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Crime and callousness

Justice, in all its manifestations, is essential if the culture of democracy is to flourish. Unbiased investigations are essential to delivering justice to the victims of crime.

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Pradyuman Thakur
Pradyuman Thakur, (File Photo)

The Pradyuman Thakur murder case raises multiple issues. It reflects the inadequacy of security in our schools. Parents, too, are answerable, if the behaviour of their children raises questions for which they don’t have answers and if they fail to share their concerns with teachers and, if necessary, the management. These issues need to be addressed across the school system.

But what this tragic incident also reveals is the sheer callousness with which our investigating agencies deal with such situations. The utter lack of professional competence and insensitivity is clear from the alacrity with which they identified the accused, a school bus conductor. We were informed through the media that the accused had already confessed. Imagine the consequences for the bus conductor and his family if the investigation had not been transferred to the CBI. Had the CCTV footage not been carefully scrutinised, the named accused would never have been enlarged on bail.

After long years of trial, had the accused not got the benefit of doubt, he would not only have languished in jail but might have suffered a life sentence, if not capital punishment. His family would not only be agonised during his incarceration but would have to face the ignominy of being related to an accused in the murder of a child. Societal angst and TV channels baying for blood would have nailed any chance of his acquittal. No one would have shed tears if he stood convicted.

The Pradyuman case shows how important it is to first investigate and only after objectively assessing the evidence, arrest and prosecute the accused. In India, not always but usually, it happens the other way around. The investigation authorities first arrest, then investigate. Where they want to shield someone, they catch hold of innocent victims. Where they are unable to identify the real accused, they implicate someone innocent only to show their investigative prowess. Our investigation agencies are handicapped in several ways. Their knowledge of the law is scant, to say the least.

Agencies also lack professional skills and are not adept at using technology. So it is easy to arrest, extract a confession, then proceed to create evidence and go to trial. Factors of caste and creed have become so important that investigators are hand-picked for particular cases and where the establishment so wishes, the investigation is tailored to achieve a particular result.

Today, the malaise runs deeper. The political class is using investigating agencies as tools for partisan political objectives. Heads of agencies are chosen to do hatchet jobs. The carrot of extension of service is followed by the grant of permanent status to those who oblige. The spectre of terrorism is sometimes used to eliminate people in fake encounters. These encounters, if discovered and proved, are used to polarise society. National fervour is stoked and the spirit of nationalism invoked. Those responsible for fake encounters are regarded as defenders of the faith.

Courts, at times, turn a blind eye to such victimisation. The prosecution looks on unabashedly when each of its witnesses turns hostile. We know that those obliged to uphold the law have turned a blind eye to crimes committed before their eyes. How else does one explain the absence of prosecutions after the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts?

The Supreme Court had to intervene to ensure investigations through SITs in response to complaints of state complicity in dealing with the riots in Gujarat in 2002. Had the investigations by Gujarat police evoked confidence, the SC need not have intervened. In other jurisdictions, too, investigations have been found wanting where criminal acts acquire a political flavour.

Justice, in all its manifestations, is essential if the culture of democracy is to flourish. Unbiased investigations are essential to delivering justice to the victims of crime. Many horrendous stories of people being accused of serious crimes without adequate evidence, suffering incarceration, being acquitted after seven to 10 years in jail, have come to light. The poor and the defenceless, like the bus conductor in the Pradyuman case, are often the victims. This speaks volumes about the cavalier way in which crimes are investigated. Many innocent victims and their families have suffered at the hands of agencies. There is no one to answer or to be held accountable.

Courtesy: This Article is published in The Indian Express on 20th November.

Disclaimer: The writer Kapil SIbal is a former Union minister and senior Congress leader.

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Male sex hormones may help treat breast cancer: Study

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

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breast cancer

Sydney : Researchers have found new evidence about the positive role of androgens, commonly thought of as male sex hormones but also found at lower levels in women, in breast cancer treatment.

In normal breast development, estrogen stimulates and androgen inhibits growth at puberty and throughout adult life.

Abnormal estrogen activity is responsible for the majority of breast cancers, but the role of androgen activity in this disease has been controversial.

The new research published in the journal Nature Medicine showed that androgens have potential for treatment of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

A cancer is called estrogen receptor positive if it has receptors for estrogen, according to Breastcancer.org.

Using cell-line and patient-derived models, the global team, including researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, demonstrated that androgen receptor activation by natural androgen or a new androgenic drug had potent anti-tumour activity in all estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, even those resistant to current standard-of-care treatments.

In contrast, androgen receptor inhibitors had no effect.

“This work has immediate implications for women with metastatic estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, including those resistant to current forms of endocrine therapy,” said lead researcher Theresa Hickey, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide.

“We provide compelling new experimental evidence that androgen receptor stimulating drugs can be more effective than existing (e.g. Tamoxifen) or new (e.g. Palbociclib) standard-of-care treatments and, in the case of the latter, can be combined to enhance growth inhibition,” said Wayne Tilley, Director of the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide.

Androgens were historically used to treat breast cancer, but knowledge of hormone receptors in breast tissue was rudimentary at the time and the treatment’s efficacy misunderstood.

Androgen therapy was discontinued due to virilising side effects and the advent of anti-estrogenic endocrine therapies.

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

“The new insights from this study should clarify the widespread confusion over the role of the androgen receptor in estrogen receptor driven breast cancer,” said Elgene Lim, a breast oncologist and Head of the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Lab at the Garvan Institute.

“Given the efficacy of this treatment strategy at multiple stages of disease in our study, we hope to translate these findings into clinical trials as a new class of endocrine therapy for breast cancer.”

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Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

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Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

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Elizabeth Olsen: Nepotism creates fear that you don’t deserve the work you get

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

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Elizabeth Olsen

Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Hollywood star Elizabeth Olsen says she once thought of changing her surname and distance herself from the success of her family because it was insanity growing up in the spotlight.

“It was insanity. There were times when my sisters would always be spotted and I would be in the car with them and it would really freak me out. It has helped me navigate how I want to approach my career,” said the actress, whose older sisters are Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen.

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Elizabeth opened up om the fears of nepotism.

“The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work. There was even a part of me when I was a little girl that thought if I’m gonna be an actress I’m going to go by Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name. And then, once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now,” she said.

The actress said fame has made her more of a homebody.

“Fame has also made me someone who is more of a homebody than maybe I would like to be but I know where not to go. If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with the gym, then I’d go to the grocery store, because it’s my favourite thing,” Elizabeth told The Sun.

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