he revelation on April 4 in an online French journal, Mediapart, based on findings of AFA or Agence Française Anticorruption, that the Rafale fighter jet deal involved a payment worth one million euros (Rs 8.62 crore) by its maker Dassault to an Indian middleman has brought that controversy back into focus. Predictably, the BJP government immediately denied there was any irregularity in the purchase and sought to shoot the messenger, instead of assuring the nation of a proper impartial probe that could try to find out whether there is any truth in the report.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a glib rejoinder, gloated over the ‘clean chit’ given by the Supreme Court to the Narendra Modi government in its judgement on 14 December, 2019 dismissing the petitions for ordering a probe into the deal. It is anybody’s guess how the Supreme Court could give out such a message when it did not have all the details available with it at that time, as the new claim proves.
The same Supreme Court had, very recently, turned down a petition of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh. The serving Indian Police Service officer had jumped the ladder up to the highest legal authority of the country with a very cunning plan. The Apex Court, instead of entertaining the petition against the Home Minister of Maharashtra, Anil Deshmukh, asked the officer to go to the state’s High Court. Predictably, multiple PILs were filed against the Minister and the High Court ordered a CBI enquiry into the matter. The Minister resigned and the state government went on appeal against the High Court order to the Supreme Court. This has started an interesting game worth watching.
There is no doubt the whole nation is seemingly on a rowdy path to obliterate corruption from its roots. Every Indian screams it aloud and the new born nationalists are at the forefront of such honesty-is-our-birth-right movements. Such a mindset must be welcomed but the end results will need close scrutiny. For instance, who are the ones at the vanguard of such anti corruption drives? The nation saw an earlier movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare and the results of demanding one quasi judicial official seat or position that was supposed to kill corruption. On hindsight it was a petty political move that met with success in what it had set out to achieve.
Now let us examine Param Bir Singh’s claims and allegations. Most of us have read in details whatever he has uttered in the last few months. We also noticed how his statement was undone by his own officers in the matter involving the arrest of a powerful and loud mouthed tv anchor few months back. That was the first public indication that showed something had gone wrong somewhere. The Top Cop’s statement to the Court being negated by a junior officer would not be a daily event. Later, Param Bir was removed from his post after serving as Mumbai CP for nearly a year.
What is surprising is his claim now, after being removed from one of India’s most lucrative governmental posts, is that his political boss, the Home Minister of Maharashtra, had asked his subordinate(s) to collect and give `100 crore every month. The allegation might be true. No one denies the fact that politicians across the globe are tuned to be corrupt. However, this Police officer never thought it fit to speak out such a damning fact while in office. He is doing so only after being jacked out. It is also not an unknown fact that the police in India, not just Mumbai, are the biggest goons in this country. They are extortionists, kidnappers, killers (in so called encounters), ill behaved, pot bellied and generally pretty inefficient in unearthing random crimes. It is only when tremendous media, public, politician and above all seniors’ pressure mounts that the police in India decides to move in any particular matter. When the crime is random and they are incapable to locate the real culprits, like the Hyderabad rape and murder case, they pick up unknown untraceable poor people and shoot them down mercilessly without a trial and the whole nation rejoices at the spilling of blood. Therefore, it might have been more appropriate had the Bombay High Court asked Param Bir to prove his honesty in his carrier. The age old saying: ‘When you point an accusing finger at someone, four fingers are pointing at you’ could be very correct in this instant case. In India’s system of governance, it is impossible for any elected representative to be majorly corrupt as a standalone case. Just like the Rafale money could not have been spirited away by the BJP leadership alone but distributed in much larger quantities in the Delhi bureaucracy, similarly the collection of money purportedly instructed by former Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh would have necessarily involved the mammoth bureaucratic hierarchy which normally keeps the hidden chunk of the iceberg. Today Lalu Prasad, a corrupt politician from Bihar, is in jail since long but the officers who facilitated and definitely kept the bigger part of the fodder scam kickback money have availed promotions and are safely ensconced in their comfortable villas along the Ganga at Patna.
The new India of today is simply baying for blood but the howling is definitely not pointed at the correct directions. The instruments of justice are purposefully being used to serve the ends of a select few and thwart efforts at general good of the people.