A PIL seeking investigation of this was dismissed by a SC bench of Justice Mishra and Justice Roy. The main ground for dismissal was that the Honorable Judges did not consider these entries as “Books of account”, as they did not have a spiral or permanent binding (a definition from a pre-computers era!) and because the documents were not part of official accounts.
They overlooked to check if any other cash movements in any related accounts corroborated these entries. In this case, the Sahara amounts tally with entries in the ledgers of Marcomm, from where the money paid to politicians was received and distributed, as evidenced by the available Marcomm Excel sheets. Needless to mention, this judgement sets a very dangerous precedent. Corruption tends to be off-the-books. Most criminals do not keep an actual book of account detailing their activities. In future, this judgement may be used as a defense by many. Whether or not this bribe was actually given can only be established after a detailed investigation.
Strangely, the Honorable judges also observe (Section 21 on page 16 of the judgement):
We are constrained to observe that the Court has to be on guard while ordering investigation against any important constitutional functionary, officers or any person in the absence of some cogent legally cognizable material.
Ask yourself, what if the same court had been “on guard” while ordering investigations against Union Minister A Raja? Would the 2G scam have ever been uncovered?
Justice Arun Mishra, a former Madhya Pradesh HC judge is close to Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan, a co-accused in the Sahara bribery case, but Justice Mishra failed to recuse himself from hearing this case, which raises serious questions about his professional conduct. Justice Mishra missed elevation to the Supreme Court three times before he was elevated to the Supreme Court in July 2014, six weeks after Modi took charge as prime minister. A few months later, the same bench ordered re-opening of the cases against Mr Laloo Yadav.
As this article mentioned in the beginning, RTI became an important tool in the hand of activists towards unraveling corruption cases. Mr. Modi’s PMO has been stonewalling several RTIs relating to his degree. A CIC who ordered Delhi University to release this information was immediately removed. The institutions of CVC, CIC, CAG and ED have been diluted under his rule. This is a repeat of the pattern seen during the 13 years of his rule in Gujarat where Lokayukta wasn’t appointed, and CAG reports were ignored, and demands of even investigations into several suspicious cases of officials giving favours to cronies were never investigated.
Power corrupts. Absolute, unchallenged power, as Mr Modi has, even more so.
Even Rajiv Gandhi had agreed to a JPC probe on Bofors. Despite far more incriminating Prima Facie evidence against Modi, he will never do so. His opposition has been weak, and his control over media narrative and his party has been very strong.
Mr Modi’s image has been built upon a foundation of fake news, media management and suppression of institutions that typically expose corruption in a democracy. The way his government has favoured Adani over the over-invoicing probe, Ambani over 4G Scam, and both of them on Rafale Deal, without as much of a whimper of protest, should be a sufficient indicator of his style.
Corruption continues unabated, in fact it is being done more brazenly now, while people are constantly being distracted over non-issues such as Beef, GauRakhaks, Digging dirt on rivals etc by his pet media – largely controlled by the same oligarchs.
It must be stressed here that corruption in politicians can come in many forms – a typical corrupt politician may brazenly embezzle funds or seek bribes to enrich his own family members.
Now, let us look at Vladimir Putin of Russia, who has presided over the world’s most corrupt Oligarchy (some times described as Kleptocracy). Putin’s known personal fortune is modest 2 flats in Moscow. His daughter Katerina holds a simple academic job as a researcher of History in St. Petersburg University. However, dig below the surface and you will realize that this is just a facade. Putin’s associates are worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and these funds are available at Putin’s disposal for his political needs.
Mr Modi has copied the Putin Model. He too doesn’t appear to indulge in the first sort of corruption. The bribes and favours he has taken are to help the Sangh Parivar, or his own self-promotion, not cash for his immediate family, who maintain a facade of modest lifestyles, even walk to bank to withdraw ₹4000 when a political need arises. His crony friends lavishly fund the expensive campaigns when elections are held.
Eventually, both forms of corruption are equally harmful for a country. The nation’s security is compromised if inexperienced JV partners are chosen to favour cronies in exchange for benefits in “kind”, irrespective of any cash bribe having been paid or not. The taxpayers hard earned money is wasted when we buy an aircraft at an inflated price, irrespective of actual bribe being taken by the decision makers.
Supporting a person complicit of abetting heinous crimes such as mass murder, just because he has an “honest” image, is as foolish as marrying a serial rapist because he files his tax returns on time. What if you then discover that this news about him filing his tax returns was a result of fake propaganda and media management, and was not the truth?
“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”-Monty Python, Life of Brian