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Indian justice system cloning Gen. Zia’s Hudood Ordinance on Zina

by Faraz Ahmad, 29 September

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Faraz Ahmad’s Blog, September 29, 2019

The then Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) of Pakistan General Mohammad Ziaul Haq promulgated Hudood Ordinances in Pakistan in 1979 whereby the onus of proving a rape lay on the victim complainant and her inability to prove conclusively in the eyes of the mullah Qazi made her liable to the charge of either Qazf meaning false accusation, inviting whipping and lashing in public or worse Zina (Adultery) which invited the punishment of stoning to death in a public space by the members of the public.

Also the Hudood law required the victim to produce two ‘Pious’ men or four equally pious women (because the woman’s testimony in the Hudood Ordinance amounted to half of her male counterpart) to testify that they were eye witness to the commitment of rape on the victim. Mind you two primary conditions were, one that the witnesses stood watching while the woman was being raped and additionally they had to be men/women of Saum-o-Salat (performing their Namaz, Roza with strict regularity). In case they failed in either, they too were liable to be punished for Qazf.

While there was a howl of protest from the civilised world including within Pakistan, the mullahs hailed and rejoiced over it and fully utilised it to go around molesting and raping women with impunity. Finally in 2006 the continued agitation by women’s rights activists led the Government to relent and dilute the medieval penalties to the victim for reporting rape. But before that the famous case of Mukhtaran Mai took place some distance from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad where the village elders’ council ordered a revenge gang rape of the poor lady where she was publicly stripped and subjected to repeated gangrape ostensibly on the trumped up charge that her adolescent brother had fled with a woman of rival tribe. It turned out that the members of the rival tribe who were more influential and prosperous than Mai’s, attempted to sodomise the poor boy and when he fled them they heaped the charge of the little one having attempted to seduce a woman from their tribe and thus the Mai rape supposedly as a retribution. To date her rapists are strutting around while Mukhtaran Mai is running around in courts for last 17 years.

Till the BJP came to rule this country with brute majority we thought such uncivilised behaviour was only symptomatic of medieval societies or those like that mullah in khaki and his fellow mullah cronies yearning to turn the wheel back to pre-modern era, also that India being a modern secular democracy with sufficient laws to protect women over all these years, despite many shortcomings, can’t be going down the Pakistan road.

But here we have the Chinmayanand case, This BJP leader, one time Minister of State for Home in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, who presided over the law and order of the entire nation has admitted, according to the police, of committing rape on the poor girl studying law in a college owned by this saffron clad Swami. But Swamiji is enjoying the comforts of an air conditioned private room in a hospital, for supposedly being unwell while the victim of repeated rapes who produced scores of video recordings of Swami’s atrocity, has been arrested and sent to jail by the magistrate on an uninvestigated complaint by Chinmayanad that she and her three friends, protecting her, demanded Rs 5 crore as extortion. This, while the Police also conceded that so far they found no evidence of any money exchanging hands. So in effect no extortion took place.

Since Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh the standards and norms of law enforcement by the police and even the judiciary have undergone visible mutation.

The famous Unnao case where in a Dalit girl was allegedly gangraped by a BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his associates took place on June 4, 2017, within months of Yogi take over. When she sought to file a case the Police instead of taking cognizance of the complaint instead implicated her father accusing him of committing rape upon his daughter and tortured him in custody to make him confess to the crime. Whereupon the girl travelled to the chief minister’s house in Lucknow and threatened on 8 April, 2018 to immolate herself. After which the Police deigned to take cognizance of her complaint. But by then the poor father had been so badly tortured that he died as a consequence immediately thereafter. After much reluctance and dilly dallying the Police finally arrested Sengar but in the meantime slapped all kind of cases against the girl’s uncle to put pressure on her to withdraw her complaint.

On 28 July the girl and her relatives along with her lawyer while travelling in a car to attend the court proceedings, met with what the Police described an accident, wherein a truck rammed in the car carrying her. As a result two of her relatives died on the spot. But the girl and the lawyer survived miraculously though with serious injuries and because the girl has written to the Chief Justice of India earlier of impending threat to her life from the accused and the law enforcing agencies the apex court finally took cognizance and ordered shifting the trial to Delhi and ordering the CBI to complete investigations within 45 days both in the original rape case as well in the so called accident case in which Sengar has been charged with conspiracy to murder the victim, along with CRPF security for the victim and her surviving family members. But 45 days are well past and the Supreme Court has been extending the deadline on each hearing and justice is nowhere in sight.

There is another trident carrying sadhu the MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj who incidentally went to console Sengar in jail. In his affidavit filed along with his nomination papers for the 2019 general elections, Sakshi admitted to two cases of rape registered against him. Old time journalists may recall that a lady principal of a private college had filed a police complaint in the year 2000 that while Sakshi was a BJP MP he and two of his nephews together repeatedly raped her. According to the complaint the woman and her male associate were allegedly assaulted by the godman when they were driving to Agra from Etah in an open jeep. She somehow fled their custody after being confined for over a month and then came over to Delhi to describe to the national media at the Press Club of India her ordeal at Sakshi Maharaj’s hands. The woman, a Brahmin college principal from Etah alleged that she was kidnapped by Sakshi and his men taken to Sakshi’s den where she was kept confined for over a month and subjected to daily torture by Sakshi and his two nephews. Sakshi had to spend sometime in Tihar jail too on that account.

In the year 2009, another rape complaint was filed against this Sadhu in Farrukhabad, by a disciple of his Ashram. “The woman is from Mainpuri and still maintains that Sakshi Maharaj had taken advantage of her and raped her in the ashram,” said Yogendra Singh Yadav, a Farrukhabad-based editor of a Hindi publication Yuva Peedhi. “When the case had gone to court, however, the police filed a report saying there was no rape.” Maharaj admitted to two rape cases against him, though not convicted in either of them.

But in ‘New India’ where the legal system seems to be moving on a parallel course to Zia’s Hudood Ordinance, what else to expect?

P.S.

The above article from Faraz Ahmad’s Blog is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use