Paush Purnima Vik Samvat 2070. Yugabda 5115: January 16, 2014 (top)

MAKAR SANKRANTI CELEBRATED Common man only can bring to nation its pristine glory
RSS has done good work towards promoting the values of dedication GO-HOME LIBRARY - An Appeal
Krishna Leela spellbind audience at Kirchi Kirchi Karachi event Reunion Initiates Major Training Project in BHARATIYA Art and Architecture
Bharatiya-American named member of Chinese Academy of Sciences Century-Old Temple Conflict Ends
Hindus laud Albuquerque Public Schools for offering yoga Hindu Munnani welcomes the stand of TN Government on Ram Sethu
Relevance of  the institute of Joint Family MISSIONARIES IN INDIA: CONVERSION OR COERCION?

1. FESTIVALS: Magh Purnima, also known as Maghi Purnima, the full moon day of the month of Magh falls on February 14 this year. According to Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Bhagwan Vishnu resides in the water of Ganga on this day. Magha Purnima is a bathing day as sacred as Kartik Purnima. A bath at Sangam at Prayag is considered the most auspicious on this day. Grand festivities take place along the banks of holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Sarayu, Narmada, Tapti, Kaveri, Krishna and Godavari etc. Taking a holy dip on this day in Kumbakonam, Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram in Tamilnadu and Pushkar in Rajasthan is also considered to be very auspicious.

The 'float' festival is celebrated at Madurai in Tamil Nadu, on this day. The ornately decorated idols and images of Lord Sundeshwara and Meenakshi are mounted on the floats and are taken to Mariamman Teppakulam Sarovar which is a large sacred tank in Madurai. The procession is accompanied by music and chanting devotional songs. Magh Purnima is the birthday of King Tirumala Nayak who constructed the Mariamman Teppakulam, a few kilometres to the East of Madurai.
There is a special significance of this day in Buddhism as well. It is believed that Gautam Buddha announced his impending nirvana on this day. There are religious ceremonies held at Viharas, prayers are dedicated to the Buddha. Back

2. SUCCESSFULL LAUNCHING OF GSLV WITH INDIGENOUS CRYOGENIC ENGINE: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched GSLV-D5 rocket on 5th January, which is powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

Seventeen minutes after liftoff at 4.18pm, the rocket successfully injected GSAT-14 communication satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
"The launch has been so precise that the satellite was put just 40 metres within the 179km perigee and only 50km of the 36,000km apogee," mission director K Sivan said.
ISRO achieved the feat after two failures earlier. While Bharat has mastered the PSLV range of rockets with a string of 25 consecutive successes, GSLV, which can carry heavier payloads including humans to space, has remained a challenge.
Cryogenics, the science of extremely low temperatures, has posed a challenge to rocket scientists across the world. With this GSLV-D5, Bharat is joining countries like the US, Russia, Japan, France and China which have successfully developed their own cryogenic engines. Back

3. MAKAR SANKRANTI CELEBRATED: Tens of thousands of faithfuls on January 14 took holy dip in rivers and ponds and offered prayers in temples on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti which was celebrated across the country with gaiety and fervour. Braving early morning winter chill, devotees in North Bharat bathed in sacred rivers and ponds and made a beeline to temples to offer prayers.

The devout offered goods made of "til" (sesame) to the poor, an act of charity believed to bring spiritual benefit on Makar Sankranti when the Sun enters the Tropic of Capricorn.
In Allahabad, thousands converged at the Sangam, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, to take a holy dip.
In Kanpur, Makar Sankranti, also known as Khichdi, was celebrated amid religious fervour. People distributed khichdi among homeless and poor as a mark of charity. Around 10-12 lakh devotees took a holy dip in the Ganga on the occasion of Makar Sankranti in Sagar, a West Bengal island considered auspicious by Hindus.
Colourful kites dotted the skyline of many towns on the occasion with children, young and old camping themselves on rooftops to enjoy the festival. In Pink City Jaipur, where Makar Sakranti is celebrated as a festival of kites, enthusiasts perched themselves on the roof of their houses at the break of dawn to fly kites.
Variously hailed as "Tamilar Thirunal,"(festival of Tamils), "Uzhavar Thirunal" (farmers' carnival), and "Aruvadai Thirunal," (harvest festival)" the Pongal celebrations got off to a colourful start early in the morning in Tamilnadu. In both urban and rural regions, streets in residential localities were decked up with colourful ornate drawings out of flour (Kolam in Tamil). In several towns like Agastheeswaram in Kanyakumari district, "Community Pongal" was celebrated in which people cutting across social strata come together to observe the festival. Special prayers were held in temples on the occasion. Temple elephants, now at a rejuvenation camp in Thekkampatti on the foothills of Nilgiris district, prostrated before Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, and they were offered Pongal.
Lakhs Witness 'Makara Jyothi': In an atmosphere of gaiety and religious fervour, lakhs of pilgrims witnessed Makara Jyothi when deeparadhana was conducted after adorning the Thiruvabharanam on the idol of Lord Ayyappa at 6.40 pm on January 14. While waiting for the appearance of Makara Jyothi on the eastern sky above the hill shrine, lakhs of pilgrims were overwhelmed by the darsan of Lord Ayyappa at the Sopanam and the atmosphere was filled with chants of ‘Swamiye Saranamayyappa’.
The Sannidhanam and the surrounding areas of the temple, especially Pandithavalam, Saramkuthi and Malikappuram, were thronged by the devotees.
Malikappuram Procession: The customary Malikappuram procession, carrying the Thidambu of Malikappuram Devi on a caparisoned elephant, was taken out at 7 pm. The procession went near the Holy Steps at the Lower Thirumuttam.
Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in North-East: The entire northeastern region is a land of festivals. All the janjatis, people inhabiting the plains and the hills rejoice in their festivals all around the year. Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival which is celebrated in the month of January. Bhogali bihu is celebrated at a time when all the cultivation works get over and everyone has plenty to eat and enjoy. 'Uruka' is the first day of the festival and is devoted to the God of fire, Agni.
As the name ‘Bhogali' suggests feasting, this Bihu is a celebration of food after a good harvest and a variety of sweets are prepared from rice, coconut and til. On the ‘Uruka' night, community feasts are arranged by people preparing local delicacies with fish and meat. The Gaan-Ngai festival: Similar to Magh Bihu of Assam, the Zeliongrong tribes of Manipur and Nagaland celebrate the festival of Gaan-Ngai on the same days. This is the biggest post harvest festival which was opened on January 13 this year by the Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur Gaikhangam.  Back

4.   Common man only can bring to nation its pristine glory: Bhagwat: RSS Sarasanghachalak Dr. Mohan Bhagwat on January 5 made a candid statement that only and only common man in this country can bring to the nation its pristine glory. Dr. Bhagwat was speaking at the concluding ceremony of the ‘Sankalp Mahashivir’ of the Mahakoshal Prant of RSS at Jabalpur, where about 40,000 RSS activists had gathered for 3 days. He said, “Nations cannot be built on behest of one person, or a political party or an organization. The nation needs a motivated, dedicated, organized society for that. The electrifying power of such an organized common man only can bring the desired change in the society. And that is the very reason why RSS has dedicated itself to the cause of organizing the society for the last 88 years.” RSS Sarkaryavah  Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi inaugurated the Shvir on January 3 at Vivekananda Puram Parisar located at Vijay Nagar.  Sarsanghachalak Dr. Mohan Bhagwat, senior functionaries Dr Kailash Gupta, and others were also present on the occasion.Back

5. RSS has done good work towards promoting the values of dedication: Dalai Lama: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on  January 10 praised the RSS for its support to the Tibetan cause and said it has done good work towards promoting the values of discipline and dedication. Dalai Lama was talking to mediapersons at the RSS Smruti Mandir premises after paying tributes to RSS founder late K B Hedgewar and his successor Guruji Golwalkar at their memorials in Nagpur.
 “RSS has always supported the cause of Tibet and hence I always had love for it,” Dalai Lama said, adding, “RSS thinks not just for Bharat but for the entire world.” RSS paschim kshetra sahkaryavaha Ravi Joshi and Nagpur mahanagar Sanghchalak Dilip Gupta accompanied him during the visit. Back
6. GO-HOME LIBRARY - An Appeal: Having 10 years experience in working with youth library movement in Arunachal Pradesh, where there is no facilitation for supplementary books for extra reading or libraries for joyful reading for school going children in particular and the educated people in general, RIWATCH is launching a massive programme called ‘Go-Home Library’. Sathyanarayanan Mundayoor who has done pioneering work in popularizing good reading habits among children through the Lohit Youth Library Network will be leading the programme.
“If the people don’t go to libraries, the libraries should go to people,” with this objective RIWATCH proposes to pack a bag of 20 books and make it reach to the doors of the reader. It proposes to launch 100 such bags initially in two selected districts and later spread to other districts, making it a gigantic movement to make reach stimulating, knowledge-building and joyful reading books at the door level of the reader. For more details please contact: Back

7. Krishna Leela spellbind audience at Kirchi Kirchi Karachi event: It was an unique opportunity for artists from minority Hindu community in Pakistan when they showcased their talent at Kirchi Kirchi Karachi event. Krishna Leela performed by Ajay Salok Jagarnath and his team was a showstopper at the event. Tehrik e Niswan had this unique event of dance performance and theatre play on January 5 in Karachi. Tehrik E Niswan is one of the prominent groups of theatre play and Kathak Dance in Pakistan. The group is mentored by Sheema Karmani. Many artists from Hindu community showcased their talent in the event.
Ajay Salok Jagannath from Pakistan Hindu Seva and his team presented Krishna Leela which received big applause from the audience in the auditorium full with more than 2000 families and youngsters. Majority of the audience had come from slum areas of Karachi like Lyari, Korangi, Lines Areas, orange town, kutti pahaddhi etc. Back

8.  Reunion Initiates Major Training Project in BHARATIYA Art and Architecture: Reunion is a department (like a state) of France located off the African coast with a substantial Tamil population brought years ago to the island. This training project is a major innovation as parts of the Tamil population work to re-establish their Hindu faith, earlier generations having converted to Catholicism.
On December 23, a training agreement concerning Bharatiya crafts was signed by Daniel Minienpoulle, president of the Reunion Tamil Federation and Bernard Picardo, president of the government Chamber of Trades and Crafts in Reunion. It was signed at a conference in the presence of the Consul General of  Bharat, Raju George, the director of the government office of employment and the director of the Reunion Island Chamber of Commerce. Daniel Minienpoulle reported that "over the past 30 years, major renovations of Hindu temples have been made in Reunion. In an effort to transfer the Bharatiya know-how, given the demand in Reunion and high unemployment, it is important for us to provide the establishment of a training facility for Reunion artisans to learn how to do Bharatiya temple art (sculpture, painting and decorating) in terms of maintenance and renovation."
In the early 1990's the services of sthapatis (architects) and shilpis (skilled workers,) experts in the art of Bharatiya temple construction, was obtained from South Bharat. Their mission was to renovate the Indo-Creole style wood and concrete temples and transform them as much as possible to the South Bharatiya style.The first two temples to see this renovation were the Colossus Kovil, inaugurated in 1995, and the Saint-Denis temple in 1996. Nearly twenty temples have since been rebuilt or renovated, and the process is still ongoing with a potential further fifty places of worship planned. Private cultural venues have also benefited from this renovation initiative.Back
9. Bharatiya-American named member of Chinese Academy of Sciences: An eminent Bharatiya-American scientist and president of the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University in the US has been named a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Subra Suresh has been recognised for his scientific contributions in materials science and engineering, including his work connecting nano-mechanical cell structure to disease states, the university said. Back

10. Century-Old Temple Conflict Ends: Supreme Court ruled on January 6, 2014 that the famous Nataraja temple in the town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu will continue to be managed by priests and not taken over the state government. Back

11. LARGEST SOLAR COOKING SESSION: As many as 3,484 children from over 80 schools participated in the largest solar cooking initiative Suryakumbh in Uttan village near Bhayander, Mumbai on January 4. The event has qualified as an entry to the Guinness Book of World Records.Back
The emergence of renewable sources of energy as an answer to the imminent exhaustion of conventional energy sources pushed a Bhayander NGO, Keshav Srushti, to start with the most influential members of society, children.
“We provided each child with his own solar cooker to assemble and, later, take home to share the knowledge with his family and friends. This activity will help them understand the importance of solar energy and also how it works,” said Satish Sinnarkar, vice-president of Keshav Srushti, who claims they got more applications than the number they had allotted for the activity. The earlier record was set last year at Jalna in Maharashtra, where 2,200 students took part in a solar cooking session. The children were amazed by the construction and working of these solar cookers and were surprisingly well informed.

12. PRAVASI BHARATIYA SAMMAN FOR KURIEN FROM BAHRAIN: A top Bahrain businessman has been awarded the highest civilian honour for non-resident Bharatiyas. Varghese Kurian, chairman and managing director of Al Namal and VKL Group, was honoured by the government of Bharat with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award at a glittering ceremony in New Delhi on January 9.
Kurian, who is the largest Bharatiya investor in Bahrain, received his award from Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of more than 1,000 members of the Bharatiya diaspora from more than 50 countries. He is the only Bharatiya from Bahrain to win the award this year and was one of the 14 global Bharatiyas to be honoured.
Addressing the gathering, Rashtrapatiji reiterated that overseas Bharatiyas could play an important role in the growth and development of Bharat. He said they had within them the experience, expertise and knowledge gained as a result of their life abroad, which could be of immense benefit to Bharat.Kurian was singled out for his bold business initiatives that have cemented the already strong ties between Bahrain and Bharat, and his philanthropy.
Mahatma Gandhi's grand-daughter Ela Gandhi, Australian senator of Bharatiya origin Lisa Maria Singh, Canada-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Vasdev Chanchlani, France-based educationist Bikas Chandra Sanyal and Ramkrishna Mission in Fiji were among the other 13 recipients of the award.Back

13. Hindus laud Albuquerque Public Schools for offering yoga: Hindus have applauded Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) in New Mexico (USA) for reportedly offering yoga in its various schools, and have urged all New Mexico school districts to do the same for their pupils. According to USA’s National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. About 21 million Americans, including many celebrities, now practice yoga. Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Rajan Zed distinguished Hindu statesman said.
APS, largest school district in New Mexico and 30th largest in USA, has about 90,000 students, including over 5,000 homeless, in its 140 schools. Over a third of its students come from homes where the primary language is not English; and one of its schools has its own film studio. Martin Esquivel is President of APS Board of Education.Back

14.   Hindu Munnani welcomes the stand of TN Government on Ram Sethu: The Tamilnadu government has reiterated the Supreme Court should direct the Centre not to implement the Sethusamudram project. Sri Ramagopalan, Hindu Munnani, in a press release, has welcomed the stand of Tamilnadu Government to scrap the Sethusamudram Project and regard the bridge as a national monument. He also cautioned that the Hindus will not tolerate if any action taken by the Central Government against their sentiments.  Back

15. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: Shri Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag is on a pravas to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Visitors: Jagdish Sehwani - USA, Vinoo Vadher, Subodh Thacker - UK, Vimal Chadha – Kenya, Balesh – Australia,  Abhinandan - Botswana  Back

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Let us all work hard, my brethren; this is no time for sleep. On our work depends the coming of the Bharat of the future. She is there ready waiting. She is only sleeping. Arise and awake, and see her seated here, more glorious than she ever was, this motherland of ours. – Swami Vivekajanda.Back
Dr Ashok Modak
The institution of joint family is an asset in Bharat as obvious as the sunlight. Tragedy however lies in the fact that elite in Bharat who are enamored by the modern life pattern in the Euro-American world rush to deprecate this institution. They think that elderly people dominate joint families and the members of young generations naturally come across several impediments in the march towards modernity. The clashes between old style and modern ways generally result in the victory of the former, because protagonists of the ancient ethos easily curb the aspiration of young boys and girls. We cannot of course deny that whenever and wherever fathers and grandfathers happen to be dogmatic and extremists, young members do find their stay in the joint family as quite uncomfortable. And that’s why beautiful balance between old and new is a must for the healthy atmosphere in the joint family. Overall assessment, of course leads one to state that phase of the joint family do overcome minuses.
As the elites in India do impress common masses, their imitation of the life patterns prevalent in the Euro-American world has generated remarkable craze among ordinary souls for rampant consumerism. Such a craze encourages naked selfishness and equally stark pursuit to raise living standards at a fast speed. One may here refer to the interesting comment made by Alan Greenspan, former chief of the Federal Reserve System of the Limited States, as it epitomizes the American mood, reflective of the gilded age. The comment runs as follows: “The propensity to save is a sign of backwardness”. The Americans’ rush to implement this comment is practice has caused a great damage to the environment. It has moreover led people there to opt for subprime loans and to indulge in shameless corrupt transactions.
Indian elites, prone to be Xerox copies of Americans appear to be busy in accomplishing greed, least bothering for their relatives’ well being and for their own rainy season. They are tempted to outsource several family obligations and responsibilities to market institutions. Thus, cooking has been entrusted to restaurants, child bearing has been put into surrogate mothers, care and the parents have been sent to old mens’ houses! Here we feel that the institution of joint family which imbibes invaluable samskaras or imprint on the minds of family-members to thumb of others! Indian family fully implements the Marxian dream: “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs”. An earning member of each family accordingly accepts the claims of all relatives over his or her income. Thus an infant in the cradle as well as an unfortunate aunt who has lost her husband are treated as honorable claimants over the earning of working members. The very claimant similarly keeps aside his or her greed and feels satisfied in accomplishing bare needs!
A genuine family-man gladly abandons or sacrifices his personal interests for the sake of the family. In the epic Mahabharata, Vidura rightly advised Dhritarashtra to give a share of the kingdom to the Pandavas and to ignore the admand demand of Doryodhana on the ground that Pandavas and Kauravas belong to the same family and one person must be abandoned for protecting the family. Vidura here quoted the following shloka for justifying his stand:
त्यजेदेकं कुलस्यार्थे, ग्रामस्यार्थे कुलं त्यजेत।
ग्रामं जनपदस्यार्थे, ह्यात्मार्थे पृथिवीं त्यजेत॥
(One person may be abandoned for protecting a family, the family may be abandoned for protecting s town, the town may be abandoned for the protection of the society and even the earth may be abandoned for the protection of the Atman)
This shloka thus, convey to us that in the human life the family imparts basis lessons of sacrifice for the society. The family condemns that fellow who being inspired by the desire of enjoying the objects of pleasure or by avarice causes pains to others. Our Hindu ethos no doubt, asks us to treat the whole world as family. One should not, however, forget that the abandonment on my part of selfishness for the sake of my family is the forst basic step necessary for climbing the ladder for reaching the ultimate goal of  वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम ।
How can we forget the golden advice given by Kunti to Yudhishtir when the latter ascended the throne after the Bharati War that his mind should always be great! मनस्ते महदस्तुच ! “O my son, may your mind be always great, be always broad”.
The role played by the mother in the joint family is indeed basic! If we want to do away with the cruel speed of consumerism, permissivism and philistinism if we want to create calm, quiet and secure surrounding around us with a view to enjoying healthy, fruitful life we must strengthen the institution of a joint family. 
Author is former member of Maharashtra's legislative assembly. -- News Bharati English, Back

Philip Goldberg
Imagine you're poor and living in a rural area. Your child gets sick. You manage to transport her to a hospital or clinic. To your relief, the condition is treatable. But the cost of treatment is not just beyond your means, it's beyond your imagining. However, says the kindly health care worker, you can get the treatment free of charge. All you have to do is renounce the centuries-old traditions of your people and convert to a foreign religion.
Such offers are being made to desperate people in the villages and tribal areas of Bharat.
I just returned from a month in that country, to mark the Bharatiya publication of my book, American Veda. In the 18 cities I visited, the most frequently mentioned topic was the shady tactics of certain missionaries.
Not all of them, mind you. Not the intrepid souls who work selflessly to help the poor, the afflicted, and the illiterate, in the spirit of their savior's exhortation to serve "the least of these." Such missionaries have been welcome in Bharat for centuries, and the Hindus I spoke to are grateful for their good works.
What is causing consternation and anger is a new breed of zealots, heavily financed by American fundamentalists, who seem driven to pile up numbers like door-to-door salesmen racking up commissions. Determined, fervent, and creative in pursuit of souls to save, they sound more like the snake-oil hucksters of legend than servants of Christ.
Targeting mainly the impoverished and uneducated, some of their tactics make the hospital bargain I described earlier look as reputable as ordering a book from Amazon. I was told of missionaries giving people temporary jobs in return for converting, and then threatening them with job loss -- not to mention eternal damnation -- if they reconvert to Hinduism. Families have apparently been torn apart because the converts are made to disassociate from the heathen.
I heard about missionaries who dress in orange robes to look like swamis. Gullible and desperate villagers are told that their traditional gods are actually corrupted versions of Christ; that the venerable saints and sages of Bharat's past were really Christians; that the three horizontal stripes traditionally drawn on the foreheads of Shiva devotees stand for the Holy Trinity; that the Upanishadic prayer that includes "Lead us from darkness to light" was meant as a cry for Jesus to save them.
A mother is sick? A father loses his source of income and can't feed his family? The bus filled with youngsters suddenly "stalls" on a dangerous mountain road? Well, say the missionaries, try praying to your Hindu gods. Hmmm, imagine that: nothing changes. Well then, see what happens if you pray to Jesus.
Wow! Lo and behold! The mother receives medicine. The father gets a one-day job that puts rice on the table. The bus engine starts again! If one prayer to Jesus produces miracles like those, imagine what converting will do!
I heard about people being told that their misfortune derives from their worship of Hindu deities, because the idols are really forms of the Devil; about village strongmen being paid to coerce conversions from other villagers; about women given a choice of walking a mile to haul water from their usual source or using the new well conveniently dug in front of a church. The price? Conversion, of course.
I don't know if these egregious actions are commonplace or rarities. I do know that they are dishonorable. They're about coercion, not spiritual conversion; extortion, not the exchange of ideas. And, if I may say so as a non-Christian, they are an affront to Jesus, whom every Hindu I've ever met regards as a holy man of the highest order if not an incarnation of God. I can't help thinking that he would be as outraged by the deception being perpetrated in his name as he was about the moneylenders in the temple.
I told people in Bharat that most American Christians would be appalled if they knew what was being done by their overly aggressive brethren. I was tempted to wait until after Christmas to test that thesis, but I decided that this season of goodwill might be the ideal time. So, what do you think, my Christian sisters and brothers? Is there some cosmic war for souls going on, in which anything goes? Or are there rules of engagement that civilized people should observe? What would Jesus say? – Huffington Post, 20.12.2013. Back
Arun Jaitley
The founding fathers of our Constitution envisaged the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution. Article 44 of the Constitution states, “The state shall endeavour to ensure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Uniform Civil Code can only deal with rights of the citizens and not religious rituals. However, some people misguided themselves to believe that a uniform civil code would be an interference in their religious rights. The framers of our laws while still permitting separate personal laws dealing with civil rights did not make any exception with regard to criminal law. A crime is a crime irrespective of the birth marks of the criminal. His religious beliefs cannot determine his guilt or innocence.
The Union Home Minister, Shri Sushilkumar Shinde, has announced that he would be writing to all Chief Ministers to review terrorism cases against members of the minority communities. Obviously, he has only religious minority and not linguistic minority in his mind. He expects the State Government to set up Review Committees to deal with cases against a category of citizens and not all persons who have been charged for terrorism offences. This raises certain fundamental questions with regard to the propriety and the legality of the move initiated by the Home Minister.
The move is clearly political. There are several persons charged with offences of terror in Bharat. The provisions have been invoked against those associated with certain radical Islamic groups. In the last few years there are a few members of the majority community also who were charged in a set of cases. Maoists have been charged in terror offences in several parts of the country. The provisions of the anti-terror laws have been invoked against some persons in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir. There are pre-2004 cases pending under POTA. Subsequent cases are predominantly under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A move that only a certain category of cases would be reviewed on the eve of elections is intended to link the otherwise uniform application of criminal law with vote bank politics.
Such a move is clearly unconstitutional. Article 14 guarantees to every citizen a right to equality. There can be a reasonable classification based on an intelligible and distinctive criteria. The criteria that the facility of reviewing terror cases would be extended to persons depending on which faith they believe in or are born into is clearly unconstitutional. A crime does not cease to be a crime because a criminal practices in a particular faith. States are now being mandated by the Union Home Ministry to review cases of only persons belonging to a certain faith. An atheist, agnostic and believers in the Hindu faith would admittedly be kept out. A contradiction would also be there. The believers of Hindu faith would constitute a minority in Jammu & Kashmir and certain States of North-East. Would they be eligible for review in these States or would the majority in these States be treated as national minority and be eligible for review of cases? What would happen to cases (say against the Maoists) where some of the co-accused belong to one religion and others belong to a different community. There can be no doubt that the criteria adopted by the Union Home Minister is clearly violative of the constitutional guarantee of equality since it is not based on rationale or intelligible criteria.
The power to withdraw a prosecution is circumscribed by section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code. It is only a Public Prosecutor who after application of mind for ‘good reason has the power to move the court seeking withdrawal of a case. The judge has to apply his mind to allow the withdrawal of a case. Criminal law does not provide for any review Committee for withdrawal of pending cases where charge sheets have been filed. Whenever law makers have felt the need, they have specifically provided for such a Review Committee. An extra legal review committee which substitutes the discretion of the public prosecutor and the judge follows a procedure unknown to law. The same is clearly violative of even the provisions of criminal law.
The directive/advisory of the Union Home Minister to the States to discriminate between criminals on basis of religion is based on an improper policy. It violates the constitutional guarantee of equality. It is violative of the fundamental principles and provisions of criminal law. The States are not bound by such unconstitutional directives of the Home Minister. (Writer is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha) — The Pioneer, Bhopal, January 12, 2014.Back