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Anticipating the Supreme Court judgment on May 08 2013 after the fresh affidavit by the CBI ..




Hope is eternal, but there have not been too many reasons to have hope. On seeing the history of countries around the world, there have specific turnaround points or phases in the lives of a country; some of them desired by the disgust of a society, and others pushed by the judicial system of a country pushing in to make change when the political powers of the country have not been able to do so.
Many countries have fought corruption, and some of them have come out victors, while others are still struggling. Countries such as most countries in the western world and countries closer home (but seen as quasi-western societies) such as Hong Kong, Singapore have managed to achieve it. In places such as Hong Kong, the extent of corruption was so high that there was a determined push to sweep off all the corrupt practices out and new people and officials came in to ensure that corruption levels were forced down, and have remained down. Corruption in a society such as the United State were much higher decades ago, but the determination to ensure that police and other investigative forces such as the FBI remained free ensures that obvious corruption levels are very low (there is corruption in terms of the power of the whole lobbying system though). The example not to be seen is that of China, where corruption levels are incredibly high, sustained by the huge power of the communist party at all levels, and where the judicial and police systems are subordinate to the party. There, the punishments for corruption are very high (for those who get caught), but that does not stop corruption, because the risk-reward ratio is in favor of reward. Similarly, it were the courts who brought about the end of racial discrimination in the United States even when the politicians wanted to give the process some more decades before bringing in laws for the same.
In India, we have a society that is disgusted with corruption, but that also seems to be tolerant of corruption. So, politicians get re-elected even if they are obviously corrupt or have even been caught (remember the case of Sukh Ram), these leaders get elected even if they have been complicit of stoking one caste against another or one religion against another. On the case when a politician does get elected due to ‘development’ agenda, the detailed analysis defeats that notion; there are detailed analysis of which caste voted for one set of politician, whether the caste calculus has been sewn up, and so on. It is far more important for the politician to ensure that the caste and religion calculus is right, and then ensure that development is there. And the instruments that are used for power such as the police, the bureaucracy, all take their cues from the politicians and desire to just follow them in this respect. A total scene of despair.
However, could it be possible that this is the stage before the disgust level of society with corruption increases to a degree that there is some change in society ? And I am not talking about the BJP, their performance in many places such as in the municipal office in Delhi, and in the state government in Karnataka ensures that they are seen as equally likely to be corrupt when in power. There are measures such as the drive by educated groups in some large cities to push for power and for reform, and even for people such as those behind the Aam Admi Party (although you have to see them in power to believe whether they can be constructive or only disruptive – Mamta Banerjee was an example of a disruptive system that continued being so even after coming to power).
The presence of corruption is as bad as a virus that is sweeping through the country. It seems like a much used phrase, but it does accurately define what is happening. For corruption to happen, there is some kind of subversion to happen. For that to happen, the money that is needed for regular work is either increased or some is diverted with a reduction in quality (or in some cases, the whole project is only on paper while money is gone). The people in power realize that there is large money to be made, and hence there are people willing to pay to get there. Once they get there, they need to turn a profit. Concession is made to those who are willing to pay for getting benefits, and so on. So, you have roads that developed potholes early, you have a state run coal company that provides much more rock in its coal than international coal producers and there is a huge shortage of coal leading to power shortages, and so on. All of these affect the people of this country in a very bad way and retard development.
Making the politicians bring in more honesty and asking for freedom of investigating agencies in this country goes against the wishes of every politician (and also would threaten their concept of power and the ability to have control over assets that are valuable) and the only way that this can be done is through some kind of independence of investigating agencies. If they do not bring in such a system by themselves, maybe the courts can force such a system.
There are examples on both sides. The courts threw out the Government nominated CVC and passed some stinging comments against the PM, they had many years back pushed for controlling the CBI through the CVC to insulated it from political interference (but no effort to monitor that caused status quo to prevail), the 2G scam caused the courts to tell the CBI to act without Government interference, and so on. But the court did not strike hard in cases where it was clear that there was blatant political interference that was subverting justice. And justice and law is the prime objective of this country, protecting the balance of power between the executive and judiciary should be next. The courts in turn have the left abysmal levels of political subversion of investigations go unchallenged – the Bofors case, the case of 1984 riots, the 2002 Gujarat riots, the payment for votes during Narasimha Rao’s time, and so on. There are numerous examples, and all of them show the law to be slow, capable of being twisted, and so on, and yet the courts have almost stood like mute spectators.
So, does one have hope from tomorrow’s supposed action by the Supreme court in the Coalgate issue. Here is the maximum example of subversion – the CBI is investigating wrongs done by the Government of the day, including the then Coal Minister and his ministry (which was headed by the Prime Minister at that point of time), and you have the Law Minister, officials from the PMO and the Coal Ministry all interfering with the CBI draft report and the CBI Direction meekly letting this happen. Only when the court put the CBI direction under threat of perjury did he confess to the truth.
There are a lot of expectations in terms of the judgment of the court tomorrow in this matter of the interference in the CBI. However, it would be too much to hope that the court lays out a method where the CBI is kept separate from the Government, especially when the CBI is dependent on the Government for officers, for money, and for sanction regarding investigations, for going to different locations for investigations, and so on. If they do manage to come out with a solution for this, it would be great and would be a good start to atleast trying to ensure the independence of the CBI.




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