Arindam Chaudhuri
THE POLITICAL CRIMINAL CIRCUS
The problem can be easily resolved and Dr. Manmohan Singh must do it for the sake of the nation

That India was not shining for the majority of Indians was clearly visible during the elections, with BJP being voted out of power. Congress, being coalition dependent, intelligently skirted the foreign-origin issue by making Dr. Manmohan Singh its Prime Ministerial candidate. As a result, at least in the intellectual and academic circles, there was excitement at a Professor and an economist getting the most coveted post in Indian politics. Dr. Manmohan Singh is known for his personal integrity. Not only has he been a highly regarded economist, but he has also proven in the past his ability to undertake massive economic transformation of the country. We can only have the highest regard for a person like him. That is precisely the reason why we are also shocked to the core when he justifies the presence of tainted ministers in his cabinet.

He speaks of compulsions of the coalition government. Since we do not have access to the discussions leading to formation of the government, we can give him the benefit of doubt. At the same time a few things are worth mentioning. We feel that with a little effort, alternative candidates to these tainted ministers could have been found. Even if we were to consider the highly debated candidature of Laloo Prasad Yadav as an example, we see that his own Rashtriya Janata Dal does have a few MPs who are not tainted. One is thus surely forced to wonder why some of those MPs were not selected for the ministerial posts instead; especially with someone like Laloo Prasad Yadav himself being known for his superb and practical intelligence. After all, he accepted the Constitutional propriety when he resigned from the Chief Minister’s post and anointed his beloved wife as Chief Minister of Bihar; and still did not hesitate to march in style to the jails. It is therefore a little surprising that he insisted on becoming the Railway Minister, (a post which he in any case apparently promised Ram Vilas Paswan) to decide the destiny of only 16 lakh employees when he is actually waiting for the day he shall be on the Prime Minister's throne in India to decide the fate of more than 1000 million Indians! The Congress Party, with a little extra effort, surely could have prevailed over these appointed ministers and kept the cabinet clean.

It is also very difficult to comprehend Dr. Manmohan Singh's justification for tainted Ministers by arguing that they have won in the “people's court”. We believe Dr. Manmohon Singh is not doing justice to his highly dignified life-long record. Thereby he is injuring the sense of dignity of the Indian masses, whatever be the reason, including the excuse of the powerful “inner voice” behind his throne. It is therefore worth suggesting that he should come out of the indignities being heaped on him by immediately setting up Constitutional courts to try the charge-sheeted Ministers. This will keep his record of being a clean and honourable man intact; and also shut the mouths of the Congress detractors the way his becoming the Prime Minister did.

The bigger question which will invariably arise in this debate is whether the country can afford the costs of setting up such special courts? In my opinion the country certainly can, should and really high time that it does. We know about 2.8 lakh under-trial prisoners are languishing in jails for more years than the highest punishment prescribed for the offence they have committed, if they are proven guilty. We also know from the past records that more than 82% of these prisoners (more than 2.3 lacs of them) are likely to be set free because they are innocent. It will be only humane if we release at least 2 lacs of them on personal bonds. This will save the country annually Rs.400 crore, @ Rs.55 spent by the government per under-trial prisoner per day. The money saved then can be used not only for creating a few such courts required to try these tainted ministers, but can also be used to create about 5000 such special courts with a high end budget of Rs.8 lacs per annum (an amount spent per court in the High Courts) for each such court. Not only would this measure bring better sense of justice towards the poor under-trials in our prisons and double-up as the way out for setting up of the special tribunals to try the tainted ministers on an immediate basis, but also would go a long way to speed up the judicial machinery in the country. We believe this will be a sufficient measure to assure people of India that no proven criminal remains a minister in this country. Even if more than 90% of the MLAs and MPs are brought to the court for various crimes (including rigging undertaken by criminals on their behalf during elections) the nation will feel relieved. It is a different story that the ministers themselves might end up being saved from continuing their miserable and ridiculous existence by proving their innocence in these courts by employing a battery of most brilliant and committed lawyers that they generally possess. At least in the future, the presence of an effective judicial machinery, will surely serve as a deterrent from repeating their past mistakes.
 
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