Perform Or Perish People Are No Fools
There are different opinions, as to why the main political party in power, in the Central government was literally wiped out in the four state Assembly elections held on December 4, 2013, and could stay in power only in Mizoram. It is impossible to give an accurate guess of different voters mind, as they would have different causes and reasons. Some attribute it to the poor governance, others say it is the Hindu-bashing in a country of Hindus, for appeasement of minority votes. Some others say that it is due to the rise in prices. Still others say that it is due to the rampant corruption in all departments of the government, where nothing moves without the money. Some Hindus believe that Communal Violence Bill, which tries to cast aspersions on all Hindus as a communal group, is a ploy, so that the Muslims and Christians would vote for Congress. In any case, it is a moot point, as the law and order is a State subject. Other than the JD(U) all other parties have opposed it.
All Indians, including the Indian Muslims, have equal rights under the Constitution, but gradually, the Central government is taking over the State subject, like giving Direct Cash Subsidy and many other subsidies for the subjects clearly in the domain of the states. I am not a member of any political party and neither do I intend to be one, but I am a keen observer of men, matters and happenings in the country. I have a friend, who has a weird sense of humour and when I was discussing the political scenario in the country, he came out with a gem that some of our politicians would be happy to sell their grandmothers for a few votes. I pointed out that it was too harsh an assessment. Our politicians say that they want to beef up our economy. I doubt if most of them can differentiate the pork from the beef. Party hopping is quite common as some of them may change their party for the sake of their principles and some their principles for the sake of their new party. Even a politician, Ronald Reagan, who became the President of the USA, once said: “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realise that it bears a very close resemblance to the first (prostitution).”
People want to have clean politics and cleaner politicians and not those who extort money from the corporate or businessmen or shopkeepers, as it has reportedly happened in December 2013 elections. After all, the emergence and winning a substantial numbers, by a greenhorn and not even a two-year-old political party in the national capital has proved the above premises. If one-tenth had been delivered of what the political parties promise to the voters, there would have been no need or inducement for any Indian to go to the heaven.
Monster of Corruption
India’s image on tackling corruption, as per Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), is placed at 94th rank out of 176 nations in a report released in December 2012. It has scored 36 marks out of 100 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), which is a result of an average of 10 studies, including World Bank’s Country Performance and Institutional Assessment and Global Insight Country Risk Ratings. Indian laws are the weakest in corruption tackling. In fact, the onus lies on the government agencies to prove that any amassed property or wealth acquired is beyond the known sources of income of the corrupt. No assets of any top bureaucrats or politicians have ever been attached, so that at the end of 17 years (take fodder scam and many other cases registered and charge-sheeted in 1997 and accused convicted in 2013), they can enjoy the ill-gotten gains after they come out of the jails archaic laws and largest number of vacancies in judiciary are rampant. One gets the impression that the government does not want prompt disposal of the cases, so as to let the corrupt politicians or bureaucrats escape. It is for this reason that the number of judicial officers is woefully inadequate. With some high courts having vacancy of up to 50 per cent, appeals go unheard. Some samples of vacancies of judges in high courts are given in Box.
The figures may change from time to time, but marginally. Similar is the case for the lower judiciary, whose strength should be around 75,000, as per the universal norms and recommendations of our Law Commission . In our country, there are only less than 14,000 judicial officers, against the sanctioned strength of 18,000. This leads to perennial delay in the disposal of the cases and hence poor convictions rates, as the witnesses feel harassed in coming to the court again and again. In Government Data On Crimes, according to the data compiled by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in its publication relating to the year 2010, over 1.78 crore cognizable criminal cases, including cases registered under IPC and Special and Local Laws (SLL), were pending for trial at the beginning of 2010 in various criminal courts. 67.51 lakh cognizable crimes comprising 22.25 lakh IPC crimes and 45.26 lakh crimes under SLL were reported in 2010. 8 6,330 cases have been pending investigation/ trial from previous year under the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) and related sections of the IPC in 2010 and 3,822 cases were registered during the year.
Therefore, a total of 10,152 cases were pending investigation in 2010, out of which charge sheet was filed for 2,929 cases. The conviction rate vis-à-vis persons accused under POCA in 2009 was 26.4 per cent. Similarly, the conviction rate in 2010 for violent crimes such as attempt to commit murder, rape, riots etc, was 27.7 per cent. The conviction rate for crimes against women (IPC and SLL cases) for 2010 was 27.8 per cent. It is impossible to believe that there were less than 10,000 corrupt officials in the country out of a total of 1.97 crore–state and central and public sector employees. Our legal system has made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for the law-abiding citizens, the Supreme Court said in 2012, referring to the dilatory tactics. What can be a more sadder commentary on the working of the government.
We have all the trappings of good governance like various government departments, a plethora of regulators, a proliferating inspectors raj, vigilance commissions and umpteen advisers, God only knows, as to what kind of advice they give as we are one of the worst-governed country. Our Parliament and State Assemblies only pass laws, which have no or very rudimentary enforcement, even if it is there on the paper. It is as good as non-existent. Our government has forgotten that if Columbus, who discovered the USA, had as many advisers as the government has, he would probably still have been at the dock in the UK, for deciding whether to sail his ship or not. Our government is more bureaucratic, for which the final result and welfare is not important, but the letter of the law. The bureaucrats, both serving and retired, had never been so good, as in the present dispensation, there is no accountability and no punishment, whether you work or not. The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem. The rulers should remember that, that government is the best, which governs least. Instead of selling promises and dreams, it is time for it to deliver. Thanks to indifference of the government, the inflation has been all-time high. However, the government can claim one credit—petrol per litre is cheaper than one kilograms of onions or tomatoes, as on today!
By Joginder Singh
(The writer is former Director, CBI)