India gay sex ruling could set precedent: UN

GENEVA: A landmark ruling in India to legalize gay sex could set an example for about 80 countries which still outlaw homosexual sex, a UN agency said on Thursday. It would also encourage more HIV victims in India to come forward to seek treatment and information, added the United Nations joint programme on HIV and AIDS.

“We think this will set an important precedence throughout the world,” said Susan Timberlake, who heads UNAIDS’ human rights and law team. She added that in almost all of the countries that outlaw homosexual sex, “both the law and the homophobia… results in both the denial of human rights of men who have sex with men, transgender people and lesbians, but also in the denial of health care services that they desperately need in the world of HIV.”

Anand Grover, the lawyer who argued the case before New Delhi High Court, described the decision as an “historic event because India was the country where the anti-sodomy laws were first statutorised…and the same law was then replicated all over the British Commonwealth.”

He added that countries that still outlaw homosexual sex can now “use this as a precedent.” “Countries in Africa can use this as a precedent. Same for Asia,” he told journalists in Geneva.

Several Commonwealth countries still view gay sex as illegal, including Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, and many Caribbean islands. In India, homosexual HIV sufferers would now find it easier to seek information and treatment, said Pradeep Kakkattil who heads UNAIDS’ technical support division.

“What this judgement could help in is encourage men who have sex with men to come out more and seek those services… and it will make much easier for people working in the field to provide that information,” he said.

When homosexual sex was outlawed, patients “would not go to the doctor because of fear of … potentially being reported to the police,” said Kakkattil.

“Besides the threat of imprisonment, these victims also faced blackmail from police,” he said. “Health workers providing help to homosexual HIV sufferers are also working in precarious situations, he added. He said that it’s not uncommon for police to arrest you because you are providing information on something illegal.”

Source: Times of India

Same Witnesses in two different Blast Cases

There could be a case of fake witnesses as the two same men have been witnesses in the 2003 Gateway of India blast and the 7/11 blasts in 2006. Ashraf Ansari has written a letter to the Chief Justice saying that he is being framed by the Mumbai Police.

 

Mumbai has been rocked by Serial blasts time and again. The snail’s pace at which the Judiciary works ensured that the 1992 Blasts case became the longest case in the history of the Indian Judiciary. The case was on for fifteen years with just being meted out to all the perpetrators last year. Under the TADA Court, many of the accused in the Blasts case were given life imprisonment.

 

Even the actor Sanjay Dutt could not escape punishment though later he was granted bail by the Supreme Court. But as with that blast case is it justice that always triumphs? Well, the letter written by the blast accused Ashraf Ansari to the Chief Justice of India does not signal so.

 

What is the probability of a man being a witness in two different blasts? The answer would be almost negligible. But Hari Popat is a witness in the Gateway of India and the Zaveri Bazaar blasts in the year 2003 and the serial blasts which rocked the Local trains of Mumbai in the year 2006. Not just Popat, another person’s name finds place in both the blasts as a witness. Is it just a coincidence or were the two witnesses actually present when the terrorists were plotting the blasts?

 

Ashraf Shafiq Ansari who is presently under judicial custody has written a letter to the chief Justice of India through his Advocate. Ansari believes that he is being framed by the Mumbai Police in the blasts case. He has filed a legal complaint with the P.O.T.A court. In the letter written by Ansari, he says that Hari Popat had argued with him moments before the blast occurred. Ansari had lodged two complaints last year on February 5th 2007 and March 1st against Hari Popat and Mohammadali Ajmeri respectively.

 

Ansari believes that both the witnesses were fake witnesses planted by the Mumbai police in order to frame him. Popat had informed the Mumbai Police that early on the morning of the 2003 Zaveri bazaar he had seen Ashraf Ansari alight from the Taxi. When he heard of the blast in the train in the Taxi in the afternoon he informed the police. But Hari Popat was also a witness as a ‘Request Panchnaama’ in the 7/11 blasts three years later.

 

This is the plea of Ashraf Ansari as he has written a letter to the Chief Justice of the High Court. This letter has come an year after he filed two complaints with the local police but the desired outcome was not attained as his complaints were not heard by the POTA court.

 

If the complaint of Ashraf ansari turns out to be true after the investigation then it would be shocking for all the citizens of Mumbai. The Mumbai Police has already had fake encounter and corruption cases registered against them in the past. If the allegations made by Ansari prove to be true, then the Mumbai Police would have its heads low in shame. Even in such a high profile case under the TADA court if there is a possibility of fake witnesses and then imagine what could happen in low profile cases that take place everyday. The Mumbai Police has some explanation to make.