Maruti: A moment in workers’ self-organisation in India

Pratyush Chandra

The Chairman of Maruti Suzuki, R.C. Bhargava, himself described the July 18 incident as a “class attack”. The management, which learnt from the Japanese how to instrumentalise unions as tools to educate and regulate workers in work discipline, are now learning a new lesson from their own Manesar workers – they want their own voice, which is in their control not in the control of the masters, whosoever they may be. They will tear away every interface if that obstructs their organic collectivity to emerge – then they will speak in their own voice, which will definitely be harsh and brutal, as it will be organic to the very core. They will speak in their own language, without any creative translation into a language that has systemic legitimacy.

The lesson that the Indian corporate sector learnt from the Japanese is graphically retold by Bhargava himself in his recent book, The Maruti Story. It is not just revolutionaries who called trade unions a school, even the Maruti management found them to be so – a necessary means for “continuous training of workers…if their attitude towards work, the company and its management was to be changed…. We understood the logic of their [the Japanese] system and so wanted to completely reverse the traditional culture and bring about a mutually beneficial relationship between workers, the union and the management.”(302) So the management “promoted a trade union at Maruti, before political parties and outsiders could establish”. The founder-Chairman of Maruti Udyog, V Krishnamurthy, “brought” even a union leader from BHEL. “The importance of the union was highlighted by ensuring that the president and general secretary of the union were seated on the dais at every Maruti function. They would, along with the top management of Maruti, receive all VVIP guests and garland them.”

Time and again, the Maruti workers have tried to build their unity beyond promoted, brought, bought unionism and its ritualism. Each time such unity has been institutionalised into a legal form, the management has either destroyed or bought it over, and promoted enterprise unionism. Since the last year, however, things have drastically changed. Maruti workers have understood the meaning of legitimacy, its functions and limits. This remarkable understanding is evident in what a Maruti worker expressed just after the worker-leaders were ‘bought’ and sidelined in 2011:

“Sahibs don’t understand the situation…. In these past few months, a handful of workers had risen to the position where they could control the workers…. By dismissing exactly those men, the management has thrown away a valuable tool.” (Aman Sethi, “Down and out on India’s shop floor”, The Hindu, July 29, 2012)

And again after the July 18 incident, in an interview recorded by a mainline news channel, a worker said:

“Our workers did not have faith in the union body. They were apprehensive about the union cheating them again…. [Yet they wanted that] the management should at least value and listen to the union body.” (NDTV, August 11, 2012)

They understood the limits and dangers of legality and representation, and the need to have extra-legal vigilance of their institutionalised body. Something the workers ensured by evolving shop-floor networks of line and departmental coordinators, and by frequent assertion of the general body. While the representative trade union, in accordance with the legal regulations and norms, included only the permanent workers, this organisational form was organic to the daily shop-floor coexistence of all segments of workers.

Defying every attempt to fragment and subalternise their collective consciousness, the Maruti workers forged a youthful (in a literal sense) unity among themselves beyond all kinds of regulatory and identitarian divides (including the caste and regional), demonstrating their uselessness, except for the purpose of regulating workers in favour of capital. This unity was remarkably visible during the 2011 strikes. They defied every agreement and manipulation from above that tried to break that unity, and they struck three times against them, and surprised the unions and their legitimate sense. Hence, even the need to form a sectionalist union (of permanent workers) – which the legalese and the prevailing industrial political culture compelled them to adopt for negotiations with the management – was continuously overwhelmed by the unity below that questioned the very basis for such unionist sectarianism and economism.

It was this collectivity that could not be destroyed by the management’s union busting, and it did form another union. But its easy registration and semi-recognition by the management made the workers evermore apprehensive, and they enforced constant vigilance on the representatives. However, the management misconstrued this collective apprehension as a distance between the general workers and the union, not understanding that its collective nature in fact tightens the workers’ grip over the union leadership. It is unlike the generalised yet fragmented weariness that leads to helplessness. The management miscalculated and thought its intransigence in dealing with the union will increase the distance and delegitimise the union in the eyes of the general workers. It could not anticipate that such an act was thinning the legal shield that protected it. And, so, what could have passed for the time being as another “class action” got transformed into a “class attack”, as Bhargava calls it. The management should not complain that it didn’t get the warning – workers themselves gave out sufficient signals.

However, one must grant that not just the Maruti management, the suddenness of the July 18 incident at Maruti astounded everybody – where was this anger among workers residing for the past one year? Nothing similar happened during the remarkable “non-violent” strikes in 2011. And prior to the incident nothing happened that could give a hint towards it. Therefore, a plethora of explanations and conspiracy theories has come up.

Interestingly, we can easily identify a basic logic behind the catalogue of ex-, post-facto explanations that various institutional and non-institutional bodies – the state, management, media, unions and radicals – are putting forward. A central thesis runs through all of them, which is that workers as a mass cannot have any coherent plan. Hence, those who see incoherence in the incident, either blame it on reactive spontaneity in the absence of (correct) leaders (radicals), or mob-like nature of the workers action (media elites). For many of these responses, there is some kind of pre-planning that must have come from outside (from Maoists/political unions, as the state and management maintain, or provocation from the side of management through their intransigence or by employing ‘bouncers’, as all the pro-workers institutions or groups opine). However, in the end no one is willing to concede general workers a coherent critical subjectivity that reasons them into taking things (read law) into their own hands, because for all the groups mentioned above, a rational subjectivity can emerge only through the repression of the inner nature (in the present case that of the mass).

All that even the pro-worker forces are willing to grant, and at most, is if the workers were accomplices in the July 18 incident, they were merely reacting to something the management wrongfully did that day (by calling the bouncers or by not resolving the issue of the suspension of a fellow worker) or have been doing lately (by not going for a speedy wage settlement or union recognition). All these self-actions by the workers are arrogantly clubbed together as spontaneity or spontaneous actions, which are generally considered to be reactive, and can have a political meaning only if harnessed by the organised political forces. It is interesting to note how these competitive forces, doing organisational shopkeeping, or at least advertising, among workers, have found workers’ direct actions erratic and even anarchic. They find the workers sensible and tractable only in those moments when they are led or when the consciousness of defeat and victimhood dawns over the workers – when “victim” workers are looking for respite and rights, and for experts who can represent them in the courts of law and negotiations.

These so-called political forces have a notion of politics that comes directly from the civics classes of the (post)modern schools that define politics in terms of institutions (or tangible forms of organisation) and their activities. Even the movements must be located among these activities, or else they are apolitical and even mere riots. Class struggle is reduced to the interplay of these institutions, ideologies and activities. They are unable to locate this representative interplay and their own activity as (re)originating in a continuous class struggle between capital and labour – in the daily imposition and subversion of the process by which capital acquires and incorporates living labour as merely an agency for its self-valorization. They are unable to see that recent unrests on the labour front in India have been largely political – i.e., they are related to a constant recomposition of class collectivity that short-circuits the re-segmentation of labour – the ever real-ising subsumption of labour by capital. In other words, this collective urge is not simply a wont to vocalise the aggregate demands of individual or sectional workers, as in a demand charter. Rather, it relates to their concern to transcend the segmentation on which the capitalist industrial polity thrives – the division between permanent, contractual, casual and interns. It is a marvelous experience to hear from general workers about these real divisions made on false premises. It is this open vocalisation that constitutes workers politics today. The Maruti workers’ struggle clearly is a finest example in this regard.

In one of the discussions that we had with workers in other industrial regions about the Maruti ‘violence’, a worker expressed how they work for the fear of the daily hunger and for feeding their family. Otherwise who would like to work under iron discipline and invisible eyes constantly watching over you, reprimanding you for every small mistake? Workers continuously look for every small opportunity that would enable them to dodge and abuse this system of surveillance.

The (more-or-less) open violence of primitive accumulation that joins the fate of labour to capital readies it for the inherent violence in the active imposition of work that capital as social power with its various apparatuses seeks to ensure. There is nothing reactive about workers’ actions to break out of this panoptic circuit which is now expanded throughout the society. The diverse immediate forms that these actions take are meant to surprise capital.

It is not the question of defeat or success of these forms or agitations that should concern us. In fact, our every success makes our actions predictable, increasing the reproductive resilience of the hegemonic system. Who knew this fact better than Karl Marx? He stressed on the need to watch out for opportunities to stage sudden radical leaps away from the guerrilla forms of daily resistance against the encroachments of capital, or else workers will be evermore entrenched within the system of wage slavery despite – and because of – frequent achievements in their everyday negotiations with capital. Those radicals suffer from the same Second International reformism and co-option politics, of which they accuse everybody, when they visualise class maturation as a linear succession of successes and achievements, not in the increased activity of the working class to catch capital off-guard by its volatile, yet collective thrust.

Today, the dynamism of this workers politics poses a crisis not just for capitalist strategies but also for itself as it constantly outmodes its own forms. The significance of the Maruti struggle and the July 18th incident lies in this process – they demonstrate the increasing inability of the legal regulatory mechanisms and existing political forms to ensure “industrial peace”. This means:

1) For capital, every crisis is an opportunity to restructure labour relations for its own advantage. Many times, it carefully shapes an industrial conflict to seek such restructuring. The recent conflicts have shown the limitation of the legal framework to generate industrial consent/peace, which has time and again forced capital to resort to coercion.

2) The automotive sector has been central to capitalist accumulation, so the needs of this sector have time and again restructured the industrial polity and economic regime globally. In India too, this sector has been in the leadership of pushing economic reforms in a pro-capitalist direction. The high-handedness and intransigence of the managements of Maruti and other automotive companies in recent conflicts is representative of the determination of Indian capitalists to force pro-capital labour reforms.

3) Legal unionism and existing organisational practices to compose and regulate working class assertion are becoming increasingly redundant. The labour movement must look out for new incipient forms in this self-assertion, as older forms are unable to lead working class consciousness, which is much more advanced than these forms, to its political end. The direct action of Maruti workers last year and this time cannot be simply explained by the crude notion of unorganised spontaneity, rather it shows their political will to transcend the segmentation perpetuated by the capitalist industrial polity.

Maruti-Suzuki: The Realpolitik of Managerial Intransigence

Ankit Mandal

Can the Maruti management’s stubbornness be explained only by its unwillingness to allow workers to have their union? This seems doubtful. Unions in India in themselves do not pose such a grave threat for managements. There must be something more to it.

Rather, it reflects a bourgeois resoluteness to bring the long pending demand for institutionalisation of the changes in the labour regime to the centre-stage of policymaking. Changes in the labour regime – casualisation and contractualisation that neoliberalism intensified have not yet been codified completely, which frequently puts managements in legal predicaments, allowing unions to pose ‘legitimate’ demands. A recent Supreme Court judgement which ordered regularisation of contract labourers employed in airports demonstrates the lag between the industrial reality and the legal framework.

In the past decade, the agenda of labour reforms could not be pushed ahead partly because of political compulsions (UPA I was supported by the left parties) and partly due to economic conundrum (the global crisis) in which the UPA regimes found themselves in.

The Maruti management’s determination is not coming from its own competitive need; rather it is representing the general will of the bourgeoisie in India. Not anyone could have acted in this manner. The central role of the automobile sector in the present phase of capitalist development and Maruti’s overwhelming leadership in this particular sector puts it at the helm of the bourgeois class.

At least, it is hard to deny that this sector has been in the forefront of demanding labour reforms. The recent statements from the Automobile Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMAI) and the Society of Indian Automobiles Manufacturers (SIAM) testify this. These associations have been emphasising that labour reforms are crucial for the growth in the automotive industry.

Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) Ex-President Pawan Goenka : “Labour reforms is high on agenda of SIAM for quite some years. We don’t have any policy on laying-off during slowdown. …We have made several presentations to the Ministry of Heavy Industries, but no serious discussion has happened yet on what could be done… One thing is certain that something has to happen. Otherwise, it will have serious impact on the sector.”

“The rigidity in labour laws has led companies to increasingly resort to outsourcing and contracting of labour. To be very precise, the need of the hour is flexible labour reforms,” General Motors India vice president P Balendran had said.

SIAM Director General Vishnu Mathur said the law should give “flexibility” on taking disciplinary actions even against a single person.

“We believe that employment will get a boost by labour reforms which is the need at the moment,” Srivats Ram, president, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) told.

The Haryana government is clearly backing the Maruti management and is not at all showing any sympathy to the workers. Haryana Labour Minister Shiv Charan Lal Sharma says, “How can it be possible for the management to take back workers against whom an FIR has been lodged and (criminal) cases have been filed”. Haryana Labour Commissioner Satwanti Ahlawat says, “During the talks, it came to notice that there is a clear intention of few persons, backed by some political support, who want to mislead workers,”.

However, even if tomorrow the Maruti management agrees to workers’ demands in toto (which is doubtful), it has achieved what it had to – it has already succeeded in bringing the state in for labour reforms. The central government has (Sep 21) agreed to set up a National Automotive Board as a nodal agency for the issues relating to this industry within 2-3 months, and that “Labour laws or in fact any law is not sacrosanct or permanent. Labour laws will have to change with time. If the industry feels so, the Labour Ministry will look into it.”

MSEU: Condemn the arrest of MSEU leaders

Maruti Suzuki Employees Union
18th September

We write this at a time when our movement is under attack from all quarters, and three of our leaders, namely, Sonu Kumar (the President of MSEU), Shiv Kumar (the General Secretary of MSEU) and Ravinder, have been arrested by the police in a completely unjustified and unlawful manner.

All concerned probably know the way in which processes unfolded over the past few weeks. Our leaders went to the negotiation table with the management of Maruti Suzuki and the Labour Department on the 16th of September. Talks were still going on today, when they broke down because the management stubbornly refused to take back those workers that had been thrown out.

We believe that the management, prepared for this eventuality, had already made suitable arrangements with the police and the administration. That the government and its police have been bought over by the company management is absolutely clear. When talks broke down at about 10:15 pm today, the police spared no time in arresting our leaders. The attempt, clearly, is to cripple our movement when we have refused to back down in the face of all threats and enticements.

It is known to us that Ravinder already has an FIR filed against his name; but Sonu Kumar and Shiv Kumar have never been charged before. However, looking at the foul play that the police are already indulging in, we are sure that our leaders will be charged of crimes they never committed.

This way or that, we will continue our struggle. We appeal to all to condemn such acts by this unholy alliance of the police, the government and the company management. We ask you to stand in our support, in the support of our movement, of our arrested leaders and against injustice.

Executive Member
Maruti Suzuki Employees Union (MSEU)

More exclusions from the FRA

Rahul Choudhary

One of the most significant aspects of any right-giving legislation is the institution of layers of filters by which newer forms of segmentation and identities among “citizens” are created – a whole series of the included and excluded is generated every time a new law is legislated. If statutory laws are insufficient in this regard, judicial pronouncements fix the filtering machinery.

Persons having shops inside the Tiger reserve were not considered as “Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes” or “Other Traditional Forest Dwellers” by the High Court of Allahabad (1) and the same has been confirmed by the Supreme Court (2). A petition was filed in Allahabad High Court challenging the order of eviction passed by the Deputy Director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and the order passed by the Chief Conservator of Forest, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.

A notice was sent to the shop owners on 11th July 2010 for eviction from the forest area. The shop owners claimed protection of the Forest Rights Act, 2006 (3). As per their contention, it recognizes the rights and occupation on forest land, of the Forest dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers. Under this Act a complete procedure to deal with the matter has been provided, therefore, they are liable to be governed only under the procedure prescribed therein. They claimed eviction process initiated by the Forest Department is under Forest Act, 1927 and therefore is illegal.

The stand of the Forest Department before the High Court was that the persons who have come to court are shop owners and doing business. They neither belong to any Scheduled tribe nor they are traditional forest dwellers, whereas the Forest Rights Act gives protection to Scheduled Tribe and traditional forest dwellers who depend on forest for their livelihood.

The Forest Rights Act defines ‘forest dwelling scheduled tribes’ and ‘other traditional forest dweller’ as:

(c) “forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes” means the members or community of the Scheduled Tribes who primarily reside in and who depend on the forests or forest lands for bona fide livelihood needs and includes the Scheduled Tribe pastoralist communities;

(o) “other traditional forest dweller” means any member or community who has for at least three generations prior to the 13th day of December, 2005 primarily resided in and who depend on the forest or forests land for bona fide livelihood needs.

The High Court came to conclusion in its order and judgment dated 22.02.2011 that the Forest Rights Act only provides protection to the Forest Dwelling Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers, and the shop owners are not covered under the Forest Rights Act.

The shop owners challenged the order before the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court agreeing with the findings of the High Court dismissed their petition. The Supreme Court was of the pinion that the person claiming protection under Forest Rights Act as ‘other traditional forest dweller’ has to satisfy both the requirement – of residing in and being dependent on forest. But in this case they were not residing inside the forest nor were dependent on it.


(1) Ishwer Chandra Gupta Vs. State of U.p Writ Petition No. 6887 of 2010 and other six petitions
(2) SLP (C) No. 9837-9838 of 2011
(3) Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

SC on Custodial Crimes and Preventive Detention

Rahul Choudhary

Mehoob Batcha & Ors. Vs State Rep. by Supdt of Police (Criminal Appeal No 1511 of 2003) Delivered on March 29, 2011. Rekha vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr (Criminal Appeal No. 755 of 2011) Delivered on April 05, 2011

“all three powers are… organs of political hegemony, but in different degrees: 1. Legislature; 2, Judiciary; 3. Executive. It is to be noted how lapses in the administration of justice make an especially disastrous impression on the public: the hegemonic apparatus is more sensitive in this sector, to which arbitrary actions on the part of the police and political administration may also be referred.” (Antonio Gramsci)

It was the police’s “arbitrary actions” that came under Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju’s scrutiny in Mehoob Batcha & Ors. Vs State Rep. by Supdt of Police (Criminal Appeal No 1511 of 2003). In this case Justice Katju strongly called for death penalty, though not even a case of murder was made out at the charge stage. The reason for not charging the perpetrators for murder is not known but the statement of one of the victims puts forth the barbaric face of the state apparatus as it is experienced at the grassroots level. In this case, the policemen were accused of killing one person in custody and gang-raping his wife in the premises of the police station. And what we are more familiar with, the policemen were not charged with murder, and instead the Trial Court treated the death of the deceased victim as suicide. Custodial deaths are happening more often across the country, some are reported and some remain unnoticed.

Previously, the Supreme Court had passed direction against custodial death, but not much seems to be happening on the ground. In 1997, the Supreme Court in D.K. Basu vs. State of Bengal [(1997)1SCC416] pronounced,

“Custodial violence, including torture and death in the lock-ups, strikes a blow at the rule of law, which demands that power of the executive should not only be derived from law but also that the same should be limited by law. Custodial violence is matter of concern. It is aggravated by the fact that it is committed by persons who are supposed to be the protectors of the citizens…”

In the Mehboob Batcha case, the actions of the policemen were more inhumane and barbaric than any other case. The recorded statement of the rape victim tells the tale that defies any interpretation other than guilty mind(s). The Supreme Court says, “the horrendous manner in which Padmini was treated by policemen was shocking and atrocious, and calls for no mercy”. In the end the court says that the copy of the order of this case be sent to Home Secretary and Director General of all States and Union Territories, who shall circulate the same to all police officers up to the level of SHO with a directive that they must follow the directions given by the Court in D.K.Basu’s case and that custodial violence shall entail harsh punishment.

D.K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal laid out the guidelines to be followed in case of arrest:

(1) The police personnel carrying out the arrest and handling the interrogation of the arrestee should bear accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with their designations. The particulars of all such police personnel who handle interrogation of the arrestee must be recorded in a register.

(2) That the police officer carrying out the arrest of the arrestee shall prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest and such memo shall be attested by at least one witness, who may either be a member of the family of the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made. It shall also be countersigned by the arrestee and shall contain the time and date of arrest.

(3) A person who has been arrested or detained and is being held in custody in a police station or interrogation centre or other lock-up, shall be entitled to have one friend or relative or other person known to him or having interest in his welfare being informed, as soon as practicable, that he has been arrested and is being detained at the particular place, unless the attesting witness of the memo of arrest is himself such a friend or a relative of the arrestee.

(4) The time, place of arrest and venue of custody of an arrestee must be notified by the police where the next friend or relative of the arrestee lives outside the district or town through the Legal Aid Organisation in the District and the police station of the area concerned telegraphically within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.

(5) The person arrested must be made aware of this right to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon as he is put under arrest or is detained.

(6) An entry must be made in the diary at the place of detention regarding the arrest of the person which shall also disclose the name of the nest friend of the person who has been informed of the arrest and the names and particulars of the police officials in whose custody the arrestee is.

(7) The arrestee should, where he so requests, be also examined at the time of his arrest and major and minor injuries, if any present on his/her body, must be recorded at that time. The “Inspection Memo” must be signed both by the arrestee and the police officer effecting the arrest and its copy provided to the arrestee.

(8) The arrestee should be subjected to medical examination by a trained doctor every 48 hours during his detention in custody by a doctor on the panel of approved doctors appointed by Director, Health Services of the State or Union Territory concerned. Director, Health Services should prepare such a panel for all tehsils and districts as well.

(9) Copies of all the documents including the memo of arrest, referred to above, should be sent to the Illaqa Magistrate for his record.

(10) The arrestee may be permitted to meet his lawyer during interrogation, though not through the interrogation.

(11) A police control room should be provided at all district and State headquarters, where information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of the arrestee shall be communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 12 hours of effecting the arrest and at the police control room it should be displayed on a conspicuous notice board

The Court also stated that failure to comply with the guidelines shall apart from rendering the official concerned liable for departmental action, also render him liable to be punished for contempt of court and the proceedings for contempt of court may be instituted in any High Court of the country, having territorial jurisdiction over the matter.

The requirements, referred above, flow from Articles 21 and 22 (1) of the Constitution and need to be strictly followed. These would apply with equal force to other governmental agencies like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate of Enforcement, Costal Guard, central reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, the State Armed Police, Intelligence Agencies like Intelligence Bureau, RAW, CBI, CID, Traffic Police, Mounted Police and ITBP.

This strict direction was passed way back in 1997. However, it seemed to have failed to work, which called for its reassertion by the SC.

Another judgement was delivered a few days later once again by Justice Katju which could be read in continuation. The issue in Rekha vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Anr was that of ‘preventive detention’. The detention order was passed under “Tamil Nadu Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Sand Offenders, and Slum Grabbers and Video Pirates Act, 1982”. This Act popularly known Goondas Act, itself reminds of the legislations which Marx describes as “Bloody Legislation against the Expropriated”.

While Article 21 of the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law, Article 22(1) and 22(2) provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases, Article 22 (3) provides for preventive detention as an exception to Article 21 and 22(1) and 22(2).

Article 22(1) of the constitution makes it a fundamental right of a person detained to consult and be defended by a lawyer of his choice. But Article 22(3) specifically excludes the applicability of clause (1) of Article 22 to the cases of preventive detention. In the past, the Supreme Court passed various judgments against ‘preventive detention’.

In the case before the Supreme Court, the issue was the husband of the Petitioner was found selling expired drugs after tampering with the labels and printing fresh labels showing them as non –expired drugs. The ground for detention was that there is a possibility of him coming out on bail and if he comes out on bail he will indulge in further activities, which will be prejudicial to the maintenance of public health and order.

According to Justice Katju, Article 22(3) (b) of the Constitution of India which permits preventive detention is only an exception to Article 21 of the Constitution. An exception is an exception and cannot ordinarily nullify the full force of the main rule, which is the right to liberty in Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court went into details of whether the case for preventive detention was made out or not and also remarked against the very concept of preventive detention.

“…Prevention detention is, by nature, repugnant to democratic ideas and an anathema to the rule of law. No such law exists in the USA and in England (except during war time). Since, however, Article 22(3)(b) of the Constitution of India permits preventive detention, we cannot hold it illegal but we must confine the power of preventive detention within very narrow limits, otherwise we will be taking away the great right to liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India which was won after long, arduous, historic struggles. It follows, therefore, that if the ordinary law of the land (Indian Penal Code and other penal statutes) can deal with a situation, recourse to a preventive detention law will be illegal…

…It must be remembered that in cases of preventive detention no offence is proved and the justification of such detention is suspicion or reasonable probability, and there is no conviction which can only be warranted by legal evidence.

Personal liberty protected under Article 21 is so sacrosanct and so high in the scale of constitutional values that it is the obligation of the detaining authority to show that the impugned detention meticulously accords with the procedure established by law…”

Supreme Court on the Urgency Clause in the Land Acquisition Act

Rahul Choudhary

The contention that the Land Acquisition Act is an expropriatory legislation is reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in a recent judgment (SLP(C) No. 10993 of 2010 Dev Sharan & Ors vs. State of U.P & Ors). The Court was dealing with the issue of invoking of the urgency clause provided under section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act. The Urgency clause does not provide even the minimal opportunity for the aggrieved/ affected persons to express their opinion/ reservation against the proposed land acquisition. In this case the proposal was to shift a jail located in a congested area. The final notification was issued after 11 months of the first Notification under section 4(1) was issued. The court found that the slow pace at which the government machinery had functioned in processing the acquisition, clearly evinces that there was no urgency for acquiring the land.

In this judgment, the court put strong opinion about the Land Acquisition Act and also expressed opinion on the ‘public purpose’ in the land acquisition. The Court said ‘the Land Acquisition Act, a pre-Constitutional legislation of colonial vintage is a drastic law, being expropriatory in nature as it confers on the state a power which affects person’s property right.” In view of the large scale acquisition of land for setting up of industries declaring it as a public purpose the expression of the Supreme Court is significant. It says,

“It must be accepted that in construing public purpose, a broad and overall view has to be taken and the focus must be on ensuring maxim benefit to the largest number of people. Any attempt by the State to acquire land by promoting a public purpose to benefit a particular group of people or to serve any particular interest at the cost of interest of a large section of people especially of the common people defeats the very concept of public purpose.”

In past, the Supreme Court has disapproved the invoking of section 17 without any real urgency. But this judgment has looked into the concept of public purpose which it considers consistent with the concept of welfare State. This becomes important because the proposed amendment in the Land Acquisition Act has enlarged the concept of ‘public purpose’ to accommodate even mining as a public purpose. The judgment ask courts to first explore other avenues of acquisition to satisfy public purpose before sanctioning an acquisition, in exercise of its power of judicial review, and focus its attention on the concept of social and economic justice. When urgency clause is invoked then the process under section 5A is done away with. This section (5A) was introduced by the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1923 with an objective to give opportunity to person interested in the land to put objections. The Court in this case came to conclusion that “valuable right of the appellants under Section 5A of the Act cannot [be] flattened and steamrolled on the ‘ipsi dixit’ of the executive authority.”

Invoking section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act by the authorities is not an exception but has now become norm. It will take years in conceiving the project, but when it comes to land acquisition, they want to do away with the process of hearing.

The Arup Bhuyan Verdict – A Departure?

Rahul Choudhary

The Supreme Court’s verdict of February 03 in Arup Bhuyan vs State of Assam is significant at the time when the Indian state seems to be on the prowl looking for victims to assert its exceptional sovereignty. On the one hand, it rekindles the ‘liberal’ hope which wanes every time Sen-s are put behind the bars. In fact, by raising this hope, such judicial correctives help, in an inverted manner, in consensual containment of protests that might add up to form a threat to the state’s sovereignty. But on the other hand, they give an opportunity to consolidate critical voices within, strengthening the struggle for showing the limits of the present system and providing a relief to the struggling masses.

In this particular case in review, the appellant disputes the allegation of his association with ULFA, which was made on the basis of his confession before the police, in which he identified the house of a deceased. Such non-judicial confessions are generally not valid because of the involvement of tortures etc, but in TADA cases they are considered admissible. Going with the convention of rejecting such confessional statements before the police, the court has questioned their admissibility even in these ‘exceptional’ cases. It says, “in the absence of corroborative material, the courts must be hesitant before they accept such extra-judicial confessional statements.”

However, the major portion of the verdict is directed against the TADA Court’s conviction of the appellant under Section 3(5) of the TADA which makes mere membership of a banned organisation criminal.

Here, Justices Katju and Misra have simply extended their own arguments presented in another recent case – State of Kerala Vs Raneef, 2011 (1) SCALE 8. The accused was asking for bail in this case where he was booked for giving medical treatment to one of the assailants. The accused person’s association with an Islamic organisation was taken as incriminating evidence. The judges opined that as that particular organisation was not a terrorist organisation, the accused could not be penalised for his membership. However, what makes this verdict consequential for the Feb 3 judgement is its clear opinion against the doctrine of “guilty by association”, which has become the cornerstone of recent criminal legislations and anti-terrorist measures. The judges in the previous verdict concurred with three famous American judgements:

1) Scales vs. United States 367 U.S. 203 where Mr. Justice Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court observed:

“The clause does not make criminal all association with an organization which has been shown to engage in illegal activity. A person may be foolish, deluded, or perhaps mere optimistic, but he is not by this statute made a criminal. There must be clear proof that the defendant specifically intends to accomplish the aims of the organization by resort to violence.”

2) In Elfbrandt vs. Russell 384 US 17-19 (1966) Justice Douglas of the U.S. Supreme Court observed:

“Those who join an organization but do not share its unlawful purpose and who do not participate in its unlawful activities surely pose no threat, either as citizens or as public employees. A law which applies to membership without the `specific intent’ to further the illegal aims of the organization infringes unnecessarily on protected freedoms. It rests on the doctrine of `guilt by association’ which has no place here.”

3) In Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee vs. McGrath 341 US 123 at 174 (1951) Mr. Justice Douglas of the U.S. Supreme Court observed :

“In days of great tension when feelings run high, it is a temptation to take shortcuts by borrowing from the totalitarian techniques of our opponents. But when we do, we set in motion a subversive influence of our own design that destroys us from within.”

The judges thus summarises their views on the doctrine of ‘guilty by association’ that they presented in State of Kerala Vs. Raneef:

“Mere membership of a banned organisation will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or does an act intended to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence (See : also the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Kedar Nath Vs. State of Bihar, AIR 1962 SCC 955 para 26).

In the present Arup Bhuyan judgement, the judges have continued exploring the international cases. The following para is crucial in this regard:

In Clarence Brandenburg Vs. State of Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) the U.S. Supreme Court went further and held that mere “advocacy or teaching the duty, necessity, or propriety” of violence as a means of accomplishing political or industrial reform, or publishing or circulating or displaying any book or paper containing such advocacy, or justifying the commission of violent acts with intent to exemplify, spread or advocate the propriety of the doctrines of criminal syndicalism, or to voluntarily assemble with a group formed “to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism” is not per se illegal. It will become illegal only if it incites to imminent lawless action. (emphasis mine)

The judges conclude:

“We respectfully agree with the above decisions, and are of the opinion that they apply to India too, as our fundamental rights are similar to the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. In our opinion, Section 3(5) cannot be read literally otherwise it will violate Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution. It has to be read in the light of our observations made above. Hence, mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence or creates public disorder by violence or incitement to violence.”

The importance of these two judgements lies in the fact that through them the Supreme Court has initiated a significant departure from the tenor set by the two earlier landmark cases which were fully in consonance with the policing needs of the neoliberal policy makers – Kartar Singh’s case, 1994(3) SCC569 (which upheld the TADA Act) and PUCL Vs Union of India, 2005 SCC(Crl)1905 (which upheld the POTA provisions).

In his book published in 2008, one of the doyens of the Indian judicial system, Justice Chinnappa Reddy wrote:

“The Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 21, and 22 are undoubtedly negated by some of the provisions of the new POTA as well as the provisions of TADA which are capable of much mischief. It is to be hoped that very soon the Supreme Court will take a second view at any new enactment containing similar provisions.”

Considering their views in these two recent cases, Justices Katju and Misra have definitely taken a second view at the old enactments and case laws.

Manufacturing Sedition from Political Dissent: The Judgment against Binayak Sen

P A Sebastian, Analytical Monthly Review


There have been moments when an event catches the public eye, and suddenly illuminates a process of decay and disintegration that has been proceeding in the background, slowly, step-by-step. The outrage and national attention focused on the conviction of, and imposition of life sentence on, Dr. Binayak Sen for “Sedition” is such a case. The process in question is the utter collapse of the majority of the Indian Judiciary into an agency of the political police.

Our reality is that the supposed “rule of law” has decayed into a sinister farce over vast areas: most notably Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, and much of the northeast. A police state regime that arose on the frontiers is slowly, step-by-step, extending itself into the core. The rot of corruption and injustice has now reached the heart. The immense significance of the judgment against Binayak Sen is that it strikes directly at whatever hope remains for a peaceful means of arresting, or even reversing, this deadly process.

Our responsibility is to insist on the right of political dissent, though without illusions. So long as the regime maintains the forms of the electoral exercise, of democratic rights, and of argued “judgments” in its courts, we must, as best we are able, strive to expose the substantive reality.

From this perspective we sought an informed legal opinion on the written judgment issued against Binayak Sen by second additional sessions’ judge, Raipur, B P Verma. P A Sebastian, a Mumbai-based lawyer and democratic rights activist, and a leading figure of the International Association of People’s Lawyers, its Indian constituent, the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, and the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai, has provided for us the following analysis.

The charge against the accused in the case of Piyush Guha, Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal is that they have aided and abetted the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which has been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The case starts with the arrest of Piyush Guha, a tendu leaf trader. The prosecution says that on 6 May 2007 the police superintendent, Raipur sent a wireless message to all the police stations under him that the police should closely search suspicious persons, suspicious vehicles, hotels, lodges, rest houses and dhabas. They were also directed to search thoroughly the street vendors, detain all suspicious characters and legally proceed against them. In the course of carrying out such a search, B S Jagrit, the inspector of Raipur police station, was told by an informer to keep an eye on all those walking towards the railway station. Then he says that he suddenly spotted Piyush Guha. The police stopped and questioned him on the basis of suspicion, but not receiving satisfactory answers, the police called one Anil Kumar Singh, a passer-by, and took both to the police station and opened the bag of Piyush Guha and found in his bag three magazines, a newspaper and three letters among some other things. Anil Kumar Singh, the passer-by, deposed before the court that he heard Guha say to the police that Binayak Sen used to meet Narayan Sanyal, one of the three accused, in jail and collect letters from him. Binayak Sen passed on the three letters concerned to Guha, who, in turn, passed on them to the CPI(Maoist).

The whole case revolves around this story which has many loopholes. Piyush Guha was produced before a magistrate on 7 May 2007 under Section 167 of the CrPC [Criminal Procedure Code]. He stated before the magistrate that he was actually detained on 1 May 2007, not on 6 May as claimed by the police. He was kept in illegal custody, blindfolded and incommunicado for 6 days in violation of CrPC, which stipulates that an accused should be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest. He further said that he was picked up by the police not from the road leading to Raipur railway station as stated by the police but from Mahindra Hotel. The statement of Guha that he was picked up by the police from Mahindra Hotel is supported by the affidavit of the government filed in the Supreme Court while opposing the bail application of Binayak Sen.

However, the judge accepted the police claim that the statement in the Supreme Court (SC) was a “typographical error”. Here are two statements which are different from each other. Both of them were made on oath. A word, a figure or a few letters can be treated as typographical error. It goes against common sense and rationality to say that an important statement made in the SC on oath is typographical error. The second additional sessions’ judge, Raipur, B P Verma, has done a disservice by this statement to the Indian judicial system, which is already sinking under the burden of corruption and other misdemeanours.

The prosecution states that the police recovered three letters written by Narayan Sanyal and addressed to his party comrades from the bag of Piyush Guha. The only evidence produced by the prosecution in this respect is the deposition by one Anil Kumar Singh, the “passer-by” mentioned above. He said that the police called him by gesture and introduced to him a person called Piyush Guha. The police told him that Guha was a suspected person. Then they opened his bag and recovered some CPI(Maoist) literature and three letters, which later on the police claimed were written by Narayan Sanyal. Anil Kumar Singh further said that he overheard Guha say to the police that those three letters were given to him by Binayak Sen. The narration of the event shows that he did not know when the police took Guha into custody. When he saw Guha, he was already in police custody. He did not know whether the police had picked up Guha on 1 May and planted the letters and other articles on him. Yet the whole case rests on this Anil Kumar Singh assertion that he heard Guha say to the police that Binayak Sen had given him the letters. This hearsay has no evidentiary value. The statement made in police custody is not admissible against the accused. Once the police fail to prove that they caught Guha from station road, the whole edifice of the case falls.

Besides, Binayak Sen visited Narayan Sanyal with the permission of the senior superintendent of police. The prisoners are permitted to write letters. The restriction is that the prison authorities will read the letters and censor them, if necessary, before they are sent out. So the presumption is that the letters did not contain anything objectionable unless one concludes that the jail authorities collaborated with Sanyal to carry on illegal activities, in which case the judge should have asked the government to take legal action against the jail authorities. The judgment does not say whether the content of the letters was objectionable or not. No action could have been taken against the accused unless the content was unlawful. A discussion about the central point is missing in the judgment. Carrying letters from prisoners is not unlawful in itself.

Some of the things which the judge says are strange, and they do not go well with a supposed judicial mind. The judge refers to several people as Naxalites and treats them as criminals. There is no law in India or anywhere else in the world which defines the term “Naxalite” and treats them as criminals. However, the burden of the judgment is the term “Naxalite” and the inherent criminality of the term “Naxalite”. The judgment keeps on saying that Binayak Sen and Piyush Guha knew Naxalites and met them. The judgment uses interchangeably the terms “Naxalite” and CPI(Maoist) and concludes that Sen and Guha aided and abetted the CPI(Maoist), which is a banned organisation.

The judgment repeats that some letter or letters recovered from Sen’s house address him as “comrade”. The learned judge takes it for granted that “comrade” meant that Binayak Sen was a member or supporter of the CPI(Maoist). The English dictionaries state that “comrade” means an intimate friend or associate or companion. Does the judge know that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Jayaprakash Narayan were addressed as “comrades”? Clement Attlee, the former prime minister of England, was addressed as “comrade”. One can rest assured that he does not know. Can India afford to have such judges to decide the fate of human life? The judgment is arbitrary to the extreme. It does not define the terms; it does not set up a nexus.

Just one instance will demonstrate the whimsicality and ideological bias of the judge: “Amita Shrivastav was a teacher in Daga Higher Secondary School two years ago. She came to the school through Ilina Sen who is acknowledged by Binayak Sen as his wife. She worked in the school for seven months and then stopped coming to the school. Amita had a CD related to the Second World War Nazi camps. This was shown to the students in the school. Later it was found that Amita was connected to Naxalites and had absconded”. It is really shocking that the judge interprets anti-Nazism as Communism. How did the judge know that she was connected to Naxalites and she had absconded? How did he know that she had not been abducted and killed by some criminals like Salwa Judum?

The judgment is full of such absurdities. Two examples will further illustrate the point. One case is the way he deals with a telephone conversation between Bula Sanyal and Binayak Sen. Bula Sanyal is the sister-in-law of Narayan Sanyal. The judge concluded from this that there was contact between Binayak Sen, the family of Narayan Sanyal and CPI(Maoist) supporters. Narayan Sanyal being a Naxalite the judge inferred that his whole family consisted of supporters of CPI(Maoist). Sen’s conversation with one of the family was sufficient proof that he was also a CPI(Maoist) activist. The contentions of this sort are really asinine.

The judge accepts the police version of Salwa Judum and says that it is not a state organised vigilante squad and is a spontaneous reaction of the tribals against Naxalites. The judgment indicates that “terrorism and oppression of the Naxalites increased so much that it became a question of life and death for the tribals of the area. Such reasons led to the launching of anti-Naxalite Salwa Judum campaign”. The judgment tries to explain what the ‘Salwa Judum’ means. “‘Salwa’ means peace and ‘Judum’ means meeting at one place for some specific purpose”. The judge makes reference to some articles seized from Piyush Guha and states that “they have demonstrated opposition to Salwa Judum and praised People’s Liberation Army and paid homage to the killed Maoist comrades”.

On the basis of such facts and logic, the judgment pronounces that Piyush Guha, Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal have committed sedition.

The accused have been punished under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition. It says that “whoever by words, either spoken or written . . . brings or attempts to bring into hatred, contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life. . . .” A literal adherence to the Section makes every opposition to the government an offence punishable with life imprisonment. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report states that the Indian state has lost 1.76 lakh crore because of the fraudulent dealings in the allotment of 2-G spectrum. A writ petition pending in the Supreme Court alleges that Rs 70 lakh crore has been deposited abroad to evade tax. These are enormous sums which could have made a difference to the quality of life which the Indian masses lead. Free education and free medical treatment are constitutional mandates. However, they have not been implemented on the plea that there was no money. If one articulates such matters, it naturally brings the government established by law into contempt and hatred and causes disaffection towards the government. It means that the vast majority of people can be prosecuted and jailed under this section. But where do we keep them? The whole country will have to be converted into the prison camp. Is this not an irredeemably absurd idea?

The constitutional validity of the Section 124-A the IPC has been challenged in the Supreme Court and the Court has repeatedly said that the sedition as defined under Section 124-A can be constitutionally tolerated only if the prosecution proves that the statement of the accused has led to violence. The judgment in this case does not even discuss the content of the letters allegedly recovered from Piyush Guha and whether he delivered them to the CPI(Maoist). If he delivered them to the party, the prosecution had to further prove that the letters led to such and such specific incidents of violence. The judgment is absolutely silent on such points. The judgment manifests the misuse and abuse of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code. A law which is so susceptible to misuse and abuse in raw hands or biased minds should be deleted from the statute book of India, which claims to be the largest democracy in the world.

This judgment is one more symptom of the ideological degeneration of the Indian judicial system. The judgment in the Babri Masjid case resorted to rule of faith in place of rule of law. In this case, the judge says that Piyush Guha has to prove that he was arrested from Mahindra Hotel on 1 May, not on 6 May and the letters were planted on him new through the prima facie evidence was in favour of Guha. The judge shifted the burden of proof to the accused, which violated the basics of the criminal justice system. The judgment indicates that the Indian judiciary is moving backward.

This article was first published in the January 2011 issue of Analytical Monthly Review


Ministry uses rhetoric of “community control” to hide the actuality of intensified state control

Campaign for Survival and Dignity

Much press attention in the last week has been devoted to the Environment Minister’s statements on “democratic forest management” and how the existing forest management system needs to change. Such statements are welcome, for they mark an official admission that India’s forest bureaucracy has impoverished millions and increasingly been an opponent of both forest conservation and forest dwellers.

But what the Ministry says does not at all match what the Ministry does. Not only is the Ministry not moving in the direction of democratic management; it is moving against democratic management, while using the rhetoric of “community control” to hide the actuality of intensified state control.

At a time when state control over forests and forest lands is a major weapon in the assault on people’s resources and livelihoods, this is not an arcane policy issue alone; it is one component in the ongoing intense struggle over deciding how we will use our natural resources and how we will define our society.

A simple comparison throws up what is actually going on (click on links to know more about each issue):

Issue What the Ministry Said What the Ministry is Doing
Diversion of forest land for corporate projects One and a half years after passage of FRA, Ministry finally issues Aug 2009 order that requires FRA compliance i.e. recognition of rights and consent of gram sabha before land can be handed over * As per public minutes of Forest Advisory Committee, there is not a single project in which the Ministry has complied with FRA or its own order. In Polavaram, the FRA has been brazenly and publicly violated. In only one project has compliance even been considered – POSCO – but even after non-compliance has been exposed by three different committees, and five years of protest by the people, the forest clearance is still standing.
* Meanwhile, there are ongoing attempts to get the order withdrawn.
Joint Forest Management Throughout this year, including this week, statements by Minister that Joint Forest Management has become a Forest Department proxy and needs “reform.” * The reality is that there is only one nation-wide law that provides for democratic community control over forests – the Forest Rights Act(PESA provides even more extensive powers in Scheduled Areas). This supersedes all existing schemes. Therefore, if the Ministry is genuinely interested, the first steps for democratic control would be to shut down JFM, put the funds into the NREGA or other systems which permit local institutions to decide their priorities, and direct forest authorities to comply with local powers as provided in the FRA. MoEF would then have to join other Ministries in a coordinated effort towards democratic resource management, which is not MoEF’s domain alone.
* What is happening is exactly the opposite. There is repeated talk of “revamping” Joint Forest Management (which has no legal validity), and this translates into giving JFM committees powers that actually belong to democratic institutions.
* Even the basic fact that forest guards sit as the secretaries of JFM Committees, and their funds are controlled through the Forest Department, is completely ignored.
In short, the Ministry is strengthening its proxies, not democratising them.
Forestry Projects The Ministry repeatedly claims that the huge amount of money being poured into forestry projects will benefit forest dwellers and be spent in a “decentralised” fashion under “people’s control.” The money put into forestry includes money from the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) (1,000 crores per year), the proposed Green India Mission (46,000 crores in total), Japanese-funded “external” forestry projects, the National Afforestation Programme and the developing international REDD agreement. In every single one of these programs, funds are being channeled or are proposed to be channeled through JFM and the Forest Department, directly undermining democratic control and driving land grabbing. This is true in the case of CAMPA – despite a direct indictment by a Parliamentary Standing Committee. For details of other programmes see our statements on the proposed Green India Mission and the MoEF approach to REDD. If the Ministry is interested in democracy, why is it channeling funds to the very institutions that undercut democratic control – and this after it has itself said that they do so?

The “forked tongue” approach that has come to characterise the forest bureaucracy and this Ministry is extremely dangerous. It blocks actual change by claiming to be engaging in it; and then it does precisely the opposite, cleverly garbed in the right terms and the right language. In the process, “participation” becomes a code word for devolving huge amounts of money to select individuals and sections of villages in order to create what are essentially state proxies and vested interests. Nor is this confined to the Environment Ministry; we now have a “Integrated Action Plan” for “developing” Maoist areas by putting thousands of crores into the hands of the very officials who have destroyed people’s lives and livelihoods, organised inhuman repression and violated all norms of democracy. In the long run, this approach is a formula for dividing communities, breaking resistance, undermining democracy and destroying resources. It may make sense for the interests of corporations and state machinery; but to the rest of us it is a formula for resource grabbing and destruction.

Auroville Case: Justice Chinnappa Reddy’s views on religion

S.P. Mittal Etc. Etc vs Union Of India And Others
1983 AIR, 1 1983 SCR (1) 729

CHINNAPPA REDDY, J.: Everyone has a religion, or at least, a view or a window on religion, be he a bigot or simple believer, philosopher or pedestrian, atheist or agnostic. Religion, like ‘democracy’ and ‘equality’ is an elusive expression, which everyone understands according to his preconceptions. What is religion to some is pure dogma to others and what is religion to others is pure superstition to some others. Karl Marx in his contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law described religion as the ‘Opium of the people’. He said further “Basically religion is a very convenient sanctuary for bourgeois thought to flee to in times of stress.” Bertrand Russell, in his essay ‘Why I am not Christian’, said, “Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear.” It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother, who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing – fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and, therefore, it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. As a worshipper at the altar of peace, I find it difficult to reconcile myself to religion, which throughout the ages, has justified war calling it a Dharma Yuddha, a Jehad or a Crusade. I believe that by getting mixed up with religion, ethics has lost much of its point, much of its purpose and a major portion of its spontaneity.