The Manmohan Singh government in its previous Avatar as UPA I had faced a no-confidence motion and had genuine apprehension that it might fall for lack of votes on the floor of the Lok Sabha. Support must be mustered, so decreed bosses of the Congress and cash was no consideration as the purse strings had been loosened. Among the wheeler dealer to give a concrete shape to Save Govt plan was Amar Singh of the Socialist party and his party had lent outside support too. True to his reputation, Amar Singh moved heaven and earth and mobilized enough support for the Congress led govt to survive. There was a dramatic development, though. Three BJP Members of Parliament exhibited crores of rupees in cash on floor of the house as evidence to prove that Amar Singh tried to buy their votes for the Manmohan govt. It created a furor and a parliamentary inquiry was ordered. It gave a clean chit to Amar Singh and a major case of high level corruption seemed to be dying a premature death.
APEX COURT INTERVENED
In a hearing before the Supreme Court the case of corruption in parliament was heard. Going by the constitution’s Article 105 the court confirmed that whatever happened on the floor of the house could not be investigated by a non-parliamentary committee as the constitution gives protection to proceedings of the House and extends immunity to MPs for their acts, omissions, speeches or expressions by other means and that is outside the purview of Courts of law. Nevertheless whatever transpired outside the four walls of the Parliament may be investigated in depth. Two main issues were apparent: one, who was the beneficiary of the Cash for Vote exercise and two, where did the huge amount of cash come from. The Delhi Police that works under the Home Minister dilly-dallied until the Supreme Court pulled it up for inordinate delay in submitting a report and taking appropriate follow up action. After two long years the Delhi police filed a charge sheet in the case and Amar Singh’s name was on the top. Surprisingly the whistle blowers of the BJP were also made accused in the case by the Delhi police and two of the ex-MPs of BJP were also put behind bars along with Amar Singh. Of course, this has been criticized by eminent lawyers and experts in law as unjustified. Two questions still remain unanswered; firstly, who were beneficiaries of the Cash for Vote exercise and secondly, where did the huge amount of cash come from. The investigative agencies have to be at it and keep on pursuing it relentlessly. DRAMA IN TEES HAZARI When the case was called for hearing before Judge Dhingr-Sehgal, a lady who enjoys good reputation, counsel for Amar Singh expressed inability of his client to appear because of illness. The court asked for medical proof which the counsel said might take two days to be filed in court. The annoyance was visible on the judge’s face and she expressed it in words that a medical certificate or Amar Singh be produced within two hours. The so called sick man jumped into action and drove 15 km or so to the Tees Hazari court to apply for anticipatory or interim bail at about noon on 6th Sept 11. The time for order on bail plea was fixed at 3.30 same afternoon. Amar Singh drove to court from his residence a second time to hear the verdict on his bail application. The judge did not find any merit in his plea and rejected it. The hi-fi political wheeler dealer, also referred to as a Dalal in politics, was crest fallen. He had come in a Lexus car from home but was driven to the Tihar jail in a police van. He has ben lodged in jail no 3 where he will be in good company of A Raja, notorious for telecom scam, Kanomozhi-involved in 2G scam and, of course, Suresh Kalmadi of Commonwealth Games scam. Amar Singh’s regular bail application is listed for hearing at a later date and until then there is no alternative to living in a ten by fifteen ft cell.
The general perception is that the law has touched the tip of the iceberg and much remains to be unveiled. Of course, it is crystal clear that the beneficiary of the Cash for Vote exercise was the Manmohan Govt but it has to be put down in black and white and submitted to the Apex Court. Indeed big fish are still out of the net and until they are caught and put behind the bar in Tihar, the common man’s view will be: some bigwigs, men and women, are still above law. So why all the drum beating about observance of Rule of Law and that the Law is above all? The Supreme Court has asked the Delhi Police to investigate and report what the source of money, given as bribe, was. The Ministry of Home Affairs has to be above board and ask the police to go about doing its job without fear or favour. The Opposition in the Lok Sabha has asked for a statement from the Prime Minister on the subject as it was his govt that would have fallen but for this cash for vote exercise that is manifestly illegal. There will be a loud clamour for it unless the Prime Minister makes a clean breast of it.
BY CHITRANJAN SAWANT
UPAN 609, Sector 29, Noida -201303, INDIA. Email: email@example.com
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