LawpreneurzPUBLIC INTEREST LAWYERING
Need for Public interest lawyering and litigation
2.1 Human rights, constitutional rights and statutory rights from Indian perspectives.
Public interest litigation is a mechanism to address public grievances and personal injury caused by government inaction of selected groups of people who may not be able to approach the courts directly due to their socio-economic conditions in the courts of law, . Public interest litigation is not a litigation of adversary character. Its purpose is not to hold State/officers for making reparation only .It involves corroboration and cooperative efforts of stake holders. As such, we need to know about the basic human rights, fundamental rights and statutory rights that are guaranteed to every citizens and people who are residing in India.
Modern constitutions of the world guarantee basic human rights and fundamental rights to citizens and residents in their country. These rights flow from the international documents including International covenant on civil and political rights, 1966 and international covenant on social, economic and cultural rights, 1966.Further, there are several other international documents including Convention against eliminitation of all forms of discrimination against women, Convention on child rights, convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman degrading treatment etc. These international conventions have expanded the concepts of rights in different regional constitutions. However, let us now see the basic human rights under International covenant on civil and political rights, 1966 . These are
Again, international covenant on social, economic and cultural rights, 1966 also offer several rights. These are as follows:
- Right to life.
- Freedom from torture.
- Right to not be enslaved.
- Right to liberty and security of the person.
- Rights of detainees
- Right to not be imprisoned merely on the ground of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation.
- Freedom of movement and choice of residence for lawful residents.
- Rights of aliens.
- Equality before the courts and tribunals.
- Right to a fair trial.
- No one can be guilty of an act of a criminal offence which did not constitute a criminal offence.
- Right to recognition as a person before the law.
- Freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference.
- Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
- Right to hold opinions without interference.
- Right of peaceful assembly.
- Right to freedom of association with others.
- Right to marry.
- Children's rights
- Right to political participation.
- Equality before the law.
- Minority protection
- Right to self-determination
- Equal rights between men and women
- Right to work
- Right to just and favourable conditions of work
- Right of workers to organise and bargain collectively
- Right to social security and social insurance
- Right to protection and assistance for the family
- Right to an adequate standard of living
- Adequate food
- Adequate clothing
- Adequate housing
- Right to freedom from hunger
- Right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including health care
- Right to education
- Right to culture and benefit from scientific progress.
The above rights are also guaranteed in our constitution under various provisions especially through six fundamental rights, n
- right to equality, which further includes Equality before Law, No Discrimination on the basis of Religion, Race, Caste, Sex or Place of Birth, Equality of Opportunity to all Citizens in matter of Public Employment, Abolition of Untouchability, Abolition of Titles.
- right to freedom, which further includes Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms, Freedom to form Associations and Unions, Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India, Freedom to reside and settle in any part of India, Freedom to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. Right to freedom has also been ensured through other provisions which ensure certain protections. These are Protection in respect of conviction for offences, Protection of life and personal liberty, Protection against arrest and detention in certain cases, right to education.
- right against exploitation, which further includes Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour, Prohibition of employment of children in factories, etc.
- right to freedom of religion, which further includes Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, Freedom to manage religious affairs, Freedom as to the payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion, Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.
- Cultural and educational rights, which may include Protection of interests of minorities, Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
- right to constitutional remedies through writs under Arts 32 and 226.
Other than these rights, several statues which were created on the basis of these rights have also provided statutory rights on people. Along with it, we should also know that the constitution has enlisted several fundamental duties. These are :
- to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag, National Anthem;
- to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
- to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
- to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do;
- to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
- to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
- to protect and improve the natural environments including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife;
- to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
- to safeguard public property and not to use violence; and
- to serve towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity
Violation of rights may also happen when these duties are not respected and not implemented properly. It needs to be understood that Public interest litigation can be filed for gross violation of such rights, rights of socio-economically backward people or even for ensuring right to enjoy natural wealth. For example, consider the case of Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India AIR 2015, SC 1523 which was filed by the petitioner for scrapping of S.66A of the Information technology Act, 2000 (amended in 2008) as this provision was considered as too broad, vague and ambiguous and was being misused to control freedom of speech and expression online arbitrarily. Again, consider the case of Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India, which was also filed in the nature of public interest litigation to highlight on right to privacy as a fundamental right. Also consider the case of Suresh Kaushal & another vs. Naz foundation (CIVIL APPEAL NO.10972 OF 2013 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.15436 of 2009, which was a landmark case for ensuring LGBTQ rights, ensuring equal rights of transgender people as third gender people.
2.2 Directive principles of the State Policy under Indian constitution
While Part III ensures The Fundamental Rights, Part IV speaks about Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties . The provisions contained in this Part cannot be enforced by any court, but these principles are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws. Public interest litigations and lawyering may play crucial roles in implementing these directive principles. We must remember that while Public interest litigations are filed to ensure rights including fundamental rights, the judicial understanding that emanates from each of the public interst litigations may help to interpret statutes, ensure proper implementation of rights and may help provide policies and guidelines which may be realised with the help of Directive principles of State policies. Further, the states must not fail in ensuring the directive principles for the betterment of the society as a whole. The directive principles of State policies include the followings:
- State to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people
- The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing –
- that the citizen, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood;
- that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good;
- that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment;
- that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;
- that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;
- that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
- Equal justice and free legal aid
- Organisation of village panchayats
- Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases
- Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief
- Living wage, etc., for workers
- Participation of workers in management of industries
- Provision for free and compulsory education for children
- Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife
These directive policies have been used in creating laws and rules on the basis of guidelines provided by the courts in numbers of PILs ; for example, consider the case of Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan, which is a landmark PIL for bringing Sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention and prohibition )Act, 2012. Again, consider the case of M.C.Mehta vs. State of Tamil Nadu, 1991, which was a landmark case which established the fact that Making matches is a hazardous work for children but not packaging, provided safe and good quality of life, education, insurance are ensured for children. This further motivated the State to use the DPSP to create regulations for regulating child labor in the match industry and use right to education for socio-economically backward children.
Position of socio-economically-legally backward people in India After we have come to know the basic human rights, fundamental rights and constitutional rights, it is necessary to know why certain people may need to avail pro bono advocacy, public interest lawyering and seek judicial activism for ensuring their rights. While art 16 & 17 speak about special provision for weaker sections of the society including women and children and minority communities, Part XVI of the constitution speaks about special provisions relating to certain classes. These classes include schedules tribes and scheduled castes who had been treated with utter discrimination during colonial era as well as after the independence. India has a long history of oppression of Women. Their rights were not recognised, they were secluded from parental as well as marital properties. Young widows were tortured, abandoned and even killed by way Satti. Women were neither allowed to earn their own living and education. Even though the position of women in the society has improved , but several evil practices like dowry harassment, discrimination in family property or not educating them at par with male children still exist. Not to forget, gender violence, including sexual violence at home, public places as well as in shelter homes or correctional homes still exist. Women are often discouraged to report crimes against themselves. Similarly, child rights have remained largely unrecognised by the Indian society inspite of several attempts to create awareness by the UNICEF as well as by the government and nGOs. In socio-economically backward classes children may not be provided healthy food and life, they may be deprived of education because of their poverty, caste etc. child marriages are also rampant in our society. While we talk about women, children and socio-economically backward classes, we must also remember that even though the constitution guarantees rights for the accused, there are several examples of custodial violence, slow trials and in custody deaths. Such persons may not avail personal lawyers and this is reason that the concept of PIL has been used widely by social activists, cause lawyers etc to help them. We will now discuss some PIL cases which created landmark judgements for bonded labourers, workers etc. Bonded labour and PIL
Now we will discuss PIL cases about maternity benefits and rights slum dwellers.
We will now discuss about certain PIL cases which spoke about right to equality and against discrimination.
We will now discuss about certain PIL cases which speak about plights of women in the society and rights of women.
- "bonded labour system" means the system of forced, or partly forced, labour under which a debtor enters, or has, or is presumed to have, entered, into an agreement with the creditor to the effect that,- (i) in consideration of an advance obtained by him or by any of his lineal ascendants or descendants (whether or not such advance is evidenced by any document) and in consideration of the interest, if any, due on such advance, or
- (ii) in pursuance of any customary or social obligation, or (iii) in pursuance of an obligation devolving on him by succession, or (iv) for any economic consideration received by him or by any of his lineal ascendants or descendants, or (v) by reason of his birth in any particular caste or community,
- Examples of bonded labour could seen in cases of domestic work, agriculture, construction works, begging, prostitution, textile manufacturing units etc. even children can also victims of bonded labour.
- the case of People's union for democratic rights vs union of India, 1982 is a land mark PIL in this regard which dealt with non-payment of wages in Asiad villages. In this case, the court observed that Non-payment of minimal wages is denial to right to life, right to live with dignity. Further it also observed that "force" must also mean physical force as well as economic and other compulsions.
- In Sanjit Roy vs. union of India, 1983, Supreme court observed payment of wages below minimum wages is violative of Art 21 & 23. It observed that Minimum wages must be maintained even in works like relief work
- However, in several PIL judgements the courts observed what should not be considered as bonded labour; these are as follows:
- Deena vs. Union of India, 1983, Reformation in prison administration should NOT be bonded/forced labor. Supreme court held that prisoners must be paid minimum wages for labor in the prison system. further it was also held that Even if it is for reform, no one should be deprived of right under art 23 & 21
- On the matter of domestic servants and the concept of bonded labour, The court in the case of National Domestic Workers Welfare Trust vs Union of India, W.P.(PIL) No. 2810 of 2012 held that Domestic workers should be provided minimum wages, they should be given Right to live with dignity and they are not workers for 24x7.
- Maternity benefits stems from Right to equality u/A 14, Art 16(3), Art of the constitution of India . the right to maternity benefit is ensured through Maternity benefits Act 1961 (amended in 2017). The Special additions/amendments to this Act included Increased paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks (except for mothers with mre than 2 children) , Maternity leave for commissioning and adoptive mothers, Work from home option and also for Creche facility and right to visit it 4 times a day.
- A landmark PIL case in this regard is Rama Pandey vs Union Of India & Ors, WP(C) No. 844/2014, where the courts observed that Maternity benefits should be extended to biological, non-biological mothers (surrogacy, adoptive) and Paternity leave should be for 15 days & should pay with leave
- We will now discuss about cases regarding the rights of hawkers.
- In the case of Olga telis vs. Bombay Municipal corporation,1986, it was held that Hawkers can not be evicted mercilessly.Alternative arrangement should be done and Demarcation of hawking & non-hawking zones must be made.
- In Armugam servai vs state of TN, 2011, the court held that using two tumblers for upper and lower castes is a Discriminatory practices in shops this should be prohibited.
- Arun .K.agarwal vs.national insurance co.ltd. 2010, the court criticized the census process and observed that Home maker women not "beggers", prostitutes for census definition. The court observed that this not only derogates position of home maker women, but also strikes at the basic right to live with dignity.
- Vidya Bal & another vs. The state of maharashtra & another, 2016 is a landmark case for allowing women to enter into Shani Shringarpur temple.It was held by the court that "There is no law that prevents entry of women in any place. It is the state government's duty to protect the rights of women."
- Pil is needed for women because they are considered as weaker section of the society. this is because women may be may be subjected to Social oppression, Social evils forceful depriving of of education, Easy target for sexual victimization and they may also Lack economic independence. Several PIls have been filed for prohibition of worlplace harassment, sati pratha, proper implementation of laws for penalizing dowry system, domestic violence of women, providing equal right to own property etc all of which relate to Article 21 of the constitution. we will discuss some of the PIl cases of these nature below:
- In the case of Vikram Singh Deo Tomar vs. State of Bihar, 1988 Pathetic condition of living without proper sanitation & medical facilities in the shelter homes was pointed out.the court observed that Right to life is coupled with human dignity and ordered for Directions to provide proper facilities.
- In the cae of Delhi Domestic Women worker's Forum vs. Union of India, 1995 the courts emphasized on providing lawyers for such victims from the legal services department. This case involved Rape of domestic workers in train by army personnel. This case also emphasized on development of compensatory jurisprudence for rape/sexual assault victims and Interim compensation mechanism
- Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan,1997 again is a land mark PIL for Development of workplace harassment policies. The court in This case developed guidelines depending upon which Sexual harassment of women at workplace Prevention, prohibition and redressal Act,2013 was created
- Gaurav jain vs. Union of India, 1997 is again another landmark case where it was held that Inherent dignity of prostitutes and their children must be respected, Self –employment scheme must be made and Devdasi system not to be allowed. In this case the court also held that No discrimination at schools should done.
- Now we will discuss some landmark cases for PILs for chid rights
- In People's Union for democratic rights vs. Union of India,1983 it was held by the courts that Construction work is hazardous for children. Employment of children Act, 1938 should be amended to include construction work
- The same concern was also shown in Labour working on salal Hydro Project vs. Jammu & Kashmir, 1984 where it was held that Construction is Hazardous work and Children below 14 should not work in hazardous condition.
- In Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs. Union of India, 1984 it was observed that Social organizations and NGOs "trafficking the children" in the name of adoption to distant lands including foreign lands. It was Held: in the absence of proper provisions, provisions from guardians and wards Act, 1890 must be replied upon and New focused provisions should be made.Proper verification of the adoption request must be made.Licensed child welfare agency should sponsor adoption request.This resulted in developing CARA guidelines for adoption.
- Letter petition was accepted as a mechanism for PIL in Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay vs. State of Punjab, 1985 for releasing of children detained for Operation Blue . In this case, the court gave Direction for release of children/ procedural inquiry for the case.
- In the case of Kadra Pahadiya vs. State of Bihar, 1983 emphasise was made on Children kept in adult jails with iron chains. The court gave Direction for production of data, release of the children, shifting to juvenile homes.
- Sheela Barse vs. union of India, 1986 was a landmark case for Release of children detained in adult prisons and Development of the healthy rehabilitation of juvenile offenders in juvenile homes
- Apart from these cases, we must also know about some other landmark cases on PIL like Neelabati behara vs. State of Odisha which emphasised on custodial torture.
- Further, PIL can also be preferred for environmental issues. In the case of STATE OF TAMIL NADU V. HIND STONE ((1981) 2 SCC 205) the court held that "the natural resources are not only meant for the present generation but should be preserved for the posterity. The Government and the present generation acts as a trustees for the future generation". Emphasising on public trust doctrine, the courts further observed that Rivers, Forests, Minerals and such other resources constitute a nation's natural wealth. These resources are not to be frittered away and exhausted by one generation. Every generation owes a duty to all succeeding generations to develop and conserve the natural resources of the nation in the best possible way. It is in the interest of mankind. It is in the interest of the nation..."
- In M. PERIYASAMY V/S THE STATE OF TAMIL NADU Before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, W.P.(MD)Nos.11182, 11562, 11710, 11827, 12072, 12098, 12229 & 12383 of 2010 the court held that Sand quarrying to be prohibited in the river bank, Refilling of pits should be done and Establishment of state level monitoring committee should be done to protect the eco balance on river banks.
- MC Mehta vs. Union of India, 1988 was another landmark case which was preferred for Ganga water pollution. The court in this case provided directions To plan for sewerage line, To shift the dairies to avoid waste from tanneries, to ban throwing of Dead bodies in ganga and for Narrowing down the granting of license to new industries.
- PIL is also needed to ensure speedy trial. PIL is needed for people from socio-economic backward classes and weaker sections of the society because they Lack of access to justice due to socio-economic condition, they may be victims of Social oppression and related violation of human rights, they Lack of awareness regarding basic rights, statutory rights & fundamental rights. PIL is also needed Piercing the veil of corrupted practices and for . Protecting basic rights against environmental crimes.Let us now discuss about right to speedy trial:
- 6th amendment to the US constitution speaks about Right to speedy trial Right to legal counseling Impartial jury Right to know about charges Right to know about the accuser . the reasons given by courts for ensuring speedy trial are loss of witnesses through death or other reasons , blurring of memories of available witnesses,Societal interests through Victim's rights (very narrowly)
- There is No expressed right under constitution of India. However, it evolved as statutory rights under S.167 Cr.P.C.whcih says
- (a) the Magistrate may authorise the detention of the accused person, otherwise than in the custody of the police, beyond the period of fifteen days; if he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist for doing so, but no Magistrate shall authorise the detention of the accused person in custody under this paragraph for a total period exceeding,-(i) ninety days, where the investigation relates to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years;
- (ii) sixty days, where the investigation relates to any other offence, and, on the expiry of the said period of ninety days, or sixty days, as the case may be, the accused person shall be released on bail if he is prepared to and does furnish bail, and every person released on bail under this sub- section shall be deemed to be so released under the provisions of Chapter XXXIII for the purposes of that Chapter;
- The courts through PIL has started ensuring right to speedy trial as extended right under Art 21 in cases like Hussainara Khatoon vs. State of Bihar, 1980, which emphasised on long duration of stay of pre trial women inmates. It was seen in Sambhaji Hindurao Deshmukh & others vs.State of maharstra, 2005 that long duration of pending trial could not be beneficial as the accused had died in custody when he was detained for 20 years pretrial. In Rudal Shah vs State of Bihar it was held that Wrongful Detention post judgment is a serious abuse of right to life In maneka Gandhi vs Union of india it was held that No procedure which does not ensure a reasonable quick trial can be regarded as "reasonable fair & just" under Art 21.Speedy trial, reasonably expeditious trial is an integral part of Art 21
- In india Reasons for court interference may escalate because of long period of pre trial detainment which may cause Lost childhood, uppression & oppression of women, Enormous growth of victimisation of bonded labourer , Rapid rise of corruption and need for Victim –justice
2.4 Concept of compensatory jurisprudence in the light of Public interest lawyering
- Under the law of torts the victims can claim compensation for the injury to the person or property suffered by them. Compensatory jurisprudence may include Compensation under civil rights jurisprudence and Compensation under criminal law
- Article 9(5) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966
- "Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation."
- Article 5(5) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- "everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this article shall have an enforceable right to compensation"
- Compensation may be paid by State or private party depending upon the nature of right violation and victimisation.
- S.357a cr.P.C speaks about compensation for criminal injury . It says
- Every State Government in co-ordination with the Central Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who, require rehabilitation
- Whenever a recommendation is made by the Court for compensation, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, as the case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme referred to in sub-section (1)If the trial Court, at the conclusion of the trial, is satisfied, that the compensation awarded under section 357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation, or where the cases end in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to be rehabilitated, it may make recommendation for compensation.
- Where the offender is not traced or identified, but the victim is identified, and where no trial takes place, the victim or his dependents may make an application to the State or the District Legal Services Authority for award of compensation.
- On receipt of such recommendations or on the application under sub-section (4), the State or the District Legal Services Authority shall, after due enquiry award adequate compensation by completing the enquiry within two months.
- The State or the District Legal Services Authority, as the case may be, to alleviate the suffering of the victim, may order for immediate first-aid facility or medical benefits to be made available free of cost on the certificate of the police officer not below the rank of the officer incharge of the police station or a Magistrate of the area concerned, or any other interim relief as the appropriate authority deems fit.
- Article "32. Of the constitution speaks about Compensation for State action: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part.-(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed.
- (2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part.
- Now we will discuss about some case PIL cases on compensatory jurisprudence:
- In Khatri v. State of Bihar, (1981) (the Bhagalpur Blinding Case), it was alleged that the police had blinded certain prisoners and that the State was liable to pay compensation to the victims. This case speaks about Custodial torture : compensation
- Rudal Shah vs State of Bihar speaks about Custodial detention after release order. The person concerned was detention in jail after 'release'.Petitioner seeked compensation for state action . The court held One of the telling ways in which the violation of that right can reasonably be prevented and due compliance with the mandate of Article 21 secured, is to mulct its violaters in the payment of monetary compensation. Administrative sclerosis leading to flagrant infringements of fundamental rights cannot be corrected by any other method open to the judiciary to adopt. The right to compensation is some palliative for the unlawful acts of instrumentalities which act in the name of public interest and which present for their protection the powers of the State as a shield
- He was awarded compensation only after completely satisfying court that the authority blatantly exceeded their power and acted with utter disregard for law.
- Sebastian Hongray v. Union of India,1984 speaks about Compensation to family for not being able to produce report on missing army man. State was unable to reply for habious corpus
- As result of conpetempt of court procedure, Rs. 1 lac to complainant women was paid by way of compensation
- Saheli v. Commissioner of Police, Delhi,1989 speaks about Police brutality and compensation. It was held that State bound to pay compensation for beating of 9 year old boy to death
- State of Maharashtra v. Patil.,1991 speaks about Police atrocities against right to reputation. It was held that Handcuffing & tying rope & parading in public is violative of art 21 and SI has to pay compensation to the victim. It was also held that Mark should be made in his service record
- In Gagan vs State of Gujarat, 2008, it was held that The defendant failed the riot victims of Gujarat during the 2002 riot in rehabilitation and compensation scheme that was to be borne by the central government
- Further, additional relief and rehabilitation to provide compassionate appointment to the children/family members of those who died in the riots of 2002 was granted by the Central Government.
- Defendant also failed the order of the National Human rights commissioner to set up a proper inquiry commission.
- Supreme court directed for proper execution of the orders and pay compensation to the victims.
- In M.C.Mehta vs Kamal Nath, 1996, the court ordered for payment of compensation by defaulting parties. In this case Resort company encroached upon forest land to build constructions and lease of the land sanctioned. This action Reversed and recoursed river Beas which caused flood and mountain slides. It was held that Compensation to be paid for re-balancing ecology
LawpreneurzDetails of lecture
|Unit 1||Concept of public interest lawyering :
|Unit 2||Need for Public interest lawyering and litigation
|Unit 3||Public interest lawyering and Therapeutic jurisprudence
|Unit 4||Types and procedures, prerequisites of Public interest lawyering
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