Citizens' Issues
The Menace of Check-posts

Stronger rules for motorists are fine, but what about extortion on the roads?


While driving from Delhi to Bharatpur a few days ago, I was again struck by how the sight of a police check-post on highways spells fear and in the hearts of commercial motorists and of those driving out-of-state cars. This 200km drive involves going through four states: Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Apart from the extortionist tolls, there is the frequency of ‘check-posts’ along the way and not just at state ‘borders’. The aim is to establish bonafides, for security purposes, or catch vehicles for not complying with motor vehicle laws.


Local vehicles, though, go about flouting every law in the book; some of these experiences are enough to put one off road trips for a very long time. My vehicles are always in more than ‘street-legal’ condition, to the extent that even though they are private vehicles and I carry a private driving licence, I always have a fire-extinguisher, an above-average first-aid kit, as well as all documents required under the law. In addition, I also carry a full set of attested photocopies of the registration certificate and driving licence and you will soon appreciate why.


I was driving my seven-year-old diesel Swift, with my wife and another older lady in the car. I also happened to be wearing a white shirt from my Navy days, which has two pockets and shoulder flaps, something like what pilots and commercial drivers also wear.


I choose to wear these shirts because of the two huge pockets which have button-down flaps. At the Haryana-UP ‘border’, policemen waved us down at a check-post and asked me to disembark and show all the papers. I showed them the attested photocopies. “Give us the originals,” they said, which I refused. Then they took a closer look at the licence and realised that maybe I wasn’t a commercial driver, so now they moved on to the other documents, which were also in order, and could find nothing wrong.


“Where is the first-aid kit?” They finally asked and, as luck would have it, the kit was not in the car, because I had prepared the other Swift for the trip but took this one instead. So I told them that I don’t have it.


The cops then said that they would have to issue a judicial challan, for which I would have to appear in court after two days or more because a long weekend was coming up, and maybe the car would also have to be seized. That’s when I finally told them to go do their worst. But I assured them that my lawyers would come and contest this, and then take it all the way up the bureaucratic chain. I pulled out my camera as well as dash-cam and said I would record them, with the ladies as witness. All this was happening on the busy Delhi-Agra highway in the middle of the day.


To cut a long story short, the cops said I could leave, but the larger question is: What if it was in the night? What if the driver had been a commercial licence-holder? What if the driver did not have the wherewithal to challenge this atrocious behaviour? Bringing in stronger rules for motorists on the road is fine, but who is going to do anything to protect us from those who are supposed to be implementing these rules?


Towing is fine but what about public transport?


The latest news in Delhi is that wrongly parked cars will now be towed away under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. Hopefully, this will improve the traffic situation in the capital. To give readers an idea—it took about two hours to drive 150km from Bharatpur to outer Faridabad and then about three and a half hours to drive from outer Faridabad to south Delhi. Even within residential colonies, there are parking wars going on, as people buy more, and bigger, cars. Rather than towing wrongly parked cars, providing better public transport should be the order of the day; NOT buying and selling more cars.




3 years ago

At least these men are in uniforms. In places like Bangalore you can see plainclothesmen jumps onto the car for extorting money if it is from outside the state.

Nifty, Sensex may record further gains – Tuesday closing report

Nifty has the potential to rally for a few more days, as long as it stays above 7869


In line with what we had written yesterday, the indices recorded more gains today. They opened higher and moved ahead with an upward bias. However, soon the moves turned range-bound, before moving lower and giving up all the intra-day gains. Those were the only few minutes when the indices traded in the negative and hit their intra-day lows.


The benchmarks did made a smart recovery from the day’s low and inched up to the intra-day high which the indices had hit in the initial hours of the morning session.

S&P BSE Sensex opened at 26,552, while CNX Nifty opened at 7,906. Both the benchmarks hit a seven day high (including today) at 26,615 and 7,937. Sensex managed to recover from the low of 26,407 and closing at 26,576 (up 146 points or 0.55%), while Nifty hit a low of 7,874 and closed at 7,928 (up 48 points or 0.61%) making it the third consecutive day of gains on both the benchmarks. NSE recorded a volume of 71.52 crore shares. India VIX fell 6.06% to close at 13.3300.

Except for Pharma (0.28%) and Energy (0.01%) all the other indices on the NSE closed in the green. The top five gainers were Realty (2.66%), Metal (1.87%), Infra (1.80%), MNC (1.69%) and Bank Nifty (1.30%).

Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 38 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Jindal Steel (7.34%), DLF (4.91%), BHEL (4.80%), GAIL (4.78%) and Sesa Sterlite (4.19%). The top five losers were PNB (2.89%), ONGC (2.60%), M&M (2.53%), Ultratech Cement (2.05%) and Coal India (1.73%).

Of the 1,572 companies on the NSE, 809 companies closed in the green, 688 companies closed in the red, while 75 companies closed flat.
The government's decision to remove price controls on diesel and to raise natural gas prices, signals fiscal discipline and is a "credit positive" step, although the overall impact could be limited, Moody's Investors Service said on Tuesday.

Ashima Goyal, a member of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) technical advisory committee reportedly said yesterday on 20 October 2014, that the Reserve Bank of India may consider easing monetary policy as early as March, after global crude prices fell to a four-year low this month.

The government has decided to merge National Spot Exchange Ltd with its holding group Financial Technologies. Issuing a draft order for the proposed merger, the government said today that the move has been decided upon in "public interest".

The Narendra Modi government, on Monday, announced that it will auction 74 coal-mining licenses to private companies in the next three to four months. The Supreme Court had cancelled 214 coal licenses last month, these were issued to private and public companies since 1993. The licenses will be auctioned to private-sector companies only for captive use. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that state-run, coal-consuming companies that want to mine for their own use, won't have to compete against private sector companies for coal licenses, especially in key industries such as power. The government will allocate government companies licenses without an auction.

This move is likely to help power, cement and steel sectors which will get more fuel supply. Jindal Steel (7.46%), which was the top loser among the ‘A’ group on the BSE and had hit its 52-week low yesterday, was among the top two gainers in the group.  Sesa Sterlite (4.42%) was among the top two gainers in the Sensex 30 pack.

Suzlon Energy (4.97%) was the top loser in the ‘A’ group on the BSE.

ONGC was in news, following the report that, the government is likely to divest 5% stake in the company, in the first week of November. This may fetch about Rs 18,000 crore. The stock was the top loser (2.57%) among Sensex 30 stocks.

US indices closed in the positive on Monday.

Asian indices showed mixed performance. NZSE 50 (0.68%) and Straits Times (0.68%) both were top gainers while Nikkei 225 (2.03%) was the top loser.

China's economy in the third quarter grew at its slowest pace in five years as it battles a slumping real-estate market and weak domestic demand and industrial production. China posted a 7.3% year-over-year quarterly growth rate, according to the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday. This marked the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis, when growth fell to 6.6%. The 7.3% third-quarterly growth rate was down from 7.5% in the second quarter.

Value-added industrial output in China rose by a larger-than-expected 8% in September, from a year earlier, accelerating from a 6.9% year-over-year increase in August, the statistics bureau said. Industrial production also increased 0.91% in September from August, when it rose 0.2% from the preceding month, it said.

European indices were trading in the green. US Futures too were trading higher.




Would You Arrest Romeo’s Juliet?

Can mercy and death go together? Here lies the difference between euthanasia and murder


Everyone has heard of star-crossed lovers and family feuds. Romeo and Juliet. Laila-Majnu. The McCoys and Hatfields. A famous cricketer taking a sworn enemy’s daughter for his wife. The list is endless.


Many of these stories—stories they are—centre on a ‘crime’ which is the only one in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) where failure is punished. Success puts the ‘culprit’ beyond the long arm of the law.


Section 309 of the IPC deals with suicide. To commit suicide is an offence. Of course, no one can arrest a dead person. So the next best thing is to arrest the person who attempts and fails. Or, better still, go after the ones who drove the person in question over the brink. It’s called ‘aiding and abetting another to commit suicide’. An accessory to the crime.


A recent news report mentioned the fourth successful bid over the railing of the Sea Link in Mumbai. It also gave details of other ‘favourite’ spots all over the world. Sort of, ‘Take your pick’. Deep, silent waters, beckoning eternal peace for the world-weary. Aiding? Abetting?


Returning to the rose by any other name, (“…that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”) Romeo, seeing his love ‘dead’, kills himself. But Juliet was not really dead. Suspended animation was the friar’s potion’s trick; unknown to Romeo, of course. So, when Juliet awakens and sees the sacrifice her lover has made, she follows suit. But what if Juliet had not taken the fatal step?


You be the judge.


In today’s world, would she not be guilty of taking Romeo’s life? Would not the Montague family have bayed for her blood, bad blood already existing between them and the Capulets? If she had not misled Romeo with her theatrics, would not the poor boy be still alive? And, even if Juliet were dead as a dodo, would not the cops have booked her? According to the extant statues, our answer would be a ‘Yes’. Misrepresentation, if not aiding and abetting. Even today, the Bard would be right if he ended with his immortal lament, “For never was there a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”


There is another sadder, and truer, angle to this law. The act of euthanasia is also on a par with murder. Should, or should not, a person have a right to die as much as it is his fundamental and human right to live? The courts have, ad nauseum, upheld a man’s right to live a dignified life. The Constitution guarantees a good quality of existence, an environment where each can seek a better status and happiness. Why then must a patient suffer, physically and the indignity of being in a vegetative state?


The arguments, pro and con, are deep and rest on solid foundations. One side seeks relief from interminable pain and misery. Across the fence, others worry about ethics, morals and the chances of foul play. But the most compelling argument seems to be that “Euthanasia does not mean more people dying. It means less people suffering.”


You be the judge.


If a person is terminally ill and there is simply no chance of recovery, is s/he entitled to call it quits? Can s/he arrange for equipment, which s/he can somehow personally operate, to put an end to it all? Dr Kevorkian, the so-called doctor of death, has perfected such an apparatus. No one actually kills the victim. He does it himself. But then, supplying the ‘death machine’ is an abetment to suicide.


So, till we, in our infinite wisdom, decide what is right and what is not, the sufferer may well say, “Agar jannam durr ruuyay zamenast, amenasto, amenasto, amenast.”(If there is ever a hell on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here).


Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. Please email your comments to [email protected]


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