Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jharkhand HC acquits Chilkari death row convicts

PTI | 09:12 PM,Dec 15,2011

Ranchi, Dec 15 (PTI) The Jharkhand High Court today acquitted all the four death row convicts in the Chilkari massacre case due to lack of evidence. The division bench of Justices R K Merathia and D N Upadhyay acquitted Chhatrapati Mandal, Manoj Rajwar, Jiten Marandi and Anil Ram in connection with the massacre that had claimed the lives of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Babulal Marandi's son Anup and 19 other villagers on October 26, 2007. The four moved the high court after the Additional District and Sessions Judge Giridih on June 23 sentenced them to death in the case. The police had filed an FIR against the four accusing them of being Maoists. Marandi's son Anup was among the 20 victims who had been gunned down by Maoists while watching a cultural programme at Chilkhari in Giridih district.
accessed on 15th December 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

‘Drugs by Indian pharma firms being used to execute prisoners in US’ - Indian Express

‘Drugs by Indian pharma firms being used to execute prisoners in US’ - Indian Express

Bombay High Court defers judgement on death sentence in 2003 blasts case

Updated: December 12, 2011 15:33 IST

Read more at:

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has deferred its judgement on the death sentence awarded by a trial court to three accused in the twin blasts at Mumbai's Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar in 2003. The blasts, which took place within minutes of each other during the lunch hour, killed 52 people and injured 184.

The trial court had found the three, Ashrat Ansari (32), his aide Hanif Sayed Anees (46) and Hanif's wife Fehmida Sayed (43), guilty of planting powerful bombs in two taxis which exploded on August 25, 2003 at the two busy spots in the metropolis. They were convicted by the trial court in August 2009 under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the Explosives Substances Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, and were sentenced to death.

The accused had then appealed against their conviction and sentence in the High Court. Today's High Court order came from a Division Bench of Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice P D Kode, which also heard the prosecution's arguments seeking confirmation of the death penalty.

The police had said that some Pakistani nationals owing allegiance to the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were behind the attack. The prosecution contended that the conspiracy was hatched in Dubai by Hanif and Ashrat along with another accused, Nasir, who was killed in a police encounter. Police said it was a unique instance of the LeT using members of a family to carry out a terror strike.

Bombay_2003_twin_blasts_accused_295.jpgAccording to the prosecution, on the day of the blasts, Hanif Sayed Anees - a former Mumbai auto-rickshaw driver who had gone to Dubai and returned only that year - and his wife Fehmida, arrived at the Gateway of India in a taxi that they had hired from Andheri station. There they allegedly left a bag filled with explosives in the cab and requested the driver to wait till they returned after having lunch. The taxi driver left the vehicle briefly, when the explosion occurred, the police said.

The police had also arrested the 16-year-old daughter of Hanif and Fehmida, who was present in the taxi, for allegedly aiding her parents. But she was later discharged from the case since she was a minor.

The driver of the taxi, Shivnarayan Vasudev Pandey, became a key witness in the case and identified the accused during the trial.

Ashrat Ansari was charged with planting the bomb which exploded in a taxi parked in Zaveri Bazar, the busy jewellery market. His modus operandi, the police said, was much the same. They said Ansari too left a bag containing explosives in the taxi and had asked the driver to wait.

The three were the first to be arrested in the case, less than a week after the twin blasts. Two more accused, Mohammed Ansari Ladoowala and Mohammed Hasan Batterywala, were arrested later and charged under POTA. Both were, however, discharged from the case in 2008 after the Supreme Court upheld a POTA review committee report that said that there was no case against them.

Another accused turned approver during the course of the trial and revealed the role that the LeT allegedly played in planning and executing the blasts. This accused was pardoned by the trial court after the prosecution requested that he be discharged from the case.

This was one of the few blasts cases in which the police managed to secure a conviction, the others being the 26/11 attack and the 1993 blasts. The motive, the police claimed, was to avenge attacks on Muslims during the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat in 2002.

accessed on December 13th 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Press Conference - 9.12.2011 at 3.30pm at Press Club Mumbai

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (9 December 2011):

Press conference: US execution chambers want Indian drugs to kill their prisoners. Legal NGO Reprieve warns of the risks.
Maya Foa, representing the UK legal NGO Reprieve, has come to India urgently to warn pharmaceutical companies of deceptive practices being used to implicate them in lethal injections in America.
Domestic shortages of execution drugs mean the US is now seeking supplies abroad. Sodium thiopental is not used for medical purposes in the US, and the last remaining American manufacturer of the drug pulled out of the market in January. US prisons are now looking to foreign manufacturers to provide drugs to fuel their execution chambers.
It’s a purely exploitative move on the part of the American executing states: the US has everything to gain and the Indian manufacturer everything to lose. The drugs are very cheap so there is no financial profit to be made. Each execution takes just 5 grams, costing no more than 175 rupees, with only perhaps 40 executions a year: the entire market is worth no more than 7,000 rupees, or $130 per annum. This is the reason no US company makes the drug – it is off patent and no longer worthwhile. Meanwhile, the cost to a company’s reputation – not to mention the cost of human lives – is unthinkably high.
The US first went to Europe. The negative publicity to one company, Dream Pharma, caused it great commercial loss. Another company implicated in what came to be seen as the “death drug” scandal, Lundbeck, saw its corporate image plummet fifty percent in a week, provoking divestment by some of its shareholders.
Llast month, Indian manufacturer, Naari, became the latest victim of the US execution drug scramble. Acting on behalf of the executing states, an Indian purchaser, Chris Harris, represented that Naari’s drugs were going to Zambia for medical use; instead, Harris diverted them to Nebraska prison for use in executions. Naari is committed to providing drugs which improve the health and lives of patients all over the world; they are ‘horrified’ that the US wants to use their drugs to end lives instead and have initiated legal action in Nebraska to force the return of their drugs.
The deception practiced on Naari not only threatens the good name of a respected company, but also undermines efforts to ensure that medicines reach countries where they are urgently needed to save lives, such as in Africa.
Reprieve is meeting with government officials, pharmaceutical companies, lawyers and human rights organisations in India to find ways to prevent the Indian pharmaceutical market from being forced to collaborate in executions in the US against their will.
WHO: Maya Foa, Reprieve; Vijay Hiremath, Centre for Access to Rights
WHAT: Press conference on the use of Indian drugs in US executions
WHERE: Mumbai Press Club
WHEN: 15:30, Friday 9 December

For further information please contact Maya Foa (

Friday, December 2, 2011

Petition in high court against death penalty

TNN Nov 30, 2011, 11.06PM IST
KOCHI: A lawyer based at Kochi approached the Kerala high court on Wednesday with a petition challenging death penalty.

The petition, filed by advocate Manju Antoney, seeks amendment of section 53 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with punishment for offenders, including death penalty. Death penalty is against the noble principles laid out in the Constitution and most of the countries have abolished this law, the petitioner says.

As of February 2011, 95 countries have abolished death penalty, while eight countries are allowing death sentence in special circumstances. However, death penalty has not been implemented in the last 10 years in 49 countries, the petition says.

The petitioner also highlighted a non-binding resolution by the United Nations in 2007 that called for a moratorium on execution with a view to abolishing death penalty. Many courts in India are awarding death sentences despite these circumstances, and therefore, an amendment is needed, he says.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice P R Ramamchandra Menon heard the petitioner but said the petition was incomplete to be accepted as a public interest litigation in the present form.

Observing that the amendment should be made at higher platforms, the court asked the petitioner to monitor the proceedings in Parliament related to death penalty as well as study other public interest litigations on the same matter and file an amended petition after four weeks.


accessed on 2nd December 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Capital punishment is primitive: Zacharia

The Hindu:
Special correspondent:

Writer Paul Zacharia has said that it is high time India abolished capital punishment as it is founded on the primitive and fallacious belief that a crime can be undone by killing a person.

Inaugurating a convention seeking a moratorium on capital punishment, organised by the Committee Against Capital Punishment, here on Monday, Mr. Zacharia said the media's celebration of the capital punishment awarded to Govindachamy in the Soumya murder case was born out of the innate human craving for war and gore and the social consensus of the current times on the need to meet crime with crime. The recent murder of a youth by a moral vigilante group was the result of this mindset. Television channels were particularly adept at feeding this war hysteria. This was in evidence immediately after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks when some media organisations even called for an immediate war with Pakistan.

What actually played out in Govindachamy's case was hatred for a foreigner, the craving for bloodshed and upper caste sense of honour. The reaction would not have been so celebratory had the accused belonged to any of the major communities in Kerala, he said. The writer pointed out that in India capital punishment was also a political weapon and said that no judge would have been able to award anything less than capital punishment in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The clamour for hanging the accused in the Parliament attack case was another case in point, he added.

Chairing the convention, journalist B.R.P. Bhaskar said that Kerala had changed so much over the last 25 years that a person suspected of pick-pocketing could be beaten to death and nobody found anything wrong in capital punishment which was nothing but judicial murder. The people of Kerala must ask themselves how things came to such a pass. Equally important was to raise the question what role the media played in preparing the Malayali mind to accept murders in society and those ordered by the judiciary without any sense of guilt. The media should introspect on this and society at last should start worrying about this if the State were to become a better place to live, Mr. Bhaskar said.

On the occasion, academic N.A. Kareem said capital punishment derived its legitimacy from the legal guarantees to protect life and also to take life. As important as capital punishment was extra judicial killings as was evident in the killing of Maoist leaders Azad and Kishenji, both of whom were enticed into the police dragnet under the guise of negotiations. Such killings showed that the State could not be trusted with the power to take a person in the name of the law. The quality of the judiciary also raised serious questions about the wisdom of persisting with capital punishment, Dr. Kareem said.

accessed on 1st December 2011