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The conviction of Bangaru Laxman – one rare case




The saying in India is that there is no politician who is ever convicted of corruption. Of course, once in a while, this dictum is broken, but almost all of the time, there is no punishment for corruption that is lasting. Even if a lower court does provide some amount of corruption, the conviction is not upheld in a higher court (which may happen in this case as well). For the past many decades, there have many instances where corruption has been alleged, but the investigation has not led to a conviction, but everybody believes that there is large scale corruption that is happening.
The case that shook everybody up was the Bofors case. Before that case, corruption was prevalent, but it never really raised a stink except in some random movie. However, it was Bofors and the investigative journalism that went on which convinced people that there was something that stank, that Rajiv Gandhi was involved in some way. The case went on for years, was one of the reasons that caused Rajiv Gandhi to lose the 1989 elections after the huge win only 5 years back, and yet the case did not really lead to any conviction of any sort.

The next major upheaval was over the Tehelka case, where the journalists set out to trap senior BJP and allied leaders in a corruption trap, and succeeded, probably over their wildest dreams. The case led to finally to a conviction of the then BJP President after a period of 11 years (which by itself is a very long time, and this case will first go to the High Court and then the Supreme Court); one is not sure whether the judgment will be upheld. The case also showed that the Indian Government can be extremely powerful, if you consider the counter-attacks and revenge taken by the NDA Government on Tehelka and the people who financially backed them.
There is some welcoming of this judgment, but there are a huge number of other cases that need to be taken to their logical conclusions before the country can come to believe that the issue of politicians and corruption is being seriously handled. If you consider the cases currently before the country, such as the CWG, the Adarsh case, the 2G scam, the dis-proportionate assets case of Mulayam Singh and Mayawati, ongoing diversion of funds in the central welfare schemes, and so on, there are huge funds being diverted and not being investigated properly. The reality is that such investigations are subject to political direction and the benefit that they bring to the ruling party; also leading to the total discrediting of the CBI to the extent that it is now called the Congress Bureau of Investigation. In many of these cases, the initial reaction of the Government is to deny, and sometimes very arrogantly. It is only when it seems that the media and courts are doing the investigation rather than the investigating bodies that there is some action taken, and one can be sure that as soon as the attention goes down, these investigations stop or reduce in intensity (one only has to see current progress in the cash-for-votes scam where the entire line of investigation happens only when the court intervenes, and it stops otherwise).




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