Monday, August 8, 2022

To deliver justice

Recent summons and raids by Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the finance ministry including CBI and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) have raised questions about misuse by the ruling government to target opposition leaders. This view has been expressed in many fora by the opposition leaders, with solid evidence but these central probe agencies are going full steam ahead. Whether it is the Gandhis on the National Herald case over alleged money laundering, a case that spans ten years. It was on November 1, 2012 that Janata Party president and later BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a private complaint in a court in Delhi alleging that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have committed fraud and land grabbing worth Rs.16 billion by acquiring a publicly limited company called Associated Journals Limited (AJL) through their owned private company, Young Indian. There are also many other cases which are even as old as 20 years but over which the central agencies have not closed with convictions. The opposition leaders want the courts especially the Supreme Court to demand that the central probe agencies provide details of all probes and seek explanations as to why ruling BJP and NDA political leaders have been let off or the probes going dead slow? Last year, expressing concern over the unexplained delay on the CBI’s and ED’s part in completing probes, the Supreme Court said the agencies should not keep the “sword hanging” over the accused and there must be time-bound completion of investigations. In the argument, then solicitor general Tushar Mehta remarked that the court should pass an order directing the agencies to complete the probe in all cases involving lawmakers within six months and also direct that trial be completed within a reasonable time. Reports (filed by CBI, ED) are very inconclusive and no reasons given for not filing chargesheet for 10-15 years it was pointed out and that no reason for delay have been mentioned in the reports. However, the bench, was sceptical about the effectiveness of such a directive because of the depleted benches. According to the Supreme Court, it was easier said than done because of the fact that there are too few judges in the chair to monitor all such probes. There has to be another way in which ED, CBI, NCB and other agencies involved in probing various cases are made to do their job without interference. However, this will only happen if the central agencies are made totally independent but answerable only to the president of India and a Supreme Court bench. If it is seen that summons and raids and arrests on opposition politicians is done with regularity, there is also a contradiction with regard to many swindlers who have siphoned of thousands of crore rupees and who are living abroad in luxury. If it is a reality that justice cannot be delivered by probe agencies because they are under various government branches, then it is time to take a serious look otherwise the farce will only make a mockery of the very word ‘justice’.

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