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Posts Tagged ‘Vyapam

The recent judgement of the Supreme Court in the K K Mishra case is a blow to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. It may haunt the ruling BJP, particularly the Chief Minister, through the Assembly elections due in November this year. The apex court judgement is also a sad reflection on the session judge of Bhopal who had tried the case initially.

The case in nutshell is like this. K K Mishra, who is the chief spokesperson of the State Congress, had made the following observations at a press conference he had convened at the PCC office in June 2014: as many as 19 among the transport inspectors appointed by the State government were from Gondia (in Maharashtra) which is Chouhan’s sasural; Chouhan’s cousin Sanjay Singh had been talking on mobile to the accused in the mega-scam now known as Vyapam; and Chouhan’s wife, Sadhna Singh, had made 139 calls from the CM’s residence to the top Vyapam operators, Nitin Mahendra, Pankaj Trivedi and Laxmikant Sharma.

Chouhan took offence and filed, as Chief Minister, a defamation case against Mishra in the court of the Special Judge, Prevention of Corruption Act, Bhopal. After the sessions trial, the Judge, by its order of November 17, 2017, sentenced K K Mishra to undergo a simple imprisonment for two years with fine of Rs 25,000. Having failed to get a relief from the High Court, Mishra went in an appeal before the Supreme Court where the case was heard by a division bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi, R Banumathi and Mohan M Shantanagoudar.

The bench, in its judgement delivered on April 13, observed that ‘none of the said statements, even if admitted to have been made by the appellant (Mishra), can be said to have any reasonable connection with the discharge of public duties by or the office of the Hon’ble Chief Minister. The appointment of persons from the area/place to which the wife of the Hon’ble Chief Minister belongs and the making of phone calls by the relatives of the Hon’ble Chief Minister have no reasonable nexus with the discharge of public duties by or the office of the Hon’ble Chief Minister’.

The bench pointed out that such statements may be defamatory but in the absence of nexus between the same and the discharge of public duties of the office, the remedy provided for public servants under provisions of the Cr.P.C. would not be available. Chouhan, as individual, and not as Chief Minister, should have gone before the ordinary court (the court of the magistrate).

The bench said: The press meet was convened by the appellant (Mishra) on June 21, 2014.  The government accorded sanction to the public prosecutor to file complaint under Section 500 IPC against the appellant on June 24, 2014. The complaint was filed by the public prosecutor against the appellant on the very same day, i.e. June 24, 2014. The haste with which the complaint was filed prima facie indicates that the public prosecutor may not have applied his mind to the materials placed before him. ‘We, therefore, take the view that the complaint is not maintainable on the very face of it and would deserve our interference.’

The apex court allowed Mishra’s appeal and quashed all proceedings in the trial court. Desperate State BJP has been trying to argue that the trial court order has been quashed by the Supreme Court only on technical grounds and that nothing has changed substantially. This is an utterly erroneous assertion. After the Supreme Court judgement, the situation now is the same as it was before Chouhan had filed the complaint against Mishra in the special court. If he still feels defamed by Mishra’s allegations, he will have to file a fresh complaint like an ordinary person in the court of judicial magistrate. 

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MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is bigger bluff-master than even Narendra Modi. Finding himself in a tight spot following a spate of rape and gang-rape incidents in and around Bhopal and the resultant screeching headlines in local newspapers, he started his own counter-propaganda about capital punishment to rapists. He even took his idea to the cabinet meeting where some of his senior ministers opposed it on the ground that such a measure would lead to more murders of victims after rape. Eventually he got the approval of the cabinet for suitable amendment in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for a provision of death sentence to whoever rapes a girl of up to 12 years of age. The bill will now be presented to the Assembly which started its winter session on November 27.

Madhya Pradesh has been recording the highest number of crimes against women, including rape, for over a decade. It is not for lack of sufficient legal provision to punish the culprits. The major reason for the rise of heinous crimes, including rape, in Madhya Pradesh is conversion of police force into Chouhan’s personal mafia. The police officers are being used to tamper with the evidence when a serious crime has been committed and the interest of someone close to Chouhan is suspected. Vyapam is the most glaring example where a Special Task Force (STF) headed by a senior IPS officer bungled the entire investigation apparently to save some high-ups. The then DGP and the present DGP were said to have tampered with the evidence of Shehla Masood’s murder in the morning of august 16, 2011 before the team from Koh-e-Fiza police station (which had the jurisdiction) could reach the site. The allegation as to how the senior officers had destroyed the evidence was made by none other than Koh-e-Fiza police station in-charge before a TV channel. Such instances are many.

Coming to the rape, the only instance where Chouhan’s police acted swiftly and submitted the charge-sheet in the court within days was the recent gang-rape of a UPSC student in Bhopal. But the girl, in spite of both of her parents being in the police, had to suffer police-inflicted tortures no less painful than the rape by hoodlums for three hours after dragging her to an isolated place near Habibganj railway station. When she went to the Government Railway Police (GRP) with her complaint, she was mocked for ‘coming with a filmy story’. She was made to run from one police station to another police station, tried to talk to senior officers but in vain and it was because of the outcry in the local media that her complaint was registered after 72 hours. Several more incidents of rape have since been reported around Bhopal and one has not perceived any change in the attitude of the police. It was not for nothing that a Madhya Pradesh High Court judge had described the State’s police as ‘criminals in uniform’.

If Chouhan is really sincere about checking crimes against women, he should made provision of stringent punishment to a police officer found guilty of not registering a rape complaint as soon as the victim approaches the police station. Leave aside death sentence or life imprisonment, even five years’ imprisonment will have salutary effect if the police register the rape complaint promptly, behave with the victim sympathetically and investigate the matter with alacrity —- which is too much to expect from Chouhan who has done everything to corrupt the police, bureaucracy and judiciary. With the police set-up as it is, his talks of death sentence or life imprisonment will have only propaganda value which perhaps is his only objective.

It will not be out of place to reproduce from an earlier piece how Chouhan’s predecessors, Uma Bharti and Babulal Gaur, had amended law to provide harsher punishment to molesters. The  Subsection-A was added to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of woman); it 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.

Not even once has Chouhan’s corrupt police invoked this Section to book a stalker, though harassment of women on roads and in buses has been steadily on the increase during Chouhan’s regime. 


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Outright Perilous!

An egoist as the head of the government is bad enough. An egotist is a nuisance as his constant chant of I…, I…., I….. jars on the listeners’ years. But when he loses touch with the reality and starts believing his imaginary achievements to be his real achievements, that’s outright perilous.

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