A Sympathetic Justice Delivery System Part 3

In any Justice Delivery System the State is required to have a legal framework within which, the Judge shall have to work. One without the other would be meaningless and impossible. In almost all countries the judicial proceedings have become adversarial and though in very few branches they might be inquisitorial, simply reading the text of law cannot render justice. There has to be an authority duly appointed by the State, who while presiding over the proceedings, would collect true facts from the rival contentions and then apply the law with a view to come out with a verdict. This authority has been designated as a Judge.


The Institution operating for more than a thousand years, it is said, had acquired a recognised authoritative status among the Sovereign and the subjects during the early Roman times. According to the legal history in ancient Europe the law dates back as far as 3000 B. C. On a gaze at the past, the ancient Muslim historians claim that major legal systems had developed ages back with the well-recognised Islamic Law and Jurisprudence. The Aylesbury County Hall is said to be the oldest Court in England established in the year 1740.


In India, the JDS in its present form, owes its existence right from the Colonial Rule beginning with East India Company and the Crown Courts, a period during which Local Courts, the Courts of Appeal, Sudder Dewany Adawlats, the Supreme Courts at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras and then the Chartered High Courts at these Provinces came to be established, requiring the involvement of the persons well acquainted with law, to administer justice, while sitting in the chair of the Judge.


Every Judge duly appointed exercises ‘Judicial Powers’, the term being explained by Chief Justice Griffith in the matter of Huddart, Parker and Co. v. Moorehead [(1909) 8 CLR 330] which came to be approved by the Privy Council, in Shell Co. of Australia v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1936 All ER. Rep 671) requires a reference for appreciating the concept of the Judicial Power.


Chief Justice Griffith has said,

“Judicial Power means the power which every sovereign authority must, of necessarily have to decide controversies between its subjects or between it and its subjects, whether the rights relate to life, liberty or property. The exercise of this power, does not begin until some tribunal which has the power to give a binding and authoritative decision, (whether subject to appeal or not) is called upon to take action.”


“A Judge exercises Judicial Power not only when he is deciding suits between parties, but also when he exercises, ‘Judicial discretionary powers, which are properly appurtenant to the office of the Judge’, as held in Attorney General of Gambia v. N’jie [(1961) 2 All ER 504 PC] and Montfort Senior Secondary School v. Vijay Kumar [(2005) 7 SCC 472].


It is in the exercise of the Judicial Powers that a Judge has to work and write a judgment, which is the statement given by him, of the grounds of a decree or Order. As said in Balraj Taneja v. Sunil Madan [(1999) 8 SCC 396]:

“The process of reasoning by which the Court came to the ultimate conclusion and decreed the suit should be reflected clearly in the judgment. But that has to be done by a Judge.”


Encyclopedia Law Dictionary puts this concept as:-

I        A Judge ought always to have equity before his eyes.

II       The Judge ought to decide according to the allegations and proofs, and lastly;

III     A Judge should have two salts – the salt of wisdom, lest he be insipid and the salt of conscience, lest he be devilish.


These are the expectations, born out of the juristic thinking and the traditional practice of the present day judiciary, of which a Judge is a face. He must be capable to work in a manner that would produce as a result, something if not everything, in the direction of the meeting with these expectations. A legal framework with all possible infrastructural facilities, would not serve any useful purpose in absence of a competent judiciary, having not only magisterial but sympathetic approach. This can best be understood from the words of Austin Blacstone, who writes a dictum, “The effect of the Laws depends upon the persons who address it upon the Addressed”


But this alone is not sufficient. A Judge is both expected and required to have certain other qualities also. Firstly, he shall have to be ‘an ethical persona’, a term that demands a person to be moral, humane, respectable, honest, decent and noble. Ethics prescribes and emphasises upon the Basic Principles of right action as it happens to be a Science of Morals. Sir Thomas Holland in his thesis ‘The Elements of Jurisprudence’ (13th Edition, Page 27), while distinguishing ethics from Nomology, propounds, “Ethics is the science mainly of duties, while nomology looks rather to the definition and preservation of rights.”


Ethics always travels with the virtue of knowledge. Without the adequate knowledge of the branch of the law in which he acts, a Judge would hardly be able to perform his duties demanded by his position. Rendering justice without adequate knowledge is always equated with a sailor on the high seas without a compass. Adequate knowledge on the part of a Judge, in the present day has become a sine qua non.


The Supreme Court of India has endorsed this essential in various pronouncements:


Justice K. Ramaswami in the State of Karnataka v. Appa Balu Ingle [(1995) Supp. (4) SCC 469] speaking for the Bench has said;

“Judiciary acts as the bastion of the freedom and of the rights of the people.”


Justice Pandian in The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record v. Union of India [(1993) 4 SCC 441] expresses the views of the Bench thus;

“The judiciary under our Constitutional scheme has to take up a positive and creative function in securing Socio-economic Justice to the people.”


Justice Radhakrishnan in Micro Hotel (P) Ltd. v. Hotel Torrento Ltd. [(2012) 10 SCC 290] while describing the nature of the function of a Judge, has said;

“A Judge has to reason out truth from falsehood, good from evil, which enables him to deduce references from facts or propositions.”


The heavy responsibility lying on the shoulders of a Judge, anxiously noticed by the Supreme Court cannot be discharged, unless a Judge knows the law.


Equally important is the independence of the Judiciary collectively, and of a Judge individually. A number of forces are nowadays busy to encroach upon the virtuous space being held by a Judge. Politics, socio-economic persuasions expressed widely and loudly, the divergence resting on the basis of caste, creed, class and religion, do try to intervene in the judicial process. A Judge’s own thinking, his attraction towards his personal belief, likes and dislikes, bias and obsessions, his own desire to be known as either a populist or a strict judicial persona, a keen urge to make progress in his career and the resulting consequences do try to occupy the space in his thinking and verdicts. A Judge who is not independent and allows himself to be haunted by these forces would not be able to understand the feelings of others and to adopt a sympathetic approach towards them.


A Judge must be mindful of the fact that the litigants come to the Courts as a last resort as they know that the Courts, especially in India, are flooded with cases . Procrastination and costs are the two powerful deterrents obstructing their path to justice. They, therefore, must be treated with compassion and sympathy. Every care shall have to be taken to avoid unnecessary adjournments, which practice costs very dearly to them. The daily boards should be ‘adjusted’ as early as possible, to save the time of the litigants and to give more time to the Judge to hear the matters listed before him.


A sympathetic Judge must be a firm believer and practitioner of the principles of the Natural Justice. The Rules of Natural Justice are always present in the judicial conscience, but what is really required is their use and employment in the discharge of the day-to-day functions of a Judge.          He should not forget that the area to be occupied by these principles are    not something like a leased premises, which always remains static but        is both liable and free to expand its occupancy as per the demand of          the changing society. Wade & Forsyth in ‘Administrative Law’ (5th Ed. Page 470) have noticed that, “It has now achieved something like the    status of a fundamental right” under the Constitutions and Precedents, which are well-known in various countries, including India where the Supreme Court has ordained and reiterated in the cases of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [AIR 1978 SC 594], Hussain Ara Khatoon v. State of Bihar [AIR 179 SC 1369] and in Sheela Barse v. Union of India [AIR 1986 SC 1773] that the right to speedy trial is a Fundamental Right implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution. Looking to this importance of Natural Justice, a Judge would definitely be in search of a cautionary phrase, under which he should work. The Supreme Court of India in D. K. Yadav v. J.M.A. Industries Ltd. [(1993) 3 SCC 259] provides this by saying that, “In arriving at a decision the procedure adopted must be just, fair and reasonable.” In a rather terse language the Supreme Court of India in A. K. Kraipak v. Union of India [(1969) 2 SCC 262] has ruled that, “Any order passed in violation of the principles of natural justice is a nullity.” A Judge who forgets this basic understanding would not be able to be a learned Judge and later on a sympathetic Judge.


Natural Justice demands a fair trial which cannot be initiated without the notice to the other side, who must know that a judicial process has been initiated against him, and that the non-appearance by him personally or through his agent, would be to his own peril. A Judge should, as a first lesson, understand that there exists a principle called Audi Alteram Partem, meaning that, ‘hear the other side and hear both sides’, as no person could be condemned unheard. Banker v. Evans [(1850) 16 QB 102], affirmed in a plethora of decisions, lays down the Rule falling within the procedural law that, “No proposition is more clearly established than that, ‘a man cannot incur the loss of liberty or property for an offence by a judicial proceeding until he has had a fair opportunity of answering the charge against him unless indeed the legislature has expressly or impliedly given an authority to act without that necessary preliminary’.” Thus a pre-decisional notice is a must in any judicial proceedings. Lord Hewart of Bury, the Lord Chief Justice of England writes in his renowned work ‘The New Despotism’, “Essential to the proper administration of justice, every party should have an opportunity of being heard so that he may put forward his own views and support them by argument and answer the views put forward by his opponent.”


But the rule of audi alteram partem, along with other rules, falling within the scope of Natural Justice have been subjected to two prominent exceptions namely, (1) Statutory or Constitutional; and (2) Urgency or Public Interest. A Statute can create an exception by providing a specific exclusion which shall have to be done by the use of clear, unambiguous and express language, leaving no doubt that it is meant for creating and in fact, creates the exception. The exclusion can be read in the Statute by necessary implication also. The Constitution can provide it by a specific exclusion clause. Article 311 of the Constitution of India, happens to be a classic example of the adoption of this methodology. This Article pertains to the dismissal, removal or reduction in rank etc. of the persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or the State. Article 311(2) mandates that such actions cannot be taken without an inquiry which should follow the notice of the charges and a reasonable opportunity of being heard. But the second Proviso to Article 311(2) enlists three situations wherein the non-application of the above said formalities has been provided for.


The presence of urgency of the matter or Public Interest permits the      non-observance of the Principles of Natural Justice especially at the         pre-decisional legal formalities, empowering the Courts to issue ad-interim ex parte Orders which could be ratified, rectified or recalled upon a bi-party hearing.


Fair hearing, which follows the due service of the notice to each of the parties, demands several observances. The parties should be given, as a matter of course, a reasonable opportunity of filing the pleadings, and in case of any party praying for the adjournment the same should be decided on merits. Keeping in mind the consistent trend of the Supreme Court of India, of allowing the amendment in the pleadings at any stage, subject to certain qualifications, a Judge should not be averse to the granting of the prayer for amendment, while remaining within the prescribed qualifications. The production of documentary evidence is a right of the litigants, not only at the initial but at other stages also, as the proceedings hardly rest with the pleadings and always call for the documents, which would substantiate the case of the litigant. Sometimes it becomes essential to call for the documents, especially from the Government records for the very same purpose. Here also the summoning of the witnesses becomes inevitable.


This would fall within the procedural law and the Judge who is sympathetic is required to act in a positive manner, conducive to real justice.


Next step for a Judge is to hear the case. This would include recording of the oral and documentary evidence and hearing the arguments of the lawyers, representing the parties. A sympathetic Judge would record the oral evidence in a manner befitting to his office. This should be done without unnecessary haste and utilising the words spoken by the witness, without any violence to the letter and spirit of the testimony. He has to appreciate the facts like caste and class of the witnesses, and their socio-economic and educational and cultural standards, with a view to avoid any misunderstanding or            mis-recording of the evidence.


The same qualities and the precautions are required to be taken, while hearing the arguments. A sympathetic Judge shall have to allow the lawyers to put forward their case. Asking questions for the better or complete understanding is always welcome, but that should not result in unnecessary interceptions or a war of words or wits. Traditionally the Judge, hearing the arguments in a civil case, takes detailed notes and keeps the same along with the Record and Proceedings, but in criminal trials the notes are required to be exhibited. A High Court or a Supreme Court Judge writes the minutes, affording the party feeling that a particular contention has not been dealt with in the Judgment, to move for speaking to the minutes.


Writing of a Judgment covering all the contentions and recording the findings on all the issues in clear and unambiguous words, often said to be ‘an art of writing judgment’ is a quality, which requires to be imbibed by a Judge to the extent that it becomes his habit.


A Judge is a human being and is entitled to have his own personal thinking, belief and opinions, but this very liberty, casts upon him a parallel obligation to be away from them, while discharging his judicial functions. This requirement sometimes is found lacking and speaks eloquently in the Judgment. Related to this obligation is his duty to be away from bias, hatred, or ill will towards any of the parties, as they are the hidden enemies which annihilate justice itself.


The same principles would apply while a Judge is called upon to utilise his discretion in granting orders at various stages. The discretion is required to be utilised in many cases, when only one party who has initiated the proceedings is before the Court. In case of urgency, the Judge is required to issue Ad-interim or Interim Orders, with a view to maintain the status quo. This is a juncture where the Judge is required to utilise his discretion in such a way as not to cause any harm, legal or pecuniary to either of the two sides but especially the persons who are not before the Court and would come only after the due service of the notice. During the entire proceedings, occasions would arise when the Judge would require to act on the basis of his discretion, though there could be two sets of advancement or propagation of arguments.


A Judge, who claims to be a part of a sympathetic JDS, while using his discretion at a pre-notice stage, has to weigh the pros and cons of the matter and has to be careful to notice where the balance of convenience lies, and who would suffer if no order were to be passed. He has to question himself whether it would be just to order the maintenance of the status quo or would it be just to shake that equilibrium and pass orders which would be helpful to the parties at that stage, and could be reviewed, ratified or lifted after the first hearing or further hearings in the matter.

Discretion in law always means that it is a judicial discretion. This discretion should not be allowed to go a little bit away from the cardinal principles of its exercise, which require it to be Judicial and in no circumstances arbitrary, capricious, whimsical or fanciful. Justice Wadhwa while speaking for the Bench in MI Builders (P) Ltd. v. Radheshyam Sahu [(1999) 6 SCC 464] has said that the judicial discretion wherever it is required to be exercised has to be in accordance with law and set legal principles. Justice K. Jagannatha Shetty in Lichhamadevi v. State of Rajasthan [(1988) 4 SCC 456] has observed that the judicial discretion should not be allowed to be swayed away by emotions and imaginations. Justice Dua in Akalu Ahir v. Ramdeo Ram [(1973) 2 SCC 583] speaks of the nature of the judicial discretion. He has said that, “Judicial discretion as has often been said means a discretion which is informed by tradition, methodised by analogy and disciplined by system.”


The newly added provision, Section 88 of the (Indian) Code of Civil Procedure, empowers the Court upon appearing to it, that in a given case there exist the elements of a settlement, to formulate the terms of a settlement, and after obtaining the views of the parties, to refer the matter for arbitration, conciliation, judicial settlement or mediation.


A Judge would find a significant scope to persuade the parties to adopt one of these courses by taking sympathetic and compassionate approach.


A Judge, much more a sympathetic Judge would make all endeavours to see that the cases before him are heard expeditiously, overriding all delays which could arrest the vice of procrastination.




While performing his judicial functions, a Judge should remember that as said by Cicero in ‘Roman Law’, “Law is the highest reason implanted in nature which commands those things which ought to be done and prohibits the reverse.”


This part could be concluded by quoting Coke and Socrates.

Coke has said that a Judgment given by an improper Judge is of no moment (10 Coke 76b).

Socrates has counselled Judges to “hear courteously, answer wisely, consider soberly and decide impartially.”

It appears that none of them was far away from defining the concept of a Sympathetic JDS.

A Sympathetic Justice Delivery System – Part 2

The Law 

In any justice delivery system, law acquires prominent significance. It is especially so in a system which is or aspires to be sympathetic. Ultimately it is the law which is to be complimented as the Courts and Judges address the law to the addressed.

Lawmakers and thinkers in different time-space, including Manu in India were tempted to imagine a society without laws and their implementers, which was a Utopian thinking, a fact which probably must have been recognised later on. A society without laws and their implementers could be imagined only in a society which is just and honest, and its members are conscious of the rights and welfare of others, rather than their own, which would diminish the scope of acrimony and disputes.

Hammurabi is said to be the earliest lawgiver, whose Code dates back to 1754, discovered by the archeologists only in 1901. Hammurabi has dealt with various branches of law like trade and commerce; master-servant relationship; family relationship, and the connected issues like marriage and divorce, and offences like theft and slender, and the slavery rules.

Manu is considered to be an early lawgiver of India, but his field of work was restricted to the personal laws of Hindus. Moreover, his righteousness also has been inquired into by making a reference to the works of Mr. Colebrook and Mr. Ellis. It is also noticed that his writings demonstrate a mix of the Rules of Law and Precepts. The Lords in Govindayya v Doraisami and others [(1887) 11 M.5FB] have pointed out the diversity and conflict of views in the works of Mr. Colebrook and Sir Thomas Strange, based upon the writings of Manu and other contemporary scholars.

Warren Hastings, with a view to provide a reference book for the English Judges administering Indian laws, got a compilation called Gentoo Laws translated from Persian to English.

With a view to appreciate the importance of law, one would like to read some of the Jurists, with a view to ascertain what the term law really means, one would be in search of an accepted definition of it. One should not get frustrated, because of the famous skeptical expression of Thurman Arnold, saying, “Obviously law can never be defined” which is corroborated by many. Lord Lloyd is of the same view when he writes, “Since much juristic ink has flowed in an endeavour to provide a universally acceptable definition of law but with little sign of attaining that objective.” Pollock has also concurred with such thinking by saying, “The greater a lawyer’s opportunities for knowledge have been and more time he has given to the study of legal principles, the greater will be his hesitation in the face of a simple question, “What is law?””

However, there are others, like Kant, Hegel, Austin and Salmond who have devised their own thinking to define the term. Kant has expressed himself by saying, “The sum total of the conditions, under which the personal wishes of one man can be combined with the personal views of another man, in accordance with the general law of freedom.” Hegel’s definition is simpler, when he says, “Law is the abstract expression of the general will existing in and for himself.” According to Austin, “Law is the aggregate of rules set by men as politically superior or sovereign, to man, as politically subject.”

According to Salmond, “Law may be defined as the body of the principles recognised and adopted by the State in the administration of justice.” Concentrating upon the Civil Laws, he says, “Civil Law is the law of the State or of the land, the laws of the lawmakers and the law of Courts.”

These four approaches towards the understanding of the term ‘law’ have more or less come to be acceptable in Jurisprudence.

The laws made by the independent countries stand on a different pedestal as compared with those of the countries ruled by a foreign sovereign or their de facto agents. When a country makes laws for its own citizens the predominant consideration is to give them good governance, which many a times lacks in the laws made by a foreign sovereign for his ‘subjects or natives’. Of course these laws are framed according to the needs of the government, but one finds classic examples where laws are framed for safeguarding the interest of the ruler, at the detriment and peril of the governed. This distinction is notoriously apparent in the laws enacted under the colonial rule in India. Some of the laws made by them are beneficial to the citizens, yet some others outweigh the benefits.

Some of the most beneficial Regulations or Enactments were The Sati Regulation Act, 1892; Act No. VII of 1870 (for the Prevention of the Murder of Female Infants); and The Champaran Agrarian Act, 1918.

The Sati Act, promulgated by Lord William Bentinck, with the support of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the Christian missionaries, notably the three known as ‘Serampore Trio’ under Clause II, declares the practice of ‘Suttee’ or of burning or burying alive the widows of Hindus, illegal and punishable by the Criminal Courts. The Prevention of the Murder of Female Infanticide Act enabled the local governments to make and notify the Rules, which would prevent the performing of Sati. The Champaran Act, which was an outcome of the satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi, put an end to the widely prevalent practice of setting apart by the tenant, his land or any portion thereof, for the cultivation of Indigo, popularly known as “Teen Kathia” system recognised by the proclamations, deep rooted practice and usages. The situation was worse if not the same for the cultivation of Poppy and manufacture and export of Opium, all of which were regulated by the Opium Acts of 1857 and 1876, which came to be repealed by The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

Other notable beneficial enactments were:

  • Act No. XX which removed all legal obstacles to the marriage of Hindu widows.
  • The Societies Registration Act of 1860, meant for the improving of the legal conditions of the societies established for the promotion of literature, science and the fine arts.
  • The Religious Endowments Act, 1863, which enabled the government to divest itself from the management of the endowments; and
  • The Hindu Inheritance (Removal of Disabilities) Act, 1928, which practically repealed the Scholastic Hindu Law relating to the exclusion of certain classes of heirs from inheritance on the ground of their personal disabilities. This exclusion, anyhow, was maintained for the persons suffering from lunacy or idiocy.

But the list and impact of the Regulations and Enactments, leaning heavily towards the establishment and against the people, are not small.

  • The Apprentice Act, 1850, ‘meant for better enabling of the children to learn trades and crafts’, provided for cruel punishments like solitary confinement, whipping and keeping the apprentice on bread and water for their ill behaviour.
  • The Act No. XXVI of 1870, ‘meant for amending the law relating to Prisons’, was utilised to reign terror over the prisoners by legalising the punishments like solitary confinement, corporal punishment of stripes of ratan not exceeding thirty, and confinement in irons for any term not exceeding six months.

This reading of the two sets of Enactments and Regulations would suffice to justify a clear distinction between the selfish legislative and administrative actions, and the beneficial enactments and orders which could bring social and economic benefits to the people of India.

Having studied these two sets of the legislative activity during the Colonial rule, it would now be apposite to study this activity by the Indian Legislature, after independence.

Article 13 of the Constitution of India read as a whole shows that it is both, retrospective and prospective in operation, as Article 13(1) declares all pre-constitution laws, insofar as they are inconsistent with the provisions, which guarantee the fundamental rights, shall to that extent be void. Article 13(2) mandates that the State shall not make any law, which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution, and any law made in contravention of the Clause to that extent, shall be void.

But these principles suffered a jolt by Article 13(4) inserted by The Twenty-fourth Amendment Act, 1971, saying that nothing in the Article shall apply to any amendment of the Constitution, meaning thereby that the constitutional amendments shall not be circumscribed by the provisions under Article 13(1) and 13(2). After Golaknath (AIR 1967 SC 1634) the Legislature came out with The Forty-second Amendment, which inserted Clauses (4) and (5) in Article 368 mandating that no amendment (including the provisions of Part III) made under Article 368, shall be called in question in any Court on any ground, and that there shall be no limitation whatsoever on the constitutional power of Parliament to amend, by way of addition, variation or repeal the provisions of the Constitution under Article 368. But this amendment came to be subsequently struck down as being ultra vires, in the case of Minerva Mills Limited v. Union of India [AIR 1980 SC 1769].

In the post independence era, the Legislature was busy enacting new laws, amending the existing and sometimes codifying the scattered Rules of Law.

The Legislature, in consonance with the thinking of the Nehruvian and Indira Gandhi era, came out with laws protecting the less privileged section of the society. The policy in respect of the Agrarian Reforms inspired the States to enact tenancy laws to end the absentee landlordism and transferring the status of tenant to that of the owner, on paying a small amount to be paid in twelve yearly installments. The transfer of agricultural land to a non-agriculturist came to be banned. Looking to the smallholdings of land in the country, the States have brought in the laws for prevention of fragmentation and for consolidation of the holdings. The urban and the agricultural lands ceiling laws put a limit on the holdings, and surplus lands came to be made available to the landless. Unfortunately, years thereafter the urban land ceiling legislation came to be repealed.

The zamindari system also came to be abolished by the State Acts. Some of the States when required came out with Agricultural Debtors Relief Acts, safeguarding the interest of the debtors.

Under their laws, the States prepared and put in action the housing schemes. The State laws for the Industrial Development brought in the state level corporations, for establishing industrial estates, providing the unemployed masses with the opportunity to work and earn.

The codification of the Personal Laws with necessary amendments ameliorated the condition of women. This is more evident in the personal laws of Hindus. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, as amended in 1976 prohibits polygamy and polyandry; recognises monogamous marriage as the only valid marriage; declares the marriage with a person having a living spouse void; permits inter-caste marriages; enlists the grounds of divorce available to each of the spouses along with further grounds available only to the wife; and recognises the right of either of the spouses to move the Court for Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Judicial Separation and Divorce.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956, makes the daughter of a coparcener governed by Mitakshara, a coparcener in her own right by birth, having the same rights in the coparcenery property, as if she is a son. Moreover, the concept of limited estate of Hindu widows has been given a complete go-by and she has been made an absolute owner. At the time of partition, in a Joint Hindu Family the coparcenery property is to be so divided, as to allot to a daughter, the same share as is allotable to a son. Under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, though the mother is a second preferential natural guardian, the custody of the minor below the age of five years is ordinarily to be with the mother. The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956, confer upon the Hindu female a right to adopt a child, either male or female.

Recognising that sustainable development is impossible without a well working eco system, the Legislature has come out with the Environment Protection Act, 1956, and the Air and Water Pollution Prevention Acts and the Rules framed there under, for the sustainable development to be made and maintained in the country.

The Consumer Protection Act (as amended by the Amendment Acts of 1991, 1993 and 2002) and the Rules framed there under, provide for the speedy and simple redressal of the grievances regarding the goods or services, by establishing a three tier judicial system, i.e. the Forums at the District, the State and the Central level. The Protection of the Human Rights Act, 1993, provides for the National and State Commissions and Courts for protecting the rights of the citizens related to life, liberty, equality and dignity, as guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants.

The Union Government was not unmindful of the fact that, though under the British rule the Trade Union’s Act, 1926, the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, and the Bombay Industrial Relations Act, 1946 were enacted; certain aspects in the field of labour laws were required to be taken care of. This thinking had resulted into the enactment of The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, providing for the fixing of minimum rates of wages in certain employments.

The Institutions of Provident Fund, Pension Fund and the Deposit Linked Insurance Fund for factories and other establishments came to be brought in, under the Employees Provident Funds Act of 1952. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, and the Rules framed there under, regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain periods, before and after the childbirth and provide the maternity and certain other benefits. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, and the Rules framed there under, provide for the abolition of such a practice in certain circumstances.

The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996, as amended by the Act No. 3 of 2016, should be seen as a classic example of the response to the expectation of General Assembly of the United Nations, to have the Arbitration Laws in all the countries in consonance with the model law prescribed by UNCITRAL, which would serve the purpose of speedy resolution of commercial disputes in India as the Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism.

The global increase in the generation and use of nuclear energy and the acquisition of nuclear weaponry had required India to be a part of the Global Civil Nuclear Damage Compensation Regime, which goal could not be achieved because of the non-ratification of the CTBT and NPT; and of not being the signatory to the Paris and Vienna Conventions of 1960 and 1963 respectively. But the 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage opened the doors of the global regime for India. This Convention has said that the countries, which are not the ratifying parties or signatories to these Treaties and Conventions, would be able to be a part of the Global Regime, provided they enact their own laws as per the annex of the 1997 Convention. It was in these circumstances that India has enacted the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act of 2002, and has become the part of the Global Regime.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, (which takes the place of the Act of 1894) and the Rules framed there under, is a milestone in acquisition legislation of India. The Act concentrates not only upon the compensation payable to the land owners but grants the collateral benefits of rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced, over and above the minimum compensation, which is to be ascertained upon the relevant factors including the market value. The concept of obtaining the consent for acquisition of eighty per cent of the land owners and the compulsory social impact study, are the new features of the Act. Again, the acquisition could be for the use of the Union or State Governments and only for the enlisted public purposes. Most importantly there is a provision that the acquisition made earlier would lapse, if the land has not been put to the use for five years and the compensation has not been paid to the land owners.

The laws are made by the Legislature and not by the Courts, but yet we have seen the scope of the advancement of the Judge-made law. Vishaka & Others v State of Rajasthan [(1997) 6 SCC 241] provides the first incident in which the Supreme Court gives complete guidelines in the matters related to sexual harassment of women at work places. It has been said by the Supreme Court, that the guidelines would prevail till the Legislature passes the law in this respect. Later on the Legislature has enacted the Act of 2013 which would supersede the guidelines.

The Supreme Court pronouncement in Shayara Bano v Union of India [2017 (9) SCALE 178] under the majority view has held, that the Instant Triple Talaq is violative of Article 13(1) of the Constitution of India. It also lays down that the Muslim (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, which permits the Instant Triple Talaq is void and unconstitutional.

The Naz Foundation Trust had filed a Writ Petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 377 IPC, which penalises unlawful sexual acts against the order of nature. The High Court had recognised the plea of the petitioner. The Judgment came to be overturned by the Supreme Court in case of Suresh Kumar Koushal v Naz Foundation [(2014) 1 SCC 1]. But once again the Supreme Court in the case of Navtej Singh Tomar v Union of India [(2018) 1 SCC 791] has taken a different view saying that Section 377 IPC is violative of the rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution. This decision of the Supreme Court is said to be a step forward in the social life of the citizens, and is in consonance with the well-recognised global view.

The High Court of Delhi in case of Aruna Shanbaug was not prepared to accept the right of a human being to die, having the recourse of active or passive Euthanasia. This decision of the High Court came to be reversed by the Supreme Court in Common Cause v Union of India [(2014) 5 SCC 338].

This appreciation of the Laws framed under the Colonial rule and by the Legislature of independent India, manifests clearly, that some of the laws made during the Colonial rule were indeed selfish yet some others were clearly beneficial to the citizens of the country. These laws can be said to be sympathetic laws which takes into consideration the public good and the welfare of the society.

Such sympathetic laws would indeed be helpful in establishing a sympathetic justice delivery system, as they provide a room for the courts to interpret such laws and to accord the benefits there under, of course looking to the facts and circumstances of the case, a phenomena alien to the non-sympathetic laws.

This understanding of the good and the bad of the laws would justify the say that law is a basic constituent of a sympathetic justice delivery system. This part could be concluded with a wish, that the areas in which sympathetic laws are required to be enacted, are identified, and the requisite legislation is put in place.


Justice S. D. Dave

A Sympathetic Justice Delivery System- Part 1


The State

This series of essays is an effort to understand and appreciate the concept of a Sympathetic Justice Delivery System (JDS).

The JDS of any democratic country ought to constitute five components:, the State; the Law; the Judges; the Lawyers and the Litigants, working in their own fields, discharging the duties cast upon them, each different from the other whilst ultimately creating a cohesive machinery capable of dispensing justice. Each must function in tandem and with regard and respect for the other in order to ensure cohesion and continuity.

None of the five components can be undervalued or bypassed with a lesser understanding of it. Whenever they have been found acting in such an exclusive culture, their actions are found to be coupled with the disjunction of the institution of which they are a part.

In this four-part series, the focus will first be upon the State as a component of the JDS. The preference for purposes of study must first be allocated to the State for a variety of reasons. A democratic Country following the Doctrine of Separation of Powers in spirit, without saying so, is an important limb saddled with multiple obligations in a number of fields. It is within the responsibilities of the State to retain its integrity and sovereignty in the midst of competing claims being made by other powers and to provide its people with a stable and self supporting governance and ultimately to secure for them, a living and progressive society, less and less amenable to conflicts and insecurities. The State has to strive for better life living for the citizens and to secure the socioeconomic development of the country. Furthermore it is the State that provides support, help and administrative assistance to the other components. These are some of the justifiable reasons for dealing with the State as a component, before others. A final aspect on the matter of prioritizing the discussion on the State is with regard to the role of the State as the ultimate protector of the rights of the rights of the people and the maintainer of peace and equality in the society. All the prosecutions are in the name of the State and at the same time, the State is always under a statutory obligation to provide for the legal assistance to the persons being prosecuted by the State itself, before the Courts of Law.

Formation of the Three Institutions

Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) in ‘The Politics’ describes the three organs as the Elements. They are Deliberative, the Official and the Judicial. Thomas Hobbs (1588 – 1697) appears to be propounding the very same theory, though not in clear and easily appreciable words, in his three works ‘The Elements of Law’ (1640); ‘Decive’ (1642); and ‘Levithan’ (1651) where there is a Sovereign, and the Public Ministers meant for general as well as special administration, but some Ministers while in their Seats of Justice, representing the Sovereign, would decide the controversies of Facts or Law by their Judgments. John Locke (1632 – 1704) speaks of two powers, only the Executive and the Legislature. Charles Montesquieu (1689 – 1756), not agreeing with any of the three, propounds the theory of fear, where societies under the fear of inter se wars would recognise an Institution called ‘Government’, with a later development of the Doctrine of Division of Powers, the State being the main component. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) advances the theory of ‘The Social Pact’, where the societies under the fear of war, would bind themselves by certain Rules to be legislated and interpreted by ‘The Tribunate’. All this thinking has resulted into the formation of the three Institutions, the Executive; the Legislature; and the Judiciary.

A Sympathetic JDS

A Sympathetic JDS is a sine qua non for any democratic country, which believes honestly and sincerely, in upholding the Rule of Law as envisaged in its Constitution and in granting all its citizens the rights and liberties enshrined in it, without fear or favour, prejudice or bias. This objective cannot be achieved, in absence of an easy Access to Justice, which ultimately could result into a socio-economic structure of the society. But again such an access is of no avail, if all the components of the JDS are not sympathetic to each other, especially to the litigants.

The term ‘Sympathy’, having its roots in Greek and Latin, a combination of two words ‘Sun’ (with) and ‘Pathos’ (feelings), means the understanding of the feelings of others. A sympathetic approach cannot be cultivated unless a person or a group thereof, understands the feelings of the other components.

Understanding of the feelings of others with whom they are connected, whether in the family, in the society or in any institution where one is working, enjoys a place of priority because the society lives on with the basic principle – “Live and let others live”.

History has witnessed destruction of civilizations resulting from non-understanding of the feelings of others. On the other hand, understanding and respecting of the feelings of the fellow men have been helpful in creating a peace loving polity, where despite the differences, the people have been able to coexist without acrimony and to make all the possible efforts to achieve progress in different directions.

This understanding of the feelings of others is a much-needed environment for the creation of the Sympathetic JDS.

Before a JDS can successfully claim to be sympathetic, its five components, the State; the Law; the Judges; the Lawyers; and the Litigants, each having a each having a sympathetic understanding of the other, in fact, acts with this wisdom.

Role of the State

The State, as the first component, performs more than one role. It is up to it, to establish a sound JDS not only by creating the whole order, including sufficient number of Courts with the infrastructural facilities and the appointments of the Judges to man them, who appreciate and construe the laws and make them enforceable by their verdicts, remaining within the limits as prescribed by the Constitution, which, though not expressly indicating the adherence to the Doctrine of Separation of Powers, leans heavily towards it. This would be the first step towards the establishment of a sympathetic JDS.

Enactment of Laws is not as simple as it appears to be. It is the lawmakers that make the Laws, but the political which sets the machinery in motion, and to do so effectively, the State must for doing so the State must be aware of the needs of the changing society, especially when the Indian Constitution guarantees Equality before Law and Equal Protection of under Articles 14 and 15. Equal Protection implies the right to claim and achieve equal treatment, while situated in similar circumstances. The questions would be; how can you provide equal treatment to the un-equals? And would it survive the judicial scrutiny? These questions stand duly answered by the Supreme Court in Case of Reserve Bank of India v. Peerless General Finance and Insurance Company Ltd. [(1996) 1 SCC 642] by laying down that the treatment which appears to be leaning towards the un-equals is not liable to be struck down as discriminatory unless there is a simultaneous absence of a rational relation to the object intended to achieve by the law.

The other related question arises out of the same thought process. Would it be open for the State; i.e. the Executive and the Legislature; to recognise a classification and to work accordingly? The Supreme Court in Budhan Chaudhary v. State of Bihar [(1955) (1) SCR 1045] has said that what Article 14 prohibits is class legislation, and not a reasonable classification for the purpose of legislation.

Article 13(1) and 13(2) of the Indian Constitution, mandate that the pre-Constitution Laws would be void to the extent to which they are inconsistent with the Fundamental Rights, and that the prospective legislation should not be such as either taking away totally or abrogating them in part. The State should be aware of the fact that these constitutional essentials are required to be observed while initiating the law making process, which would ultimately help in building a sympathetic JDS.

The State, as a keeper of law, is the authority to prosecute the offenders. This requires honest and sincere investigation by the authorised agencies, the ultimate aim being to penalise the guilty and to safeguard the sufferers. Here is the scope for the State to be sympathetic to both the components so as to avoid, not only injustice but unnecessary delay and hardships also, which are conspicuous at every stage. Connected therewith is the duty of the State to establish and maintain the prisons which would allow the prisoners to live with human dignity and seize the opportunities for their reformation so that, when free they can live the life of responsible citizens. The same applies equally to the duties of the State to run Remand Homes and Shelter Houses. The Probation Officers also should be discharging their duties sympathetically. All this would be a step forward.

There are yet other avenues open for the State, to be sympathetic to the litigants. The State, as said by Sir Thomas Holland (Holland on Jurisprudence. 13th Edition by Universal Law Publishing Company Limited. Pages 387, 388 and 389) is a great Juristic Person having many Quasi Rights against individuals and Quasi Duties in their favour, and irrespective of the Doctrine of Eminent Domain, is a great landed proprietor having a right of servitude over the estates of the individuals, and subject to that, has to act for the benefit of such estates. Hence the State is supposed to be sympathetic to the Subjects, by not assisting the nonservitude causes.

The State is one of the biggest litigants and is entitled under Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure (of India), to a two months notice before instituting the suit, granting an opportunity to amend the State action. The State can also be a consenting party for the settlement of disputes outside the Courts, as contemplated under Section 89 of the Code. Thus, the State by rendering just and bona fide services in time and by adhering to their statutory powers and duties can minimise litigations in the over-flooded courts, and the costs of litigation to the litigants and the State as well.



Who’s Gonna Take Away His License to Kill?

I wasn’t sure I’ll have something to write about this topic this week. I could think of some songs, but I wasn’t sure I could pull off an opening for the topic of Power and Responsibility. Of course, as we all know, power corrupts, and turns people who hold too much power for too long irresponsible. But I preferred not to engage with clichés. However, reality provided. This is the 12th consecutive year in which Israeli-Palestinian peace NGOs—namely Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle Families Forum—hold a binational memorial service for casualties on both sides. It is one of the most emotional and significant events I ever had the privilege to attend, and it’s been growing by the year, bringing together Israelis and Palestinians to call to end the occupation, the hostilities, and the violence. Like in many years before, the service was criticized by right-wing groups in Israel, and a counter-protest was held outside the venue. Unlike past years, however, the counter-protest was more than just a protest. People who opposed the service followed people who attended it to their cars, threatening them, cursing them, spitting at them and sought a reason to get violent. The Israeli minister of education, Naftali Benet (a right-wing member of parliament) tweeted on the topic, but instead of condemning such behavior he claimed that the attendees “can handle it” thus implying that they also deserve it. This misuse of power, from an elected member of government and the minister of education, no less, represents accurately what we’re talking about when discussing power and responsibility. An elected official gets his power from the public, and is therefore responsible to the entire public—even to those who would rather give this power to someone else, and even people he does not agree with. This explicit violation of this responsibility has a name—it’s called corruption.

The Kinks—Powerman 

Mainly known for the musical hooks and catchy tunes, the Kinks are also fantastic lyricists. It is therefore no wonder that they manage to cover our entire topic in a single song that remains catchy and fun and even somewhat lighthearted. Taken from their 1970 album “Lola Versus the Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” (an album that contains most of my favorite Kinks songs), “Powerman” is a protest song against the power and influence possessed—and bought—by the upper class. The first three verses are quite generic, but in the last verse the Kinks finally point the finger at the owners of record labels, singing that “He’s got my money and my publishing rights // but I’ve got my girl and I’m alright // And she got me going, and she keeps me sane // but powerman, powerman, got money on the brain.”

 Kanye West—POWER 

Kanye released “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantast” in 2010, and that album remains—in my humble opinion—his magnum opus to this very day. “POWER” was the first single released from the upcoming album, giving a sneak peek into Kanye’s new musical style and proving once again that he is the biggest name in hip-hop (circa 2010) and one of the most interesting musicians in the world, as he truly reinvents himself anew with each and every release. “POWER”, however, was also somewhat personal and self-referential. After a few too many so-called “Kanye moments”, the rapper decided that it might be time to tackle his own demons—which he generally did in the album, but specifically in the tune in question. “No one man should have all that power” Kanye keeps reasserting throughout the song, and samples King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” for emphasis, really pushing his message through.


Tears for Fears—Everybody Wants to Rule the World

It was never easy for me to take Tears for Fears seriously. But still, they are such a musical landmark and so representative of the New Wave 80’s sound, that I can’t truly hate on them either. Also, I do secretly love some of their songs in a non-ironic manner, but let’s just keep that between us, right? Few of their songs, however, are as anthemic as “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. In spite of the random—and mildly racist—video clip, the song still provides a decent (even if slightly obvious) reflection on the aspiration for power. And even though I add it to this week’s list with some tongue-in-cheek, it’s actually a good song and can be offered with a slightly more serious interpretation, as the Lorde excellent cover version suggests.

Jesse Winchester—Step by Step

Jesse Winchester’s “Step by Step” is a great piece of southern blues-rock. It also discusses the matter of corruption in a somewhat metaphorical way: “cause Jacob’s golden ladder // gets slippery at the top // and many a happy-go-lucky saint // has made that long, long drop”. It is exactly that metaphor that got this song picked for the finale episode of The Wire’s first season. Being possibly the best TV series to ever critically deal with political systems that are rotten to the core with corruption, The Wire also happens to have a great soundtrack, and that won Jesse Winchester a spot on this week’s list.


The Beatles—Taxman 

The Beatles’ 1966 album “Revolver” is one of the band’s most interesting album, as it lies exactly on the cusp between the pop music stage of the Liverpool Four and their psychedelic pop era. In that, it opens with a catchy, rock-n’-roll-y, and yet extremely critical tune “Taxman”. Somewhat of a hybrid between Wincheter’s “Step by Step” and the Kinks’ “Powerman”, “Taxman” is a slightly-whimsical yet potent protest song against tax collection authorities and how they make people’s lives miserable. Another thing that makes it wonderful is how it is constantly updated in live versions, mentioning politicians or adding more verses, just like in this fantastic version by George Harrison and Eric Clapton.

More songs:

Elvis Presley—Only the Strong Survive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxbkXLEcKqA

Leonard Cohen—The Future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH1XTOBF0YQ

Timber Timbre—Do I Have Power? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZwPMj5OwvA

Bob Dylan—Masters of War https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2mabTnMHe8

Huey Lewis & the News—Power of Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkgYhtz64U


‘All Along the Watchtower’

Intelligence and espionage so often seems to be something from another world, from a film or a spy novel, but it actually governs our lives, to an extent, both as fiction and as a determinant of our political reality. You are  invited to join in this musical perspective on spying and intelligence.


Nancy Sinatra—You Only Live Twice 

Bond songs are iconic for multiple reasons. The movies are not expected to be any good—nor do they take themselves seriously—but the opening songs play a huge part in them and therefore are truly expected to be good music. Which is, perhaps, why the get such a grand stage. Think of it: do you know any other movie—let alone a series of movies—that has 3, 4, or even 5-minute long openings, in which the theme song is played in its entirety? I can’t think of one. And the opening sequence, that’s another thing: full of tacky, semi-risqué graphics all edited to fit the music. But it’s also that grand musical style—that Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” that attacks the senses and doesn’t let go, the trumpets going “BWAAAH” or the sweeping string sections. Nancy Sinatra’s You Only Live Twice is a great indicator of this unique, iconic style. In fact, so iconic it is, that it was remixed for Robbie Williams’ Millenium and its Bond-esque video clip.

Paul McCartney and Wings—Live and Let Die

If Nancy Sinatra (see above) and Shirley Bassey (see below) shaped, to a great extent, the Bond sound, it’s also important to note that Bond songs have evolved along the years—while keeping intact a certain melodic-dramatic signature. And indeed, Bond songs have evolved alongside pop music, and the what pop music meant in each decade. In the 1970’s the grand production made way to rock music with a slight hint of psychedelia, and who was able to make a better job at writing a catchy tune along those lines than former Beatle, (now Sir) Paul McCartney? Being the mainstream, heart of the consensus, Beatle, McCartney, together with Wings, wrote Live and Let Die to accompany Roger Moore’s first Bond film. This time, the brass instruments and the string sections were tossed aside for a guitar solo that shaped the sound of rock music for years to come—as we learn from the famous cover version from Guns n’ Roses.

Duran Duran—A View to a Kill 

But soon enough the 1970’s were over, and it was time for Roger Moore to hang his Walther PPK and hand the keys to the Aston Martin to the next in line—Timothy Dalton. The 1985 A View to a Kill was Moore’s last Bond film, and this one had all the characteristics one can expect from the high-noon of the 1980’s. A neon-y, glow-in-the-dark heavy-makeup opening credits scene, rocked by Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill (which, incidentally, has its own video clip—this one containing scenes from the iconic Eiffel Tower chase scene). This song has everything that was great about 80’s New Wave music: synthesizers, heavy bass, electric drums, the occasional gunshot sound effect, and an emotional plea to “dance into the fire”. A classic.


In fact, Bond music became so popular, and so iconic, that even alternative bands started throwing their hats to the music ring. Garbage, who did the theme song for The World is Not Enough are a great example of late 90’s counter culture. The same goes for the somewhat awkward, yet pleasing, collaboration between the White Stripe’s Jack White and Alicia Keys recorded for A Quantum of Solace. So in 2015 it was finally time for Radiohead, perhaps the most beloved and successful alternative band in the world today, to have their shot and record the title track for Spectre. While the song was eventually rejected by the filmmakers (for Sam Smith’s Writing’s on the Wall), Radiohead released it as a single—and an extremely beautiful one at that. Very Radiohead-y, the song contains Thom Yorke’s unique vocals and the band’s beautiful chaotic musical style, while still living up to Bond music standards, being catchy, melodic, dramatic and suspenseful. I do hope that the filmmakers realize the mistake they made rejecting such a massive tune.

Johnny Rivers—Secret Agent Man 

The only non-Bond song in our top five this week is Johnny Rivers’ Secret Agent Man. Recorded for the American broadcast the British TV-Show Danger Man, the song became an instant success, peaking at #3 in the Billboard Top 100 list. However it’s not the Americana interpretation of spying that won this song its place in this week’s list, but its immortalization in the first Austin Powers movie. This series of fantastic James Bond parodies definitely deserves its spot in our list, and since Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger is not available online in a friendly version, I decided to go with this instead. Oh, and also because of the fantastically creepy Devo cover.


Shirley Bassey—Diamonds Are Foreverhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPeSPB68i2c

Coldplay—Spies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iku5Ki2z7p8

Stan Ridgway—Camouflage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXKIBYnM_9Q

Bauhaus—Spy in the Cab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN53bSlCqqI

Minimal Compact—The Traitor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MzJ86eCbGA


Death is Not the End

I find it much easier to curate a playlist when the topic or theme is given to me. I’m afraid to get repetitive otherwise, and need someone else’s input to knock me out of my musical comfort zone. This is why all the playlists I’ve written so far were based on topics that were offered to me. This week it’s a bit different. With the horrible incidents we’ve witnessed in Syria, in Sweden and Egypt—and due to a whole other, personal set of events—I chose to focus on loss for this week’s playlist. Loss is an interesting phenomenon. We all experience it: we are bound to, it’s a vital—if not the only certain—part of life. Most of us have lived, and will live, to see loved ones ageing and dying, to see relationships fade, or to see parts of ourselves stripped away from us. And yet we all rebel against the very concept of loss—if by trying to struggle against it, or by embracing it so that we become emotionally resilient. Loss oftentimes leads to more loss: out of frustration we lose respect to our fellow human beings, or in trying to protect ourselves we become oblivious to the environment or to the planet. Loss is highly political, and is often used to promote a political goal. Loss can cause hatred, strife and even war. But loss also has another side, that of solidarity, of empathy, of interconnectedness. And in then, when faced with loss we are also faced with a choice on how to lead our lives. We are given a choice to cast political constructions aside and focus on the human experience—that of ourselves and of others—and do what we can to avoid the type of loss that is unnecessary, and to console each other when loss is inevitable. Loss can remind us that a different way of life it possible, and in that it stands at the heart of justice, politics and ethics.

Elliott Smith- A Fond Farewell

Many of Elliott Smith’s songs deal with loss and with death. That might be expected from a singer-songwriter who violently took his own life at the age of 34 and at the peak of his creative career. “Fond Farewell to a Friend” (a song off his post-mortem release “From a Basement on a Hill”) is often considered a song that foreshadowed his suicide, and while interpreters are split on whether it’s about suicide or about heroin addiction, this song definitely describes a very profound sense of loss. I would say that the main theme of the song is self-alienation, the feeling of losing parts of oneself, of no longer recognizing the person in the mirror—and in that it doesn’t matter if it’s about drugs or about life as a whole. Elliott Smith expresses here his anxieties, and his will to escape by any means necessary in an almost too intimate manner, speaking to himself in the third-person and reasserting over and over again that “this is not my life // it’s just a fond farewell to a friend”.


King Crimson— Starless/ Epitaph

One of the greatest progressive rock bands of all times, King Crimson were also quite fixated with death. And my dilemma on which of their songs I should add to this list was so unresolvable, that I had to go with both. The two are quite different in their vibe, and have been released in albums five-years apart, but definitely share a common theme. “Starless”, the later to be released, is a 12-minute piece with only three short verses of somewhat vague lyrics. In contrast, “Epitaph” was released in King Crimson’s debut album (“In the Court of the Crimson King”) and is quite more explicit in its lyrics, even though not entirely. They both paint a grim picture, but if “Starless” refers to a highly personal experience, then “Epitaph” is more socio-political (and some will even say ecological). The verses of “Epitaph” paint a picture of a dystopian reality, but it’s the chorus that really drives the message home: “If we make it we can all sit back and laugh // but I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying”.

The Antlers—Putting the Dog to Sleep

I really don’t know why I’m so well-versed in artists that are obsessed with death. The Antlers, however, is another such band. Their 2009 album “Hospice” tells the story of a romantic relationship between a hospice worker and a terminally-ill cancer patient, and is perhaps one of the most depressing concept albums I know. According to rumors—that have been ignored by the band to date—it is based on the personal experience of the band’s front man Peter Silberman, which makes it even more depressing. But since I couldn’t really choose an entire album, I decided to go with a song off the Antlers’ 2011 “Burst Apart”, a song with an extremely sad and personal tone. While taken from a later album, “Putting the Dog to Sleep”—written as somewhat of a dialogue between a dog and his owners—is actually the real epilogue of “Hospice”, and is about reconciliation with the events depicted in that album. It’s a beautiful and sentimental meditation on death and separation, and on parting ways with loved ones.


Beck—Golden Age


Beck is one of the most innovative artists of our time, in that he manages to invent himself anew with every release. Yet until his 2002 “Sea Change” his innovation and musical style focused on electro-indie, sample-heavy tunes, the type you might find in “Odelay” or “Midnite Vultures”. “Sea Change” was indeed, for Beck, a sea change—following a break-up, Beck suddenly released an indie-folk album, transforming his nonsensical lyrical style to a pensive-contemporary one. “Golden Age” which opens the album is—for me—the perfect night driving song. Its atmosphere really captures that feeling you get when the entire world goes dark, you are alone in your car, and everything is pitch-black apart from the lonely cone that is your headlights. The kind of thoughts that arise in these moments, reflected well in Beck’s song, are usually ones of harsh separation from the world, alongside—in stark contrast—a loss of all sense of self.


Sufjan Stevens—Death with Dignity / Should Have Known Better


I mentioned earlier that I couldn’t fit an entire album into this list. Well, I lied. What I meant to say was that I couldn’t do it twice. Sufjan Stevens’ “Carrie & Lowell” is a fantastic concept album, inspired by the period following the death of Stevens’ mother. I still scold myself, ever so often, for not falling for this album the moment it was released. It took me about a year to fully give in to it, but it’s been in very heavy circulation since. In fact, only recently I talked to a friend about whether or not we can crown any albums from the past decade as instant classics, and we were in full accordance that “Carrie & Lowell” is possibly the strongest candidate in such a list. “Death with Dignity” and “Should Have Known Better”, the two opening tracks of the album, are—to me—inseparable. If the first deals with forgiving a loved one, the second mirrors it by showing some resentment (as Stevens’ mother suffered from depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse and even abandoned him when he was very young—a fact also mentioned in the song Romulus, taken from an earlier release). Both songs, and in fact the album in its entirety, are wrapped in heavy musical effects which emphasize the pensiveness, and the feeling of childish hopelessness which envelope Sufjan Stevens’ sense of loss. It is truly a beautiful piece.


Additional songs

Clint Michigan—The Funeral

Jethro Tull—Requiem

Kings of Convenience—Winning a Battle, Losing the War

Eric Clapton—Tears in Heaven

Doors—The End

I Shall Be Released—Anti Establishment pt. II

In the previous anti-Establishment playlist I had an opportunity to say pretty much all I wanted to say about anti-Establishment and the music associated with me. To remind you, I focused on early anti-Establishment music, using 1980 as the year that marks the transition between old and new. And while this point was picked almost arbitrarily, I still think one can see an actual difference in the sound and content material with which the songs are concerned. The later anti-Establishment songs start getting more specific, and more explicit, but perhaps more noticeably they become less optimistic, less utopian, and more harsh for the listener as far as lyrics are concerned but also as far as the use of noise. Try to keep this in mind while listening to this playlist, which I hope you will enjoy.

DJ Shadow—Nobody Speak (Feat. Run the Jewels)


Few recent collaborations were as refreshing and energetic as this great tune from DJ Shadow featuring the duo Run the Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P). As all three musicians have a tendency to be very politically outspoken and to spare no criticism towards the establishment, this had to be a great one. In fact, DJ Shadow was so certain he needed the vocal abilities and general vibe of the duo, that he announced that this song would not have happened without them—meaning that had RtJ refused the collaboration, this song would never have seen the light of day. I guess it’s good news for us that they agreed after all. The video further drives home the general atmosphere of the song: it features a UN-type assembly that turns into an all-out brawl where the politicians and state representatives fight each other with whatever weapons the can find, thus portraying the establishment as these three talented musicians truly see it.

Rage Against the Machine—Killing in the Name of

This is probably not the most outspoken song Rage Against the Machine has ever recorded. It’s probably not the most political, not the most subversive, outrageous, radical song this fine group of musicians has released. But it became such an anthem, that I couldn’t pick any other song for this list. When it came out, this song swept across nations and age groups, and became one of the best end-of-the-party tunes I have ever encountered in my years as a DJ. The fact that RAtM managed to get even the most spoiled, obedient, upper-class, goodie-two-shoes child to scream at the top of his lungs ‘F**k you I won’t do what you tell me’ is already uncanny. Add to that the fact that even today, 26 years after its release it still makes every man in the ages of 15 to 60 jump up and down and push people around likes a person possessed, makes this, perhaps, the best anti-establishment song of all times.


Public Enemy—Fight the Power

Public Enemy remains, to this day, one of the most iconic groups in hip-hop history, one that truly shaped the genres in its dense sound, its utilization of samples and scratch music, and of course its uncompromising lyrics. In that, Fight the Power is not merely an anti-establishment anthem but a defining moment in pop culture—one that marks the beginning of incorporation of African-American protest music and iconography into the mainstream. The video for fight the power is full of references to African-American resistance to racism and persecution: the Black Panther-like dancers, the posters of Martin Luther King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and of course the lyrics.

Kanye West—New Slaves


Twenty-three years after Public Enemy, Kanye West released Yeezus. Now, personally, I wasn’t a big fan of the album as a whole—or at least I thought it was far inferior to what I to-this-day consider Kanye’s magnum opus: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. However, songs like New Slaves stand up and create the iconic moments of this album. This is an exceptionally perceptive piece, resisting racism and the establishment that molds it, and ends in one of the most beautiful crescendo’s designed by the brilliant producer who is Kanye West (namely the way he samples Omega’s ‘The Gill with the Pearl’s Hair’).

Tracy Chapman—Talkin’ bout a Revolution


If all the songs in this list go to show how the sound of anti-establishment music has changed throughout the year, this song should be an exception. Indeed, I always get confused with Tracy Chapman. There’s something almost idiosyncratic about her music—on the one hand it seems like it belongs in the late 60’s / early 70’s, and on the other hand it is almost entirely timeless. It is still mindboggling to me that the lion share of her creation took place in the late 80’s to early 90’s—a period of hip-hop, synth-pop, thrash metal and grunge, sure, but not so much of singer-songwriters and troubadours. In what is without a doubt her most iconic song, Chapman presents a bleak image of hardworking people who know they are being mistreated, and yet they only talk about a revolution and even that is done in a whisper.


Muse—Uprising https://youtu.be/w8KQmps-Sog

Fortis-Saharof—Me’atzvei Da’at Ha’Kahal (Shapers of Public Opinion) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-w3Gqyul4I

Franz Ferdinand—Demagogue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niJtpcgtUQs

Green Day—American Idiot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee_uujKuJMI

N.W.A.—F**k tha Police https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5fts7bj-so

Shall Be Released—Anti Establishment pt. I

This week’s theme is right up my alley, and boy am I happy that it will accompany us for two consecutive weeks. This week and the next we’re all about saying ‘Taking on the system’ and, as there are many great anti-establishment songs, we have decided to divide this theme into two lists: ‘old’ and ‘new’, arbitrarily drawing the line at 1990. This week we will be focusing on some great tunes of punk, hip-hop, and yes—even some country music. And this, I think, points at an interesting aspect I would like to discuss in my opening: anti-establishment sentiments exist on both sides of the political map—left and right, progressive and conservative. Many of Trump’s voters, I’m sure, have deep feelings of resentment against the establishment. In fact, The South—with its history of bootlegging and moonshining—takes great pride in its animosity towards the federal system and anyone representing it. The progressive left, on the other hand, is also highly critical of the political and financial establishment, as the deepening of neo-liberalism serves to further empower the rich, and hinder solidarity. The same can be said about the political atmosphere in Israel, where I come from: the radical right denounces the political establishment because it limits the settlements to some extent, and the progressive left resents the establishment because it allows for infringement of human rights of Palestinians and other minorities. The important point is this: these sides are not symmetrical. They are not the same, and just because they both have criticism towards the establishment doesn’t mean they have mutual interests or a common goal. I heard many people on the left who believed that Trump’s victory in the elections, or Brexit for that matter, are signs that people are finally trying to bring down the establishment and that there is an opportunity for a collaboration here. I think they’re wrong, and I think the rise of hate crime in the US and in the UK is evidence of that. This is something I tried to remember while compiling this week’s list, and this is something I hope you will keep in mind while listening to it.


The Byrds—Wasn’t Born to Follow


Oh wow. I still can’t believe it’s been less than a year since I first heard this song. It caught me immediately: the psychedelic melody accompanied by harmonies country guitar-picking, its highs and its lows, and its anthem-like qualities all inspired me with a deep sensation of wanderlust. It was while I watched the iconic 1969 ‘Easy Rider’ that I first came across it, and nothing says ‘counterculture’ like this movie and like this song. To a great extent, this movie explores the difference between progressive counterculture and conservative counterculture (referred to in the movie in a geographical sense of North vs. South) in America during the 1960’s. While it’s not the easiest movie to watch (strange editing techniques, very few lines of dialogue), it is a must for any movie lover or music lover, as it boasts an absolutely wonderful soundtrack.


Lynyrd Skynyrd—Free Bird

It seems like there’s an epic battle on which was the greatest Southern Rock band of all times—and it seems like the forerunners would by CCR, The Band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. And while I personally love all three, I think Skynyrd should win the title, perhaps thanks to ‘Free Bird’ alone. It’s such a massive tune, that despite it goes on for nine full minutes, it never gets old and never feels long. And, of course, it has one of the greatest guitar solos of all times. While it takes a romantic angle of a breakup—namely the narrator leaving his loved-one for a life on the road—it emphasizes the inability to ‘chain’ or ‘change’ an individual and in that presents some anarchist notions. Lynyrd Skynyrd, it is important to note, definitely belongs to the conservative part of the political map, and for years has been taking pride in the southern way of life and in the confederate flag (which often waved during their concert, on their album sleeves or official t-shirts). However, its members have recently denounced it and made it clear that they do not relate to the values it currently represents. I’m personally not sure that is enough—I don’t know if back in the 1970’s what it represented was that much better—but Lynyrd Skynyrd remains one of the most important bands the epitomize anti-Establishment Southern Rock.


The Dead Kennedys—California Über Alles

Punk music! The best representation of anti-Establishment music circa late 1970’s and early 1980’s. And few bands were ‘sticking it to the system’ like the Dead Kennedys. While hailing from California, Jello Biafra and the rest of the crew were no Beach Boys. They made hardcore, noisy anti-fascist music, presenting a radical leftist agenda and criticizing everything that had to do with ‘the man’. Their first single, ‘California Über Alles’ pertains to the opening words of the first stanza of the German anthem ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, über alles in der Welt’. These words are no longer sung as part of the anthem as they are associated with Nazism. It is a satirical take on the then-governor of California Jerry Brown, which presents him as a hippie-fascist leader that threatens to kill everyone who isn’t ‘cool’, and includes many allusions to the holocaust.


The Clash—Guns of Brixton

Skipping to the other side of the pond, we arrive at what is, perhaps, my favorite punk song of my favorite punk band. In December 1979 The Clash released their iconic album ‘London Calling’, which, while it is definitely a punk album, draws a lot from reggae and ska music. This revolutionary album tackles many of the social hardships of the time: unemployment, drugs, and racism. ‘Guns of Brixton’, written by the band’s bass player Paul Simonon (who himself grew up in that area of South London), reflects the frustration of the Brixtonite immigrants with the recession and the poor way in which the police treated them. It calls for resistance, even if it is violent. While the song was released before the Brixton riots of 1981, it represented exactly those aspects that led to the riots.


Gil Scott-Heron—This Revolution Will Not Be Televised

What is there to say about this? This is such an epic piece, an epic poem by an epic musician, a precursor of hip-hop music and spoken word, and a call for a revolution that completely shakes off from the Establishment. Just pay attention to the lyrics, and reach your own conclusions.



Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young—Almost Cut My Hair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lk2KHajp4Y

The Beatles—Revolution 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGLGzRXY5Bw

Nina Simone—Mississippi Goddam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ25-U3jNWM

Bobby Fuller Four—I Fought the Law https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgtQj8O92eI

Woody Guthrie—Tear the Fascists Down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKVnur5DkdI

‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’

As the darkness of Trump’s administration becomes clearer, the power of civil society protests grows stronger. Just over a week ago, immigrants throughout the United States staged ‘a day with immigrants’, to show how important and integral immigration is to all layers of the population. Many workers, oftentimes alongside their employers, refused to show up for work or closed their businesses on that day. This show of solidarity is both effective and powerful, and serves to remind us that many of us live in immigrant societies. Being a descendent of an immigrant family myself—my grandparents immigrated to Israel from post-war Poland in 1957—I am constantly reminded that people don’t simply get up and leave a place they called home for so long. I am ashamed that Israeli society today—being itself an immigrant society in the not-so-distant past—is not more tolerant and empathetic to the agony of refugees. And having left Israel myself—albeit not under threat of death, but out of a deep and growing political alienation—I think I can sympathize, at least to an extent, with the feeling of yearning for a home, and yet knowing that you have no place in the world where you truly feel like you belong. Interestingly enough, although so many cultures today are founded on decades and centuries of immigration, not many popular songs discuss emotional turmoil of leaving one’s home. Much more songs celebrate the home one does have. A fair number, though, does present the pining to a home, many times a home that has been lost.


The Beatles—She’s Leaving Home

While it doesn’t deal with immigration or with pining for home, The Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ is not only a beautiful song but somewhat of an anthem of independence and freedom. It is somber and sad, accompanied by strings and vocals alone (and in that it is quite untypical of the quite grandiose album it’s in, the far-more rhythmic ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’), and told from the perspective of the parents who wake up one day to find that their daughter had disappeared. The conflict in the song is obvious, and it is about the actual leaving, and tearing away all the strings that keep you connected to your home. Lennon and McCartney chose not to go into specifics about the fate of the girl, except for mentioning that ‘she’s having fun’, which is—quite obviously—not the fate of most refugees. And yet this song is so touching in describing what it means to leave a place, that I decided it should be included in this list regardless.


Gogol Bordello—Immigraniada

Gogol Bordello is a gypsy-punk band based out of New York City. All eight members of the group are immigrants, and their songs often revolve around their identity and convey progressive, radical left messages of internationalism and statelessness. Their 2010 song ‘Immigraniada’ is an autobiographical celebration of immigrant culture, and has both the lyrics and the video clip to prove it. The video depicts the band’s front man Eugene Hütz (himself a refugee who fled from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster) working in several blue-collar jobs and meeting various immigrants from all over the world. Historic footage of previous immigration waves is weaved throughout the clip. In an interview to boingboing, Hütz describes the video: ‘It’s a video we always wanted to make, because it completes our story. It’s very autobiographical, and tells a story about eight people who are all immigrants, who came to pursue something in new york city. That’s our biography. But on the other hand, like it coincides with the idealistic belief that people shall always be free to choose the place of their residence. This ties in to the whole movement of worldwide citizenship.’


Paul Simon—American Tune

When I think of Paul Simon I automatically think of Art Garfunkel. But whenever I try to think of Simon’s solo career, ‘American Tune’ always comes to mind and always with a smile, as I truly believe it’s one of the most beautiful and simple songs ever written. Musically based on Johann Sebastian Bach’s choral ‘O Haupt voll Blut Und Wunden’ (‘O Sacred Head, Now Wounded’), the song possess some lullaby-like qualities, being soothing and lethargic while unfolding the story of immigration to the United States. It’s not an easy account, either. It captures both the hope and the despair of the move, and the daily struggles that don’t seem to end: ‘And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered // I don’t have a friend who feels at ease // I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered // or driven to its knees’ sings Paul Simon. And yet he ends on a positive note: ‘We come on the ship they call the Mayflower // We come on the ship that sailed the moon // We come in the age’s most uncertain hour //and sing an American tune.’


Lou Reed—Dirty Boulevard


A far less optimistic and hopeful take on immigration and on finding one’s home, Lou Reed’s ‘Dirty Boulevard’ (off his 1989 record ‘New York’) bring us the story of Pedro, a child living with his nine siblings in poverty, terrorized by his violent father and begging for money in the streets. The song contrasts Pedro’s miserable life with the glamorous lifestyle of movie stars and celebrities who walk the same streets, and mocks the American ethos of freedom and welcoming immigrant. In a reference to the Statue of Liberty Reed writes: ‘Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor, I’ll piss on them // that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says // your poor huddled masses, let’s club ‘em to death // and get it over with and just dump ‘em on the boulevard’. The song ends with Pedro’s wish to ‘fly, fly away from the dirty boulevard’, perhaps in reference to the famous country-music Christian hymn.


Boney M.—Rivers of Babylon (Melodians cover)


The bible describes the exile of the Jews from Zion, and how—now in Babylon—they longed for their home, in the following words: ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept, when we remembered Zion’ (Psalm 137:1). It was this line that inspired Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of reggae band The Melodians to write this Rastafarian anthem, and one of the greatest songs ever written about yearning for one’s home. While it was made popular by euro-trash disco group Boney M., and that’s how I came to know it, the original version is quite good as well. In the Rastafarian faith, ‘Babylon’ is any oppressive and unjust regime, whereas ‘Zion’ is a utopian, just and peaceful existence. Therefore, this song is more than simply a reflection on being away from home, but a prayer for a better world and better governance—two things we could all use to this day.


Additional Tracks:

Oi Va’Voi—Refugee (feat. KT Tunstall) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJ4j0Xc4e1Q

Kings of Convenience—Homesick https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oll6UfK6iUg

The Antlers—Refuge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltNtMhIuYi0

Radiohead—Subterranean Homesick Alien https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEsgUiF2jGk

The Fugees—Refugees on the Mic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RaEf5V_zpI


Shelter from the Storm



This week I was asked to write about philanthropy. My immediate thought was ‘oh no, how will I manage to hold back my cynicism?’. Yes, I know it is cold, and cruel, and harsh, but I can’t help but think of rich (mostly) white (rather) old people who give money to feel better about themselves. Or to give themselves a pass from thinking about the problems of this world, and how they contribute to those problems. Or to quote Zizek: ‘When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: “Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!”’. And yes, I know, some philanthropist make a huge difference. I mean, the fact the Bill and Melinda Gates work towards the eradication of polio, for example, is admirable and should not be dissed by lazy bums like myself who sit around and listen to music all day. Think of it—ridding the world of a disease, in a matter of years, thanks to donations is HUGE. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of philanthropists. It definitely wouldn’t have been initiated by wealthy governments, because their thinking is narrowly focused on national interests. And as cynical as I can get, even the awful culture of philanthropy as a status symbol—as a show of wealth—contributes towards such goals. Nonetheless, this was a major concern for me approaching this week’s playlist. I think philanthropy is important, to an extent, but has to be taken with a grain of salt coming from owners of multinational conglomerates, and so I wouldn’t want to dedicate this playlist to singing their praise. Instead, I thought this would be a good time to talk about benefit concerts, where artists stage musical events to exert their political—and yes, economic—influence for the greater good. So sit back and enjoy my list of the five greatest benefit concerts in history.

1969—Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

The ultimate music festival of all times, and a role model for each one that ever followed, Woodstock was the epitome of 1960’s counter-culture. Set against the backdrop of the ongoing, tragic and unnecessary war in Vietnam, Woodstock wasn’t an attempt to raise money for a benefit, but marked the realization by artists of the power that such mass events may have. I literally don’t have enough space to list here not even the highlights of the performances held in those fateful four days in the Catskills mountains, but I doubt there is a music fan who wouldn’t list Woodstock in the top five concerts he would’ve wanted to attend. That, however, might have been a bit tricky. The festival’s association with drug culture led to the immortal saying ‘if you remember Woodstock, you weren’t there’ (and also to the fantastic official announcement about the bad brown acid). However, the drug and free love cultures must not distract us from the fact that Woodstock was, first and foremost, a political event; and that while it did not end the war, it was certainly a demonstration of the power of peace. Watch the 1970 Academy Award winning documentary ‘Woodstock’ for more on the phenomenon that is, perhaps, the greatest music festival ever.

Sample Acts:

Country Joe and the Blowfish—I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixing-to-Die Rag https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qPUJhy0Dz4

Jefferson Airplane—Somebody to Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EdLasOrG6c

Santana—Soul Sacrifice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqZceAQSJvc

Joe Cocker—With a Little Help from My Friends (Beatles cover) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POaaw_x7gvQ

Jimmy Hendrix—Star Spangled Banner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKvnQYFhGCc

1971—NYC: Concert for Bangladesh

The concert for Bangladesh is, ultimately, the first-ever benefit concert. Held not only to promote a political goal, the concert was held in order to raise money for a benefit, namely for funding the relief efforts for refugees fleeing from the genocide that ensued the Bangladesh Liberation War. Ravi Shankar, a Sitar player and a good friend of former-Beatle George Harrison (Ravi Shankar also played in Woodstock, two years earlier) came up with the idea. Fearing that he won’t be able to raise enough money to make a substantial contribution, he got George on board. In a fantastic piece of history, George Harrison explicitly acknowledges his ability to raise funds for benefit, thus giving birth to the idea of benefit concerts. To make the proceedings even more significant, the concert was also filmed and recorded, and copies of the record were sold around the world (indeed, the concert itself raised ~$250K, while the contract for the live record was signed for $3.75M).

Sample Acts:

Ravi Shankar—Bangla Dhun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo7lxXW6tO0

George Harrison & Eric Clapton—While My Guitar Gently Weeps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8CivPhu0fw

Ringo Starr—It Don’t Come Easy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emKEFXWk4Yc

Leon Russell—Young Blood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICr9lfWq3yY

Bob Dylan—Just Like a Woman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIBxQ1SAXe0


1985—London & Philadelphia: Live Aid

Inspired by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, actor, singer and activist Bob Geldof sought to arrange a similar benefit concert, this time towards the relief efforts of the Ethiopian famine. The concert, this timed aired live on TV, was one of the largest TV broadcasts of all time, viewed by an estimated audience of 1.9 billion people from 150 nations. Spontaneous concerts were held in various other countries in solidarity, including in the Soviet Union. It is estimated the $150M were raised in the event. This concert was so massive and so in consensus that high-grossing artists that failed to participate had to provide explanations as to why. On 2005, around the 20th anniversary of Live Aid, Bob Geldof held another massive benefit concert, this time titled ‘Live 8’, and again featuring many of the greatest musicians on the planet.

Sample Acts:

Sting and Phil Collins—Every Breath You Take https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6t4E8C0klc

David Bowie—Heroes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGOx0ZpMrrU

Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood—When the Ship Comes In https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4HYqC8II9I

Band Aid—Do They Know It’s Christmas? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjQzJAKxTrE

USA for Africa—We Are the World https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi0RpNSELas


1992—London: The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

In late 1991 the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, died from bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS. In celebration of his life and his work, and in a launch of The Mercury Phoenix Trust—an AIDS charity organization—members of Queen and many other musicians gathered for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. Just like so many benefit concerts, this one brought along some bizarre collaborations, but perhaps because it was the early 1990’s, they were slightly more bizarre than most. These include some songs performed by Queen alongside Metallica and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, or Queen together with Elton John and Axl Rose of Guns n’ Roses. In its own way, this concert led to some wonderful moments, and to a great increase in the awareness of AIDS.

Sample Acts:

Metallica—Enter Sandman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF1V4wb_At0

Guns n’ Roses—Paradise City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0aBlgoONH0

Spinal Tap—The Majesty of Rock (Hilarious opening) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBn1rrqR3QY

Queen & Robert Plant—Innuendo / Kashmir / Thank You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7LM9s3Lm4A

Queen, David Bowie & Annie Lennox—Under Pressure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCP2-Bfhy04


1986 to Present Day—California: Bridge School Benefit Concert

The Bridge School in Mountain View, California, assists children with severe physical impairment and complex communication needs. Musician Neil Young (along with now-ex wife Pegi Young) has been curating an annual benefit concert since 1986 until this very day (with the exception of 1987, where a concert wasn’t held), always featuring the best and hottest names in the music industry. As an indie lover, I personally love these concerts because unlike the massive events mentioned above, they always include less-known artists alongside some of the greatest artists alive. Again, since this concert has been running for so long, it’s difficult to mention all the outstanding acts by name, but a glimpse into the listings of past years will show what a great benefit concert it is.

Sample Acts:

Ryan Adams—Oh My Sweet Carolina https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wWyUw5DIgU

Arcade Fire—Half Light II https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta6pa1bCbIw

Tom Waits—Lucky Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5oIRw4iq3U

Beck—Guess I’m Doing Fine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkaqpS_tBYI

Metallica—Hero of the Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkyHOu9RrTc