Friday, September 30, 2011

Is the media charting an escape route for Chidu?

Pratap Bhanu Mehta discovers in his column in IndianExpress that Chidu’s problem is not Pranab Mukherjee but Manmohan Singh! Since Manmohan’s credibility itself has diminished, his defence of Chidu does more harm than good.

R Jagannathan picks this up in his columnin Firstpost, enlarges the same and declares that if Chidu could have stopped Raja from selling the spectrum, Manmohan Singh also could have stopped! After all, Manmohan Singh was more powerful than Chidu!

Shekar Gupta argues in “The Buck Stops here” that it was more a failure of Manmohan as a CEO than a fight between two ministers and a willing Barkha Dutta plays along by giving him ample time to articulate this theory.

Is there not a pattern in the media discourse especially after it became clear that Chidu would not be resigning and that there would be a patch up? That Manmohan Singh is indecisive and incompetent is neither new nor the point, but the fact that this is being used by media to carve a small aperture for Chidu to escape is.

What puzzles everyone is that why media has always been sympathetic to Chidu. The same media which could not tolerate Shivraj Patil’s incompetence does not mind buying Chidu’s facile argument that lack ofintelligence was not intelligence failure or accepting his hortative exhortations on fighting terror.

When the inter-ministerial note blamed Chidu for not restraining Raja from selling the spectrum, media chose to analyze the culpability of Chidu. Prime time debates in electronic media and columns in print media emphasized the need for establishing quid pro quo for determining culpability. A simple omission will not make one culpable, they surmised. Times Now, the otherwise anti establishment channel, also inexplicably took this line.  The Media conveniently sidestepped the argument that Chidu is morally responsible, that he did not exercise due diligence which he promised while taking oath of office and that this is reason enough for demanding his resignation. Not that this aspect was not discussed; it was, but was dismissed at the initial stage itself. Did the media, by arguing prematurely the culpability angle not try to divert the viewers’ attention? It will be na├»ve to assume that it did not.

CBI said in the court that it was an independent entity and the Central Government could not direct it to probe the inter-ministerial note. Media got a shot in the arm and gave it the maximum coverage.

During the days leading to Raja’s resignation, one could see TV crews camping outside his Delhi residence. Similar was the scene outside Dayanidhi Maran’s house in the days preceding his resignation. Did anyone see media chasing Chidu during the one week he went into hiding?

The 4 page letter which Pranab Mukherjee sent to Manmohan wherein he pointed out that inputs of various ministries had been incorporated in the note changed its perception. Two things became clear to media- one, Pranab Mukherjee is not going to take this lying low; two, it is not just the Finance Minister but a group of senior ministers and bureaucrats is against the Home Minister.

Suddenly Chidu looked vulnerable! The media discourse took the expected turn. It remembered promptly how Chidu and Kapil had mismanaged the Anna Hazare problem, how Sonia, in spite of being in an American hospital called Pranab to get involved and how Pranab solved the issue. For a couple of days one could see less Congress spokespersons and more opposition members in the TV debates.

Then came the signals of a likely patch up and a joint press conference. Media resiled to its view that Chidu would survive. And one started hearing the familiar arguments as the ones cited in the initial paragraphs of this article.

If ‘culpability’ argument was used earlier to divert attention, Manmohan’s weakness is being used now so that no one asks him to resign. That takes us to the title of this article.

Is the media charting an escape route for Chidu?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Closed, Sealed, Confidential letter to the PM

Manmohan Singh on board the Air India One Flight


You must be tired of Open Letters, especially when you receive so many of them these days. Anybody and everybody in media, be it the all powerful Editors-in-Chief of Print or Electronic media or the once powerful-now humbled Editors or the emerging creed called Bloggers, seems to think that it is his fundamental right to write an open letter to you, ask 6,8, 10 or other varying number of questions to you. But I want to catch your attention; hence this closed, sealed, confidential letter. As has been your practice, you can “acknowledge” this letter. As has become the fashion these days, I can leak this letter and your “acknowledgment.” Aap be kush; main be kush.

You complained in your Air India One flight yesterday that the opposition was prematurely restless and wanted to force an early election. You made your point, at the right time so that the electronic media could dwell on it rather than the Chidu- Pranab conundrum during prime time debates. Clever!

Now that your interview is over, you can put on your seat belt, sit back, relax and ponder over a few things.

Faced with a deluge of scams, I know you would not like to ponder over them; you will again be tired. Don’t worry. I want you to look at the positives you have brought in corruption management. It will be music to your ears. When one senior minister ‘allegedly’ bugs the office of another so that he can proactively prevent the latter from indulging in anything murky, the latter pays back with impunity; he authorizes a ‘low level’ Deputy Director in his ministry to release a note accusing his predecessor of inaction, that too when he is in a foreign country. When there are such internal checks and balances, does the country really need a Lokpal? Opposition is really restless!

Since Gujarat Government cannot boast of these checks and balances, it needs a Lokayukta. Pugnacious Narendra Modi does not understand this and hold a Maha Rally. Obviously he had to be ignored while appointing the Lokayukta. And this is not done without a precedent. When Sushma Swaraj did not concur with the other two members of the committee, was she not ignored in the appointment of CVC? It is another matter that the Supreme Court later set asidehis appointment.

Supreme Court was also flexing its muscles a few months back. After the resignation of the Solicitor General and the shifting of the then Law Minister, you seem to have managed the problem for the time being. Also the threat that you have incorporated in the Judicial Accountability Bill viz. ‘no unwarranted comments during hearing’ seems to have had the desired effect in silencing the Supreme Court. However let’s not prematurely conclude on this, like the opposition. Let’s see what the Court has to say on the need to investigate Chidambaram’s role.

Let’s turn to Governance. They say that a good government is one where people do not ‘feel’ the government. UPA 2’s performance is unparalleled in this regard. Telengana agitation has been continuing for days. Has anyone ever felt that there is a government which will solve the problem? Terrorists have been bombing Mumbai and Delhi. Your Home Minister told the people that security is their business! Has he not successfully moved governance to people?

The independence you have given to your council of ministers has not been appreciated either by the opposition or by the media. Dayanidhi Maran, and later on Raja could decide on spectrum pricing, independent of the GOM. Murli Deora could gift 25% of the Total Contract Area in KG Basin to a private company. Chidambaram could promise a separate Telengana and shamelessly could go back on the promise. Jairam Ramesh or Jayanti Natarajan could hold economic development to ransom in the name of environment protection. Mamata Banerjee when she was the Railways Minister could make Indian Railways the West Bengal Railways. If the opposition equates this empowerment with abdication of responsibility, it is of course its myopic view.

Media says growth is slowing down- from the expected 9% to 7.7%. But why don’t they see that inflation is going up. If something is going down, is it not compensated by something else going up?

Arun Jaitley says that your government will not last the full term. How dare he... 

"We are commencing our descent." That's the pilot. Please do not mistake him; he is talking about the flight. Please sit straight and get ready for the descent.

Yours Sincerely,

Aaam Aadmi

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do not put the cart before the horse

That the UPA 2 squandered the reasonably good mandate it got in 2009 elections, better in any case than what it got in 2004 through scams of astronomical proportions and abject misadministration and that it is desperate to retrieve its falling fortunes can be no justification for its blatant attempt to distort the secular fabric of the nation. The recent chorus for reservations for Muslims and for passing Communal Violence Bill cannot but lead the mature, discerning and largely unbiased populace to the above conclusion.

Salman Khurshid and P Chidambaram, supposedly two of the best legal brains in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet seem to have recommended a 6% reservation for Muslims. They are quite considerate in that this will be within the 27% meant for Other Backward Classes. That the constitution does not permit a religion based reservation is a frivolous claim to hold their enthusiasm. This can be circumvented. How? Give it the garb-the reservation is for “backward class” Muslims and not for Muslims in general. Take the precedents from Andhra and Tamilnadu, both of which have reservation for Muslims. And you have the successful prescription for overcoming the constitutional constraints. In the Supreme Court, which over the years has been stretching the import of Article 16(4) beyond recognition, one has a sympathetic listener, should the matter ever go for appeal. (An appeal against Andhra Government’s reservation for Muslims is pending before the Supreme Court.)

But is the UPA 2’s presumption that this tokenism, this appeasement will revive its electoral fortunes valid? DMK Government in Tamilnadu, which in many ways resembled UPA 2, be it corruption or inefficiency, introduced a 3.5% reservation for Muslimns and Christians. What mileage did it get? It suffered the worst defeat in its history.

UPA 2’s next desperation can be seen in its attempt to push the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 or the Communal Violence Bill. What does the Bill seek to do? Sec 3 (e) of the Bill defines a “group” as religious or linguistic minority or Scheduled Cast or Schedule Tribe; any offence against the “group” is punishable. And what are the offences?

  •      Sexual assault against a member of the “group” is punishable with 10-14 years imprisonment. Note that sexual assault on (say rape of) a woman belonging to the majority community is not punishable under this Bill as she does not belong to the “group.”
  •  Any article, speech, telecast or broadcast against the group is punishable with 3 years imprisonment.
  • Organized communal violence against the group.
  • Financial or other support to an offence against the group.
  • Torture

Are the above not crimes if committed against majority community? Yes, they are; but one has to seek remedy through the labyrinth of Indian Penal Code or address it through Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Will this not give imprimatur to the blatant anti Hindu rhetoric of the likes of Digvijay Singh? Will it not isolate the minority community forever? Will the polarization of the society which will be an assured outcome of this Bill not be a greater evil than the so called protection it offers?

It is nobody’s case that minorities cannot be victims or they cannot be protected. It is just that this protection should extend equally to the majority.

Further, is squandering the popular mandate anything new for Congress? Did not Rajiv Gandhi achieve it painstakingly in late 80s? How did he lose his vote bank- exactly in the two spheres where UPA 2 is losing viz. Corruption and Minority appeasement. If it was Bofors for Rajiv Gandhi, it is 2G for UPA; only the size has increased manyfold.  If it was Muslim Women Bill for Rajiv Gandhi in the wake of Shah Bhano judgment, it is Communal violence Bill for UPA 2. While Muslim Women Bill promised to protect minorities, what did it end up doing? It transferred the responsibility for paying the alimony from the erring husband to the unaccountable Waqf Board. A great injustice was done to the Muslim women. Twenty five years later UPA 2 is trying to repeat what Rajiv Gandhi did in 1986.

The answer to all of UPA 2’s woes lies in good governance. It is as simple as that; as difficult as that. It has lost just 2 ½ years since the last election. It still has another 2 ½ years. It need not panic as if everything is lost. It can still weed out the corrupt and inefficient from the cabinet. Equally important is the ruthless removal of intellectually arrogant members of the cabinet who are not team players. Prime Minister should be empowered to act as one. Delivery instead of rhetoric should be the focus.

Look at Nitish Kumar- solid performance complimented by secular make over. Look at Narendra Modi. He has shown the nation what good governance is. Though his vote bank would have appreciated, it does not seem to mind the loss of secular credentials.

UPA 2 needs performers, not intellectuals. Chidambaram uses his intellect for defending intelligence failure. Kapil Sibal’s intelligence lies in negating the loss in 2G. Jayanti Natarajan’s intelligence results in dumping the National Manufacturing Policy. 

After delivering good governance, showing performance, UPA 2 also can afford to indulge in these image make-overs with the seemingly minority protection initiatives, just as Narendra Modi is attempting to do now; not vice versa.

Otherwise it will be putting the cart before the horse.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guru's disciples and Manmohan's cabinet colleagues

Long, long ago there was a guru. He had two disciples- Ramu and Somu. He told Ramu to take care of his right leg and Somu his left leg. Everyday Ramu and Somus used to clean, wash and dry the right and left legs respectively of the guru.

One day when Ramu was washing the right leg, the mug with water slipped from his hand and injured the left leg of the guru.

Somu, who was watching this was furious. How dare Ramu injure the left leg which was under his care!

Somu took his mug with water and threw at the right leg of the guru. Somu was satisfied.
Guru was bleeding from both the legs!

That was a story by Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

Now read the following.

Anand Sharma, Union Commerce and Industries Minister presented the National Manufacturing Policy in the recent Cabinet Meeting. The Policy seeks to increase the share of manufacturing sector in the GDP from the current 15% to 25% and create 100 mill jobs by 2020. Everyone is aware that the Industrial output grew by a paltry 3.3% in July-2011 compared to 8.8% in June and 9.9% last year. Capital goods output declined by 15%. Can there be a more pressing moment for adopting National Manufacturing Policy?

Jayanti Natarajan, the Environment Minister does not think so. Why? Because in her opinion some aspects of the Policy relating to Special Economic Zones encroach her fiefdom; because it relaxes some impractical environment  laws; and finally it takes away some of her powers. She would not allow the same. (Irony is that these were all agreed to by her predecessor, the tough Jayram Ramesh a few months back.)

Mallikarjun Kharge, the Union Labour Minister does not think so. Why? Because it proposes to relax some archaic labour laws.
Result? The National Manufacturing Policy is sent to cold storage.

Nation suffers just as Guru’s both the legs were bleeding.

PS: I was happy a few months back when Manmohan Singhinducted Jayanti Natarajan into his cabinet because we would be saved of her histrionics in the TV debates. I was wrong. As a spokesperson of Congress, she was a mere nuisance; as a Minister she is a disaster.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Justice P N Bhagwati

And the matter is virtually buried by the media, but for a couple of articles in the Indian Express and But here also the grouse of the authors seems to be more on the 35 years’ delay! Are we not missing the real issues?
What are the issues? Why does he feel sorry now?

Year 1976. Emergency had been declared in India. Emergency meant suspension of fundamental rights, including the right to life and personal liberty as mentioned in Article 21. Many political leaders, journalists and others were arrested all over the country on frivolous charges. High Courts across the country were flooded with habeas corpus petitions seeking the production of those arrested. The Government argued that right to personal liberty has been suspended and as such High Courts cannot entertain habeas corpus petitions. In other words the relatives and friends of those arrested could not do anything but to wait helplessly for their release. Most of the High Courts (barring Andhra, Kerala and Madras) rejected the Government’s arguments and upheld the citizens’ right to file habeas corpus petitions. Government preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court. A five member bench comprising of Justices  A N Ray, P N Bhagwati, M H Beg, Y V Chandrachud and H R Khanna heard the case. Except for H R Khanna all other judges rejected the verdict of the High Courts! Citizens of India had lost their right to life and personal liberty, held the Supreme Court. Justice Khanna differed from the rest of the judges.

Now P N Bhagwati says he is sorry for this judgment! He says he ‘yielded’ to his colleagues; he was not in favor of the majority view initially; he was persuaded! Yielded to whom? Persuaded by whom? By the other judges? Or by anyone else? Is the persuasion not a crime- perhaps as serious, if not more, as ‘yielding’? Also what was the motivation for the other 3 judges to ‘persuade’ P N Bhagwati to change his verdict? Who or what motivated them? While Bhagwati’s apology itself is being forgotten, does anyone- the Government or the Supreme Court- have the time to look into the role of other judges?

And who are the other judges?

Justice A N Ray, who was promoted as Chief Justice of India by the Indira Gandhi Government in 1973- just three years before the ADM Jabalpur- superseding 3 senior-most judges.

Justice M H Beg became the Chief Justice of India in 1977 and Y V Chandrachud in 1978!

Let us revert to P N Bhagwati. He welcomed Indira Gandhi when she assumed power in 1980 after the defeat of 1977.He was promoted as the CJI in 1985. He was hailed by media as one of the “progressive” judges! He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2007.

Justice H.R. Khanna did not get his promotion.

The vital question still remains.

Does a simple apology wipe out all the sins?

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I have posted 25 articles! A humble mile stone for an untrained writer! I thought I will pause a little and deliberate a few issues.

What motivated me to write my first post? Is that valid still? What kept me going? How did I choose the subject for each of these articles? Did I really choose the subject or I felt compelled to write?

When I got what I thought were the answers, I felt uneasy; am I not being immodest? Just 25 posts and I have started assuming a lot; Choti moo, badi baath?

I recalled the blogs I have been following. Many of them have posted their hundreds….Many have been blogging for years- be it Saru's romantic poems, or Seema's paintings,or  Subrashis's soul searching articles, or the multidimensional Sahana or Sunil's observations or the astonishing photographs of Joshie Daniel, Magiceye, Chintan or Arti's accounts of visits to religious places or Arvind's thought connect or Dr. Vikram's world views or Bharatiraja's archive of an unknown or the pencil drawings of Shanoj or Sowmya's potluck of thoughts or Satish's humorous posts or Krishnapriya's lovely short stories and poems or Sujatha's enchanting personal accounts or Rohit's sareenity or Swetha's Howzzat or Sunita's 'I See, I feel, I say!!!' or Neeraj Kumar's probinglife or Ashwini's 'Just The Way I Like' or Vijay Menon's 'Here I am'  or India's no 1 blog or Nona's beautiful accounts of life in Paris or Zephyr's posts on social issues or Meera's 'Chronicles of an Unknown' or Indranil's Copycats or the mouthwatering recipes of My Kitchen Flavors or Deduides travel accounts or Anne John's abstarct admissions or Agnija's Monsoon Rains or...or...or...

If I feel exalted with my 25 posts and 2 months of writing, how do I describe what will they be feeling? With so many popular posts to their credit, I wonder whether they would have had the time to think about all these things. Are they not more competent to give their views? I sincerely believe they are. Would their views not be very relevant to the rest of the bloggers? Again I believe they will be.

Here are my questions.

How do you choose what to blog on?

Do you always have a compelling story- be it a political story, personal one or a romantic poem or a photograph or a picture or a recipe or a historical monument or religious site you visited- to share with others? If you always have a compelling story, what is the role of research? Without research, how do we get new ideas, new recipes, new scenes to be photographed? How do we form opinion on new developments?

Or do you choose a subject and then research on the same? In such a case, will you be able to emotionally connect with the same? Does it not sound too logical and less creative? Is it not a case of form over substance?

Is it the irresistible inner urge that makes you blog? Or do you want to get noticed?
Do you see what is trending and jump into it? Pragmatic, I would say. Or do you intensely feel about something and genuinely believe that it will ‘trend’? Pragmatism or idealism- what drives you?

Are you conscious of the language? Do you write and re-write? Do you change one word or phrase for another because you feel the former is more powerful? Or do you just focus on the content?

Do you read or review your post again and again and again before publishing?
Are you concerned whether the readers may not connect with you? Do you tone down your views lest the readers may take offence? Do you ever hold back your honest views lest you may be classified as right wing or left wing, secular or fundamental or some other slot?

Do you feel a sense of achievement after every post- an article on the success of an anti corruption movement or a photograph of rising sun or a recipe for new halwa? Or do you feel you could have done better?

Do you feel frustrated at being unable to do anything beyond creating a post say after a terrorist attack…say after clicking a pathetic beggar…say after visiting a neglected temple? Or do you feel you have done your job as a blogger?

How do you take an adverse comment on your post? Is it better than a favorable comment? Or is it just better than ‘no comment’?

Is your answer a straight ‘haa’ ya ‘naa” for these questions? Or is it somewhere in between?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

P.Chidambaram's Dictionary

P Chidambaram seems to be having a dictionary quite different from ours. Happened to peep into the same… What I saw there was….

Word/ Phrase
A rare commodity
Actionable intelligence
Bomb Blasts
Something which cannot be prevented.
To be quoted extensively after every terror attack to prove that such attacks are quite are normal.
That which perpetually eludes the country
PWD’s job
To fix CCTV cameras
Police’s job
To arrest Anna Hazare under Sec 144
States’ Job (especially BJP ruled States’ Job)
To solve terrorism related cases.
My Job
To bug Pranab Mukherjee’s office
My birthright
I acquired in Sonia School
To attain the highest level of this trait, I compete with Kapil Sibal. Manish Tiwari, an earlier contender has fallen flat. With Digvijay Singh’s Certificate of Arrogance in my armour, I am now leading.
Something to be legitimized or legalized so that we have crime-less society.
  • First I introduced Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme in 1997 where criminals were allowed to convert their black money into white at 1987 prices irrespective of whenever they acquired.
  • Second I popularized P-Notes. While the western countries were freezing bank accounts of terrorist organizations, I allowed them investment opportunity in India. Now they can finance terror attacks with income earned in India-Swadeshi finance for bomb blasts!
  • Third, I advised A Raja that sale of stake is not sale of spectrum so that he could achieve the biggest ever Rs. 1.76 cr scam.

To be won with the help of data entry operators of Election Commission after you are declared defeated!
India’s Budget
An annual lie. (I demonstrated this during my tenure as Finance Minister.)
Budget Speech of the Finance Minister
Need not have any relation to the Budget Document.
Arun Jaitely
Salaa…how I wish I can beat him in any one issue he takes up!
Top 3 News Channels
My lady luck
Naxal Terror
Appears to be a familiar phrase.
Color Codes: Black
Only dress

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vikram, Vetal and Delhi Bomb Blast

Vikram climbed the tree and brought the corpse down. He carried the Vetal on his shoulder and started walking.  Vetal said,” Hey King Vikaramaditya, I will tell you a story. At the end of it I will ask you a few questions. If you do not the answer, I will remain your captive. On the other hand if you know the answer but keep quiet, your head will burst into pieces.

Vikram had handled this situation many times in the past. Being an intelligent King, he always knew the answer and the Vetal always escaped.

Vetal started the story.

There is a country called India. It has a neighbor called Pakistan.

India is ruled by a weak coalition government headed by a weaker Prime Minister remotely controlled by mysteriously powerful Italian lady.

Pakistan is ruled by the weakest ever government directly controlled by a strong, vengeful army. The favorite pastime of this army is to train terrorists, fund terror groups and export them to India.

These terrorists are frequent fliers to India or have season tickets in rail, road and sea transport to India.

They periodically bomb various parts of India- Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur…..

Also they bomb same city again and again.

Go one step further. They bomb the same street again and again.

They are quite versatile. They use suitcase, bicycle, scooter, car or any other device to plant the bombs. Whether it is a hospital or a Court or a local train, it does not matter to them. They are at ease. They can cause explosion. After the assignment, they go back to Pakistan with ease.

They are very honest and transparent. After the explosion they promptly send emails claiming ‘credit’.

But do not underestimate Indians. They are smarter. They have competent police forces, investigative agencies, intelligence apparatus, etc headed by a still more competent Home Minister. His Ministry sends out intelligence inputs which are “unintelligible” to the recipients!

But his police force is very efficient. Immediately after the blast, they tell you whether-
·         it is a low intensity or a high intensity bomb.
·          RDX or Ammonium Nitrate or any other chemical substance is used.
·         It is a 1 kg or 2 kgs bomb.
·         Precise depth and length of the crater created by the bomb.

Their weak Prime Minister promptly condemns the bombing; vows to fight terrorism; assures the nation that he would not succumb to terrorism. (Only the ordinary people in the streets would succumb!)

The Home Minister would not like to be left alone. He also does not hesitate to condemn the attack. However he would not like to let his police force down- every bomb attack, according to him, happens in spite of the Police’ alertness; police protected the country in the intervening period from the previous attack to the present- be it 31 months or 3 months!

For whatever it is worth, the police release the pictures of suspects knowing very well that even if the suspects are apprehended, it would take years to sentence them; again it would take years for the President to decide on their mercy petition; there would be human rights groups praying for mercy on them; there would be State Assemblies asking for review of rejection of mercy petition.

The ruling party has a General Secretary who sees Hindu outfits and saffron color behind every apparent, Pakistan sponsored terrorist act.

India has a vibrant electronic media- it asks victims in the bomb site how they feel about it; it conducts long, unending, inconclusive debates.

Soon after the attack, everything becomes normal. If it is Mumbai, the next day Mumbaikars catch local trains and go to office; we hail their resilience. Delhi High Court is still better. Within few hours of bombing, it resumes hearings. Still more resilient! 
Symbolic message to an un-understanding terrorist group!

Concerned citizens light candles, express solidarity and give further more symbolic message!

Vetal ended the story and asked the following questions:

“Tell me O King! What is the meaning of Prime Minister’s condemnation? When the terrorists do such brazen act, why does the Prime Minister call it a cowardly act? What is the purpose of NIA or Natgrid if the country is not able to get credible intelligence? When the police know that the terrorists will not be punished, what interest would they have in apprehending the culprits? When the wife of a police offer knows that if her husband gets killed, the country will not bring the culprit to book will she allow her husband to become a sacrificial goat? When the Foreign Minister of Pakistan comes to India, why does the country forget these gruesome attacks and focuses instead on her blue colour dress, hair style and designer jewellery? Why is the ruling party unable to contain its General Secretary? When citizens return to normal life, do you call it their resilience or indifference?”

For the first time Vikram did not know the answer. He blinked. Vetal remained in his captivity.

And Vikram- Vetal story ended forever. 

PS: Pardon me for being sarcastic; it is my frustration. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Impeachment of High Court Judges- a futile exercise

An overwhelming majority of Rajya Sabha voted in favour of impeaching Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court on August 17. Lok Sabha was to debate the issue in the next few days. Meanwhile he resigned on September 1. His resignation was accepted. Lok Sabha dropped the impeachment proceedings. Justice Sen would get his retirement benefits. Everyone is happy.

The End.

Wholesome mockery! What else does one make of the above?

Certain goods which were rejected by Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) were to be sold and the proceeds to be deposited in the Court. Sen, who was a practicing advocate at that time, was appointed as a Receiver to do this job in 1984-27 years back! By 1995 Sen had received a total of Rs. 33.23 lacs from the sale of goods. Despite repeated requests from SAIL, he did not submit the details of receipts. SAIL filed a suit against him in Calcutta High Court in 2002. He did not provide the accounts even when asked by the Court. The High Court, through a laborious process found out that he had received Rs. 33.23 lacs and had in fact used them by 1999. In other words it found him guilty. It ordered him to return the money along with interest. Sen, who had by that time become a Judge of the Calcutta High Court, paid Rs. 57.65 lacs!

Later Sen’s mother pleaded for deletion of adverse remarks about him in the Calcutta High Court judgment. A Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered the deletion of the adverse remarks.  Justice Sen became clean!

Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan was, of course not convinced. He ordered a probe by a 3 judge panel. Justice Sen was found guilty by the panel. Thereafter K G Balakrishnan wrote to Prime Minister asking him to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Rajya Sabha took up the issue in 2009 and appointed a 3 member committee to probe into the matter. Again Justice Sen was guilty.

Thereafter what you read in the opening paragraph happened.

Look at it from Justice Sen’s angle.

  • He utilized Rs. 33.23 lacs from 1995 to 2007- for a cool 12 years.
  • He was found guilty. He returned Rs. 57.65 lacs with interest; it works out to a throw away 5% p.a. interest, if compounded annually! It will be still less if compounded half yearly or quarterly. (Technically if we treat that the misuse of money started from 1999 when the balance in the account was wiped out, it would still be just 7%.)
  • He managed to get the adverse remarks against him deleted by a Division Bench.
  • He resigned in the wake of impeachment proceedings and ensured his retirement benefits! Had the impeachment proceedings been successful, he would have lost the benefits.

Is this not ‘having the cake and eating it too?

And this is not an isolated case.

Justice P D Dinakaran was a judge of Madras High Court from 1996 to 2008 when he was promoted as Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court. In 2009 he was recommended for appointment to Supreme Court. Serious allegations started surfacing- land grabbing of enormous proportion, questionable judgments, etc. His elevation to Supreme Court was put on hold. Rajya Sabha started impeachment proceedings against him in 2010.

Justice K G Balakrishnan, who ordered an enquiry in Soumitra Sen’s case under similar circumstances, and 3 other judges thought it fit to recommend his transfer to Sikkim High Court.

Towards the end of July 2011 when a probe panel appointed by Rajya Sabha was still inquiring into the case, Justice Dinakaran resigned. His resignation was accepted.

No impeachment! Full retirement benefits!( As if this was not enough, Justice Dinakaran alleged that he was victimized because he was a Dalit!)

Before Justice Dinakaran it was Justice Ramaswamy.

You observe the same nauseating pattern.

Then there is a long list present and past Judges with questionable integrity as given by Prashant Bhushan.

My point is, why should the resignation of a Judge deter the government from proceeding with the impeachment? Why should it feel shy to act tough? Is land grabbing or misappropriation of money any nobler if done by a Judge?

Finally is impeachment a punitive, disciplinary action or a mere negotiating tool for cajoling an erring Judge to put in his resignation?