Crash! Smash! Tinkle-tinkle-tinkle! Like loose crockery crashing to the floor, skeletons are falling out of the cupboards of top-level ministers, bureaucrats, judges, police officers, Human Rights Commissioners, Information Commissioners and CVCs, industry lobbyists, celebrity journalists…
Everything that RTI activists were struggling to prove is now out in the open. Mainstream media, earlier lukewarm to corruption as an issue, are now anti-corruption crusaders. Industrialists and investors – broadly speaking beneficiaries of the corrupt system — are now writing stern letters to the Prime Minister asking for a clean-up. A broad-based movement against corruption is gaining shape, with support from many quarters. A higher awareness level has been reached, a ground shift is happening. 26 January 2011 is surely a milestone for civil society.
But we shouldn’t celebrate this 61st birthday of our Constitution. Because we are now coming to grips with our grim predicament: OUR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW (ARTICLE 14) IS UNDER SUSPENSION. THERE IS ONE LAW FOR CIVIL SOCIETY, AND ANOTHER FOR THE POLITICAL CLASSES. When it comes to civil society, the police will first register a First Information Report (FIR), make arrests immediately if warranted, and file a chargesheet many months later if investigations reveal evidence of criminal offenses. This is as per the law. But when it comes to the political classes, this procedure is reversed: Investigate first, and register an FIR with extreme reluctance after many months and years, even where substantial documentary evidence is available. Arrests and chargesheets are a rarity. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seems to exist only for giving such preferential treatment to politicians and their pet bureaucrats.
Despite all the CBI interrogations and raids, there are no FIRs against ministers and top bureaucrats caught with their hands in the cookie-jar. Mr Citizen, you and I are booked for staging an unauthorized protest, distributing pamphlets, singing the National Anthem etc. Where is the equality?
Look at the Adarsh scoreboard:
- Bad news: The latest news is that Maharashtra’s former Chief SIC Dr Suresh Joshi – who moved the Adarsh file at two crucial points — has been appointed appointed as Ombudsman of MERC
- Bad: Former MMRDA Metropolitan Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad was made Chief Secretary of Maharashtra
- Bad: Former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh elevated to Union Rural Development minister
- Bad: Former CM Sushil Kumar Shinde continues as Union Power minister
- So far, so good: State Information Commissioner (SIC) Ramanand Tiwari was suspended.
- So far, so good: Environment Minister ordered Adarsh to be demolished, and so far, State Govt. has adopted a tough stance. Water and power supply to the building have been cut off.
- So far, so good: Human Rights Commissioner Subhash Lalla resigned. (However, he is probably angling for another influential post like Dr Joshi.)
- So far, so good: Chief Minister Ashok Chavan resigned when the scam surfaced, and is lying low. (But sooner or later, he will be made a central minister.)
- Terrible news: NO FIR … NOT A SINGLE ONE AGAINST ANYBODY, BIG OR SMALL!
CBI, Environment Ministry, and the State Govt. acknowledge that Adarsh is a scam of monumental proportions. But, despite several hundred pages of documentary evidence against the main actors, CBI still hasn’t registered a simple FIR against them, forget about making arrests! Something similar is seen with the Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam, which is really a bundle of several scams.
The CWG scoreboard:
- Bad news: Three of Suresh Kalmadi’s “key aides” – T S Darbari, Sanjay Mahendroo and K Jeychandran – have been released on bail, as CBI could not file a chargesheet within the 60-day period.
- 50-50: At long last, Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot, Chairman & General Secretary of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) were sacked from the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee, “in the interest of impartial and unhindered investigations”. However, CBI and CAG are both nearing the end of their investigations, and therefore, this move is of token value. Kalmadi and Bhanot enjoyed over three months in their executive positions, giving them plenty of time to tamper with documentary evidence.
- Terrible news: NO FIR AGAINST KING-PINS SURESH KALMADI & LALIT BHANOT.
2G Scam. After Kapil Sibal took over the reins of the telecom ministry, he is busy covering up for his predecessor A Raja, and publicly brushing aside CAGs estimates of the staggering loss to the exchequer. Raja was left in his seat long enough to hide all the evidence. Terrible news: THE POSSIBILITY OF AN FIR AGAINST MR RAJA APPEARS TO BE ZERO.
Lavasa: Ministry of Environment & Forests (MOEF) has concluded that Lavasa was built without the necessary permissions… but nobody is even looking at Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar and Supriya Sule, although their involvement is public knowledge. Nobody is looking at Lavasa Corporation’s chief Ajit Gulabchand, who has been allowed to practically steal a large part of Pune’s water-supply at its source. Instead of taking action to stop this criminal building activity, MOEF is exploring ways and means to regularize this ghetto of the super-rich. Terrible news: NO FIR IS IN SIGHT, DESPITE SEVERAL CRIMINAL WRONGDOINGS.
Tainted Constitutional Authorities appointed by PMO: CVC Joseph Thomas was known to be a tainted man even when he was hired, and now they cannot get him to resign. Central Human Rights Commissioner KG Balakrishnan is a corrupt man, and there’s a mountain of evidence against him and his kin… but the government cannot get him to resign either. Can they at least file an FIR against him? No? Ah… we thought so.
Corrupt judges in the upper judiciary are going scot-free, and are still delivering crooked judgements: There is lots of documentary evidence of corruption against several judges in the High Courts and Supreme Court. Much of this is public knowledge. But even the idea of impeachment and legal action against these judges seems childishly absurd. They continue to thrive within the legal system and pervert it from within.
Who gives them all protection? DOPT, which is the dirty-tricks department of Govt. of India. It is the right-hand of PMO, and has powers to hire-and-fire and lynch or protect virtually any bureaucrat, anywhere in India. It controls CBI, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and virtually all vigilance functions of the government. Read this govt. manual: http://tinyurl.com/AboutDOPT
Where civil society is concerned, DOPT is like Pakistan’s ISI and United States’ CIA. This DOPT is directly in the grip of the Prime Minister and, need we say it, Sonia-Madam. So please ask Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi some inconvenient questions, and tell them some uncomfortable home truths. DOWNLOAD & SEND THIS LETTER TO PM: http://tinyurl.com/PMletter3
(The letter is also copy-pasted below for your convenience.)
Friends, this month-end, when the protests happen in New Delhi and Mumbai, and when some brave souls embark on an indefinite hunger strike for the Lokpal Bill, please don’t be cynical. Please raise your voice to make this government deliver on the basic need of a democracy – Equality Before the Law.
DRAFT OF LETTER
Dr Manmohan Singh,
Prime Minister of India,
South Block, New Delhi – 110 001.
involved in Adarsh, CWG, 2G and Lavasa scams?
Greetings to you on the 61st birthday of our Constitution, which guarantees us “JUSTICE, social, economic and political” and “EQUALITY of status and of opportunity”. Article 14 –fundamental right of Equality Before the Law, says, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws…” In the present context, it seems that these words are merely of ceremonial value. The ground-reality is that this crucial Fundamental Right has been abridged and suspended.
In recent months, a number of prominent activists and protesters have been booked for sedition, waging war against the nation, unlawful protests etc. We civil society activists live in fear of the police and their propensity to book us, jail us and implicate us with false charges such as sedition and waging war against the nation.
Contrast this with the fact that, despite ample documentary evidence of corruption found by both Central Bureau of Investigation and Comptroller & Auditor General, no FIR has been filed against politicians and bureaucrats involved in major scams, such as A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Sushilkumar Shinde, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ashok Chavan, Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, Dr Suresh Joshi, Ramanand Tiwari and Ratnakar Gaikwad. In fact, the law enforcement agencies are thwarting civil society’s efforts to get FIRs filed against them.
Also, goons and thugs of regional political parties are overrunning the city, terrorizing the public, running riot on roads, damaging and encroaching public property and cluttering the city with unlawful political hoardings, all with complete impunity and implicit protection of the police and municipalities. Law enforcement agencies wink at such unlawful activities by political interests, and resist filing an FIR.
Sir, please understand that the man on the street is tired of forgiving you and your esteemed Party for buckling before political pressures and vested interests. Inflation, overcrowding and bad urban infrastructure have driven us all to the edge of our tolerance limits. Unless you shed your image as a weak-chinned Prime Minister, your government will lose the common man’s support.
On the other hand, if you take firm and decisive measures, you will assuredly win grassroot-level support from all sections of society.
Sir, Rule of Law is the first requirement of good governance. The law cannot operate differently for the political classes and the common man. We urge to take urgent steps to enable and encourage law enforcement agencies to do their job with integrity, and without fear or favour of politicians. Please unshackle CBI and the police from political interference, and take firm action against politicians who interfere with law-enforcement.
(Your signature, name, address, phone number)
1. Mrs Sonia Gandhi, NAC Chairperson, 10 Janpath, New Delhi - 110001.
2. Mrs Pratibha Patil, President of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.