Impeachment move against judge – The Hindu
Among 500, only 19 couples across India got monetary assistance under inter-caste marriages scheme – The Economic Times
Non-payment of salary to faculty to be probed – The Hindu
Caste no bar: will the Supreme Court verdict end discrimination in temples? – Catch News
For a social cause – The Hindu
Media Manthan – Laxmanpur Bathe case: Issues of Dalits and Media
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Impeachment move against judge
members say Gujarat HC Judge Pardiwala’s comments on reservation are objectionable
A group of 58 RajyaSabha MPs moved an impeachment notice against Justice J.B. Pardiwala of the Gujarat High Court for his “objectionable remarks on the issue of reservation.”
The MPs, in their petition, said Justice Pardiwala’s comments on reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, while giving a ruling in a case against Patidar leader Hardik Patel, were objectionable.
The specific objection seemed to be connected to the observations made by the judge in paragraph 62 of the judgment. “If I am asked by anyone to name two things which have destroyed this country or rather have not allowed the country to progress in the right direction, then the same is, (i) Reservation and (ii) Corruption. It is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation after 65 years of Independence. When our Constitution was framed, it was understood that reservation would remain for a period of 10 years, but unfortunately, it has continued even after 65 years of Independence,” he said.
He had also said “countrymen should rise and fight against corruption at all levels, rather than shedding blood and indulging in violence for reservation. Reservation has only played the role of an amoeboid monster sowing seeds of discord amongst the people.
The MPs who signed the petition included those from the Congress, including former Minister Oscar Fernandes, and AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, Janata Dal (U) MP K.C. Tyagi, CPI leader D. Raja and MPs from the DMK and the BSP.
“We have taken exception to his remarks on reservation,” Mr. Tyagi told The Hindu .
If the presiding officer (in this case Vice-President Hamid Ansari) accepts the notice, he will have to constitute a three-member committee to probe whether the charge is serious enough to warrant removal under Article 124(4) of the Constitution.
In the past, Parliament has taken up impeachment motions only twice: in 1993 against Justice V. Ramaswami, which failed, and in 2011 against Justice SoumitraSen, who resigned after the RajyaSabha adopted the motion for his removal and sent it to the LokSabha to complete the process.
The Economic Times
Among 500, only 19 couples across India got monetary assistance under inter-caste marriages scheme
By Rohini Mohan, ET Bureau | 19 Dec, 2015, 05.40AM IST
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has a well-kept secret: a scheme to support inter-caste marriages. On December 17, however, the scheme was outed during the RajyaSabha question hour, and it showed the ministry was not keeping its vows. Up to 500 inter-caste couples across the country could receive monetary assistance, but only 19 did.
Since 2013, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has funded the Dr. Ambedkar Scheme for Social Integration through Inter-caste Marriages.
Administered by the Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, an autonomous government-sponsored body meant to further BhimraoAmbedkar’s ideas of social justice, the scheme gives a “financial incentive” of Rs 2.5 lakh to inter-caste married couples. Given the “enormity of social challenge” such marriages face, the ministry seeks to help couples taking “this bold step” to “settle down in the initial phase of their life.” The scheme targets 500 such marriages a year.
The “physical target” for each state or Union territory is fixed in proportion to its share of the scheduled caste population. A couple is eligible to apply within one year of their wedding, if either the groom or bride is from a scheduled caste, if their total annual income is less than Rs 5 lakh and it is the first marriage for both.
They must have an income certificate, caste certificates, and marriage registration under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955. Applications recommended by the sitting member of parliament, member of the legislative assembly or district magistrate have to be submitted by the state government to the Foundation.
On December 17, Pradeep Kumar Balmuchu, a member of parliament from Dhalbhumgarh in Jharkhand, asked why the application of an intercaste couple from his district had not been accepted and how many had received assistance from the ministry. In reply, minister of state for social justice and empowerment Vijay Sampla revealed that in 2015, there were only 19 beneficiaries of the scheme — five each from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, three each from New Delhi and West Bengal, two from Haryana and one from Rajasthan.
It’s not known how many applications were received in total since the scheme began, or how many have been accepted till date. MA Muralidharan, the foundation consultant in charge of the scheme, refused to answer ET’s queries on this and joint secretary BabulalMeena was unreachable. Sampla, a first-time BJP MP from Hoshiarpur, Punjab, and a Dalit himself, said, “We have approved all the applications that came to us in the proper channel. Maybe there aren’t many applications because people aren’t aware.” He blamed the media: “You think we are a dry-sa ministry, so you ignore these schemes.”
A source in the DrAmbedkar Foundation said that even state governments were ignorant. “I just received a phone call today from a groom who said his district welfare officer didn’t accept his application saying there is no such scheme.” Most states have incentives for inter-caste marriages ranging from Rs 5,000 in West Bengal toRs 1 lakh in Goa. In his reply to Balmuchu’s question, minister of state for social justice PorikaBalramNaik said central assistance released to the states for inter-caste marriage schemes was Rs 68.6 crore in FY10, Rs 69.8 crore in FY11, Rs 72 crore in FY12 and Rs 55.35 crore in FY13.
In 2013, the ministry launched the dedicated central scheme giving Rs 2.5 lakh per couple. Women’s rights activist JagmatiSangwan, who has helped set up protection homes for hundreds of inter-caste couples in Haryana, was surprised she had never heard of the scheme.
After reading up about it, Sangwan told ET, “Governments set up good schemes on public pressure, but then seem to work harder to hide than publicise it. Then, to get recommendations from state MLAs and MPs is rarely possible — firstly the couple is often hiding away from their village, and secondly, most political leaders do not want to be seen supporting intercaste marriages.”
The foundation member conceded: “The scheme is meant to promote a casteless society, but it is often stuck in bureaucratic obstacles.” With the caste data from the Socio-Economic and Caste Census still not released, there is no reliable government data on inter-caste marriages in the country yet.
The India Human Development Survey, the largest non-government household survey conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland in 2014, found that only 5.4% of Indian marriages were intercaste. But Sangwan said inter-caste marriages are on the rise, and so is the violence against such couples.
“If an uppercaste girl marries a Dalit boy, they have to immediately go into hiding to avoid attacks, so financial help is crucial for mere survival,” Sangwan said. “The government must create more awareness about these schemes, and amend processes that won’t require already struggling couples to get MLA letters and documentation.”
Non-payment of salary to faculty to be probed
National Commission for Scheduled Castes will probe allegations that the CBM College of Arts and Science management had not paid salaries to faculty appointed temporarily to fill vacancies.
The Commission, in its letter of November 27, 2015, said, “…the Commission has decided to investigate/inquire into matter in pursuance of the powers conferred upon it under Article 338 of the Constitution.”
It also directed the Secretary, Higher Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, and Superintendent of Police, Coimbatore Rural, to submit the facts, information and action taken on the allegations by December 27, 2015.
The Commission’s inquiry is based on complaint by 12 faculty members that the college management, ever since their appointment in the start of this academic year, had been delaying payment of salary.
One of the faculty said that they got their salary for June and July only after they staged a protest in August.
In August, the management refused to pay salary saying that the students went on strike and that no classes were held.
But after intervention from authorities, the management paid half-a-month salary.
The story for September, October salary was no different, the faculty said and added that they were yet to receive the salary for November.
The college management paid between Rs. 3,500 and Rs. 7,000 a month.
The college secretary C.M. Ramraj said “it was a silly matter” and non-issue because many of the faculty who had lodged complaints “were not on pay roll.” If the National Commission for Scheduled Castes were to raise questions, the management was ready to answer those.
Caste no bar: will the Supreme Court verdict end discrimination in temples?
|19 December 2015
- Supreme Court has ruled that birth or caste can’t be the sole basis for priesthood
- This can potentially make priesthood open to non-Brahmins
- Priesthood has been a monopoly of Brahmins
- Even now there are many temples were lower castes can’t enter , leave alone becoming priests
More in the story
- How the Court’s verdict is on the lines of what BR Ambedkar wanted
- How have priests and the VHP reacted to the verdict?
- Can the decision be implemented?
The Supreme Court has ruled that “caste, birth or any other constitutionally unacceptable parameters” cannot be the sole basis of appointment of priests in temples and other religious institutions.
Delivering its verdict on a petition filed by priests of Madurai’s Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple, the court said that “constitutional legitimacy must supercede all religious beliefs or practices”.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices RanjanGogoi and NV Ramana interpreted Article 16(5) of the Constitution to clarify that inclusion or exclusion of a particular segment for appointment as priests in temples or other religious institutions can be ratified only when “such exclusion is not on the basis of caste, birth or pedigree.”
The extent of state intervention in religious affairs has been the subject of much debate in India. Ancient Hindu traditions entrust the management of religious shrines to the priests. However, priests have invariably been chosen on the basis of their caste and clan. Priesthood is still considered as a monopoly of one particular caste – Brahmins. The custom has taken the form of an unwritten law over centuries.
Ambedkar on priesthood
The Supreme Court’s verdict is, in some ways, on lines of the ideals of BR Ambedkar.
In a speech titled “Annihilation of Caste” Ambedkar wrote: “Engineers must show proficiency, doctors must show proficiency, lawyers must show proficiency, before they are allowed to practice their professions. The priest’s is the only profession where proficiency is not required. The profession of a Hindu priest is the only profession which is not subject to any code.”
The speech was meant for the 1936 annual conference of a Hindu reformist group Jat-Pat TodakMandal, but it never got delivered as Ambedkar’s invitation was withdrawn due to the speech’s content.
SC has ruled that no one can be excluded from priesthood based on caste, birth or pedigree
He further stated, “It would be better if priesthood among Hindus was abolished. But as this seems to be impossible, the priesthood must at least cease to be hereditary. Every person who professes to be a Hindu must be eligible for being a priest. It should be provided by law that no Hindu shall be entitled to be a priest unless he has passed an examination prescribed by the state.”
Tradition versus reform
A section of the Hindu society has always defended this practice in the name of tradition.
As Dalit intellectual Kanwal Bharti puts it; “the caste system is a reality in Hinduism. The religion has not opened its temples to lower castes till date. Breaking the fiefdom of a particular caste over priesthood is a far cry under such circumstances.”
Religious guru Swami Deepankar invokes age old traditions to justify Brahmin dominance over priesthood. Terming the court verdict as interference in religious matters, he demands review of the decision.
According to him, “Priesthood should remain in the hands of Brahmins as it is the custom since time immemorial.”
“Who will perform ‘shudhi’ (purification rituals) at the hands of a Dalit?” he asks.
Swami Deepankar maintains that everybody has a right to worship but only Brahmins can become priests.
“There is no other profession left for Brahmins. What will they do, if you take away this right from them? They will have to rise in protest,” he retorts.
Temples still out of bounds for lower castes
Two months ago, a 90-years old Dalit was first hacked by an axe and then put to fire in Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh. He was trying to enter a temple with his family.
In the same month, BahujanSamaj Party hit the streets of Dehradun, protesting against ban on the entry of Dalits at a temple at Gobla village.
In November, there were reports of a Dalit being prohibited from entering a temple in Dutragaon in Karnataka.
Even Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi, KumariSelja and TarunGogoi have claimed they were mistreated at temples.
Selja, who is a Dalit, complained in Parliament that she was asked about her caste at the gates of Gujarat’s Dwarka Temple. Her statement caused a furore in the RajyaSabha.
VHP leader Surinder Jain feels these incidents are mere aberrations. He alleges the Congress leaders are lying to the nation.
Ironically, these controversies have erupted at a time when the country was commemorating Ambedkar and the Constitution.
Jain claims his organisation has helped many deserving candidates of the backward castes become priests.
“The Supreme Court decision sounds contrary to traditions, but it is not so. It has only validated religious traditions. The verdict recognises ‘Agama Shashtra’ (or ancient Hindu rituals) in this case. Therefore, nothing will change on the ground,” says Jain.
Many temples in the country allow only Brahmins of a certain lineage to become priests. For instance, the priest of Tirupati temple have to belong to a specific sub-caste of Brahmins.
According to Ambedkar, priesthood is the only profession where no proficiency is required.
When asked about this discrimination, Jain replies, “The Constitution gives recognition to religious traditions. Even the Supreme Court acknowledges this fact.”
Kanwal Bharti agrees that VHP has enabled many non-Brahmins to become priests. According to him, only those who surrendered to the dogmas of Sanatani traditions were extended this favor. Bharti reminds how Brahmins had bitterly opposed Swami Vivekananda when he talked about reforms in Hinduism.
Constitutional expert SubhashKashyap refused to comment on the judgment apprehending the possibility of politics over the matter.
But the question is, will this judgment infringe upon personal laws of various religions? Bharti denies this possibility.
According to him, “Leaders of other religions remain silent, whenever such a judgment is passed. They know a common civil code will only harm their interests.”
Bharti, who is against Dalits worshipping in temples, says that the court has only only interpreted the matter in legal terms. Every religion is same before the law. But they all have their personal laws. There is a tacit agreement among all religious leaders over such verdicts.
For a social cause
GhanshamBhandage, the first differently-abled film producer from the State to win the State Award for best film, never thought that his film, despite the lack of a commercial angle, would be appreciated by the people
Physically though his movements are largely constricted to the wheelchair, his aspirations and dreams are flying high in the world of celluloid. The success of his first maiden venture into Sandalwood, has enthused him to produce more message-based films.
GhanshamBhandage, a differently-abled person from Bagalkot district of North Karnataka region, has arguably became the first ‘disabled’ person of the State whose first film as producer; ‘IngaleMarga’ not only earned him a name in industry, but won the State Award for best film.
“I was extremely delighted when the news of the award came to me. I never thought that my film, which does not have a commercial angle, would be appreciated by people,” he said.
Bhandage had selected a story which is unconventional, and from any angle, did not stand under the category of commercial film. Yet, he dared to produce the film that has a message for the society. “Films have always fascinated me, but I had never thought seriously about producing a film. It was accidental that one of my friends, during a casual conversation, encouraged me to get into this unknown arena,” he said.
He recalls that he came across a novel which is based on the life of DevarayaIngale; a man who sacrificed his life for Dalits and fought against social evils such as Devadasi system.
“The novel, for some unexplainable reasons, struck an emotional chord with me. I decided to transform the novel into a motion picture,”he said.
“A native of Ingale village of Athanitaluk of Belagavi district, Devaraya brought revelation in the lives of the Dalits in his region. Despite facing social boycott and undergoing mental agony, he relentlessly fought for the rights of Dalits. In fact, he made Ambedkar visit Karnataka for the first time,” he said.
Bhandage said that being the native of North Karnataka, he has given a chance to over 80 per cent artists of this region in his maiden film.
“I was determined to make the film. I spent a large portion of money that I received as compensation against the land I lost when the height of Almatti dam under Upper Krishna Project was increased. The total cost of production reached Rs. 75 lakh,” he said. In one of the movie halls in Bagalkot city, the film ran for 500 days.
Bhandage said that the film is now being dubbed into seven different languages of the country.
Encouraged by the public response, he has decided make another film ‘Kengulabi’ which is based on the life of a sex worker and her struggle in the society to live a dignified life.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET