Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Justice Verma Committee Report: Law Minister's Response

Yesterday, Shri Ashwani Kumar, Law Minister, said he disagreed with the committee on its stand that politicians accused of a crime should be debarred from contesting elections. He says that politicians should only be prevented from contesting elections when they are proved guilty of having committed a crime.
What Shri Kumar fails to realise is that the Indian legal system moves slower than the mills of God and justice in India is truly blind. A case as grave as that of the 1984 gas explosion in Bhopal has left the victims at a serious disadvantage--those responsible for taking decisions that led to the accident were allowed to leave the country. So, people who are dying of illness or have been severely disabled due to the explosion have lost out on adequate compensation and on being given justice--they do not see those who took these decisions being punished for their crimes.
The other danger with allowing a person suspected of having committed a crime to fight (and perhaps win) an election is that such an individual will use political power and political networks to evade justice. Not to put too fine a point on it--we've seen how the mere threat of a CBI investigation into various cases is used by parties in power at the centre to keep their coalition partners in line. Hence the insistence that political parties, which field such candidates, should not be permitted on the ballot rolls.

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