so that they can get another shot at life. As stated by Prof. Upendra Baxi in his work The Crisis of Indian Legal System, it is important that law should enforce morality of survival by not penalizing the crime born out of destitution and impose a morality of duty and aspiration on the people who are resourceful to protect the underprivileged people.
Works Cited:- 
1) Prison Statistics – 2015  – http://ncrb.nic.in/
2) TCA Sharad Raghavan, The poor state of school infrastructure 
3) Ambarish Rai, Extreme neglect of primary education in budget 2017 
4) Vivek Kaul, Book excerpt: The real story behind India’s low unemployment 
5) Rukmini S, In India, unemployment rate still high 
6) Roger Ebert, Salaam Bombay! 
7) Roger Ebert, Slumdog Millionaire 
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/slumdog-millionaire-2008#disqus_thread 
8) Thomas Wells, Sen’s Capability Approach 


About the Author:

Ananye Krishna is a third-year law student at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. He has been engaged in teaching underprivileged students since his first year at the University, both independently and as a part of an NGO by the name of IDIA (Increasing Diversity by Increasing Awareness).