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Posts Tagged ‘Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan suffers from chronic verborrhea. He shoots off jumlas with greater rapidity than in even Narendra Modi. If the rape of a child is highlighted in the media, he takes no time in announcing that child rapists will be given death sentence and his government will bring in the next session of the Assembly the bill to amend the relevant section of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If a rape is highlighted in the media, he promises death sentence for the rapist by amending the law. If a gang-rape is highlighted in the media, he shouts with full force the death sentence for all the rapists by amending the law in the next session of the Assembly. At present the IPC stipulates from seven years’ rigorous imprisonment to life term for rape, depending on the circumstances.

One thing, he has never moved to introduce a bill to amend the IPC. Secondly, his jumlas come out only when the crime is highlighted in the media. Scores of incidents of molestation and rape take place regularly in Madhya Pradesh outside the big cities and away from the media glare but Chouhan was never heard saying that he could not sleep because of that incident or that he will ensure that the rapist will be awarded the death sentence. Madhya Pradesh, incidentally records the highest molestation/rape incidents in the country. The State Assembly was told earlier this year that on an average, 11 women were raped every day and six women were gang-raped every week in the State during 2016, over half of the victims being minor. Between February 2016 and mid-February 2017, as many as 4279 women were raped and 248 were gang-raped in the State. Of the 4279 rape victims, 2260 were minors. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State had 5076 such cases in 2014 and 4391 cases in 2015.

The short-lived BJP government of Uma Bharti had addressed itself to the problem of humiliation of women in public and moved a bill in the Assembly to provide harsher punishment to the offenders. She, though, could not see it through. Babulal Gaur had replaced her as the chief minister by the time the bill was passed. It became part of the statute book in December 2004.

The bill added Subsection-A to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of woman) and provided that the offender ‘shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.’ The main Section provides for a maximum punishment of up to two years. Besides, the Madhya Pradesh amendment also provides for the same punishment to whoever abets or conspires in the act, which is not there in the main Section.

Difficult to say how the amended Section would have been enforced had Uma Bharti remained at the helm of affairs. Her successors (Babulal Gaur and then Shivraj Singh Chouhan), however, did not show any interest in this. The amended law was consigned to the archives once the gazette notification was made. Today most of those concerned – the politicians, the police officers and, of course, those for whose benefit the Act was amended — are not even aware that such a law exists.

Crime, particularly the crimes against women, has been steadily going up in Madhya Pradesh for quite some time. It was during the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of heinous crimes including murder, rape and dacoity. The trend continued almost unabated during the ten-year Congress regime of Digvijaya Singh. Bad law and order, with emphasis on crimes against women, formed part of Uma Bharti’s vigorous campaign for the November 2003 Assembly elections, along with what was then described as BSP (bijli, sadak, pani). Being a woman, she had shown particular sensitivity towards the plight of women. Under her leadership, the BJP captured power with an overwhelming majority.

It would be interesting to note that Chouhan, when he replaced Babulal Gaur as Chief Minister in November 2005, believed there was no rule of law in the State. This he put as his top priority. The Governor’s customary address to the Assembly at the beginning of Chouhan’s first budget session had specifically stated: ‘Meri Sarkar ki prathamikata kanoon ka raaj sthapit karana hai’ (the priority of my government is to establish the rule of law). The Governor’s address is always approved by the cabinet. Unfortunately, the law and order in the State has since been steadily deteriorating.

A major reason for this state of affairs is the total personalisation, not politicisation but personalisation, of the police force (once described by Madhya Pradesh High Court judge as ‘criminals in uniform’). Secondly, there are too many IPS officers and an acute shortage of the lower staff who do the field work. To top it all, there is the pathetic insensitivity of the police almost at every level. by the


During his first term as Leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly (2010-2013), Ajay Singh (Rahul Bhaiya) had made a name for himself for his aggressive stance against the wrong-doings of the BJP government of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. But in his second tenure, which began in February this year, not only his performance has been lack-lustre but this month he did something which will haunt his political career for the rest of his life. He collaborated in Chouhan’s clandestine move to get his own man appointed as Lokayukta of the State.

It was kept a closely guarded secret, known only to Chouhan, a few others involved, and Ajay Singh till an official announcement was made late in the night that former MP High Court judge Naresh Kumar Gupta had been appointed as the Lokayukta. Gujarat Governor O P Kohli, who has been holding additional charge of Madhya Pradesh for over a year, was flown in from Gandhinagar next day (October 18). He administered oath of office and secrecy to the new Lokayukta and flew back to Gandhinagar, barely spending a couple of hours in the Madhya Pradesh capital.

The law, rules and procedures were breached in appointment of Justice (Retd) Gupta as the Lokayukta. No panel of names was prepared and no meeting of selectors was held. Chouhan got a single name approved by the High Court Chief Justice and sent an officer to Ajay Singh to get his signature which the 62-year-old Congress leader obliged — all in secrecy. Appointment of Gupta as Lokayukta created another anomaly. Deputy Lokayukta Justice (Retd) U C Maheshwari had been acting as Lokayukta for over a year. Maheshwari was senior to Gupta by six years in the High Court and now Gupta has come to boss over him. A sullen Maheshwari did not attend Gupta’s swearing-in. A day before, he pushed off to Mhow to celebrate Diwali with his family.

Justice (Retd) Gupta was legal advisor to the Chouhan government before he was appointed a High Court judge in 2010. During that period he was said to have helped Chouhan manage some serious scams and had won the trust of Chouhan. According to PCC spokesman K K Mishra, Deputy Lokayukta Maheshwari was probing corruption charges against an influential IAS officer and now the investigation would naturally be taken over by Gupta as Maheshwari’s boss.

Ajay Singh has been receiving a lot of criticism, mainly from his own party men, for his complicity in Chouhan’s nefarious game. Congress Rajya Sabha member and senior lawyer Vivek Tankha wondered how the Chief Justice of the High Court and Leader of Opposition could become party to serious transgression of judicial procedures. Former Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Srinivas Tiwari and several other party leaders felt that Ajay Singh had forfeited the right to lead the Congress party in the Assembly. There are reports that a large number of missives have been sent to the party high command in Delhi about the unseemly conduct of Ajay Singh.

In a facile statement, Ajay Singh said that he did not know anything about gradation of High Court judges; the Chief Justice suggested the name, the Chief Minister sent it to him and he signed. How innocent! Even ninnies would not take his defence seriously.

Deputy Leader of Opposition Bala Bachan, who was acting Leader of Opposition before Ajay Singh was nominated to the post, came out with an observation that Chouhan had been trying to get Justice (Retd) Gupta appointed as Lokayukta for nearly a year; he had sent the officers from the CMO with Gupta’s name to Bala Bachan as many as six times and every time Bala Bachan returned them saying that he would not sign for a single name. Bachan had always insisted on a panel of three names to select from, as per the rules. When Bachan asked for the file so that he could note down his objections, the officers refused to give him the file, Bachan added. 

November 2017
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Fortune & Crime

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, originally attributed to 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac.

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