Mahadeep Singh JamwalCriminal is a person who knowingly violates a law and Lemony Snicket, an American writer expresses that criminals should be punished, not fed pastries. Everyone on the ministerial berths dare to walk the line of prophetic vision, if he has a clean image. Alas! Many ministers in the new government cannot be taken on board by aware people as with neat and clean record. Rightly said perfection is a goal that will forever remain impossible for any human being to achieve. Therefore, the only achievable goal is to only strive to become the best that you can possibly be. Same applies to our PM Modi, who is lauded across the boundaries for his many achievements but at the same time, he cannot be absolved of putting those with declared criminal cases, over our heads by inducting them as ministers in his cabinet. It is he and only he responsible for their induction in the cabinet. This fraternity has to make laws for the populace and under the circumstances ‘Law Breakers’ have been facilitated to act as ‘Law Makers’. Appears Modi obsessed with power has brushed away the advice of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in not choosing a person against whom charges have been framed for heinous or serious criminal offences as minister. We come across a landmark judgment in August 2014, where in Supreme Court advised that PM or CM of a state not to induct charge sheeted persons facing trial for offences involving moral turpitude as ministers, though there was no limitation or restriction in the Constitution which debars any Member of Parliament or Legislative Assembly being included in the cabinet. On the issue Constitution can be held bad in its present form and require immediate amendment on this issue. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India had said the Prime Minister as the trustee of the Constitution was expected to act in accordance with constitutional propriety and not appoint unwarranted persons as ministers. It said constitutional morality, good governance and constitutional trust expected good sense from the Prime Minister and it should be left to his wisdom not to recommend any person with criminal charges from being appointed as a minister. It was the prerogative of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of a State to appoint ministers of his/her choice. Prime Minister would consider not choosing a person against whom charges have been framed for heinous or serious criminal offences. The Bench raised a questionnaire “whether a person who has come in conflict with law would be in a position to conscientiously discharge his functions as minister, when his integrity is questioned and whether a person with doubtful integrity can be given the responsibility? It pointed out that a person against whom charges were framed or is facing trial not appointed in any civil service. So whether a person who is facing the same disqualification could be appointed as a minister by the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of a State. I can vouch even an ordinary person will respond as ‘Big No’ but the politicians will never favor it as their politics is much based on these criminals for vote bank. Criminalization of politics is anathema to the sacredness of democracy. The way PM projected himself, it was highly expected that he will clean his cabinet in previous stint but it never happened and 31 per cent ministers inducted in 2014 cabinet with declared criminal cases of criminality continued to the last day. The 17th Lok Sabha was expected to be neat and clean but of the 539 winning candidates analyzed by the ADR, as many as 233 MPs or 43% have criminal charges. The BJP has 116 MPs or 39% of its winning candidates with criminal cases, followed by 29 MPs (57%) from the Congress, 13 (81%) from the JDU, 10 (43%) from the DMK and nine (41%) from the TMC. In 2014, 185 Lok Sabha members (34%) had criminal charges and 112 MPs had serious criminal cases against them. In 2009, 162 (nearly 30%) out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs had criminal charges and 14% had serious criminal charges. 2019 is packed with MPs facing serious criminal charges of murder, rape, attempt to murder, hate speeches, crime against woman, homicide, house trespass, robbery, criminal intimidation and new entrant with terror charges. When we speak of ministers in Modi government in 2019, among the 58 ministers, who sworn-in as members of the Union Council of Ministers, at least 22 (or 39%) have declared criminal cases against them according to their self-sworn affidavits (Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report). While 16 ministers in the newly formed cabinet have serious criminal cases against them, including charges of attempt to murder, causing communal disharmony and electoral violations. 91% of all the Cabinet ministers in 2019 are crorepatis and some of the cabinet ministers with just qualification of 12th and down below. We find many criminals like ‘Angulimala’, a robber and murderer, who transformed to monkhood to sainthood but In the present era, such ‘Angulimals’ have changed over themselves to be politicians and ministers. ‘Angulimala’ was the only former criminal to be accepted into the Buddhist monastic order and present fraternity of criminals accepted by people as their representatives and latterly inducted into ministries by PMs and CMs. The glaring figures of tainted in Lok Sabha and in the cabinet laugh at us and asks ultimately who will clean the Modi government of these tainted ministers? Under the circumstances, when Apex Court has already shown its helplessness to remove the tainted ministers and has pointed out it is the prerogative of PM as per Constitution, to think of the option, the dialogue of ‘Sholey’ movie comes to my mind regarding Gabbar Singh’s atrocities let loose on the residents of Ramgarh village and Gabbar roars “Gabbar ke taap se tumhe ek hi aadmi bacha sakta hai, ek hi aadmi, khud Gabbar”. So to get rid of the tainted ministers it is PM and only PM Mr Modi. But there is a saying that facilitator cannot be a source of discouragement for the facilitated ones. BJP has history of withdrawing criminal cases against politicians (On the pretext of politically motivated cases) as we witnessed in UP or to remain glued in power as we have seen in J&K, when more than ten thousands were set free. On the crime against woman, during first stint of Modi government, India was branded by Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2018, as the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour. How awkward would have been the situation when very high ranking officers from the elite services have to take orders from those facing charges of murder, rape, dacoit, hate speeches etc. It is time to bring in legislation to get rid of the tainted in Parliament, in Assemblies and their induction into the ministries. Let the words of five judges bench of Apex Court prevail upon PM as to act in accordance with constitutional propriety and not appoint unwarranted persons as ministers and that constitutional morality, good governance and constitutional trust expected good sense from the Prime Minister and Apex Court had left it to the wisdom of PM.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper