Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
Parliament of the country/Assemblies of the states is the repository of the autonomous determination of the population and as said by Abraham Lincoln, democracy shall not perish from the earth. Parliament/Assemblies being the sacred seats of democracy, their sanctity is required to be safeguarded at the prerogative by those mandated by balloters to occupy seats in these places of sanctity. Can one serve God and one’s nation in Parliament, an interrogatory by William Wilberforce, an English politician, keeping in mind the words of Walter Bagehot, a British journalist, and writer that “A Parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people”, the simple answer is ‘No’. Democracy tends to be thought of in our culture as a secular institution. How badly the interpretation of Democracy given by Abraham Lincoln “Government of People, by the people and for the people” has been cluttered by politicians and its bona fide essence have evaporated. The sacredness isn’t visible in Parliament/ Assembly that is marooned by Ministers/ Parliamentarians/ Legislatures, having criminal cases against them. The history is witness to the facts that tainted MPs/ MLAs have always been on the treasury benches and ruling this country both at the Center as well as in all states of the union. When we look into the data released by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), about one-third, 34.13 per cent of all winners of the 16th Lok Sabha had at least one pending criminal case against them with 20.66 per cent having serious criminal cases whereas 15th Lok Sabha was having 30 per cent members with criminal cases with 15 per cent serious criminal cases. Criteria for “serious criminal cases” has been taken for the following offences: offence for which maximum punishment is of five years or more, if an offence is non-bail able, if it is an electoral offence (e.g. IPC 171E or bribery), offence related to loss to exchequer, offences that are assault, murder, kidnap, rape related, offences that are mentioned in Representation of the People Act (Section 8), offences under Prevention of Corruption Act and crimes against women. This speaks of more MPs in 16th Lok Sabha with criminal track as compared to previous one. 24 ministers in Modi government having serious cases of murder, attempt to murder, and crime against woman with much clean (a person sheltering and accommodating those having criminal record in civic sense cannot be termed as clean) PM Narinder Modi, the alliance with RJD in Bihar earlier having 19 of the 29 Ministers (69 per cent) tainted but with BJP alliance, the number has increased from 19 to 22 (76 per cent) facing serious criminal charges of Murder, Attempt to Murder, Dacoity, Theft, Fraud and Atrocities against Women with neat and clean CM, Nitish Kumar and the Uttar Pradesh BJP Government has 20 of the 47 ministers with criminal cases against them with Yogi Adityanath as CM. It is eye opener from the data of the center as well as of the states that BJP has not lagged behind in carrying the tradition of accommodating the tainted in the ministry and its claims that of a party of morals, ethics and of values, is deceptive one but quite in resonance with slogan of “sab ka sath” (including criminals), “sabh ka vikas” (including Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallaya, Jay Shah, Ambani, Adani and endless list)”.
In a petition filed in the Apex Court to stop MPs charged but not yet convicted of crimes from being appointed ministers in state and Union Government, a five-Judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice of India R.M Lodha has advised the Prime Minister as, the trustee of the Constitution, to act in accordance with constitutional propriety and not appoint unwarranted persons as ministers. The Constitution Bench while expressing concern over criminalisation of politics left it to the wisdom of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of a state to take a call on this aspect and not appoint such charge sheeted persons as a minister. Those in conflict with law and involved in offences of moral turpitude and corruption should not be allowed to discharge duty as ministers. Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of states should not include people with criminal antecedents in their governments. A person against whom charges framed or facing trial cannot be appointed in any civil service, how a person facing the same disqualification could be appointed as a minister by the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of a state. Since the SC left the decision to the PM/CM on whether to drop them from the cabinet or not, it is interesting to see how the observations made by the Apex Court have been taken into account by the PM/CMs as the tainted one are still ruling the roost. How contradictory the PM is on this aspect, as we remember his words in a speech in 2014, in his home state Gujarat that “just give me one chance to clean the system. I will set up Special Courts under the supervision of the Supreme Court to try all the tainted MPs and MLAs, that too within one-year time limit. After one year, those who are guilty will go to jail”. Quite contrary like other dusty commitments of PM during election time, we find tainted being inducted into Union Ministry as well as in all state that came to power after this much talked statement of Modi. Safely we can conclude that in politics all eggs are of the same goose.
The huge battery of criminals in the Parliament/ Assembly reflects their attitude during proceedings that takes place in the Parliament or Assemblies, by use of vulgar words both from by treasury as well as opposition benches, hooliganism, use of blow and fists, throwing chairs on one another and what not This all is the side effects of the net result of persons managing their entry into Parliament/ Assemblies due to poor restrictions by Constitution, ECI and government itself, on contesting elections with persons of criminal record. What they are doing in the Parliament/ Assemblies is dangerous and outrageous and they are instrumental in desecrating the sacredness of the democratic institutions. These are criminals with immunities in Parliament/ Assemblies. Parliament/ Assemblies have respect reserved for them, because they are deemed to be the only island of freedom of speech not subject to Court of Law. A Parliament/Assembly is a Legislature; it holds preconceived notions of fairness, openness and allegiance to the nation rather than to a political party that make Parliament/ Assemblies as political battle ground. A criminal though may win by half a vote, becomes ‘Honorable’ and we are bound to respect them before they are even sworn-in because respect is for the office they occupy, whether or not they justify that they deserve it. How to preserve the sacredness of august house of Parliament/ Assemblies is a million dollar question, looking for an answer from those politicians claiming themselves to be value based, compact house of morals, and ethics, civil societies, think tanks and from balloters of the country.
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