Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 02.11.11
Madras HC judge claims victimization - The Times Of India
Government urged to implement Forest Rights Act in State to help adivasis - The Hindu
The Times Of India
Madras HC judge claims victimization
Subodh Ghildiyal & SubramaniSubodh Ghildiyal & Subramani, TNN | Nov 2, 2011, 01.30AM IST
NEW DELHI/CHENNAI: A serving judge of the Madras high court has claimed to being victimized on caste grounds, accusing his brother judges of trying to put him down and subjecting him to humiliation for taking up litigations in an independent manner.
Justice C S Karnan has petitioned the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and sought an inquiry. While he has not mentioned caste as the reason for alleged prejudice against him, the judge's decision to approach the dalit watchdog has seen the commission view the case as one of caste discrimination.
Sources said NCSC chairman P L Punia has written to Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia urging him to look into the matter. When contacted, Punia refused to dwell on details, saying the aggrieved judge was a dalit and the complaint was being treated with all seriousness.
Justice Karnan, in his three-page letter to NCSC, said his independent way of dealing with petitions had annoyed brother judges.
He claimed colleagues humiliated him by deliberately pointing their shoes at him at a social function and by crushing a name plate carrying his name.
Justice Karnan even alleged that lawyers backed by judges tried to instigate him in the court premises and an investigation of their telephone call records could be carried out to prove their involvement.
When contacted, Justice Karnan told TOI that he was ready for a "public inquiry" to prove his allegations of harassment and discrimination. Justice Karnan, who has been in the eye of a storm over some of his rulings, said he would use the inquiry to disprove allegations against him as well.
In his petition, the judge said, "... at one of the marriage celebrations in Chennai where one of my brother judges, who was seated to the right side of me, crossed over his leg deliberately touching mine and on the second occasion at the Republic Day celebrations, the same judge again seated next to me and slyly removed the name slip which was attached to the arm of my chair with a string and stuck it to the bottom of his right leg where it got crumpled."
Attempts to instigate are repeatedly mentioned by Justice Karnan. "On another public occasion when we brother judges congregated once again for a public celebration, one of the brother judges behind the row of mine kept on shaking my chair repeatedly with the intention to annoy me," he said.
According to Justice Karnan, his refusal to be part of a group or coordinated consultations on cases was not liked by some judges who expected him to conform to the unwritten code. He said the objective behind such behaviour was to "reduce (his) role to subjugation".
His decision not to kowtow to expectations in court proceedings led to his sidelining. He said he had been deprived of participating in (events) in his native district of Cuddalore as special guest while he had also been denied participation in the National Judicial Academy except once when he had just joined the HC.
In a serious charge, the judge said 70 lawyers "encouraged and financed" by a few judges would assemble on the fifth floor of the HC during court hours in an inebriated state and would try to instigate him, and some of them would even gather in the corridor outside his room with the same objective.
Justice Karnan, talking to TOI, referred to canards and allegations against him. He said, "Just because I hail from a humble background, they cannot target me. I rose to this level due to sheer hard work and merit. During a felicitation after my elevation to the high court, lawyers offered me a crown. I have been living up to their expectations. Now, my reputation is in tatters. As a public servant receiving salary from public exchequer, I owe an explanation to people. I am ready for a public inquiry."
Government urged to implement Forest Rights Act in State to help adivasis
Member of the National Land Reforms Council P.V. Rajagopal has appealed to Tamil Nadu Government to implement the Forest Rights Act in a bid to help adivasis (tribals) who are totally dependent on forests for their livelihood.
Mr. Rajagopal, who is on a one-year Jansatyagraha yatra in a bid to mobilise Dalits, adivasis and landless people, has already covered Kerala and completed the Tamil Nadu leg of his tour on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference here, he said that according to the Forest Rights Act, tribal families who have been living in forest areas before 2005 should be given five to 10 acres of land by the Government. While some of the States had implemented the Act, Tamil Nadu had failed to do so citing the stay obtained by a retired forest officer.
He lamented that the adivasis, who formed one per cent of the total population of Tamil Nadu, were in a "pathetic" state. While their lands had been occupied by plantations, Forest Department had also taken away substantial portion through its National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. "Now these tribals live on just one or two cents of land."
This "historic injustice" done to them had not been attended to at all. Though they were said to be living in forests, they had been forced to move out of forest area. "Thus they can't collect roots and fruits. They suffer from total unemployment resulting in abject poverty."
These adivasis "who are extremely dignified and highly cultured communities" had been living in highly "dehumanised conditions" due to the utter lack of sensitivity of the low level bureaucracy which kept on demanding money from them and which subjected them to untold torture.
Mr. Rajagopal alleged that even social workers were not permitted to enter the forest areas and help them by organising a movement or any such thing. "Anyone who enters the forests is looked upon with suspicion." And tribals themselves had become informers.
For instance, 150 tribal villages in Tamil Nadu had been adopted by the Tamil Nadu police and Special Task Force were camping there. "The police should try to help these people by solving their land problems."
Referring to the Panchami land, which was estimated to be about 12 lakh acres notified by the Britishers for the Dalits, he said 96 per cent of these lands were now with non-Dalits. "Return these lands to the Dalits by identifying such lands," he demanded. He said he would submit his recommendations at the meeting of the National Land Reforms Council in Delhi.
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of "Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC")
Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.