critical issue

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Sep 2018 12:51:41

NO MATTER popular expectations, it was almost a foregone conclusion in knowledgeable circles that the honouarble Supreme Court would make some important observations of its own but subsequently ask Parliament to make stringent laws to decriminalise politics finally. For, the issue of curing politics of cancer of criminalisation is too complex only for the judiciary to find an effective answer. This reality demonstrated itself well when the honourable judges made a few pertinent observations, and passed the onus to Parliament and the political system to ensure that criminals do not rule the roost in the country. Now, Parliament will have to grapple with the issue of framing stronger and uncompromising laws so that criminals and crime have no scope to flourish and afflict public discourse in the country. The task, of course, is going to be extremely difficult.

This will not be the first time Parliament and political system have to tackle the issue. In the past as well, some credible efforts were made to cleanse the political system of the criminal element. Yet, all those efforts had only a limited good effect since those who made the laws were the ones who broke those wilfully. When the maker becomes the breaker of a law, then nothing can be done to save democracy from the clutches of the criminal element. The decision of the honourable Supreme Court to pass the thing over to Parliament suggests certain helplessness even at the highest levels of India’s public system.

By no standard can this be taken as an excuse -- for not doing the right thing. If almost everybody in the country is paying lip service to the cause, the issue cannot be brushed aside so easily by just pushing it out of one’s own domain. The actual need of the moment is that all the critical components of India’s public system -- including the judiciary -- come together and contemplate ways and means to erase criminal element in politics.

In fact, history of this issue is quite long and deep. The Government had set up the Vora Committee to tackle the issue, as one of the earliest measures. That Committee gave its reports, made a few reasonable recommendations to the Government, and went out of public memory before long. Then some more efforts were also made, but only to no avail. For, even as those efforts came to fore, politics continued to get criminalised at a pace far more rapid than the society could ever imagine.

So bad was the ultimate effect of this development that the larger society started associating crime with politics as two inseparables. Fiction, including movies, added a lot of credence to public belief, and once that happened, crime got more entangled with electoral politics. The situation, now, rests at this point -- with politics getting dominated by people who are either directly involved in crime or are indirect sponsors of crime. The nexus, thus, between politicians and crime lords may have proved good for the politicians, but is proving to be an ultimate bane to democracy as a whole. The honourable Supreme Court has expressed this national concern in very apt manner.

The road ahead towards full decriminalisation of politics is, of course, very arduous. May there be no doubt about Parliament passing a law against criminalisation of politics. But from that point on, nobody would be able to assure that the political bosses would ever shake off their criminal partners. For, in the past also, a lot of compromises went into accommodating crime in politics. Now also, such a repeat experience is likely to be in store for the country.

In the ultimate analysis, it is obvious that politics cannot be decriminalised unless there is an active engagement of bosses of the political community in keeping crime lords away from the political fold and electoral arena.