Aakar Patel
A Delhi court on Thursday directed the CBI to withdraw a lookout circular issued against Amnesty International India chairman Aakar Patel and expressed the opinion that a written apology from the agency director “acknowledging the lapse on the part of his subordinate” would help heal matters.

Immigration officials at Bangalore airport had on Wednesday prevented Patel from flying abroad on the basis of the circular, whose existence the CBI had never communicated to him, the Amnesty official says.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Pawan Kumar said the issuance of the circular was not “oversight or ignorance” but a “deliberate act… to put restriction on the valuable rights of the accused”.

He asked the CBI chief to “sensitise the officials who are part of the issuance of LOC (lookout circular)” and said he “further expected that accountability of the concerned officials in this case (will) be fixed”.

He allowed Patel “to approach the appropriate forum for the compensation for the loss caused to him”.

Patel had sought that the circular be withdrawn and the Rs 3.8 lakh he had paid for his air ticket be reimbursed to him from the salary of the CBI official who had issued the circular but failed to inform him. The circular pertained to alleged foreign exchange violation.
A Reader

Asbestos and Roro Villagers
l    Many elderly people in Roro village of Jharkhand have breathing disorders and other lung-related ailments. They allege that these are the after-effects of asbestos mining, which was stopped in the region almost four decades ago.

l    Asbestos mining is now banned in India but experts note that authorities failed to ensure scientific reclamation of the mine, leaving the local communities exposed to it.

l    In 2019, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asked the Jharkhand government to ensure scientific removal of the dumped asbestos from such areas.

Mohan Sundi, 35, belongs to the Ho tribal community of a remote Roro village in the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. Roro is at the foothills of a mountain where one can see massive mounds of white or chrysolite asbestos dumped. This form of asbestos is used in building and other material but has significant health risks. Asbestos mining in the region stopped in 1983 – nearly four decades ago.

Then, in 1986, the Indian government banned giving new mining leases for asbestos mining and in 1993 it stopped the renewal of existing mining leases. The ban on asbestos mining was done in phases between 1986 to 1993.

But the after effects remain. Unaware of the health hazards, several generations of Roro’s residents have been exposed to the asbestos waste lying near the village and in 12 more adjoining villages. Mohan told this writer that during their childhood days, he and many others used to slide along the dumped asbestos without knowing the harm its exposure could cause to their health. Mohan, like many others in his village, migrates out for seasonal work. He worked at a theatre in Kerala and is now back home to Roro – and back to the ghost of the closed asbestos mine.

The village is still facing the effect of asbestos mining even after almost four decades of its closure in the area, he said. “My father has breathing disorders. There are many other elderly people who struggle to breathe. There are also cases of eye disorders and cancer in the village. The village has struggled a lot in the last few decades as many of the ailing patients were forced to visit Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi and other areas for treatment,” he said, while sitting in his courtyard where he had spread recently-plucked mahua for drying, which he would then sell in the local market.

The British Medical Journal in 1924 said that asbestos fibres are cancer-causing (carcinogenic). Asbestos is also found to trigger mesothelioma (a type of cancer) among the exposed workers and communities. Asbestos is a silicate compound found naturally in the environment and like in the case of Roro, the mining operations used to extract it from the hills which had a rich source of this compound. According to medical studies, once inhaled, the asbestos fibres remain on lung tissues for a longer period leading to scarring and inflammation which ultimately leads to difficulty in breathing.
Manish Kumar

Veto Power
The US is throwing its diplomatic weight behind a UN General Assembly resolution that would mandate the assembly convene after any permanent Security Council member exercises its veto power.

The General Assembly resolution, spearheaded by Liechtenstein, would automatically convene the General Assembly if the US, UK, France, China or Russia veto a Security Council resolution.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US' UN envoy, said the resolution "will be a significant step toward the accountability, transparency, and responsibility of all of the Permanent Members of the Security Council members who wield its power."

"The United States takes seriously its privilege of veto power; it is a sober and solemn responsibility that must be respected by those Permanent Members to whom it has been entrusted," she said in a statement.
Sukla Sen

Vote Machinery
Vote machinery does not refer here to the voting procedures. It refers to various forms of electoral fraud such as multiple voting, vote buying, voter intimidation, booth capturing etc. It is a system unlawfully and forcefully adopted by the political parties of India for electoral gains ---one of the main challenges before the Election Commission of India (ECI). Booth capturing involves “criminal groups, delegated by political parties, capturing a polling station and stuffing the EVMs with a large number of false votes for the favoured candidate.” Now, threatening to non-supporters (voters) not to reach polling station by the dominant political party has added an effective invisible tool to vote machinery.

Over the years, the ECI has undertaken several security measures, i.e. use of photo identity cards, deploying Para-military forces , and conducting polls in multiple phases, and installation of CCTV in the booth etc. But electoral fraud and mal-practices are increasing. Therefore, free and fair elections have become an eye-wash in India - the largest practising democracy in the world with more than 800 million registered voters.

Recent election results in 5 states (especially in UP) and by-polls in West Bengal reflect the strength and tactical use of vote machineries. Voters’ opinions have no value. So, vote machineries are more powerful than voters’ opinions. And a single party is trying to rule the state uninterruptedly (even without the real people’s support). It is a dangerous side of democracy. Due to this, the common masses have to suffer a lot in day-to-day life. A day will come when vote machineries will drive the rule of the entire electoral process, not the voters.
Harasankar Adhikari, Kolkata

‘Why I support Russia’
I support Russia’s attack on Ukraine and wish the Zelensky (Ukraine) government be deposed without delay and a new government installed there with which Putin may come to any reasonable agreement.

In truth Putin attacked without making the necessary prearrangements; being bogged down and also conducting it idiotically. When you call for at one time for replacement of the current regime by military and ask the Ukrainian military to revolt and take power, then how can you still recognise this Zelensky who is doing all publicity stunts and even now conducting like a henchman of US-NATO. He even went to a EU conference and asked for special and immediate admission. He still talks of joining NATO. So first he has to be deposed, and a new government has to be installed and Russia can make a deal with that new government. There is no point in making half- measures. It doesn’t matter how long that new government stands because some formal accord will be on paper and one can demand and pressurise any future governments to respect and implement it. Delay and half-measures are always fatal in war situations.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, even prior to that the abolition of Warsaw Pact, and the end of Cold War, there is no raison d'etre for NATO itself - as, since decades, any opponent military treaty is not there. As such NATO, which turned into an aggressive genocidal military alliance, and which brought about enormous devastation and loss of lives in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Libya, Yugoslavia, etc, should be immediately disbanded. DISBAND NATO should be the main demand of all progressive, democratic people all over the world. Hope Russia and China will also work to that end.
I Mallikarjuna Sharma, Editor, Law Animated World,

AIMPLB’s Fatwa
The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) says Islamic religious traditions are going through their most difficult period since 1857 and 1947. That’s not true.

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board’s general secretary recently said that the Muslims of India are going through a period more difficult than 1857 and 1947 ‘in terms of religious traditions’. With that statement, the AIMPLB is once again in the dock. Not long ago, the organisation struck controversy when it discouraged inter-faith marriages and called them ‘un-Islamic’.

The AIMPLB has issued several such controversial statements in the past as well. An important question arises: When India is governed by the Constitution, how valid is it to make such unconstitutional appeals (not to marry outside of your religion)? And is there a constitutional or moral basis for issuing such directions to any religion?

Before answering this question, it would be appropriate to have a look at the purpose and the context in which the board was established, mentioned in Urdu on the AIMPLB website: ‘When the government tried to scrap the Sharia law, Hazrat Maulana Minatullah Rahmani sahib organised a conference at Patna in 1963 called Tahafuz aimed at preservation of Muslim Personal Law.’

The AIMPLB’s actions directly question the Constitution and the rights of a democratically elected government and Parliament. Such actions also impinge on the rights of the Muslims who are equal under law but remain scared and confused because of AIMPLB’s diktats.
Faiyaz Ahmad Fyzie

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Vol 54, No. 45, May 8 - 14, 2022