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Showing posts from 2006

LITIGATION REGARDING LINUX

(This article was part of the speech 'Open Source Software and Intellectual Property Rights' and was written at that time. The Trust has posted it separately for convenience. Out of the five suits, only one has been decided. It is also relevant to point out that this post is no reflection on the merits or demerits of any of the suits.)

OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

(The text of the talk delivered by Justice Yatindra Singh at Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad 19.4.2004. It has been modified since then.)
CYBER LAWS Inventions, discoveries and technologies widen scientific horizons but also pose new challenges for the legal world. Information Technology—brought about by Computers, Internet, and Cyberspace—has also posed new problems in jurisprudence. These problems have arisen in all areas of law. The law (statutory or otherwise) providing answers to these problems or dealing with Information Technology are sometimes loosely referred to as 'Computer Laws' or 'Information Technology Laws' or simply 'Cyber Laws'. Intellectual property rights (IPR) are important aspect of Cyber laws. Today we will discuss one aspect of IPR relating to the Open source software. But first a few words about WTO and IPR.

TOWARDS A GREENER TOMORROW

(Paper presented by Justice Yatindra Singh, Judge Allahabad High Court, Allahabad at the Workshop on ‘Judicial Enforcement of Environmental Law’ Organised by Centre for Environment Education-North (Lucknow) and Environmental Law Institute (Washington DC, USA), in collaboration with Judicial Training and Research Institutes, UP (Lucknow) on 19th October 2003. This paper has been updated since then.)
The last century was the century of physicists but this is no longer true. This century is the century of biologist, a century of environmentalists. Environmental problems and issues will play crucial role in this century. We cannot march towards a brighter tomorrow unless we understand and solve them.

GENDER JUSTICE – A LEGAL PANORAMA

Talk delivered by Justice Yatindra Singh in the colloquium on ‘Gender and Law’ organised by the National Judicial Academy, British Council and the Allahabad High Court at JTRI Lucknow on 14th October 2001. It has been modified since then.
An illustration from a medieval translation of Euclid's Elements, (c. 1310) showing a woman teaching geometry to male students - courtesy Wikipedia It is heartening that the National Judicial Academy, British council and Allahabad High Court are organising this colloquium on 'Gender and Law'. Action in law is in the courtrooms and its outcome depends on how well equipped judges are: better their knowledge, more satisfying the results. And who else but the National judicial Academy, the highest body for training Judges, should undertake to equip them. British owe a debt to Indian Women. Women's estate or widow's estate was unknown to Mitakshra and widow or daughter never had limited rights: they inherited like male heirs. Privy Coun…

ARTICLES - SPEECHES

The articles uploaded here-in-before were written by Hon'ble Mr. Justice Yatindra Singh, a member of the Trust, before elevation to the Bench. They have been published in a book titled 'A Lawyers World and Childhood Dreams'; published by Law Publishers Private Ltd, Sardar Patel Marg, Allahabad. His Lordship, after elevation to the Bench, has been writing articles and delivering speeches. They had formed part of separate blog titled 'A Judge's World'. These speeches and articles are being uploaded on this blog.

WHAT LITTLE I REMEMBER

This article is a review of the book ‘WHAT LITTLE I REMEMBER’ written by Otto Robert Frisch a nuclear scientist. There is another very good book dealing with the personal history of the Atomic scientists titled Brighter Than A Thousand Suns; Robert Jungk: Penguin Books

Otto Robert Frisch, nephew of Lis Meitner, was born on Oct. 1, 1904 in Vienna. He decided against Mathematics for he never wanted to spend his life with a pencil and a waste paper basket. He enjoyed making things so he turned to Physics. He worked in Copenhagen under Neils Bohr; helped in making the atom bomb during Second World War at Los Alamos, taught at Cambridge University and directed the Nuclear Physics Dept. of the Cavandish Laboratory.

Dalton had suggested atoms in the beginning of the last century. It was thought useful for explaining empirical facts to the Chemist. But it was at the end of the last century that the romance with atomic physics began; attracting the best of the brains to its bosom. The book What …

ISAAC ASIMOV

Isaac Asimov via last.fmIn his book ‘Report on Planet three’, Arthur C. Clark comments that ‘In accordance with the terms of the Clark Asimov treaty, the second best science writer dedicates this book to the second best science fiction writer.’ This may not be true, for Asimov is reckoned by many as the best science fiction writer, if not of all times then, at least of this century.

One should also, not compare him with Jules Verne, the father of modern science fiction. He was of a different era; of the last century. The progress of Science makes the comparison unfair. But what Jules Verne was to his generation, Asimov is to this one and may like him inflame the imagination of many and inspire others to be aware, and interested in Science.

Asimov was born in Russia in 1920, ninety-two years after Jules Verne. His parents moved to USA within three years of his birth. He, unlike Jules Verne who was a lawyer, chose Chemistry, taught Biochemistry for a few years in the School of Medicine, B…

STEPHEN HAWKING

Image by Getty Images via Daylife The placard 'Quiet Please, The Boss Is Asleed', outside the office of Stephen Hawking- the Commander of British Empire, the most brilliant theoretical Physicist since Einstein with 13 International Awards and 11 honorary Doctorates- is a bit out of place. He is a man, known as much for his theoretical Physics and courage as his wit. Unable to walk, write or speak, he has leaped beyond universe.


Hawking was born on Jan 4, 1942, exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo. By the time he was eight he was seriously thinking of becoming a scientist. And at fourteen, despite his father's love for medicine, he wanted to do Mathematics, more Mathematics and Physics.


Hawking's family lacked material possessions but one thing they had plenty - the books. The family was odd. When their friends were invited to tea in the house, they would find entire family with their heads buried in books over dinner table. They spoke strangely: the chil…

RICHARD FEYNMAN

Richard Phillips Feynman, the 1966 Nobel laureate in Physics was born on May 11, 1918. He died of cancer in 1988. He was the most talked about scientist of the second half of the 20th century. What Einstein was to the first half he was to the second half. When he was young he could not decide whether he wanted to be a comedian or a scientist. He combined the two successfully as he grew up. Is that the reason for his being so famous? But then as David Goodstein, Professor of Physics at Caltech says,
'Feynman is a person of historic proportions, he deserves the kind of attention that he has gotten.'
Feynman’s father had his own way of teaching his young son. He would point to a bird and say something of this kind.
‘A bird is known by different names in different parts of the world. One may know all its names. But this is not important. You still do not know about the bird. The important thing is what it does and how it does it?’No wonder Feynman was curious and inquisitive.

Feynm…

SRINIVAS RAMANUJAN

In 1913 Godfrey Harold Hardy was 36 years of age and an established mathematician. He belonged to the field of pure mathematics. He was already a Fellow of the Royal Society and was with Cambridge University. His name appeared not only in every Mathematical Journal of the time but also in the journal of Medicine. He had propounded the Hardy-Wienberg law, which states,
‘dominant traits would not take over and recessive traits would not die out’.His future was secure and life fixed. Then with one letter from India, by someone called Srinivas Ramanujan, it all changed.
‘Sir,
I beg to introduce myself as a clerk in the Accounts Department... I have no University education... I have not trodden through the conventional regular course... but I am striking out a new path myself. I have made special investigation... and the results... are termed as startling by local mathematicians’.
And then he had rattled off some of his results. Hardy had never seen anything of this kind. It is then as Hard…

ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS ... SOME REFORMS

SAMVAAD... a lawyers’ group 7, Elgin Road Allahabad-211001 organises seminars, workshops, lectures and brings out a newsletter by the same name. It had organised a workshop on the functioning of tribunals. This article was written for the Newsletter brought out on that occasion. It surveys and deals with the history of the tribunals. It recommends bifurcating the High Court into the Senior-Junior Division and providing for an appeal against all decisions of Tribunals to the High Court.1 Since writing od this article, the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar Vs Union of India AIR 1997 SC 1125 has partly accepted the position and has restored the judicial review of the High Courts.
It was in the last century that Dicey claimed,
'it is difficult to believe the administrative courts can by their very nature give that amount of protection to individual freedom which is secured to every (one) ... residing in England.’ But despite this administrative tribunals have come to stay in England. Th…

TO ROBE OR NOT TO ROBE

It is about lawyers’ uniform. Should we, the lawyers, continue with bands, gowns and black coats even during summer and the rainy seasons?

What would you say, if you see a person in a suit and a tie in the scorching heat of May (450 C) or in the humid climate of July? Is there any such person? Think again. There are many. Their reputation is neither envied in the world nor their fate thereafter. Yes, it is we the lawyers. Instead of a suit it is a combination. And in the place of tie it is band and on top of the entire ensemble there is a gown.

When the British came to India, they, along with their legal system, also introduced the lawyer’s attire. And when they left, they, alongwith their finest legacy- the legal system, bequeathed the black coats, bands and gowns. Dress among the legal fraternity was often governed by traditions. The High Courts have also made rules in this regard. Normally in case of the male members, apart from other things, they are require to wear: a black buttone…

WHERE THE CLOUDS COME HOME

It is about Shillong and it's people

Meghalaya- where the clouds come home declares a tourist brochure. Well, it's literally true. And they come home quite frequently. The Khasi tribe dominates Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, and their language is Khasi. They use the Roman script. Khasis have a matriarchal society: husbands go and live with their wives. If there is more than one daughter then it is the youngest one who gets the ancestral house. Children take their mother's surname.

Khasis are simple people. When I was in Shillong, I asked a girl with red cheek if the red on her cheeks was natural. She immediately started rubbing her cheeks to show that it was.

Taxis in Shillong do not have a meter. They behave like Rickshaw-wallas, except for the fact their rates are more or less fixed. They also have shared taxies. No taxi exclusively hired by anyone. If seats are available, one can always hail a taxi though it may be partly occupied.

One should not reach Shillong after 5…

ELECTION AT AMETHI

This article is about about democracy in action.

I was in Amethi on November 21 and 22, 1989, to observe how Rajiv Gandhi and Raj Mohan Gandhi practised what their grandfathers had stood for. I was not there alone. The entire country seemed to be there. The young ones, the smart ones, the pretty ones, the office-bearers of the Aligarh Muslim University, and of course the boys from the Allahabad University with their roadside dramas, the Nukkar in real life. All came for the change- a change at the Centre. At their own cost.

In Amethi we got the news that Akhilesh, the person in charge of the Jagdishpur legislative segment for Raj Mohan Gandhi, had been assaulted. This area was most susceptible for booth capturing. I, being a lawyer, thought it to be the best place to be in. A few accompanied me. We reached Jagdishpur. Upon inquiry, we found out that a few people wanted to teach the Nukkar team from Allahabad a lesson, but instead of them being attacked poor Akhilesh got it. He was there…

EUTHANASIA

Euthanasia or mercy killing is the act or practise of painlessly putting to death persons suffering from painful or incurable diseases. It is talked about in public; debated by philosophers. If God has given life then he, and only he, can take it. But if a person can never talk, never feel, never express and spends his life like a vegetable, then is his life worth sustaining?

There is another aspect. It may lead to involuntary Euthanasia or manipulating people into asking for suicide or actually killing them without their permission if they are a burden. We have precedents, in this century itself- Nazi Holocaust. Non-Germans were viewed as expendable. It did not take long to transform the war crimes into an act of compassion.

LEGALITY
There is no specific provision for euthanasia in most of the legal systems. In most of the legal systems Euthanasia is treated as suicide or murder.1 Holland is a country where the doctors, courts and the general public more openly debate it than anywhere e…

JEFFERSON AND THE DEFAMATION LAW

This article is a comment on The Defamation Bill, 1988, which was being introduced by the Government at that time and the defamation law in USA. Truth was not a defence under the bill. This Bill never became a law.


Thomas Jefferson was selected to write the Declaration of Independence over the protests of many. He went on to become the Governor of Virginia, America’s Ambassador to Paris, Washington’s Secretary of State, Vice President under Adam and then the third President of United States of America. When his house caught fire his only query was, is his books were rescued. But his passion was not limited to books alone.

His friend had married a buxom woman named Betsay. He was of a frequent visitor to their house. But when his friend went away to help negotiate a treaty with the Red Indians, Jefferson’s visit to the lonely bride Betsay became more than casual. He tried his best to persuade her that there was nothing wrong in adultery the illicit affair. Of course it is debatable if i…

LAWYERS' CREED

The role of lawyers is often misunderstood. This article clarifies it.
The Prime Minister has made a statement in the Parliament on 10, April 1989 about the defence lawyers in the Indira Gandhi murder case. His sentiments were rather unfortunate. The role of lawyers is often misunderstood. This is how Jonathan Swift places them in Gulliver's Travels, that lawyers are a, 'society of men bred up from their youth to prove that black is white and white is black accordingly as they are paid.’And these sentiments are shared by many.

The Prime Minister misunderstood the role of the lawyers. So has the public. There was similar criticism when some lawyers took up defence briefs for the Sikh soldiers charged with mutiny in 1984. This happened after Operation Bluestar. Sikh sepoys of the Sikh Regiment Centre, Ramgarh, had looted arms and ammunition, killed their commanding officer, and started for Amritsar. I remember the criticism and the contempt for I defended them (see End Note-1). …

OFF WITH HIS HEAD

This article was written at that time when UP Cabinet had taken a decision to set up a bench of Allahabad High Court for the western region in 1981. The Allahabad lawyers had gone on strike, the longest in its history. This was to place the correct perspective before the people and mobilise public support.

The U.P. Cabinets decision to set up a bench of the Allahabad High Court in the western region reminds one of the Queen of heart’s decision. ‘Off with his head’ in ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

The Chief Minister expressed his ignorance about the recommendation of the Law Commission and the correspondence on the subject. The Law Commission in its fourth report rejected the view that splitting of the high court was necessary in order to take justice to the door of the litigant.

MC Seetalvad, the then Chairman of Law Commission, says (My life, Law and other things page 247), ‘lawyers who appeared on behalf of the Lucknow Bar Association conceded in private that the Lucknow bench should be abo…

STRIKES

Tarts and lawyers are the two oldest professions in the world. And both aim to please. But to please whom- Opinions may differ and notwithstanding legal semantics. We lawyers, like tarts, must please our clients, customers. By boycotting the courts we fail in our primary objective - getting relief for them. Besides one must consider the morality of members of a noble (if it is still noble) and one might say essential (certainly true of tarts, but debatable for lawyers) professions going on strike. It undoubtedly interferes and obstructs the course of justice. Well in the legal world when someone does that, he commits a contempt of the Court.

If history serves me right, strikes were unheard of in the pre-independence era. Apart from the calls given during the freedom struggle to boycott all institutions, including the courts, it was never resorted to. In independent India the first one was when Justice AN Ray superseded his three colleagues, after Keshvanand Bharti case, to become the C…