Even Padman Cannot Save These Women From The Practice of Chhaupadi

Hats-off to the Padman team for bringing up the sensitive issue of menstruation in India. I always thought periods was a word more dangerous than “Lord Voldemort” and those who dare to speak about it, open pandora’s box. But now things are changing and not only are we speaking about menstruation but are embracing it too. Sadly this is not the case with everyone. The taboo of menstruation and the draconian practice of Chhaupadi are claiming lives of many females.

As per the old Hindu Custom of Chhaupadi, a menstruating female is considered impure and is therefore banished from her house during her periods. She is made to stay in a goth (temporary mud huts with limited resources), stables or caves during this period. A menstruating female is considered untouchable and it is believed that her impure touch would render everything worthless. She is forbidden to enter her household, touch men, animals or plants and consume certain food articles. Similarly no one can touch her during her periods. Thus even if a female becomes ill, she is not properly taken care off as everyone banishes her.

The practice is still widely followed in few parts of Nepal and has claimed many innocent lives. A nineteen year died of snake bite during her stay in the goth. Another girl died of the suffocation caused by the fire she had lit to keep herself warm during a chilling winter night. Other females have died due to hypothermia, malnutrition, animal attacks, severe bleeding, robbery and rapes.

Reasons for Practing Chahupadi – 1. Fear of God – The people believe that the god would punish those who don’t follow the Chhaupadi Pratha.

2. Banishment from the Society – There is an obvious fear that the society would banish those families who don’t follow the custom.

Impact on Females – The females suffer from physiological, mental and emotional stress. The conditions in the goth are deplorable. The mental, physical and reproductive well being of the females are compromised as they suffer due to poor hygiene, poor nutrition, heavy workload and lack of security. Their basic human rights are being denied to them.

Law Against Chhaupadi In the year 2005, the Supreme Court of Nepal declared the practice of Chhaupadi illegal. A legislation passed by the Parliament effective from August 2018 states that “A woman during her menstruation or post-natal state should not be kept in chhaupadi or treated with any kind of similar discrimination or untouchable and inhuman behaviour”. Anyone who forces a women to follow Chhaupadi may face a three-month jail sentence or a 3,000 Nepalese rupee fine or both. The law will be effective from August 2018.

Conclusion The social workers, government and youth of Nepal are spreading awareness about this evil practice of exile. The execution of the law would be extremely challenging. The main problem is that the females are conditioned and made to believe that they become impure during their periods. Changing this mindset is the government’s greatest challenge. The law is still ambiguous as it does not specify the discrimination meted out to the menstruating females and therefore its implementation is surely challenging. It is ironical that god made all of us but yet when we menstruate, we are forbidden by some to enter temples. It is hoped that like the law eventually ended the evil practices of sati and jauhar in India, the law will be successful in ending the practice of Chhaupadi in Nepal.

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Is Right to Information a threat to Right to Life?

I was born in a free country, a country where I was guaranteed the freedom of speech and expression, where I could question any political agenda and where I could rely on a free and objective media. Unfortunately, there are certain individuals who are aiming to take these rights way from me. No, the constitution is not being amended. But the close nexus between mafia, politicians and corrupt officials is ensuring that anyone who seeks to gather information against them is killed.

When the government passed a significant legislation Right to Information Act in year 2005, it assured that the Act would promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. But no one ever imagined that it could become a constant threat to life for those who choose to voicing out their concerns. The objective of the Act was to ensure to “furnish certain information to the citizens who desire to have it.” However it provided no provisions for protection of those who desired to seek this disclosure. A number of public-spirited individuals filed applications under the Act.

The information could have proved vital in exposing a number of political scams in the country. Resultantly, these activists were socially boycotted, harrassed, threatened, tortured, implicated in false cases or killed.

Ones who lost their lives

1. RTI activist Shehla Masood shot dead near her residence on 16 August 2011 in Bhopal.

2. Uttar Pradesh Police Homeguard Mr. Babbu Singh was allegedly killed while he was seeking information regarding government funds in his village.

3. Amit Jethwa who attempted to expose the illegal mining activities in Gir forest was shot dead by two assiliants on motorbike in July 2010.

4. Another RTI activist Shashidhar Mishra was killed for exposing several scams in welfare schemes in Bihar.

According to the Asian Centre of Human rights, there were around eight other RTI activists who have been murdered since 2010.

Police Protection

The RTI Act doesn’t include any provisions for protection. However police protection can be obtained under the provisions of Police Act, IPC and Crpc. Presently, the person who wants to seek protection must submit an application for the same to the police. In case the police fail to provide the same, the aggrieved party may approach the High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 226 of the Constitution. The court can issue a writ of mandamus directing the police authorities to give protection to the person if it is satisfied that:

1. there is a threat to this person and

2. the authorities have failed to perform their duties

The Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010

Commonly known as the Whistleblower’s Bill seeks to protect persons who file complaints relating to disclosure on any allegation of corruption, willful misuse of power or discretion against any public servant. Clauses Related to Protection of Complainants • Any public servant or any other person including a non-governmental organization may make such a disclosure to the Central or State Vigilance Commission.

• The identity of the complainant must be contained in the complaint. It specifically bars inclusion of anonymous complaints.

• The identity of the complainant shall not be disclosed by the Vigilance Commission except to the head of the department if he deems it necessary. Any person who has disclosed the identity of the complainant either negligently or due to mala fide reasons can be imposed a penality of 3 years and fine upto Rs. 50,000.

• Unlike other countries such as US, UK, and Canada the bill does not define victimisation. There is no penalty against the public servant who victimizes the complainant. Moreover the bill has no provision stating the burden of proof lies on which party on issues relating to victimization.

• The Vigilance Commission may give directions to a concerned public servant or authority to protect a complainant or witness either on an application by the complainant or suo moto.

• If the Commission is satisfied that the complainant needs protection it shall issue directions to the concerned government authorities for the same.


The police have been hesitant in providing protection to these activists. Unfortunately our police is influenced and controlled by money and political power. Shockingly, there have been instances where police officers have deliberately harassed or framed false charges against RTI activists. As stated above, if the police fail to take any action the recourse is through the court but even the protection provided under CRPC has a very limited scope.

Moreover, the RTI application form requires the applicant to provide their permanent address, photo identification and father/spouse names .The availability of these details makes the applicant susceptible to attacks. An amendment should be made in the RTI act itself to provide protection to applicants. The Whistleblower Bill doesn’t entirely protect the interests of the activists either. The bill bars all complaints against police and armed forces. To seek ‘disclosure’ the complainant is required to demonstrate loss to the government or gain to the public servant as a result of the act in question. The bill should specifically deal with private whistleblowers i.e. the RTI activists.

The civil society should take up the matter on a large scale. The parliament has been reluctant to address the issue. The public authorities should be asked to make pro-active disclosures. Cases relating to the death of RTI activists should be heard in fast track courts.

The murders of RTI activists shake my faith in the notion of democracy. If the situation continues we would soon be governed by those who possess gun power.

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Being a child witness is not a child’s play


With their father serving a life imprisonment sentence for murdering their mother, the future of seven children is now at risk with no one left to take care of them. The Delhi trial court recently convicted 40-year-old Amruddin for the murder of his wife Rihana and sentenced him to life imprisonment after relying on the testimony of his children. Rihana’s mother recently approached the court to seek help as she is financially incapable to take care of the children. Several organizations have stepped forward to help the family but the circumstances remain much the same.

The case dealt with the sensitive issue of child witnesses. The court affirmed the view that even “a child of tender age can be allowed to testify if he has intellectual capacity to understand questions and give rational answers thereto.”

Law as to Competency of Child Witnesses

Witnesses form an integral part of criminal justice system. They shed light on various events and circumstances which help the court to reach a conclusive finding beyond reasonable doubt. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 does not prescribe any particular age as a determinative factor to treat a witness to be a competent one.The penal rule that exempts a minor from culpability in any crime due to lack of sufficient intelligence is not applicable in law of evidence relating to competency of witnesses.

The section 118 of the Act states that all persons (including minors and lunatics) are competent to testify, if the court considers them fit to do the same. Hence, even a child is competent witness but the court must satisfy itself that the witness understands the questions and is able to give rational account of what he has seen, heard or done on a particular occasion.

Rationale behind allowing minors as witnesses

Unfortunately, children become prime witnesses in a plethora of cases involving sensitive issues like child abuse, domestic violence, murders, sexual offences amongst others. If a statutory age limit is imposed by the legislature it would certainly act as deterrent in the delivery and administration of justice. Allowing child witnesses to testify is a positive step taken both by the judiciary and the legislature.

Since a minor can be easily tutored or influenced the courts must scrutinize his/her testimony carefully. Usually the question whether the child witness possesses sufficient intelligence is to be adjudged by the trial judge who notices his manners, his apparent possession or lack of intelligence. But a Superior Court after analyzing the records may rule otherwise; if it has sufficient reason to believe that the previous finding was erroneous.

Precautions to be taken by Courts

1. The Courts must carefully scrutinize the testimony. Corroboration of testimony by some additional evidence is usually preferred by courts.

2. Questions must be asked by the judge to determine the intellectual capacity of the child. In English Courts judges generally as ask a popular question “Is the color of my hair green”.

3. The courts must consider the evidence of a child witness and credibility thereof in the light of the facts and circumstances of each case.

Thus, the Court while assessing the evidence of a child witness must ensure that the witness is reliable and his/her demeanor is like any other competent witness and there is no likelihood of being tutored.


Although law relating to child witnesses is just and reasonable but the courts must take extra precaution in such cases. Special witness protection schemes must be initiated by the government to protect these children. In cases involving sexual offences in-camera trial must be made mandatory. The identity and secure position of the children should not be disclosed in public.

Instead of recording statements in adverse environment of the court, adequate arrangements should be made to ensure that such testimonies are made in comfortable surroundings. The defense should not be permitted to ask aggressive or improper questions during the cross examination. Such trials should be conducted privately. Involvement of media should be restricted. The courts must allow the presence of an advocate or a family member while the child is giving evidence.

Above all the privacy and security of the child at all stages of trial should be one of the primary concerns of the court. It takes courage to speak the truth; for a child to testify against his own father it takes more than just courage. What happens to the children who testify against their sole surviving parents? Do we have adequate child welfare schemes to protect these children? Is a collaborative approach between the legislature and the judiciary required to deal with such cases?

Clearly, leaving these children as victims of fate is not a solution. We need to frame policies and rules that protect these children from the successive psychological and financial set-back. These children often face social stratification and lack of family support. The plight of these children needs to be addressed both by the government and the society. They should be treated as victims and not just witnesses. We must work for their better future, a future which is free from the world of crime, hatred and poverty.

Justice is not just to do what seems to be fair but it is the administration of fairness in all aspects.

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The corruption news you are relying upon is sponsored by another corrupt politician

It has been a long time since my last post was published on Legal Drift. I got mails, facebook messages and a number of reminders from my readers who were waiting to read something new. Due to some other professional commitments, I was unable publish any new article. I apologize to all my readers for the delay in posts and assure them that this would never re-occur.

Presently, everyone is worried about the growing corruption in the nation. Where does this corruption hail from? Politicians; Who elects them? We, the citizens of India; How do these politicians convince us to vote for them? By paying news channels which in turn focus on publicizing these people before masses.

“Paid News”

I still remember the 2003 elections in Rajasthan. Everyone thought Gehlot would be re-elected as the Chief Minister. Hardly a few people were aware of the presence of Mrs. Vasundhra Raje Scindhiya as the candidate for the opposition. But then something happened that changed the entire course of things in a couple of months. The local media channels and newspapers started promoting BJP with all vigor. They conceptualized brilliant advertisements, banners and slogans to prove their point. Resultantly, congress lost the elections by a substantial margin. This is the power of “paid news”.

Back in 2003, paid news had played a less significant role in changing the outcome of elections but this culture of “purchasing news” became widespread in both Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana of 2009. Even though, the Election Commission through a circular in 2010 cautioned the chief electoral officers of all states and union territories about this mal-practice a lot is still required to be done in this regard.

Concept of Paid News:

Independence of media is considered most vital in a democratic set-up. An accountable and responsible media helps the citizens to make informed political decisions at all levels. Unfortunately, nowadays the concept of “paid news” is on a rise. Most of the political parties sponsor particular news channels (in cash or in kind) to purchase certain journalistic loyalties in return. This tradeoff between the political parties and media houses results in manipulation and filtration of relevant information which often leads the masses to make wrong choices.

Legal Perspective:

The Sections 77 and 123(6) of the (Representation of the People) Act prescribe accounting and ceiling of election expenses and exceeding these prescribed limits may be construed as a corrupt practice in elections. Any article or advertisement that either eulogise or denigrate a particular candidate or party may attract serious legal action against the publisher as well as the printer. It is compulsory for the publisher of an election advertisement and pamphlet to print his/her name and address as well as that of the printer under the provisions of Section 127 of the RPA, any default may result in imprisonment up to two years and/or a fine of Rs.2,000. Moreover, under Section 171-H of the Indian Penal Code, a fine of Rs 500 may be imposed if found guilty for making or accepting illegal payments for elections.

How effectively have we curbed the practice of paid news?

Even though over 100 show-cause notices have been served to the candidates no successful inquiries have been conducted yet. The circumstantial nature of the evidence has helped to cloak the deeds of both media houses as well as particular candidates and parties. Most of these transactions remain undisclosed and secretive. Interestingly the print media enjoys greater freedom than the electronic media. In a noted judgement of Supreme Court which came in 2004, the court observed that the ban on electronic media to refrain from broadcasting news related to election campaigns 48 hours before polling does not apply to print media. Hence the newspapers are allowed to publish campaign news even on the polling day.

What needs to be done?

States like Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal would be soon conducting assembly elections. An effective and efficient media regulatory mechanism is required to tackle this unethical and illegal practice. An independent regulatory body may be constituted which may consist members of Press Council of India. The previous efforts by the Election Commission to curb this practice have not proved very fruitful. The Election Commission should be given greater powers and responsibilities to tackle this problem.

Both substantive and procedural aspects of law relating to paid news must be revised. A higher monetary fine should be imposed on people involved in such transactions. The government is also planning to amend the Representation of People Act which would definitely prove useful. A duty to examine instances of paid news must be vested in responsible public officers like district collectors. This would ensure an external regulatory mechanism. Guidelines should be laid down for the news agencies to make special efforts to distinguish routine news from paid news. This would help readers to make informed decisions.

“Let no money color our opinion. For a responsible media we ourselves need to be responsible readers and above all responsible voters.”

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Faking it with help of Nepal, the truth behind the supply of fake notes in India

A five hundred rupee note was returned back to my friend by a cashier. When she inquired, she was informed that the note was fake. The cashier humbly said “Madam, the note is not genuine; you can be jailed for this. Since you have been a dedicated customer to us, I’m not tearing the note apart. Kindly try to use it elsewhere.”

His reply stunned me but then I thought why do situations like these arise and what should we and what do we actually do in such situations. Well the Section 489-c of the Indian Penal Code states that if any person is aware that he was/is in possession of the counterfeit currency, he may be imprisoned for up to 7 years, or shall be liable to fine or both. Thus, anyone who knowingly wants to pass off a fake currency can be penalized under the Indian laws.

The problem can be divided into two separate heads. Firstly, where does this counterfeit currency coming from? And Secondly, What should be done if you are in possession of such currency?

Origins of the fake currency

Recent police investigations have revealed that ISI is directly controlling the smuggling of fake currency in India. It is alleged that Pakistan is actively involved in such activities and the currency is sent to India via Nepal and Bangladesh.

India shares close diplomatic ties with Nepal. The citizens of both the nations are not required to have visas for travelling to each other’s country. On the other hand, although India and Bangladesh do not have such an arrangement but their geographical closeness between the two often helps people to cross-borders without any legal sanction behind it.

Both these conditions are favourable for our enemy country. The poverty in Nepal and Bangladesh can be conveniently exploited by ISI to ruin the Indian economy. The burden on the Indian authorities has increased manifold recently. There are large numbers of people who traverse to India from Bangladesh and Nepal through a various modes. To keep strict vigilance on all the visitors has proved very difficult in past.


1. According to an Intelligence Bureau Report (2008) fake currency worth more than Rs. 1,70,000 crore is in circulation in India.

2. About 22 people who possessed fake Indian currency were arrested in Nepal in 2010 alone.

3. In January, 2010 Younus Ansari, son of Salim Ansari (Former Forest Minister, Nepal) was arrested with fake notes worth Rs. 25,000.

4. The smugglers have now started using more sofisticated and innovative technologies to counterfiet currency. Moreover, instead of carrying large amounts as earlier (70-90 lacks); they prefer smuggling lesser chunks of money (say 10-15 lacks).


The Week in one of its investigative articles contended that Pakistan is now manufacturing “super fake notes” to India. The notes are allegedly produced in government-run facilities in Pakistan. It is very difficult to distinguish such notes from genuine currency.

Only 95% of Indian currency paper is imported from 11 firms in Europe. Most of the security features are incorporated when the paper is produced. This includes engraving of watermark and magnetic properties to the currency. However, specific features like micro-lettering, placing of Mahatma Gandhi portrait, signature of RBI governor etc are incorporated at the printing stage i.e. in India.

Almost all the South-Asian countries subscribe to these European Firms for the supply of paper for their currencies. The functioning of the foreign firms is also under a suspicion.


Nepal has recently constituted a Central Investigation Bureau to look into the increasing supply of fake currency to India via Nepal which would definitely prove useful in the longer run. But the problem needs to be addressed at various stages by us aswell.

1. The involvement of the European firms must be checked an their tenders must be cancelled in case their conduct is found faulty.

2. Diplomatic pressure should be build on all the three countries i.e. Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

3. New recruitments should be made in the Border Security Forces. Moreover, the Airport staff and other police officers should be trained and made well-acquainted with the new techniques used by the smugglers.

4. The currency awareness programs in the past have not attained much success in the past. A better option would be to include educational institutions and educate the students in this regard.

(This post deals with why and how the counterfeit currency is reaching in India. The second part of the problem i.e. the attitude of Indians towards fake currency would be dealt in the subsequent post)

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The Victims who are labelled as Criminals: the plight of Denotified Tribes in India

Imagine without any fault of yours; you and your family were asked to register their names with the police. Now let’s say this penalty is extended to your whole community in perpetuity. Offended? You are right, in normal circumstances this can never happen to anyone of us but if it does we can always approach the courts. But there are some people who can’t as their fundamental rights have been encroached by a draconian British Law for centuries.

Denotified Tribes In India

Numerous tribes find their home in India. The plight of about 150 Indian tribes started way back in 1871 when the British decided to pass an Act against them. Under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 registration of all members of notified ‘tribes’ and eunuchs (irrespective of their criminal precedents) was made compulsory. Moreover, their movements were restricted. Penalties were further increased in the subsequent amendments to the Act. The act gave wide discretionary powers to the local government to decide which tribes should be notified as ‘criminal’.

Intentions of the British These tribes were labeled as criminal because they acted against the will of the British Government. The British who were unaware of the nomadic culture in India considered the tribal practices as barbaric and uncivilized. The tribes did not acquiesce to the unjust forest laws framed by the English. They continued to derive their livelihood from the woods and were thus named as “robbers and thief’s” by the state. The English believed that criminal characteristics could be inherited from one generation to other. Hence, the penalty was imposed in perpetuity. The commission of crime was no longer a criterion for punishment; birth in a particular tribe was sufficient to constitute an offence.

Situation after Independence

In 1952, the Act was finally repealed by the government and about 2,300,000 tribals were decriminalized. However, the Act was replaced by the Habitual Offenders Act, 1959 and Prevention of Anti Social Activity Act (PASA). The Act deals with the habitual (felony) criminals as those who pose a threat to the country.

Certainly, the Habitual Criminals Act is an oppressive piece of legislation often used by police and policy makers against the tribal. The Act empowers the police to question the members of the denotified tribes. The members of the denotified tribes are often socially ostracized and excluded from participating in census and other democractic procedures. The present act gives the legislators an opportunity to enact punitive laws against the tribes. Most new laws including forest conservation, wildlife protection, anti-beggary and cruelty to animal have been enacted to oppress them in one form or the other.

For centuries these tribes have been mentioned as “branded criminals” by everyone. The general acceptance among the people that these tribes have “criminal tendencies” has worsened the situation. The police often misuses it powers by harassing their woman. At times, the tribal men are arrested for various offences without any proof. Moreover, they are continuously targeted and labeled as criminals by the upper hindu castes of the society.

Lack of awareness and education has kept them away from political arena. Tribes like Kurava, Bawaries, Paridhis and Sansis are still treated as criminals by the society. These tribes not only find it difficult to make a decent living but are also constantly targeted by the police as prime suspects of crime.


We generally quote “Hate the Crime and not the Criminal” but the same is difficult to implement as complete segregation of the offender from the offence is impossible. However in this case; a person (male, women, child or eunuch) is targeted because he or she belongs to a certain clan. Isn’t the system promoting racial discrimination? Ironically, young police candidates are taught about these tribes in their police training. The judges in their areas see them as offenders too. Their genuine complaints are not registered. They live under a constant fear that they might be booked under a crime never committed by them.

Aren’t we depriving them the right to live with dignity (Article 21)? Aren’t we forcing them to be criminals? The answers of all above questions are in affirmative.

If we claim to be a civilized society we need to act as one too. The Habitual Offenders Act must be repealed. Moreover, these tribes must be offered alternative employments by utilizing their knowledge in the tourism, agricultural and ayurvedic industries. Spreading of education and awareness regarding their constitutional rights must be done. Most importantly, the police should be made more sympathetic towards these tribes.

Even being citizens of India they do not own any Voter ID cards, Birth or Death Certificates and other necessary documents. Entitlement to all these documents would pressurize the government to take necessary steps for their empowerment.

Above all the people should raise their voices against the injustice done to these people. Their voices remain unheard on every stage of judicial proceeding. These people are presumed guilty by almost everyone. If nothing is done soon we would have insurgents in the country; who would have taken up arms because of our ignorance.

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Sri Lanka becomes a Dictatorship: A Mockery of Democratic Nation

The termination of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did not mark the end of miseries in Sri Lanka. When most of the countries in the world are favoring democracy; Sri Lanka recently opted to be governed by dictatorship. On 8 September 2010; the Parliament headed by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa passed the much criticized 18th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution. The amendment makes substantial changes in the political structure of Sri Lanka transforming it into a de-facto dictatorship. Criticism of the 18th Amendment

1. The Amendment not only uplifted the restrictions posed on the president by the 17th Amendment but also abolished the two-term limit on presidency. Thus a president may contest elections any number of times.

2. The President is given wide-discretionary powers to make political and constitutional appointments.

3. He has the power to appoint the Chairman and members of all independent commissions including the Election Commission, Public Service Commission, , Finance Commission, National Police Commission, Attorney General, Auditor General, Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, Members of the Judicial Service Commission, Human Rights Commission and Secretary General of Parliament.

4. President has power to attend the parliament regularly and exercise his powers and privileges.

5. The Constitutional Council has been replaced by the Parliamentary Council which is accountable no other institution.

The amendment grants absolute power to the President. In fact, the President would control all the wings of the state. The unlimited power in the hands of the President may result in dangerous consequences. The government in past has been alleged to be involved in mass killings of the Tamilians in Sri Lanka.

Presently, three important political positions are headed by President’s brothers. It is feared that the powers bestowed by the amendment would further worsen the situation. The most disturbing part is that the opposition did not play a constructive rule in criticizing the bill. The opposition leader remained absent from the parliamentary debates regarding the 18 Amendment.


Replacement of democracy with a dictatorship would further harm the interests of the people in Sri Lanka. The irresponsible attitude of the opposition and the haste of the government clearly demonstrate that both the government and the opposition conspired against their own people.

The people on the other hand have resorted to peaceful protests. Organizations like Bar Association and National Peace Council have supported these protests.

It is not the corruption and concentration of power that concerns the Sri Lankan population today. From the past one year several attrocities are being carried on the people. During the war against L.T.T.E thousands of innocent Tamil civilians went missing. The armed forces misuse their excessive powers to traumatize the ethnic minorities in the state.

The main opponent of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Presidential elections was arrested and convicted by military court on grounds of fraud. Empowering the President to make judicial appointments would further worsen the situation. The judges so appointed may have colored opinions which would defeat the very purpose of independent judicial system.

Sri Lankans deserve a democratic and accountable government. The cause needs support of other countries around the world. The steps taken by Rajaskpa should not only be criticized but he should also be diplomatically pressurized to revive democracy in the country.

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Nobel Peace Prize Given to Chinese Human Rights Activist but the question remains are there human rights in China?


Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese Rights Activist was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The decision was applauded all around the world except in China, where Liu is serving an 11 year sentence for inciting subversion of state power.

About Liu Xiaobo :-

• He is a prolific writer, scholar and pro-democracy essayist.

• He was jailed for 21 months in 1989 due to his participation in the Tiananmen Square protests calling for the reform of China’s one-party Communist system.

• In 1996, he was put in a “re-education” camp for three years when he supported the release of prisoners jailed in the Tiananmen demonstrations.

• Because of his contribution to the drafting of “Charter ‘08,” a political manifesto proclaiming human and political rights in China; he is presently serving an 11-year sentence on charges of “inciting subversion of state power” imposed after an unfair trial.

The Ongoing Debate: Are there Human Rights in China?

In a way the recognition of Liu’s work by the Nobel Prize Peace Committee once again questions the existence of political and human rights in China.

The Chinese government maintains that Human Rights are a western concept and the very idea interferes with the political autonomy of the country. It further contends that the west promotes the concept of “pan-human rights” in order to pursue its vested economic interests. On the other hand, it is contended that the individuals in China are deprived of their basic political and human rights. China has been primarily criticized by west because:-

1. Death Penalty is awarded in closed trials. No official figures pertaining to death penalty are disclosed by the state.

2. The police have wide discretionary powers.

3. Death Penalty is awarded in 68 offences including the crime of corruption.

4. Through “re-education of labour” and other administrative detentions; a large number of people are detained without trials.

5. Immense restrictions of media and use of internet.

6. Repression of religious and spiritual leaders and human rights activists.

7. Gender Discrimination in areas of education, health care and employment.

8. Birth control regulations present in the country.

9. The ill-treatment and forceful deportation of North-Korean refugees.

10. China is in breach of a number of international covenants signed by it. The country does not grant the freedom of speech, assembly, association and press to its citizens as guaranteed under Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution. What needs to be done?

1. Disclosure on the part of the government is necessary in certain areas.

2. The reliance on extra-judicial system should be reduced and an effective legal system must be established.

3. Reforms are needed in areas of social work, health care management, social aid, female literacy and social security.

4. Accountability of the police must be enhanced.

5. Public Participation in policy formulation and decision making must be stressed.

6. The intra-party system needs to be improved.

7. The restrictions on the press should be uplifted to ensure constructive journalism.


Liu Xiaobo, is a name virtually unknown to the people of China. The media is banned from using is name. He was not even allowed to interact with the reporters once he received the award. Similar restrictions were imposed on his wife as well.

The opinion in China is divided on the issue. Some believe that Liu’s trial was fair and just as he had views were contrary to the Chinese culture and whereas others maintain that China needs to grant minimum political and civil rights to its citizens.

It is true that human rights is a western concept but is China justified to deprive human rights of its citizens on this sole basis?

The Chinese have right to take informed decisions about their own political future. Unfortunately, the government ensures that the people access only filtered information. It is not the west but the Chinese themselves who must make decisions on their internal autonomy but for this the people must be given a platform to voice out their concerns and considerations.

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Legal Drift does it again!!!

There is a good news for ours readers. Recently Legaldrift won accolades in a blogging competition organized by legallyindia. The prize money Rs.10,000 would be invested in the upgradation of Legal Drift.

Two of our posts “Selling their bodies killing their souls: Plight of widows in Vrindavan and Mathura” and “Insight to Bhopal Gas Tragedy: A case lost before trial” recieved honourable mentions by the judges.

“Legaldrift’s entry Selling their bodies killing their souls: Plight of widows in Vrindavan and Mathura I thought again was very strong on the originality front, picking an issue that is not at the top of most people’s minds. This epitomises social blogging, in my opinion. It could have been the top post for me if it had contained more references and sourcing – occasionally I did not know where some of the facts or figures came from or if they were correct.” “Legaldrift’s blog I found to be the most consistent and challenging, although I (and others) may not always have agreed with her views. A firebrand of the old school, I was amazed by her width of topics and the fervour with which she approached them. Legaldrift was not afraid to take a stand on whatever issue was on the her plate and never hid behind often legal opinions couched in qualifications. Also her posts all appeared to have been thoroughly researched.”– Kian Ganz, founder and editor of legally India.

None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the support of our readers. I would like to thank everyone who have been a part of legal drift in any way especially to those who encouraged the launch of this venture. They have always been besides me in all my personal and professional endevours.

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Children as soldiers!!! Are you kidding me?


Child abuse and Child labour are not the sole problems faced by the world today. There is an emerging global concern about the increasing participation of children in armed forces. According to Amnesty International, “Approximately 250,000 children under the age of 18 are thought to be fighting in conflicts around the world.”

• Over 50 countries currently recruit children under age 18 into their armed forces. • The Human Rights Watch Report (2008) states that a few under 18 soldiers in the UK were sent to Iran. • 30% of the child soldiers are girls. They are often sexually exploited by the commanders and military leaders. • Myanmar with over 70,000 recruits is said to have largest number of child soldiers serving its national military.

Who is a child soldier?

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) defines child soldiers as 1. “any child—boy or girl— 2. under eighteen years of age, 3. who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity.”

This age limit was established in 2002 by the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Prior to this fifteen years was globally recognized as the minimum age for participation in armed conflict.

History: Child Soldiers

1. About ten thousand children participated in the Children’s Crusade of 1212.

2. Nazi’s had employed child soldiers to carry out their underground operations.

3. In Ancient Greece young boys about seven years old were recruited in the military forces.

4. After the Second World War the British established various “Small Boy Units” in various colonies.


Thousands of children are recruited by both state and non-state actor military forces. The children are mostly “programmed” to act as mechanical soldiers by the military leaders. In countries like Uganda the child soldiers are often made habitual to tranquilizers including cocaine and other drugs. The LTTE leaders used young boys for their Karate practices. According to CNN correspondent Arwa Daman; the children in poor countries are shown bright colored images of female virgins and rivers of milk which depict a picture entirely different from their harsh realities.

Usually the young girls are treated as “sex-slaves” by the military leaders. In some countries, the villages are required to fulfill certain recruitment quota. At times these children are kidnapped from streets, homes, play grounds and parks on gun point. In order to increase their courage they are often asked to participate in brutal crimes like rape, murder and abduction; occasionally against their own family members.

Reasons :-

1. Poverty and lack of education

2. Vulnerability of Children particularly from displaced families and Third World Nations.

3. Some of the terrorist organizations recruit kidnapped children in their forces (L.T.T.E was one such kind).

4. The sophisticated modern day weapons can be easily operated by a child.

5. Children constitute cheap military force that can be comfortably manipulated by the commanders.

Child Soldiers: India

Child Soldiers are recruited in several parts of the country including J&K, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andra Pradesh and Karnataka. The children are mostly used in tribal communities and insurgents. Most of them (both boys and girls) are below the age of 14 years. They live in poor conditions and are usually given “food” as a reward for work. They are treated as “safe carriers” of arms, ammunitions and information..


1. Governments should ratify, implement and enforce the standards of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

2. Governments should ensure the protection of displaced and orphan children.

3. The former child soldiers must be properly rehabilitated.

4. The governments must ensure universal birth registration which would help in age verification.

5. Proper training and education must be provided to army personnel to prevent such recruitments.

6. Psychiatric and Medical help along with education and vocational training must be given to former child soldiers.

7. The recruitment of children in non-state armed forces need be checked by the respective state parties.

8. Constitution of separate independent agencies to deal with the situation of child soldiers in various countries.

9. The countries must alter their respective domestic laws to make under-age recruitments punishable criminal offence.

10. Generally when a minor is caught by the state agencies; his age is exaggerated in the official records to facilitate harsh punishments. Such practices must be discouraged.


The lack of political will on part of people and government have helped the perpetrators to change innocent youth into blood sucking monsters. It would not be wrong to say that “child soldiers” are not only a threat to the society but also a threat to themselves.

They are exploited sexually, emotionally and psychology by the same forces which they pledged to serve. Their trauma holds them back to lead a perfectly normal life in future. There is an urgent need to address the issue on both national and international front.

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