Friday, November 30, 2012
Jan Sansad released its Manifesto highlighting key demands
of people’s movements and organizations
New Delhi, 30 Jan 2012: The focus on the concluding day of the five day Jan Sansad, at Jantar Mantar, was on Dalit and tribal issues and gender inequalities. It also saw the release of the People’s Manifesto highlighting the key demands of various people’s movements and organizations that were participating in the Jan Sansad, as a countdown to the 2014 elections. The manifesto included resolutions on anti-corruption legislation like the Lokpal Bill, Grievance Redressal Bill and the Whistle Blower Bill. The Jan Sansad also unanimously opposed the government’s move to implement the cash transfer scheme in lieu of various social policies and demanded that Parliament function and immediately pass pro-people legislation.
Speakers included Baba Adhav, Ms. Aruna Roy, Ms. Subhashini Ali, AIDWA, Ms. Annie Raja, NFIW, Mr. Mungekar, Congress MP Rajya Sabha, Mr. Manik Tagore, MP and a host of other activists.
During the morning session activists and members of the audience spoke of the atrocities that continue to be directed against Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes. Their children were being segregated in schools, even made to wash vessels used for the mid day meals, adults are forced to scavenge for a living, and families are deprived of a place to stay; the irony being that while they construct houses for others they themselves don’t have land or a place to stay. Similarly nomadic tribes, suffer exclusion from society and even the Census. They have no ration cards or ID cards or a place to sleep as highlighted by Paras Ram Banjara, MKSS when he said “Our Constitution bestows upon all the right to dignity but even after 65 years of independence this remains a dream and a struggle for the nomadic tribes.” He added that they have no ration cards, no land, no homes, and no documentation as proof of their citizenship. They are branded as criminals and are refused treatment by hospitals. He illustrated the sorry plight of these tribes when he spoke about an incident where a man from the Kalbeliya community of Rajasthan was buried in his own hut because he was denied a place in the burial ground on account of his low caste status. He also brought to light the lack of a legislation to prevent atrocities against the nomadic tribes as there is in the case of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Baba Adav spoke about caste branding and the evolution of untouchability which is taken to the extent of Mantras which are discriminatory against lower castes but blindly followed by all of us. He also spoke of a particular forest dwelling tribe in Maharashtra who are constantly branded as criminals. He said, “Nomadic tribes have a culture that they don’t stay anywhere for more than three days so how will the government accommodate them under the right to vote? These tribes are also demanding that they be included in the Scheduled Tribes category.”
Shankar Singh, MKSS speaking on the issue of manual scavenging said that even today Dalits were doing it for as little as Rs. 2 a day and opined that politicians should apologize that such a practice is still prevalent after 65 years of independence. Why, he asked, were Dalit children not being taught computers like other children? He opined that part of the problem lies with the
community itself which seldom seeks to break free from their traditional forms of livelihood. The road ahead, according to him, is a change in the mindset of the scavengers.
Shiv, who works with Adivasis in Rajasthan said that the government’s solution of providing loans and reservations will not suffice. The need of the hour is for the government to increase its involvement with this issue. Last year 2 lakh government jobs reserved for them were not availed because they lack requisite educational qualifications. He suggested that employment guarantees be provided to Dalit workers in the Nagar Pallikas.
In the second session the atrocities and problems against women were highlighted through street plays, songs and the sharing of experiences by women from various parts of the country.
Annie Raja of NFIW spoke of how, “women in various parts of the country are being branded as witches and killed by elements who want to take away their houses or the small bits of land that they hold.”
Subhashini Ali, AIDWA and former MP, said that globalization and privatization is depriving women who are dependent on common lands for their means of livelihood. This is forcing many of them to go into lowly paid jobs like anganwadi workers who get as little as Rs. 1,100/- a month. She spoke of how the media is promoting stereotypical roles of women by portraying them as second grade citizens and word play is being used to trap them into conservative roles. “Domestic violence, female foeticide and rape have now become tools to suppress women and establish male dominance”, she added.
Mr. Mungekar, MP Congress, Rajya Sabha questioned the legitimacy of Khap Panchayats which are not recognized by the Constitution, Supreme Court or High Courts. He said, “Khap Panchayats are anti-democracy, anti-women and anti-social. Honour killings have no place in a civilized society and these, along with Khap Panchayats, need to be banned.”
Mr. Manik Tagore, MP from Tamil Nadu pledged that when he and other Lok Sabha members meet the Prime Minister next week they will take up the issues that have been raised this morning, specifically the issue of right to pension.
Gargi Chakravarty, NFIW, said that sexual assault has increased manifold in the last couple of years. The reasons being: consumerism, the portrayal of women as objects by the media. “Children who witness violence against their mothers see it as a norm rather than as a violation of their rights. Even educated men continue to perpetrate violence against women which is why the education system must change to sensitize people to women’s issues.”
Aruna Roy, MKSS, introduced Vimla Bhen for Hissar, Haryana who shared the story of how her daughter’s rape had led to the destruction of her family life and led resulted in her husband killing himself. She said, “My husband won’t get peace till the criminals are hung.”
Taking this forward, Ms. Aruna Roy said, “Being born a woman in this world is a curse and being born a Dalit woman is an even bigger curse. Women, irrespective of their class and caste are easy targets of violence. Even the agencies responsible for protecting women are violating their rights. Though the status of women in society has improved, inequality persists within the four walls of people’s houses, which should be safe havens.” She took the example of the State of Haryana and blamed the increase of instances of violence on the declining sex ratio.
The broad resolutions that emerged from this session are:
1. Stringent punishment for perpetrators of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, rape whether it happens in police custody, prisons, shelter homes and orphanages.
2. A demand for the release of all human rights activists who have been arrested while struggling for social and political justice on behalf of the marginalized.
3. A demand for appointment of required judges for speedy disposal of cases of atrocities against women.
4. Reservation for Dalit women in executive judiciary and media so that they can adequately represent women’s issues.
5. A demand for social security benefits for Dalit women like education, insurance, housing, food security, safe drinking water, housing and medical care. Also, the right to gainful employment and land rights.
6. A demand that national and regional media agencies report incidents of atrocities and also engage the public in debates on the larger issue of caste systems.
7. A demand for banning Caste Panchayats.
8. Budgetary allocations to public health be atleast 3% of the GDP.
9. Passing of the Bill on women’s reservation without any dilution in the 33% reservation for women.
10. Immediate legal and punitive action in cases of violence under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
Justice Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, has submitted a petition to Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Chalameswar, Supreme Court asking why the government was going ahead with the implementation of the UID Project when the Parliamentary Sub-Committee had rejected the Bill. Advocate Anil Divan who is appearing for the Petitioner at the Supreme Court has issued a notice on both the writ petition and the stay application, according to Bharat Kumar, the lawyer for the Petitioner.
Countdown to 2014
Resolutions adopted at the Jan Sansad
Jantar Mantar, 26th-30th November 2012
Pledge taken on the 26th of November 2012 at the Jan Sansad
We the People of India representing diverse struggles of citizens and communities battling the denial of constitutional safeguards- have gathered here on 26th November, 2012 to commemorate the Adoption and Declaration of the Indian Constitution on the 26th of November, 1949;
And thereby resolve to rededicate ourselves to the full realisation of the ideals of a
Sovereign, Secular, Democratic, Socialist Republic,
And to secure for all its citizens the as-yet-unfinished-task of guaranteeing the right to
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
And to promote among ourselves
FRATERNITY affirming the right of the individual to lead a life of dignity and fostering harmony between diverse social and linguistic groups, religious faiths and different regions of the country
For this purpose, we the people of India, pledge to exercise and uphold all the fundamental rights of life, liberty, equality, and protection against discrimination (on the grounds of gender, race, religion and caste) and exploitation as enshrined in our constitution;
And we resolve to exercise the sovereignty bestowed by this Constitution on the people of India. We will use all democratic and peaceful means at our disposal to fulfil its obligations under the directive principles of the Indian Constitution of universal livelihood, employment, social security and welfare, freedom from hunger and malnutrition, education and health facilities, living wages and equal opportunities irrespective of gender, ethnicities, religious faith and caste.
We believe that the sovereignty of the people of India extends to control over natural resources within the domain of India. We will resolutely fight their uncontrolled exploitation through the agencies of the State, and profit driven National and Transnational corporations. We pledge to stand up for the sanctity of people’s rights over these resources, and their judicious use for the welfare of the community and for future generations.
Pledge taken by:
Justice JS Verma, Justice Leela Seth, Justice Sachchar, Justice Mudgal, Wajahat Habibullah, Ashok Chaudhary, Harsh Mander, Kamla Bhasin, Ashok Bharati, OP Jain, Binayak Sen, , Soli Sorabjee, , Kuldeep Nayar, Pramila, Praveen Jha, Shanta Sinha, Vrinda Grover, Dr. Syeda Hameed, alongside the following organisations-
1. Act Now for Harmony And Democracy (ANHAD),
2. Aman Biradri,
3. All India Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIMKSS),
4. All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW),
5. Alliance of Indian Waste pickers,
6. Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA),
7. Alternative Development and Research Center,(ADC) Jaipur,
8. ASHA Parivar,
9. Association for Democratic Reform (ADR),
10. Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti,
11. Bihar MGNREGA Watch (BMW),
12. Centre For Advocacy Research (CFAR),
13. Centre for Health and Resource Management (CHARM),
14. Coalition for a GM-Free India,
15. Global Human Rights Communication,
16. Greenpeace India,
17. Ekta Parishad,
18. Hamal Panchayat,
19. Inclusive Media for Change,
20. Indian Community Activists Network (ICAN),
22. Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS),
23. Jhuggi Jhopari Sangharsh Morcha, Bihar
24. Joint Organization for Self Help (JOSH),
25. Kachra Kamgar Union Bharat,
26. Kagad Kanch Patra Kamgar Saghatana (KKPKS), Aurangabad,
27. Khana ( Khaadhya Nyaya Abhiyan)
28. Khudai Khidmatgar,
30. Maharastra Rajya Hamal Mapadi Mahamandal, Pune
31. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS),
32. Mission Bhartiyam,
33. Molrarni Va Gharelu Kamgar Sanghatana (Domestic workers Union), Aurangabad
34. National Alliance of Peoples Movments (NAPM),
35. National Campaign Committee for Rural Workers (NCCRW),
36. National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI),
37. National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR)
38. National Federation for Indian Women (NFIW),
40. Peoples Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG),
41. Pension Parishad,
42. Right to Food Campaign,
43. Rajasthan Adivasi Adhikar Manch,
44. Rajasthan Mazdoor Kisan Union,
45. Right to Water Campaign,
46. RTI Manch, Rajasthan ,
48. Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS),
49. Soochna Evum Rozgar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan)
50. Voluntary Forum of Education, Bihar
51. Womens’ Voice
Resolutions adopted on the 27th of November 2012 at the Jan Sansad held at Jantar Mantar
Resolution on the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill 2011
The Jan Sansad believes that the Lokpal legislation is a key measure for fighting corruption and in conjuction with other anti-corruption and grievance redress legislations like the Whistle Blower protection bill and the Grievance Redress bill will ensure better governance. We feel that the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill 2011 must be debated in the Parliament and passed immediately.
The Jan Sansad believes that the following salient features must be included in the Lokpal and Lokayukta bill to ensure a robust anti-corruption regime.
· Much of the corruption that affects the common person, especially the poor and marginalised, is in state government agencies. It would be meaningless to create an anti-corruption agency that leaves out the majority of Indians, especially those who are most in need of its intervention. The Lokpal Bill should therefore provide for setting up Lokayuktas in states on the same pattern as the Lokpal at the centre. Some matters of rule may be left to the States. As the Prevention of Corruption Act is a central Act it is essential that the same procedures of dealing with corruption be followed across the country.
· We feel that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas should be:
· Adequately independent of the government and others whom they are mandated to scrutinise, so that they can function without interference, pressure, and conflict of interest;
· Adequately empowered to detect, investigate and prosecute cases of corruption;
· With adequate jurisdiction, so that no category of public servant is exempt from effective scrutiny; Adequately accountable to the people of India;
· And, yet, practical and realistically workable.
· The selection committee should not have a preponderance of government nominees but could well be the Prime Minister/Chief Minster, Leader of the Opposition, and a judge of the Supreme Court/ High Court, nominated by the Chief Justice.
· The Delhi Special Police Establishment should be independent of the government and the Lokpal should have administrative control over the Delhi Special Police Establishment. All appointments, transfers and removal of group A and B staff of the Delhi Special Police Establishment should only be done with the concurrence of the Lokpal, and the Chairperson or the concerned member of the Lokpal should be the accepting authority for the annual confidential reports of all those Group A and B officers who have directly or indirectly been involved in any case under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal.
· The Lokpal should be made accountable to Parliament for the maintenance of ethical standards within the institutions, specifically maintaining impartiality in functioning, especially the absence of political, caste, class, gender and religious bias, the prevention of victimization, and the avoidance of conflict of interests.
Resolution on the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011
The Jan Sansad welcomes the introduction of a separate Grievance Redressal Bill in the parliament. We believe that the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 is critical for providing an accessible, decentralized, and responsive system for time-bound redressal of citizens’ grievances.
The Jan Sansad believes that the following salient features must be included in any grievance redress legislation to ensure that peoples’ grievances are redressed in a time-bound and effective manner.
1. Grievance redress mechanism for both the central government and state governments- The bill should provide for setting up a grievance redress mechanism for both the central government and state governments. Many grievances which affect the common person, especially the poor and marginalised, are in state government agencies and departments. It would be meaningless to create a grievance redress mechanism at the centre which would leave out the majority of Indians, especially those who are most in need of its intervention. Therefore, we feel that it is crucial that the same law provide for setting up Central and State Grievance Redress Commissions with similar powers, structures and functions.
2. Development of citizen charter in a participatory and transparent manner - the citizen charter which would enumerate the services, goods and obligations of a public authority must be comprehensive and include all the goods, services, entitlements and obligations of a particular public authority alongwith relevant timelines, norms and standards. The citizen charter must be developed in a participatory and consultative manner. Appropriate mechanisms for seeking feedback of the public during the process of formulating the charter must be adopted by public authorities. Further, the citizen charter must be periodically updated to reflect changes, if any.
3. Definition of grievance- violation of the provisions of the citizen charter would constitute a grievance.
4. Time bound grievance redress- The legislation must provide for specific and mandatory time lines for redress of grievances and appeals. A specific time limit for disposal of grievances by the GRO and HoD and specific time limits for disposal of appeals by the designated authority at the district level and the State/Central Grievance Redressal Commissions must be included in the legislation.
5. Information and facilitation centre- In order to facilitate registration, follow-up, and tracking of grievances, the legislation must provide for Information and Facilitation centres at the block/municipal ward level. These centres should proactively provide information to citizens about the schemes and programs of the government and assist citizens in filing grievances and in tracking their applications and entitlements. These centres could be set up as a single window/common centre at the block/municipal ward level, outside any specific department.
6. Decentralised grievance redress mechanism- Every public authority/office should have a designated Grievance Redress Officer (GRO) at the Panchayat/Municipal ward level for receiving and disposing of complaints about any deficiency by an officer/functionary, in a specified timeframe. The GRO should have adequate authority and power to ensure that:
a. the deficiency is redressed in a reasonable timeframe
b. responsibility is fixed for the deficiency occurring in the first place and, where thought necessary, the errant functionary is reprimanded or punished
7. Independent Grievance Redress Authority at the District level- We feel that it is essential that the bill provide for an independent authority at the district level with powers to penalise GROs and other erring officials and also order compensation to the complainant. In case the GRO and Head of the Department at the district level do not redress the grievance of a complainant satisfactorily and the complainant appeals to the district designated authority or if an ATR is not received in time by the designated authority at the district level, then the designated authority at the district level will initiate the process of inquiry and order where appropriate, redress of grievance, and impose penalty (including on the HOD) and award compensation in a timeframe prescribed by the Act.
8. Penalty- The bill must empower the district designated authority, state grievance redressal commission and central grievance redressal commission with powers to penalise GROs and other erring officials. There should be mandatory penalty on GROs and other erring officials unless the officer can show beyond reasonable doubt that the officer made all possible efforts to redress the grievance. Mandatory penalty also needs to be specified in relation to some categories of impugned administrative action such as mala fide action of the officials, repetitive violations etc.
9. Compensation- The bill must include provisions for compensating complainants incase of non-redress of grievances. the Bill should provide for mandatory compensation for certain classes of grievances and this compensation should be paid for by the public authority and then recovered from the salary of the erring officials. Compensation for entitlements delayed/denied as a reparative measure is critical to encourage people to file complaints to promote systemic accountability. Further, providing compensation to complainants should not be made conditional on imposition and recovery of penalty.
10. Territorial jurisdiction of the designated authority, the State and Central Grievance Redressal Commissions- The Jan Sansad suggests that the designated authority at the district level should have territorial jurisdiction over all public servants/public authorities within the district, irrespective of whether they are offices/employees of the state government, central government, or any other public authority.
The State Public Grievance Redressal Commissions should have jurisdiction over all public servants/public authorities within the state, irrespective of whether they are offices/employees of the state government, central government or belonging to any public authority as defined under this Bill.
Similarly, the Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission should have jurisdiction over all public servants/public authorities falling within the centrally administered areas, irrespective of whether they are offices/employees of the state government, central government, or belonging to a public authority as defined in this Bill.
Resolution on the Whistle Blower Protection Bill, 2011
We welcome the passage of the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011 by the Lok Sabha. We believe that this legislation is a key measure for fighting corruption and in conjuction with other anti-corruption and grievance redress legislations like the Lokpal bill and the Grievance Redress bill will ensure better governance.
The following are our suggestions to strengthen the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, 2011 and ensure a robust mechanism for protection of whistleblowers and to promote an environment to encourage people to blow the whistle about wrongdoings/corruption.
1. Jurisdiction of the Act- the whistleblower protection bill must extend to all public servants and functionaries of a public authority in the centre and the states, corporate bodies, firms or other association of individuals. No arbitrary exemptions should be extended to any organization or public authority such as the armed forces, security forces, the Prime Minister, Chief Ministers or the judiciary etc. Incase any public authority is exempt from the Act, alternative mechanisms to protect whistle blowers, which meet the standard of this Act, must be implemented in the authority.
2. Identity of the complainant- there should be adequate provisions in the act to protect the identity of the whistle blower and any other person who provides any material, information or document relevant to the complaint. The competent authority and any persons who get to know the identity of the complainant (or any associated person) should be obligated by law to protect the identity of the complainant (and any associated person).
3. Penalty for malafide revelation of identity of whistle blower- The bill should provide for imprisonment and penalty of any person who reveals the identity of the complainant. Further, where the revelation is malafide, the person shall also be charged with abetment if the revelation of identity resulted in the commission of a crime.
4. Dismissal of complaint- the act should not empower the competent authority to dismiss/reject/close a complaint on the grounds that it is found to be frivolous or vexatious. The terms frivolous or vexatious are impossible to define objectively and would likely to be misused. It may lead to a situation where most complaints would be routinely rejected as being frivolous or vexatious.
5. Time limit for complaints- there should be no time limit (like 7 years) for making complaints regarding offences. Many corruption cases/scams are complex and large and take many years to unravel.
6. Scope of offences- The bill should cover not just offences related to corruption, criminal actions and/or misuse of powers or discretion etc. but also to other actions which have an impact on society (for example environmental destruction, threats to public safety or health).
7. Anonymous complaints- The bill should provide for acting upon anonymous complaints if it is accompanied with adequate supporting documents which reveal a prima facie case. The competent authority should not reject the complaint merely on the basis that it is anonymous. Further, a website which encrypts the data and the identity of the person uploading the data should be provided for people to securely make disclosures without fear of the data being intercepted or the identity of the person being reveals (if the person seeks to remain anonymous).
8. Victimisation of complainant- the bill must clearly define what constitutes vicitimisation/harassment of the complainant and must provide for protection against vicitimisation/harassment of the complainant. Further, the bill must provide for punitive action against any person who victimizes/harasses the complainant.
9. Competent Authority- any public authority that is authorised to receive complaints on any of the matters specified in the bill shall also be obliged to accept a complaint under this Act for the matters over which they have such jurisdiction. For example- the National Human Rights Commission should be the competent authority to accept complaints by whistle blowers under this Act regarding human rights violation.
Resolution on the Right to Information Act, 2005
The following resolutions were adopted to strengthen the RTI Act without making any amendments to the Act:
1. To deal with the increasing pendency in Information Commissions, norms and standards of functioning should be adopted and a time-bound mechanism for disposal of appeals and complaints should be evolved. There must be norms for disposal of cases by individual Commissioners also, with accountability for failures to meet norms and standards. The number of Commissioners appointed in the Commission should be determined in relation to pendency levels so that cases may be disposed of in a timely manner. Commissioners must be given adequate and competent support staff.
2. We welcome the Government’s move to seek a review of the Supreme Court judgement of September 13, 2012 in the Namit Sharma case since:
· the judgement requires the Commissions to function in two member benches thereby effectively halving the number of benches in each Commission. We believe that two-member benches will only slow down the work of Information Commissions and are not necessary. This requirement will greatly increase the already unacceptable levels of pendency in the Commissions and render the RTI Act ineffective and impede peoples’ fundamental right to information.
· the judgement will, in our opinion, reduce the diversity in the information commissions. It was Parliament’s intent to keep the Commissions multidisciplinary and have Information Commissioners from diverse backgrounds and experience. We believe that diversity in the composition of Information Commissions is key for ensuring effective realisation of peoples’ fundamental right to information.
· the judgement will reduce the informality and people friendliness of procedure of disposal of cases in the Information Commissions. It must be ensured that the procedure of submitting appeals and complaints to the commissions is simple and people friendly and there is no insistence on lawyers for arguing on behalf of the appellant. The RTI Act is most widely used by common people for accessing their fundamental rights and entitlements from the government and any formalization/complexities in the procedures of the information commission would hinder peoples’ abilities to use the RTI Act.
· the judgement is ambiguous on the status of existing Information Commissions and whether these can continue to function till such time that the stipulated number of judicial members are appointed as Information Commissioners. The result is that several Information Commissions are not functioning since the judgment thereby totally impeding people’s right to information.
· there is no justification in restricting the position of Chief Information Commissioners to only a person who is, or has been, a Chief Justice of the High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India, as laid down in the SC judgement. We feel that the eligibility criteria for the Chief Information Commissioners should be widened, as provided for in the RTI Act.
3. We urge all Information Commissions to evolve mechanisms for ensuring compliance with Section 4 of the RTI Act. All Information Commissions must evolve a template/model for section 4 disclosures, through their websites and also through other means of communication and adopt these at the earliest. We urge the Information Commissions to become model public authorities and adopt the highest standards of transparency in keeping with the letter and spirit of the RTI Act 2005.
A proper system for displaying the list of appeals and complaints made in Commissions and pending cases must be made proactively made available through the website and the telephone by each Information Commission in the country.
We urge the Information Commissions to adopt a system for uploading all the orders issued by them on their website. Further, a single website linking and providing access to orders by all the Information Commissions should be evolved. We urge the government to provide necessary funds in this regard.
4. There must be time limits for disposal of cases in which show cause notices are issued by the Information Commissions. In cases where show cause notices are served, the case should not be disposed and closed in the Commissions until either a penalty is levied and recovered or a satisfactory response is given by the PIO to the show cause notice. In either case, complete information to the appellant must be provided. Information Commissioners should ensure that penalties imposed by them are recovered and are entered into the ACR/service record of the concerned official.
The annual report of each Information Commission, including details on penalties imposed and recovered, should be placed in the public domain.
5. We urge the state Information Commissions to adopt mechanisms to hold hearings across the state and not just at one location within the Commission. We urge Commissioners to go out amongst people, as far as possible, and hold appeals and complaints disposal camps.
6. It is the responsibility of the government to protect RTI activists and users, and take swift legal action against the attackers. It is also the obligation of governments and Information Commissions to ensure that, if a RTI user is attacked, the information that was being sought by the assaulted user is urgently and on a priority basis, put in the public domain and followed up. We welcome the resolution of the CIC in this regard and urge other commissions to adopt similar measures.
7. For implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act, state/central governments should undertake periodic audits and Information Commissions should take suomotu cognizance of violations of section 4 and issue appropriate orders after holding open sittings.
8. We are deeply suspicious of any PPP that does not make it explicitly clear that it will be covered under the purview of the RTI Act. We are also disappointed by judgement of the courts in which indefinite stays have been granted in cases related to transparency of PPPs and private bodies performing public functions. We urge the Commissions to ensure that all private bodies providing public functions are transparent in their functioning and are treated as being within the purview of the RTI Act.
9. Illegal exemptions given under Section 24 to government agencies are irrational and contrary to national interest, these must be immediately reviewed and exemptions must be withdrawn.
10. Central and state RTI rules and rules made by ‘appropriate governments’ and ‘competent authorities’ which do not follow a single standard, many of which are ultra vires of the Act itself and which generally make it difficult for people to use the Act, must be immediately modified. DOPT should urgently undertake a review of the rules and persuade the state governments to appropriately modify the rules. We urge the appropriate governments and ‘competent authorities’ to frame simple, people friendly RTI rules.
Resolution on private sector corruption
1. Strengthening PC Act to include private sector companies: The PC Act does not expressly seek to punish corrupt acts of private parties, except to a limited extent through Section 9 (dealing with persons accepting gratification to use their influence to influence a public servant in the conduct of an official act) and Section 12 (dealing with abetment, pursuant to which a person offering a bribe could be punished.) However, there is not direct provision prohibiting a private person from offering a bribe or engaging in other corrupt practices. Such a provision is required to ensure that all parties to a corrupt are dealt with adequately and is especially important in cases of “collusive corruption” where the private person may be the initiator and where the public servant may even have rejected the bribe.
2. Whistleblower protection act should extend to private sector
3. Setting up CVC like body to deal with private companies
Resolution on Police Reform
RESOLVED THAT Police reforms are too important to neglect and too urgent to delay. Governments in the states and at the Centre must not avoid providing the people of India with reformed and improved policing that is fully accountable for better every day performance and for its all too common wrongdoing
RESOLVED THAT present policing is unresponsive oppressive and too often illegal in its actions. The police must be reformed to be an essential service not a force. The vision and model of policing has to change to serve the ends of democracy and cannot remain modelled of a colonial militaristic police aimed at supressing the population at large.
RESOLVED THAT the role of the police in our democracy must go beyond enforcing the law to upholding the law. Policing must go beyond mere “maintenance of law and order” to protecting life, property and most importantly, providing an environment within which everyone - and especially the vulnerable - can enjoy to the fullest, the freedoms and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution.
RESOLVED THAT recent government initiatives particularly new police laws go against ensuring greater accountability and do not reduce illegitimate political influence and interference.
RESOLVED THAT improving the police and making it fit for purpose requires that while always remaining answerable to the political executive the police leadership must enjoy operational and administrative autonomy; be free from unwarranted and illegitimate political interference; be assured of a management and infrastructure that is adequate to achieve its purpose as a service; and most importantly the police must at all times be answerable for both performance and wrong doing via accountability mechanisms at multiple levels including specialised and independent police complaints commissions.
Resolution on Electoral and Political Reforms
· Candidates with Criminal antecedents should be debarred from contesting elections.
· Immediate steps should be taken to reduce the menace of money power in elections, viz. control of illegal money used above and beyond the expense limits, transparent distribution of tickets in elections, etc.
· The candidates whose asset declarations show disproportionate increase in assets between two elections should be enquired into by Income Tax Authorities and action taken against them in time bound fashion on being found guilty.
· There is an urgent need for a comprehensive Bill to regulate the functioning of Political Parties to ensure inner party democracy and financial transparency within the political parties.
· The internal elections for the offices of political parties should be done using secret ballot and the culture of unanimous selection of the office bearers must stop.
· The ticket distribution process of the political parties should be made transparent and should be decided by the registered members of political parties.
· The accounts of the political parties should be audited by the CAG appointed auditors.
· The Election Commission should be empowered to regulate registration and deregistration of political parties.
· The Political Parties should be declared as Public Authorities so that their functioning could be transparent and be made more accountable.
· Strict Laws should be passed to punish candidates involved in Electoral malpractices, particularly for buying of votes.
· Fast track courts should be set up to expedite criminal cases against MPs/MLAs.
· Implement ceiling on expenses of Political Parties during election period.
· Strict Action against candidates who fail to file their election expenses.
· There should be a provision for independent verification of information provided by candidates in affidavits.
· There should be a cooling off period of 5 years before which bureaucrats or people who have changed their parties are allowed to contest elections on tickets of a political party.
· State funding of elections should come into effect only after checks and balances are in place to ensure financial transparency in the functioning of political parties.
· Voting machines should have the option of “None of the above”. If the election in a constituency results in “None of the above” getting the maximum number of votes, there should be a re-poll.
· Political parties should give one-third tickets to women as per their state objective
Resolutions adopted on the 28th of November 2012 at the Jan Sansad held at Jantar Mantar
Resolutions on Education
Education Budget to be made 6% of GDP as long, long recommended by Kothari Commission in 1966! Centre-State distribution of financial shares for RTE to be revised so as to enable States to meet Constitution obligation of 86th Amendment. A finance note detailing the allocations for all aspects of the RTE needs to be prepared. State, district and school level allocations should be determined through need based decentralized planning rather than be determined on the basis standardized norms.
· No extension of deadlines in RTE
· Capacities – human and financial - of local authorities [Panchayat and urban bodies] to be increased so as to enable them to perform the roles mandated to them under RTE.
· Institutionalize social audits that will be conducted at least once a year. Social audits will be part of the overall process and performance audit of all programmes under the RTE. Social audits to be part of the larger grievance redress architecture and mechanisms.
· Community led monitoring of school to be strengthened through SMCs and panchayats. Concurrent monitoring mechanisms to be put in place. Increase per school allocation for monitoring from the current RS 50/school/annum.
· Grievance Redress [architecture and mechanism] to be put into place and budgets to be allocated accordingly; Accountability for provision of all legal entitlements under the Act to be fixed within Education Department for this purpose.
· A Framework for Equity to be devised with precise programmatic and budgetary allocations that are tracked and monitored by an independent agency; Under RTE detailed Guidelines for Discrimination to be framed.
· All the adult education programmes are implemented in the project mode and there is no systematic investment in developing the infrastructure or institutions for sustained efforts. Thus increased resources allocations and their utilization is an urgent need to make adult education sustainable and meaningful for people.
Continuing education in tune of lifelong learning has to be planned and implemented across country without the boundaries of time and region.
· Pre-schooling [3-6 years age group] to be included under RTE.
· Governments’ responsibility towards education to be realized fully. Attempts at privatization to be desisted; Regulation of norms, quality and compliance with 25% reservation under RTE to be strictly followed.
Resolutions on NREGA
Bank accounts must not be made mandatory for getting NREGA employment
Workers must not be denied employment under the NREGA if they do not possess a post office or bank account. States like Bihar have issued instructions making bank accounts mandatory to seeking employment under NREGA. In states where banking infrastructure is poor, this will only create another hurdle in programme implementation and deny workers of their entitlements under the Act. While the opening of bank accounts may be prioritized it must not be made mandatory.
Keep UID out of NREGA
If the issue of new job cards is linked to UID enrolment, there is a danger of creating a jam that would disrupt the programme. The process of job cards renewal, in any case a slow process, will be further slowed down. Many people are likely to be denied their entitlement to 100 days of work as they will be without a job card. Further, in spite of the hiring of "service providers", the entire administrative machinery is likely to be diverted into capturing of biometrics or supervising "service providers". The scale of MGNREGA works is bound to suffer. This would be a gross injustice to NREGA workers, who are already deprived of their basic entitlements. The proposal of "biometric attendance at the worksite with GPS coordinates" is completely impractical - many NREGA worksites are in remote areas with poor or no connectivity.
Wages paid under NREGA to be linked to minimum wages and adjusted to the inflation rate
Paying less than minimum wages to NREGA workers is a violation of the constitutional rights of poor workers and the Minimum Wages Act of 1940 and amounts to forced labour. Section 6(1) and 6(2) of the NREGA must be amended to ensure there is no conflict with the Minimum Wages Act.
Further, minimum wages under NREGA must be linked to the Consumer Price Index of Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL)
Extend minimum guarantee of 100 days of employment to every worker
The current guarantee of 100 days per household is inadequate to provide livelihood security to the rural poor. The guarantee must shift from a family based entitlement to an individual entitlement.
All states must notify rules for section 25 of the Act
Section 25 of the NREGA for imposing fines on implementation authorities for non-compliance must be immediately notified. In the absence of such rules accountability for designated responsibilities under the act is being circumvented. Also in the absence of rules for imposing fines, state government are only able to take steps such as suspension or FIRs which prove counterproductive to the implementation of the programme.
Safeguard basic provisions of the Act
The problem of unmet demand is rampant in the poorest states of the country which need employment under the programme the most. This coupled with delayed payments where employment has been provided is crippling the NREGA. Basic provisions of the Act are being flouted across states such as non-payment of unemployment allowance against unmet demand and payment of delayed wage payment compensation. Rules to implement basic provisions of the Act such as payment of unemployment allowance on not meeting work demand and delayed wage payment compensation must be notified.
States to take immediate steps on implementing NREGA Social Audit Rules
Social Audit rules approved by the CAG are not being implemented in most states. The first step in operationalising its provisions is the setting up of an independent social audit directorate. All states must set up directorates and bring social audit rules into effect immediately.
Protection of whistleblowers
With numerous cases of repression of and violence against NREGA activists trying to secure the basic rights of workers under the programme, there is an urgent need to pass the whistleblower protection Bill.
Resolutions on Pensions
Universal pensions with exclusions
· Pension should be an individual entitlement for all citizens of India
· Universal and non contributory old age pension not less than Rs.2000 per month or 50% of the minimum age,whichever is higher should be paid out of the national budget
· Indexation of pensions so that the amount increases proportionate to inflation
· Eligibility for pension to be reduced to 55 years for men and 50 years for women and 45 years for highly vulnerable groups (Vulnerable Tribal Groups, Transgender, Women Compelled to become Sex Workers, PWDs)
· A single window system for Old Age Pensions and a separate ministry for issues of the Elderly
· Freedom to continue working even after attaining the age of eligibility for universal old age pension
· Pension is the only benefit that we accept as a cash transfer
· Income tax payees and government employees should be excluded from universal pensions
Resolutions on health
· Contractors must be eliminated from ICDS and the food served in ICDS centres must be of good quality, based on locally grown foods including nutritious millets and be produced by local groups such as mahila mandals, SHGs, co-operatives etc.
· Triple public expenditure on health. For too long India has had the lowest levels of expenditure on healthcare in the world. Financial allocations should increase to at least 5% of GDP.
· Deploy health personnel to meet the severe lack of skilled human resources in the public health system. All health personnel along with AWWs must be regularized. Investment in human resources for health must be increased.
· No to health insurance packages like RSBY which are inimical to the development and sustenance of a robust health care system. Under the current health insurance model, malpractices have increased as private hospitals seek to capture patients that are able to provide the highest returns and turn away others. On the other hand government hospitals suffer due to decline in public investment. Chronic diseases are not covered under the current insurance models and these models take the focus away from primary level, curative, preventive and promotive services.
· Universal access to free health care with an emphasis on quality. Good quality and free health service (including free medicines) must be made available for all through the public health system. Quality Assurance Schemes need to cover all public facilities to ensure optimal use of resources and so that health outcomes are achieved.
· Social audits and community based monitoring processes to be integrated into NRHM
· Comprehensive legal regulation of the private medical sector is essential. Standardisation of structures and human resources to ensure quality of care, equal access, rationalizing cost of care etc should form part of the regulatory framework.
Resolution on cash transfers, Aadhaar and NFSA
Welfare schemes should not be linked to aadhaar.
There are several dangers to doing so - the most serious being that it will eventually end up being an additional eligibility requirement, leading to the exclusion of more people. The limited advantages of aadhaar (weeding out duplicates and ghost beneficiaries) are better served by other technology, primarily the computerization of records. This will enable better monitoring and administration in these schemes. This has already begun to happen in many states and this trend should be encouraged, rather than derailed by diverting scare administrative resources towards aadhaar enrolment and integration.
Enact the National Food Security Act immediately
The NFSA was tabled in Parliament on 22 December, 2011. This should be enacted immediately. The distinction between APL and BPL for eligibility should be abolished in the Food Security Act. The provisions enabling a transition to cash transfers in lieu of food transfers should be removed. In the case of food, there are several reasons for staying away from cash: markets in rural areas are poorly developed, banks are distant and overcrowded, inflation can erode purchasing power. While indexation appears to provide a solution to this, in practice it is not easy to do. In fact, given the poor nutritional levels in India, the Public Distribution System should include pulses and oil.
Cash transfers: Under what conditions are they welcome.
As long as cash transfers are provided in addition to public services, as has been done in Brazil, cash transfers will be welcome. Thus, as long as maternity entitlements should come along with the whole range of public health services, old age and widow pensions should be given along with other support such as the Annapoorna rations for the elderly. Cash transfers cannot not be treated as a substitute for the state's welfare responsibilities.
Resolution on privatisation of water
No to privatisation of water- The right to water is a fundamental right to life. Privatisation of water distribution is an attack on our fundamental rights. While private companies are benefitting from the privatisation of water citizens suffer.
Resolutions adopted on the 29th of November 2012 at the Jan Sansad held at Jantar Mantar
Community Rights on Land, Water, Forest and Mineral Resources and Right to Participate in Development Plans
1. Our country is gifted with abundant natural resources such as land, water, forests, minerals etc. According to our constitution, the people have the primary right on these resources. The main objective of development is to fulfill the basic needs of people living in the villages, cities and slums using these resources. Therefore the people of the villages and cities, the democratic unit should have the primary right in establishing developmental planning.
2. Today, in the name of development, plans for improving the lifestyle of the upper class are being put into implementation without considering the opinion of the local self-governmental units. This is undemocratic and unconstitutional and is unacceptable to us. Any action in the interest of development or public interest should only be performed with the participation and consent of the people living in villages and slums. If any such action is performed without the consent of these people, we will not consider it in the interest of development and will oppose it.
3. The displacement, which is indiscriminately being carried out for development, is unacceptable to us. In the name of development, water, irrigation, power, roads (highways, seaports, airports etc.), mines, farms, forests or other public and private properties are being demolished. Even small villages and slums are being demolished. This injustice in not only illegal but also inhuman. Development free from demolishment is important and possible. But this form of development is only possible by implementation of democratic and decentralized employment of people.
4. Natural resources are the basis for our life and livelihood. Whether it is groundwater or greenery, these resources have been serving as the basis for livelihood for generations over the years. The human community is consuming these resources at a very fast rate. Inequitable environmental destruction is unacceptable to us. Any action in the interest of development cannot be given consent without consultation with the local communities.
5. Nowadays, the need for electricity is greatly exaggerated by a nexus of the rich- capitalists, politicians, officials and companies. On the basis of these exaggerated figures, schemes are being formulated over harnessing rivers, mountains, fields etc. through large dams, thermal power stations, nuclear power plants in a way that is destructive to the human life. All these are symbols of a destructiveness under the pretence of progress or development. Such schemes should not be permitted without the consent of the local people.
6. Since independence, the various schemes for development have displaced over 10 crore people Out of these, only 17 % have been rehabilitated by the government. Facilities like alternate livelihood and money should also be made available to the devastated people. Until the process of rehabilitation for the displaced people is not completed, any further displacement will not be given consent, and action on any such steps will be immediately halted.
7. The policies of liberalization and privatization will bring about changes in the projects of development that will prove to be beneficiary in the development of water, industrialization, mineral exploitation and farming. There should be discussion on these policies and every area should be reviewed state wise. Whether these matters are discussed in the parliament or not, they will be discussed in the Jan Sansad conventions to ensure changes to improve the lives of the people.
8. The transfer of farmlands to builders for industrialization should be immediately stopped. To prevent unnecessary non-farming practices, the transferred land should be used prior to the fallow land. Ceiling of land in cities and villages should be applied as it was applied before. The landless people, peasants and homeless people should have primary right over their lands. The land should be acquired from the capitalists, builders and politicians and should be distributed amongst the needful people. The common people should have primary right over the industrial production and the secondary right should be of the home industries i.e. village industries, cooperative industries, small scale industries and only a few selected large scale industries. Industries based on human resources should be given priority over capital based industries that rely mostly on water and power.
9. The SEZ law will help the industrialists and the capitalists to acquire land indefensibly and will not help in providing livelihood to the poor. It will only increase the inequality between the rich and the poor. Therefore, the SEZ law should be abandoned. Basic housing rights should be provided to the labourers living in urban slums who help in running the country. Their slums should not be demolished and they should be given housing rights wherever they are settled and cooperative groups should provide them with settlement rights.
10. While developing cities, the larger part of the land should be reserved for housing. Similarly, the tribal people and other backward classes, who have been doing forest farming for years, should be given the ownership rights of the land being used by them. That land should not be desolated and distributed to the companies. The common people should be given legal land rights. In accordance with the Forest Rights Law passed by the parliament in 2006, the tribal people and other traditional forest communities should acquire right over the forests and forest resources.
11. The land and resources belonging to the public (barn, river, character of pasteurized land or destroyed forestland) should be reserved for the landless and homeless people and then distributed among them primarily.
12. The natural resources of our country should be conserved, because they are the basis of our livelihood. We make a resolution that we will try our best to conserve them for the coming generations. To do so, we need to put forward a constant struggle against the destruction of these resources using the effective techniques. We are also committed towards leading our lives in the right direction.
13. A bill supporting national development planning, displacement and rehabilitation should be passed. Nobody should be displaced against his/her will. A law of decentralized development planning based on the principles of section 243 of the constitution, 1996 PESA act and forest rights act 2006 should be passed. It should also include the progressive elements of the Standing Committee of Rural Development, which are minimum displacement and just rehabilitation. It should be discussed amongst the affected communities, groups of farmers and movements.
14. Only extremely important governmental purposes should demand donations from the public. Public should not donate any money for private purposes. Forced land acquisitions should be banned. Any plan for personal benefit termed as beneficiary to the public is unjust and unacceptable to the people of India.
15. Our country in full of geographical and geo-cultural variations, and every area has its own needs for development, therefore it is important for us to have a democratically planned land usage policy that takes care of all the variations and needs.
16. Today, the government has the ownership rights of the acquired lands. We believe that only farmers should have the ownership rights over such lands and the land should be returned to their owner after the completion of the purpose for which it was acquired. The unused, acquired land should be distributed by the government to the displaced families.
17. The rivers and valleys in our country have kept the human culture and civilization alive. Several dams are being built on these rivers in the name of power generation projects which are being opposed by many public organizations. Recently, after the decision of the Supreme Court of India, the government has planned the interlinking of rivers in India. This project will destroy the rivers and river valleys and large numbers of people will be displaced to vacate lacs of acres of land. The project is being planned without due consideration to the environmental problem caused apart from the economic profit and loss. Such projects are illegal and should be immediately halted.
18. On one hand, the backward classes are facing problem water shortage and on the other hand the middle and upper class people are getting enormous quantities of water. In such a situation, the government is supporting the private companies in and helping them to get privatized, in the name of providing better facilities to the backward class. We believe that it is the government’s moral duty to provide physical facilities to the people, and a profiteering private company cannot do such a job.
19. If the purchasing of land and other resources is being done in favour of the builders’ profit, then it is the government’s responsibility to provide the same to the neglected class for their livelihood and decide the market value of these resources in consideration with the condition of the neglected class. The government and the private sectors should be bound to obey the rehabilitation that includes market justice and the principle of competition.
20. The framework of market valuation of land has to be negated. If it is not done, the tribal people and the lower classes will suffer. Therefore, without any hesitation, alternative livelihood or employment should be provided to the people affected.
21. Without proper consultation with people, eviction is inhuman and unconstitutional and against the right to life and livelihood of the people. Use of police force against the people for eviction is totally inhuman. There is no place for it in the largest democracy in the world.
(1) The 2.7 lakh farmer suicides in the past 17 years are a blot on the conscience of the nation. They are cruel reminders that several crores of families in the farming community are in severe distress. This crisis is being driven by the anti-farmer policies and neglect of the government. We demand that the governments at the Centre and states address the agrarian crisis with the highest urgency and priority, and make that the basis of sustainable renewal of rural economy.
(2) We demand a Farmers’ Policy with a comprehensive framework that (a) ensures dignified livelihood for all sections of the farming community, (b) ensures people’s rights over agricultural resources, (c) promotes ecological sustainability, and (d) ensures safe, nutritious food for all.
(3) The government policy should assure a minimum level of income and dignified livelihood for all sections of farming community. We demand a statutory permanent Farmers Income Commission with the mandate of implementing an income assurance for all farming households – including small farmers, tenants, agricultural workers. This is necessary for ensuring true Food Security and Food Sovereignty.
(4) Natural resources including Land, Water, Forest and Seed – Jal, Jangal, Beej, Zameen – should be firmly under the control of the people who derive sustainable livelihoods from them. We oppose corporate control of these resources and the trampling of people’s rights.
(5) We demand comprehensive land reform that gives land to the landless. The people who are directly engaged in agriculture should have control over land. Tenant farmers’ rights should be fully established. Non-farmers should not be allowed to purchase agricultural land.
(6) We oppose exclusive rights and IPRs in any form on life forms – including plants, seed, genes and particular traits. The Seeds Bill should provide for regulation of prices, profits and royalties in the seed sector, with powers delegated to the state governments.
(7) We oppose Genetically Modified crops which are risky and unsafe to health and environment and pave the way for corporate control of agriculture. We assert that India’s food security can be ensured without dependence on GM crops. The government should implement the unanimous recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.
(8) The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill that is before the Parliament should be withdrawn. A National Biosafety Law should be put in place immediately, which should govern all research and commercial activity involving Genetic Engineering.
(9) We strongly assert that FDI in Retail and promotion of big retail is not in the interests of the farming community. We reject this model which promotes the control of the supply chain by a few big corporations – ultimately displacing small and medium farmers. The government should strengthen the hands of farmers and farmer collectives with storage, credit and market facilities.
(10) Ecologically Sustainable agriculture is the future of Indian farming – not only to reverse the damage to soil, water, farm ecology and food system caused by the high-input chemical technologies of the Green Revolution, but also to move away from high-cost, high-risk agriculture that is unviable especially for small farmers.
(11) The government should implement a complete time-bound transition to ecologically sustainable agriculture targeting the next 10 years. Toxic agri-chemicals should be phased out, with the most hazardous pesticides being banned immediately. Rainfed agriculture, which forms 60% of cultivated but faces severe crisis due to government neglect, should receive special focus, giving incentives for dryland crops such as millets, pulses and oilseeds, and establishing support systems for livestock and protective irrigation.
Food Security and Agricultural Land Acquisition
22. No forcible acquisition of agricultural land, for non-agricultural purpose including single crop and multi crop land.
· Ministry says only multiple crop land can be excluded.
How can the in-between farms that may be unirrigated, rain fed, single crop be left out, we ask. India has 75% of the agricultural land as rain fed and most of it single cropped. Such land is mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farms. Protecting them and all farm land for food security, which comes not from PDS but self sufficient agriculture, is a must!
Acquisition for Private and PPP Projects
23. No forcible acquisition for private projects, or for PPP, which can not to be categorized as public purpose projects.
· Ministry has rejected this and justified this with a provision that consent of 80% of project affected People will be sought before acquisition for any private projects
In this era of neo-liberal economic reforms, private projects with corporate investment and interests are taking a much larger toll of land and other rich natural resources as also uprooting by killing communities which are generations old. This must come to an end and the same can happen only with stopping the State playing a role of facilitator and land dealer. At the cost of the livelihood of the nature based sections and working class section of society, the state can't transfer the most valuable livelihood resources such as land, water to the profiteering bodies in the garb of 'public interest' and 'public purpose'.
Bringing 16 Central Acts Under Purview of this Bill
24. The standing committee has recommended that all 16 central acts should be brought under the purview of the new act, to make all equal before law (Article 14 of the Constitution).
· Ministry of Rural Development wants to exclude 13 out of 16 Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act and others from the purview of the new act. This means that 90% of the land acquired as on today will continue with injustice and force used, with no change at all.
The standing committee recommendations must be upheld to end brutal unjust acquisition for all projects.
Role and Consent of Gram and Basti Sabha
25. The Committee asks that all studies - SIA, EIA, expert committee appraisal be done in consultation with the gram sabhas and the corresponding reports be made available to the gram sabhas.
· Ministry emphasises that 80% consent of land loosers is there in case of acquisition for PPP and private sector projects.
Consent and direct involvement of majority of the Gram Sabhas must be there in each and every project, including public projects for public purpose. 80% consent of the land losers for the public - private projects alone is not sufficient. Also, why should the linear projects be left out? If it’s consent of 80% affected, there are to be a number of manipulations that people will have to face. Experiences of 70% consent in Slum Rehabilitation Scheme in Mumbai are quite telling.
Return of Unutilised Land to farmers and Land Bank
26. The Committee recommended that the land, if not used till 5 years, should be returned after 5 years from the date of possession to the land owners.
· Ministry accepts the reduced five years time period but opposes its return to the landowner and suggests it to go to State Land Bank.
The ownership over the land is of those who till it and if not used and unutilized then it must be returned to the owners or distributed amongst the project affected people. We oppose any such feature which will promote land bank, since it has promoted large scale acquisition in the past and later illegally transferred the same land to corporations for real estate and other purposes.
Retrospective Application of the Law
27. On the question of retrospective application of the R&R provisions Committee has suggested to Ministry to re-examine the issue and incorporate necessary provisions
· Ministry has not accepted it and refused to do so.
It needs to be noted that nearly 100 million people have been displaced since independence and with a dismal 17-20 percent rate of resettlement and rehabilitation we had suggested that not only the retrospective application of the provisions of the new act but a National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission be established to deal with the claims of the projected affected people from various projects.
Resettlement and Rehabilitation Benefits
In terms of the resettlement and rehabilitation benefits Committee apart from suggesting some cosmetic changes have accepted the provisions of the Bill, we think this is unfortunate since provisions don't stand up to livelihood based R&R, it merely promotes the principle of cash compensation. It will be a retrogressive step since it negates the land and employment based R&R as mandated in the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award, and various other projects. The proposed provisions of compensating employment with money and high rates for land acquired will only lead to speculative land market and will destroy the fragile economy of the rural hinterland which will lead to further urban migration.
The Bill and the comments by both, Standing Committee as well as MoRD almost totally excludes and have unaddressed the situation in the urban areas, where there is no land acquisition, but eviction, brutal and unjust, for any and every elitist real estate development to infrastructure without guaranteeing right to shelter, right to life and livelihood. The only provision is to compensate with 20% of developed land for land owning families in urbanisation projects, which is not with regard to the cases where land belongs to the government or private entities but people are evicted. We demand a separate section or a separate act for the millions of the urban persons and urban land from getting misappropriated. The Bill with the presently proposed content need to be called only “Rural Bill”.
The rapacious use of Land Acquisition Act 1894 by the government to secure land for ‘development’ projects has caused over 100 million people to be displaced from their land, livelihoods and shelters. The country is dotted with communities resisting State sponsored land grab which resonate the demand for a just law to ensure that there is no forced acquisition of land and resources, including minerals and ground water. The government must respond to the voices from movements across places such as Narmada, Koel Karo, Singur, Nandigram, Sonbhadra, Chindwara, Bhavnagarm, Kalinga Nagar, Kashipur, Raigarh, Srikakulam and mining areas in central India with genuine efforts to address the longstanding crisis concerning land Acquisition and resettlement & rehabilitation.
If the UPA government is serious about addressing the conflicts over the land and other natural resources then it must listen to the voices of those struggling or else it will only aggravate these conflicts all across the country. The need of growth, infrastructure and urbanisation can’t be fulfilled on the graveyard of millions. A pro-people Development Planning Bill with complete participation of the Gram Sabha will go a long way in stopping the massive corporate corruption and lead to decentralization of power having an overall impact on the politics of the country.
Resolutions Specific to Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, 2012
A new Bill replacing the age old Land Acquisition Act is under consideration by the UPA government. National Alliance of People's Movements have been struggling for repeal of the colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and enactment of a Development Planning, Land Use Management, No Enforced Displacement, and Just Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act. In this respect Jan Sansad adopts the following resolutions :
· We urge UPA government to respect the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which heard all stake holders including the people’s movements like ours as well as the corporate bodies and others. They recommended that :
· No agricultural land, whether single crop or multiple crops, should be forcibly acquired keeping in view the food security of the country.
· In the name of Public Purpose, the State should not be forcibly acquiring any land for the private corporation or their PPP project.
· Consent by majority of Gram Sabha members (or equivalent body in urban areas where these have been constituted) should be obtained in all matters pertaining to the Bill.
· There is no need to exempt any of the Central Acts used for land acquisition from the purview of the Bill and to bring those at par with the Bill, Government should carry required amendments.
· Any unutilsied land shall return to the land owners. 'Land Bank of un-fertile, waste-lands' for use by the industry or infrastructure projects should be prepared by the government not with the land remaining unutilised.
In addition to endorsing the recommendations of the PSC Jan Sansad also recommendations the following with respect to the Bill :
· REPEAL Land Acquisition Act and ENACT a Comprehensive National Legislation on Development Planning inclusive of just and fair, livelihood-based rehabilitation of the minimally affected people and enunciating the principle of least displacement, just rehabilitation and a decentralized development planning based on Article 243 of the Constitution, PESA 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006. Incorporate the progressive elements of the Standing Committee on Rural Development (2007-08)
· ENSURE that the urban poor who are unprotected workers receive their due right to land and shelter, related to livelihood bases, with strict ceiling on urban lands and STOP displacement and rehabilitation through a nexus of builders-politicians-bureaucrats. Promote self-reliant, affordable housing through the State and co-operatives for the needy population. We demand a separate enactement for addressing the problems of evictions, securing land rights and address resettlement and rehabilitation issues of the urban poor.
· PESA Act, 1996, scrupulously following the principle of free, prior and informed consent of the adivasi communities and extend it to all other Gram Sabhas before any development Plan or Project, whether public or private is planned and finalized, involving use and change in use of the resources within the domain of a community.
· Forest Rights Act, 2006 in all forest areas of the country and any change in the land use in any forest area and any land acquisition be subject to settlement of claims and entitlements under Forest Rights Act.
· ISSUE a White Paper on all the land acquisition, displacement caused and rehabilitation completed since independence. The White Paper must also make public the extent of land utilized, unutilized and land acquired for public purpose but remains occupied by sick and non-functional industries and other infrastructure projects.
· ENSURE that minimum and just rehabilitation for all project-affected people in all sectors should be declared as National Policy, leaving scope for finalization by the communities as their right to planning as per the Development Planning Act. Given the fact that nearly 10 crore people have been displaced, it is pertinent to address the concerns of the displaced people since independence and for that a NATIONAL RESETTLEMENT AND REHABILITATION COMMISSION must be established.
Resolutions adopted on the 30th of November 2012 at the Jan Sansad held at Jantar Mantar
Resolutions to Eliminate Violence Against Women
The elimination of violence against women and girls is key to the achievement of gender equality, peace and development. We reaffirm democratic values that ensure justice and equity for all peoples, where adivasi, dalit and working class women and youth can live a life free of violence. We underline that all people be allowed to exercise their right to live their lives with dignity and freedom, regardless of their gender, caste, class, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Action against perpetrators of violence against women
1. Stringent punishment to be enforced in cases of rape, sexual assault, gang rape and child sexual abuse, as also in cases of custodial rape, whether it happens in police stations, shelter homes (like nari niketans) or orphanages. We demand that the government take immediate legal and punitive action against all accused and perpetrators of sexual assaults against women and girls.
2. We observe that the threat of sexual assault against women multiplies as army and paramilitary forces move into an area to flush it clean from those that the state find “undesirable”. We demand that women be supported by the state to get justice.
3. We oppose outfits like Salwa Judum, Special Protection Officers and other state or private sponsored militia, which have directly or indirectly been involved in sexual assaults against women and/or terrorised within communities.
4. We oppose the witch-hunt of individuals, jan sanghatans, human rights defenders, whistle blowers and other activists fighting against unfair polices of the government. We demand the release of all political prisoners and activists who have been arrested while struggling for social and political justice on behalf of the marginalised.
5. We call upon the state to take speedy and effective steps to annihilate caste in all its forms and expressions. We demand that the Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA) Act & its rules be urgently amended in order to make it a more comprehensive and powerful deterrent law against any form of atrocities against SCs and STs.
6. The state should ensure the strict implementation of the PoA Act so that victims secure full justice, adequate compensation and comprehensive rehabilitation.
7. We call upon all the MPs and MLAs and their political parties to fulfil their Constitutional obligation to safeguard and protect the right to life and security of dalits and adivasis as full-fledged citizens of this country.
8. We want the national and regional media agencies not only to report incidents of atrocities, but also to engage the public in debates on larger issues of caste confederations, caste communal clashes, caste movements and caste vote bases as threats to national integration and to initiate a discourse on the annihilation of caste.
9. Khap panchayats must be banned and immediate punitive action taken against perpetrators of atrocities encouraged by such bodies.
10. The law should forbid non-consensual surgical and psychiatric medical interventions to alter sex, gender or sexual orientation.
11. Legal action should be taken against policemen and others who commit violence against queer and trans people.
12. The government should allow people to record the gender category of their choice in the National Census, Voter IDs and all other government documents.
13. We demand that the government extend anti-discrimination laws to ensure no discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools, workplaces and public and private spaces.
14. We want efforts to be made to provide sex education and counselling facilities in schools so that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) youth and their parents can access them.
1. There are many cases pending and require action that deal with custodial sexual violence. We demand that immediate legal and punitive action be taken in cases already registered in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) zones, under the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe Act 1989 or under Indian Penal Code Sections 376(A) and 376(B), including against those in the government and the judiciary as co-perpetrators of crimes against women. Each state government should also issue orders to ensure the safety and security of victims during the pendency of the cases.
2. We demand the repeal of all draconian laws that perpetrate violence on women with impunity, including the AFSPA, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). We demand that armed offensives against the people in North East, Kashmir and adivasi areas be stopped and this be replaced with political initiatives and peace dialogues between local communities, activists, civil society and the state. We demand that there be equal representation and participation of women in these peace-building initiatives.
3. We strongly affirm women’s ‘right to choice’ but at the same time condemn sex selective elimination and elimination because of sex. We recognise these practices as a symptom of a certain societal factors, discrimination and patriarchy. We see discrimination as standing against the principle of equality as upheld in the Constitution of India and as put forth in CEDAW.
4. We strongly stand for the state taking a proactive role in implementation of the PC&PNDT Act, that in no way undermines the importance of the MTP Act. The government should not just focus on the rhetoric of ‘save the girl child’. We demand that, apart from raids on ultrasound clinics that are violating the law, each state institutes medical audits that would help check the trend of sex selection.
5. State parties to CEDAW have an obligation to ensure that legal and systemic mechanisms be created and followed to ensure a zero tolerance policy towards domestic violence by the state.
6. In spite of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2011, there were 8618 dowry-related deaths in the country. Conviction rates have reduced from 37% in 2000 to 34% in 2010. We oppose the dominant thinking of women as property who can be traded as commodities in the marriage market. We demand that the police be more vigilant in registering and act upon dowry-related cases, on a priority basis.
7. In spite of being a rights-based law, the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) 2005 has failed to bring down the cases of domestic violence; this has increased by 5.4% in 2011 over the previous year. Lacunae in the implementation of Act must be addressed by the state on an urgent basis.
8. States must appoint and link Service Providers (SPs), Protection Officers (POs) and the police, so their services can be used if counselling is required under the PWDVA. There must be a standard operating protocol for SPs across the state on the action to be taken when a woman approaches them for help.
9. The PWDVA spells out the role of Medical Facilities (MFs) and Shelter Homes (SHs). The nodal department must increase the number of shelter homes; a gender sensitive approach towards survivors of domestic violence and effective processes of coordinating with stakeholders such as POs, SPs and the police.
10. It is essential for stakeholders like the judiciary, police and the Legal Services Authority to develop a comprehensive understanding of notions such as live-in relationships and the right to residence. All stakeholders must receive gender sensitisation training and be oriented towards dealing with cases of gender-based violence.
11. Monitoring and evaluation under the PWDVA are essential tools to ensure accountability of the state for the effective implementation of the law. They are also needed to assess that the mechanisms provided by the state in dealing with domestic violence meet international standards required by treaty mechanisms under CEDAW. Monitoring and evaluation are the only ways to ensure that proper reporting standards are followed by the state.
Resolutions about Women and Work
Women’s work is taken for granted as being only a secondary contribution to the family, community and the nation. Their contribution to domestic and household work is totally overlooked, in both social and economic terms.
1. We demand recognition for women’s work, both inside and outside the domestic space.
2. We demand equal pay for equal and similar work as per the Equal Remuneration Act, as well as universal entitlements of maternity benefits to all women workers of the unorganised sector.
3. About 60-70% of labour input is provided by women in agricultural production, processing and storage of foodgrains. However, they are not entitled to any of the rights of working women. We demand that the state give them this recognition, as well as their entitlements.
4. We further demand that women get ownership of land.
5. The state should stop the exploitation of women workers under the MGNREGA. The state should ensure that women are paid the minimum wages and that they get benefits including medical care and crèches at work sites, and toilet facilities.
6. These benefits should also extend to migrant women workers working in unorganised work sites like brick kilns and construction sites.
7. We call upon the state to recognise domestic work as work. The state should speed up the adoption of the draft bill with the National Commission of Women (NCW). We ask for the establishment of Domestic Workers Welfare Boards to ensure desired benefits for domestic workers.
8. The state should recognise women workers employed under government schemes as ‘government employees’ and ensure that they get social security benefits. These would include Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers as well as women working under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in aanganwadi centres.
9. Prevent exploitation in the name of contractual and casual labour and ensure that they receive all welfare benefits.
10. We demand ratification of the Home Based Convention to ensure better payments on piece rate work and social security to these workers.
11. There should be a universal pension entitlement to all women employees, both in the organised as well as the unorganised sector.
12. The state should invest in training institutes and polytechnics to provide opportunities for women in non-traditional and innovative livelihoods.
1. In the context of the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill that has been passed by the Lok Sabha, we demand a review of the bill by a Rajya Sabha Select Committee.
2. The definition of workplace [(o) from (i)-(vi) and (p) of the Bill] needs to be extended to bring in its purview migrant women labourers, women agriculture labourers and forest dwellers.
3. The function of f Local Complaint Committee (Chapter III) needs to be reworked and tailored in accordance to the needs and requirement for women in the unorganised sector.
4. We oppose Clause 14(1) of the Bill related to punishment for false and malicious complaint and false evidence. We strongly believe that this could prove to be a deterrent for any woman seeking redress for any harassment she is facing.