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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Have you heard about CLAT 2015?

Last evening’s episode of The Blacklist showed, among other things, a judge pursuing with commendable diligence the matter of delivering justice in a murder case. The person under suspicion is an FBI agent. Many agencies are interested in the case being hushed up and the agent not getting indicted in the murder case. The judge refuses to buckle under pressure but in the end has to give in and the case is completely swept under the carpet.

Something uncannily and eerily similar has happened to CLAT 2015. For thousands of students aspiring to be lawyers the Common Law Admission Test is the code they need to crack to get admission to the national law universities. Every year the test is conducted by one of the sixteen national law universities, in descending order of seniority. The university conducting the test becomes the CLAT body for the duration of the period covering the exam and admission process. This year the exam was conducted by the Ram Manohar National Law University, Lucknow. 

When the 40,000 students who had written the exam came out of their respective test centres at 5 pm on May 10 their faces were sombre. Most of them knew that something drastically wrong had happened. Within minutes there was an outpouring on social media about the number of errors, plagiarism and about some coaching centres in Lucknow being in the know about the paper. 

When, after a public outcry, the test papers were finally mailed to the students it became clear that the paper had about 35 errors. Questions were either wrongly /ambivalently framed or the answers to the questions were wrong. The VC of RMNLU Lucknow and the convenor of CLAT were questioned about the errors but refused to accept that the paper had errors. 

There was a flurry of activity and cases against CLAT were filed in the Allahabad High Court, the Rajasthan High Court, the Kerala High Court, the Mumbai High Court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In each case the honourable Judges took cognisance of the grievous harm done to the students, directed CLAT to constitute an expert panel to look into the matter of errors and ordered that the admission procedure be put on hold till the final verdict. CLAT however, being made of sterner stuff, steam rolled on and did everything it was not supposed to do. So, counselling rounds, merit list, up gradation of the list, final admission list and then the closure of the procedure all took place. 

Now for the interesting and  eerie part. What did the different High Courts do in the face of this clear violation of their directives and orders? Nothing .  

Tracking the Courts
 Allahabad High Court:Complete blackout after  May  25,2015. No closure report.
Punjab and Haryana High Court:on  July 14 the panel of experts  report was submitted by CLAT. The report said that the experts could spot no error. The hon’ble  Judge said that even he could  spot the obvious errors but no action taken.  Complete blackout after July 15,2015.
Bombay High Court: case filed on June 20. Hearings  held on June 25, 30 and once in July. The court had to look into experts panel report on July 14, 2015 but again a complete blackout and no final order passed.
Rajasthan High Court: case filed on June 10. After a couple of   hearings complete blackout in July
Kerala High Court ordered a stay in June on the admission process. Completely silent after CLAT went ahead with the admissions.

 In The Blacklist the judge gives in to the immense pressure but even in this process of submission he gives the case a closure. He leaves the people in the courtroom under no ambiguity about his displeasure at the order he is passing. Is it asking for too much when one wishes that a similar closure had been given to the cases filed against CLAT? If nothing was going to be done or said then why were the cases  filed? Why was the valuable time of the hon’ble judges wasted in a process that was as farcical as it was pointless?

And now the last question: is what happened in this case the norm for other cases too?  Immense pressure from certain quarters and then a deafening silence?
 Of course we will have no answers to any of the questions.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Of some questions about a quality called Honesty


My father, a judge, was a man of habits. He smoked three cigarettes a day, ate cornflakes with milk for breakfast and never failed to regale his family of five daughters and one wife with tales of his honesty. “…and I told him if I ever saw his face in my chamber again I would get him arrested for attempting to bribe an honest officer”. The temptation he had so nobly resisted in this particular case was a sum of 50k, a princely sum some thirty five years back. The stories were  invariably told over dinner and  left  such an indelible impression on my young mind that till date the combination of piping hot paranthas and matar paneer, father's favorite vegetable, invariably seduces  me into letting loose a diatribe on the need for honesty in public and private life......  

That was till one day my teenage son interrupted me to say, ever so seriously, that may be if nana had been slightly less honest nani may not have had to lead the tough life she led .Shocked, I opened my mouth to ask if all my years of trying to inculcate moral values in him had come to nought when the look of distress in his eyes stopped me in my tracks. Here was a boy who had adored his grandmother and felt rotten every time he saw her worrying about finances. He would have rather seen her  carefree and nana dishonest than the other way round. For him  honesty was as over rated as a multi starrer big budget bollywood movie. Simply put it was all hype and no substance.

'But...' I all but spluttered, ' it doesnt mean that one just wishes away an important value like honesty. It...'.
The son looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Mum, could you please answer two simple questions:
a. What is honesty? b. Is there anyone in public life who is honest today?'

Readers- I need to get back to him regarding these two questions. All answers will be welcome.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Power Means Never Having to say you are Sorry

When  the  Ryan O'Neal, Ali MacGraw  starrer Love Story was released in the 1970’s it went on to gain  cult status, not only for the gorgeous O’Neal and leggy MacGraw  but also for its preppy dialogues. A dialogue which became an anthem for the flower children of that period was Love means never having to say you are sorry. So, it was used in all the tear jerker, angst driven moments of youth: while making up with the best friend or showing noble forgiveness to the ass hole dumping you.

Love Story and its dialogues may have become passé for a generation swooning over vampires and idolizing boy heroes vanquishing those who shall not be named but clearly not for our politicians. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari political families have bequeathed not only petis of hard cash to the next in line but also a paraphrased version of the iconic last liner. Obviously the grand dads and moms who had sneaked in a peek at the movie while studying at Yale (why Yale? couldn’t resist that one Ms Irani !) smelled a good thing and after themselves latching on to it like a limpet gave a clarion call to the sons, bahus and grand children about never letting go of it. They knew even back then, helped I am sure by prescient family purohits, that a time would come when media would cease to mean a few power loyal retainers but instead would resemble a pack of hungry hounds baying for the truth, led by an earnest bespectacled figure waving sheaves of white paper .

That the paraphrased line, power means never having to say you are sorry, has been the leitmotif of political life is amply visible to all. Mrs Indira Gandhi talked about everything under the sun, gave interviews by the dozen to Indian and foreign media but did she ever say sorry for the imposition of, and excesses during, emergency? Or for unleashing her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi, on the people and giving him a free hand to pursue projects close to his heart such as forcible sterilisation?  Did her elder son, after publicly humiliating a serving officer and forcing him to put in his papers, ever tender an equally public apology? Did Rahul Gandhi agree on hindsight that he should not have termed the ordinance, cleared by the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on convicted politicians as "nonsense" that "should be torn up and thrown away”?

It would be wrong to single out the members of the dynasty alone. Manmohan Singh has remained ever and anon mum on the coal block allocation; Shiela Dixit on CWG; Mamata Banerjee on her infamous remark on a sensitive issue such as rape- she said rape is on the rise because men and  women interact with each other more freely. Gulam Nabi Azad as health minister called homosexuality a disease; an optimistic Sushil Shinde as home minister said,’ The public forgot Bofors, soon they will forget this(Coal Scandal) as well’ and Mulayam Singh Yadav ,excusing rape, said ‘boys will be boys’.

What is surprising is that the Bhartiya Janta Party has, in a marked departure from bhartiya values, also cottoned on to the fact that it is manlier to strut a 56” chest than to show contrition. In 2013 Narendra Modi tendered an apology for the Gujarat riots of 1969 and 1985 which took place under Congress governments but not for the riots of 2002. The BJP’s sadhvis and other sorority have spent much of 2014 and 2015 mouthing utterly startling statements. Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje have till date not admitted to any impropriety; Smriti Irani has not apologized for submitting an affidavit with a ‘typo’ error; Pankaja Munde is clear that she did no wrong; Shivraj Singh Chouhan is insouciantly going about his daily chores in a state where corpses are tumbling out almost daily …..

Even more surprising is the fact that the Aam Aadmi Party has also joined the power play party. Surprising because Arvind Kejriwal should know the power of saying sorry since it was his repentance and remorse that got him a clear mandate in the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. Post the results, an obviously quick learner; Arvind kept shielding his law minister, Tomar, till the absolute last moment of truth. Even after that what emerged was not an apology but the shifting of blame to Tomar who ‘kept him in the dark’. It is early days but the AAP shows tremendous promise for following the script.

In Love Story Ryan O'Neal’s father is the villain of the piece in the moistened eyes of the viewer for much of the movie. He redeems himself   in the climatic scene by saying ‘sorry’. The son hugs him and says,’ Love means….’.
Will our politicians ever realize that a lot will be forgiven if we get to hear that one word?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Ecstatic Congress Plans Merger of all Political Parties. Group to be called G 420

 The Congress party announced today that it has sent out invitations to all political parties of India for a mega event to be held sometime in early July. The party spokesperson, Mr Ranjay Kha , said that the party high command felt that recent events had shown that all parties shared the same ideology and beliefs and hence should come together as one . He informed that the merged parties would be known as G 420.

Faking News had been getting news from sources that from the time the Lalit Modi scandal broke out and exposed the humanitarianism of the ministers and chief ministers of the BJP led government an ecstatic Congress had gone into a huddle. Till the scandal the GOP had felt that the BJP lacked the ‘human’ touch and that the two had nothing in common. “Now that it is clear that the ruling party is as ready to help those in distress as the Congress has always been there is no reason why the two should be so far apart. Hum Saath Saath hai sounds so much better than Dooriyan , especially when unity has been the leitmotif of Indian society ” , a political heavy weight of the Congress revealed. He added that the rest of the parties in India, including the AAP, had already been invited since they fulfilled the basic criteria of scams and taints.

When this reporter asked Ranjay Kha how the moniker G 420 had been zeroed in on, a visibly proud Kha revealed that it was the brain child of the party vice president. “ Rahul ji, during his twenty second chintan manthan for the year- this one in Honolulu, got the idea. It occurred to him when he was swimming with the , er, mermaids . Rahul ji did not want to be accused of plagiarism and so instead of G 20 he came up with G 420. Also, we in India do have so many national and regional parties that 420 seems to be way more appropriate than 20”.

Faking News tried to get the BJP spokesperson to confirm the above. However, all attempts to get Hambit Ratra to verify the super merger failed. An uncharacteristically coy Ratra only agreed to say ‘ No comments’. Meanwhile , owls and other intelligent creatures have sighted unusual activity in and around the Times Now studio. It seems loudspeakers and super effective microphones are being flown in for the studio head and for the guests who will be asked to cower , sorry come, to the studio.