Indian’s Diary – e News Weekly
Spreading the light of humanity & freedom
Editor: Nagaraja.M.R.. Vol.13..Issue.48….….02 / 12 / 2017
Editorial : Contempt of House by MPs MLAs , no punishment ?
– An appeal to Speaker of Loksabha & all state legislative assemblies
As per constitution of india , Law is above all. All Indians are subservient to it , nobody not even MLAs , MPs , Ministers are great & above law ? All citizens of india are equal & have equal rights. Constitution of India has given certain specific privileges to MPs , MLAs , Ministers & Judges to perform their constitutional duties freely without interruptions. It has not given them privileges to escape from legal prosecution. However few MPs , MLAs , Judges are misusing privileges to escape from accountability , legal prosecution. They are PUBLIC SERVANTS not PUBLIC MASTERS.
We have utmost respect to all constitutional institutions & Public servants. But we have right to question accountability of all constitutional institutions & public servants. In few cases contempt of house , degradation of house standards is done by members of house themselves. They use derogatory , unparliamentary language against each other , don’t respect the findings of house committees and don’t act upon house committees recommendations , engage in fisticuffs with each other , still no criminal legal prosecution , contempt proceedings against such members who have brought down house standards , why ? Silence of speaker of house in all such cases is emboldening such deviant MPs , MLAs to commit more such crimes , therefore speaker of such house is also guilty of indirectly aiding such members.
When MPs , MLAs fail to live up to their oath of office & commit contempt of constitution of india , contempt of house , contempt of Indian citizens , what contempt proceedings against such MPs , MLAs ?
Please read & answer following questionnaire.
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF CITIZENS Vs PRIVILEGES OF CONSTITUTIONAL FUNCTIONARIES IN INDIA
Let the Legislators of states, members of parliament, High courts & Supreme Court Judges & other constitutional functionaries answer the following questions which are vital in a democracy.
1) What are the fundamental rights of a citizen guaranteed under the constitution (Article 21) ?
2) What are the privileges conferred on legislators & parliamentarians by the constitution of India?
a) Inside the House b) Outside the House
3) What are privileges conferred on constitutional functionaries, like
a) President of India b) Prime Minister of India
c) Chief Justice of India d) Chairman of NHRC
e) Central Vigilance Commissioners.
4) Are the privileges legal immunity conferred on above mentioned constitutional functionaries ?
a) Cover all their official actions irrespective of merit.
b) Cover both their official & personal actions.
5) Are the privileges defined & codified ?
6) Are these privileges above freedom of the press ?
7) Are the liberty & fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed by the constitution, above the privileges of the constitutional functionaries or equal or below ?
8) Can the Indian legislatures & parliament be equated to the House of commons in England which is considered to be a superior court and court of records ?
9) Can the division of powers, namely the legislature, the executive and the Judiciary, be equated to the functioning of the House of commons and House of Lords in England ?
10) Can a citizen be said to have committed breach of privilege of the House or court and causing contempt of the house or court by raising the issues of accountability of constitutional functionaries ?
11) Can a Legislature or Parliament enact a new law, to circumvent or to nullify the Judicial orders with respect to wrongdoings by peoples representatives & executive ? does not it amount to infringement of Judicial powers & contempt of the court by the House.
12) Are the FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES of a citizen more important than constitutional duties of a constitutional functionary or equal in importance to it ?
13) Can a constitutional functionary commit crimes, anti-national activities in the name of constitutional duties, behind the legal veil of official’s secret act & go unaccountable for his actions and go unpunished by his legal immunity privileges ?
14) Are the Legislators members of parliament, High court & Supreme court Judges and other constitutional functionaries not willing to codify their privileges for the reason that if codified their privileges would be curtailed and their action would be subjected to legal scrutiny. ?
15) By votes of citizens Legislators and parliamentarians get seats in the legislature and Parliament out of tax payer’s money, they get their pay, perks & lead 5-Star luxurious lifestyles. Hence whether a vote of a citizen is above (More valid) or a seat of legislator or parliamentarian is above or more valid in a democracy ?
16) Judges & Constitutional functionaries are indirectly appointed by voters / tax payers. Out of tax payers money, they get their pay, perks & lead 5-star luxurious lifestyles. Hence, whether the vote of a citizen, fundamental duties of a tax payer is above (more valid) or a seat of judge / constitutional functionary is above (more
valid) in a democracy ?
17) If there is a vacuum in the Legislature or parliament, who is to fill up that vacuum till such time that the legislature or parliament acts provide a solution by performing its role by enacting proper legislation to cover the field (vacuum) ?
18) While it is an unhealthy practice for a Judge to claim to be a Judge in his own cause, is it not worse for the members of the legislature and parliament to be judges in their own cause ?
19) Are the Technicalities of the case more important to a judge or Justice to a citizen, protection of fundamental rights of citizen.?
20) Why not the constitutional functionaries initiate suo moto action with respect to numerous cases of injustices reported in Media ?
21) Why not the Judges admit various cases of Injustices affecting public, as the Public Interest Litigation” ? In some cases, the Public or the person representing them is unable to afford the high cost of the case. Why not free legal aid is given ?.
22) What is the criteria for admitting a P.I.L. & giving free legal aid ?
23) Communication – free flow of information is the lifeline of a democracy. Why the constitutional functionaries are not honouring the Right to Information of Citizens ?
A B C D of Democracy – A Lesson for all people’s representatives
HOW MPs ,MLAs , Ministers – PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVES MUST FUNCTION
People are the kings , self rulers in a democracy . Peoples representatives must just represent the wishes , aspirations of people. When people in Jaitapur , Maharashtra state of India are totally against a nuke plant in their area and they don’t want it , still the authorities are forcing this project over their head.
Since 63 years of independence , In India the learned IAS babus & Netas are forcing their agendas , SEZs , Projects over the people for their own selfish gains , against the wishes of people. This is not DEMOCRACY.
In india, indirect democracy is the form of governance. In this form, people’s representatives are bound to raise the questions , issues concerning their constituents on their behalf , on the floor of the house. However the sad part in india even after 63 years of democracy , is the lobbying is at it’s peak. The lobbying is a gentleman’s white collared crook’s way of forming favour seeker’s group , creating a corpus to pay lumpsum bribe & influencing decision making.
The people’s representatives are bound to represent their people first , then their party & party think tanks. India has come to this sorry state of affairs , widespread corruption , huge black economy & rampant poverty, all due to inefficient legislations & enforcements.
These think tanks & IAS lobby, consider themselves as most super brains on earth & gives out suggestions . the present state of affairs is a barometer of their brilliance. These think tanks & IAS lobby are the hand maidens of lobbyists / bribers.
Now consider the following example :
Mr.raj gandhi is a member of parliament from mandya constituency in karnataka state. He is a MBA graduate & member of ruling Indian progressive party. The multinational giant M/S GREY HOUND CORPORATION wants to enter into paper manufacturing business in india. It’s sight falls on the public sector paper giant mandya national paper mills (MNPM) in mandya district of karnataka. The MNC effectively lobbies with the government. The ruling party think tank & the cabinet advisory group recommends to the government to make strategic
disinvestment in the PSU M/S MNPM. They bring out graph with full power point presentation stating that it is good for the company as well as the government. The lobbyists follows it up with media reports on the positive aspect of strategic disinvestment. A favourable impression is created in the minds of literate public. The cabinet
committee okays it.
The ” strategic dis investment issue ” comes before the parliament for legislation / approval. The ruling party issues a party whip to it’s members to vote in favour of dis investment. However M.P mr.raj gandhi who is an MBA in his own wisdom also favours the dis investment. However ,most importantly the constituents – people in mandya parliamentary constituency through protest marches , mass post card campaigns lakhs in numbers expresses their disagreement with the dis investment & urges their MP mr.gandhi to vote against the disinvestment legislation.
On the D-day in parliament , mr. Raj gandhi as per his party whip & his own wisdom votes in favour of strategic disinvestment legislation, much against the wishes of his people , constituents & mis represents them in parliament. the democracy has failed here. in This way democracy is being derailed since 62 years in india.
In democracy, party whip , MP or MLA’s own wisdom / brilliance, think tank & IAS lobby recommendations are all secondary , the constituent’s of his constituency , people’s wishes aspirations are of primary importance & supreme. What people need is a honest
representative, who simply delivers the people’s aspirations on the floor of the house back & forth , without superimposing it with his own ideas & party ideas. For true democracy , the people’s representatives must be true postmans.
Towards this end , the people must be educated about their democratic rights & responsibilities. This is an appeal to the honest few in the parliament & state legislatures to weed out their corrupt colleagues , lobbyists, to uphold the dignity of the house & to install democracy in it’s true form.
Fight in Indian Parliament
Watch FIGHT IN UP ASSEMBLY
They streamed out, in quick succession, holding handkerchiefs to their noses. Some emerged with their eyes watering. Others were coughing. The evacuation followed a liberal spritzing of pepper spray inside parliament by law-maker L Rajagopal. (Track LIVE updates here)
A little after 12 pm, an ambulance tore away, its siren blaring the coda to what had unfolded inside the Lok Sabha. A glass table-top had been smashed. A mic had been yanked from a table and flung. And Mr Rajagopal, age 49, had sprung with his aerosol can in a scrum of parliamentarians fighting in the centre or the Well of the House. Reports that a knife had been pulled by an MP added to the chaos. (First pepper spray, then gas masks in Parliament: 10 developments)
Three parliamentarians were moved to hospital complaining of burning eyes. A fourth was admitted for severe chest pains.
At 12 pm, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tabled the bill that blueprints the creation of the Telangana state. Within seconds, the violence began. (Blog: A reporter’s account of today’s Lok Sabha violence)
The five-minute riot in Parliament was constructed by those who say they will not allow Parliament to discuss or vote on the proposal that bifurcates Andhra Pradesh by carving out one of its three regions, Telangana, as a new southern state. The architects of today’s violence were unrepentant. “Why should I apologize?” asked Venugopal Reddy, who is a member of the Telugu Desam Party. “The government should apologize for the Telangana bill,” he said defiantly, while rejecting allegations that he brandished a knife during the clashes. “I pulled out a mic,” he said, with a sense of accomplishment. (Watch)
Politicians opposed to a Telangana state have been bingeing on bad behaviour since this Parliament session began on February 5, but today’s exhibit of total anomie is unprecedented in the history of the Indian Parliament. “They have shamed India, they have shamed us,” said Speaker Meira Kumar, who later suspended 16 lawmakers for the violence. (Acted in self-defense, says L Rajagopal, the ‘pepper-spray MP’)
“What happened today….the Congress has to take responsibility for it,” said Rajnath Singh, the chief of the main opposition party, the BJP. (Read: On Telangana, government gets no help from BJP)
The move to downsize Andhra Pradesh, designed as vote-bait before the national election by the Congress, has proven so far to be a gross miscalculation, resulting in strident dissent from its own chief minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy. Like other politicians who want the plan nixed, his constituency lies in the non-Telangana regions of Seemandhra, which will form the residuary state.
The Congress needs the support of the BJP to push the Telangana proposal through Parliament before it wraps on February 21. The BJP had so far suggested it would back the bill if the Congress could ensure order in Parliament to allow for a debate, and if the government made special financial provisions to help Seemandhra, which is worried about a smaller share of water, power and revenue from Telangana once the new state is created.
After today’s debacle, the BJP said the government has lost the right to try and clear any legislation other than the interim budget.
REUTERS – The image of India’s politicians took another beating on Wednesday after two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs were accused of watching pornography in the Gujarat assembly, just weeks after three Karnataka lawmakers were caught viewing obscene videos and resigned.
News channels broadcast footage on Wednesday showing Shankarbhai Chaudhary allegedly watching porn on a tablet computer with his colleague Jethabhai Bharwad while sitting in the state assembly.
Both politicians said the reports were “baseless”.
“Nothing of this sort happened,” Chaudhary told reporters. “This is being done to malign me.”
Outrage over the incident, with a dose of mockery, fuelled updates on social media, with ‘#porngate’, ‘BJP MLAs’ and ‘Gujarat Assembly’ trending on Twitter in India.
“So all buildings of state assembly have excellent Internet speeds,” commented Twitter user @wastrelette.
Three BJP MLAs in Karnataka, including a women’s affairs minister, resigned in February after being caught watching pornography on a mobile phone during a state assembly session.
Porn row: Three BJP ministers resign, barred from Assembly
A red-faced BJP swiftly went into a damage control mode asking Cooperation Minister Laxman Savadi and Women and Child Development Minister C C Patil to quit while Minister for Ports, Science and Technology Krishna Palemar was axed for allegedly providing the blue film to them.
The three ministers were also barred by Speaker K G Bopaiah from attending proceedings of the Assembly till a House inquiry committee submits report on March 12.
In his ruling, Bopaiah asked the three to give an explanation by February 13 and their reply would be placed before the proposed six-member inquiry committee, comprising two members each from BJP, Congress and JDS.
Till then, the three are barred from attending the Assembly, Bopaiah said in his order as the unsavoury episode rocked the House and provided a fodder to the opposition to take on the ruling party.
Savadi and Patil were caught on camera yesterday while they were viewing the porn video footage inside the state assembly during the proceedings, an incident that battered the image of the Sadananda Gowda Government and BJP and triggering widespread condemnation across the state.
“We don’t want the party and the government to face further embarrassment. All of us have decided to resign. We have handed over our resignation letters to Chief Minister with a request to accept it,” Savadi, Patil and Palemar told reporters. Savadi claimed they have done no wrong.
The direction to the ministers to quit came after the BJP summoned the trio and told them to put in their papers at a meeting attended by top leaders including Gowda, state BJP President KS Eswarappa and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.
The meeting took place close on the heels of BJP President Nitin Gadkari speaking to Gowda and Eswarappa and directing them to initiate action against the three ministers, party sources said.
Losing no time after the ministers fell in line, Chief Minister DV Sadananda forwarded the resignations to Governor HR Bhardwaj who accepted them immediately but that did not satisfy the opposition which created a big ruckus in the assembly demanding the disqualification of the three as MLAs.
BJP Government, already hit by a series of corruption charges, faced acute embarrassment as the fresh controversy exploded in its face after regional TV channels, which recorded the act of the ministers flipping through the porn clippings on their mobile phones, aired the footage yesterday.
Sadananda Gowda said the three ministers had sought a probe into the issue as they maintain that they only watched a clipping that was sent to their mobile and were confident of proving their innocence.
After meeting the party leaders, the three described themselves as “loyal soldiers of the party” and said, “We do not want to further embarrass the government and the party… But we have not committed any crime”.
The exit of the ministers did not satisfy an agressive opposition which also demanded registering criminal cases against them apart from summary disqualification.
Speaker’s announcement of a committee to probe the issue also failed to pacify the agitated opposition members with the Congress announcing boycott of the panel.
“Why should there be a committee. They have admitted to watching the clips. Please disqualify them,” Opposition Congress leader Siddaramaiah insisted and staged dharna in the company of JDS members in the House.
The incident led to curtailing of the assembly session by two days, as Bopaiah adjourned it sine die.
“Yes the incident has embarrassed the party”, Eswarappa admitted even as Gowda maintained that the three ministers resigned on their “own”.
Karnataka witnessed protests at several places by Congress activists who condmened the incident.
With the exit of three more ministers, the list of BJP Ministers in the state who have made dishonourable exit in the last four years has risen to seven.
The present row has brought down the strength of the Gowda ministry to 24, leaving 10 ministerial vacancies.
The central leadership showed the door to BS Yeddyurappa based on the Lokayukta report on illegal mining.
Former minister SN Krishnaiah Setty had to resign from the Yeddyurappa ministry after he faced charges of land scam, followed by Katta Subramanya Naidu on similar allegations while rape charges forced H Halappa to quit as minister.
Two Karnataka ministers caught watching porn film in assembly
BANGALORE: Two BJP ministers in Karnataka – Lakshman Savdi and C C Patil – were allegedly caught watching porn film clips on the former’s mobile phone on the floor the state legislative assembly on Tuesday. While Savdi holds the cooperatives’ portfolio, Patil is the minister for women and child development.
The ministers were caught in the act even as the house was in the middle of a heated debate on the recent hoisting of the Pakistani flag at Sindagi in Bijapur district. Close-up shots of the ministers watching blue films were beamed on television channels in the evening and sparked a furore. The television visuals showed both the ministers sitting next to each other, gazing into Savdi’s handset and bantering on. This is for the first time that the Karnataka assembly is rocked by such a scandal.
Soon after the news broke, Opposition leader Siddaramaiah and JD(S) leader YSV Datta demanded resignation of the ministers. They said the ministers were elected by the people and such an act is nothing short of an insult to the people. “Disgraceful. This should not have happened,” said D H Shankaramurthy, chairman of the legislative council.
The issue expected to generate lot of heat since the legislature will be in session up to Friday. Speaker K G Bopaiah and both the ministers could not be reached immediately for comments.
QUESTIONS FOR MONEY – PARLIAMENTARY ACTS / LEGISLATIONS FOR ???? – improper functioning of democracy in india
The vohra committee report has proved the criminalisation of politics
in india. There are many number of criminals in the parliament & state
legislatures. Some of those criminals are cabinet ministers as well as
members of vital parliamentary committees. Thereby, they are in a
position to manipulate , enact laws favouring , benefitting the
criminals their cronies.
Just see how the GOI gave export incentive of Rs.1800 crore to
reliance petroleum although it didn’t even export a barrel. Reliance
infocom & tata teleservices were CDMA mobile service providers & have
paid license fee of few crores only equal to landline fees without any
competitive bidding . They were supposed to provide mobile service to
operate like fixed phones within a radius of 40k.m. however they were
providing service like mobile service from one state to another like
GSM mobile service providers. By this act of RIC & TTSL , the GSM
providers who have paid thousands of license fee in competitive
bidding were economically hurt , the dispute went to court. The court
was on the verge of pronouncing it’s verdict awarding damages worth
Rs.18000 crore to GSM players & Rs. 3000 crore of license fees with
penalty to GOI. The government announced a unified telecom license
regime with retrospective effect. Thereby, the GOI lost thousands of
crores of rupees & the share holders of GSM players lost thousands of
crores. Onceagain the RIC was charged by PSU bsnl THAT RELIANCE IS
RE-ROUTING INTERNATIONAL CALLS AS LOCAL CALLS & SWINDLING THE GOI.
This time too, GOI bailed it out. during the dispute between ambani
brothers the younger ambani mr. Anil ambani director of reliance
himself has stated that for the favours received from the GOI , the
company gifted some shares to then IT &
COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER mr.Pramod mahajan. Various indian &
multinational companies are lootingindian exchequer to the tune of
thousands of crores of rupees , through lobbying / bribing.
In india, indirect democracy is the form of governance. In this form,
people’s representatives are bound to raise the questions , issues
concerning their constituents on their behalf , on the floor of the
house. However the sad part in india even after 58 years of democracy
, is the lobbying is at it’s peak. The lobbying is a gentleman’s white
collared crook’s way of forming favour seeker’s group , creating a
corpus to pay lumpsum bribe & influencing decision making. The
people’s representatives are bound to represent their people first ,
then their party & party think tanks. India has come to this sorry
state of affairs , widespread corruption , huge black economy &
rampant poverty, all due to inefficient legislations & enforcements.
These think tanks & IAS lobby, consider themselves as most super
brains on earth & gives out suggestions . the present state of affairs
is a barometer of their brilliance. These think tanks & IAS lobby are
the hand maidens of lobbyists / bribers.
When everybody else does the mistake , wrong doing , indulges in corruption , judiciary alone must be pure like virgin to punish & guide the wrong doers. Now , the apex court of the land & the highest judicial officer of the land , the conscience keeper , protector of rights , Constitutional guardian of the land – The Honourable Chief Justice of India himself Has been found guilty . SHAME SHAME.
Nowadays , we are seeing criminalization of politics , judiciary & police. The rowdy elements have become MLAs & MPs & frequestly indulge in fisticuffs , vulgar abuses in the precincts of the house itself . These rowdy elements take money for asking questions in the parliament , to vote for bills & for a price pass legislations favouring lobbies of rich crooks. The police frame , torture innocents & let out rich crooks for a price . For a price police destroy evidences , records and create fake records , evidences. Finally there are judges who issue arrest warrants , give bail , give acquittal & pass favourable judgements ALL FOR A PRICE . SHAME SHAME . These corrupt judges , police , MPs , MLAs each take salary & perks far exceeding lakhs per annum , but serve rich crooks instead of Indian Public. These corrupt are parasites & deadlier , state enemies than naxalites , terrorists. Democracy in our country , our hard won national independence is endangered by these parasites , corrupt judges , police & people’s representatives only. These parasites themselves are responsible for origin & growth of naxalism / terrorism in india .
These corrupt parasites will feel , understand the pain only when they also suffer in the same manner. Let us pray to almighty – In whose Court of justice MATCH FIXING is not there & every body is equal , let us pray to that god to give these corrupt parasites ghastly deaths nothing less nothing more.
By Ashutosh Sinha
Special to India Resource Center
September 30, 2002
Not many in India might have actually seen the field gun from Bofors AB, either standing sentinel on the borders or in operation. The guns played a key role in the skirmishes at Kargil in 1999. The same anonymity does not hold good for Xerox, which has now entered the dictionary as a verb in its own right for photocopying documents.
Since its name has become synonymous with the allegations of kickbacks, few companies would like to be compared with Bofors. But since the deal was a big commercial success for arms dealers, some companies would, perhaps, be tempted to employ the same tactics as the Bofors middlemen.
The Swedish firm Bofors AB allegedly paid Rs.640 million ($13 million) in bribes to middlemen to get the contracts for the deal signed in 1986. Nearly a decade later, Enron India spent US$ 20 million in “educating” Indian bureaucrats about the role of private companies in power generation, an euphemism for bribes. Two telecom companies, Essar and Swisscom, were alleged to have paid a former minister, Sukh Ram, a hefty amount during early 1996 to help change the original license conditions, which it had signed with the Department of Telecommunications. There was no case against Sukh Ram, simply because this deal was never investigated.
Significantly, none of the allegations made above have yet been proven in a court of law.
Xerox India was treading on familiar path, something which its US headquarters got to know later. According to the parent company’s own admission, which emerged during its audit, it paid over $600,000 as bribes to various government employees to win contracts. In essence, the modus operandi was just a ‘photocopy’ of the way some other companies operate.
Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), it is a serious criminal offence for a US company to pay bribes in a foreign country to obtain contracts. Being managed by the BK Modi group, one of Indias oldest family run business empires, at the time when the bribes were paid, it is now like a sword hanging at the neck of Xerox. The BK Modi group has denied having paid any bribes. Xerox Modicorp Limited (as the company is now called) completes 19 years in India this September. It changed its name from Modi Xerox Limited to Xerox Modicorp Limited in 2000.
The Indian government was quick to order an inquiry. A promise that accompanied the order was that the inquiry would be completed in two weeks. Over a month later, the two weeks are not yet over. Now, the million-dollar question – for a company that calls itself ‘The Document Company’ – is there enough documentary evidence to prosecute the company?
The Department of Company Affairs (DCA), the arm of the government that wields the stick to ensure that companies meet their stated objectives and do not dupe the shareholders, is looking into the details. Xerox was not duping shareholders, much the same way as the military hardware company AB Bofors. Both were, in fact, trying to reward their shareholders by giving the extra edge to their sales team by “taking care” of those taking a final decision on the purchase of their products. DCA is still not sure whether the bribes were actually paid or if the amount was pocketed by Modi or his men.
There is a stark difference between the two cases, though. Bofors is a European company, Xerox an American. Their products are proverbially as different as chalk and cheese – one sold military hardware, the other office automation products. While the Bofors payoffs involved the government official right at the top in the government, the Xerox payoffs appear to have been made to the operations level people in government. Besides, the nature of arms deals is such that the best deal has to be sewn in one shot. Office automation products are regularly purchased by companies and governments. So, if a few people can be identified, their palms can be greased regularly to put the product. The agents who helped Bofors are still trying to block investigations and any information into their money laundering. The amount involved in the Xerox case is far smaller.
Xerox, however, does deserve a pat on the back for having the courage to admit the payoffs in public.
There are some parallels between the two companies. Bofors money found its way to exotic places that you would find difficult to locate on the world map – Luxembourg, Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Channel Islands. The Xerox India payoffs did not have such exotic addresses. Two of the companies to which payments were made had slum areas of Delhi as their addresses while two others were located in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
While the Bofors deal had strong political linkages, there is talk of the involvement of a Samajwadi Party politician, who has interests in the paper business, in the Xerox case. That allegation is yet to be probed, though.
AE Services, Svenska, Lotus, Tulip and Mont Blanc are some of the names of bank accounts that are associated with the alleged Bofors payoffs. The money has gone into a variety of accounts before disappearing various pockets. Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s premier investigating agency, suspect that these people include the late Win Chadha, an Italian called Ottavio Quattrochchi and the Hinduja brothers. If the Xerox India deal had been bigger, with international ramifications, it would not have chosen names like Charu Paper Ltd., Chadha Paper Ltd., Pioneer Enterprises and Elite Commercial Services.
At the time when these bribes were paid, the company was controlled by the BK Modi group, which owned majority shares in the joint venture. When Xerox acquired control of the company (it now owns 68 per cent while BK Modi controls 28 per cent in the joint venture) in 2000, it ordered an inspection of the books by the audit firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which raised disturbing questions. The audit firm said that it was not sure the organizations existed and, if they did, who owns or controls them. BK Modi Group has interests in telecom, entertainment and manufacturing.
Xerox has over 50 per cent market share in photocopiers in India. 1998 was a landmark year for the photocopier industry. Of the estimated 40,000 machines sold that year, an estimated 27,000 were Xerox machines. However, that was an aberration and nearly 30,000 machines are sold in the market each year at present. Nearly 60 per cent of the sales are made to government organisations.
Incidentally, the bribes are alleged to have been paid in 1998 and 1999. In 1998, the 15-year tie-up between Modis and Xerox ended. Xerox had entered India after a tie up with the BK Modi Group and Modi Xerox Limited was incorporated in 1983.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which had looked into the Bofors deal before CBI started its investigations of bribery charges, had similarly not given a clean chit to the Rajiv Gandhi government. The government survived the day but since then, the Congress party has never won a majority in the Indian Parliament. Bofors has also entered India’s political lexicon as a synonym for bribery.
DCA officials are tight-lipped about the direction in which their Xerox investigation is meandering. These are just four names that have tumbled out of the closet. Reports suggest that it is a web of 85 companies through which payments have been made. The challenge before DCA is to verify whether payments were made to individuals in the government or did some officials of Modi Xerox (as the company was then called) pocket the money.
While it is still to be established where the money actually went, DCA officials admit in private that siphoning money out of the company is a routine affair. Just like every official worth his salt in the CBI knows that big arms deals do have an element of an underhand deal.
Since payoffs are now a part of business, this is where the interest of the average person comes in. Hapless investors have seen scores of cases where the companies get sick and promoters healthier by the day.
For all the arms deal that have happened in India, whose defence spending is over US$ 14 billion every year, only one case has been brought to light. None have been prosecuted. Of nearly 7,000 publicly listed companies in India, a little over 2,000 actively trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange. The rest are companies which have turned sick, while some of their promoters get healthier.
Don’t misuse House privileges to muzzle press
By Manish Tewari
A press that cannot criticise those is power is no press.
The recent decision of the Karnataka Assembly in sentencing journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raju to imprisonment for one year for contempt of the House and a member, and therefore breach of privilege of the House, is unfortunate, to say the least.
The framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny. Freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have, or the views they express, or the words they speak or write. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors…” These words of United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black are more relevant today in India’s context than perhaps the day they were penned for preserving and upholding the freedom of the press guaranteed under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The press may be the fourth pillar of democracy. But a press that is not free is no press. A press that cannot criticise those is power is no press. A press that is intimidated by political power or sucks up to it is no press. For even our constitutional scheme recognises the freedom of speech and expression, and therefore by implication the freedom of press. However, more often than not, political parties in India irrespective of their ideology seek to proscribe the free press, for their collective DNA is thin-skinned to censure. Even though to do so is constitutionally amoral.
The recent decision of the Karnataka Assembly in sentencing journalists Ravi Belagere and Anil Raju to imprisonment for one year for contempt of the House and a member, and therefore breach of privilege of the House, is unfortunate, to say the least.
It is not that legislative bodies in the past have not acted in this manner earlier too and their decisions have been held to be constitutional abridgements. Déjà vu. In 1964, the UP Assembly found one Keshav Singh of being guilty of contempt of the House and the members of the House, and sentenced him to a week in prison. Keshav Singh’s crime was similar to the one that Mr Belagere and Mr Raju are charged of — writing stuff that was considered by the UP Assembly to be defamatory to one of its members.
When Keshav Singh applied for and obtained bail from the Allahabad high court, the Assembly went one step further and sought to imprison the advocate who filed the bail petition and the two judges who granted bail. The entire Allahabad high court consisting of 28 judges unanimously, and in a mark of solidarity, stayed the operation of the sentence passed by the UP Assembly. The unprecedented situation was surmounted only when the President made a reference to the Supreme Court. In the presidential reference, the Supreme Court observed: “In conclusion, we ought to add that throughout our discussion we have consistently attempted to make it clear that the main point which we are discussing is the right of the House to claim that a general warrant issued by it in respect of its contempt alleged to have been committed by a citizen who is not a member of the House outside the four walls of the House, is conclusive, for it is on that claim that the House has chosen to take the view that the judges, the advocate and the party have committed contempt by reference to the conduct in the habeas corpus petition pending before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court. Since we have held that in the present case no contempt was committed either by the judges, or the advocate, or the party respectively”.
The court therefore was clear that criticism, even if unwarranted, does not constitute either contempt of the House or its members, thus allowing them to invoke the yet uncodified privileges under Articles 105 (3) for Parliament and Article 194 (3) for the state legislatures. The privileges need to be spelt out in black and white. Over the years, the Supreme Court has repeatedly laid down the law circumscribing the powers and privileges of the legislatures.
The freedom of the press is the heart of social and political intercourse while privileges of the legislative institutions are one of the undefined silences in the text of the Constitution, and have been exculpated and transported into the Indian Constitution straight from the traditions of the House of Commons.
The object of parliamentary privileges is to ensure that the smooth functioning of legislative institutions is not hampered. The power to sentence to imprisonment for the contempt of the House or its members is undoubtedly a privilege of the House, a power that has been exercised by the House of Commons in the past, but when the Supreme Court of India has categorically held that actions outside the House, which have no direct effect of impinging on the functioning of the legislative chamber, cannot be a trigger for invoking constitutional privileges, is it then justified for the House to punish journalists whose opinions may be unpalatable or in the worst case even slanted or downright defamatory? The answer is no.
The Karnataka Assembly has overshot its constitutional mandate under Article 194 in sentencing Mr Belagere and Mr Raju for publishing some articles. An article being disrespectful to a member or the House cannot be cause for the invoking the power of privilege, specially when it is in exercise of the basic human right of free speech. This is more so when such an action for such alleged defamation would find remedy in both civil and criminal law, in the nature of a defamation suit or a criminal complaint, coupled with a prayer for injuncting such person from publishing such defamatory material in future. It is in this context the exercise of the constitutional power of parliamentary/ legislative privilege, and to find guilty a journalist of contempt of the House would tantamount to giving a special status to a member of such a legislative body and providing him or her a remedy apart from what is prescribed by law. The privilege to punish for the contempt of the House is a power that must be scarcely called into use in the most extreme of situations when the majesty or the functioning of the House is under stress or severe strain. Allegedly defamatory writing hardly falls into that category.
The judicious use of a constitutional privilege becomes all the more relevant when a wave of tyranny has been unleashed by the BJP government against independent sections of the media.
Orchestrated repression by the State — if you are not with us, then you are against us —has divided the Indian media into the “kept” and the “unkept” media.
On the one hand, broadcasting entities that are functioning in a manner that make even North Korean TV channels blush with shame are patronised by the government, and those who speak truth to power are being hounded and persecuted.
In such a situation, any action by any constitutional body that reinforces this spectre of fear, repression and intimidation is avoidable, even though that may not have been the intent at all in this particular case and the journalist duo just managed to get under the skin of some members of the House.
The Karnataka Assembly would therefore be well-advised to suo motu withdraw its resolution.
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