Monday, 18 November 2019

Has Judgement Day Arrived Earlier-Than-Expected For Sinners?

By Dr. Sunil Gupta
Updated: September 3, 2019 3:58 pm

Arrest of politicians is anything but new in our country. From nationalists in the British ruled India to mainstream politicians opposed to the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi, detentions and arrests of political leaders have always been a sad part of our political landscape. The arrest of former minister and a prominent leader of the Indian National Congress, Mr. P. Chidambaram, however, cannot be seen in the same light. While the primary motive behind incarceration of nationalists by the British Indian government and of opposition leaders by the Indira-led government during emergency was to create an atmosphere of fear and curb any dissent against the tyranny of the governments, Mr. Chidambaram’s arrest has been a fair example of how even influential and rich men have to pay for their past sins when law and justice take their due course.

Although the allegations against the ex-minister have made headlines over the past many days, we must consider them summarily. The August 21 arrest of Mr. Chidambaram by the CBI was mainly due to the testimony of one Indrani Mukerjea, a former media executive who has informed the investigative agencies of how

the former misused his position of power when he was the finance minister of India in order to gain rewards for his son, Mr. Karti Chidambaram. The firm of Mrs. Mukerjea was allowed to seek foreign investment by influencing the decision-making process of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and bypassing the laws. As kickbacks, the junior Chidambaram was rewarded with illicit money in the garb of consulting services by his firm to the Mukerjeas. A notable point here is that this case of quid pro quo happened more than a decade ago and Mrs. Mukerjea spilled the beans as an approver in 2018 and hence, the investigating agencies cannot be blamed of any rush in arresting the accused. They have duly done their homework.

Secondly, the plea of Mr. Chidambaram for anticipatory bail was not only turned down by the Delhi High Court but it also invoked strong rebuke from the court that said “magnitude and enormity” of the evidence produced by the prosecution doesn’t allow the judge to accept the plea of bail. Contrast this with the judicial scene during the oppressive phase of Mrs. Indra Gandhi as the Prime Minister. Who can forget that Mrs. Gandhi broke the sacred tradition of appointment of senior most judge of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice by appointing Justice A N Roy (superseding three senior judges) only to fetch the support of the judiciary for her tyrannical way of governance? The independent judiciary of today not only stood tall before a former cabinet minister and a prominent lawyer, Mr. Chidambaram, the Supreme Court even turned down the petition to pass urgent orders on his anticipatory bail plea.

This doesn’t end here. Although the mainstream media has highlighted the Mukerjea testimony as the trigger behind legal troubles for Mr. P. Chidambaram, he is neck deep in corruption allegations against him and his son. Investigating agencies are also probing his role in the Aircel-Maxis case and the father-son duo has been granted immunity from arrest in this case by the court. In fact, the name of Chidambarams is mentioned in the chargesheet filed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate is also probing money laundering incident. The law is taking its course as it should and the allegations by the opposition calling the cases as ‘political vendetta’ and ‘motivated’ only further erode any confidence in the Congress party that is on its way of being wiped out of the national political scene after two terms that involved relentless misuse of office its ministers.

Now let’s talk about the debates that are being organized by news channels and are concentrated more on the political side of the cases against Mr. P. Chidambaram rather than how the law must be allowed to operate freely and expeditiously. Most news rooms have granted space to Congress spokespersons to advertently or inadvertently let the opposition propagate its theory of ‘political vendetta’ by the ruling BJP. Isn’t it simple to interpret that the investigating agencies genuinely need custody of the accused to be able to fetch information to lead the probe in the right direction? The congress party, which boasts of many well-known lawyers in its fold, has been able to get favourable orders for its anticipatory bail pleas in multiple cases, some of which involve many other key faces of the party. The tactic of the Congress is to delay justice by seeking adjournments and interim orders that severely impede the due process. Outside of the court, the party has decried an alleged planned motive of the government to incarcerate its political leadership and thereby silence its critics. The allegations are hard to buy.

For the dismay of the Congress, neither the courts of India nor the general public is allowing the party to succeed in its agenda. The incessant downfall of the party in polls, both at the centre and in states, is illustrative of how people have started to genuinely understand what is good and what is bad for them. They have come to realise that the policy paralyses of the Manmohan-led government has now been replaced by the reformist stance of the Modi-led BJP government, which is leaving no stone unturned in fulfilling the promises made in the poll manifesto. From ‘One nation, one ration card’, a scheme that will truly empower the migrated poor to obtain subsidised grains against their ration cards from any state in the country to a genuine emancipation of the Muslim women by outlawing of the Triple Talaq, the ruling BJP is on its path to delivering what only was once a poll rhetoric- good governance.

In the interest of the justice, leaving the Chidambaram saga on the trusted judiciary of India is the best course. Political blame game in this matter will only impede the due process and may allow the perpetrators an opportunity to evade law. Of late, the wrongdoers of past have started to feel the heat and this is exactly how the country must be run. Good governance doesn’t only necessitate correcting the future but also rectification of any past mistakes. The latter can only be achieved when our investigative agencies are accorded a freehand to deal with the culprits. In the current setup, it appears that gone are the days when the powerful were spared of their sins owing to an uncodified agreement between political parties to enjoy when they are in power and turn a blind eye to the sins of political rivals who had looted the public money for their own self. The India of today isn’t the Uttar Pradesh of past when the SP and BSP confronted each other in the public but joyfully dined together at the dinners hosted by the Congress. This is new India, culprits of the past must know.

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