The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

C is for cola and copy

Sir — Hypocrisy has its limits. But some people are either unaware of it, or employ the trait for business interests. The latest frenzy over Mecca-Cola, the brainchild of French businessman Tawfik Mathlouthi, is a classic example (“Mecca-Cola vs Uncle Sam”, April 17). The cola has been developed to protest against all things American and also to fill the void created by the boycott of American colas. But if the idea is to bring out an alternative soft drink, then why does it have to be a cola at all' Isn’t the concept of cola itself American' In fact, Mathlouthi’s marketing strategy for the Mecca-cola apes that of the American colas unabashedly — the brand name, colour, and even the bottling of the drink can only remind the consumer of the country of Coke and Pepsi. There are no doubts that Mathlouthi is laughing all the way to the bank now. But his newfound glory will be short-lived. Because hypocrisy cannot be the capital for a business for too long.

Yours faithfully,
Arta Mishra, Cuttack

Course of action

Sir — The V.C. Malimath committee’s recommendations towards the reviewing of criminal laws have several merits (“Guilty or innocent' Let accused speak”, April 22). The recommendations add a whole new dimension to cases involving women. The committee has recommended that non-penile penetration also be treated along the lines of rape. This will address the grievances of the rape victim who cannot prove penetration. Amendments to Section 125 of the criminal procedure code to ensure that a woman living with a man like his wife for a reasonably long period is also entitled to receive maintenance were long overdue. Our cultural cops had chosen to shut their eyes to the reality of live-in relationships which are increasingly becoming common in India. If the recommendations are adopted in the end, it will perhaps manage to drive home to our prudish political and social leaders that every individual has the freedom to choose who he or she wants to live with and should be accorded due privacy and dignity. Of course, this might be too much to expect in a country where something as harmless as Valentine’s Day celebrations are unwelcome.

Yours faithfully,
Bijoy Ranjan Dey, Tinsukia

Sir — In its review of India’s criminal laws, the committee headed by V.C. Malimath has recommended that the onus of proving his innocence lies with the accused rather than with the prosecution. This is extremely objectionable. This unduly strengthens the already-formidable forces of the state and the prosecution by turning on its head that old principle of jurisprudence, “innocent until proved guilty”.

One of the other recommendations is that the accused person confesses before a superintendent of police or higher ranking police officer. This virtually nullifies the basic tenets of a criminal justice system and is the first step towards the establishment of a police raj. All aware citizens should protest against the adoption of these proposals before it is too late.

Yours faithfully,
Kirity Roy, Howrah

Sir — Some of the recommendations of the Malimath committee on criminal law reforms are indeed forward-looking. The only worrying aspect is that one of the recommendations — that the accused prove his innocence rather than the prosecution proving his guilt — might change the face of Indian criminal law forever. It is often the case that the accused is tortured and harassed merely on the basis of suspicion, or to make him confess. Even if the individual is proved to be innocent later, the scars of the treatment can never be erased. Some subjected to such torture have even lost their mental balance for good and have been deprived of a normal life. In such cases, a verdict of innocence can bring no happiness.

In the first place, a suspect should not be referred to as the “accused” unless the case is backed by very strong evidence. Fair play should be the watchword when such cases are taken up for investigation. Perhaps it would be a good idea to give another thought to the recommendations.

Yours faithfully,
S. Ram, Calcutta

Bend the rules

Sir — If there is anything that the news report, “Convict out and about as VIP” (April 19), signals, it is that Uttar Pradesh is all set to give Bihar a run for its money in political circuses and the total breakdown of law and order. Mukhtar Ansari, the independent member of the UP legislative assembly from Mau, was not only let out of jail for a day and taken around by his private armed escorts, but was also profusely saluted by the policemen at the inspector general’s office at the police headquarters. The IG claims that he only spoke to Ansari because he was not aware that Ansari was supposed to be in jail. It becomes clear now that the UP chief minister’s action against Raja Bhaiyya was only designed to make things easier for Ansari and herself in the political arena.

Yours faithfully,
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta

Sir — The strange case of Mukhtar Ansari unveils once more the corruption in the Indian police establishment. And why is so much being made of the fact that Ansari returned to the jail at the end of the day' He had no other option as he surely wants to take similar liberties in future.

Yours faithfully,
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta

Sir — The inspector general, Rati Ram, to whom Mukhtar Ansari paid a visit, could have done better than shamelessly feign ignorance about his VIP visitor’s coming straight out of jail, and that too to talk about the transfer of some policemen. It will not surprise anyone to find Rati Ram stretching his ignorance act further and taking no action against Ansari.

Yours faithfully,
Amrita Basu, Kharagpur

Parting shot

Sir — A few days back, I visited a well-known white goods emporium at Ultadanga. I was looking for a refrigerator, but the one which came close to my requirement was not of the brand I wanted. The salesman, not wanting to let me down, helpfully suggested, “Never mind sir, we shall change the monogram.” So much for customer satisfaction!

Yours faithfully,
K.K. Ghose, Calcutta

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