In defense of Prof. T.J. Joseph: Minority rights and their abuse by minority institutions – Hilda Raja

HR“The assumption of minority managements is that the minority rights are absolute. They forget that individual rights cannot be subsumed within the minority rights. It is a travesty of justice to think that minority rights are topmost in the hierarchy of rights enshrined in the Constitution. All rights have to be read together and there is no hierarchy of rights. The right to manage and administer cannot include mismanagement and maladministration. The protection of services of the teachers is stipulated by the Kerala Education Bill.” – Dr. Hilda Raja

Read new article “T. J. Joseph: The truth behind the silence”  by R.L. Francis. Francis writes: The Church has started playing a highly active role in state politics. In the last election, it indirectly grabbed five Lok Sabha seats from the Congress and issued a fatwa to the Christian community not to vote for the Leftists in the election. What will be the outcome of the next assembly election is clear from local election results. The Left government in the state tried to tighten the noose on the Church many times in the last four years. On the issue of nuns’ suicides, the government took a strict view which enraged Church. It has now decided to oust the Left government at any cost, for it does not want any check on conversion and its lucrative education business. More …

T.J.J.The case of Prof. Joseph has been widely reported but not sufficiently defended and the media somehow has hurriedly tried to take leave of this blatant injustice leaving the victim to cope and to grapple with this double punishment inflicted on him .What is the gross injustice wrought on Prof. Joseph by the Newman College of Thodupuza, Kerala–a minority catholic college in Kerala? This is the main crux of the whole issue which needs be scrutinized.

TJJIt is natural justice of law that one cannot be punished twice for the same offence. The offence here is that Prof Joseph had hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims. For this offence his right hand was chopped by the Muslim fundamentalists. It was a gruesome criminal act. One wonders if the criminals have been arrested and a FIR slapped on them for this criminal violence on the person of Prof. Joseph. No one can take law into one’s hands. If Prof. Joseph had hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims it is for the offended to file a case against him. They could have also approached the college to take action against him. It is also pertinent to raise the question if Prof. Joseph had the Freedom of Expression guaranteed by the Constitution?

 E. M. AbdurrahmanOn the other hand the Muslim fundamentalists took law into their own hands and punished Prof. Joseph. This is against the laws of the country. So the perpetrators cannot go scot-free for this criminal act.

How has the minority-managed Newman College dealt with those whose religious sentiments were hurt by Prof. Joseph and hence indulged in the gruesome chopping of his hand? It looks that the minority college stood by the perpetrators of this criminal act and added to Prof. Joseph’s woes by dismissing him. Has the management done justice? Is the management right in his dismissal? Has the management nothing to say about one of its teachers being physically attacked and his right hand chopped? Was there a condemnation at least of this? Has the police arrested the criminals?

Had the management taken cognizance of Prof. Joseph’s offence of hurting the religious sentiments of the Muslims then it should have take action before the chopping of his hand. Even in such a case the offence does not warranty dismissal. Procedures should be followed. He should have been given a show cause notice to explain–and if the explanation given by him is not satisfactory then some punitive action could have been initiated like suspension–or apology, etc. But certainly it does not call for a dismissal.

Why had the Newman College taken such a drastic step and slapped an out of proportion punishment on Prof. Joseph denying him his livelihood? Why had it resorted to a one-sided offensive action? Why had it not followed procedures? The simple answer to all these is that it is a minority managed institution. The minority institutions have a wrong assumption that the minority rights guaranteed by the Constitution give them sweeping powers of dictatorship and arbitrariness which is completely wrong.

Constitution of IndiaFirst and foremost Minority Rights of Art 30 confer a collective right on the community. It is from the thousands of Josephs and Thomases that the minority rights flow from. It is a community right and to use that right against the same community which has to be safeguarded and protected is unjust.

The assumption of minority managements is that the minority rights are absolute. They forget that individual rights cannot be subsumed within the minority rights.It is a travesty of justice to think that minority rights are topmost in the hierarchy of rights enshrined in the Constitution.All rights have to be read together and there is no hierarchy of rights. The right to manage and administer cannot include mismanagement and maladministration. The protection of services of the teachers is stipulated by the Kerala Education Bill.

The state can intervene in gross injustices like dismissal from services if the management has not referred the case to a competent authority prior to dismissal. The salaries of the teachers come from the state and in case a college does not follow the rules then aid to that college can be stopped. This had been upheld by the Supreme Court in 1957 when it made permissible of the clauses 10, 11 and 12 of the Kerala Bill.

PJJProf. Joseph is thinking of going to court to seek justice. This is at his present physical condition going to be a tortuous proposal. Remedy must be found within the minority community and the minority institution. The University of Kerala cannot be overlooked by the Newman College and the churches cannot use their pulpits to give a one-sided version–namely only that of the managements. This is often resorted to by minority education institutions to canvass the opinion of the “flock” in their favor and misuse the pulpits.

Here is a case when a minority management institution misuses the minority rights. It is a wake up call to the minority community to realize that the minority rights have been time and again misused against them–from refusal of admissions to heaping of injustices, from poor service conditions to termination of services of the same minority community members. The minority managements have abused this right by the denial of fundamental rights to individuals and make it look as though the Constitution is only about minority rights. Individual freedom of speech and expression–equality are bulldozed in the process of the mismanagement and maladministration of the minority rights.

M.F. Husain's most vulgar painting: Sita riding the tail of Hanuman.A relevant question to the above incident:  The Newman College seems to be ultra sensitive to the hurting of the religious sentiments of the Muslim community–or is it equally sensitive to anyone hurting the religious sentiments of any other religious community? If so I have not seen or heard a word uttered by this Newman College against M.F. Husain’s paintings which depict Hindu Gods and Goddesses in offensive and obscene postures. In that case the drum of freedom of expression was beaten loud and long by the media and others. So the management of Newman College seems to be biased and is not all that sensitive to such offence of hurting another’s religious sentiments. There seem to be an ulterior motive to the whole episode apart from the gross injustice of the Newman Minority College of Kerala–in God’s own country, too!

5 Responses

  1. […] that the Popular Front of India (PFI), which allegedly masterminded the Taliban-style attack on a college lecturer, had plans to Islamise Kerala in 20 years using “money and marriages”. In a press conference in […]

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  2. Constition dictates governance and not religion
    ======================================

    Supreme Court has dealt a body blow to central government by quashing the appointment of P. J Thomas. Catholic Church is highly perturbed from this verdict. Same Catholic Church had termed appointment of Thomas as matter of pride for them.
    When opposition leader Sushma Swaraj had put a dissent note on the appointment of Thomas even then a certain section had tried to portray it in communalist colour. Though, Sushma Swaraj had opposed due to fact that Thomas was involved in Palmolin Oil scam while he was food and civil supply secretary in Kerala. Government had completely ignored her suggestion showing arrogance and gave logics to defend their decision. Centre had even made this issue as matter of prestige for them.

    People even raised fingers on the decision of BJP to boycott oath ceremony of P. J Thomas. People even said since Thomas is Christian so BJP is not able to digest it. Church also raised an inside campaign to support Thomas. P. J Thomas is 1973 batch IAS officer. Some of the members in his family are at respectable positions in the Catholic Church. Though, his image has been of an honest officer barring accusation of palmolin oil scam. He has also been chief-secretary of Kerala. Thomas has also hold respectable positions as secretary in telecom ministry, Ministry of information and broadcasting, parliamentary affairs ministry and many other posts in state departments.

    It became clear that government is trying to hide the facts in this case. CVC is highly sensitive post and recruitment of accused on this post raised many questions. Government even said that judiciary has no right to interfere in the normal routine work of government.

    Reaction of the church on this decision is surprising. The official reaction on the official website of Catholic Church is- Catholic civil servant resigns and other is church people disappointed over quashing of CVC appointment-(www.indiancatholic.in).

    Post of CVC is apolitical. Church should be aware of the fact that this is a constitutional post and constitution does not favour any cast or religion. Catholic Church is trying to convince people that it is Hindu BJP that is behind this game and which forced Thomas to ultimately leave the post.

    Church is constantly saying that there is anti-Christian bias in the bureaucracy and to the some extent it has crept in judiciary. The way church has correlated post of CVC with Christianity is really daring as even Sangh cannot dare to do this. Such thinking of church will prove detrimental for the social set-up of country in times to come. Church has still time to retrospect and it should reject such thinking. Administrative and judicial set-up in the country is still functions above caste, religion and community.

    Supreme Court has quashed the appointment of Thomas as facts and due procedure was not followed in this case. It did not do that because of the BJP campaign. Though, Thomas has resigned from the post but matter is far from over as its voice will be heard in the political corridors of Kerala during the elections.

    R. L Francis
    President
    Poor Christians Liberation Movement (PCLM)

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  3. The CBCI in this case has acted in a very insensitive way.They know very well that the next education minister will be from muslim league.They care a damn about flock.All that matters for these hypocrites is money.I am a catholic but this has made me think much.

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  4. 21 September 2010 07:27 from Vijayvaani
    http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=1420

    T.J. Joseph: The truth behind the silence – R.L. Francis

    https://i2.wp.com/www.orissadiary.com/inerview/image/PCLM.jpgThe Bishop of the Catholic diocese in Kerala’s Ernakulum district, George Punnakotil, has turned a deaf ear to the demands to restore the job of sacked professor T.J. Joseph. Prof Joseph was employed by Newman College, run by diocese. Considering the resentment in the larger section of the minority, Prof Joseph has been suspended for one year. The Leftist government of Kerala had registered a case under Section 275, accusing him of spreading communal disharmony. He was sent to jail and subsequently released on bail.

    On 4 July, while returning from Muvatatupujha church, activists allegedly associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI) had cut and severed Joseph’s right hand completely, allegedly because he had used the word ‘Mohammad’ in a B.Com. question paper in an indecent way. Fanatics accused him of blasphemy and punished him in their own way. The Church was shocked and due to fear it did not speak a word against this atrocity. Yet the same church has always been extremely vocal against Hindu ‘extremist’ organisations – none of which can match the performance of the followers of the religion of peace, incidentally. The church that ran an agitation against Love Jihad is biting the dust on the issue of sheer barbarism.

    According to Chief Minister V.S. Achutanandan, Kerala is fast becoming a hub of Islamic extremism. Muslim fanatics want to establish a kind of emirate in the next two decades. Youths are being offered money for conversion and some Jihad organisations are encouraging Muslim youths to marry non-Muslim girls. The entire cost of the wedding is borne by the Jihadi organisations.

    The Kerala church has charged that a large section of Christian girls are targets of this Love Jihad. After marriage, these girls are packed off the Gulf countries, where their fate is uncertain. Both Muslims and Christians are competing with each other in the race to enhance their population in the state. A few years ago, some Catholic dioceses had issued an appeal to the laity to have more and more children and had assured that the church would bear the entire costs of running their families!

    For the last few decades, Kerala has been patronising the extremism of both Muslims and Christians. Hindus are being divided in many ways and government has helped in this process of community fragmentation. There have been violent struggle with the RSS cadres. The Hindu population is dwindling due to fear. Though they still have more numbers than the Muslims and Christians, they do not constitute solid vote-banks and so their reach and say in government is limited. Muslims and Christians have more impact on Kerala politics.

    Yet Achutanandan’s statement shows that now even the Leftists are aware of the impending danger from Islamic radicalism. Those who cut off the hand of Prof Joseph have revealed that Taliban-style courts are being run in the state, where decisions are taken only on the basis of the Shariat. The decision to disjoint the teacher’s hand was taken by one such court.

    Intelligence sources suggest that the Popular Front of India is the new face of the National Democratic Front. The PFI is viewed with suspicion since its establishment. The Union Home Ministry reportedly sent letters to the state home departments and respective Director Generals of Police to keep an eye on the activities of this organisation. Independent writer and expert on Muslim issues, Muzaffar Hussain, says the Popular Front of India is trying to increase the Muslim population in the entire state of Kerala as is the situation in Mallappuram district. They are getting lots of foreign donations from Emirate countries.

    Lakshadweep, close to Kerala, is a Muslim dominated island. The US, Pakistan and Sri Lanka want influence on the island. Muslims from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are settling on the island in large numbers. PFI is very active on this front. It feels that Love Jihad is a balloon that has been pin-pricked, so the only other ways left are terror, infiltration and conversion, in order to make Kerala a Muslim-dominated state.

    The Church has started playing a highly active role in state politics. In the last election, it indirectly grabbed five Lok Sabha seats from the Congress and issued a fatwa to the Christian community not to vote for the Leftists in the election. What will be the outcome of the next assembly election is clear from local election results. The Left government in the state tried to tighten the noose on the Church many times in the last four years. On the issue of nuns’ suicides, the government took a strict view which enraged Church. It has now decided to oust the Left government at any cost, for it does not want any check on conversion and its lucrative education business.

    The main roadblock for the Church is Jihadi terrorism. The Church and Muslim organizations are flexing their muscles to have more say in politics. Hindus are nowhere in this process as they are not an effective vote-bank. In northern Kerala, minor incidents of conflicts have been reported. Despite this fact, the Church has shown great restraint in the matter of Prof T.J. Joseph. To appease the hardliners in the state, it turned down the appeal of the Christian intelligentsia and also rejected the appeal by retd Chief Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer. The former judge had warned that the Church administration is playing to the tune of extremists and had distanced itself from Jesus’ message of kindness, love and humanity.

    Prof George Punnakotil has justified the suspension of Prof Joseph. It wants to project that the Church was not a partner in Joseph’s alleged misdemeanour, which led to the barbaric atrocity. The Church does not show the same restraint regarding Hindu Gods who are always derided by Christian priests.

    It seems that in order to expand its territory, the Church has shaken hands with Muslim extremists as both consider Hindus their main enemy. The Indian Church condemned the decision to burn the Holy Quran in Florida. But both the Church and Islam target Hindus for conversion. In order to achieve its objectives, the Church is demanding the implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report. The Church is willing to sacrifice many Josephs in order to achieve its ends. This strategy of the Church will backfire. If the Church does not mend its way, it will end in a blind alley.

    The author is president, Poor Christian Liberation Movement

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  5. you have done a good job with my article-thank you.Hope it will stir up the consceince of the Management of the NEWMAN college(if it has one) and also the minority community.

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