Monday, July 4, 2011

The SC setting up an SIT to investigate Black Money is a farce.....

It’s a dangerous decision that the SC has taken to set up an SIT to keep an eye on the investigations of the black money issue. In my opinion, the SC has no business to step into the area of governance. It has enough questions on its own plate to answer. Questions about corruption and erratic decision making of the lower courts need to be first addressed by the SC. The principle of “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at others” needs to apply to the SC also. Further, a question needs to be raised if SC monitored investigations yield any results at all. Or is it just another act of sensationalism performed by an irresponsible judiciary?

Let’s look at the SC monitored probe of the alleged 2G scam. After the SC has taken over the probe itself, the CBI has been working under its directions and reporting progress to it. Many people in the political establishment and the corporate sector have been arrested. Bail has been denied to all of them. But what has the investigation done by CBI yielded so far? Only one alleged link between DB Realty and the DMK. Even the size of that alleged corruption is of the order of only Rs 200 crores (Remember, the initial charge was that the scam was of the order of Rs 1.76 lac crores). Even in this case, the SC has not been able to start hearings and come to a verdict. And this, after several months of having taken charge. What has the SC been able to achieve by taking over the investigation, except perhaps, shoring up its own declining image? By denying bail to people who are not even charged, what kind of judicial justice is the SC dispensing? Why has Sanjay Chandra of Unitech been arrested? For merely a conjecture that Unitech paid bribes to get its telecom license? If this were true, why has nothing been traced back to him yet? And if nothing can be proven, how can the SC still keep him behind bars? For those who may not be aware, the only charge against Unitech is that it “sold off” a stake in their telecom company to Telenor for a few thousand crores. The people of this country may not understand this.....but the truth is that selling off a stake is different from pocketing the proceeds. In this case, the proceeds have all gone inside the company. The monies will be invested in rolling out the network and running the company. It is entirely possible that the company may make losses for the first ten years (Vodafone just reported its first profits after being in the country for 15 years). In any case, the company has a huge disadvantage vis-a-vis the incumbent companies for coming in so late. In that case, the valuation of the company will dip. Unitech and Telenor will not make profits, but losses on this investment. This is what happens to a vast majority of all companies that are set up....they end up in losses. Even if the people don’t understand this, surely the SC does? Who is going to question the SC on so many of its inexplicable excesses?

Every person who understands the subject of black money understands that it’s a complicated problem. Firstly, it is not only India’s problem. It’s a global problem. The US and most major economies of Western Europe are battling the same problem. Which is why, at a G20 meeting a year or so back, the countries agreed to apply pressure on Switzerland and the several other tax havens around the world. The SC can do pressure nothing by stepping in into this domain. No where in the world has a judicial body stepped in to check black money. The other mistaken notion that lay people have is that this money is all lying abroad. The fact is that global money is fungible. It finds its way to the fastest growing countries where returns are higher. It is safe to assume that the black money is already back in India – through a process called round tripping – basically, using places like Mauritius with whom India has a double tax avoidance treaty. So it’s not as if the black money will dramatically change India’s economic growth. Then again, much of the black money is generated in India and never leaves its shores. Black money is any money that has been siphoned off without the payment of due taxes. Since everyone in India avoids taxes to the extent possible (yes...even people like us), everyone is a hoarder of black money. One of the largest sectors of black money in India is considered to be the Real Estate sector, where a lot of cash transactions take place. Most of us believe that the builder just collects the cash and hoards it all. In reality, the builder is passing on much of that cash to its’s a cycle and the money can eventually be found in our own hands and definitely invested in our economy. The truth is that we the people of India are corrupt and the black money is in our where else. Sure, some may have more, and others less. But to find black money, let’s just look inside our own homes.

The SC is wont to making political statements. They love to criticize the legislature and the executive over matters that don’t concern it. At the same time, it is unwilling to correct its own behavior. Everyone knows about corruption in the lower judiciary (and maybe in higher judiciary as well), but the judiciary has done precious nothing to cleanse itself of these charges. Why? Why can’t the SC first set up an SIT to probe corruption charges against itself? Why can’t the SC castigate lower courts for wrong verdicts they pronounce? All of these end up eventually in the HCs and the SC....clogging the judicial system. Why doesn’t the SC do “training” of the judges in its lower courts. Or “tick off” judges whose verdicts the SC finds wrong? Why doesn’t the SC find ways of speeding up its own working? After all, shouldn’t one practice before preaching?

The SC’s decision to set up the SIT is a purely political decision. There is no constitutional crisis that has forced the SC’s hands in this matter. What do we expect next? That the SC will oversee the industrial policy? Maybe, the FDI policy? Why not the monetary policy of the RBI? Maybe the working of the defense forces? After all, the SC hardly hesitates in deciding whether it has a role in the matter at all. The SC works under the protective cloak that the Constitution has provided it. No one can challenge the SC’s orders. It is apparently considered contempt of court if its decisions are questioned. It’s a super authority in itself. In many ways.....I don’t support the Lokpal being made a super authority because of the experience we have had with the judiciary. The judiciary just proves the saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The real truth is that India is at serious risk of losing its democratic flavor. Every important democratic institution is being damaged and destroyed.......often in a competitive race for power and control. Just look at it. Our Legislature, our Executive, our Judiciary and our Media.....are all vital institutions for a vibrant democracy, but each one of them is chasing an extremely self-serving and destructive agenda. The judiciary wants to usurp power from the Legislature and the Executive. The Media has severe internal competition to face and doesn’t mind cutting corners in its reporting and being irresponsible in the chase for TRPs. Both the judiciary and media have a special place.....a certain automatic the minds of common people. By nature, they are in the business of keeping a check on government. Both of these are abusing the trust of people. We, the common people, believe that Legislature and Executive are corrupt and support such decisions of the SC.....but we often fail to realize how absolutely destructive this can be.....

1 comment:

  1. the way u criticised the SC , can also b done for legislature and executive , rather it can b done for the rest of two in a very beautiful manner , people wld also enjoy to read tht. wt did u mean by policitcal decison?? u meant tht our SC has also been corrupt now ?? CBI is probing the under the scanner of SC , is it not the stepping up of judiciary into executive?? Settin gup of SIT is an another step of SC for tht probe. what are other alternatives to this problem?? our constitution has provided system of checks n balances , u dnt worry abt tht , if SC goes far away from its position , legislature will enter.