A bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Altamas Kabir, Cyriac Joseph and H. L. Dattu wants Prashant Bhushan to apologise to the court for saying in an interview to a magazine that half of the former CJIs were corrupt. Harish Salve had taken Prashant Bhushan to court saying he had cast aspersions on present CJI S. H. Kapadia also. That resulted in a contempt of court case. Supreme Court is not ready to accept truth as a justification for Prashant Bhushan’s statement and wants “one word of regret” from Prashant Bhushan. Prashant Bhushan is ready to utter “10 words of regret” to S. H. Kapadia. Altamas Kabir said it is not a matter of a person, but an institution.
An institution is made up of individuals. If individuals are corrupt they bring disrepute to the institution. Judges who were or are corrupt should be punished. It is a travesty of justice when corrupt judges go scot-free and people who speak the truth about corrupt judges are punished or asked to apologise. India’s national motto is Satyameva Jayate, truth always triumphs. Punishing people for speaking the truth is making a mockery of our national motto. The provision regarding contempt of court was meant to punish the people who defy court orders and not for punishing the people for speaking the truth, more so when they expose judicial corruption.
Prashant Bhushan should make public what he knows about corrupt CJIs. The law must be changed to hang corrupt CJIs. Prashant Bhushan has been in the forefront of fight against corruption and was in the committee to draft Lokpal Bill. He should not apologise. If he goes to jail it will show the abuse of the power of the court to punish the innocent. That may result in a law that will define contempt of court and take away the power of judges to act arbitrarily or scrapping the provision altogether. Many constitutions do not have the provision of contempt of court.
Udit Raj and Vineet Narain have mentioned some CJIs as corrupt. Why is Harish Salve silent about them? Vineet Narain is hostile to Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan.
Many times the Supreme Court has ordered CBI investigations in cases of corruption involving politicians and others. On some occasions the Supreme Court has set up Special Investigation Teams. In one case it appointed a prosecutor. Sometimes newspaper reports are treated as Public Interest Litigations. The Supreme Court should order an investigation in cases of corruption involving CJIs. If the charges are serious they should be behind bars like A. Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Kanimozhi and so on. The judges should not have one standard for themselves and another standard for others. If the Supreme Court does not act, the government should act. If CJIs are in jail that will be a signal to judges that they are not above the law.
Anna Hazare is on an indefinite fast for Jan Lokpal Bill. This bill is different from the Lokpal Bill the government has in mind. The government is not ready to meet representatives of activists to reconcile the two bills.
Lokpal Bill is a small step in fighting corruption at the top. The bill has made occasional appears over the last 42 years. Many people have come forward in support of Anna Hazare and there are indefinite fasts in various cities. In California, Indians marched supporting the fast against corruption. Candle light vigil has taken place.
The activists do not want Sharad Pawar, Kapil Sibal and Veerappa Moily in the drafting committee of Lokpal Bill. They do not want politicians to join their movement. Om Prakash Chautala and Uma Bharti had to go back. The activists want the committee to have five ministers and five activists. Swami Agnivesh wants a new constitution for India. Arvind Kejriwal called the people to come to Jantar Mantar and make it the Tahrir Square of India. The movement is known as crusade against corruption.
Permission of Speaker or Chairman should not be a requirement for prosecution of MPs. Permission of President should not be a requirement for prosecution of Prime Minister and other ministers.
Sometimes the motives of people who fight against corruption are questioned. Indian Justice Party lead Udit Raj has said that actions against K. G. Balakrishnan and Dinakaran are because they are Dalits. He did not say the two judges were not corrupt. He said “There were serious complaints against former CJIs A. S. Anand and Y. K. Sabharwal too. In Sabhalwal’s case, there was documentary too… But no action was taken against them. In the case of Balakrishnan and Dinakaran, both have been dubbed guilty without any clinching evidence.” Udit Raj can try to prosecute A. S. Anand and Y. K. Sabharwal.
The judicial system we inherited from the British has failed us. The system’s foundation is wrong. It says. No innocent person shall be punished even though hundred criminals escape. Hundred criminals escaping is not justice. Even one criminal escaping is not justice. The system’s foundation should be, No innocent person shall be punished and no criminal shall escape.
Punishment for corruption should be proportionate to the amount. If the punishment for corruption involving 100 rupees is imprisonment for a day, then for 10,000 rupees it should be 100 days, for 1,00,00,000 rupees it should be 1,00,000 days and so on. The punishment period should not have parole or remission. Time spent in hospital should not be considered and period of imprisonment should be extended accordingly. If any loss is caused to the country the loss should be recovered from the corrupt person and that is separate from the punishment for corruption. For example, if a man has a 20 crore rupees bribe and caused 1,000 crore rupees loss he should be punished for the bribe and loss should be recovered from him and if after selling his property if the amount falls short there should be additional punishment. If the act of corruption has resulted in the death of a person, the corrupt person should he hanged.