Steamless Battle Against Corruption
Striving hard not to combat corruption tooth and nail, the UPA government had to bite the dust last week. The Manmohan Singh led-government, having been rapped by the Supreme Court for not arresting Hasan Ali, nabbed the latter. It is worth mentioning that the Supreme Court had pulled up the government on the issue of black-money and issued a deadline to probe allegations of tax-evasion and money laundering against Hasan Ali Khan. Cracking the whip to meet the Supreme Court deadline of March 8, the investigating agency arrested Ali just one day before the deadline, i.e. on March 7. Scrap broker and real estate consultant Hasan Ali, who allegedly owes the country nearly Rs 70,000 crore in taxes, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. It is to be noted that the media was inundated with reports blaming Hasan Ali for suspected money laundering and for allegedly transferring cash and valuable assets outside the country by unlawful means with the help of foreign nationals. The media reports also reveal that Hasan Ali initially was a small-time cheat involved in forging documents. The first case was registered against him in Hyderabad for cheating State Bank of India on January 2, 1990. Ali launched himself into the big league when he came in touch with Kashinath Tupuriah of RM Investments and Trading based in Kolkata. It is alleged that the duo imported scrap metal from the Gulf countries and sold them to SAIL and Incab Industries. Ali and Tupuriah soon moved up the hierarchical ladder when they tried to sell Boeing 747 aircraft. The deal fell through. Ali then moved his base to Switzerland and wanted to buy a hotel property restaurant. The deal did not materialise. Again Ali tried his luck exporting diamonds with the help of one Munnabhai. The plan was aborted even before it could take off. Despite all this, Ali was never arrested. His arrest came on the eve of the Supreme Court’s March 8 deadline to the government to inform it how it proposed to tackle black money hoarders. The Supreme Court while blasting the Centre in the first week of this month for not having the “will power” to act against black money hoarders asked why Khan and others were not subjected to custodial interrogation despite the probe agencies possessing sufficient material against them. The veracity of the involvement of Ali in serious charges can be gauged by the fact that when after the arrest of Ali the status report was submitted to the Supreme Court next day, the court mulled invoking terror and other stringent penal charges against Ali. Dancing to the tune of the court, the Solicitor-General said the court was justified in seeking Khan’s custodial interrogation as the charges against him warranted such questioning. The Solicitor General also admitted that one of the investigating officers, who was a deputy commissioner of police, was earlier harassed apparently by his superiors as he had the courage to take on Ali in the fake passport case.
In this backdrop, the Supreme Court of India is the saviour of the common man and the defender of the law as laid down by the Constitution of India. For, the high and mighty behave in such a manner as if they were above the law of the land. It is the apex court that hauls up the law-breakers and admonishes them for being law-breakers. Hence, the Supreme Court’s verdict delivered on March 3 on the appointment of CVC PJ Thomas could not have come at a more appropriate time. We appear to witness a new scam each day, and this substantiates the fact that the nation’s moral moorings are in tatters, as the governance in our country is as fraudulent as never before. There has been always lots of mischief, corruption and unlawful act in the realms of administration, which got hushed behind the priestly privileges of the powerful. Unless this dangerous trend is reversed, India’s future generations will become hostage to a situation where they cannot afford to be even minimally honest. The current political leadership cannot rise to the challenge. Its focus is solely on grabbing votes with blatantly false promises and alluring freebies at the cost of the exchequer. Only the judiciary is equipped and empowered to stem the rot, notwithstanding the fact that it has its own internal problems to solve. It is entirely apt to believe that the Supreme Court has come in to rescue the country where other institutions seem to fail. The general incompetence and inability of authority to rightly perform is not a new phenomenon in the country. Therefore, with these above-mentioned judgments, the Supreme Court has further improved its image and has restored the faith of millions. On the contrary, it is lamentable that there is a lack of gumption and courage on the part of the government. It is shrunk with fear and apathy and cannot stand up to the high and mighty. This mute-like attitude of blind obedience and submission to powerful is undesirable. It displays a willingness to be “bought” over by fear or money. This culture has to change in India.