The judgement of the Supreme Court yesterday in the Disproportionate Assets (DA) case against late J. Jayalalithaa, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, her personal aide-friend and other two, convicting the accused after 21 years is no consolation to the people of India about our justice system except to heave a warm sigh that at last the case has seen its judgement day though late.
If we were to believe in the aphorism that justice delayed is justice denied, then people of India were denied justice in this case so also the accused. After all, justice does not come from conviction, it can come from acquittal also. Which is why the maxim that ‘you may acquit 99% of accused persons, but should not convict a single innocent person’.
Reading about the conviction of Sasikala Natarajan by the Supreme Court at a time when she was all set to don the mantle of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was a disaster for her political ambition. If only the Governor had asked Sasikala to form the Government before the judgement, Sasikala would have walked away with the Chief Minister’s trophy. The conviction coming later, as it has now, would still leave her with the honorific of an ex-Chief Minister, no matter in jail for a time.
Adverse circumstances seem to have conspired against her leaving one to wonder if J. Jayalalithaa were to be alive what would have been the judgement and could it be that the delivery of judgement would have been further delayed. It is a matter of conjecture. But the timing of the judgement, whether by design or coincidence, was significant as far as its shattering impact on both AIADMK as a political party and Sasikala Natarajan is concerned.
In our legal, judicial and administrative system, nay ‘network’, there is scope for many offences of deeper hue, than this one, to go undetected and unpursued depending on the discretion of those in power. For example, after a public servant is found prima facie guilty of, say, possessing Disproportionate Assets, to pursue the case — filing FIR, Chargesheet etc. — permission from the Government is required. In many cases this permission is given selectively or not given at all. And you have guessed the reason! So what’s the point in invoking the anti-corruption law? Understandably no political party wants to change or amend the law to plug this escape route of corrupt Government officials and elected representatives. This is the reason why political patronage is sought in a servile manner by the government servants and the elected representatives cutting across party lines. Let it be.
In the TV panel discussion I heard the ‘learned’ say that this judgement will be a deterrent for all those corrupt officials and politicians. Joke. Even as these hyperboles were uttered, I was wondering how come we have politicians and officials with huge properties and tonnes of money, whose children are possessing most expensive two-wheelers and four-wheelers, unless they have made money by means other than their salary and perks. And they are roaming free. Dr. Subramanian Swamy who rightfully claims credit for Jayalalithaa and Sasikala DA case, should pursue at least these big fishes guilty of DA offences and catch them through the same judicial net to make this judgement really a deterrent. After all, one sparrow does not make a summer.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy has written a most incisive book on India’s corporate corruption titled “Corruption and Corporate Governance in India”. In this book he fears that the present kind of apathy by the public towards mega or mini corruption could vitiate the democratic system of India. We are warned. If India loses who wins?
If democracy dies in India because of corruption, as happens with all nations, how can India develop economically, how can a citizen have his cherished freedom of religion and speech. I do not mind if freedom of religion goes, but to lose the freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and expression is like getting one’s tongue cut. We will become mere zombies.
To revert to Dr. Subramanian Swamy’s book, I have not heard any judgement convicting those who were arraigned by the law of the land for looting the country in lakhs of crores of rupees by the corporates or its honchos, except Ramalinga Raju, former Chairman of Satyam Computer Services. In fact, I read about acquittals and some court hearings. Hope Dr. Swamy, who has got his first trophy in his hunt against the corrupt would go on acquiring more trophies and thus contribute his mite to save our country’s democracy and development.
Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in great bombast said ‘hang the corrupt by the lamp post’. But during his regime of 16 years I did not see any one being hung by the lamp post nor sent to jail. There was jeep scandal involving V.K. Krishna Menon, Defence Minister; there was Pratap Singh Kairon, Chief Minister of Punjab whom Nehru treated kindly saying, ‘but he turned Punjab into a food basket of India’; there was Mundhra scandal exposed by his son-in-law (Indira Gandhi’s husband) Feroze Gandhi; scandal of Dharma Teja etc. Every crime comes to pass leaving India in despair.
Corruption today is all pervasive. It does not shame anyone. Since the government itself has compromised on corruption, one is emboldened to indulge in corruption as a routine.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy says in the concluding part of his book that “Sacrifice and service are still the most elevated attributes that people want in their leaders.” Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan were revered for their symbolising this moral value. Yes, but do our present leaders symbolise these moral values? A million dollar question. Sadly, Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan did not become role models to the leaders who succeeded them. These leaders set out on their political path seeking power and pelf. Hence get ready to see more scandalous spectacles like we are seeing in Tamil Nadu in other States too.