By LALIT SETHI
Even as the Supreme Court gave a jolt and delivered a high voltage shock to both the UPA and NDA, which could be called a bolt from the blue, did anyone believe that the courts would easily haul up a government in office unless there was obvious culpability and mala fide intent? Would it let fly by night and opportunist politicians take the judiciary for a ride and start a nearly all-out war with the executive, leave alone the two other pillars of democracy—the legislature or Parliament and the Press?
On the issue of the former Finance Minister not stopping the first come first served policy, the Supreme Court refused to show any interest and left it to the CBI trial court in New Delhi to look into the facts as obviously there was no constitutional finesse or legal precedent or historic question before it.
Could the serving Home Minister (in this case the former Finance Minister) or a Prime Minister in office be hauled over the coals and be judicially found and pronounced guilty when there was not even a whiff of wrongdoing in documents and solid proof , except for diverse groups and political parties engaging not in vendetta, but looking for a lurking opportunity to score mere debating points and not even remotely prove any obvious complicity and were far, far from terra firma? The trial court apparently told the litigant to get lost. Indeed, he had a loss of face. The BJP of today, which expelled him from the Jana Sangh 30 or more years ago, is now wooing him and encouraging him to do its bidding by moving superior courts against the trial court’s findings.
The Supreme Court gave some indications of this when they blamed the Prime Minister’s Office, but not the Prime Minister, for the inordinate or enormous delay in prosecuting Mr. A. Raja, the former Telecom Minister, in the second edition of the United Progressive Alliance, but not the Prime Minister himself, over the first come first served business in relatively rapid wireless or even wired mobility called 2G or second generation Spectrum, where tens of thousands of crores of rupees or billions upon billions of dollars had been given away near gratis without blinking an eye in coalition politics skullduggery to satisfy the whims of a deep down South satrap’s minions in recent past and even in the previous decade at the initiation of Opposition’s super duper pretenders to honesty, but being far from truth and claiming to be so with sheer glib talk?
Did the maverick, destructive genius with a Frankenstein streak and devil-may-care attitude, the Jekyl and Hyde, “Doctor” Subramaniam Swamy, a chameleon, the leader of a one man party without an elected or unelected representative in Parliament, or even a legislature perhaps, have a chance of destabilizing the government with his over-confidence and tantric tricks via the dishonored and late unlamented joker of sorts in the political pack of cards, “Swamy” Chandraswami. Did the Professor or Visiting Professor at perhaps an Ivy League school, possibly Carnegie Mellon, over-reach himself in the belief or continued mistaken belief that he could destabilize the government. Because he was the Law Minister and Commerce Minister both in the six to seven month government and because he is married to the lawyer, Mrs.Roxonna Subramaniam, he believes that he could and will be able to do what he likes and he hopes that the High Court or the Supreme Court will uphold him in trying to club Mr. Chidambaram with Mr. A. Raja. Just as Raja told the Press after his arrest last year that he was a lawyer and could jolly well defend himself in court hearings or even during CBI investigation and questioning. As if, he thought, that as a lawyer and former Minister, he had some divine protection, but the courts are taking the course they have to under the law of the land and legal procedures, without favor and rancor.
Has the cancellation of 120 plus second generation, read 2G Spectrum, licences one fell blow, been a bolt from the blue for the United Progressive Alliance rulers and former National Democratic Alliance led by Mr. AtalBihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani? Has the policy of first come, first served, initiated by the NDA and continued by the UPA not been roundly condemned?
Has this not shown chinks in the armor of self-proclaimed proponents of democracy, globalization and liberalization in pursuit of World Bank policies by their former loyal and bended employees who have been or are in positions of enormous power like Mr. ArunShourie, still a novice in politics, but arrogant about himself being self-righteos, and known but unlamented wheeler dealers like PromodMahajan and DayanidhiMaran as well as the now disgraced and jailed A. Raja, the last two of the DMK camp?
The entire political spectrum is shocked beyond belief and party men and their leaders in diverse camps are taking pot shots and their rivals and foes in daylight, but pals by the night or after dusk and pretending to be on the path of truth and correct public behavior.
Are the Central Governments of the recent past and present not taking cover to justify their actions, illegal even though have been pronounced by the highest judicial authority of the land that is called Ind.
Poor Mr. Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister and formerly Finance Minister. He might have been let off the CBI investigators’ hook, but not court scrutiny. His critics feel elated, especially the rather wily fox, Mr. SubramaniamSwamy, but Mr. Chidambaram might be inclined to think that he has nothing to fear as long as he is on firm legal ground, especially because he is a deft and seasoned lawyer , having fought many legal and administrative battle, leave alone parliamentary.
But the Supreme Court may have spared the Prime Minister, but not the Prime Minister’s Office as well as the Law Ministry bureaucrats over the inordinate delay in prosecuting A. Raja, the former Telecom Minister, and laid down that suspected corrupt officials and politicians should not go unpunished and continue in office beyond three months. Even as the nine 2G Spectrum operators plan to contest the two judges’ verdict before a larger bench, there is unlikely to be any challenge to the golden rule of quick desserts for those out to make a quick buck.
There was possibly some discussion over the Home Minister’s future and speculation about a new prospect. Could the Defense Minister, Mr. A.K.Anthony, be the fall guy to step in, just in case? Even the Prime Minister may or may not care too much about the crown of thorns he wears and has been willing to call it a day. But his wishes one way or the other are not the only ones or final in the future course of developments. He is a Congressman on his own declaration and there is the Congress President he reports to as a party man. But developments sometimes overtake settled issues. He knows that a young leader has arrived on the scene and in the party forum and even in the governance his word counts. But in the interim, could the cool headed and relatively younger Mr.Anthony, be expected to step in if ever there is a need in the political space..
The NDA or rather BJP leaders like Mr. L.K.Advani might pretend that he was unaware of the 2G mess in the name of money making first come first served con and one-upmanship even though he was Deputy Prime Minister and self-proclaimed de facto ruler in the NDA and AtalBihari Vajpayee a “mukhauta” or a mask for the SanghParivar hard-core elements masquerading as icons of Hindutva represented and led at the time by Mr.Advani: a clear case of doublespeak to suit one’s ends and means in this case justify the ends. Is that the art and craft of public life professionalism?
Mr. Advani has been leading a crusade against corruption via Bharat RathYatra on a mounted truck to proclaim his honesty even as his principal aide was Mr. MadanLalKhurana, a wheeler dealer of top class in the Delhi only politics of both Parivar only men and Jana Sangh and BJP were or are supposed to be mere masks even today. Mr. Khurana was known to the Jain Hawala experts and introduced to them, although conclusive has even found in that episode, but public memory may be short but not too short.
The BJP may well be right in insisting in asking why did the UPA follow its first come first served policy as it was highly tainted. That is indeed daft, but the fact is that tainted policies do not justify sin by one set of rulers and another set. There are sinners on all sides of the political spectrum and holier than thou is their patent mantra; it is a patent which has no copyright. It is international, it is universal, it is national, it is regional, right down to the smallest hamlet.
The historic Supreme Court order in 2G case "will send a strong signal to the corporate entities and corrupt public officials , says Prashant Bhushan, who was one of the prime petitioners in the 2G case. The judgment will help the public exchequer recover losses caused to the grant of 2G licences by then Telecom minister A Raja in January 2008 and thereafter and corporations will have to "refund the benefits" they got out of the illegal licenses, he added.