If it was anyone who was shocked most by the 2G verdict, it was the common man. His distress was simple – no one is responsible for a Rs 1,76,000 cr scam and all accused walk free. After all wasn’t it Vinod Rai, Congress-appointed CAG who first reported the scam and quoted the sum of Rs 1,76,999 cr? Didn’t Supreme Court (during Congress rule) on February 2, 2012 declare allotment of 2G spectrum “unconstitutional and arbitrary” cancelling the 122 licenses issued in 2008? According to the media, the Court says that the prosecutor was not able to prove the charges. Whether the smiles on the faces of two of the main accused (A Raja and Kanimozhi) going to the court in the morning reflected premonition, belief or confidence of having ‘arranged’ the verdict in advance will never be known. But where the CBI was sure of the charges based on their assiduous probe over the years, what really went wrong? The discussions of possibilities in the public domain are many. Was the judiciary bought over? Is it only coincidence that the same judge on February 2 this year cleared Maran brothers of all charges in Aircel-Maxis case, on February 5 cleared Chidambaram of all charges in 2G scam, and on December 21 cleared all 17 accused of all charges in 2G scam? Did the CBI only produce ‘part evidence’ to let element of doubt benefit the accused? Was the prosecutor bought over to put up a weak case? And, even was the prosecutor ‘directed’ to deliberately put up a weak case looking at possible political alliances in 2019 – underhand deal? Significantly, the 19 accused in 2G scam included number of bureaucrats, adding to the capacity for manipulations. The case no doubt the case will go to higher court but the fact that there has been gross skullduggery by the judiciary is evident the disclosure that A Raja’s new book is coming out on January 20, 2018 and his indication that skeletons will tumble of the 2G scam if Congress doesn’t shut its mouth ( (http://postcard.news/big-twist-2g-scam-raja-says-skeletons-will-tumble-congress-doesnt-shuts-mouth/).
But let us keep the 2G scam aside for the moment. Take the Rs 4000 cr scam in which Madhu Koda and some other accused were awarded three years of rigorous imprisonment on December 14. Koda was also fined Rs 25 lakh. Considering the crime, the punishment awarded is a joke, as also the fact that despite given rigorous imprisonment, Koda was immediately granted bail. Madhu Koda was sworn in as Chief Minister, Jharkhand on 14 September 2006 till his resignation on 23 August 2008 on account of the Coal Scam expose albeit this was just one scam that came to light; there may be many more. On November 3, 2009, a report emerged of Madhu Koda owning hotels and three companies in Mumbai, property in Kolkata., hotel in Thailand, coalmine in Liberia as some of the assets the Enforcement Directorate unearthed among illegal foreign-exchange transactions and assets allegedly worth Rs 4,000-cr (http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/koda-empire-from-africa-to-mumbai/story-CeMov1slK8GngooEzjBPmJ.html). On January 2, 2012 another report emerged quoting IT Department that Koda had amassed properties worth Rs 3,300 cr by misusing office of the Chief Minister (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ranchi/Koda-has-wealth-worth-Rs-3300-crore-I-T/articleshow/11331803.cms). So what message is conveyed by the punishment awarded now? Why are the properties of Koda and other accused not taken over by law, auctioned and the Rs 4000 cr returned to the government exchequer? Is the judiciary not encouraging more scams and mocking the common man?
Compare the three years punishment awarded to Koda with cases reported in the media like: Chief Judicial Magistrate Ariyalur awarding seven years imprisonment to a retired village administrative officer for having taken a bribe 18 years earlier of Rs 500; Additional District and Sessions Judge, Kapurthala awards five-year imprisonment for snatching a mobile phone plus fine of Rs 25,000; after 26 years of investigation and a trial with 185 hearings, a nurse from Etah sentenced to one year in prison and fined Rs100 for misappropriating Rs 11. Do we have any standards for punishment or do the judges like to play eeny, meeny, mine, moe? Then you have had guys like Shibu Soren convicted for murder and jailed for life, left scot free by higher court. You have Lallu Prasad Yadav and others are convicted in the fodder scam but will the looted money be reverted to the government exchequer? Should this not be enforced in all cases with interest or is the government focus only on taxing the common man?
As per recent reports, the Centre is setting up 12 special courts to exclusively deal with cases against 1,581 tainted lawmakers. Two special courts will handle cases against 228 MPs and other 10 courts will be set up in as many states —Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, UP and West Bengal where number of tainted MLAs are more than 65. This boils down to 1125 cases to be decided by each special court in one year with special court disposing off 4.6 average number of cases daily considering trial courts generally function for 242 days in one year. These special courts are being set up under directions of the Supreme Court to decide cases against lawmakers who are facing serious criminal charges. Rs 7.80 cr have been earmarked for the scheme which would be in operation for one year. Obviously, the one year stipulation is keeping in view the 2019 general elections but given the efficiency of our judiciary taking years and decades to resolve every case, can the special courts meet the requirement in one year. More importantly, will we see results like in case of Koda & Co and 2G scam? Will this exercise turn out to be a political gimmick beyond barring some ‘selectively’ convicted lawmakers from fighting elections? The astounding fact is we have 4120 MLA’s and 462 MLCs – Total 4582. 1,581 lawmakers (including 228 MPs) facing serious criminal charges implies one-third of the so called political cream of India is scoundrels.
Speaking at the Symbiosis International (Deemed University) recently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, without elaborating, called for radical reforms in our judicial and educational systems. But significantly, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan had moved SC in 2010 accusing eight former CJIs being “definitely” corrupt and daring the court to send him to jail for committing contempt of court. In his application, Shanti Bhushan mentioned two former CJIs personally telling him that while they were in office, their immediate predecessor and immediate successor were corrupt judges. The names of these four CJIs too were included in the application to the Supreme Court. Bhushan also wrote, “Unless the level of corruption in the judiciary is exposed and brought in the public domain, the institutions of governance cannot be activated to take effective measures to eliminate the evil.” Nothing was heard about this case thereafter. In 2015, Markandey Katju, former SC judge publicly stated that 50% of the higher judiciary consisting of SC and high court judges was corrupt. In January 2017, Bar Council of India informed the SC its ongoing drive assessed number of “genuine” lawyers across the country not more than 55-60%. How many will be promoted to judges is anybody’s guess. Remember the Rajya Sabha MP under UPA II soliciting personnel favours in lieu of promising elevation to judge? On top of all this, we witnessed the buffoonery of Justice CS Karnan of Calcutta High Court, just released from jail. In this backdrop, what judicial reforms government plans beyond special courts is yet to be seen. The least government could do is put the CBI on the tail of the judiciary to probe their riches.
From the foregoing it remains certain that scams will continue, politicians will remain winners with odd one punished lightly, the looted money will never be returned to the exchequer, and the common man will remain the sucker. Recent news is High Court placing stay on trial of former CM of Maharashtra for being tried for the Adarsh Scam – need anything else be said?