Two recent 'judgments' by the Hon. Supreme Court has created tremendous amounts of unrest and soul-searching amongst all those working for equality & justice in this country, and all the groups supporting the struggles of oppressed / poor / dispossesd people.
1) Niyamgiri (in Orissa) Bauxite mining case :-- In the case against Vedanta group, after the group was black-listed by the Norwegein govt. for their large scale violations of both human rights and environmental laws, the Supreme Court of India took notice and said that "national resources" like large bauxite deposits can't be handed over to such bad pvt. companies.
In the same judgment, the court 'recommended' that Sterlite -- a subsidiary company of Vedanta which is the 'black-liste'd holding company - can go ahead and do this !! And the issue of whether Sterlite can or cannot mine was not under judicial review in the 1st place !!
The issues of ---
- the Rights of the tribal people / Forest Dwellers,
- of large scale human rights violations going on there,
- about the possibility of total devastation of a very sesitive & fragile eco-system of
dense forests & sparkling rivers,
- about the intimate relationship of the forest dwellers with this "hill of law (Niyam)",
- about the real need for such an extremely energy-intensive material like Aluminum
(which is also a bio-accumulative toxin) ----
none were considered important by the wise judges !!!
2) In a more recent judgment (1st week of Sept.), the Supreme Court "gave a very wide meaning" (as reported in the euphoric english press) to the definition of "public purpose", by including in it any private project which is to earn foreign exchange, gives a boost to GDP, gives some employment (no questions about how many livelihoods it displaces) !!
Thus, the State can forcibly evict land holders to acquire their land under its power of "eminent domain", if you or me is to set up a private industry on that land, earning some foreign exchange, and employing some people -- not even necessarily those being forcibly evivted from their land & livelihood !!!
This forcibly acquired land at low cost from farmers etc, can then be handed over at some profit (by the state, as is happenning at most places) - but still at subsidised rates compared to immdt future values (as evidenced around all "big projects") -- to private industrialists / business groups, so that they can "earn forign exchange" or "boost the GDP" or give some employment !!
The earlier "narrower interpretation" (again, the media's gleeful ex-pression) of "public purpose", where the State could acqire large tracts of land for such puposes were OK only if every component of the 'project' to be set up on the acquired land 'passed the test of public benefit'.
The Supreme court -- in its judgment in the case against Andhra Pradesh Govt. for its large scale land acquisition in the periphery of Hyderabad, for setting up a business-cum-leisure tourism centre (!!!) -- departed from the "earlier narrower" interpretation of Public Purpose.
So now, forcibly acquiring land from numerous small farmers, to set up leisure tourism centres for the rich --- is a legitimate "public purpose" !!! So that the upper middle & rich classes of India can become more American than the Americans themselves, in a hurry.
Now, 'nobody' dare question the 'public purpose' of sucking out all ground water from neighbouring villages of Jaipur, for running the city's musical fountains -- that is also attracting forign tourists, and there are a few people employed for maintenance etc !! Or that of Coca-Cola franchisee sucking the ground dry in Plachimada, starving the ground and the farmers, but boosting the GDP and economy of "the country at large" !! And now the Govt. can also "legitimately" acquire land forcibly for these SC defined public purposes !
Very Disturbing developments, and it seems that the only way left for the oppressed in this country is to physically resist all such aggression.
"Beware of the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry, [who] infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.
How will I know? For this I have done.
And I am Julius Caesar."