It is being discussed that today is a big day for the political developments in India when the Supreme Court is expected to put forward its views on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) affidavit in which the central investigating agency of India has detailed out the changes made by the government of India (under scanner for its role in the scam) in the CBI’s status report in the coal blocks allocation irregularities. The affidavit named all those who met the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and described all that was changed after back-to-back meetings with Ashwani Kumar, Minister of Law and Justice, and officials from the prime-minister’s office and the coal ministry.
CBI has filed two affidavits to explain its transgression after the issue surfaced with a report in the Indian Express on April 13 this year, on April 26 and May 6. April 30 when the Supreme Court heard the first affidavit was a sad day for the Indian democracy and it reflected in the apex court’s observation.
The bench headed by Justice R M Lodha had said: “You don’t need to take instructions from political masters. If it’s deliberate, intentional, why was it done? Was it decided to do so? All these things should not happen. Is the law minister entitled to ask for the report under the CBI manuals? Our first exercise will be to liberate CBI from political interference. This suppression by CBI is not ordinary, there is a very disturbing feature in the affidavit.” – The Economic Times, April 30, 2013
On April 26, while filing the first affidavit, Ranjit Sinha admitted in the Supreme Court that the status report on coal block allocation scam was shared with the political executives including the law minister “as desired by him”. The court slammed the CBI for sharing the report and for violating the SC’s guidelines and asked the agency to file a detailed affidavit naming all those who met the CBI and pushed for the changes as well as the changes made.
The apex court termed it as a ‘massive breach of trust – a matter that shaken its foundation’.
While hearing the case on March 12 on two Public Interest Litigations on irregularities in the coal blocks allocation, the apex court had set the norm. According to the media reports including this Business Standard report, the court laid out: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government appears to be headed for a trouble similar to the one it faced in the telecom scam. The Supreme Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to share the details of its coal scam findings with politicians or the executive.
It was politically explosive and the country heard the explosion. There has been a political chaos in the country after CBI’s affidavits and SC’s initial observations over the first affidavit. But as expected, this has also met the same fate as most of the terror explosions in India have – they remain unsolved.
The difference is, in terror explosions, faces behind them are not known most of the time, be it the intelligence failure or any other reason, but in politically explosive developments like this, a whole nation of over a billion knows very well who all are responsible.
Even, then, they do not move. They simply refuse to take responsibility. They deny every principle of accountability that a democratically elected public office commands.
Today, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R M Lodha is going to hear the coal block allocation scam and given the developments of the past, it is expected that the top court is going to make life tougher for the government.
But given the political scenario in India where corruption and unaccountability has become a chronic problem of every political outfit, it would take highly scathing remarks by the Supreme Court if the law minister and the concerned officials are to go.
A political opposition that is gunning for heads then would become even more aggressive in pushing for its demands to sack the rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal who is in the eye of a political storm after a bribe deal to appoint an Indian Railway General Manager on a lucrative post in the Railway Board, brokered by Bansal’s nephew and his election campaign manager in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, was unearthed by the CBI.
If the SC’s observations today force Ashwani Kumar’s ouster, the government would be in no position to save Bansal.
The Manmohan Singh government has shamelessly defended these two ministers till now refusing every demand of their resignation and so compromising every ideal of an ethical political life. Even, the comfortably numb Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come forward to tell the nation that there is no need for them to resign.
But what about Manmohan Singh’s accountability in this whole issue? His office, too, is involved in this mess and he too, may face the top court’s ire.
The government would be expecting a breather from the SC. But some acidic words would make the life hell for it. If that be the case, it would try all to dilute the negative effects of SC’s remarks shielding behind irrelevant logics like it performed well in the Karnataka assembly election and that should tell the nation (and to the top court) that the Congress party led government is on the right path. As the Congress is expected to perform well, be ready to listen to this sham today, again and again, when, by this afternoon, on the counting day of the Karnataka assembly election, trends declare the Congress party has performed well.
That would give the Congress a fresh arsenal to hit back on its political adversaries.
So be prepared to witness yet another round of ugly political war today and in the aftermath with unparliamentarily war of words following and flowing freely in the air.
But be clear of one thing. SC response on the matter that makes life even tougher for the government would not push the government to move because this is a bold new Indian politics that doesn’t believe in the universal values of political morality.
If political morality has any chance left in the Indian political scenario of the moment, it has to be a forced one.
What is needed from the Court No. 4 of the Supreme Court of India today is some response that makes the life hell for this government. Only then we can expect that some ‘forced morality’ will prevail in an otherwise immoral political atmosphere.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/