Thursday, December 2, 2010

Unconstitutionality of barricades on public roads in layouts/apartment-complex

In Bangalore, it is very easy to spot a number of layouts where there is an entry road and other roads that connect to various buildings inside it. But you cannot enter! There is a barricade on the entry road and there are private security guards who will inquire you. The inquiry may be as simple as asking your name and purpose to displaying special cards. One question that may come to mind is whether private people can restrict access to a public road.

Typically layouts have to comply with municipal corporations rules and regulations in which roads of certain width have to be left out depending on the height of the building and other factors. Then these areas have to be given to government for building roads, drainage and other facilities. Quoting from the interview of Advocate General of Karnataka:

Is there a law that says a certain amount of land needs to be relinquished and handed over to the BDA or the BBMP for them to develop parks and other civic amenities?

A gated community is similar to a layout, except for the fact that you provide certain other facilities like security and other things. But in any layout for that matter all roads rest with the local authority. So all roads and common facilities will go to the government.

Some people were skeptical of the above point. So here is the BBMP byelaw, which says:

Section 2.40 ‘group housing’ means more than two buildings on a plot with one or more floors and with one or more dwelling units in each floor. They are connected by an access of not less than 3.5m in width, if they are not approachable directly from the road./b>

Section 12.1: The following norms shall be adopted while approving the layout plan for group housing:-

(vi) 25% of the total area be reserved for CA, parks and open spaces, subject to a minimum of 15% for parks and open space.

(viii) The area reserved for Parks and Open spaces, CA and roads (other than internal access
in each sub-divided plot) shall be handed over free of cost to the B.D.A through registered
relinquishment deed before issue of work order.

So everywhere where you see a barricade that prevents you from going into is violating Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution. It grants every citizen of India to move freely throughout the territory of India. All these barricades are unconstitutional. In Dr. Nitin G. Khot And Others vs Station Commandant, Belgaum ... on 23 January, 1998 the army putting barricades with in the cantonment was termed unconstitutional by the Karnataka High Court.

The educated middle/upper class people who support these barricades need to do more soul searching. They may be arguing for a right to free movement in India when they move from one part of the country to other part and may sometime would even argue for ease of movement to other country. I do not know how they take away others rights to free movement so comfortably. Probably the rights of people can be purchased from the protectors/enforcers of the law of the land.

On the rationalization issue, one theory that I have is that probably these places are not in India and so the Constitution of India does not apply to them. When the Constitution does not apply, the question of Corporation rules and BDA rules does not even arise. However, I was disappointed to see the interview with Attorney General of Karnataka who says that these are actually in India and the barricades are indeed unconstitutional. Disappointment is mainly because of the fact that rights are taken away in such a big way and the rights protectors are making the usual alibi that it is not important to take any action. I would have expected a Government that is not ready to protect fundamental rights to resign. Things look different here!

Quoting from the interview:

In 2008, the BBMP issued an order stating that there is no such thing as a gated community.

Gated community is not recognised under an Act. By putting a barricade if you close it, that closure is not permissible because what is recognised is only a layout. There is no special status to a gated community. So a gated community ultimately boils down to a layout, which is enclosed by a barricade or security. You strictly can't prevent anybody from entering a gated community because that is in the form of a layout. Nobody can be prevented from entering as such. That is why probably he has said gated communities are illegal.

But if the government is saying there is no such thing as a gated community, why are they not checking those communities which have gates?

The matter vests with the corporation and BDA. They should look into it so that people should know that such a thing is not available. Or we should provide that concept. Nothing wrong in that. The only thing is, you can't claim exclusivity, because, say tomorrow the drainage facility gets affected, it's ultimately a load on the entire area. Development of an area ultimately belongs to the corporation or BDA, they'll have to look at drainage system. So you can't say the entire thing belongs to you. That is a matter that needs to be looked into.

So when builders sell plots in such gated communities, should they explicitly state that the road doesn't belong to the community exclusively?

They should. If they collect money for roads and other things, that also may not be proper. But they may do it for the development of the road. They may collect for providing common facilities. But they should make it clear that according to the building byelaw, roads and other common facilities rests with the corporation or BDA.

Citizen Matters recently reported of the case of L&T South City in JP Nagar VII Phase. The area of this complex is 34 acres. The builder has said that about 12 acres is being handed over to the BDA for development of civic amenities and that a road in that stretch is going to be thrown open to the public. Residents are fighting against this saying there was no mention of this in any of their documents at the time of purchase.

They (L&T) have to give (to BDA). He has no option but to give.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Setting up Streaming Replication and Hot-Standby features of Postgres 9.0 on Indian Kanoon

Postgres is a database software that powers a large number of production databases around the world including Indian Kanoon. Postgres 9.0 was recently released after more than a year and half of development. The version number was jumped from 8.4 (the previous release) to 9.0 considering the inclusion of two important features namely Streaming Replication and Hot Standby.

Streaming replication, as the name implies, allows a database administer to replicate a primary database on multiple secondary nodes. So when the primary database dies due to hardware failure or software error, one of the secondary nodes can become the primary database to serve production queries. Previously, to replicate a postgres database, one has to copy the base directoy and then periodically copy the Write-Ahead-Log (WAL) of the database. Then the secondary node would run in a continuous recovery process reading the WAL. As the secondary database was still recovering, it could not be used for querying. As such previous standby nodes were called "Warm-Standby".

The WAL shipping happened at time outs or when a WAL segment was full. And so the secondary database could be significantly behind the master in seeing the WAL. Streaming replication fills that gap now. It does not wait anymore for the filling of WAL segments as it "streams them directly" to the secondary server on a TCP connection. Note that currently streaming replication only allows asynchronous transaction, which means that a database transaction need not wait for the replication to finish. So there is a small window of time in which a transaction committed on primary database is not replicated on the secondary and the primary crashes.

The Hot-Standby feature allows read-only queries on a standby node. Previously, a standby was not good for anything other than waiting for the primary to crash. Now the standby can serve production queries as well while keeping the secondary database up to date with the primary. This is tremendously useful as read-only database queries can be load balanced on primary as well as secondary.

I had lot of fun trying to play around with making these two features work for Indian Kanoon databases. I followed the wiki doggedly for setting up streaming replication. However, unable to replicate a dog, I would miss something or the other and the thing will not turn up. In the end the Indian Kanoon database was successfully replicated in a hot-standby mode on an another server in the same data center. It has to be noted that data transfer with in the data-center was clocking close to half a gigabit per second that reminds me of the old 100Mbps networking cards that are obsolete now.

Here are the final steps I took:

1. Modified postgresql.conf on the primary node with following changes:
a. wal_level = hot_standby # sets up wal replaying on a TCP socket
b. max_wal_senders = 1 # max number of walsender processes
c. wal_keep_segments = 128 # in logfile segments, 16MB each
d. listen_addresses = '*' # opens up port 5432 for postgres database server

2. Modify pg_hba.conf to include the ACL for secondary node. Add the following line:

host replication postgres secondary_node/32 trust

3. Copying the base database. On the primary node:
a. psql -c "SELECT pg_start_backup('label', true)"
b. rsync -avz --progress ${PGDATA} secondary:/home/postgres/
c. psql -c "SELECT pg_stop_backup()"

4. Setting the secondary node:
a. Modify postgresql.conf to include "hot_standby = on"
b. Created a recovery.conf on the secondary node with following changes:
i) standby_mode = 'on'
ii) primary_conninfo = ''
iii) trigger_file = '/path_to/trigger'
c. Start the database and check the server log

Friday, August 6, 2010

Media - Be educative and not sensational

Discussion with Shahab Nayyer:

TimesOfIndia article No conviction for mere demand of dowry: Supreme Courtis flatly wrong in the title. The judgment is here -

SC has convicted husband for "dowry death" (Section 304B of IPC) and said that there is no solid evidence of harassment from fathe...r/mother-in-law to convict under section 304B or section 498A. You need evidence of harassment before convicting under those sections.
For mere demand of dowry, there is section 4 in the Dowry Prohibition act for which maximum punishment is imprisonment up to 6 months. That is not the same as life term imprisonment under Section 304B. So the prosecution need to move another petition for Section 4 of DPA which they have not done earlier.

SHAHAB NAYYER: Had my doubts about the TOI title too.. They are big on sensationalism. Thanks for clearing that.

I also read through the whole judgment and the relevant sections of law but I think judge was very lenient. He even reduced the sentence of th...e husband to 10 yrs.
Based on the info in judgment I don't think there was very strong evidence against anyone. Most of the evidence was just testimonies, no forensic or any sort of corroborative evidence specifically pinning down the accused. Given the poor state of police and investigative agencies, I am not sure we will see that day any time soon though. Due to the sensitive nature of relationship people tend to keep things to them to the extent possible, so testimonies are also generally from close relative who may not be independent.

The only difference in evidence seems to be in the nuances of how the witnesses uttered their testimonies for the three parties. For In-laws it was just harassment but for the husband PW-4 had given an example also "taunt her that she has come from a hungry house". To me this is simply a case of the witness not knowing the nuances of law and adding the right keyword.

The other reason the judge cites is judicial precedent that stronger evidence is needed for in-laws than husband. Judges better know how to use this but with dowry still being a social menace; personally I would feel better if these things are used for giving lesser punishment than for letting them totally free.

Is there anything in the law that stopped the judge for punishing in-laws under “section 4 in the Dowry Prohibition act “without the prosecution specifically asking for it? There may very well be some technicality. Otherwise it seems that prosecution was aiming for stricter punishment; the judge wasn’t convinced and let them totally free.

FYI: I have seen at some place a slightly different version of section 4 in the Dowry Prohibition act which states the punishment as “shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees”. Not sure what is the source of this discrepancy.

SUSHANT SINHA: Under section 304B, punishment ranges from 7 yrs to life imprisonment. I do not know how they decide what number in between. So that is something that needs to be looked at. An amendment was made to CrPC that has a presumption of guilt in c...ase of dowry death. It only needs to have certain conditions and then the death as sufficient for conviction, So the prosecution need not demonstrate the evidence "beyond reasonable doubt" as required in a murder.

I think the judge can take "suo moto" cognizance of certain issues. But I rarely see judges passing order on charges that are not levelled and they ask to file a separate case.

Acts on IK are a copy of what law ministry provides on indiacode. However, they have not added the amendments in last 10 yrs to the acts. So the source of discrepancy most likeyly is the staleness of the DPA on IK.

SHAHAB NAYYER: Do you think many people file new cases in examples like this and is this adding to the delay in any significant way ?
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike ·

SUSHANT SINHA: Criminal case is not prosecuted by individuals. It is always "State of Gujarat" or "State of India" depending on the nature of the crime. A lot of factors add to the delay. My feeling is that our high courts and supreme court review almost every decision of the lower court. And that adds up to the pile up of cases in these courts. If you see, SC in US only reviews 1-2% of the federal court decisions. In India this rate is very high.

SUSHANT SINHA: An interesting article by Nick Robinson on Frontline:

And his blog post:
See More

SUSHANT SINHA: On why SC in India should be accepting more cases:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kashmir Secessionist's - Wake up Ass-holes!

I am sure many of you would be full of disgust for the opinion I have on Kashmir Secessionist's. But I am more disgusted with all those people who have been arguing that Kashmir should secede from India. You may think that I am just another Indian supporter who does not understand the reality of Kashmir. However, before you think that you have understood me, it is important to listen to my view point.

Some people are arguing that Indian Government has lost moral authority to rule over Kashmir valley and that is why Kashmir should be accepted as an independent state or become a part of Pakistan. However, if we put a bar as a high as "the moral authority" for determining whether Indian Government deserves to rule over Kashmir, then I do not think any segment of India should be the part of "India".

Oh wait, Kashmir has witnessed a significant number of extra-judicial encounters or in plain language "cold blooded murder". So let me remind you that other states in India have witnessed more extra-judicial encounters than Kashmir. Jamshedpur, my home town, probably has more fake encounters than Kashmir. I remember encounters being a daily affair when Ajay Kumar was the SP of police. Encounters reduced after that but still happen all the time. So in that vein, Jamshedpur should have seceded from India long time back.

Here are some examples:
NHRC encounter matches

So you will say these are just incidental, where is the data? If you see the NHRC report for 2003-2004 and see Annexure 13(a) on Page 305, you will see the number of "Alleged Fake Encounters" where Uttar Pradesh had 13, Andhra Pradesh had 13, Gujarat 2, Madhya Pradesh 2, Maharashtra 2, Bihar 1, and Jammu Kashmir 0. If you are going to argue that for some reasons encounters in all except Kashmir is good, then you can stop reading this article.

The need of the hour is to make the pending police reforms happen. Make police and army accountable and stop giving them blanket immunity. Reward policeman who arrest criminals and bring them to courts. Cases of extra-judicial killings should be seriously investigated. Modify the Armed Forces Act so army folks understand the risk of fake encounters when operating in civilian areas.

But then a Kashmir Secessionist will say "leave aside the encounters, look at the way people in Kashmir are treated by Indian authorities that brings shame to the Kashmiris". I guess you have not looked at the situation of the rest of India. I guess you have not looked at how different government departments function in India. How are people treated when they go to a ration shop for BPL cards, how tribals are treated in forests over which they have rights, and how you will be treated by even police on the road.

Finance minister says that the fiscal deficit is high and there is a need to cut subsidies and increase taxes on common people. This causes increase of food items which has already hit our hungry people and malnutritioned children. And then there are severe corruption that hits government revenues like Rs 60,000 crores in 2G spectrum allocation, Rs 9,000 crores in Commonwealth games and Rs 4,000 crores by illegal mining in Jharkhand under Madhu Koda government.

Because of traffic accidents, 3 people die daily in Bangalore and 4 people die in Delhi. 52% of people dying in traffic accidents in Delhi are pedestrians. Look in Bangalore how safe it is walk and then things will be clear. Traffic police can very well reduce these numbers by making pedestrian walking safe and creating over bridge/subways for crossing roads. By making sure people who jump red lights pay fines and people who do rash driving have their licenses suspended, traffic accidents can be severly brought down.

The last argument is that when Kashmir will be ruled by a different class of people namely "real Kashmiri" then the problem will be resolved. Thats what they said when they said Jharkhand will improve when a separate "Jharkhand" state will be created and I know what the current state is. Thinking that replacing "Omar Abdullah" by "Syed Gilani" will change the future of a Kashmiri is a mirage that only fools can believe in. I have seen people connected with soil and leaders of poor people like Laloo Yadav, D. Raja, Mayawati, Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and I have seen what they have done.

So overall a lot of work needs to be done by the government to claim the moral authority to rule over India. We need to bring in the talk of those improvements that bring government transparency, accountability and efficiency of delivery of government services. And not get side tracked with with useless discussion of which class of people should rule. Think about who gets benefit ted by throwing in these discussions and it will be clear what is the value of this discussuin.

When will commonsense replace opaque processes and wisdom of senior officers?

They tell me that there is a process for allocation tenders. They tell me that people involved in the process are all senior officers. And then I find that tenders that are allocated are worse than what my house maid would go and get. Then they tell that proper processes were followed and approved by senior officers. By the way if you think that the rates are exorbitant by an order of magnitude, they will start an investigation. The investigation will follow its own opaque process with its own set of senior officers. And it should be of no surprise if they do not find any fault in the allocation process and in the appointment of the officers. It is my fault that I applied my common sense.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Amazing Article: The truth about encounters

I just read the amazing article on truth about encounter on I thought I would just tweet about the article but some of the lines are so enlightening that I cannot help but put on my blog.

"People are as much attuned to fairness as they are to individual self-interest. Therefore, any institution regulating human behaviour will have to ensure that the compromises between individual self-interest, collective interest and fairness are all within tolerable limits." And this trade-off between self-interest and fairness has to be much carefully managed for an entity as big as a nation.

"Further, the legitimacy of the state is dependent on its being as close to a neutral umpire as possible. When the state appears partisan, its legitimacy can be questioned. When the state sheds the umpire's clothes and becomes one of the players, the rules of fair play are so badly broken that we can only call such an event intolerable injustice."

And here are the main problems with an encounter:

"The unstated policy of encountering unwanted elements is wrong at every possible level - moral, political, strategic and informational - and it leads to a crisis of legitimacy of the state, while claiming to be a patriotic act."

The defense for encounters is mostly hollow:

"A typical defence of state violence given by otherwise liberal minded people is that one needs unorthodox ways to tackle terrorism, crime and insurgency, that Maoists will not listen to anything other than reciprocal violence"

The impartiality of indian government is strictly questionable when most things are decided by encouters:

"In Kashmir, in Maoist controlled areas and in many other parts of India, the Indian state is being questioned because it appears to be a player in the game, rather than the umpire it is supposed to be. Ending the culture of impunity is not just the right thing, it is also the smart thing; it is the first step in creating trust in the institutions that are ostensibly designed to ensure fair outcomes."

And here are some recommendations to systematically treat the problem of encounters:

"Police and army officers should be told that encounters will not bring them any rewards, that they are being paid to bring offenders to justice, not to kill them. ... Policemen and military personnel proven to be 'encounter' specialists should be treated as what they are, criminals, instead of being labelled as heroes. "

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Legal history of the Best Bakery case

The burning of "Best Bakery" building was one of the shameful incidents in Gujarat riots of 2002. 14 people of which 12 were muslims died ( wikipedia article). The details of the case were:

"... period between about 8.30 p.m. on 01/03/2002 and 11.00 a.m. on 02/03/2002, residential building and bakery belonging to a Muslim family, was set on fire and burnt down by members of an unlawful assembly, the object of which, was to attack and kill the Muslims and to snatch,
or damage, or destroy their properties. In the fire set to the said building, a number of persons were burnt to death. Those who survived till the morning, were made to get down from the terrace of the said building, after which they were attacked with deadly
weapons serious injuries to them. Some of them succumbed to those injuries. The movable property such as vehicles, etc., had also been set on fire by the mob of rioters. Articles such as ghee and maida, etc., were robbed and looted. The accused persons were members of the said unlawful assembly, in prosecution of the common object of which, the aforesaid offences were committed by its members. The accused were, therefore, the offenders. In the course of investigation, they were arrested and prosecuted, as aforesaid."

Zahira Sheikh was the prime eye witness for the incident when the case was prosecuted. Zahira Sheikh and other witnesses retracted their statements when the case went to the fast track trial court. As a result all accused were acquitted by the trial court. Gujarat high court in its judgment State Of Gujarat vs Rajubhai Dhamirbhai Bariya on 26 December, 2003 refused to review the trial court order. People's Union for Civil Liberties termed the gujarat high court order as a miss-carriage of justice and severly criticized it. It was appealed to Supreme Court who ordered a retrial of the case outside of Gujarat.

The Sessions Court for Greater Bombay at Mazgaon found 9 out of 17 people guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The prime witness Taufel was working in Best Bakery and identified 7 of the accused:

"The evidence of Taufel [P.W.26] shows that at the material time, he was working in the Best Bakery and was also residing there. Taufel [P.W.26] states that after having their dinner he along with Shehzad [P.W.28], Raees [P.W.27], Sailun [P.W.32], Baliram and Ramesh, all of whom were working with him in the Best Bakery, were sitting on a cot [Charpaee] kept in front of the bakery. ... Taufel identified 7 accused [out of 17], by pointing out towards them, in the Court.... Taufel has identified the said accused from among all the accused before the court, after making all of them stand in a row, at random."

One needs to go through the 693 pages of the judgment to read the reasoning behind the life imprisonment of 9 accused.

There was a tehelka probe that showed that Zahira Sheikh took 5 lakhs in order to recant her statement. Zahira Sheikh was prosecuted on account of perjury and she got a 1 year jail term with Rs 50,000 fine by the Supreme Court. The main evidence was that she was not able to account for Rs 5 lakh rupees in her bank account. Quoting from the judgment:

"So far as the question whether she was threatened, coerced, lured, induced and/or in any manner pressurized to make statements in a particular way by any person or persons, it has been found that Zahira has not been able to explain the assets in her possession in spite of several opportunities having been granted. The Inquiry Officer had referred to transcript of conversations purported to have been made between a representative of "Tehlaka" and Shri Tushar Vyas, Shri Nisar Bapu and Shri Chandrakant Ramcharan Srivastava @ Bhattoo Srivastava, Shri Madhu Srivastava, and Shri Shailesh Patel. These persons were also given opportunity to explain their stands as the transcript of the Video Compact Disc produced by clearly indicated that money was paid to Zahira to change her stand."

The rational of the stern judgment against Zahira was explained as:

"Conducts which illegitimately affect the presentation of evidence in proceedings before the Courts have to be seriously and sternly dealt with. There should not be any undue anxiety to only protect the interest of the accused. That would be unfair, as noted above, to the needs of the society. On the contrary, efforts should be to ensure fair trial where the accused and the prosecution both get a fair deal. Public interest in the proper administration of justice must be given as much importance if not more, as the interest of the Individual accused."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bilski: Has the Court ruled right?

The much awaited Bilski vs Kappos was decided on Monday, 28th June by the US Supreme Court. The Bilski patent was rejected earlier by the Federal court on the ground that the claimed invention was not tied to a "machine" or caused "transformation of a physical object". However, the Supreme Court rejected that line of argument saying that rejecting a "process" by a test not explicitly stated in the statute will violate the "ordinary, contemporary, common meaning of words" in a statute. So "machine or transformation" test is not "exhaustive or exclusive" test for patentability.

SC rejected the patent not on "machine or transformation" test that was used by the Federal Court. But by the test of abstractness and justified the test by:

"Any suggestion in this Court’s case law that the Patent Act’s terms deviate from their ordinary meaning has only been an explanation for the exceptions for laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas."

And the Bilski claims are abstract ideas and do not qualify as "process" to be patentable. Here is what the court said:

"The concept of hedging, described in claim 1 and reduced to a mathematical formula in claim 4, is an unpatentable abstract idea,just like the algorithms at issue in Benson and Flook. Allowing petitioners to patent risk hedging would preempt use of this approach in all fields, and would effectively grant a monopoly over an abstract idea."

Now the question is has the court ruled correctly by categorically not rejecting all "business method patents" and "software patents". While I would love the court decision that would have completely rejected the entire category of "business methods/software" patents, I think the court has taken the right decision by not doing so. Courts refrained from categorical rejection as that would have stepped into the legislative domain. If people agree that some categories do not need patent protection, then the legislatures (US Congress in this case) should amend the law to exclude it (as India has done). Courts should not be drawing arbitrary lines that has not been contemplated by the legislatures. While this puts additional burden on the legislatures, that is where the burden lies and not on the courts.

The abstractness test is however vague and it will be interesting to see how the test is used in subsequent patent rulings. One issue is however certain: Patents that merely outline a process will have a hard time defending in the court. The patents has to be more particular in its explanation and usage. In my understanding, a lot of patents are mere description of a vague idea and they will get invalidated when brought in the court.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Can UTV Bindass be sued for "Emotional Atyachar"?

On flipping channel I recently found a show called "Emotional Atyachar" on UTV Bindass. The main objective of the show is to test if your partner is loyal to you or not. The show reminded me of the "Cheaters" thats aired on CW Plus. In Cheaters, a person can ask the show people to see if their partner is cheating or not. The crew would then follow the "suspected cheater" like a detective armed with cameras and video recorders. On finding that a partner is cheating, the crew allows the couple to confront each other. The whole episode is then shown on the television.

However, "Emotional Atyachar" is significantly different than "Cheaters". While Cheaters passively monitored the suspect, "Emotional Atyachar" will inject real people to allure the suspect to cheat. So "Emotional Atyachar" is not looking if a person is cheating but whether the person can possibly cheat.

The question I want to address is whether "UTV Bindass is liable for damages to an individual personal life or be criminally prosecuted". On searching through the Internet I found that there is a speculation that the whole serial is staged and no "real" life is getting affected. If that is the case then it is not a reality tv and there is no issue of suing as no one is getting hurt. If we do not believe in the speculation then the question is very serious. UTV can be sued for damages or the head of UTV Bindass may go to jail depending on how the laws are applied.

Apart from the ethical issue, there are two main legal issues involved:

1. Is UTV violating Indian broadcasting laws by airing obscene material or by denigrating women? - This is a much broader question which I am not interested to analyze.

2. Is UTV Bindass cheating the suspect by alluring him or her with pre-meditated objective?

The defintion of cheating is in Section 415 in The Indian Penal Code. It reads as:

Cheating.-- Whoever, by deceiving any person, fraudulently or dishonestly induces the person so deceived to ....(snipped).... intentionally induces the person so deceived to do or omit to do anything which he would not do or omit if he were not so deceived, and which act or omission causes or is likely to cause damage or harm to that person in body, mind, reputation or property, is said to" cheat".

And the punishment of cheating is in Section 417 in The Indian Penal Code:

Punishment for cheating.- Whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

While sting operation to expose truth in public interest is protected under freedom of speech and expression (Sri Bharadwaaj Media Pvt. Ltd. vs State on 27 November, 2007), the sting operation may not get a blanket protection.

So the final question for "Emotional Atyachar" is whether the person would have acted in that fashion if the allurement was not given.

I have heard that "emotional atyachar" gets permission from the suspect before releasing the video. However, if the person refuses to sign the agreement, he or she can take UTV Bindass to court and test the law.

Monday, January 25, 2010

3 Idiots - Philosophically Advancing or Populist?

I was finally able to watch 3-idiots a couple of weeks back. The movie is pretty hilarious, music is amazing and everyone has done a very good job. I think you can find much detailed review of the movie elsewhere and I am going to focus only on the philosophical thinking advanced in the movie.

Before I start I want to make a few points clear. Firstly, many people believe that they are practical and they do not believe in any orthodox philosophy. In such a thinking, the role of philosophy is only for preaching others. I have argued earlier that philosphy is an abstraction to deal with the complexity of the world and so everyone has it. Secondly, philosophy is an abstraction of the world that people use for making principles and simplifies/catalysis/accelerates achievement of one's objectives. So keeping track of one's goals/objectives is also very important. This trade-off of objective vs principles has been talked a lot by Amartya Sen in his work in welfare economics and philosophy. In his recent work on the "Idea of justice", he talks about the trade-off between "Niti" (dharma/principles) and "Nyaya" (actual realization of justice). He has also argued against the take away point from Gita that "dharma is the only important thing" (citation slipped from my mind).

The 3 idiots is a broad criticism of the traditional thinking of Indian parents and teachers. It tries to highlight a more pragmatic and effective philosophical approach to current world. The 3-idiots reflect three different ideologies in form of three different characters:

1. Worrying about the fruits of a labor without thinking about the labor: The character is only interested in the job after study and not interested in the study itself. While clearly an illogical principle, focussing only on study is also not tenable. If I am going to study thermodynamic principles, should I completely shut off my mind on how it is used or can be used in future. If one's objective is to make money, thinking about its application is also pretty important.

2. Doing something other than what one is good at: This is talking about the trade-off between specialization and diversity. Clearly there is not much harmonization in the two extremes of the wild life and the engineering. However, this difference will get significantly blurred if it was a science subject like physics and an engineering subject like metallurgy. In one gets more specialized by focussing on more narrow issues, probably that is also pretty bad. Actually much of the interesting stuff is discovered through cross-discipline thinking.

3. Do what you love: Well clearly love is held at such high esteem that this principle is almost unassailable. The vague description of love makes it even more so. But let's ask if love is the most primate element or is it a developed feature. Well the ardent believer of "love is god" will argue the former point and considering the vague-ness of "god" and "love", this is almost unarguable. I believe that love for work is a developed feature that is mostly obtained through critical thinking and implementation of the ideas.

While all the three viewpoints advanced in the movie reject some obvious extremes of existing thinking, the proposed one does not sound much philosophically advancing. Actually I am more worried about supplanting one philosophy with another without talking about the goals/objectives. The critical thinking which is far more important that debating about philosophy is completely left out. So the movie does a pretty bad job of bringing out a good philosophical discourse and highlighting the importance of critical thinking.

Clearly the movie does an excellent job of rejecting different approaches advanced by parents and teachers. And in that sense I feel that movie was really aimed to satiate the populist and rebellious nature of the youngsters.

Overall I liked the movie but I certainly believe that the movie could have done a better job of bringing out a better discourse among the youngsters (not that I feel old myself :))

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Oye Bihari!

The new bill proposed by the Maharashtra government will require new applicants for taxi permits to have stayed in the state for 15 years and be well versed with one of the local languages. While I am not a constitutional expert to say if the proposed law violates right to free movement or puts undue burden on right to occupation, it makes me think on the issue of identity in India.

People in India are very interested to know everything about you. And of course that being too hard, people resort to knowing abstract details about you like which state you are from, what have you studied, where you work. Most of time such information is more than enough to fit you in a category after which no question is asked. Once in a while, the provided information creates a paradox in the questioner's mind which is often then resolved by assuming that the other person is lying. In short, people in India are well versed with knowing you in quite detail once a set of key properties are given.

The categories in themselves are not the end. They are values attached to these categories. So this means that if you say "Bihari" a number of things have resonated in other person mind. One of my friend in Mumbai says a "Bihari" reminds him of the "ghar ka naukar" and the "chai waala". For some others, it reminds of "extreme poverty", "goonda gardi" and "obscene corruption". It is hard for me and many other biharis to figure out which bracket they are in when none of such brackets sound appealing.

Beyond categorization and value assignment (which are mostly of academic interest), people often take one more step and insult others. Such insults can be hurled to you in form of distasteful jokes or worse .. just bad comments. On some argument one person told me "saala bihari kahin ka". Off course I never voluntary talked to him ever after that.

While I had the benefit of ignoring people with bad sense, I wonder how many others have that advantage. For many the livelihood depends on such people and ignoring them is not an option. To destroy your self pride to feed one is then the "smart move".