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Bhopal gas disaster: Another year passes, core issues remain unaddressed

N.D. Jayaprakash

Another year has passed with most of the core issues facing the Bhopal gas victims remaining unaddressed even 37 years after the Union Carbide disaster of December 2 and 3, 1984.

The poisonous gas leak disaster had resulted in the eventual death of at least 25,000 victims and had caused injuries in varying degree to over 550,000 others. The escape of toxic fumes from a pesticide plant’s storage tank containing about 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) – an extremely hazardous chemical – had spread to about 40 sq kms of area and had affected two-thirds of the city’s then population of around 900,000.

The pernicious impact on flora and fauna in the affected area was equally grave. The pesticide plant was operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). UCIL was then controlled by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) – a company now owned by the Dow Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Dow Inc., a giant U.S. multinational chemical company. 

Unfortunately, even over three and half decades after the disaster, neither the State nor the Central Government has attempted either to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the ramifications of the disaster or to take necessary remedial measures. The Supreme Court assisted Settlement of 14/15 Feb, 1989 for a sum of 470 million U.S. dollars (then about Rs,705 crores) – based on the assumption that only around 3000 victims had died and another 102,000 had suffered injuries in varying degree – was a complete sham with each gas-victim being finally awarded less than one-fifth of the sum allotted even as per the terms of that unjust settlement.

For his valuable & selfless contributions in furthering the cause of the Bhopal gas victims, the Government of India conferred the 2020 Padma Shri Award posthumously to Abdul Jabbar, former Convener, Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan.  Jabbar’s wife, Sayra Bano, accepted the award from President of India Ramnath Kovind, at the award ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi on 8 November 2021.

The current status of issues such as health care, compensation, prosecution of the accused, remediation of the environment, etc., may be briefly recounted as follows: 

HEALTH CARE: Apart from the fact that a fairly large health-infrastructure has been built in terms of buildings and number of hospital beds (about 1000 beds exclusively for gas-victims) because of pressure exerted over the years by organizations supporting the cause of the Bhopal gas victims, the quality of health care in terms of investigation, diagnosis, treatment, research and record-keeping continue to be abysmal as ever. The persistent apathy of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Government of Madhya Pradesh in monitoring the health status of the Bhopal gas victims is shocking to say the least. They have failed to maintain proper medical records of hospitals and clinics through computerization and networking and have failed to supply health-booklet to each gas-victim with his/her complete medical record. That proper protocol for treatment of most gas-related ailments has not been evolved even 37 years after the disaster speaks volumes about the apathetic attitude of the concerned authorities in this regard. Mere symptomatic treatment and over-medication due to lack of proper monitoring has resulted in increasing number of renal failures among gas-victims. What is equally shocking is that even 37 years after the disaster, most of the gas-victims seeking treatment continue to be classed as “temporarily injured” in order to deny them enhanced compensation for permanent injury.  

Writ Petition (Civil) No.50 of 1998, which BGPMUS, BGIA and BGPSSS had filed on 14 January 1998 with pleas to restart disaster-related medical research, monitor & record health status of each gas-victim, improve health care facilities, develop appropriate protocol for treatment of each disaster-related ailment, etc., was upheld by the Supreme Court after 14 years of litigation on 9 August 2012. The Petitioners were further directed to pursue the matter before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh (as Writ Petition No.15658 of 2012), a task that BGPMUS & BGPSSS are actively engaged in at present. However, the matter continues to remain pending for the last nine years before the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur since the Union of India has repeatedly failed to comply with numerous directions of the Court. As a result, several critical health needs of the gas victims remain largely unattended even 37 years after the disaster. 

COMPENSATION: The failure on the part of the Supreme Court to hear the long-pending Curative Petition against the unjust settlement of 14/15 Feb, 1989, has had an adverse impact on the interests of the gas-victims. Curative Petition (Civil) Nos.345-347 of 2010, which was filed by the Union of India on 3 December 2010 to challenge the unjust settlement of 14/15 Feb, 1989 and to seek additional sum of at least another Rs.7728 crores as compensation was last listed before the Constitution Bench of the Court on 29 January 2020. However, the hearing was postponed to 11 February 2020. Sadly, the matter was never listed on that date or ever since then. Failure to dispose of the Curative Petition has also meant the indefinite postponement of the hearing of the Special Leave Petition [SLP(C) No.12893 of 2010] filed on 17 March 2010 by eight members of BGPMUS and BGPSSS seeking enhancement of settlement sum by a factor of five in terms of the magnitude of the disaster as assessed by the Claim Courts and in terms of the gravity of injuries suffered by the gas victims on the basis of their medical records. Failure to dispose of the pending Curative Petition and the SLP for over a decade has effectively denied the gas-victims several thousands of crores of additional compensation that they are legitimately entitled to.

CRIMINAL CASES: The pace at which the pending criminal cases against the perpetrators of the Bhopal disaster are proceeding is concerned, there is not the faintest hope that they would ever be prosecuted in their life time since the whole process has become an almost complete farce. On the thirty-seventh anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the gas-victims still fervently hope that all those who have the power to render justice to the gas-victims will not be found wanting in fulfilling their obligations.

ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION: The environment in and around the former Union Carbide pesticide plant continues to remain contaminated with toxic waste, which was stored/buried within the plant premises as well dumped in the solar evaporation pond (dug outside the plant and lined with thin plastic sheets) during the operation of the plant from 1976 to 1984. In a preliminary study titled “Assessment and Remediation of Hazardous Waste Contaminated Areas in and around M/s Union Carbide India Ltd., Bhopal” that was jointly carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, and the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, during 2009-2010, it was estimated that “the total quantum of contaminated soil requiring remediation amounts to 11,00,000 MT [metric tons](p.68). Another 345 tons of toxic waste is stored in a shed within the plant. Representatives of BGPMUS and BGPSSS met Shri Vishvash Sarang, Minister, Bhopal Gas Relief & Rehabilitation Department, on 29.11.2021 and urged him to take the initiative in holding a workshop of all concerned parties, including international experts, to propose ways and means to remediate the contaminated site. It is hoped that the State Government would respond positively to the proposal since necessary technical expertise is available for the purpose.

Under the Circumstances, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Sahyog Samiti have demanded:

  1. Speedy implementation of the Supreme Court Order dated 9 August 2012 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.50 of 1998, which had directed the Union of India to provide the best medical care to the gas-victims;
  1. Speedy Disposal of Curative Petition (Civil) Nos.345-347 of 2010, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of India, for enhancement of compensation and for remediation of the contaminated site in and around the UCIL plant at Bhopal;
  1. Setting up of a Special Court for speedy trial and prosecution of all the accused, who are responsible for causing the Bhopal disaster.
  1. Proper rehabilitation of all needy gas-victims, especially widowed gas-victims; and
  1. Provision of safe drinking water, free medical care and compensation to all victims of contaminated water and toxic waste.

Temple administration(s) in doldrums

Dr G Shreekumar Menon

Across India, in every State, irrespective of the political party in power, a common modus operandi of politicians has been to wrest control of Hindu places of worship, with an eye on diverting the Temple wealth and endless steady stream of offerings by devotees in the form of cash, gold and silver ornaments.

To give a veneer of legitimacy and camouflage diversion of Temple funds, many States have created organizations known as Devasthanams, Devasoms, Shrine Boards and so on to exercise full control over Hindu places of worship, while simultaneously exempting Mosques, Churches, Gurudwaras, Jain Derasars, Buddhist Temples, and Parsi Agiary, from any kind of government control.

Around 960 million Hindus of India thus have the mortification of seeing their Temples under complete government control.

Government control over Hindu Temples started during the British era and is being perpetuated in present day India by all political parties. Party bigwigs who cannot be accommodated in any Ministerial portfolio are nominated as Chairman of the Devasthanam or Devasom Boards, and small-time politicians are appointed as members of these Boards.

There is no kind of qualification or eligibility prescribed, for these posts, and the government in power, has the unchallenged liberty to nominate their favoured party functionaries. Temple Boards also get staffed by atheists, and non-Hindus, adding insult to injury for Hindu devotees. Though Temple administration is a highly specialized discipline, the choice of political appointees, has spelt doom for all Temples.

At the helm of affairs relating to Temples, there is a separate Ministry headed by a Minister and a Principal Secretary rank IAS officer, supported by a paraphernalia of staff of various ranks and designations. Officials at the top echelons of this Ministry and the Minister enjoy air-conditioned offices, swanky high-end chauffeur driven cars, all financed by the offerings of the devotees to different Temples. Funds are first utilized to meet the comforts of the Minister and the top officials. In bureaucratic circles the post of Principal Secretary of Ministry of Devasthanams/Devasom/HR&CE is non-sensitive and powerless, hence least sought after. Disinterested IASofficers occupy the post as a stop-gap arrangement and just kill time in this low-key assignment. The Minister and his cohorts freely misuse every facilityavailable for their personal aggrandizement. The money stuffed in Temple Hundis comes very handy for easy misappropriation.


Hundis are iron safes installed in Temples before the deities to enable devotees to deposit cash offerings of their choice.

The cash offerings range from substantial funds to insignificant coins, depending on the financial status of each devotee. But the enormous crowds that throng Temples, means that the cash collections in Hundis are generally sizeable. Depending on the importance of the Temple, Hundis are emptied, at periodic intervals in a day or week or month. Thus, Temples like Tirupati, Sabarimala, Guruvayur, Palani, Madurai Meenakshi, Siddhi Vinayak, Shirdi Sai Sansthan, which witness heavy pilgrim traffic year, witness record Hundi collections. These cash collections are counted inside secluded spaces, and are not accessible to general public. The final figure announced in the media is simply accepted as true and correct. Misappropriation of Hundi money is thus not detected, but widely suspected by the devotees.

The number of Hundis installed in Temples is numerous. These are strategically and prominently placed inside and outside Temples, in front of every Deity, so that gullible devotees can keep putting cash or keep getting pricks of conscience for not giving any offering to the Lord. This also raises another important question as to why digital mode of payment is not being facilitated in Temples. Obviously, this would mean that all funds received would be duly accounted for, making illegal diversion of funds difficult. A major portion of Temple associated corruption would vanish if Hundis are dispensed with.

Another major source of corruption is in the manufacture and sale of Temple Prasad. Many major Temples have their identity associated with a specific Prasad product, for example – Tirupati is famous for its ladoo, many other Temples have distinct types of Kheers, and so on.

Nowadays mass production of Prasad delicacies is the norm to cater to the heavy demand. Politicians have introduced government method of calling for lowest tenders and contract supplies of Prasad. Heavy corruption is involved in procurement of supplies and award of contracts. There is also the associated problem of supply of sub-standard quality products and adulterated food products.

Kerala is facing a peculiar problem in that for the Kheer produced at Sabarimala Temple, it has come to light that ‘Halal’ certified products are being used. Halal process itself is in the eye of a storm, as human spit is used to sanctify the food.

Another question is why ‘Halal’ products are being used for Hindu Temple products? These kinds of issues are occurring because of utter callousness and poor knowledge of Hindu beliefs, customs and traditions onthe part of Temple administrators.

This brings us to another major question of why no educational qualifications are not prescribed for the Minister, Chairman, Executive Officer and other top functionaries? There is no proper and transparent selection. Party officials are accommodated and many openly proclaim their atheistic beliefs and, in some States, non-Hindus are being nominated. For purposes of deception, many converted Hindus to foreign religions, retain their Hindu names and caste identities. Such people because of their political clout manage to get appointed to lucrative Temple administration posts. Many Temples are over staffed with party cadres, and associations have been formed based on party ideologies. When such instances get media attention, there is widespread resentment and religious sentiments of devotees get hurt.

Many of these administrators are constantly on the lookout for ways and means to clandestinely alienate Temple assets in the form of lands, gold and silver ornaments. All sorts of diktats are being issued to melt
gold and silver ornaments and monetize these assets, and also pledge them. Unfortunately, when such issues are agitated before Courts, the fundamental question as to why only Hindu places of worship are being run by the government, is not addressed.

Funds collected by States from Temples is to the tune of several hundreds of crores of rupees, every year. There is no proper accountal or auditing of the funds, as illegal diversions and misappropriation is rampant. Specialized auditing firms or the Comptroller & Auditor General should be auditing the Temple funds, as revenue involved is to the tune of several hundred crores, mostly in cash. However, as Temple management is a State subject, poor quality auditing is the norm.

Only liberation of each and every Temple from the clutches of State control can resolve the issue of mismanagement of Temples. The Courts are fully aware of the plight of Hindu Temples and the total independence enjoyed by every other religion in India.

The Constitutional Right to Worship and the Right to administer their places of worship of nearly 960 million of Hindus is at stake, and pending before Courts. This will be the biggest pending litigation in the world and Hindus across the world should unite to resolve this continuous injustice faced by them, ever since the days of the British raj.

The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is

  • Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
  • Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
  • Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA 
  • Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
  • AOTS Scholar, Japan

Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at

Case for liberating Hindu temples in India

Dr G Shreekumar Menon,

Despite 70 years of Independence, Hindu Temples inIndia continue to languish under complete government control. Nowhere else in the world is a place ofworship under government control, India is the only
country having the dubious distinction of having the Hindu Temples throttled by the government.

Special organizations have been set up called Devasthanam,Devasom, Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department, Muzrai Department, only to implement and oversee all Temple appointments, supervise the diversion of funds collected in Hundis (Donation box) impose language restrictions for use in Temple chantings and incantations, levy entry fees of all kinds just to pray to the Almighty, fix tariff for offerings and Prasadams (food and sweet dishes which are offered to Gods and later distributed to devotees), even levy fixed rates for keeping footwear, and parking of motor vehicles of devotees. Toll is fixed for entry into Temple Towns, bus routes are monopolized and exorbitant charges levied on pilgrims, commercial rates levied for electricity, and water used in the Temples.

Even the Jizya imposed by Muslim rulers on Hindus pales into insignificance when we see the financial torment that Hindus have to undergo in independent India just to pray to their Gods and Goddesses.

Which other community in the world is subjected to multiple financial burdens just to pray? Which other community in the world has the mortification to pray from a distance, while VVIP’s, VIP’s and those who are compelled to cough up hefty fees for different types of ‘Darshan’, can go nearer to the sanctum sanctorum and pray? Temple funds are utilized for construction of VIP guest houses and given free to visiting politicians,
bureaucrats and other administrators. Temple funds are invested to buy fancy high-end cars for use by the Chairman and Trustees of the Temple Boards, free fuel, driver and other staff. From Vaishno Devi Temple in
Kashmir to Devi Kanyakumari Temple in the extreme South, from Siddhi Vinayak Temple in the West to Kamakhya Temple in the East, it is the same story of absolute government control in the form of highly
politicized Temple Boards, manned by political appointees who are Chairman, Trustees, Administrators, Executive Officers and so on and
whose only agenda is extracting money from the devotees in as many ways as possible, for ultimate diversion for non-Temple uses. For the past seventy years, ever since Independence, Hindu Temples are strangulated by political parties of all hues and ideologies. Yet, India advertises to the whole world that the citizens of India enjoy right to equality, enjoy religious freedom, and zero discrimination.

In the past seventy years many Hindu Temples have been forcibly taken over by various State Governments using brute police force.

For purposes of take-over, fake allegations of corruption are levelled against the Temple authorities, allegations of mismanagement by Trustees are levelled and a complete take-over is engineered. The take-over itself is a brute exhibition of Police power. Officials make a surprise entry into the Temple, seize Temple records, resisting devotees are beaten up and arrested. Temple lands and property are alienated, and even atheists and non-Hindus get appointed to various posts
for Temple administration.

While every other religious community in India gets unrestricted liberty and freedom to administer their places of worship, Hindus are denied this liberty. Only Hindus are compelled to pay GST (Goods & Services
Tax) on the Prasadams while no other religious community has to pay taxes.

The sordid saga of Government control over Temples began with the British government introducing the Madras Regulation VII of 1817, with multiple hidden agendas of looting Temple wealth. However, Temples were restored back to the Trustees in 1840. Thereafter, The Religious Endowments Act 1863, was enacted which enabled handing over temple administration to the trustees from the British government. This arrangement continued till the British introduced The Madras Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1925. When Muslims and Christians protested, the British capitulated and redrafted the provisions, and excluded them, and made it applicable to Hindus only and renamed the new enactment as the Madras Hindu Religious and Endowments Act 1927. Another draconian enactment was made by way of Act XII of 1935, through which temples could be notified by the government and their administration taken over. This way the Hindu Religious Endowment Board assumed powers to take over and administer temples, as the political masters willed. Even after Independence, this draconian Act was never repealed but used by
governments in all States to throttle Temples in every possible way, while fully exempting every other religious community from this obnoxious treatment.

In 2025, just another four years away, India will be observing 100 years of completion of the Madras Religious and Charitable Endowments Act 1925, the parent Act that brought many Hindu Temples under British control, which many Indian State Governments are assiduously and rigorously implementing to keep Hindu Temples constrained and suppressed and reducing many Temples to penury.

Is one century of Temple subjugation not sufficient?

Nowhere else in the world has any community’s places of worship been kept subjugated, continuously for nearly a century. Lakhs of Hindu Temples across the country continue to be brazenly subjugated by various State Governments through puppet bodies and their political appointees, and they have the brazen audacity and shameless hypocrisy to pontificate to the world about religious freedom, equality and non-discrimination. The United Nations turns a Nelson’s eye when it comes to the plight of Hindus, while proclaiming that Freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) is a human right, recognized by the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion. Hindus constitute roughly 79.8% of the total population, and the total subjugation of lakhs of Temples is not condemned by the United Nations, U.S. Department of State – Office of International Religious Freedom, EU-India Human Rights Dialogue. The United Nations Human Rights declares that Freedom of religion or belief is guaranteed by article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Does not subjugation of lakhs of Hindu Temples only by the government for nearly a century, constitute religious discrimination? The international community which is very aggressive in denouncing any kind of governmental intrusion that takes place in the places of worship of other communities, maintains a studied silence, when it comes to the discrimination faced by Hindus.

Temples are there even in Islamic countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and many Western countries, with absolutely zero interference by the governments. Why only in India the Hindus have to be discriminated and
their religious rights trampled upon? In the USA, which is also a democracy like India, there are innumerable Hindu Temples, they all function with absolutely zero interference by the government. What is applicable in democratic USA, why can’t it be applicable in democratic India?

If one visits any Hindu Temple in India, which is controlled by the Government, the most conspicuous feature is the sight of Hundis (Donation boxes) in every prominent place, as also in every nook and corner.

Most Temples can boast of more Hundis than the Temple Deities! The aim is to fleece the pilgrims to the maximum extent possible. The gullible Hindus keep stuffing the Hundis with coins and currency notes, that
in many famous Temples, the Hundis need to be replaced with fresh replacement within a span of a few hours. The counting of cash is done away from public scrutiny; hence nobody knows the exact cash collected.
Illegal diversions are rampant. Very rich devotees offer gold ornaments, silver, precious stones, and these get advertised prominently in the media in order to influence devotees to make similar donations. Very
often reports appear in newspapers of jewellery being stolen, missing, or replaced with fake gold. Hundis being ransacked is a common happening. Still, the gullible Hindus keep dumping cash and valuables in Temples, brazenly defying the Lord’s words in the Bhagavad Gita 9.26. “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.”

In no other country in the world does the government knock off the offerings given by devotees in places of worship, such daylight robbery happens only in India and that too only Hindu Temples are targeted. Indian politicians should hang their heads in shame for fooling the whole world that India does not discriminate on grounds of race, religion, language. In fact, India needs to rename the country as the only Discriminating Democracy in the whole world!

Many State Governments have compelled the Temple priests not to use Sanskrit language for prayers, incantations and mantras, instead use only local language. If other communities are permitted to use the language of their scriptures, why are Hindus being discriminated? Article 29 of the Constitution of India mandates that no discrimination would be done on the ground of religion, race, caste, language or any of them. But then, why in many Hindu Temples, in many States, Mantras are not permitted to be said in Sanskrit? Indian Constitution guarantees so many rights and privileges but when it comes to Temples, every right becomes infructuous for the Hindus of India. If the Hindu in USA can get a Mantra recited for his benefit in Sanskrit in a Temple, why in India such a right is denied? The U.S. government does not compel the Hindu priest to tell prayers in English, even Islamic countries like Malaysia and Indonesia never compel any Hindu Temples to use their language. There is absolute freedom of worship to use any language. And India has the audacity to hypocritically announce to the world that there is no discrimination in India on the ground of language.

Government is also auctioning the gold and silver offerings given by devotees for ‘monetization’. Why should Temple assets and ornaments be sold? Does any other government anywhere else in this world auction the moveable and immoveable properties of any community’s place of worship in the name of monetization? In USA or elsewhere no government is lifting the moveable and immoveable properties of any
community’s place of worship for ‘monetization’? Why is such high handedness happening in India and that too targeted only on Hindu Temples?

The increasing intrusive restrictions and monetary controls being perpetrated only on Hindu Temples, has still not attracted the attention of international human rights associations. The United Nations is focussed only with religious freedoms of minorities, hence it has lost
track of the injustice perpetrated on Hindus of India. India is the only country in the world where the Hindu majority is dispossessed of its Temples, their moveable and immoveable assets, and subjected to language restrictions. The United Nations Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which has recommended putting India on a list of CPCs or Countries of Particular Concern for the second year in a row due to the violations of religious freedoms in the year 2020, is not concerned about the iniquities perpetrated on the Hindus. The International Religious Freedom Report 2021 focuses on two groups of countries, namely, Countries of Particular Concern and Special Watch List Countries. It also focusses on the Entities of Particular Concern, but these do not take into consideration the circumscribing of Hindu religious establishments, practices and freedom.  

Though the Constitution of India proclaims all kinds of freedoms like:

  • Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.
  • Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs.
  • Article 27: Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion.
  • Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.
  • Article 29: Any citizen/section of citizens having distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same. No discrimination would be done on the ground of religion, race, caste, or language.
  • Article 30: All minorities, whether based on religion orlanguage, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

However, none of the above are made applicable to approximately 80% of the population comprising Hindus. In reality, Hindu Temples are annexed with impunity by most State Governments, their properties both moveable and immoveable usurped and alienated illegally, language restrictions imposed in violation of Constitutional guarantees. Though the religious freedom of nearly 960 million Hindus is at stake, and
various Courts are seized of the matter for the last several decades, justice for the Hindu community, is not readily forthcoming.

If the extraordinary plight of the Hindus of India is taken note of by international agencies, including United Nations, India’s world ranking for religious freedom would be at rock bottom among the comity of nations. India would be competing with the Chinese which has imposed multi-layered system of controls over Tibetan Buddhism.

India’s vast network of centuries old Temples, Ashrams and Mutts have been a central component of economic, social, political, and religious life of the Hindus. The unique religious traditions of the Hindus, their religious texts, dances, tantric practices, Temple arts and sciences, and philosophical debates typically involves making offerings at temples, reciting prayers, maintaining a home shrine, celebrating annual festivals, and completing pilgrimages to sacred sites. All these are regulated and controlled by specially set-up government institutions like Devasthanams and various Shrine Boards, which are all politically dominated by the ruling party in power. They are actively involved in
instituting anti-Hindu measures or turning a blind eye to many infractions that occur routinely, which hurt the sentiments of lakhs of believers.

The international community, especially U.S.A. needs to take cognizance of the nearly century old control only over Hindu Temples in India, and help in liberating them from the clutches of political parties. All Non-Resident Indians (NRI’s) can start an active international campaign to liberate Hindu Temples from control of State Governments. Many Universities in U.S.A. can take up Temple control in India as living examples of religious discrimination and circumscribing the right to freedom of religion. A mass international media campaign to liberate Temples from government clutches and seeking intervention by United Nations is the need of the hour.

The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is

  • Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
  • Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
  • Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA 
  • Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
  • AOTS Scholar, Japan

Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at

Judges must exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in the courtrooms: Ram Nath Kovind

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: “It is incumbent upon the judges to exercise utmost discretion in their utterances in the courtrooms. Indiscreet remarks, even if made with good intention, give space for dubious interpretations to run down the judiciary.”

President of India Ram Nath Govind made.tbis observation on Saturday 27 November. He was addressing the vale doctor function of the Constitution Day celebrations organised by the Supreme Court in the Capital.

The President said that in Indian tradition, judges are imagined as a model of rectitude and detachment more akin to ‘sthitpragya’. We have a rich history of legions of such judges known for their utterances full of sagacity and conduct beyond reproach, which have become hallmarks for the future generations. He was happy to note that the Indian judiciary has been adhering to those highest standards. He said that there is no doubt that the judiciary has set for itself a high bar.

The President said that we are legatees of an illustrious history in which legal luminaries not only shaped the national movement but also created a prototype of a selfless public figure. Right from the beginning, the judiciary consistently conformed to those highest standards of conduct while discharging its responsibility. In people’s view, it is the most trusted institution. He said that it pains him no end, therefore, to note that of late there have been cases of some disparaging remarks against the judiciary made on social media platforms. These platforms have worked wonderfully to democratise information, yet they have a dark side too. The anonymity granted by them is exploited by some miscreants. He expressed hope that this is an aberration and it will be short-lived. He said that he wondered what could be behind this phenomenon. He asked if we can collectively examine the reasons behind it for the sake of a healthy society.

Speaking about the cost of justice, the President said that in a developing country like ours, a very small section of the citizens can afford to knock on the doors of the court of justice. From lower courts to the Supreme Court, it becomes increasingly difficult for an average citizen to seek redressal of grievances. He said that there are individuals and also institutions that offer pro bono services. The Supreme Court too has taken praiseworthy steps in this direction. He wished to see increased access to legal aid and advisory services for all. He said that it can take the form of a movement or the form of a better institutionalised mechanism.

Pointing to the long pendency of cases, the President said that all stakeholders appreciate the enormity of this challenge and its implications. He said that he knew much has been written about it, and pertinent suggestions have been made to address the issue. Yet, the debate continues and the pendency keeps increasing too. Ultimately, the citizens and organisations that have grievances bear the brunt. The issue of pendency has ramifications for economic growth and development too. It is high time all stakeholders find a way out by keeping national interest above all. Technology can be a great ally in this process. He noted that the Supreme Court has taken numerous initiatives in this regard. The pandemic has hastened the adoption of information and communication technology in the domain of the judiciary. He expressed confidence that young minds in this field would further propel the use of computers and the internet to serve the cause of justice and to serve the citizens.

“Constitution Day is a great festival of our democracy. It is a day to reiterate our debt to the known and unknown men and women who made it possible for us to lead our lives in a free republic. It is also a day to reiterate our commitment to keep walking on the path they forged for us”, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind. He was delivering the valedictory address at the Constitution Day Celebrations, being organised by the Supreme Court of India to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India in New Delhi today (November 27, 2021).

The President said that the Constitution is the roadmap of our collective journey. At the core of it are Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The Preamble expands the notion of justice to include its social, economic and political aspects. That is what the Constitution wants us to secure for all citizens of India. Justice is the critical fulcrum around which democracy revolves. It gets further strengthened if the three institutions of the state – the judiciary, the legislature and the executive – are in a harmonious existence. In the Constitution each institution has its defined space within which it functions.