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Do You Really Want To See Criminals In The Parliament? Here’s What You Can Do To Stop It

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By Bhanupriya Rao:

What the Supreme Court proposes, the Government disposes. In a manner that is not just brazen but entirely unconstitutional.

On July 10, 2013, The Supreme Court came out with a judgement that disqualified sitting MPs/MLAs if they were convicted by the court. On 4th September 2013, the Union of India filed a review petition on this judgement, which was rejected by the Supreme Court. Not satisfied, the Government tabled an amendment to the Representation of People’s Act in the Monsoon session of the Parliament in August 2013, which was subsequently referred to a parliamentary Standing Committee where it is meant to be deliberated.

ordinance

So it is a matter of grave concern and worry, when bypassing all these procedures, the cabinet cleared an Ordinance on the 24th of September to amend the same Act by overriding both the legislature and judiciary. Everything from the manner to the timing and content of the ordinance reeks of attempts to save the political interests of a few. It is widespread knowledge that Rashid Masood, a Congress MP and Lalu Prasad Yadav, a key UPA ally, stand to lose their seats in verdicts that are to be delivered in corruption cases on the 1st October and 3oth September respectively. The timing of the Ordinance is hardly a coincidence.

Ordinances are typically promulgated by the President of India in the rarest of rare cases when the Parliament is not in session and ‘when s/he is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action’. This is neither an exceptional circumstance nor an emergency like situation to merit an Ordinance bypassing the other two organs of our democracy. The only emergency, it is apparent, is the conviction of the two MPs and the need to secure their seats in the parliament.

The content of the Ordinance is equally troubling. It states that a member of Parliament or the Legislature of a State, duly convicted by a court of law, who is taking advantage of the ninety days grace period to file an appeal or application for revision, “…shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowance…” As Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar of ADR says ‘This raises a fundamental doubt about what is an MP or MLA supposed to do while s/he is in the Parliament or the Legislature of a State. The act of voting is thus the raison d’être of an MP or MLA being in the Parliament or the Legislature of a State. It may not be out of place to state that a legislator who cannot vote is in effect a non-legislator. To have people sitting in Parliament who are not allowed to vote, I believe, amounts to denigration of the hallowed institution of Parliament. If they cannot vote, they have no reason to be in the legislature.’

Every once in a while, progressive institutions like the Supreme Court pass judgements that have the potential of cleaning up our tainted political and electoral systems. At a time when faith in our public institutions and public servants in hitting nadir, this judgement should have been seen as an opportunity to further disinfect our politics. The Ordinance is just the move that demonstrates how serious the Government is in promoting progressive politics.

As young people, it is our right to demand a fairer and cleaner system. A legislature without criminals is the minimum we can hope, ask and demand for. For every progressive step taken, if we take a few hundred steps backward, we will fail to call ourselves an evolved democracy. We must protest against the ordinance and against any move that scuttles progressive politics.

Here is what you can do to make your voice heard:
Email the President of India at presidentofindia@rb.nic.in

You could also leave messages on his Facebook page

Here is a text of the letter sent by Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar. Feel free to use the text in parts or entirety.

Write directly to Sonia Gandhi and law Minister Kapil Sibal here

Arise and Act now!

You must be to comment.
  1. Vaishali Jain

    The rotten games the UPA is playing are disgusting.
    I’m glad the Supreme Court came up with this ruling to decriminalize politics, though. A landmark step, indeed.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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