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SUBVERTING DEMOCRACY

PM Ravindran, E Mail: raviforjustice@gmail.com

This is a sequel to my last article ‘Understanding Democracy’ published on 06 Jun 2019


at http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=5063.

Our parliamentary form of democracy is copied from the British parliamentary system
which is also known as the Mother of Parliaments. The only visible difference is that a
monarch is the Head the State and government there whereas we have an indirectly
elected President. I said the only visible difference. But the devil, as they say, is in the
detail. And here are some of those details.

Factor UK India
Periodicity of elections 5 years 5 years
Chances per candidate 2 Unlimited
Antecedents No pending criminal case No problem with pending
cases and conviction below
2 years
Place of residence Should be resident of the No such restriction. Can
constituency in which even contest from any
contesting number of constituencies.
Attendance 90 pc required of 230 days No limit. Some celebrity
MPs like film stars and
cricketers have less than 10
pc
Public grievances Token system and Lucky if you get even an
resolution within 30 days acknowledgement
Expenses Published weekly Forget it. Even in the case
of MPLADS only the names
are displayed not the cost!
Income tax Liable Exempted

You can see how our law makers have helped themselves not only irrationally but
lavishly (all the while crying hoarse of India being a poor country!).

One can understand ministers being considered permanent employees and paid
salaries. But why should MPs be paid salaries (Rs 1,00,000/- pm) instead of only
allowances to cover cost of attending the parliament sessions plus some honorarium?
And they are also paid Rs 2000/- per day for attending Parliament when in session.
Incidentally what are the MPs doing with their constituency allowance Rs 70,000/-? This
is in addition to Office Expenses Allowance of Rs 20,000/- for stationary and Rs 40,000/-
for personal staff, as amended in 2018. How many times have any MP convened
meetings in his constituency and discussed legislative matters with the electorate which
one should consider as the most important function of an MP, even more than
attending parliament sessions itself? And MPs are entitled to lifelong pension of Rs
25,000/- even if they just serve for one day plus an additional Rs 2000/- for every
additional year or part thereof after the first 5 years. And for free rail travel too. As per
information obtained under the RTI Act an amount of Rs 2645 crores was paid by the LS
Secretariat to clear the bills of ex MPs for the quarter Jan-Mar 2013. There were 3857
pensioner/family pensioners upto the month of Jan 2013.

In my earlier article I had also mentioned how India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal
Nehru, had reduced the office of the President, the constitutional Head of the State and
Executive, to a mere rubber stamp. His tiff with Dr Rajendra Prasad had started even
before India had become a Constitutional Republic. It began with Dr Rajendra Prasad,
then President of the Constituent Assembly, espousing a Uniform Civil Code against
Nehru’s Hindu Code Bill. Adding fuel to the fire Nehru also insisted that minorities
should be given additional safeguards against Hindu majority. It was Sardar Patel who
doused the fires then. But after the first general elections when Nehru returned to
power with considerable mandate from the electorate, he managed to push through the
Bill in bits and pieces- the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Minority Act
and Guardianship Act, and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act.

70 years down the line can any sane individual have any doubt whether what was given
to the minorities were just safe guards or unreasonable privileges?

At this point I would just recommend the readers to ‘The blunder of the Pandit’ by
Claude Arpi, published at https://www.rediff.com/news/2004/jun/16spec3.htm, on 16
Jun 2004, (I assure you it is an immensely readable piece.)

In its minimal sense Government means the Executive. Whether headed, de jure by the
President or de facto by the PM, the delivery of government services is through the
bureaucracy. Unfortunately in our country the ground situation is think government
services, think red tape, think corruption. Even Google’s Bad Chief Minister, Pinarayi
Vijayan of Kerala, has been reported repeatedly reminding his bureaucrats that each file
handled by them affects the life of at least one citizen. But has it helped? Absolutely NO.

We are all witnesses to politicians and bureaucrats blaming each other for the failure of
government administration. And factually both are true.
Writing in the Illustrated Weekly of India (‘Fragile Chimera’, 6-12/9/1987), K R
Narayanan, later President of India, wrote : Few men are so disinterested as to prefer to
live in discomfort under a government which they hold to be right rather than in comfort
under one which they hold to be wrong. In politics and administration it is not enough to
be right. It is imperative that the goods are delivered to the people, there is law and
order and a general sense of comfort and above all a common sense of unity in the
country and society.

In 1993, N N Vohra, the Secretary, Home, of the Union Government chaired a


committee ‘to take stock of all available information about the activities of crime
Syndicates/Mafia organisations which had developed links with and were being
protected by Government functionaries and political personalities.’ A few excerpts from
the report would be of interest.

‘CBI has reported that all over India crime Syndicates have become a law unto
themselves. The nexus between the criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians
has come out clearly in various parts of the country. The existing criminal justice
system, which was essentially designed to deal with the individual offences/crimes, is
unable to deal with the activities of the Mafia; the provisions of law in regard economic
offences are weak; there are insurmountable legal difficulties in attaching/confiscation
of the property acquired through Mafia activities. ‘

Director, IB has reported that “sinister linkage between the underworld, politicians and
the bureaucracy, have been evident with disturbing regularity”.

Secretary (Revenue) stated ‘The field officers of the various agencies of the Revenue
Department are often pressurized by senior government functionaries/political leaders,
apparently at the behest of crime Syndicates/Mafia elements.’

He also highlighted the following: ‘The utter inadequacy of the criminal justice system;
cases are not heard timely; functioning of the Government lawyers is grossly
inadequate; all this results in a low percentage of convictions and mild punishments.
Unless the criminal justice system is geared up, the work of the enforcement agencies
cannot be effective.’

Recently we read how 12 senior officers have been compulsorily retired by the current
Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Seetharaman, a little less than a fortnight of taking over
the office in Sri Narendra Modi’s second cabinet. The allegations against them are very
serious but none of them have been punished yet. What has been undertaken is only an
administrative action in the manner of removing dead wood. But the fact is the
provisions for such actions have existed in the statute books for ages. Sections 217, 218
and 219 of the Indian Penal Code also provide for punishing public servants, who
prepare wrong/corrupt reports, with imprisonment up to 7 years and fine. I bet that if
only Sec 219 of the IPC was to be invoked almost all the information commissioners
would spend the rest of their current and next few lives behind bars. Here is the law for
ease of understanding:

Sec 219. Public servant in judicial proceeding corruptly making report, etc contrary to
law-
whoever being a public servant, corruptly or maliciously makes or pronounces in any
stage of a judicial proceeding, any report, or order verdict, or decision which he
knows to be contrary to law shall be punished with imprisonment of either
description for a term which may extent to seven years or with fine or with both.

Well, in the army, before troops are inducted into battle they are encouraged to engage
in ambushes and skirmishes to build up their killer instincts and boost their morale.
Compulsorily retiring a few bureaucrats of the IRS should be seen as just one of these
ambushes. The battle will unfold when those from the IAS and IPS are subjected to such
treatment.

The master subversion of democracy has been inflicted by the Constitution itself.
Particularly Articles 129 and 215 which provide for the apex court and high courts to
punish for contempt of itself. One can understand a contempt of court charge in cases
where a verdict of a court is not complied with by the concerned parties. Interestingly,
this is only civil contempt. Criminal contempt is as obtuse as ‘the publication (whether
by word, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise) of
any matter or the doing of any other act whatsoever which- i) Scandalizes or tends to
scandalize, or lowers or tends to lower the authority of, any court, or…’. Worse, in
contempt of court cases, the prosecution, jury, judge and executioner are all rolled into
one person- the judge himself.

It was reported a few years back that the editor of a regional daily-Mathrubhumi- went
to attend a hearing in the High Court of Kerala from his hospital bed in an ambulance.
He was promptly hauled up for contempt of court. Justice V R Krishna Iyer then wrote to
the judge to convey his unease. And he too was promptly hauled up for contempt. He
extricated himself by tendering an apology.

At the same time a serving Chief Justice of India had said that 20 percent judges were
corrupt. Though it was never disclosed how he came to that figure or what he had done
to curb corruption in the judiciary, what is relevant is that no contempt proceedings
were initiated against him.

Does anybody remember Karnan? A high court judge who started off as a whistle
blower, reporting corruption in his high court to his superiors? On not finding any action
being taken he went public with his allegations. By this time it also included charges
under the Prevention of Atrocities (SC-ST) Act where he claimed to be a victim himself.
The ‘conflict’ had literally blown up to the levels of street brawls. And he found himself
in prison for 6 months for contempt of court.

Then, even before Karnan was out from jail, we saw a few of those who were in the
bench that convicted him, collectively questioning the very integrity of the then CJI in
such a routine matter as allotting cases to various benches, by imputing motives to him.
No case of contempt again.

What has disturbed me equally or more was the fact that the 4 judges, led by Jasti
Chelameswar, next in seniority only to the CJI, wanted the masses to believe them
without any proof being offered. But then it didn’t take long to have a reason to
empathise with these judges. It came in the form of what is now known as the
Sabarimala verdict by the bench headed by this very CJI, Dipak Misra, a few hours
before he demitted office. This verdict is a blatant subversion of Article 26 of the
Constitution. For more details please read my blogs/articles listed below.
A question of judicial equality at http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=4836
Courting Controversies at http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=4828
Our constitutional fault lines at http://vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=4868
https://raviforjustice.blogspot.com/2018/12/india-is-it-constitutionally-banana.html
http://raviforjustice.blogspot.com/2018/10/an-open-letter-to-former-cji-dipak-misra.html
https://raviforjustice.blogspot.com/2018/12/an-open-letter-to-chief-justice-of-india.html

To conclude, I would plagiarise Constantin Demiris in Sydney Sheldon's ‘The other side
of Midnight’ and state that a thousand times more crimes have been committed in the
name of justice than in the name of hate or whatever else.

16 Jun 2019
Election: UK-once in 5 years. India- once in 5 years.
Number of times anybody can contest: UK-2, India-no limit
Antecedents: UK-no pending criminal cases, India-No problem with trials and conviction below
2 years
Place of residence: UK- resident of the constituency where contesting, India-not necessarily
resident of the constituency. Even multiple constituencies allowed.
Attendance: UK-need 90 pc attendance in Parliament which convenes for 230 days in a year,
India- no limits prescribed. Some celebrity film stars and cricketers have not even attended
10pc of the Parliament sessions.
Attending to public grievances: UK- within 30 days through token system, India-forget it.
Expenses: UK- details published weekly, India- forget it. Even the projects, like bus shelters,
completed under the MPLADS display only the name of the MP prominently. The cost is,
needless to say, missing in all cases.
Foreign visits: UK-no government sponsored tours, India-even families are sponsored by
government.
Income tax: UK-liable to pay, India-exempted.