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Why Is Our Apex Court Shrouded In Secrecy?

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Over the years, the Apex Court of India along with the other prominent establishments of the society has upheld its secrecy, and the solidarity exhibited by the citizens for a certain community of a society!

In the verdict of the Supreme Court of India, we all saw how the bench decided on, not to uncover the internal incidents and resisted bringing about statements on judges publically and condemned Prashant Bhushan for his comments on corruption in the judiciary.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi presided over his own sexual harassment trial.

Abuse Of Power In The Apex Court

It’s been ages since we have been reading about the pending cases in the various courts of the judicial institution. How justice is delayed, how time-consuming trials are and how great muscle and power at junctures reverse the verdict of the trials moreover. It is not the first time when the Supreme Court has appeared with a similar judgement.

We have witnessed identical happenings in earlier years also; when the previous sitting justice, CJI of India was charged with sexual harassment and he came to be the judge of the trial during hearing sessions.

Later the bench declared charges on Ranjan Gogoi to be untrue. The attitude which the Supreme Court exhibited towards the allegations of sexual harassment, brought in scepticism against the establishment of the Supreme Court of India, and the crisis prevailing on the democratic essence of our institutions. But this hasn’t been the only case, we have seen how the Apex Court of India has done it previously too.

A comparable example of the land acquisition case involving Justice Arun Mishra made headlines too. Amidst the calls for recusal, he maintained his own verdict on the land acquisition case, and explained accepting the plea for recusal will “sound a death knell” for the “independent system of justice delivery”.

What compels the most prominent organisations of the world’s largest democracy to deny the further hearings and inhibit the hearings of their internal members to themselves. In a quite straightforward and the very initial explanation of democracy we read up Democracy as “of the people, by the people, for the people.

A Lack Of Accountability

Why do the judges, while residing on the topmost hierarchy of an organisation, restrict their subject to the courtrooms? Why are the arguments carried out within the locked doors and why don’t any recordings take place? After attaining a specific position, aren’t they accountable to the people of the country?

In a parallel structure, we have noticed how the military judiciaries are divided, likewise. They can define their justice pattern but the disparities in the military courtroom have undergone their own share of contempt. How at duration, justice has been denied and the lower grade officers endured more regarding the higher grade authorities.

The circumstances between Prashant Bhushan’s (pictured above) and Justice Karnan’s contempt of court cases were wildly different.

Aren’t people answerable to the event and occurrences continuing in the society? Or the prosecutions and punishments of a regular human are the only active discussed subject? Our institutions have to present itself with an answer for every query that lies in the mind of an ordinary man. The current judgement of the Supreme Court of India has put forward uncertainty about the existing functioning of the institution, the status of the democratic system of our country and the possibility forward.

Caste Hierarchies In The Judicial System

However, while criticising the Supreme Court of India, how adequately have we criticised ourselves for our selected solidarity?  The backing surfacing Prashant Bhushan is praiseworthy. But, where was the similar support when Justice Karnan was sentenced to six months in jail?

When Prashant Bhushan himself, cheered the judgement on a similar subject, Contempt of Court. When he tweeted and approved the judgement over the uniform case without requesting for further analysis. What was Bar Association of India doing at that juncture, where was the widespread resentment from the citizens on Twitter? Or these stands are exclusive only for the privileged sections of a specific community?

Justice Karnan was one of the limited Dalit judges that we have in our nation in the upper hierarchy, he has been on records for underlining the disparities between the branches of the judiciary. We have caught a glimpse of his journey from the judge of the Madras High Court to be the one of Calcutta High Court, how he was transferred, what incidents occurred at his term, how he was condemned to six months of imprisonment.

A percentage of us would defend ourselves by explaining, we weren’t active formerly and Twitter wrath wasn’t a huge trend back then.  Regardless, this won’t pass the charge. We have observed how the people from the lowermost caste structure are treated throughout the country, not by all but clearly by the majority. The solidarity has been unfailingly for one section of the community most of the times.

From Ambedkar to Justice Karnan, we as a society, honestly, haven’t changed much.

We grow from our understandings, we comprehend from our familiarities, and our stances get constructed in that manner. I am not saying circumstances have been manageable for Mr Bhushan but the circumstances would have been terrible for Mr Karnan. And we have to recognize that, as a society, and amend the nature of the caste structure along with the various prevailing patterns of the society. Not when our heart desires. Not when the table has changed course. The battle isn’t solely to uphold the Democracy, the effort should be to get rid of all the wrongs of the society.

If you believe what’s going on is awry, if you sense the Apex Court of India sets itself, before the citizens, if you see Contempt of Court restricts our freedom of speech…then speak up, irrespective of your favouritism, privileges and specific solidarity.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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