A time for extradition and all that

Despite the absence of major wars in any part of the globe, there is some consolation that India is not actually near any potential war zone. In Tamil Nadu, Dravidian and non-Dravidian groups are competing to build temples in honour of the late Mahavira Tamil warrior Velupillai Prabhakaran, his uniforms loaded with LTTE medals hand polished by handpicked cadres of the DMK and the AIADMK. There is no talk of extradition of any LTTE warrior from whichever part of the globe he may be hiding.

Are we then moving into an era of peace, understanding and mounting friendliness? Man-made barriers are being brought down. Nations which had been inimical for decades covering themselves with iron and other forms of curtains are prepared to have a fresh look at their surroundings and possibly turn over a new leaf. Old enemies no longer exist. This change of attitude in new-born relationships which had overtaken old passions, furtive bitterness and the like, all the ‘wars’ including the ‘cold’ and the ‘hot’ are over and done away with.

A Krakow court ruled against extraditing to the United States the Polish Oscar-winning director, Roman Polanski, regarding the alleged rape of a 13-year old, pointing out to the ‘inadmissibility’ factor. Who would have thought that there would be a longstanding alleged extradition case against him? The 82-year old director who made classics like Rosemary’s Baby and China Town can still appeal against the lower court judgment but in view of the longevity of the case which had been dragging on for decades and changed social circumstances is not expected to do so. The 1977 verdict caught attention of the world and was delivered when Polanski was out of Poland. The guilty verdict was confirmed at several appeals and at every one of these, the victim made it clear she was not pursuing the case and favoured an acquittal of the director.

Following the sentence, the director’s lawyers told reporters that the case was being fought at the prosecutors’ level in both nations but the final say still lay with the Polish Law ministry. Despite the change in public opinion on a very old rape case, conservative legal opinion in Poland could still convict Roman but with a victim in her early 40s ready to speak out against the prosecution charges, the trial could take on quixotic proportions and lead to lampooning Polish judiciary. Polish law and public administration had been traditionally made fun of as outdated and the nation would not like to be bothered with another case in an era when girls becoming pregnant and delivering babies and discussing these in the media had become day to day occurrences The Polanski case perhaps can create some interest only if it was made into a movie.

The changing times in Europe were brought out in yet another politically sensitive case which was devoid of pregnancies and babies. But last week with the European Union finally deciding to grant political asylum to the US whistleblower Edward Snowden, the 28 members of The European Union openly rejoiced at what they called a major miscarriage of justice. The EU Parliament called upon its senior members to ‘protect’ the Human Rights of Snowden who had blown the lid on the US government’s mass surveillance all over Europe. In a tweeted message, Snowden observed, ‘This is not a blow against the US government but an open hand extended by all freedom loving people. It is a message to move forward.’

Extradition may not concern most of us  who are not involved in public issues. But it has many things in common with issues like personal freedom, respect for the individual and so on. These often figure in court cases involving women.

Extradition may not concern most of us who are not involved in public issues. But it has many things in common with issues like personal freedom, respect for the individual and so on. These often figure in court cases involving women. The Madras High Court recently disagreed with the views of a lower court that ability to maintain oneself and the capability to earn were two different issues. For example, just because a woman held a Masters Degree it did not mean she was not qualified to earn maintenance from her husband who was well off. The judge pointed out that most women preferred growth, i.e., family growth to individual one. The Indian law did not prevent an Indian woman from seeking maintenance for a child till it had completed a certain age.

Yet, the world is full of anomalies. As the Indian Prime Minister gets ready for yet another state visit to UK, we shall read reams and reams about the state banquet in the multi-splendoured luxury of the Buckingham Palace. The menu is delicious international cuisine (both veg and non-veg). As formalities go on, stomachs begin to rumble. When will the speeches end and the attack on food begin? What a dilemma! Can we just grin and bear it? Is it worth a laugh? There can be restrictions on laughter too. Already, there are grumbles over Santa and Banta, symbols of inane Indian laughter!

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