Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Arvind Kejriwal anti-democratic?

Indian politicians got the chance of their life yesterday (28th Feb.) to lambast Arvind Kejriwal of team Anna for not exercising his voting right. The omission was interpreted as Kejriwal's flagrant disregard for democratic processes which per se disqualified him from critiquing politicians.

What an argument! Our prime minister who hails from Assam for the limited purpose of becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha is known to have desisted from voting in many elections. Does this make him anti-democratic?

Faulting a person for not voting is an admission that we are not able to question him for any graver lapse. It is regrettable that TV channels exaggerated the incident beyond sensible proportions. One hopes that people like Kejriwal will not be cowed down whatever be the provocations from unethical politicians.

The omniscient Congress leader Digvijay Singh has questioned Kejriwal's probity in the light of this incident. How lucky we are to have such enlightened leaders ! George Oewell's 1984 is in full play in our country.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why this Kolaveri in Velachery?

The Chennai police fired at and killed the five criminals who had earlier robbed two bank branches in the city suburbs. Questions have been raised on the legitimacy of police action. Could they not have captured the criminals alive? Did they take the law into their own hands and commit inexcusable excesses?

The official version is that the police asked the criminals holed up in a groundfloor flat of a large apartment in Velachery to surrender. Instead the criminals switched off the lights and then started firing at the police. In order to protect themselves and the other residents in the thickly populated vicinity, the police had to open fire. In the process, all the five criminals were fatally wounded and two police officers sustained injuries. This version may or may not be true. Future investigations may throw up the truth.

The police has been under tremendous pressure of late on account of a series of unsolved crimes, big and petty, in the city. The police was convinced that they had identified the wanted criminals and therefore there was no question of being accountable for killing the innocent. Further, the criminals were from distant states and public sympathy for them, if at all, would be muted.

Could the police have caught atleast one or two alive? Perhaps yes, but would not the survivors keep taunting the police, truthfully or otherwise, in the inevitable legal proceedings?

In many cases, the culprints are granted bail after which they jump the bail and get back to crimes. Such court-assisted recidivism has now become an open challenge to reputation of the police. Therefore the police action in the instant case was only to be expected. There is necessarily an uneasy trade-off between zealous protection of human rights of proven criminals and safety and security of the innocent public. We have unfortunately veered too much in favour of the former. It is time for a substantive correction.

Update on 26th Feb.:  Today some self-appointed "human rights activists" visited the place where the incident took place. They were driven away by the residents of the place. People's patience with the criminals and the misguided protagonists of their (criminals') rights is running out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

All the President's men

The Indian Express and other newspapers today reported that Rs. 1 crore was seized from Mr.Raosaheb Shekhawat, Congress MLA from Amravati district and our President's son. He has claimed that the money was for distribution to economically deprived Congress candidates in the local elections.

Some readers of The Indian Express have commented as under:

1) President's son has disgraced Hon'ble President. He should be carrying at least 100 Crore. President ka beta hoke keval ek Crore baant raha hai, what a disgrace. Appeal to President (and congress) at least issue 100 Crore in future - in keeping with the reputation of President's Office.

2) How daring is that Police Officer. Our honble Presidents son is taking the money only for poor people's distribution. Congress is always for poor man / people. Do the police has got guts to touch Sonia families convoy like this? We are in India. We Indians have given full powers to Congress and its allies to loot our poor man's money legally. The honest police officer should be severely punished to appease our Honble President and Congress. Digvijay Singh see the atrocities committed by the Police.

3) What rubbish! The police officer involved must be transferred to jail. How can he stop VVIP's car? 1 crore is a small change for our netas. 1,76,000 crores is some money our netas are used to handle

4) President's brother was accused of murdering a Congress activist in her home town Jalgaon. The poor widow is fighting for justice for the past six years. Now Patil's son is caught with black money. Patil is a disgrace to the office of President - Deshbhakti Andolan

5)What one cannot understand is that when the banking system is very efficient in transferring money from anywhere to anywhere within minutes, where was the need for anyone to carry the money in cash for 'distribution' to the candidates (that too 1 lakh each with the rest to the District Committee)? The money could have easily been sent through the banking system unless the same is unaccounted money. Anyway, this will die a natural death. On the other hand, see how prompt the FIR has been filed against MNS for the interview having been aired in violation of the poll code, while the Central Ministers who have been censured for violation of model code of conduct get away with mere 'regret'. Great Democracy, we have.

The powers that be will only mock, "So what?"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Law Minister's disgraceful defiance

"Respected Rashtrapati ji,

The Commission is approaching you with serious dismay and a deep sense of urgency that requires your kind intervention in the midst of the poll process in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Union Minister for Law and Justice and Minority Affairs, Salman Khurshid, who is also a leader of the Indian National Congress Party, had made certain statements and announcements during the course of his campaign in the state. One of them was to the effect that the Congress would provide a quota of 9 per cent reservation to the minorities within the existing quota of 27 per cent for OBCs. He also indicated that Muslims having a sizeable population will be benefited from this move.

Following complaints received from a political party that such announcement was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, the Commission, after due notice and hearing, passed an order on 9th February, 2012 that Sh. Khurshid had indeed violated the MCC. The following are the relevant observations contained in the Order:

"The Commission, therefore, cannot help expressing its deep anguish and disappointment over his violation of model code of conduct. As a Union Minister for Law and Minorities Affairs, he has an added responsibility of ensuring that the model code of conduct is observed in letter and spirit so that elections are conducted in a free and fair manner and all political parties enjoy a level playing field in the matter of their election campaigns.

In the above circumstances, the Commission hereby censures Salman Khurshid andhopes and expects that such violations of model code of conduct would not be repeated by him in future."

Sh. Khurshid has been seen in television media today (11th February 2012) making statements to the effect that he would pursue the line of his earlier announcement irrespective of whatever the Commission directs. In fact, the Union Minister goes on to say that he would stick to his line, "even if they hang me". We have found the tone and tenor of the Union Minister dismissive and utterly contemptuous about the Commission's lawful direction to him, besides the fact that his action is damaging the level playing field in the election.

The above response of a Union Minister and that too, the Law Minister, to the Commission's decision in a MCC case has created a disturbing situation. The Commission is shocked that instead of being remorseful about the violation of the Model Code, that carries the consensus of all political parties and the sanction of the Supreme Court, the Minister has chosen to be defiant and aggressive. This is unprecedented. The full Commission hence deliberated on the matter in an emergency meeting, this afternoon, while being concerned about the fact that Sh. Khurshid's action could vitiate free and fair poll in Uttar Pradesh. The Commission is perturbed because the undermining of its constitutionally mandated duties has come from the Law Minister who has a direct responsibility to uphold and strengthen the ECI rather than to denigrate it. Hence, we find the immediate need to draw attention of the executive to the fact that the onus of holding free and fair polls falls on all organs of the State. The Commission is quite concerned that the delicate balance of functions between constitutional authorities has come under a strain, because of the Minister's improper and unlawful action.

The Election Commission of India finds it necessary and unavoidable to turn to you at this juncture for immediate and decisive intervention so that the ongoing general election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly is conducted, and this Commission discharges its functions, in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

With respectful regards,

(SY Quraishi)"

This letter has been written by Election Commission to the President on 11th February. Would the President or the Prime Minister atleast warn the recalcitrant minister? Highly unlikely. This is yet another disgrace to the Manmohan Singh government. The dishonourable act of Law Minister openly challenging a Constitutional Authority is totally unjustifiable and is a serious blot on our democratic traditions. Let us remember this atrocity will be a precedent to future governments. The prime minister perhaps feels that his mission of subverting the principles of governance and rule of law is not yet complete.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Legislators' misdemeanour

The party with a difference, as BJP is called,  is working overtime to prove again and again that it is so. The shameless behaviour of its legislators in the Karnataka assembly is the latest illustration.

If someone wants to write a book on merits of Indian parliament and state assemblies, one should hurry up. The most creditable feature that "no murder or rape has occured SO FAR either in the parliament or in the assemblies" may not be sustainable for long.

Congress party and Tata group

There is an interesting parallel between the Congress party and the Tata business group. When it was time to decide who should succeed Ratan Tata as Chairman of the group, the toss-up was between the son and the son-in-law of the single largest shareholder namely Shapoorji Pallonji. (Mistry and Noel Tata)
In the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi may be succeeded by her son or son-in-law. (Rahul or Robert Vadera)

According to media reports, Robert Vadera has explained, "I can definitely win an election from anywhere". His chutzpah and links to Gandhi family doubly qualify him to preside over the GOP. The ever-diffident Rahul may lose out. Far-fetched? Did anyone ever assume Sonia Gandhi would one day captain the party?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Yuvraj Singh and Justice Katju

The print media is giving prominence to the present illness of cricketer Yuvraj Singh. Many newspapers including The Hindu are publishing the details in the front page itself. Two questions of propriety come to our minds.

1) Is it fair to disclose these personal details?
2) Have the newspapers taken permission from Justice Katju to provide prominent coverage to a sports-related news!

Monday, February 06, 2012

2G Trial court on P.Chidambaram (contd.)

Justice O.P.Saini has concluded as under:

64. The crucial questions are:

(i) Whether entry fee for the UAS Licences and the price of spectrum

was jointly determined by Mr. A. Raja and Mr. P. Chidambaram?

(ii) Whether they have deliberately fixed a low entry fee, discovered

in 2001 auction, for spectrum licences?

(iii) Whether Mr. P. Chidambaram deliberately allowed dilution of

equity by the two companies, that is, Swan Telecom (P) Limited and

Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Limited?

(iv) If so, whether these facts prima facie show criminal culpability

of Mr. P. Chidamabaram also alongwith Mr. A. Raja?

(v) Whether there is any material on record to show criminal

culpability of Mr. P. Chidambaram?

65. In a case of criminal conspiracy, the Court has to see whether

two persons are independently pursuing the same end or they are acting

together in pursuit of an unlawful act. One may be acting innocently

and other may be actuated by criminal intention. Innocuous,

inadvertent or innocent acts do not make one party to the conspiracy.

66. As per Cabinet note dated 31.10.2003, the decision regarding

spectrum pricing was to be taken by Finance Minister and MOC&IT and

after this decision was taken, Mr. P. Chidambaram agreed that it would

be the price as discovered in the year 2001 and also told Mr. A. Raja

that there is no need to revisit the same. This decision was

subsequently conveyed to the Hon’ble Prime Minister also. To that

extent, there is material on record.

67. However, there is no material on record to show that Mr. P.

Chidambaram was acting malafide in fixing the price of spectrum at the

2001 level or in permitting dilution of equity by the two companies.

These two acts are not per se illegal and there is no further material

on record to show any other incriminating act on the part of Mr. P.

Chidambaram. A decision taken by a public servant does not become

criminal for simple reason that it has caused loss to the public

exchequer or resulted in pecuniary advantage to others. Merely

attending meetings and taking decisions therein is not a criminal act.

It must have the taint of use of corrupt or illegal means or abuse of

his official position by public servant for obtaining pecuniary

advantage by him for himself or for any other person or obtaining of

pecuniary advantage by him without any public interest. There is no

material on record to suggest that Mr. Chidambaram was acting with

such corrupt or illegal motives or was in abuse of his official

position, while consenting to the two decisions. There is no evidence

that he obtained any pecuniary advantage without any public interest.

I may add that there is such incriminating material against other

accused persons, who stand charged and are facing trial.

68. There is no evidence on record to suggest that there was an

agreement between him and Mr. A. Raja to subvert telecom policy and

obtain pecuniary advantage for himself or for any other person. There

is no evidence of any substantive act being committed by him. A bit of

evidence here and a bit there does not constitute prima facie evidence

for showing prima facie existence of a criminal conspiracy. Anybody

and everybody associated with a decision in any degree cannot be roped

as an accused. The role played by the decision maker, circumstances in

which the decision was taken and the intention of the decision maker

are the relevant facts. Intention is to be inferred from the facts and

circumstances of the case. One cannot be held guilty merely by

association with a decision and a decision by itself does not indicate

criminality. There must be something more than mere association.

Innocent and innocuous acts done in association with others do not

make one a partner in crime, unless there is material to indicate

otherwise, which is lacking in this case.

69. In the end, Mr. P. Chidambaram was party to only two decisions,

that is, keeping the spectrum prices at 2001 level and dilution of

equity by the two companies. These two acts are not per se criminal.

In the absence of any other incriminating act on his part, it cannot

be said that he was prima facie party to the criminal conspiracy.

There is no evidence on record that he was acting in pursuit to the

criminal conspiracy, while being party to the two decisions regarding

non-revision of the spectrum pricing and dilution of equity by the two


70. Accordingly, I do not find any sufficient ground for proceeding

against Mr. P. Chidambaram. The plea is without any merit and the same

is dismissed.

Announced in open Court,

today on February 04, 2012. (O. P. SAINI)

Spl. Judge/ CBI(04)(2G Spectrum Cases)/ND
The judge has also stated in the same ruling:
"A decision taken by a public servant does not become

criminal for simple reason that it has caused loss to the public

exchequer or resulted in pecuniary advantage to others"

Subramanian Swamy has also recorded the following in this case:

"That is, the evidence brings on record the commission of

offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act for which Sh. A. Raja

has already been charged by this Court. I have also brought on record

evidence to show that Sh. Chidambram is also guilty of breach of trust

in question of national security for not disclosing that Etisalat and

Telenor were black listed by Home Ministry


The issue regarding breach of trust has not been addressed by the court.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

2G Trial court on P.Chidambaram

Special Judge O.P.Saini has delivered the long-awaited order on culpability of P.Chidambaram in the 2G scam. Government sources have welcomed the ruling claiming that "truth has triumphed".

The judge has ruled that PC was party to only two decisions---- that is, keeping the spectrum prices at the 2001 level and dilution of equity by the two companies, Swan and Unitech. (In other words, the judge has concluded based on evidence that the minister was not just aware of the two vital decisions, but was actually a party to them i.e. he was a decision-maker.)

These two decisions are the central theme of the scam. These decisions enabled the licensed companies to earn undue enrichment at the cost of the exchequer. The judge has drawn a fine line between involvement and culpability.

A lay person ignorant of niceties of law may think that the decisions were clothed in criminality. It requires the legal wisdom of a judge to conclude that the cloth , like the emperor's proverbial cloth, did not exist. Perhaps the cloth was civil, but the act was criminal.

It is a remarkable exercise in subtlety to hold that PC has contributed to malevolent decisions but he was not guilty of malevolence.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

LIBOR under a cloud?

London Inter-Bank Offer Rate is one of the few universally accepted benchmarks in the financial market. Most financial derivatives, nicknamed 'financial weapons of mass destruction' by Warren Buffett recognise the sanctity of LIBOR under the assumption that no party can manipulate this rate. The premise that LIBOR is an unassailable neutral benchmark is now under a threat.

A Bloomberg report datelined Zurich puts us on notice that Comco, the Swiss watchdog is presently probing allegations of collusive manipulation among derivative traders including UBS, Credit Suisse, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, SocGen and many other worthies.

If the allegations are proved, it may be the end of financial market as we know of. Compulsory dissolution of any institution that is proven to have indulged in this ultimate malpractice is the only reasonable deterrent to such an obnoxious behaviour. Are we prepared to face this reality?

Kapil Sibal's defense

Following is reproduced from :

New Delhi. Union Minister Kapil Sibal has blamed the British rulers of the pre-Independence era for the massive loot of country’s wealth, which has resulted in unequal distribution of resources among the citizens of India. However, Sibal didn’t categorically term this “loot” as any “crime” or “corruption” as the Supreme Court had not passed any explicit verdict condemning the loot, which has been going on ever since India got independence.

Sibal was reacting to the criticism by various commentators who claim that the governance in India has not changed much ever since the Britishers left. Many laws framed during the British era are still in place and so is the mindset of those who are in power.

Kapil Sibal blaming someone when the microphone started malfunctioning during the press conference

“Gore angrez chale gaye aur kaale angrez aa gaye” (black Englishmen have replaced the white Englishmen after Independence) was one of the comments left by a person called Anna Hazare, which had led to the criticism.

While the original commentator couldn’t dwell upon his theory, various other experts agreed that the basic system and idea of governance has remained the same as was put in place by the British rulers – which was aimed at welfare of the principals rather than welfare of the subjects.

“We are just following the policy that was set up by our predecessors,” Kapil Sibal defended the outlook of the governments after independence, most of which were formed by the Congress party.

When asked if the government didn’t find the policy set by the British rulers unjust, Sibal almost blamed the founding fathers of the nation.

“We retained much of the British system of governance, including a substantial part of the constitution,” Sibal pointed out.

“No, Jawaharlal Nehru can’t be blamed for that,” he clarified, giving clean chit to the first Prime Minister of India.

The Union Minister said that the government would stop following the British rulers’ policies only if the Supreme Court passed an order declaring those policies unfair and flawed. In absence of any such ruling, the government will continue to follow the old policies, which many term as “loot”.

“You may term it as loot, but this is just notional,” Mr. Sibal said with a heavy tone and heavier eye-brow, “There is zero loss as the wealth is not going outside India, definitely not to England. Our Queen is no longer in London, but in Delhi.”

“President Pratibha Patil! Not Sonia Gandhi,” Sibal clarified to a question put by Faking News reporter.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Kapil Sibal's advice to TRAI chairman

J.S.Sarma, the Chairman of TRAI was a worried person. The Supreme Court had rubbished the role played by TRAI which in the court's view had enabled Raja to play ducks and drakes with 2G licences. Kapil Sibal on learning about Sarma's anxiety lost no time in realising that GOI had made a huge mistake in appointing a conscientious person as TRAI chairman.

Kapil Sibal summoned Sarma and enquired what was worrying him. The eventual conversation proceeded as under:

JSS: I am ashamed to head an organisation that has received such strong strictures from the Supreme Court.

KS: Don't be stupid. What has the court said?

JSS: Hon.Minister, the court has commented that TRAI's recommendation not to have auction started the whole fraud. As the present head of TRAI, I take responsibility for TRAI'S actions.

KS (laughs loud): You are the head of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and not of TRAI. So, the strictures do not concern your organisation, and much less you.

JSS: How can you say that? TRAI and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India are one and the same. I am scared.

KS (laughs even more loudly): You must have more confidence in your organisation. I have already confirmed there is zero-loss. If the court indicts TRAI, you remember that you are heading Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. If the court admonishes Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, remember you are the head of TRAI and not Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Do you know how many cases are handled by the courts in India? The number is in millions. Even assuming that the Supreme Court criticises you in two cases, are you not given a clean chit in millions of other cases? Did you not hear Hon.Minister Narayaswamy who has unequivocally said that the court may make an infinite number of observations and we are not in the business of being concerned about them. The courts may do their job, we will do ours.

JSS: I don't understand sir.

KS: That is why you continue to be a bureaucrat. If you start understanding and interpreting the strictures as certificates of good conduct, you would become a cabinet minister. If you ignore them totally, you may even become the Prime Minister. Remember the golden rules of Manmohan Singh government:

Court's criticism is not condemnation.
Condemnation is not a stricture.
Stricture is not censure.
Censure is not criticism.
Above all, criticism, condemnation, stricture and censure should not bother us. We should interpret criticism as praise, condemnation as compliment, stricture as approval and censure as endorsement. Remember that we are governing a nation full of contradictions and we should truly represent the nation.

     Sarma was beginning to understand.