Monday, 27 March 2023

Chidambaram's parlous plight

What happened to P. Chidambaram? He was once considered quite brilliant. Now he babbles about 'Might and Plight on display' in the Indian Express. It is clear that some nasty Modi has stolen his brains (all Modis are thieves- don't you know?) and replaced it with a steaming pile of poo. 
Act I: Might

Mr Kiren Rijiju, Honourable Minister of Law and Justice, uses every opportunity to emphasize that he and his government do not interfere — and have never interfered — with the independence of the judiciary.

They may want to, but they can't. My good friend Honeytits Modi tried to steal independence of Judiciary but CJI caught her and slapped her bum. She cried and cried.  

As a citizen and a practicing advocate, I would like to believe him.

But nobody believes you because you are an advocate. Also, Honeytits Modi stole your credibility while you were sleeping.  

I was happy to hear Mr Rijiju re-state the position of the government in a recent interaction at the India Today Conclave.

Midway, he delivered a thunderbolt. He said, and I shall quote his words: “I feel this is the most important topic for me, for the nation. …There is a calibrated effort to undermine Indian judiciary. That is why they say, day in and day out, they are saying that government is trying to take over Indian judiciary. …In a way, it is a sinister design…The anti-India forces in India and outside India, they use same language… The same eco-system is working inside India and outside India also… We will not allow this tukde tukde gang to destroy India’s integrity and our sovereignty…

Because that is what we elected you guys to do. It is your fucking job to protect India. If you don't do it properly we will vote you out. 

“Recently, there was one seminar in Delhi. Some retired Supreme Court judges, some senior lawyers, some people were there. The topic of the seminar was ‘Accountability in Judges Appointment’. But the discussion whole day was on ‘how government is taking over the Indian judiciary’… it is a few of the retired judges, few may be three or four, few of those activists, part of the anti-India gang, these people are trying to make Indian judiciary play the role of Opposition party…

These senile cretins were telling stupid lies to gain same advantage for themselves. It is Rijuju's jobs to tell them to go fuck themselves. If he won't do that job he is welcome to resign. It must be said, a lot of Indians have to come to feel great respect for him because he is sticking his neck out to defend national interests.  

“Actions will be taken, actions are being taken as per law, but if I say that I will take action…The agencies will take action as per the provisions of the law. Nobody will escape, don’t worry, nobody will escape. Those who work against the country will have to pay a price for that…”

Only if they are held to account. If Rijiju can do a better job in this respect, voters will reward his party.  

It was an unambiguous statement. What was on display was the might of the State through its Law Minister, no less.

What the Law Minister should say is 'please shit on India. Commit any offenses you like. I promise that you won't be prosecuted. India has zero power. It is a fucking shithole.'  

The mighty State was saying that if the government comes to the conclusion, subjectively, that there is a tukde tukde gang or that any person is part of the anti-India gang, be forewarned that action will be taken against any one who speaks or plays the role of the Opposition.

No. Rijiju only spoke of taking action as per the law- which is a wholly objective, not subjective, matter. The problem is that Rahul- who says India is not a nation- is now very much part of the tukde tukde gang. Perhaps, Chidu too favors secession for Tamil Nadu. That didn't end so well for the Sri Lankan Tamils- did it? 

We know who the ‘agencies’ are. We know what action they will take. We know what price the person will pay. We also know that the process is the punishment.

And, we- the people of India- approve just as we approved of Manmohan trying to crack down on NGOs which were using foreign money to try to stop economic development in India.  

Many have criticized the statement of the Honourable Minister of Law and Justice and its chilling effect on free speech.

Just as jail sentences for murder have a chilling effect on homicide. Since the First Amendment it has been obvious that India has no 'chilling effect' doctrine whatsoever. Why pretend otherwise? It is a separate matter that malicious prosecution may occur- as it certainly did when Manmohan was in power and BJP politicians were targeted.  

In my view, it was a display of the raw power of the State and provides sufficient evidence that democracy is in danger.

But your view is that the sun shines out of Rahul's backside. Fuck off.  

Act II: Plight

Move over to another organ of the State: the judiciary. At the apex of the judiciary sits the Supreme Court of India, sometimes described as the most powerful court in the world.

which is why it is called the apex court. Fuck is wrong with Chidu? Where else does he think a Court called 'Supreme' would sit?  

On March 21, 2023, a three-judge Bench delivered a judgement in the case of Satender Kumar Antil vs Central Bureau of Investigation. Noting its earlier judgement in the same case passed in July 2022 on the issue of ‘bail’, the Court said, and I shall quote its words:

“Counsels have produced before us a bunch of orders passed in breach of the judgement in the case of Satender Kumar Antil vs CBI & Anr only as samples to show how at the ground level, despite almost 10 months passing, there are a number of aberrations…This is something which cannot be countenanced and, in our view, it is the duty of the High Courts to ensure that the subordinate judiciary under their supervision follows the law of the land. If such orders are being passed by some Magistrates, it may even require judicial work to be withdrawn and those Magistrates to be sent to the judicial academies for upgradation of their skills for some time.

“Another aspect which is sought to be pointed out… is that not only is there a duty of the Court but also of the public prosecutors to plead correct legal position before the Court as officers of the Court.”

This is purely procedural. It is obvious that in a country with a ramshackle judiciary with poor quality judges at the bottom of the pyramid, that a Bench which is overactive in everything save putting its own house in order and streamlining the judicial system will vent its frustration in this manner from time to time. So what? We all know the solution to the problem- viz setting up an administrative cadre and simplifying judicial processes. Why not get in 'Expert System' AIs to assist in clearing the back-log of cases? Instead the Bench will keep taking up non-issues- e.g. should girls in a girls school be allowed to wear hijab inside the classroom. 

Just as ‘free speech’ is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, ‘liberty’ is guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21. Both are basic, unalterable features of a democracy. The anguish expressed by the Supreme Court illustrates the plight of the law caught in the middle between overbearing investigating agencies and an indulgent subordinate judiciary (with notable exceptions).

Nonsense! The Bench refused to put its own house in order and is shifting the blame to those lower down. It has not said that investigating agencies are 'overbearing'. All it said was that they should collect evidence expeditiously- which is all very well if they have plenty of resources. They don't. India is very very fucking poor.  

Act III: Might & Plight

On March 23, 2023 Mr Rahul Gandhi was convicted by a Magistrate’s Court on a complaint (by a BJP functionary) of the offence of defamation under Sections 499 and 500, IPC for certain words uttered during a political campaign/interview. He was convicted and sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment. The lawyers representing Mr Gandhi have found fault with the judgement of the learned Magistrate on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, procedural errors and manifest injustice.

But the complainant had twice taken recourse to the High Court to quash orders by the then CJM who was blatantly favoring Rahul. The new CJM followed the High Court directions and quickly convicted Rahul for his blatant act of 'collective denunciation' and criminal defamation of a type which the Supreme Court had twice warned him against.  

They also viewed the punishment of 2 years’ imprisonment (the maximum under the law) as unusually harsh.

Or unusually salutary if you don't happen to think the sun shines out of Rahul's arse.  

Robust political discourse is the essence of democracy.

Dynasticism is essentially antithetical to democracy. Why is this cretin so besotted with the Clown Prince? Is it because Honeytits Modi stole his brain?  

On deeper analysis, it will be evident that the law was set in motion to silence a leading voice of the democratic Opposition.

Who is so only by virtue of being the heir by primogeniture to the autocrat, Indira.  

Noisy appreciation of the ‘might’ of the law must be tempered by calm introspection on the ‘plight’ of democratic voices.

Dynastic voices. Rahul's plight is of his own making. The might of the law has expressed itself in conformity with directions of the Gujarat High Court not the Law Minister. Calm introspection would lead Chidu to go to Rahul and demand that he shit into his open and eager mouth. Nothing less will do to reward this loyal slave of the dynasty. Sadly, Honeytits Modi may have already stolen any turds Rahul might otherwise produce. This is the reason for Chidu's parlous plight.  

Wire's mis-reporting of Rahul defamation case

The Wire has sought to suggest that the defamation case against Rahul was  

The case was filed on April 16, 2019 and Rahul Gandhi appeared in the court of the then CJM, Surat, A.N. Dave on June 24, 2021, to record his statement in person.
The CJM passed judgment favorable to Rahul. Complainant approached the High Court (Purnesh Ishvarbhai Modi vs State Of Gujarat on 17 August, 2021) who quashed the impugned order and an sent the matter back to the trial court with a direction to be mindful of the decision in Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao re. admissibility of electronic evidence. The effect of this is to lower the burden of proof for the complainant.
In March 2022, when the complainant’s request for Rahul Gandhi to be summoned again was rejected by the CJM who insisted arguments commence immediately, the complainant rushed to the high court and sought a stay on the trial’s proceedings. This was granted on March 7, 2022.

Why? It was because the Magistrate refused

1) to let the accused testify re. the video material of his speech or else 

2) to adjourn the matter so the petitioner could move the High Court

Thus the complainant went to the High Court himself and gained a stay. The following was cited (Dharnidhar v. State of U.P. & Ors., (2010)) “29. The proper methodology to be adopted by the Court while recording the statement of the accused under Section 313 of the CrPC is to invite the attention of the accused to the circumstances and substantial evidence in relation to the offence, for which he has been charged and invite his explanation. In other words, it provides an opportunity to an accused to state before the court as to what is the truth and what is his defence, in accordance with law. It was for the accused to avail that opportunity and if he fails to do so then it is for the court to examine the case of the prosecution on its evidence with reference to the statement made by the accused under Section 313 CrPC.” 

After a hiatus of 11 months, the complainant went back to the high court on February 16, 2023, seeking vacation of the stay, pleading that “sufficient evidence has come on record of the trial court and the pendency of the present matter delays the trial”.

Also, there was a new magistrate. It is perfectly natural that if you have twice had to go to a superior court to quash decisions of a particular Magistrate, that you will wait till a new judge is appointed.  

Though no new evidence had come on record since the stay and the “pendency of the matter” was entirely at his own instance, the complainant was granted the relief he sought.

Because CJM A.N Dave not once but twice passed orders which were quashed by the High Court. Clearly it was better to wait for a more sensible fellow who would take cognizance of the High Court's directions.  

Purnesh Modi’s decision to restart a trial he had himself put on hold for a year came barely a week after Rahul Gandhi had launched a sharp attack on Narendra Modi in parliament over his links to controversial businessman Gautam Adani.

When is Rahul not running his mouth against Modi? The plain fact is that two different politicians named Modi, one in Gujarat another in Bihar, filed defamation charges against Rahul much before he started bleating about Adani. 

The trial resumed on February 27, 2023, this time before another judge, CJM H.H. Varma.

In his arguments on March 8, 2023, Gandhi’s counsel submitted that Purnesh Modi had no locus to claim defamation as the target of the Congress leader’s impugned speech was Narendra Modi.

Yet, everybody surnamed Modi has a locus if it is asserted that all Modis are thieves or catamites or terrorists etc.  

“In the entire complaint, there is only one allegation that is not against Narendra Modi,” the Times of India quoted Gandhi’s lawyer as arguing, which was ‘How come all [these] thieves have the same name, Modi?’. “For this too, Purnesh Modi has no right to complain as the allegations are not against any caste or community… And even if the allegations are against those with Modi surnames, then there is no association of those holding Modi surname,” the lawyer said.

Yet the same lawyer has said he himself is a Modi by caste! 

Arguments concluded the following week and CJM Varma reserved judgment. On Thursday he pronounced his ‘guilty’ verdict and sentenced Gandhi to the maximum punishment of two years imprisonment.

Because Rahul had ignored repeated warnings from the Supreme Court.  

Was the Surat judge right in proceeding against Gandhi without a preliminary inquiry?

There was a preliminary inquiry. The High Court directed the CJM to be mindful of Arjun Pandit case. This meant admissibility of the electronic record. Rahul had indeed said what the video showed him as saying. He was guilty.  

Rahul Gandhi’s legal arguments initially focused on the key question of jurisdiction under Section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which specifies the process a court must follow if it is proceeding against someone outside its usual territorial jurisdiction.

The High Court had clarified that inherent power of the Court permitted the case to go ahead. Why pretend that Rahul is an indigent fellow who can't travel to Gujarat?  

While upholding the constitutional validity of criminal defamation (Sections 499, 500 IPC), the Supreme Court in Subramanian Swamy vs Union of India held that there is a heavy burden on the trial court judge to scrutinise the complaint from all aspects.

There is also a duty to observe the directions of a higher court.  

The judge must also keep in view the language employed in Section 202 CrPC, which deals with how to proceed when the accused is resident at a place beyond the area in which the trial court exercises its jurisdiction. “Application of mind in the case of a complaint” is imperative in deciding whether the ingredients of Section 499 IPC are satisfied, it added.

Application of mind showed that Rahul could easily attend court not just in Ahmedabad but also in London, Monte Carlo and Phuket in Thailand.  

Section 202 deals with the issue of process by a magistrate. As amended in 2005, this provision says that it is mandatory for a magistrate to postpone the issue of process against an accused person who is residing outside the territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate till such time he concludes an inquiry into the charges.

This was done. The issue was admissibility of electronic evidence. High Court directed that the precedent in Arjun Pandit should be followed. It is foolish to say that unless this official or that official certifies authenticity of a video it should be inadmissible. Rahul's counsel wasn't saying the thing was a 'deep fake'. They had simply tried a legal trick to get their client acquitted due to lack of evidence.  

“Rahul Gandhi is a resident of Delhi, which is outside the jurisdiction of this court,” his lawyer submitted before the CJM on March 7, “For such an accused, the law requires the witnesses to be examined, and the matter enquired. The court is then required to give the reason on whether to issue the summons or not. No such thing was followed,” the Times of India quoted him saying.

What is the point of making such a claim after Rahul had in fact shown up and given his testimony?  

In Vijay Dhanuka and Others v Najima Mamtaj and Others (2014), the Supreme Court has held that, it is mandatory for the magistrate to conduct an inquiry or direct an investigation before issuing process when the accused person resides beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the magistrate.

How is this relevant? It is obvious that the procedure was followed because Rahul himself turned up. If there was any procedural fault why did his lawyers not petition the High Court in the same manner as the complainant did- that too twice?  

The apex court went one step further in Birla Corporation Limited v Adventz Investments and Holding Limited (2019), holding that the issuance of process should not be mechanical nor it should be made as an instrument of harassment to the accused.

Why mention this now? Why did his lawyers not approach the High Court to have the proceedings quashed? Was CJM Dave in their pocket? Were they hoping to get a favorable ruling in Surat so as to stop similar proceedings elsewhere?  

An issuance of process calling upon an individual to appear as an accused in a criminal case is a serious matter and if there is lack of material particulars and non-application of mind by the magistrate as to the materials, this cannot be brushed aside on the ground that it is only a procedural irregularity.

Why bring this up only now after your client has been sentenced to two years imprisonment? Why was this not a 'serious matter' in 2021? How did it suddenly become serious only in 2023 after a new CJM was appointed? Did Congress have sort of hold over Dave?  

In Abhijeet Pawar v Hemant Madhukar Nimbalkar and Another (2017), the Supreme court held that if the mandatory requirement of Section 202, CrPC is not fulfilled by the magistrate before issuing process, it can direct him/her to take up the matter up afresh and pass appropriate orders in compliance with the provision.

But it was the complainant who got the High Court to quash the CJM's orders! Were Rahul's lawyers really so greatly inferior to those of the complainant? Why did they sleep upon their rights? What has caused them to wake up only now?  

Rahul Gandhi’s lawyers raised these questions before the CJM and in the appeal his team will file, his counsel have already indicated that one plank of appeal will be non-compliance with Section 202, CrPC.

It will fail. The High Court has already given decisions on what compliance entailed. Only the Supreme Court can overrule the High Court.  

Defamation of a group: What the Supreme Court’s guidelines say

While politicians in India often resort to making fun of names in order to score points against their opponents, Rahul Gandhi’s attempt at humour has landed him in trouble.

Because he is as stupid as shit. 

Explanation 2 to Section 499 IPC says that it amounts to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such. However, in a key 2010 case, the Supreme Court has laid down the conditions under which a collection of persons can allege defamation.

Section 499 is clear enough. A bunch of people with the same name are 'identifiable' because...urm... that's how names work. The additional factor is that Modi is the name of a caste.  

In S. Khushboo,v Kanniammal,

some married Tamil women pretended that the statement that it was okay to have extra-marital sex meant that everybody would assume they were sluts.  

it ruled that though Explanation 2 is wide, the only way a collection of persons ca demonstrate the offence of defamation is if they are an identifiable body – so that it is possible to say with precision that a group of particular persons, as distinguished from the rest of the community, stood defamed.

Why the fuck did such a stupid case end up before the Supreme Court? Is it really the case that Tamil women are a species apart from the rest of humanity? Also if I were to say 'it's okay to fart while relieving yourself' will Tamil people claim that I have accused them of uncontrollable flatulence? Yes. I'm Tamil myself and I regularly accuse myself of the very same fault.  

In case the identity of the collection of persons is not established so as to be relatable to the defamatory words or imputations, the complaint is not maintainable.

How is this relevant? If you shout out 'Mr. Modi! Is there a Mr. Modi here? There is a visitor for Mr. Modi at reception' then only people named Modi will come forward. True, you might get an occasional Iyer who also comes forward because he is very flatulent and wants the visitor to smell his 'silent but deadly' contributions to Civilization. 

In the Surat case, it is difficult to contend that those with the surname Modi constitute a community, which was distinct from others, and that Rahul Gandhi intended to defame such a community. In S. Khushboo, the Supreme Court held that in case a class is mentioned, the complaint cannot be entertained if such a class is indefinite. Furthermore, if it is not possible to ascertain the composition of such a class, the criminal prosecution cannot proceed.

Then Rahul's lawyer started giving interviews where he claimed himself to be a Modi! 

Had Rahul Gandhi asked why these thieves all wear the gown, it can’t be libel.

Yes it can. Indeed, it could be hate speech or even part and parcel of a more serious conspiracy or even treason charge. We understand that some poor sod who has just lost his home and visitation rights might say 'all divorce lawyers are devils incarnate'. However, if that fellow is the dynastic head of a party with 45 million members and which rules over populous states and if lawyers are attacked or otherwise disadvantaged in some way, then the test of criminal defamation is met.  

Similarly, the reference he made to the surname of three individuals – none of whom has alleged defamation – without elaboration of particulars, cannot constitute defamation, if Subramanian Swamy is an indication.

Yes it can. He said that with a little digging, countless more Modis would be revealed to be Modis. His own lawyer said in an interview that most Modis support the BJP. He himself didn't but he was unusual in that regard. Also his surname was not Modi.  

Can Rahul Gandhi be disqualified as a Member of the Lok Sabha following his conviction?

Yes. The thing is automatic. The Parliamentary Secretariat issues the order. This has nothing to do with any Ethics Committee. What follows is nonsense-  

In January this year, the Lok Sabha MP from Lakshadweep, Mohammad Faizal of the Nationalist Congress Party, was disqualified after he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a district court in an attempt to murder case. The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee decided to strip Faizal of his membership from the date of his conviction, i.e., January 11, 2023, in terms of the provisions of Article 102(1)(e) of the Constitution read with Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The Ethics Committee decided this after receiving communication from the district and sessions judge, Kavaratti, informing them about Faizal’s conviction.

The notice was issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.  It is a separate question as to whether the Ethics Committee can bar an MP. The matter is justiciable. 

This disqualification is now de facto on hold after the Kerala High Court suspended the conviction and sentence of Faizal, after his disqualification. In the case of Rahul Gandhi, the Surat court itself had suspended his sentence, to enable him to appeal.

It has not suspended the conviction. That is what matters. In the Faizal case, it may be that the man is innocent. In Rahul's case there is no doubt he is guilty. However the quantum of punishment may be scaled down on appeal at which point automatic disqualification will lapse.  

Under Section 8(3) of the R.P.Act, an MP convicted and sentenced for two or more years invites disqualification. Although Faizal stands disqualified, the Election Commission withheld the Lakshadweep Lok Sabha by poll after the high court suspended his conviction and sentence. Although Faizal’s disqualification has ceased to have effect following the high court’s suspension of his conviction, there has been no formal revocation of his disqualification by the Lok Sabha speaker.

The Secretariat is what matters. Faizal will get a court order in that regard. 

The question of the procedure by which Rahul Gandhi may be disqualified from the Lok Sabha arises in view of the Supreme Court’s 2013 judgment in Lily Thomas vs Union of India, declaring sub-section (4) of Section 8 of RPA unconstitutional. Section 8(4) of the RPA said that disqualifications take effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of any conviction if, during that interregnum, the MP or MLA has not filed an appeal against the conviction or the sentence before a higher court. Section 8(4) extended immunity from disqualification even if the court had not disposed of such an appeal during that period of three months.

In Lok Prahari v Election Commission of India (2018), the Supreme Court held that once a conviction has been stayed during the pendency of an appeal, the disqualification which operates as a consequence of the conviction cannot take or remain in effect.

The effect of Lily Thomas and Lok Prahari will, therefore, be that the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha can take cognisance of Rahul Gandhi’s conviction and proceed to disqualify him from the Lok Sabha once the Surat court sends them a communication to that effect.

This is nonsense. The Ethics Committee can expel a member but this is no bar on their seeking re-election.  

Presumaby this is the basis for the Lok Sabha secretariat’s communication on March 24.

 No. Disqualification was automatic and on the basis of the Election Commission's legal advise. 

However, if and when an appellate court stays his conviction and sentence, the disqualification will cease to have effect.

The conviction has to be stayed. That is what matters.  

The question to ask, however, is whether the Lok Sabha is right to disqualify Rahul Gandhi hastily without awaiting the outcome of his plea for stay of his conviction.

No. The thing was automatic and followed Lily Thomas (2013) 

Is the Lok Sabha speaker right to ignore the Surat court’s suspension of his sentence, on the grounds that in Lily Thomas, a conviction which carries a sentence of two years and above is sufficient to attract disqualification?

The Speaker was irrelevant. The Secretariat had to act in conformity with the law.  

In 2013, the United Progressive Alliance government had tried to circumvent the Lily Thomas ruling by enacting an ordinance. Ironically, Rahul Gandhi tore a copy of the ordinance at a press conference to express his protest against it, acutely embarrassing – and weakening – the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

The moon calf is now hoist with his own petard. 

An additional question is the procedure for disqualification of an MP specified in Article 103 of the Constitution:

That question was resolved in 2013. The thing is automatic if a sentence of two years or longer is handed down.  

103. Decision on questions as to disqualifications of members
(1) If any question arises as to whether a member of either House of Parliament has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause ( 1 ) of Article 102, the question shall be referred for the decision of the President and his decision shall be final
(2) Before giving any decision on any such question, the President shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion

But Lily Thomas made the thing automatic. There is no discretion for the Speaker or the President or anybody else here. 

Since Gandhi’s disqualification is pursuant to Article 102(1)(e) – “disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament” – it is the president of India who must sign off on the disqualification, on the advice of the Election Commission.

Nope. The thing is automatic.  

It is not clear that this constitutional provision has been complied with.

Yes it is. What is equally clear is that the Wire employs cretins and that it is incapable of balanced reportage or commentary of any type.  

Kirit Panwala proves Rahul insulted all Modis

It appears that Rahul Gandhi was poorly represented in the Surat defamation case. Print India has an interview with Rahul's lawyer- one Kirit Panwala who says that there is 'no Modi community' and then tells us that he himself belongs to it! Was the fellow a fool or a 'thief' bribed by the BJP to throw the case? Let us see what Panwala has to say for himself. 

Mumbai: Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha has created a sensation. It was a fallout of his conviction in a defamation case in a Surat court. The charges against Gandhi were defended by local lawyer Kirit Panwala.

Congress should have brought out the big guns. At the least, Panwala should have immediately filed a review petition.  

Panwala is a senior lawyer with 47 years of legal practice.

He is 70 years old. His argument was that the Magistrate could postpone the case under Section 202 of the Crpc. This gives relief to people living in far off places. The problem was that Rahul was a frequent visitor to Gujarat. He wasn't a poor man who could not afford the price of a train ticket. 

Panwala also said that Narendra Modi alone could bring the case. Yet Rahul had said that a little digging would show countless Modis were in fact thieves. Thus anyone by the name of Modi could bring an action under Section 499 of the IPC. Furthermore, the Supreme Court had admonished Rahul in 2016 against 'collective defamation'. 

Panwala needed to take a different approach mindful of the fact that Rahul was not an indigent and, moreover, had already been reprimanded by the Bench. 

In a telephonic interview, he explains the details of the case to ThePrint and why he thinks the line “all thieves have the common surname Modi” doesn’t deserve a harsh punishment.

Kiritbhai, it has turned out to be an historical case. Were any of your arguments weak that they led to this judgment?

I don’t believe that any argument was weak;

Rahul is very poor. How he can afford train ticket! Don't you know the poor fellow had to walk all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir because his Mummy is not giving him any pocket money with which to buy bus or train ticket? 

the arguments were extremely clear and the counter-examination was also conducted aptly.

Moreover, the factual aspects of the case are not strong enough to invite deep thought. At the election rally, certain accusations were made against Narendra Modi and a sentence was casually spoken in the end i.e., – “Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi … how come all thieves have the common surname (of) Modi?”

Rahul added that with a little 'search' hundreds more Modis would be seen to be thieves.  

Actually, 90 per cent of the allegations made in this ‘defamatory’ comment are against Narendra Modi and the law dictates that if the allegations are against an individual, that person should file a complaint as the aggrieved party. In this particular case, Narendra Modi should be filing a complaint (which he hasn’t) and we have Purnesh Modi filing a case instead! How can he, when the law does not allow him to do so?

Purnesh could bring in witnesses who said that hearing Rahul caused them to become suspicious of Purnesh. A little 'search' might show he was a thief. Why take the chance? 

Purnesh Modi lodged the complaint because of the line “all thieves have the common surname Modi” . He himself is a Modi.

In which case there is a Modi community. Those members of it who keep Modi as a surname will be lowered even in the eyes of their own jati as likely to be thieves. Panwala himself is an example. Since his own surname is different, he may gain an advantage over his caste-fellows thanks to Rahul's speech. This is contrary to Section 499.  

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment over one line? I have researched many past judgments in similar cases and not a single upper court has sentenced an accused to a two-year imprisonment; they have either been let off with a reprimand or a nominal punishment or a penalty, nothing beyond that.

Rahul was admonished by a two Judge Supreme Court Bench against 'collective denunciation' in 2016. Moreover, by reason of being a legislator his remarks carry more weight. He should have been more careful. He showed reckless disregard in this respect. 

This particular case doesn’t even justify this because the quoted sentence – “how come all thieves have the common surname Modi” – refers to ‘Modi’; and people are presuming that it refers to the entire Modi community. Whereas actually, there is no reference to the community at all! The community does not come into the picture.

But isn’t (there) the reference to the Modi community?

We have proved that there is no Modi community, per se. We have Modh Vanik, Modh Ghanchi and so on, but no Modi community. And if there is no Modi community, how does the question of raising a complaint as a representative of this so-called community arise?

So Modh Vaniks whose surname is Modi suffer in the eyes of their own caste fellows just for that reason because of Rahul's reckless statement. That violates Section 499. The fact that two different sub-castes may have the same appellation does not reduce the offence.  It was enough that Purnesh could easily bring witnesses to say they didn't vote for him because of Rahul's comment. 

Secondly, let’s take up their representation on the grounds that Modi was being used as a surname and there are reportedly 13 crore people in India carrying that surname. According to the law, this group is considered as ‘loose and unidentifiable’

No because Panwala himself has stipulated that there are at least two identifiable groups 'Modh Vainiks' and 'Modh Ghanchis' some of whose members use Modi as a surname. Not everybody with the surname Khan is Muslim. Yet to say 'all terrorists are Khans' is collective denunciation or defamation. It stigmatizes a particular cohesive and identifiable group. If I said 'all Susans are sluts' it is defamatory because we can easily identify people with the name 'Susan'. If I say 'all Fascists are sluts' this is not the case because there is no way of saying who is or isn't a Fascist in India because there is no Fascist party in the country.  

and as per norms, one cannot lodge a complaint as a member of an unidentifiable group.

Yet if you shout out 'Mr. Modi, there is a visitor for you' only people actually called Modi will respond. A surname is one of the most identifiable things about us. 

The Supreme Court has passed many such judgments in the past in similar instances. For example, there was a case filed in Gujarat against someone who had termed lawyers as ‘dispute dalals/ brokers’; in response to which the court ruled that the term (dispute broker) was used for lawyers in general and not to any identifiable, definite and determinative group and hence, a case cannot be lodged against the person.

This is clearly stated in Section 499. You can say 'all politicians are thieves'. You can't say only politicians named Modi are more likely to be thieves.  

Similarly, there was a complaint filed against filmmaker Raj Kapoor for using a particular term for the scavenger community. The term was used by a Brahmin character in his film Ram Teri Ganga Maili. In that case also, the Supreme Court ruled that the particular term (now made illegal to use) is a loose, unidentifiable group, so the case doesn’t hold ground.

Why bring this matter up? Society has moved forward a lot since then. At one time it would have been fine for Americans to call me a nigger.  Even saying, 'have you noticed dark skinned people are much more likely to be terrible Accountants' is defamatory because it is easy to identify people with that trait. 

The court had made a similar ruling in a case filed against actress Asha Parekh for allegedly portraying lawyers in a poor light in one of her films.

This man is utterly senile! Why bring up Raj Kapoor and Asha Parekh at this late hour? No wonder Rahul lost his case.  

We can definitely say that there is no ‘maintainability’ in the complaint.

Which is why the Court found RaGa not guilty- right? 

Secondly, this line is a stray sentence in the entire speech. There is absolutely no intention to harm or even the knowledge that it will harm anyone.

Nonsense! The intention was to harm politicians surnamed Modi by suggesting that they were likely to be thieves.  

Gandhi was delivering a speech in Bengaluru where it is highly improbable that anyone with the surname ‘Modi’ was present in the audience;

there are plenty of Modis conducting business in Bengaluru.  

and no one has been able to provide evidence also on these lines.

This senile fool doesn't seem to understand that we aren't living in the times of Raj Kapoor and Asha Parekh! Has he heard of Youtube and Twitter and 'viral videos'?  

Their stand is that Modh Vaniks are the Modi community. Gandhi actually meant to say – This Nirav Modi, this Lalit Modi, this Narendra Modi…why is the surname of all THESE thieves Modi? But he made a slip of tongue by missing the word THESE which these people have caught and blown out of proportion.

Why did Rahul not say this? He gave testimony to the Magistrate. Had he said 'I misspoke. I have the greatest respect for Modi community. I meant to say 'despite being Modis, these three people have been found to be thieves'. In that case, Narendra Modi alone could have brought an action for defamation but Rahul has a good faith defense. 

Did you anticipate that this (conviction) would happen?

If he says no then he is convicting himself of being a shit lawyer.  

We have been arguing the maintainability of the case. There was a stay on the case. Later, Judge A.K. Dave was transferred and Judge Harish Verma came in his place. Meanwhile, the stay was withdrawn, the hearing started and the judgment followed.

Abhijit Singhvi may be able to show that Verma is prejudiced against Rahul and thus get a mistrial.  

Do you think the two-year sentence is too harsh?

Yes. This is a case of 'the process being the punishment'. Rahul's sentence will be reduced or it will be suspended. But he should show some contrition. After all, he apologized to the Supreme Court for falsely attributing a statement against Modi to them.  

That is my second point; my first point being that this case itself has no ground. Punishment just cannot be inflicted. Even if the court finds a person guilty, the sentence cannot be so long.

Yes it can. Two years is the maximum. What if CJI takes over the case and lets the sentence stand? That is what should worry Rahul's lawyers.  

How true is the story doing the rounds that Rahul Gandhi never took this case seriously?

It is true. If you take a case seriously, you hire a top lawyer- e.g. Singhvi. Even Rahul isn't such a fool as to leave the appeal in the hands of Panwala.  

This allegation is entirely baseless. The legal trial has been taken extremely seriously, no leeway was sought.

He himself sought leeway on the grounds that Rahul would face difficulty appearing in court because he lived far away.  

So are you of the opinion that Gandhi took this case seriously?

Panwala can't say no. That would be to admit that he is a shit lawyer.  However, the rest of us can say 'Rahul, poor fellow, could never have foreseen that a mere magistrate would dare to jail a scion of the Dynasty'. 

Yes, people have a wrong image of him and so does the media. I have found him to be a great democrat. He has never missed a single court hearing.

because he is not actually an indigent who can't afford the price of a train ticket. 

Two of his cases are going on in Ahmedabad; I need to go many times for the hearings and have noted that he comes on time and he respects everyone, including the court. In fact, he is closer to the ideal framework of our country which was drawn by our post-Independence leaders than Narendra Modi is.

Because he the great grandson of Nehru.  

Why didn’t he offer an apology?

We tried twice to negotiate some kind of a mutual understanding. But the complainant wasn’t ready. In an SC contempt case, an apology can be offered but the situation is very different in a defamation case in a lower court. We were ready to give in writing that Gandhi respects all communities. But somehow, the complainant was not ready to accept that.

Did the complainant also refuse to stick a pineapple up his own bum? How very unreasonable of him! 

Why were the oral submissions not submitted in written form, like many others do?
Gandhi has made written submissions too.

They'd be worth reading. Why not publish them? 

Probably, it wasn’t mentioned separately in the judgment because written submissions fall within the oral submissions segment, per se.

Why did you not take a stay on the very same day that the judgment was passed?

A revision petition should have been immediately submitted. Congress should have had teams ready in the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court so as to get relief or remedial action.  Pawan Khera's lawyers seem to have been quick off the mark to get him relief. Why was this not done for Rahul?

According to Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, an MP/MLA convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years is disqualified immediately from the date of conviction.

 It is the 2013 Lily Thomas judgment which is salient in this respect. 

But the judge had given you time to approach the higher court…

Yes, he granted a period of one month – but this was for appeal for procuring bail. The punishment has been postponed till then. But conviction and punishment are two totally different issues. A stay should be given on the punishment so that there is relief in the disqualification (from Parliament) element; if there is a stay on the conviction, then there is no relief.

This is where the lawyers fell down. To be fair, we don't know the client's instructions. 

Weren’t you aware that if Gandhi being an MP is sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, he will be immediately disqualified from his post?

Of course, we knew this and we had also discussed (this) among ourselves in detail. But what precautionary steps could we have taken? Could we presume that ‘this person is going to be sentenced so let us take steps in advance’ — the law doesn’t allow this!

Nonsense! The High Court could transfer the case because it was clear that appeal would be lodged if there was an unfavorable verdict. 

And such steps are akin to defamation or contempt of court.

Not if the thing were done properly. Only if you unfairly allege partiality against the Magistrate could this arise. 

In fact, the Lok Sabha administration declared it the next day, but the disqualification took place the day of the judgment itself. Even if they declare this after five days, disqualification comes into effect the moment a lawmaker is convicted.

Which was precisely the reason the transfer of the case would have been allowed.  Once the case was put on fast track, the attempt should certainly have been made as the High Court has a full docket and would be more likely to grant continuance if a very senior lawyer was employed who could show that he had conflicting obligations.

What next?

After reading this judgment and drawing relevant points, we will appeal in the sessions court for suspending punishment and also the conviction. We will appeal under Section 374/3 of the IPC. Within this appeal, we will apply for a stay on the punishment. We will seek suspension of the two-year punishment along with bail, and will try to procure orders on these lines. If we get the order, we can file an appeal. The result could be imprisonment or release.

I suppose a superior court will alter the quantum of punishment to a simple fine. However the Supreme Court may take over the case. 

Is the BJP losing ground as Gandhi is gaining public sympathy because of the verdict…what are your thoughts on this?

Public sympathy is an offshoot of the entire proceedings. They had never in their wildest dreams imagined that something like this could also happen!

Why not? The Supreme Court's admonitions to Rahul should have alerted his lawyers that imprisonment was an option.  

The BJP treats the fourth estate as its property so they never thought that this case would attract so much publicity in the media and sympathy from the general populace. Apparently, the mindset of the public has changed slightly.

This is nonsense. The BJP knows there are big media houses in non-BJP states which will give plenty of publicity to Rahul's 'crusade'. The alternative is getting beaten up by Stalin's or Mamta's goons. 

In the scenario of Gandhi not getting a stay, will he have to go to jail immediately?

Yes, and he has openly said, “I am prepared to go to jail.” Their intentions also are to imprison him. Else, even a layperson with basic common sense will wonder how a complaint was raised via WhatsApp in Surat against a slip of tongue by someone a thousand kilometres away, in Bengaluru, during an election rally where Modi was not even present. That too, in the context of highlighting issues such as unemployment, inflation and misgovernance.

But laypeople in India know a lot about WhatsApp though they may not remember Asha Parekh.  

Legally, an inquiry should be instituted into this complaint. There was an amendment in 2005 that a case cannot be filed against a person staying outside the area of jurisdiction and summons cannot be sent at all.

Has Panwala been putting cannabis into his paan? There is no such provision in Indian law.  The plain fact is the victim of criminal defamation can bring a private suit in his local court. The Police had also registered a FIR. 

The High Court clarified  Mr. P.S. Champaneri raised the substantial issue with regard to maintainability of present petition invoking extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Section 482 of the Code. It is settled law that the remedy under Article 226 is discretionary remedy for doing complete justice and correcting injustice. So far Section 482 of the Code is concerned, if the high court finds necessary for securing the ends of justice, the section empowers the High Court to exercise its inherent powers and in that case, there can be no limitation in exercise of its power. Thus, noticing the facts of the present case and the way in which the impugned order is passed by the trial Court, this Court is of considered view that, the dismissal of the application at Exh:59 by the Court below is not in consonance with the object and scope, as prescribed under Section 311 of the Cr.P.C and dictum of law settled by the Apex Court. As a result, this Court finds that case is made warranting interference in the impugned Order. Hence, the impugned order dated 05.01.2021 passed by learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat, below Exh:59 in Criminal Case No.18712/2019 is hereby quashed.

In view of the same, how can someone staying in Surat file a case against Gandhi who is residing in Delhi?

In the same way that Bill Gates can bring a fraudster living in London to face trial in an American court.  

The proper process is instituting an inquiry; but if they follow this procedure, then they cannot reap its benefits for the coming polls. Their strategy of gathering all the Modh Ghanchis and Modh Vaniks under the pretext of the ‘Modi surname’ case would fail.

Rahul's lawyers threw doubt on the official videos of Rahul making the remark. The complainant got a stay on the proceedings so as to get more evidence. In February, the High Court vacated the stay on the complainant's petition. The Magistrate accepted the veracity of the evidence in line with the High Court's judgment to establish the truth by calling witnesses. Rahul had indeed make the objectionable remarks. That is why he was sentenced.  

They served the summons without conducting an inquiry and initiated the case. If you delve deeper, there’s nothing in this case. People will wonder, “ What crime did Rahul Gandhi commit that he was given a two-year sentence?”

His lawyers said he hadn't said what we have all seen him saying on Youtube. He was guilty though he had pretended not to be.  

…If this angle is properly highlighted in the media, everyone will realise that there’s nothing in this case.

Except what he actually said which he denied saying.  

Is there any other such case filed in Gujarat?

No, not in Gujarat; but similar cases have been filed against Gandhi in other parts of India.

I mean over this particular reference of ‘Modi’?

Yes, Sushil Modi in Bihar has filed a case. It’s an ongoing case.

So, it is clear that a large class of people across the length and breadth of the country have been harmed by Rahul's defamatory remark. He could say 'everybody knows I am a cretin and a habitual liar. Thus nobody has been damaged.' The problem is that Congress is a big organization. It has 45 million members. It rules States like Gujarat and Himachal. Thus, even if everybody thinks Rahul is a lying cunt, still Congress members may act in a hostile and discriminatory manner to people surnamed Modi.  

Are you a Modh Vanik too?

I am of the same caste as Narendra Modi, I am also a Modh Vanik; we are also known as Modh Ghanchis.

So, the cretin admits that there Modis are a community! He himself is one.  

I am totally different from the people of my caste who are pro-BJP. I believe in secularism, I believe in democracy and I

worship a dynast because democracy means licking the arise of the great-grandson of the first PM- unless his name is Varun.  

also believe that in the rule of Narendra Modi, democracy is under threat as we are all under an autocratic rule… and the less said about secularism, the better.

The less this man says the better for Rahul. He has asserted that he himself is a Modi but he is an unusual Modi who worships Rahul because he thinks 'democracy' means licking the arse of the dynasty.  Suppose Rahul says 'all people from Modi caste suck off homeless dudes' then he will be very happy. He will immediately start sucking off homeless dudes. The police will arrest him for public indecency. He will go to jail where he will be able to lick Rahul's arse to his heart's content- unless Singhvi can keep the mooncalf out of jail. 

Sunday, 26 March 2023

Gilles Verniers wrong on Democracy

 Gilles Verniers- who, as a French speaker may be ignorant of Anglo Saxon Constitutional Law- is a Professor of Political Science at Ashoka University. He writes in the Wire that Rahul Gandhi's disqualification is an abuse of power. By his own logic, he must be a supporter of Netanyahu in his struggle to cut the Israeli Supreme Court down to size. 

 The question we must ask this stupid Professor is whether he thinks the Indian Supreme Court overstepped the mark in 2013 when it laid down the rule that disqualification from Parliament is automatic once a person is sentenced to two years or more in a criminal case? Was the  Supreme Court wrong, in 2016, to admonish Rahul not to indulge in 'collective denunciation'? Furthermore, in connection with the Rafale affair, the Bench had admonished Rahul in 2019 in the following words “It is unfortunate that without any verification certain remarks were made by the contemnor (Rahul Gandhi) against the Prime Minister. Mr Gandhi needs to be more careful in future.” It is a matter of public record, that it was the 2013 and 2016 actions of the Bench which prompted the harsh sentence passed by the Surat Magistrate.

Currently, we think it likely that the quantum of punishment will be reduced by a superior court and thus the disqualification will be reversed. Here, 'the process is the punishment'. Hopefully Rahul will be more cautious in his choice of words going forward.

Gilles disagrees. He thinks the Executive, not the Bench, has abused its power. The problem here is that the court case was not brought by a member of the executive. A legislator is merely a legislator unless he also holds a Cabinet or other similar office. 

A Judge is never a member of the Executive while the Parliament Secretariat and Election Commission are independent branches of the Civil Service which are bound to follow the Law of the land- in this case, the 2013 Supreme Court decision 

The disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from his seat in parliament, following his conviction in a criminal defamation case filed by a BJP legislator in Gujarat after a speech Gandhi made during the 2019 general election campaign in Karnataka is an important political moment that can be broken down into three aspects:

the thing has only one aspect- viz the law as established by the 2013 decision. 

the law, politics, and the larger meaning of this event for India’s democracy.

There is no larger meaning. Rahul's lawyer will get him off unless the CJI takes over the case as Master of the Rolls. 

On the legal aspect, Rahul Gandhi’s supporters say, not without reason, that this swift disqualification is the distortion of a law that was meant to remove from the parliament elected representatives convicted of serious crimes, like fraud, corruption, or violent crimes.

Criminal defamation is a serious crime. Rahul was inciting caste based hatred. Similarly Azam Khan was disqualified after being sentenced in a 2019 hate speech case.  

In the present case, the judge handed down a sentence that matches exactly the minimum required for the disqualification clause to kick in, under Section 8(3) of The Representation of the People Act.

It is also the maximum penalty. The reason it was applied was because Rahul had ignored the the Supreme Court's warning against 'collective denunciation' 

This obviously raises suspicions, even though the letter of the law remains unbroken.

Are those suspicions reasonable? The plain fact is, if you say 'all thieves are from such and such community, dig a little and you will find countless thieves from that community' then it more than likely that some person from that community will complain against you. If you have previously been warned by a Judge- and Rahul was warned by a two Judge Supreme Court Bench- then you will be punished. But 'the process is the punishment'. You can spend money and get a superior court to reduce the quantum of punishment to a simple fine. The problem is that Rahul has a lot of other defamation cases against him. So this drama will recur periodically.  

The case itself is questionable. As the legal scholar Gautam Bhatia

a cretin who thinks a Judge can be sued for defamation for things he says while passing judgment! 

noted in a tweet, “References to a generic class of persons are not actionable unless an individual can show a direct reference to *themselves*”.

Article 499 of the Code says any Class or Association of people can be defamed. It is enough to belong to that class or association and to show that damage has been done to win your case. In this case, the petitioner could bring witnesses who would say 'hearing what Rahul said caused me to think that maybe I should not give my vote to this person because he too is a Modi'.  

In this case, Rahul Gandhi did not specifically refer to the plaintiff, Gujarat BJP MLA and former minister Purnesh Modi, in his speech.

He said all thieves have this surname. This meant Purnesh had a higher likelihood of being a thief than a person from a different caste.  

Such a judgment opens the door to all kinds of new defamation claims against elected representatives, including cases of hate speech targeting entire communities.

Such laws already exist. You can't say 'all terrorists belong to such and such community'. However there are clever ways of conveying a suggestio falsi without crossing the line. Still, when caught out, a politicians will appear to offer profuse apologies while actually repeating the slur in some more veiled fashion.  

Political aspect

On the political front, this disqualification blocks Rahul Gandhi from contesting in 2024 (unless a higher court suspends the decision before the seat of Wayanad gets filled, or if the initial sentence is reduced). It does not however prevent him from campaigning, as long as he is not jailed. And even a jailed Gandhi would be a powerfully evocative image that the opposition can use as a rallying cry.

This fool is not stating the obvious. If Rahul is barred from being PM till 2034, there there is no obstacle to opposition unity. Voters will be reassured that the mooncalf won't get the top job. They may hope it is someone they themselves like.

By continuously pounding Rahul Gandhi, the BJP seeks to elevate his position as the main figure of the opposition.

Obviously. You want to run against a cretin, not a smart politician. 

On the one hand, the BJP needs Rahul Gandhi as a figure of mockery, a weak uncharismatic politician who embodies everything the BJP claims to be fighting against: privilege and dynasticism.

Whoa there Gilles? Which side are you on? Why not just say Rahul wears adult diapers because he constantly soils himself?  

Recent critiques of Rahul Gandhi’s speeches abroad aim at presenting him as anti-patriotic.

He says India is not a nation. It is like the EU which can have Brexit or Grexit or whatever. 

On the other hand, the BJP does not want to see him raise his profile in terms that differ from those they choose to define him by.

Actually, Modi would be happy if Rahul started behaving like a patriot. The plain fact is that the mooncalf is making the task of India's diplomats more difficult. Look at the Khalistani attack on the Indian High Commission. The Brits can point out that Rahul is saying India is not a nation. Why not hold a referendum or just allow East Punjab to go its own way?  

In recent months, Rahul Gandhi took the opposition on the ground through the Bharat Jodo Yatra, underlining that the real opposition to the BJP government will not take place within institutions of representation. He gained credibility and demonstrated an ability to connect with people in a way that differs from the staged and distant rallies held by the Prime minister.

This simply isn't true. Modi's appears to enjoy a 78 percent approval rate. Rahul's approval rate has halved since 2019 even though the Yatra gave him a bit of a bump.  

By using a law that Rahul Gandhi himself pushed for adoption 10 years ago, the government and the BJP in power raise his status to that of the principal opponent while also neutralising him.

The Executive isn't using the Law. This is an independent decision of the Judiciary. Will anybody say 'Modi forgave Rahul and let him escape jail' if a higher court reduces the quantum of punishment or sets aside the judgment entirely? 

Whether this will work in favour of the BJP or backfire remains to be seen. Opposition leaders will certainly be jolted by this episode, which could strengthen their resolve to work together ahead of the election.

The problem is that 'working together' could damage their own prospects. There is such a thing as negative synergy. Modi may have kept something up his sleeve for 2024. Alternatively, the Pakistanis might do something stupid and help Modi inadvertently. 

Democracy under attack

There is finally a larger aspect to this question than mere electoral tactics. The heart of the criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi was not that he had disparaged an entire community

No. That was the complaint and that was the judgment.  

but that he had evoked the Prime Minister’s association with disgraced business figures, some of them sharing the same name.

So, he didn't even have the defense of truth or good faith. The PM is not a thief. He hasn't been convicted of any type of financial irregularity. The Gandhi family on the other hand is notoriously corrupt and has accumulated disproportionate assets amounting to billions of dollars.  

Accusations of cronyism and favouritism have been a weak spot for the Prime minister, amplified by the recent Adani affair.

No they haven't. Nobody thinks Adani is bribing Modi while it simply isn't the case that Modi is a homosexual who bribes Adani into providing him sexual services.  

The reaction to these accusations has not been to address them head-on, or to respond to legitimate questions, including in Parliament, but to attack those who make these critiques.

The attack on Adani was harmful to India's development. India must protect its own Corporations just as the Swiss Government has defied Brussels to help Credit Suisse.  

There is a growing intolerance in India for any form of critique of the Prime minister,

because presenting the PM as a Nazi is harmful to India's foreign and defense policy.  Even attacking Adani- in the context of Hindenburg- is bad for India. Rahul does not understand this. There was a time when the British PM and head of the Opposition would have been glad to be photographed with him. Now only the sad, deluded, Jeremy Corbyn will touch him with a bargepole. 

and a greater will to use institutions and their instruments, including the law, to target dissenting voices.

India has an activist judiciary. This is why there is a real danger that the Bench will surprise everybody by sending the mooncalf to jail. This would be revenge for what Indira did to the Bench back in the Seventies. Don't forget, Chandrachud's daddy was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1972. Morarji made him CJI and he sent Sanjay Gandhi to jail over 'kissa kursi ka'. When Indira returned, there were hints that he would be impeached in revenge. 

Just a few days ago, dozens of FIRs were lodged against citizens who merely plastered a few posters in Delhi calling for the defeat of the BJP and the Prime minister in the next election.

Why are people who break the law put in danger of prosecution? Would it not be better to offer hugs and kisses to all offenders?  

Moreover, critiques against the Prime Minister are conflated as attacks against India as a whole,

which is exactly what they are if you go on foreign soil and say 'democracy is being destroyed'. If the foreign country claims to follow an 'ethical foreign policy', then you are advocating less favorable treatment of India. This may be justified if, like Indira Gandhi, the PM really is an autocrat who has torn up the Constitution and is jailing and torturing her opponents. 

giving a new lease of life to a political trope that was used four decades ago to quash opposition to Indira Gandhi.

Dynasticism is not compatible with Democracy more particularly if, as in the case of the mooncalf- merit is entirely lacking. 

It is ironic that some of those using these tropes today belong to the same political party that suffered from it in the past.

No it isn't. Rahul is actually damaging India's national interests. No Jan Sanghi was able to do that during the Emergency because they were locked up.  

This intolerance for dissent

Varun dissents from the official BJP policies. But he does so on the basis of reasoned arguments. Sooner or later the BJP will quietly adopt one or two of his more worthwhile suggestions. Whether he will be elevated is a separate matter.  

is consonant with the hyper-personalisation of power that we have seen growing in India, both at the state level and at the centre, over the past decade.

Congress has become a dynastic personality cult. But its footprint is shrinking. However, Kharge may engineer a big victory in Karnataka where the BJP took over a lot of corrupt Congress wallahs who are now defecting back to the Mothership of corruption. 

In many democracies, including India, the right to criticise those who govern is constitutionally guaranteed.

Varun has criticized some Government policies. He hasn't been expelled from the Party though he and his mother have been downgraded.  

In democratic theory, it is posited that citizens, including members of the opposition, have a right to contest, to critique those who govern precisely because they themselves do not have power.

In a Parliamentary Democracy, there should be criticism and scrutiny at the Committee stage. Moreover, so long as members of the house use parliamentary language and don't engage in defamation, they can say what they like on the floor of the house and their remarks won't be expunged.  Rahu's grandfather, Feroze, was very successful in attacking corrupt operators- e.g. Dalmia and Mundhra- from the floor of the House. The fellow described his wife, Indira, as a Fascist. Rahul's other grandfather was an actual Italian Fascist. Quite a legacy to live up to!

What we see here is the gradual instauration of ‘crime de lèse-majesté’, a form of offense that has no place in democratic regimes.

What we have seen is a dynasty entrenching itself. Should it have 'sovereign immunity'? That is the question. Must Modi impose a State of Emergency and tear up the Constitution to save Indira's grandson from jail?  

The counterargument to this is that Rahul Gandhi was found guilty in a court of law and that this was not a political judgement. As always, the impossibility of proving this or the contrary creates ground for legitimate suspicion, or at the very least raises questions.

Those questions are 'justiciable'. Let us see in Singhvi, Rahul's lawyer, can get the conviction set aside on some such grounds.  

The plaintiff belonged to the party of the Prime Minister, the case was tried in a state where judges seldom contradict the BJP.

Nonsense! They have sentenced a BJP Minister to death, though the convictions proved unsafe because of fabricated evidence. What a magistrate can't do is defy the law of the land as established by the Supreme Court.  

The terms of the sentence are unusual and expedient to the political context.

But they can be overturned. Why was a review petition not filed immediately?  Perhaps Congress wanted this drama to play out. The problem is Chandrachud. What if the Supreme Court takes over the case and the new master of the roster takes revenge on Rahul for what Indira tried to do to his father?

What can also be questioned is the selectivity of cases. In recent months, significant opposition figures have been brought down by courts while members of the majority who have come under similar suspicion have not been subjected to the same scrutiny.

This is an allegation. Is there any evidence to back it up? The fact is some BJP legislators have been subject to prosecution.  

There are two fundamental aspects to the rule of law.

Not in India. There is only one. The Supreme Court alone has the right to interpret the law. Moreover it can strike any ordinance or statute down if it considers it to violate the 'basic structure' of the Constitution. But what that 'basic structure' is nobody knows.  

The first is that the rules must be applied impersonally, i.e. equality before the law.

That has been fulfilled.  

The second is that those in power, those in charge of applying and enforcing the law, should be subject to it in equal measure.

A Judge who says 'all thieves belong to such and such community' would soon face disciplinary action.  

A democratic test here would be for a member of the majority to be subjected to the same treatment.

Which is what actually happens. Modi runs a fairly tight ship. He gets rid of problematic people before a big scandal can unfold. Dynastic parties don't have that advantage. Predictably, they are more corrupt. On the other hand, we are forgiving towards Kejriwal because, in the nature of things, a new party will have untested people some of whom may turn out to be 'bad apples'. 

What makes a political regime democratic is not merely how elections are fought and power wrested.

Quite true. That is why dynastic parties are anathema to it.  

It is also the extent to which it adheres or not to democratic norms while in power.

But what those norms are, it can decide for itself save where the Judiciary has indicated otherwise.  Perhaps what Gilles means is 'I am entitled to say that a party I don't like is not adhering to democratic norms'. But this is merely a subjective expression of opinion. You have the right to believe that democratic norms involve dressing up like a pussy cat and saying miaow. However, if you have been hired to teach Political Science, you can't pass off this subjective opinion of yours as part and parcel of what is objectively meant by 'democratic norms'. The test here is that of the 'reasonable man' which would require, in this case, an opinion supported by Constitutional Lawyers who have a deep understanding of the Polity in question. Verniers lacks any such understanding. The plain truth is that India has an independent, activist, Judiciary with a very narrow conception of the doctrine of political question (if, indeed, it has any such thing). Thus 'democratic norms' are those as by Law established and supported by decisions of the Bench. 

When the tools of democracy and the law are used to gain political advantage, it constitutes an abuse of power.

No. This is utterly false. If a Party gains power or other political advantage though wholly democratic and legal means, no abuse has occurred save by a decision of the Courts. Gilles is a cretin. Students at Ashoka are being cheated. 


Saturday, 25 March 2023

Horace, Horus, & Quranic Tajalli

Prometheus, stealing fire from Heaven also placed
An atom of the Lion in our heart- else disgraced
By what whores us- Horace as Horus
Satire but bores us, ourselves its chorus.

Caliph! From this Kaffir-e-Jaahil take Tassali
In but Mushaf-e-Quran is all Tajalli! 

Rahul Gandhi guilty of Defamation

Umang Poddar, writing for Scroll, argues that Rahul has been erroneously convicted of defamation.  Sadly, he is unable to find any argument which addresses Section 499 of the Penal Code directly which is the law of the land.

Gandhi’s statement at the election rally was the basis for Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Purnesh Modi from Gujarat to file a case of criminal defamation against him. The BJP MLA claimed that the Congress politician had “defamed 13 crore people living in the whole of India having the surname ‘Modi’”.

The Surat court agreed. It said that Rahul Gandhi was a member of Parliament whose words would have a substantial impact on the public. It gave him to the maximum punishment under defamation law.

However, many legal experts believe that the elementary constituent of defamation – which is lowering someone’s reputation in the eyes of a reasonable person – has not been not met in this case.

Rahul uttered a casteist slur. Not all Modis are thieves but all thieves are Modi. If you dig a little you will find countless Modis are crooks.  Thus, statistically, you should be more suspicious of Modis than other people.  

In addition, Gandhi’s mention of the surname Modi is vague and does not refer to a specific set of people, they say.

Yet, it is a fact that Modi is a caste based surname though, of course, this isn't always the case.  

Delhi-based senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan said that the judgement suffered from a lack of logic. “The first question is how is it defamation of Purnesh Modi or of all Modis?” she asked.

This question was answered by the petitioner to the satisfaction of the Court. It is obvious that it is defamatory to say that any given Modi- Purnesh or Narendra or anybody else- is more likely to  be a thief whereas those lacking this surname are not thieves.  

The statement must be examined to determine whether it intended to lower the moral or intellectual character of the complainant Purnesh Modi, she said. “This is the only reason upon which the complaint could have been entertained,” she said.

It very explicitly had the intention of damaging the character of BJP politicians like Purnesh Modi. Rahul Gandhi is a politician who opposes the BJP and who claims that it is looting the country.  

The Code specifies that 'It may amount to defamation to make an imputation concerning a company or an association or collection of persons as such.' The collection in this case is people with the surname Modi- which is generally caste based in India. 

However, she noted that Gandhi said that Lalit Modi, Nirav Modi and Narendra Modi are names of thieves. Lalit Modi and Nirav Modi are fugitive businessmen. “Even if he said all thieves are Modis, it cannot be interpreted as all Modis are thieves,” Ramakrishnan said.

This is irrelevant. It is enough to say, without any proof, that there is a higher risk of having dealings with Modis because 'all thieves' have that surname.  

The statement did not hurt all Modis,

Yes it did because we have no means of ascertaining whether any given Modi we encounter is or is not a thief. All we have been told is that there is a higher probability that the person with the surname is not to be trusted. This gives rise to a prejudice against all Modis.  

she said, “just as saying that all men are mortal is not the same as saying all mortals are men”.

It is the same unless we know of some class of beings of equal or greater sentience to ourselves who are mortal. The semantic 'extension' is the same. 

In this case, she said that the question which must be asked is, “Does it convey to anyone that they should not deal with anyone whose name is Modi?”

At the margin, yes. If there are two candidates who are otherwise equal, choose the non-Modi because he is less likely to be a thief.  

It does not, she said: “It was a rhetorical and half-jocular remark focusing on three names that were coincidentally ‘Modi’.”

Nevertheless, the Code specifies that the statement could be defamatory. The intent of the remark was to create suspicion against people surnamed Modi and cause them to give greater credence to the notion that such people may be thieves despite their being no evidence against them. Suppose one were to say list a number of notorious terrorists with a particular trait and then mention a person not known to be a terrorist who shares that trait then there is a clear attempt to defame based on the highlighting of a trait they share in common.  

The judgement is flawed, Ramakrishnan said, and did not even meet the first threshold required in defamation cases.

 Yet the judgment will stand though the quantum of punishment may be reduced. The alternative is that the law of defamation would no longer be applicable to a wide class of cases where people are stigmatized as terrorists or murderers or thieves simply on the basis of caste or creed or regional origin. 

Can classes be defamed?

Yes. Section 499 clearly mentions class. It also mentions caste in a slightly different context.  

Though some observers wondered after the verdict whether an entire group of people can be defamed, Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code makes it clear that defamation charges can be brought by “a company or an association or collection of persons as such”. However, the section adds that no imputation can be defamatory unless it “directly or indirectly” lowers the “moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling” in the eyes of others.

This test is met. Not all people belonging to a particular sub-caste carry the same caste-based surname. Thus there are plenty of 'Iyengars' who have a different surname. If I say- 'isn't it strange that all thieves happen to be called Iyengar'- then not only am I lowering the character of such people in the eyes of members of their own sub-caste who have different surnames but I am also lowering the character of Iyengars in the eyes of their professional colleagues. 

However, advocate Apar Gupta, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, noted there needs to be “a very high degree of certainty” that the individual claiming to have been defamed is being identified as a member of the group – which is usually a “well-defined class” of people.

Caste in India is very well-defined in law and Government policy..  

But people having the same surname are, by their very nature, an indeterminate class,

Not in this case. It is easy to determine that I am not a Modi whereas the Prime Minister is. 

Gupta said. “A person will not make an association with the complainant [Purnesh Modi] based on Gandhi’s statement,” he added.

This is clearly false. Suppose I am a member of the Congress party- as indeed many people in Surat are. If I engaged in a business or personal transaction with Purnesh Modi, I am likely to be reproached by other members of my party for either imprudence or a perverse defiance of the sage admonition of the beloved leader that 'all thieves are surnamed Modi'. Clearly a man who knowingly deals with such people is bound to get robbed sooner or later. This damages my credit. The same would be true if I socialized with notorious rogues or courtesans.  

Gupta added that if someone says that all lawyers are crooks, that will not amount to defamation of all lawyers. “However, if someone says that all lawyers of Tees Hazari District Association [in Delhi] are crooks, then that is a determinative body which [and whose members] could bring a claim of defamation,” he said.

This is precisely what is happening here. It would be fine to say 'Only Indians are corrupt or thievish. Look at the Chinese! They are not greedy and unprincipled like us because Chairman Mao re-educated them.' It would not be fine to say 'Only people from Pinarayi are corrupt or thievish. They don't understand Mao and prefer to follow Deng Xiaoping.' then the statement is defamatory. It picks out certain members of the CPM in Kerala- most notably the CM- and not others. 

Delhi-based senior advocate Siddharth Luthra said that while determining if a community of people has been defamed, “the main point to be noted is that you have to make a link that a person’s statement [about a community] has embarrassed me” as an individual.

The petitioner was a BJP politician who could easily find people to testify that they had become suspicious of him after hearing Rahul's words.  

He said that this link has to be specific. “For instance, if someone says that all journalists are questionable,

questionable is not in itself pejorative 

that does not mean that any journalist can bring a claim for defamation,” he said.

But if it was asserted that all journalists rape kids, then a particular journalist who had been injured by the spread of this canard would certainly have an action for criminal defamation. 

However, Luthra said that since he had not examined the evidence presented in this case, he could not comment on whether the judgement was correct.

But would do so if paid sufficiently. Lawyers don't work for free you know.  

How has the court interpreted it?

In previous instances, the Supreme Court has said that if a community believes it has been defamed, the remarks have to be specific and identifiable. This was illustrated a landmark case from 2010, when an actress made a general claim that incidents of pre-marital sex and live-in relationships in Tamil Nadu and noted that this was not an offence.

She said there was nothing wrong with sex outside marriage.  

Several complaints were filed against her, including several by married women who were politicians and social activists. They claimed that the actress’ remarks had lowered their reputation by suggesting that people of their category engaged in pre-marital sex.

This was patently absurd. The case should have been dismissed with prejudice. It should not have gone all the way to the Supreme Court.  

The Supreme Court held that there was no intent to cause harm to complainants nor was there any actual harm caused to their reputations. It added that the complainants were “reading too much” into the actress’ remarks. It was a rhetorical remark which did not suggest that all women in Tamil Nadu engaged in premarital sex and nor was it directed at any individual.

However, in cases where the group is identifiable, the court has upheld defamation claims. Among these was a case from 1965, which related to an article published in a newspaper containing defamatory remarks about public prosecutors in Aligarh. The court said that they were an “identifiable group of prosecuting staff” so could bring a claim of defamation. If they had been an indefinite group of people, such a claim could not be brought, the court noted.

So, the Scroll article comes to the conclusion that Rahul has defamed a determinate class of people- viz. those surnamed Modi whom it would be natural to link to the people Rahul named. Suppose Rahul could prove that Narendra Modi is a thief- as he has repeatedly asserted (chowkidar chor hai)- then he had a defense in law. But Modi is not a thief. Rahul was reckless in not being content to defame his avowed enemy but everybody with the same surname.

One reason Rahul got such a stiff sentence is that he ignored the 2016 warning given to him by the Supreme Court (Misra & Nariman)  against what it called 'collective denunciation'. Yet, in 2019, that is exactly what he did branding all Modis as being statistically more likely to be thieves. Indeed, this implies an 'inherent vice' because, according to Rahul, not Modis don't steal. Yet, we know of at least one family surnamed Gandhi which appears to have become very very rich in the last few decades. But then, I suppose, Indian history has had many 'looters' who arrived from foreign countries and enriched themselves beyond the dreams of avarice. 

Friday, 24 March 2023

NYT's lies about RaGa's disqualification

The NYT has a correspondent in India- which is a pretty big country about which plenty of information is available on the web. Yet it is incapable of writing a single sentence about India which is not false, foolish or mischievously misleading. Start with the headline-

Leader of India’s Opposition to Modi Is Expelled From Parliament

Rahul Gandhi does not lead his own Party, let alone the opposition. He is merely a MP. Since his party has less than ten percent of the seats in the lower house, there is no 'leader of the opposition' there. Even there he does not lead his party. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is the leader. 

Has Rahul been 'expelled' from parliament? No. He has been automatically disqualified in consequence of a Court Judgment. The British parliament does expel members who however are not barred from seeking elections. India suspends members but this too is no bar to reelection.  

The puzzle is why Rahul didn't have a lawyer in the Surat Court House to immediately post a review petition. 

The expulsion of Rahul Gandhi is a devastating blow to the once-powerful Indian National Congress party.

It makes no difference whatsoever. Rahul performs poorly in Parliament. The hope is that opposition unity will increase if Rahul is barred from holding office till 2034. However, it is likely that a higher court will suspend the sentence or lower the quantum of punishment so that disbarment is not triggered.

He and several other politicians are now in jeopardy through India’s legal system.

Nonsense! Criminals are always in jeopardy but that is why they are careful to cover their tracks.  

NEW DELHI — Rahul Gandhi, one of the last

No. Rahul is the least successful 

national figures standing in political opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, was disqualified as a member of Parliament on Friday, sending shock waves across the country’s political scene and devastating the once-powerful Indian National Congress party Mr. Gandhi leads.

What a load of crap! The Surat judgment was a surprise and most of us had not grasped that disqualification would be immediate rather than after 30 days but we all know that Rahul's lawyer- the superb Abhishek Singhvi- can get a quick hearing in a superior court; but this is little more than a storm in a teacup. A higher court is likely to reduce the quantum of sentence. Two years imprisonment is the maximum tariff applicable and a little humility on Rahul's part will be enough to appease the Bench. On the other hand, if Congress plays the long game- or Rahul's Messianic megalomania gets the better of him and he defies the Judges, they can suspend the sentence but let the conviction stand thus keeping him out of office till 2034- when he will be in his mid Sixties and hopefully will have matured a little- then Congress has a chance of forming an alliance with opposition heavyweights. 

Mr. Gandhi was expelled from the lower house the day after a court in Gujarat, Mr. Modi’s home state, convicted him on a charge of criminal defamation. The charge stemmed from a comment he made on the campaign trail in 2019, characterizing Mr. Modi as one of a group of “thieves” named Modi — referring to two prominent fugitives with the same last name.

No. He asked why all thieves have Modi as their surname. Further he named two proclaimed offenders, gratuitously added the name of the PM who is known to be honest and then said 'a little investigation will show there are plenty more Modis who are thieves'. Thus he defamed an entire community known for their skill and integrity in mercantile commerce.  The fact is, Modi is a surname very similar to Gandhi. Rahul's family is accused of corrupt practices and currently under the scanner in the National Herald Case. His father, Rajiv, was brought down by allegations of corruption in the matter of the acquisition of artillery from Bofors- a Swedish company. 

Mr. Gandhi received a two-year prison sentence, the maximum. He is out on 30 days’ bail.

Which is plenty of time to get a superior court to intervene 

Any jail sentence of two years or more is supposed to result in automatic expulsion, but legal experts had expected Mr. Gandhi to have the chance to challenge his conviction.

He does have that chance. The question was whether the Speaker had discretion in the matter. It turned out that he hadn't. The Lok Sabha Secretariat issued the disqualification letter as per current rules and regulations.  Since the Election Commission lawyers recommended disqualification and since under Article 103 the President takes advise from the EC in such cases, it is clear that the Secretariat had no other choice.

The Secretary General of the Lok Sabha Secretariat is a senior, Uttarakhand cadre, IAS officer who was promoted after the retirement of a lady officer from the MP cadre. Nobody has ever suggested that either had or has any political affiliations. Yet this is the suggestio falsi in the NYT's next line.

A notification signed by a parliamentary bureaucrat appointed by Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party

this is wholly false. On the retirement of the Secretary General, her deputy was appointed in line with Civil Service procedures and with due regard to seniority, experience, etc. There is no suggestion that Kumar was promoted out of turn or that there was any favoritism or partisanship in his appointment. This was purely an internal matter for the Civil Service. It is not true that Mr. Kumar was appointed by Modi or any other politician.  

on Friday stated that Mr. Gandhi had been disqualified automatically by the conviction itself, per the Constitution of India.

A Supreme Court decision in 2013 ensured this outcome. Manmohan introduced an ordinance to prevent this but Rahul tore up that ordinance and so it had to be withdrawn.  

“They are destroying the constitution, killing it,” said Srinivas B.V.,

who is not a lawyer and, at 42, not particularly young 

president of the Indian National Congress Party’s youth wing. “The court gave Mr. Gandhi 30 days to appeal against the order, and hardly 24 hours have passed since.”

The disqualification took effect immediately the judgment was handed down as the notification clarified. 

Mr. Gandhi said in a Twitter post on Friday, “I am fighting for the voice of this country. I am ready to pay any price.”

That price came due when he defamed an entire community numbering millions of people.  

Mr. Srinivas said the party will fight the expulsion, politically and legally.

The fellow is a nonentity. How shite is the NYT's local correspondent if she couldn't get a quote from somebody smart- like Singhvi?  

One of the party’s most prominent members, Shashi Tharoor, who like Mr. Gandhi is a member of the lower house in the state of Kerala, said on Twitter that the action ending his tenure in Parliament was “politics with the gloves off, and it bodes ill for our democracy.”

Again, a light weight. What the NYT should have done is got a quote from Singhvi or, if he was too busy, a smart Supreme Court lawyer who had read the judgment and could predict what line Singhvi would take. 

If I were writing this article I would, as Singhvi has done, highlight the fact that the petitioner sought to delay the case perhaps hoping that a new magistrate would be more sympathetic to his case. The thing may be a red herring, but it is newsworthy.  

Mr. Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather served as prime minister, has taken pains to improve his national profile in recent months.

He went on a long walk. But he grew messianic and started babbling nonsense. In particular his crazy remarks while in England drew severe criticism.  

He led an unexpectedly popular march late last year across swaths of India, rallying crowds to “unite India” against the Hindu-first nationalism espoused by Mr. Modi.

He was imitating Murli Manohar's 'Ekta yatra' (Unity March) from 1991. 

And since the fortunes of Gautam Adani, a tycoon long associated with Mr. Modi, collapsed under pressure from a short-seller’s report in January,

but they have revived. It is Credit Suisse, which was critical of Adani, which has collapsed. 

Mr. Gandhi has been using his platform in Parliament to call for an investigation of his business empire.

He hasn't been using shit. The cretin doesn't get that Gehlot and Mamta and Stalin need Adani. The country needs Adani. Nobody needs Rahul.  

The Congress Party is not alone in worrying about the implications for India’s democracy that Mr. Gandhi’s disqualification poses.

Democracy improves if imbeciles are replaced, in Parliament, by smart people who don't babble defamatory or paranoid nonsense.  

With parliamentary elections coming next year, the government's attempts to clamp down on dissent seem to be gaining momentum, other opposition leaders pointed out.

Why clamp down on stupidity? It is a different matter that putting pols in jail for corruption is popular. But having Rahul around is helpful to Modi. What is odd is that the CBI is assuring Tejashwi Yadav that he won't be arrested in the land for jobs scam.  

Last month, Manish Sisodia, the second in command of the Aam Aadmi Party, was arrested on charges related to fraud.

Even though nobody had said 'All Sisodias are fraudsters.' The fact is people get arrested for crimes if there is evidence they committed those crimes. On the other hand, it may be that the ED is conducting fishing expeditions. The Tax Man can shift the burden of proof onto those it suspects of tax evasion. But, for 'money laundering', if there are no disproportionate assets and no paper trail, how can there be a presumption of guilt? 

Earlier this month Kavitha K., a leader from a regional party that recently turned to national politics, was questioned by federal investigators in connection with the same case.

Sounds like a fishing expedition. But there's plenty of that sort of things going in the NYT's backyard. 

The string of criminal cases against politicians — though none have been brought against high-profile members of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

they were accused of murder and terrorism by the previous administration on the basis of fabricated evidence 

— contrasts awkwardly with Mr. Modi’s presentation of India as “the Mother of Democracy” during a global publicity blitz to accompany its hosting the Group of 20 summit meeting this year.

Fuck off! Modi has the highest approval rating of any elected world leader.  With India overtaking China as the most populous country, there can be no question it is the mother of all democracies. 

What's more America needs India otherwise it just gets frozen out of South Asia totally. You are welcome to class India as an autocracy. But that means Democracy is shrinking and will soon be confined to the ageing populations of Europe and its settler colonies.  

Police raids against the BBC’s office in India and some of the country’s leading think tanks have intensified doubts about the strength of India’s democracy.

India's First Amendment goes in the opposite direction to America's. The Government is welcome to ban anti-national propaganda and to arrest journalists or close down news organizations which break Indian law. This does not endanger democracy which depends on things India has- like a strong and independent Election Commission and a wholly separate and self-selecting Judiciary- and America does not.  The plain fact is that there is plenty of voter suppression in America. Nothing similar could be said of India.

Eliminating the opposition from parliament through the courts might heighten those misgivings dramatically.

But those misgivings don't matter at all. America is weak and in retreat. It could 'Magnitsky' Bangladeshi or Myanmarese officials but India is in no mood to defer to a corrupt country now wholly committed to the path of cowardly retreat.