a) By evidence alone: on the 2008 Malegaon blast trial

There are occasions when not only the accused but the criminal justice system itself is on trial. The case relating to the Malegaon blast of 2008 is one such. By overruling the National Investigation Agency’s finding that key members of a Hindu right-wing group called Abhinav Bharat were not involved in the explosion that killed at least six persons and wounded over a hundred in the Maharashtra town, the Special Court in Mumbai has chosen to let the evidence decide their guilt or innocence. It has framed charges against them for conspiracy, murder and other offences, including under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra police and the NIA have come to varying conclusions on the culpability of Abhinav Bharat members. The ATS chargesheet claims it was primarily a conspiracy hatched by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit, among others. In a supplementary chargesheet, the NIA concluded there was either no or insufficient evidence to proceed against some of them. Special Judge S.D. Tekale has chosen to steer clear of pronouncing his decision on which of the two he would go by. Where two conflicting reports are on record, he ruled it is better to go through the trial and consider the evidence it brings. His decision is the right one and it rises above the competing narratives of the two agencies. What made this case politically sensitive was the debate over whether ‘Hindu’ or ‘saffron’ terror had come into being given the alleged role of an organisation with the objective of establishing ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in the country. Initially, an Islamist group was accused of being behind the blasts that took place in September 2006 at Malegaon, killing 37 people, but a later charge sheet said the perpetrators belonged to a group of Hindu activists. It took nearly ten years for those initially arrested to be discharged, for want of evidence. These factors cast an unfortunate shadow on the trial related to the 2008 case. Allegations surfaced that the NIA prosecutor was under pressure to dilute the charges against Pragya and others. Against this backdrop, it is better that the evidence, whether substantive or dodgy, is assessed at a trial, lest it be said later that there was any miscarriage of justice. Based on preliminary material, the judge has thrown out charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. He has discharged three persons for want of evidence, and sent two to regular courts to be tried under the Arms Act. The rest will face trial. This decision augurs well for the integrity of the process, as it is the best way to put at rest suspicion that one agency tried to frame the suspects, while another was deliberately soft. It is important that this trial, although agonisingly delayed, is nothing but fair.

b) For a wider pool: clinical trials and the burden of volunteering for them

Clinical trials involving human subjects have long been a flashpoint between bioethicists and clinical research organisations (CROs) in India. Landmark amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act in 2013 led to better protection of vulnerable groups such as illiterate people, but more regulation is needed to ensure truly ethical research. While CROs have argued that more rules will stifle the industry, the truth is that ethical science is often better science. The big problem plaguing clinical research is an over-representation of low-income groups among trial subjects. Sometimes CROs recruit them selectively, exploiting financial need and medical ignorance; at other times people over-volunteer for the money. Such over-volunteering occurs more frequently in bioequivalence studies, which test the metabolism of generics in healthy subjects. Because these subjects are well-paid, and get no therapeutic benefit, their only reward from the trial is financial. This results in an incentive to lie about one’s medical history or enrol in multiple trials to maximise one’s income. Such deception is a risk not only to volunteer health but also to society, because it can throw off the trial’s results. In recent years, several Indian CROs were found by European drug regulators and the World Health Organisation to be fudging bioequivalence data. While such duplicity by a CRO is likely to be found out, volunteer deception, which can impact data as greatly, can slip under the radar. Unsafe drugs can make their way into the market as a result, or safe drugs can get rejected. This is why volunteer honesty is paramount. But how can regulators ensure this? One potential solution is a national registry of trial volunteers, which will alert a CRO when someone signs up for two studies simultaneously. But this will need work, because volunteer privacy cannot be compromised. So regulators need to create a system that anonymises each participant’s data. Another option is to pay volunteers less, taking away the financial incentive to fudge their participation history. But this measure, in isolation, would reduce trial participation dramatically: an unacceptable side-effect because clinical trials are essential to drug research. A third, more sustainable solution is to encourage a wider cross-section of society to participate in research on human subjects. Society at large must realise the valuable service that clinical research subjects perform by making drugs safe for the rest of us. It is imperative that this burden not fall completely on the vulnerable groups. Instead, the educated and affluent, who have greater access to the drugs that emerge from clinical research, must grasp the criticality of this research and pull their weight. Selectiveness in recruiting subjects for clinical trials leads not only to human rights violations but also to bad science. Civil society’s vigilance is vital.


1) Right-wing

Meaning: The conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system.

Example:  “A candidate from the right wing of the party”

2) Conspiracy                                                        

Meaning: A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.

Example: “A conspiracy to destroy the government”

Synonyms: Plot, Scheme

3) Culpability

Meaning: Responsibility for a fault or wrong; blame.

Example: “A level of moral culpability”

Synonyms: Guilt, Blame

Antonyms: Innocence

4) Hatched

Meaning: Conspire to devise (a plot or plan).

Example: “The little plot that you and Sylvia hatched up last night”

Synonyms: Devise, Conceive

5) Steer

Meaning: Guide the movement or course of.

Example: “He had steered her to a chair”

Synonyms: Guide, Conduct

6) Conflicting

Meaning: Be incompatible or at variance; clash.

Example:”Parents’ and children’s interests sometimes conflict”

Synonyms: Clash, Be incompatible

Antonyms: Harmonious

7) Alleged

Meaning: Said, without proof, to have taken place or to have a specified illegal or undesirable quality.

Example:”The alleged conspirators”

Synonyms: Supposed, So-called

8) Perpetrators

Meaning: A person who carries out a harmful, illegal, or immoral act.

Example: “The perpetrators of this horrific crime must be brought to justice”

9) Prosecutor

Meaning: A person, especially a public official, who institutes legal proceedings against someone.

Example: “Prosecutors are fully entitled to bring any number of offences against a single defendant”

10) Dilute

Meaning: Make (something) weaker in force, content, or value by modification or the addition of other elements.

Example: “The reforms have been diluted”

Synonyms: Diminish, Reduce

Antonyms: Intensify

11) Substantive

Meaning: Having a firm basis in reality and so important, meaningful, or considerable.

Example:”There is no substantive evidence for the efficacy of these drugs”

12) Dodgy

Meaning: Dishonest or unreliable.

Example: “A dodgy second-hand car salesman”

13) Lest

Meaning: With the intention of preventing (something undesirable); to avoid the risk of.

Example: “He spent whole days in his room, wearing headphones lest he disturb anyone”

14) Miscarriage

Meaning: An unsuccessful outcome of something planned.

Example: “The miscarriage of the project”

Synonyms: Failure, Foundering

15) Thrown out

Meaning: If people in authority throw out a plan, idea, case, etc. they refuse to accept or use it.

Example: The case was thrown out by the courts due to lack of evidence.

16) Augurs

Meaning: (Of an event or circumstance) portend a good or bad outcome.

Example: “The end of the cold war seemed to augur well”

Synonyms: Bode; Portend

17) Integrity

Meaning: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

Example: “A gentleman of complete integrity”

Synonyms:  Honesty, Uprightness

Antonyms: Dishonesty

18) Suspicion

Meaning: A feeling or thought that something is possible, likely, or true.

Example: “She had a sneaking suspicion that he was laughing at her”

Synonyms:  Intuition, Feeling

Antonyms: Certainty

19) Deliberately

Meaning: Consciously and intentionally; on purpose.

Example: “The fire was started deliberately”

Synonyms:  Intentionally, On purpose

Antonyms: By mistake, Accidentally, hastily

20) Agonisingly

Meaning: Causing extreme worry.


Example: She went through an agonizing few weeks waiting for the test results.

21) Bioethics

Meaning: The study of what is right and wrong in new discoveries and techniques in biology, such as genetic engineering and the transplantation of organs.

Example: The uproar led to the establishment of bioethics committees to oversee research.

22) Amendments

Meaning: A minor change or addition designed to improve a text, piece of legislation, etc.

Example: “An amendment to existing bail laws”

Synonyms: Revision, Alteration

23) Ensure

Meaning: Make certain of obtaining or providing (something).

Example: “Legislation to ensure equal opportunities for all”

Synonyms: Safeguard, Protect

24) Stifle

Meaning: Make (someone) unable to breathe properly; suffocate.

Example: “Those in the streets were stifled by the fumes”

Synonyms: Suffocate, Choke

Antonyms: Cold, Chilly

25) Plaguing

Meaning: Cause continual trouble or distress to.

Example: “He has been plagued by ill health”

Synonyms: Afflict, Bedevil

26) Exploiting

Meaning: To use something in a way that helps you.

Example: We need to make sure that we exploit our resources as fully as possible.

27) Bioequivalence

Meaning: The property wherein two drugs with identical active ingredients or two different dosage forms of the same drug possess similar bioavailability and produce the same effect at the site of physiological activity.

28) Incentive

Meaning: A thing that motivates or encourages someone to do something.

Example:”Give farmers an incentive to improve their land”

Synonyms: Inducement, Motivation

Antonyms: Deterrent, Disincentive

29) Enrol

Meaning: Officially register as a member of an institution or a student on a course.

Example:”He enrolled in drama school”

Synonyms: Register, Sign on

Antonyms: Leave

30) Throw off

Meaning: To cause an amount to be wrong or a person to be confused.

Example: They left very rich people out of the study so their spending would not throw off the results.

31) Fudging

Meaning: Present or deal with (something) in a vague or inadequate way, especially so as to conceal the truth or mislead.

Example: “The authorities have fudged the issue”

Synonyms: Evade, Dodge

Antonyms: Be forthright about

32) Duplicity

Meaning: Deceitfulness.

Example: “The president was accused of duplicity in his dealings with Congress”

Synonyms: Deceitfulness, Deceit

Antonyms: Honesty

33) Paramount

Meaning: More important than anything else; supreme.

Example: “The interests of the child are of paramount importance”

Synonyms: Most important, Of greatest importance,

34) Anonymises

Meaning: Remove identifying particulars or details from (something, especially medical test results) for statistical or other purposes.

Example: “Anonymized testing of routine blood samples”

35) Affluent

Meaning: (Especially of a group or area) having a great deal of money; wealthy.

Example:”The affluent societies of the western world”

Synonyms: Wealthy, Rich

Antonyms: Poor, Impoverished

36) Emerge

Meaning: Move out of or away from something and become visible.

Example: “Black ravens emerged from the fog”

Synonyms: Come out, Appear

Antonyms: Disappear

37) Grasp

Meaning: Seize and hold firmly.

Example:”She grasped the bottle”

Synonyms: Grip, Clutch

Antonyms: Release

38) Violations

Meaning: The action of violating someone or something.

Example: “The aircraft were in violation of UN resolutions”

Synonyms: Contravention, Breach,

39) Vigilance

Meaning: The action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.

Example: “Security duties that demand long hours of vigilance”

Synonyms: Watchfulness, Careful observation

Antonyms: Inattentiveness

40) Vital

Meaning: Absolutely necessary; essential.

Example: “Secrecy is of vital importance”

Synonyms:  Essential, Indispensable

Antonyms: Unimportant, Peripheral

Other THE HINDU EDITORIALS from the month of December :