Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal: Criminalisation of Polities beyond Vohra Committee by P. R. Dubhashi

Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Criminalisation of Polities beyond Vohra Committee by P. R. Dubhashi

The Vohra Committee report on the criminalisation of ‘politics in India has been variously described as ‘a damp squib’ and “a car out of the bag’. A damp squib, because it did not reveal any specific names of individual politician but only stated in a general manner what has already been widely known and talked about for several years now and depicted in a lurid manner in films like Ardhasatya and Simhasan- At the same time it was ‘a car out of the bag' because it was for the first time that an official report clearly brought out that: (a) crimes syndicates and mafia organizations have developed significant muscle and money power, and (b) they were virtually running a parallel government pushing the state apparatus into irrelevance. This is a frightening admission to make for all official committee but it does not state-how to ‘bell the cat’, how the situation has to be dealt with how criminalisation of politics and government can be overcome and ultimately eliminated altogether.

All that it suggests is setting up of a nodal agency which will provide one place where the intelligence and information relating to the activities of crime syndicates, and mafia organisation gathered by different agencies like Intelligence Bureau, Central Bureau of investigation and various agencies under the Department of Revenue could be brought together and monitored. Lack of coordination between various administrative agencies is a well-known shortcoming of our administrative system and this holds good in our system of intelligence gathering also. An internal coordinating agency should be looked upon as a normal, internal device of day-to-day working of administration and that such a device did not exist and had to be suggested by a committees a sad reflection on the state of our administration. But we have to go beyond intelligence gathering. The purpose, of intelligence gathering is to plumb into the depth of criminalisation, unravel its genesis, lay bare the root causes and work out comprehensive measures to root out corruption and criminalisation in politics, government and administration. The Vohra Committee report does not indicate how this can be accomplished.

Electoral Laws

The first step to do this is to see that candidates who contest elections of Parliament and legislative assemblies do not use the money power and muscle power of criminals to get elected; nor criminals allowed to contest election. The strict enforcement of the electoral code of conduct during the recent elections did serve this purpose, to a considerable extent, of curbing use of money and muscle power. The voters at large have welcomed this development and expect that this gain should be consolidated theorem similar strictness in future elections as well. The electrical law should be further strengthened, so as to disallow criminals from contesting for elections.

Bureaucracy and Corruption

The strict enforcement of the electoral code of conduct is but a part of strict enforcement of the law of the land in every other sphere-whether urban building active business and industry, working of banking and impact institutions, imports and exports or use of arms. There are spheres in which illegal activity by gangs of criminals has flourished during the last several years with the complicity of politicians in popup and the civil servants. It is the duty of the Civil servants to enforce law. If they do not do so, it is because they are put under pressure by corrupt politicians who are in league with criminals of have themselves become corrupt and joined hands with criminal elements. In the latter case, they should be to took by the Vigilance Commissioner to Lok Ayukta who are appointed in several states. The vigilance machinery should be strengthened to do so. But also civil servants including police officers are some prevented from proper enforcement of law and taking decisions in public interest under political pressure. Where these officers refuse to be pressuried, they are subjected to abrupt and vexatious transfers taking a heavy full of their family life. Governed by the rules of a strict code of finds himself utterly helpless. It is idle to talk of professionalism in such an environment.

If the nation wants civil servants to be honest and play their role in a professional manner, they need more protection that is available now. They should not be exposed to arbitrary transfers and their not be ruined or jeopardised just for doing the Administrative mechanisms should be created and conduct rules should be modified to enable honest officers to function without fear of favour. The public at large should also appreciate the importance of hones and strict should function without political interference. Needless to say that strict administration does not mean non responsive admnistration.

How to Reform

Political interference on behalf of criminal elements is at present a worrisome feature of our administration. It is necessary, therefore, to go beyond civil service and police reforms and extend the reforms process to, political parties as well. At present political parties seem to be beyond the pale of any framework of rules and regulations. Taking advantage of this criminal elements enter into and later dominate-the affairs of political parties. Their youth wings seem to be specially vulnerable to the criminal and aggressive elements. How can the political parties be reformed? Neither the Constitution nor any law prescribed nor how they should function. Time has’ now come to lay down broad norms for composition and function in of political parties in the country. No less than a chapter in Constitution itself on the code of conduct of political parties can serve the purpose. Such a code of conduct would be on the lines of the prescriptions of the Nolan Committee in Britain-honesty, integrity, objectivity, openness and accountability.

Honest administration can bring the culprits to book and prosecute them in courts of law-no matter who the culprits are and what position they held in public life. It is only through the relentless pursuit of criminal politicians by the ‘Jonest prosecutors and intrepid judges fiat criminalisation of politics has been halied in Italy. The corruption trials in Milan led by judges Antonio de Pierto and Francesco Saverio Borretli exposed ramifications of corruption in Italian Politics, government and public life. The crusades of these judges are a reflection of the public disgust and frustration on having to put up with corrupt politicians for so long. The trial of the former Prime Minister Giuleo Andreotti for collusion with mafia is the culminating point of this crusade. This powerful politician, 31 times Minister an 7 times Prime Minister, is charged with having ordered the assassination of an overcurious journalist and colluded with mafia chiefs, even sending birthday and marriage presents to members of their families. The Italian case should provide an excellent example of how we should proceed to eliminate criminalisation of politics in our own country.

The ultimate remedy is of course, awakening of the spirit of the people against criminalization of politics and government so that they do not fear criminals in polities and society and stand boldly against them and their crimes. Mahatma Gandhi taught us to be fearless against the oppressive foreign rulers armless as 'we were'. The same fearlessness is now needed in fighting the phenomenon of criminalisation of politics and governance in our country.

Time has now come for all the good elements in our country and they are everywhere in politics government, administration, business education and media-to demand the setting up of a National Commission on Ethics of Public Life for making comprehensive recommendations regarding an agenda of reforms consisting of a well-integrated series of measures-constitutional legal, political, social, economic and educational- to eliminate criminalization of politics, governance and social life in our country. It we do not an end to criminalisation now it will soon destroy our country.

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