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30 June 2013

Litigant’s interest is still supreme in India: Hussain

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By Muhammad Mujahid Syed

Jeddah: Former Additional Advocate General of Uttar Pradesh (UP) Syed Hussain said the litigant’s interest is still supreme in India, while highlighting the court’s lead role in the politics-dominant state.

Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populace states in north India, has also played a key role in Indian politics.

Hussain, while speaking to Saudi Gazette, the courts role as an impartial facilitator is accepted by both the majority and minority communities and use it as a recourse for succor.

He cited the example of the case of Varun Gandhi’s hate speech against Muslims in Pilibhit, which was dealt with fairly by the courts but was muddled by politics.

“When former Chief Minister of UP Mayawati was warned by her party men that any bold stand in Varun’s case would cost Bahujan Samaj Party many assembly seats she didn’t care for the consequences and took a serious note of the speech.

“She instructed officials that no one should be allowed to use the podium for Muslim-bashing, hate-mongering and breaking constitutional norms. After details of the speech appeared in the newspapers, Mayawati asked for the recorded CD of the speech and instructed the district administration to file a suit against Varun.

“The FIR was lodged and Indian Penal Code Article 153A was implemented against Varun, who was charged for provoking one community against another and disturbing communal harmony. Varun was arrested and sent to jail.

“Justice Murtuza of Allahabad High Court rejected Varun Gandhi’s bail quoting many offensive excerpts from this speech. Varun got bail from the Supreme Court due to the grounds of his election campaign,” said Hussain.

Hussain was born in Madarpur, District Faizabad (Ambedkar Nagar) in 1952 but received his education in Lucknow. He, a holder of B.Sc. from the Christian College and LLB and LLM from Lucknow University, was the Additional Advocate General in the Mayawati government and now is a senior lawyer of civil side constitutional matters, service matters and criminal cases.

In his interview, as a law expert, he tackled the matters that are of immense importance for the rule of law. According to him “hate speech” is a major offense, if not checked, could spread like wildfire and can ruin a nation’s fabric.

Varun Gandhi’s case would have been a lesson for irresponsible politicians that poison the minds of innocent people for their political interest and damage the nation’s secular mosaic. But it was not so.

Politics in UP proved dominant as Mulayam Singh paved the way for his release by directing the district administration to abolish the lawsuit. As a result, in the case 28 government witnesses including ADM, City Magistrate, SDM and many police officers were pressurized to hold their witness account. The witnesses turned hostile and due to lack of proof, Varun Gandhi was released.

In the second case 82 witnesses did not go to the court against him and after three days he was released.

Asad Ahmad, an advocate, filed an individual appeal against this judgment. In the meantime due to public pressure, Akhilesh Yadav’s government too filed an appeal in the court and it was suggested to the court to refuse Assad’s appeal since UP government had filed an appeal.

But Assad expressed his fear that if his appeal was rejected the UP government withdrew its appeal thereafter, and requested the court to attach his appeal with the UP government’s plea.

“These are the intricacies of the law,” Hussain said, as he explained that law and politics sometimes go hand in hand.

He remained optimistic that the legal branch of the system would play its role clearly and cleanly and said that if the government does not play with the law the Indian judicial system could provide justice to everyone.

While answering on the custodial death of Khalid Mujahid, Hussain accepted that Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasimi were arrested on false charges of terrorism in the time of Mayawati’s government but he added that when Mayawati was informed of the fact that these two were innocent Mayawati set up the R.D. Nimesh Commission.

Later on the Nimesh Commission in its report highlighted in these words, “The arrest of Khalid Mujahid and Tariq Qasimi with objectionable items in the morning of 22nd Dec. 2007 in Barabanki looks doubtful and the statements of the witnesses of the prosecution cannot be believed fully,” said the commission in its report.

The commission recommended legal action against the officers who implicated the duo in the case. “Therefore, it is recommended that the officers and staff who played key role in the conspiracy and thus violated the laws should be identified and legal actions should be taken against them.”

The Akhilesh government should have produced commission’s report in U.P. Assembly and it should make public its action taken report in this regard, Hussain said. Instead of taking concrete steps the government is still silent.

According to him “the whole exercise of the investigation of the custodial death of Khalid Mujahid is a futile exercise because the chief minister in his statement had already declared that Khalid had died due to illness.”

He said, “If Khalid Mujahid was so sick the government could have asked for relief from the court.” The application for the release of Khalid Mujahid was lodged under public pressure and it did not meet the legal standard that was required in such cases. Such half-hearted moves only gave wrong signals to the officers involved in the investigation.

He said the Muslim population in UP is not 18 percent of the total population as it’s shown in government statistics but around 24 percent, approximately 50 million. Muslims in UP can be compared with the concentrated Muslim population of Indonesia or any other Muslim-majority country.

In India they can be called not minority but the second largest majority. Muslims were lagging behind for years but he observes that the “Muslims have overcome many difficulties and self-employment has given them a respectable place and to some extent prosperity also; and that resulted in educational progress. During the last two decades Uttar Pradesh Muslims have progressed and now are demanding their democratic rights.

They have come out of the shadow of Meerut-Maliyana massacre, the Babri Mosque demolition tragedy and Gujarat massacre. The Sachar Committee Report and the Rang Nath Commission report had not only highlighted the pathetic condition of the Indian Muslims but also had provided a wake-up call for the Muslims.

“All the parties have used them as vote banks and have done nothing for them. Muslims have least representation in government services so they are trying hard to make up their loss by engaging themselves in self-employment and private sector,” he added.

“During the 18-month Samajwadi government rule in UP the Muslims have seen riots in Kosi Kalan, Bareilly and Faizabad. There were 27 big and small communal riots but the fear-psychosis can do no harm to them and Muslims have proven capable of facing adversities,” he asserted.

“The Muslim backward class that falls in the OBC category should be given 9 percent of the 27 percent but since the quota is not separate the whole benefit goes to the non-Muslim OBC. If the quota is separated according to the ratio of the Muslim population it can change backward Muslim’s condition but the government is providing only lip-service. Well-placed Muslims in Akhilesh government, who are aware of this problem, should come ahead and help in this regard,” he said.

Hussain condemned the attack on Muslim lawyers and said, “Muslim lawyers like any other Indian lawyer have every right to practice and defend innocent Muslims that are victim of the false terrorism charges. If the lawyer community gets divided on the basis of religion it will be the blackest day for glorious Indian secularism and democracy that we are proud of.”

He was all praise for the Kingdom’s grace period to the illegals and advised Indians to correct their status before the July 3 deadline.

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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