In a major blow to constitutionalism, President Mahinda Rajapaksa removed Chief Justice Dr Shirani Bandaranayake, from office on Sunday after the Sri Lankan parliament passed a motion asking him to do so on grounds of proven “misbehaviour”.
The Sri Lankan Parliamentary Council is already set to nominate former Attorney General Mohan Peiris as Chief Justice according to some sources, though the Daily News in Sri Lanka has not officially confirmed this.
Additionally, in a curious move, and perhaps weary of the impact of similar movements in Pakistan, President Rajapaksa has requested that the bar and lawyers group do not engage in activity that would “disparage the dignity of the legal profession and Judiciary”.
The NY Times reports on the latest news regarding the escalating conflict between Chief Justice Chaudhry and the Court and the Government, .
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn has much more in-depth coverage on the crisis–noting that the turmoil is already having effects on the stock market.
Former cricket star and head of the PTI party Imran Khan is calling on President Zardari to resign immediately.
The NY Times features a report today on how the horrific and tragic rape of a young woman in Delhi has highlighted the broader issue of massive violence, discrimination, and mistreatment of women, resulting in the death of approximately 2 million women a year.The article discusses the horrific incidence of dowry killings, domestic violence, and other violence against women:
Such crimes are routine in this country, where researchers estimate that anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 women a year are killed over dowry disputes. Many are burned alive in a particularly grisly form of retribution.
“While a horrific gang rape in New Delhi has transfixed India and drawn attention to a violent epidemic, rape is just one facet of a broad range of violence and discrimination that leads to the deaths of almost two million women a year, researchers say. Among the causes are not only sexual violence but also domestic violence, family disputes and female infanticide, as well as infant neglect and poor care of the elderly that affect girls and women far more than boys and men…
…As many as 100,000 women are burned to death each year and another 125,000 die from violent injuries that are rarely reported as killings, according to government figures and other data analyzed by the research team.”
The article notes that as more women in India enter professional careers and challenge traditional notions of women’s role in families, violence against women as increased:
“Women are breaking through and advancing toward greater attainment — but in a society that continues to be patriarchal, that is increasing tensions,” said Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India. “And one of the manifestations of that tension is increased violence against women.”
The scale of the problem of violence, discrimination, and mistreatment against women in India is of such a magnitude that it will, without question, require broad-based, systemic reforms that take on reform in the area of community policing/law enforcement and reform of the courts and criminal justice system, education and socialization of men to counter traditional and cultural norms, and a broader social movement that fundamentally challenges basic traditions and cultural norms that are blindly accepted and followed, and uses a combination of legal, social, and educational, and policy reforms to achieve reductions in violence and discrimination. In short, leaders need to take this moment to usher in a massive social awakening in the nation that forces each individual to take an active role in the protection of women, children, and all other groups who are subject to horrific levels of violence on a daily basis.
The New York Times features a good article on the Indian government’s new efforts to prevent corruption from reducing total payments to the poor through the launch of a program that involves direct cash transfers into the accounts of recipients. Unfortunately, increasing levels of corruption have made the problem worse, as reflected in this quote from the story:
”Rajiv Gandhi, who served as prime minister for five years in the late 1980s before being assassinated in 1991 while running for office, once estimated that only 15 percent of the money spent on the poor actually reached them; his son Rahul Gandhi said recently that this level may now be as low as 5 percent.”
According to the article, critics of the new policy claim that the new program doesn’t represent that much of a change to existing policy, while others contend that the new program is yet another form of patronage aimed at bolstering support for the ruling Congress party. Other critics are warning that the new policy should not substitute for programs that provide food and other goods to the poor.
The article reports that this new program is modeled on successful programs in Brazil and Mexico ”in which poor families receive stipends in exchange for meeting certain social goals, like keeping their children in school or getting regular medical checkups. International aid organizations have praised these efforts in several places; in Brazil alone, nearly 50 million people participate.” Indeed Brazilian policies under the regime of Lula da Silva were credited with lifting more than 20 million out of poverty.
India faces extraordinary challenges in the implementation of this policy, as only one-third of households have bank accounts. And the nation still has a long way to go in rooting out corruption in the government bureaucracy and in countering patronage-based networks of political support. Of course, this new program needs to be part of broad-based reforms aimed at improving education, health care, and economic opportunities for the urban and rural poor.
As Surendra Rao, a former director general of the National Council of Applied Economic Research notes ”the rural poor would need a vastly improved social and commercial infrastructure — better shops, schools and hospitals — for any cash-based welfare plan to significantly improve their lives.”
The Hindu: Supreme Court of India to hear PILs on fast-tracking rape trials and enhanced safety measures for women
As nation-wide protests and demands for change continue across India in the wake of the horrific rape of a young woman in Delhi on December 16, new PILs have been filed in the Supreme Court of India. The Hindu reports on two PILs that will be heard by the SCI on Thursday:
“The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a PIL filed by a former woman IAS officer seeking directions to the government to ensure safety of women and conducting fast-track court proceedings in all rape cases. A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir will hear on Thursday the PIL which also sought suspension of MPs and MLAs in case a charge sheet is filed against them for crime against women. In her PIL, retired IAS officer Promilla Shanker has pleaded with the court to direct the government to set up fast-track courts in all states for speedy trial of rape cases.”
A second PIL filed by advocate Mukesh Kumar “demanded creation of women police stations in every town to investigate complaints of rape and sexual assault against women. It also sought steps for implementation of U.N. convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.”
Whittier Law School Finishes Ahead of Several California and Out-of-State Law Schools on July 2012 California Bar Exam
The California Bar recently released its official statistics for bar passage among ABA approved law schools on the July 2012 bar exam. As noted in the comment by Prof. Peter Reich on the earlier post, Whittier Law School (70 percent) finished ahead of its close competitor Southwestern Law School (64 percent) by six percentage points, and ahead of Thomas Jefferson Law School (52 percent) and La Verne Law School (53 percent). Whittier Law School was also tied with two Northern California schools–University of San Francisco(70 percent) and Golden Gate (70 percent), and was also tied with Washington University in Saint Louis (70 percent).
Additionally, Whittier Law School posted a higher bar passage rate than several out-of-state schools as well, including American University (51 percent), the University of Illinois (65 percent), the University of Washington (60 percent), BYU (60 percent), Tulane and several other schools .
The National Jurist recently featured an article on Whittier Law School’s improved bar passage rate of 70 percent on the most recent administration of the California Bar exam in the Summer of 2012:
Rebounding, after 70 percent of Whittier Law School graduates passed the California bar exam on their first try. While that is far below UCI and even the state average, which is 77 percent, it is an improvement for the Costa Mesa school. This year’s pass rate was the school’s highest since 1998, with the exception of 2008. The school changed its bar preparation program two years ago.
The article credits the school’s adoption of a new bar preparation program two years ago.
This follows news released in November that almost 70 percent of Whittier Law School graduates were employed within 15 months after graduation, with 58 percent acquiring jobs requiring bar passage.