Time to go beyond resignations

Let the process of law begin at the beginning with FIRs against Chavan, Kalmadi and Raja


Prasanna Mohanty | November 12, 2010

On the face of it, the Manmohan Singh government seems to have acted against Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi for their alleged involvement in corrupt deals, by removing one from the chief ministership of Maharashtra and the other from party’s parliamentary party. Given the opposition party’s unrelenting campaign and the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) holding telecom minister A Raja personally responsible for the 1.7 lakh crore 2G spectrum scam, the government may well seek his resignation too.

But does any of this amount to punishment for the crime these three are alleged to have committed? Certainly not. The rule of law is clear in this matter. Once there is a prima facie evidence of any wrong doing on anybody’s part, the law enforcing agency is supposed to file an FIR, arrest and interrogate the suspect, collect necessary evidence and file the chargesheet within a stipulated time-frame for the trial to begin. Our judicial process then takes over, which is quite an elaborate affair and takes 15 years, on an average, to dispose a case.

Where do Chavan and Kalmadi stand in this scheme of things? Not a single FIR has been filed against Chavan for his role in clearing the Adarsh society in violation of almost every law of the land or getting his in-laws flats. Knowing how our law enforcing agencies and the governments function, there may not be any FIR against him. A year down the line, he may well be brought to the centre as a union minister, wiping out a game of deception being played out at present for the benefit of the common man, who somehow never gets away from the long arms of the same law. Similar is the case with Kalmadi. A series of corrupt deals by the Commonwealth Games’ organizing committee he headed has come to public notice. Again, not an FIR has been filed. Nor is there any indication that this will be done in the foreseeable future. No law enforcing agency has landed at the door of either Chavan or Kalmadi to arrest or interrogate them or start inquiring about their assets and the manner in which these were made. Kalmadi, in the meanwhile, has flown to China to attend the Asian Games. A lesser mortal would have had his passport impounded but no such inconvenience for Kalmadi.

A CBI inquiry has been ordered in all the three scams, including the 2G spectrum allocation. Given the dubious track record of our premier investigating agency in dealing with corrupt politicians one can predict, without the slightest hesitation, that nothing will come out of it. Assuming for the sake of argument that something does come out none of the politicians will be brought to justice. The CBI has a very clean record in the matter. If you think personal honesty and integrity of the prime minister will make any difference, here is a grim reminder: The present central vigilance commissioner (CVC) PJ Thomas, who supervises the CBI’s functioning, was appointed in spite of the fact the very same CBI had chargesheeted him in connection with the palm oil scam of Kerala in 90s. The CBI’s case file is very much open at present but if he is roaming free it is because the government didn’t give permission to prosecute him. A dubious “single directive” in the CVC Act calls for centre’s clearance to prosecute officers of the joint secretary rank or above. Thomas’ role as telecom secretary in protecting his minister Raja in the 2G spectrum scam too is highly suspicious. Weeks before his appointment as CVC, he had sought and armed himself with a law ministry opinion that the 2G spectrum allocation was beyond the jurisdiction of CVC and CAG, on the plea that it was a “policy matter”. Now a PIL has been filed challenging his appointment as the CVC and the apex court has sought all relevant records from the government. Can anyone expect him to do an honest job and catch his minister? Not even in his wild dreams.

Where does all this leave us? Frankly, it is a hopeless situation. But an editorial can’t end on a note of pessimism. It has to show the direction and hence, the inevitable advice to the government: Take the first step and register FIRs against Chavan, Kalmadi and Raja.



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