Commissions of Omissions

Who needs these commissions of inquiry anyway?

ajay

Ajay Singh | February 22, 2010



The government's decision to wind up commissions, tribunals and appelate authorities which are not only infructuous but a drain on the exchequer is a welcome move. Justice Balakrishna Eradi has been heading a commission for the past 24 years to resolve river dispute between Punjab and Haryana. Though the commission was not accepted by Punjab, 88-year-old Justice Eradi has been gainfully employed though not doing any work. The tribunal that he is heading under the inter-state water dispute act has not submitted its final report yet. The government is finally making a move to bring curtain down on 40-odd such commissions, tribunals which are headed by retired judges for years on end.

That these quasi-judicial bodies are proving to be unnecessary drain on the exchequre is evident by the fact that Justice Eradi has spent over Rs 9 crore but is yet to discover any dispute resolution mechanism. The same logic can be extended to the dud report filed by the justice liberahn commission on the demolition of the babri mosque on December 6, 1992. Though Liberhan spent over Rs 28 crore, his report was not even worth the papers on which it was written. Despite such an arduous exercise, the culpability for the demolition is still not fixed.

This story is not new. After massacres of thousands of innocent sikhs in Delhi, Bokaro and Kanpur, after assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Rangnath Mishra commission did the same kind of hash job which allowed culrpits to have the last laugh. More recently, two probes instituted by the Gujarat government and the Railway ministry on the Godhra and post-Godhara riots turned to be a mere articulation of their master's voice- either of the then union railway minister Laloo Prasad or the chief minister Narendra Modi. Apparently, these  bodies constituted under the acts of parliament are proving to be tactical instruments to deflect popular pressure and must be dispensed with immediately.

But there is a flip side to the government's initiative too. By introducing an amendement, the government seems to be proposing extension of the retirement age of high court and supreme court judges from 65 to 67 years. This is yet another blatant attempt to appease higher judiciary, particularly the CJI who is due to retire shortly. It would indeed be a travesty of justice if such a step is a trade off to the government's move to wind up futile commissions or tribunals.

 

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