Yesterdays revelations by Amar Singh and Sanjay Dutt – one an old player and one a recent entrant into India’s vibrant and seemingly unquestioning democratic playground – have shocked even the hardened cynics.
The outburst seems to have been triggered by the Supreme Court denying permission to Mr. Dutt, who has been involved in cases relating to the Mumbai Bomb Blasts where many people died and was the original terrorist attack on a Metropolis – way before phrases like Global war on Terror, 9/11 , 26/11 entered our lexicon. He was subsequently convicted under the Arms act. The contention of Messrs Singh and Dutt is that the Dr Singh Government fixed the Supreme Court decision since the Congress and Samajwadi Party (to which Dutt belongs) have fallen out after a short and inexplicable political union.
This whole incident raises many questions – all of which will create despair in anyone who follows Indian democracy and has placed faith in it.
Question no 1: Is the institution of Supreme Court fixable? Does a bench headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court also not inspire unquestioning confidence? Are courts fixable in this country? Does this raise an alternate question about Sanjay Dutt’s acquittal under TADA?
This is a hugely serious issue with ramifications - when a person in effect questions the fairness of the decision of the most independent of the institutions under the Constitution of India – i.e. the Supreme Court and do so in full public media! Especially when India has constantly trotted an Independent judiciary as one of its strengths!
Question no 2: What’s the reason for Ministers or Ministers aides to meet appellants like Sanjay Dutt a day before a decision of the Court ? Can a meeting with a Minister being taped or recorded, isn’t there some breach of some form of propriety here?
Question no 3: How are agencies like IB and Director of IB getting involved with Political Parties? In an age when the most severe threat to the common man and the country seems to be of terror and terrorists, Amar Singh claims that the Director IB was meeting him to discuss the CD of the sting operation? Are all institutions in India now fully committed to politics, politicking and politicians?
Question no 4: What causes a Prime Minister like Dr Manmohan Singh - with a famously long and well-spun reputation for integrity - to forge alliances with (short-lived as it turned out to be) Samajwadi party? What common values and principles do they share – apart from the tired same old, same old rhetoric of we are secular and they are not! Aren’t there any other common values required for political alliances – or is it a case of Dr Singh thinking – To hell with principles and ideals and on to political expediency?
Question no 5: Are there two Indias? There’s one India that’s protesting the criminalization of Politics (see the work of ADR.org) and the spin masters of National Parties like Cong seem to be putting out the line that they too support this change in Indian politics – and there’s another India that seems to be completely headed in a different direction – what causes these two to continue to happily co-operate and create alliances? It’s high time we asked this question of the National Parties – it’s not enough to measure them and their talk, but also to measure them by the company they keep!