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Justice RP Sethi of the Supreme Court of India said on 26 November that the criminal justice system prevalent in India affects mostly the poor section of the society as both the victim and the accused constitute about ninety per cent of the litigants involved in the criminal litigation system. It is required to be simple, fair and inexpensive.
    Justice Sethi was delivering Prof. Hafeezur Rehman Memorial Lecture on 'Criminal justice-problems and challenges' organized by the faculty of law at the AMU. He revealed that laws relating to crime are disadvantageous to the poor and the exploited. The system is cumbersome, expensive and cumulatively disastrous which prevents the poor to reach the courts for the redressal of their grievances. Hierarchy of the courts places criminal justice out of the reach of the poor.The legal process being costlier results in denial of justice to have-nots. The inherent defects in the criminal justice system continue to operate against the weaker sections of the society despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing equality before law and its equal protection for all.
    He was of the view that the criminal justice system inherited from the British colonialism has failed to achieve the objective of controlling crime and protecting the rights of the citizens guaranteed under the Constitution. He suggested that criminal trial requires effective, disciplined, efficient and orderly police force. 
    Justice R.P.Sethi added that huge pendency of cases in the subordinate courts of the country is shocking and challenging. According to the statistics as on end of July 1999, out of 20,106,882 cases there were 13,250,329 criminal cases pending in the subordinate courts of the country. Statistics reveal that there is almost one cognizable crime committed every seven seconds, one penal offence every twenty seconds, a property crime every minute, theft every one and half minutes, violent crime every two minutes, burglary every four minutes, riot every five minutes, robbery every fourteen minutes, murder every fifteen minutes, rape every fifty two minutes, molestation every twenty six minutes, dowry death every one hour forty two minutes, kidnapping or abduction every forty three minutes, an act of eve-teasing every fifty one minutes and an act of cruelty towards women every thirty three minutes.
    For having an effective result oriented, vibrant and pro-people judicial system, both long term as also short-term measures are required to be taken by the state representing the will of the people. He suggested to separate the investigating agency from the regular police force. Such a separation would pave the way for effective and scientific investigations besides making the police effective in controlling the law and order problems.

Salim Ali lecture
Delivering Dr Salim Ali Memorial Lecture in the Department of Wildlife Science at AMU, Dr MK Ranjit Singh said that in India hunting had always been the privilege of a few. In the 20th century prior to independence, it was a privilege exercised by the rulers and nobility in princely India and by the officers of the military and civil administration in British India.
    In his lecture on 'Wildlife conservation in 20th century India,' Dr Singh said that within government, the growing preponderance of economic consideration and globalization has rendered wildlife and forests, indeed environment, a minor issue to which importance is given mainly in the form of lip service.

Book released
AMU Vice Chancellor, M. Hamid Ansari released Jada-e shab, a poetic collection of Syed Mohammad Ameen Ashraf, former faculty member of English department.

Media and Communalism
Communalism is a state of mind formed by prejudice and suspicions. It affects not only individuals but also policy-makers. Media must try to keep prejudices at bay, said justice PB Sawant, chairman, Press Council of India, while delivering a National Seminar on 'Media and Communalism' organized the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and Press Council of India at AMU. 
    Delivering the keynote address Justice Sawant said that the media should not glorify violence and communal incidents. It should try to tone down incidents which may inflame communal passion. He said that this is a hard reality that communalism has increased during the last fifty years in India. Unlike business and industry, media has to play a social responsibility to create unity and integrity of the country.
    The national Seminar has recommended that the only possible check on communal reporting is to have 'pressure groups' which would highlight the impact of communal propaganda in the media. These special groups should evolve tabs to assess and highlight the discrepancies in media coverage by developing indices on the accuracy, objectivity, decency and the factual representation of the coverage.
    The seminar also resolved that the Press should also refrain from the feeding, by selective reporting, common prejudicial stereotypes about minorities and other groups. Generalization based on the behaviour of an individual or a small number of individuals should not be projected as that of the whole groups.

Reading Hall
Noted scholar Maulana Rabey Nadvi, Rector, Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow laid the foundation stone of the reading hall at Muhammad Habib Hall, Aligarh Muslim University. Vice Chancellor M.Hamid Ansari was the chief guest of the foundation stone ceremony. University Engineer Mr. Tariq Nazeer said that the construction work with a cost of Rs 0.7 million will be completed within six months. 

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