Time to curb political corruption

One of the remarkable visionary measures the founding fathers of modern India took on our Independence  from British rule was to have a Constitution with judicial independence as part of its inalienable, basic structure . I wonder what corrupt elements in our political system would have done by now if our judiciary had not been independent ! Thanks to our Court, it has occasionally used its autonomy very meaningfully in checkmating the evil in our political sector.

The Supreme Court’s verdict the other day in the disproportionate assets case involving the new All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief is a case in point. In his concurring order the Supreme Court's Justice Amitava Roy reportedly observed that “corruption is a vice of insatiable avarice for self-aggrandisement by the unscrupulous, taking unfair advantage of their power and authority.”   All fellow judges must join in a “collective, committed and courageous turnaround” to “free the civil order from the suffocative throttle of this deadly affliction.”

Justice Roy stressed the courts should ensure  the corrupt do not hide behind evidential inadequacies, processual infirmities and interpretational subtleties, all artfully advanced in their defence.  Corruption cases should be conscientiously dealt by courts with a sense of moral maturity and singular sensitivity to uphold the law, or else , the coveted cause of justice would end up in crutches. 

The Judge suggested,  “Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission, if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers and fondly cherished by the numerous self-effacing crusaders of a free and independent Bharat, pledging their countless sacrifices and selfless commitments for such a cause.” 

Let’s hope all political criminals are taken to task . There is a near consensus among impartial observers that many allegedly criminal elements are now  being members of our Parliament and state legislative houses .  Some politicians have amassed massive wealth over the years. They use this money to buy gangs that help them win  elections .

Political parties have unaccounted funds. According to a recent analysis,  our political parties are not legally obliged to identify donors contributing less than Rs 20,000 . The total income of national and regional political parties between 2004-05 and 2014-15 stood at Rs 11,367 crore. Over 69 per cent of this income was from unknown sources. The income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313 per cent during the decade. For the regional parties, it went up by 652 per cent . We have the details available of donors pertaining only to Rs1,835.63 crore  .

However, the consensus goes , little has so far been done to neutralize this evil in our political sector .  The Court could  something concrete about this .  It could order fast- track hearings in the ongoing criminal cases against politicians.  The Court could also direct the Government to ensure political parties make their financial transactions  through banks and make their accounts public.

I would add citizens must be vigilant and assertive  to curb political corruption . They must prevail on the Government to devise a mechanism that allows officials of integrity to function conscientiously in investigating high-profile corruption cases . The  citizens must realize they are under a constitutional- moral obligation to contribute to quality politics in our Republic .