Letters to the Editor

Print edition : June 12, 2015

Nepal in ruins

THE face of the Nepalese earthquake survivor on the cover effectively conveyed the enormity of the tragedy (Cover Story, May 29). The article “Himalayan fault lines” was well researched and informative. It is important to understand the geology of earthquakes in this region to improve preparedness in the event of another disaster like this.

Neeraj Kumar Jha, Hariharpur, Bihar

THE earthquake was a hard blow to Nepal, not only because it is one of the poorest countries in the world but also because its government was ill-prepared to handle a disaster of such magnitude. Altough this was a natural disaster, part of the blame for the high number of lives lost rests with the government. If it had paid a little more attention to town planning, organisation of mock drills for citizens, and scientific planning of buildings, especially in urban areas, the death toll would have been much less. Nevertheless, I believe that Nepal will be born again, stronger and wiser.

Koshika Krishna, Mumbai

THE agony and despair writ large on the face of the man in the cover picture reflected the magnitude of the loss in Nepal. We must understand that earthquakes are not “divine retribution” but a result of geological processes. As the Himalayan region is vulnerable to earthquakes, we need to focus more on sophisticated technology to predict accurately their occurrence.

N.C. Sreedharan, Kannur, Kerala

SINCE Nepal, with its limited resources, will not be able to handle the crisis single-handedly, it is imperative that India continues to extend all assistance until normalcy is restored in the Himalayan kingdom.

K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad, Telangana

THE deadly earthquake that hit Nepal sent shockwaves across the world. There is a need to design buildings that can withstand earthquakes better. But right now, the international community must come together to help Nepal recover from the disaster.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai, Vazhavallan, Tamil Nadu

Plight of farmers

THE suicide of Gajendra Singh, a distressed farmer from Rajasthan in full view of about 5,000 people, including some top leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party and a large number of police personnel, is heart-rending (“Killing neglect”, May 29). The tragic incident needs to be investigated properly to determine the real cause of his death. It is disheartening to note that all the major political parties shedding crocodile tears for distressed farmers are involved in an ignominious blame game to get political mileage out of the tragic incident.

Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur, West Bengal

U.K. election

DAVID CAMERON won the United Kingdom’s general election for the second time (“Stunning victory”, May 29). Opinion polls had predicted a hung parliament, with neither of the two parties (the Conservatives and the Labour Party) winning a clear majority, but they were proved wrong. The people who conduct exit polls in the U.K. can learn a thing or two from their Indian counterparts, who successfully predicted a massive win for the Bharatiya Janata Party in last year’s general election in India.

Tough decisions await the new government in the U.K. on the issue of pulling out of the European Union. It will be interesting to watch the U.K.’s political scenario as it unfolds.

Deendayal M. Lulla, Mumbai

Ambedkar’s legacy

I AM a regular reader of Frontline. I like its well-researched content with minimum advertisements, beautiful photographs, and contributions from eminent journalists. The essay “The relevance of Ambedkar” (May 15), written to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary was enlightening. To date, Ambedkar has been understood and portrayed as a leader of Dalits since he was born in a Dalit (Mahar) family. But his stature as a great leader can be seen from the various movements he inspired and his contribution to the drafting of the Indian Constitution.

Ram Nagina Ram, New Delhi

Status of education

IT was saddening to read the report “Towards a Factory Model” (May 15). India is a huge country with thousands of students graduating every year and it is simply not reasonable to offer half-baked preparatory courses at the undergraduate level that will prepare them for the thousands of technical/professional streams available in the country. Also, if we are going to provide only technical, job-oriented, skills-related education, what will happen to the pursuit of research in the different branches of the science? The article clearly points out the lacunae in the system.

R. Krishnan, Bangalore

Reservation

THANKS for the informative insights into various aspects relating to the backwards classes in the issue commemorating Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary (May 15). I would like to raise an issue regarding reservation in education and jobs for people belonging to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.

I feel that those who have availed themselves of the benefits offered to S.Cs and S.Ts should voluntarily give up their claim for reservation for their children. Or, the government should pass a law barring such people from taking advantage of reservation for their wards.

Abhijit Bora, Tezpur, Assam

Liquor policy

PERMITTING the consumption of liquor only in five-star hotels may prove suicidal for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s political career (“The price of liquor”, May 1).

The State will not only lose crores of rupees generated by the sale of liquor, but tourism in the State will also be affected by the move.

People go on a holiday to relax and enjoy life, and the occasional consumption of liquor is very much a part of the scheme of things. Those who plan to go to Kerala but cannot afford to stay in five-star hotels will go to other States instead. Prohibition can never succeed because those who really want to drink will cross over to nearby States to do so. Smuggling of alcohol will become a thriving business, creating more complications for the State.

Ramesh Kotian, Udupi, Karnataka





RESPONSE



Unfounded criticism

“IN the article “Class & classification” (May 1), V. Venkatesan says that “the government’s and High Court Division Bench’s current stand justifying the rejection of the (One Man Commission’s) report, without stating any reasons, is least convincing”. The One Man Commission was appointed to study the liquor consumption pattern in the State and related matters.

The writer, however, honestly says that “as (the) issue (of Frontline) went to press, the full text of the Division Bench’s judgment had not yet been released”. He gathers the “the broad outline of the issue” from the judgment which was appealed against and the Supreme Court judgment in Surendra Das 2014(1) KLT 948 SC.

It is fallacious and terribly risky to rely on the Single Judge’s judgment to analyse the appellate judgment. Since the appellate judgment has the function of examining the correctness of the original judgment, a comparative study without having the full text of the latter is bound to be unsafe.

The Division Bench has, by separate order, even expressly prohibited the partial reporting of the judgment delivered in open court on March 31 before its conclusion and completion. This writer, as a counsel for an intervener, a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly who supported the government was present in the court while the judgment was dictated. Also, I may, inter alia, assert that this dissent was prepared after thoroughly reading the full text of the judgment.

In Venkatesan’s write-up, there is not a single paragraph dealing with the content of the Division Bench judgment. But the author says that the Division Bench rejected the One Man Commission’s report. As a matter of fact, the government and the court considered and accepted the report filed by Justice Ramachandran, a former judge of the High Court, to a good extent, though not fully.

Paragraphs 10, 11 and 12 of the judgment contain the crux of the One Man Commission’s findings. Paragraph 13 shows how the writ petitioners relied on the report. The manner in which the government has approached the report is extensively dealt with in paragraph 51 of the judgment. The court held that the One Man Commission “made a thorough study of what was the state of affairs in the bar hotels and remarkable data were made available in his report” and “based on the same the government was justified in taking its own policy decision”. The court further held:

“The government gave full respect to the One Man Commission report and various steps were evolved by the government in the policy. Even making a provision for rehabilitation of the employees is a step taken by the government on giving due weight to the recommendation made by the One Man Commission. S.R.O No.815 of 2014 was issued taking into account the recommendation made by the One Man Commission. Many of the writ petitioners enjoyed the benefit given by the subsequent policy and they had no demur against such policy, which was also based on some of the recommendations made by the One Man Commission.”

The full text of the judgment shows a comprehensive analysis of the history of the Abkari policy and related litigations in the State. The court has also examined relevant earlier decisions, including the decision in the Surendra Das case. The narratives and counter narratives on Surendra Das, as placed by the rival parties, are indicated in the judgment.

The judgment acknowledges the submissions and arguments from all sides, both on facts and in law. Paragraphs 1 to 45 indicate so. The Division Bench’s analysis of the case and its conclusions occur in paragraphs 46 to 60 of the judgment. The judgment has given cogent reasons to uphold the policy of the government and, as such, is based on sound rationale and principles of law. In paragraph 60, the court reiterated that that “the report of the One Man Commission was considered by the government is crystal clear from the various terms in the policy”.

The full text of the judgment would clearly answer the apprehensions expressed in the article which could not get the benefit of perusing it. The judgment has referred to the important precedents such as Khoday Distilleries (1995) 1 SCC 574, K.K. Narula AIR 1967 SC 1368, Kandath Distilleries (2013) 6 SCC 573, Dance Bar case (2013) 8 SCC 519, Ugar Sugar Works Ltd (2001) 3 SCC 635, Laxmi Devi (2008) 4 SCC 720, Balco Employees’ Union (2002) 2 SCC 333, Bombay Dyeing (2006) 3 SCC 434, and Bhavesh D Parish (2000) 5 SCC 471.

The judges of the Division Bench showed a commendable sense of judicial discipline by refusing to substitute policy with their “views or personal philosophies” and by not acting as an appellate forum over the executive government in the matter of socio-economic policy. The Division Bench relied on observations in the Surendra Das case to say that the alarming rate of alcohol consumption in the State was a factor the government took note of while framing the policy. The bench has answered all the questions placed before it. The criticism in the article is therefore unfounded.

Kaleeswaram Raj is a lawyer in the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

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Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

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