As the season of scams gets murkier with each passing day, a pertinent question does arise as to who is speaking the truth? At this crucial juncture, Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi caught up with Prashant Bhushan, a senior and one of the most renowned Supreme Court advocates, who has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the SC seeking the prosecution of former telecom minister A Raja.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Swati: These days we are hearing only about two things – Radia and Media. What do you have to say on it?
Prashant Bhushan: The Radia episode has shown us how corporates are subverting the system by employing lobbyists. Whether it is Parliament, judiciary, bureaucracy, or the media, laws are being made in the interest of these corporates. What is to be discussed in Parliament or how stories would appear in media is all also decided by these corporates.
Swati: Are you shocked by these tapes?
Prashant Bhushan: I had some idea about such things, but I had never come across any solid evidence. Radia tapes provided the crucial evidence to us. It showed the people what is happening in media, in Parliament and in the judiciary.
Swati: What is your interest in this?
Prashant Bhushan: When I got these tapes and the correspondence between the Income Tax department and the CBI, I found some very frightening things. How corporates through lobbyists were subverting the whole system.
Swati: As people are saying, do you think there has been an attempt to divert the issue from something?
Prashant Bhushan: These tapes have representative samples of how corporate are subverting the system. Apart from these 140 tapes, there are still some 5700 others which are yet to become public, which may have evidence against others.
Swati: The Supreme Court has said that they are afraid that there are larger interests who don’t want to these tapes to be made public. What you think?
Prashant Bhushan: Of course, there are people, like Ratan Tata, who doesn’t want the tapes to go public. It is quite strange that Ratan Tata petitioned that he has no problem if the tapes are with CBI or the Income Tax department or with the government. So they are not afraid of the government. They think they can manage the government, but are afraid of people.
Swati: Have you got any threat from anyone?
Prashant Bhushan: No. Nobody has threatened me. But you know I am working against white-collared mafia who bribed to get their work done without resorting to violence.
Swati: Ratan Tata said that his fundamental rights were violated. Do you think he is right in saying that?
Prashant Bhushan: Well if you go through the content of these tapes, you will find there are hardly any personal discussions. Ratan Tata has no personal relation with Nira Radia. All conversations were about getting things done for the corporate clients. There were only few hints about personal interest, but that doesn’t violate one’s Right to Privacy.
Swati: Nobody knows who is the source of these tapes? Don’t you think this is a very significant question?
Prashant Bhushan: I do not think this is an important question. The question is whether these tapes are authentic or not. Who leaked them, I don’t know. But these conversations are important as they show how the country is being managed. I would like all other tapes to be made public as well.
Even the Supreme Court has said that people have the fundamental right to know how the country is being managed, who is taking decisions and how stories are appearing in the media.
But if any public interest or national interest or public security is being affected, then these should not be made public.
Swati: Recently the Supreme Court has been told that former telecom minister A Raja has threatened a high court judge. The SC has also criticised some Allahabad High Court judges as being corrupt. What should the common people make out of it?
Prashant Bhushan: This shows that all systems of this country have degenerated. This is an emergency. If things would go this way, then the country would soon become a banana republic. Where the country will be managed for some corporates and the rest of the people will suffer.
Swati: GK Pillai, the Home Secretary of India, said that these tapes (Radia) are only for creating sensationalism (by someone). But there are much more in the tapes that is yet to go public. Do you think making these tapes public will be against national security?
Prashant Bhushan: The country is being managed by corporate lobbyists, who are influencing the whole system. Isn’t that a threat to national security?
Swati: It is a very sad state of affairs. Today the hope is the judiciary? Do you have any hope?
Prashant Bhushan: Yes, there is indeed some hope from the judiciary. But the real solution to this situation is when people will raise a revolt against the state of affairs.
Today, while corruption and corporate control is dominant, movements against them are also gaining ground. That’s why so many MoUs signed by industrialists with state government are yet to materialise.
The country is in a very interesting stage. But I am hopeful that the popular movement will be victorious at the end.
Swati: Finally, how come a person like you, who studied in an American system, goes against the corporate system?
Prashant Bhushan: Well, I feel agitated against injustice and I do whatever I can to stop it.
Adaptation: Anil Kumar Satpathy