Corruption, 2G and CVC drama engaged Supreme Court

Last Updated: Sunday, December 25, 2011 - 12:28

New Delhi: The 2G scam and the judiciary-
executive turf war over black money and SPOs engaged the
Supreme Court which in 2011 also dealt a blow to the UPA
government by quashing the appointment of P J Thomas as CVC
whose name was recommended by a panel headed by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh.

The verdict declaring that the recommendation made by the
high-powered committee on Thomas as Central Vigilance
Commissioner (CVC) was "non-est in law" (does not exist in
law) came at a time when government was facing the heat of the
apex court on the 2G scam in which the name of Home Minister P
Chidambaram was also dragged.

The outcome on the appointment of Thomas, who was named
in a charge sheet in a corruption case in Kerala, also brought
embarrassment for Chidambaram as he was also in the three-
member panel recommending the tainted IAS officer for the CVC
which was opposed by the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha,
Sushma Swaraj.

The Home Minister also had a tough time in the wake of
the controversy arising out of a Finance Ministry note to the
Prime Minister`s Office signed by Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee on the issue of pricing of the 2G spectrum.

The note stated that former Telecom Minister A Raja was
not alone responsible for the loss in the 2G spectrum
allocation and Chidambaram as finance minister in 2008
recommended the policy of "auction".

The note also gave ammunition to Janata Party chief
Subramanian Swamy, who is seeking prosecution of Chidambaram
in the 2G scam and before the apex court reserved its order,
the Centre and the CBI on their own joined hands and provided
spirited defence on behalf of the Home Minister.

With corruption remaining the major concern of the apex
court, the Centre found itself cornered for not making public
the names of persons with black money stashed in foreign
banks and goofing up on the issue of Hasan Ali Khan, the Pune
stud farm owner accused in the massive money laundering case.

The issue of black money and the policy of the Centre and
state governments arming tribals as special police officers
(SPOs) and creating anti-vigilante groups like Salwa Judum and
Koya Commandos in Chhattisgarh to counter the Maoists and
Naxalites also reflected the turf war between the judiciary
and the executive.

Ruling out government`s contention that judiciary was
encroaching into the domain of the executive, the apex court
castigated the authorities for their inaction and appointed a
Special Investigation Team to probe the issue of black money.

However, the victory of the civil society was short-
lived as within a fortnight, the government moved the apex
court for recalling or modifying the judgement on the black
money which resulted in a split verdict. The verdict will once
again be re-examined by the third bench.

So was the case on the issue of SPOs in which the apex
court rejected the contentions of the Centre and Chhattisgarh
government and came down heavily on the practice of deploying
vigilante groups like Salwa Judum in the fight against Maoists
by declaring the policy as unconstitutional.

However, later the apex court modified its order to allow
the use of services of SPOs in fighting outlaws in the
country, except in Chhattisgarh which came out with an
ordinance to absorb around 5,000 SPOs in its auxiliary force
by relaxing the educational criteria. The apex court`s zero tolerance against corruption which
was manifested on the issue of CVC case, was also reflected
when it dealt with the cases of corruption in judiciary with
iron hand.

The high-point came when it dismissed pleas of
Chief Justice P D Dinakaran of the Sikkim High Court and
Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court.

Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia also resorted to large
scale transfer of High Court judges as fingers were raised on
the credential of many working judges.

With former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan`s
family members facing allegations of amassing disproportionate
assets during his tenure, the apex court also agreed to hear a
petition against him and allowed an advocate to file documents
related to the property acquired by them.

During the year, the apex court also rebuked Delhi Police
for its inaction for over three years on probe into the 2008
cash-for-vote scam, involving the alleged payment of bribes to
some opposition MPs for their votes in favour of the July 2008
trust motion by the UPA-I government.

This resulted in arrests of former Samajwadi Party leader
Amar Singh and BJP leader L K Advani`s former close aide
Sudheendra Kulkarni, besides two former and one sitting BJP
MPs among others.

Virtually reflecting the public ire against corruption
and price rise, the apex court, while continuing to tighten
the screw on corruption, expressed deep anguish over the
widening gulf between the rich and the poor in the country and
said, in one of its orders, that there cannot be "two Indias".

Observing that no one in the country should die of hunger
and malnutrition, the apex court directed the Centre to
provide 50 lakh tonnes of additional food grains for
distribution among people below poverty level and asked them
to build sufficient night shelters to ensure that no homeless
person is forced to sleep in the open in the harsh winter.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, December 25, 2011 - 12:28

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