Thursday, 12 December 2019

Blinkered Vision

Updated: October 20, 2012 4:40 pm

If one wants to learn the art of how to see the court’s verdict in one’s favour, then learn it from the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. For, the government, after a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia gave its opinion on the Presidential reference arising out of 2G verdict, is seeing it as if it had been vindicated by the apex court. The court maintained: “In our opinion, auction despite being a more preferable method of alienation/allotment of natural resources, cannot be held to be a constitutional requirement or limitation for alienation of all natural resources and therefore, every method other than auction cannot be struck down as ultra-vires the constitutional mandate.” The court’s opinion was sought on eight different questions. Most of them came from the observations and directions of the court in the 2G spectrum case wherein the court had mandated that whenever a contract is to be awarded, a licence is to be given or any largesse is to be distributed, the public authority must adopt a transparent and fair method to make the selection so that all eligible persons get a fair opportunity. The court went on to mandate that when it came to allocation of the scarce natural resources like spectrum, the state must maintain that a non-discriminatory method was adopted for allocation. The court also added to its opinion that a duly-publicised auction, conducted fairly, was the best available method for distributing natural resources, particularly when the direct beneficiaries were the private persons or companies. The Supreme Court’s opinion has incorporated the principles of fairness as adverse to arbitrariness in the allocation of natural resources. This opinion is contrary to what the government did in the 2G spectrum and coal block allocations. But clever Congress ministers and leaders have tried to misinterpret the opinion given by the apex court and describe it as a victory of the government. The valued opinion given by the apex court means to say that the natural resources may be used for social welfare scheme without even opting for auction process. It will be a fraudulent attempt and malicious intention of the Congress ministers and leaders if they mean to draw the conclusion that natural resources like coal or iron can be distributed to private and government companies at a lower rate and then permitting private companies to sell the final product at a rate much higher than the rate at which companies under government sector are selling. Obviously, the government is allowing private companies to extract blood from the common man and indirectly permitting them to accumulate billions of rupees as profit. So, they may bribe crores of rupees to political leaders and government officials here and there and also contribute more and more to party funds as a token of award to politicians.

There is no doubt that misuse of natural resources by clever politicians has only resulted in so many scams and so many cases of corruption, which are surfacing one after other. But not learning any lesson from the past, an obdurate government, under the pretext of the apex court’s order, seems to be pushing its former and tainted ministers back into the business! Although Suresh Kalmadi and A Raja had been in jail for one year each, both men, who are Lok Sabha MPs, are back in parliamentary committees. Kalmadi has become a member on Parliament’s External Affairs Committee, and Raja is now the representative on the parliamentary group that studies Energy. Against this backdrop, it is noteworthy that while the court said that policymaking was the government’s domain, it added “the implementation of policy will be tested and interfered with when found wanting”. So, the government can rejoice all it wants, but the court’s opinion in no way diminishes the scam taint from 2G, coal, and Commonwealth games scam. So the government should be castigated for its rampant and malafide misuse of the policy of allocation of natural resources, mostly to benefit the ‘crony capitalists’ and in return fill up its party coffers as a quid pro quo. This government is not only enormously corrupt, but all its senior heads seem to exhibit a sense of brazenness, in spite of volumes of damning documents already in public domain, indicating massive fraud and loot of public money. They seem to gloat over this judgement as some sort of a vindication of their policy and are attempting to prepare the ground to bail out the wrong-doers who are out on bail. But these politicians need to appreciate that the world is changing fast (faster than probably some of them can change their habits). The way the information technology is developing and spreading, ironically, the spectrum they sold will be the one that will expose every action of theirs for public scrutiny. They may run for a while but will find it impossible to hide.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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