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After the verdict!

Author: Rajinder Puri
Publication: The Statesman
Date: February 2, 2012
URL: http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=398851&catid=39

The entire media and Opposition focus on the government’s role in the 2G spectrum scam has been up till now on the question of who was involved in accepting bribes. This aspect should never have been relevant at the initial stage. The constructive responsibility of the cabinet for the corruption after it was discovered should have led to its resignation. That is what accepted democratic norms demanded. That never happened. Now the noose is tightening around the government’s neck. If even now the government has the sense to see the writing on the wall it can go with some grace and minimise the political damage. Inevitably, the trail will lead to uncovering the full legal implications of the scam if the government fails to act now. The government would then be hounded out in disgrace. Once ministers resign from office public demands for punitive action fade away. That is the political truth. Otherwise the legal implications of the scam overlooked until now will doubtless be raked up.

Earlier, it had been pointed out in these columns: “Just one week before Mr Raja was chargesheeted, the recently-leaked finance ministry note had been prepared on 25 March, 2011. The note made it clear that home minister Mr P Chidambaram, then the finance minister, was initially opposed to Mr Raja’s decision not to auction the 2G spectrum licenses but eventually did not prevent him. …Mr Mukherjee has written a new letter to the Prime Minister in which he has clarified that the note was a background paper intended to achieve a consensual approach by different ministries on the contentious issue of 2G Spectrum licenses… Mr Mukherjee has also revealed that the note was prepared with inputs from several ministries, including law, finance and telecom, as well as the Cabinet secretariat and the PMO… Mr Mukherjee’s letter makes clear therefore that all the ministers concerned were in the loop about what Mr Raja was up to… Mr Raja was booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery under Sections 120B, 420, 468 and 471 IPC, and under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act… In the light of the note dated 25 March, 2011, Mr Mukherjee’s latest letter to the PM revealing the involvement of several ministries in its preparation, and the fact that it was released by the Cabinet secretariat creates powerful circumstantial evidence that the PM, the FM and the HM were all aware before 2 April, 2011, when Mr Raja was charge sheeted, of what he had done during 2008-2009 when he was issuing the licenses. But it was the Supreme Court and not the government that ordered the CBI to probe Mr Raja. This is what raises the nagging questions. The Prevention of Corruption Act makes it clear that even without direct complicity or motive of profit, if any official is aware of the state being defrauded and does not act to prevent it, he or she becomes an abettor open to criminal prosecution. Section 10 of the Act reads: “Whoever, being a public servant, in respect of whom either of the offences defined in Section 8 or Section 9 (defrauding the state) is committed, abets the offence, whether or not that offence is committed in consequence of that abetment, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than six months but which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.” The question raging in public debate is which ministers of the UPA government are guilty. In the light of the above facts should not the question be which ministers are not guilty?”

The government should resign!
 
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