- Login | Register
- Current Issue
- Most Read
- Previous Issues
The CBI giving a clean chit to Jagdish Tytler or, as reported in the Indian Express today, dropping charges against Quattrocchi in the middle of an election campaign, is only symptomatic of this Congress-led UPA government's biggest problem: Its hubris.
The CBI as an independent institution never had much credibility. This government ensured that whatever was left has been ground to the dust.
Off-hand, consider the cases against Mayawati. Mulayam Singh. Jagdish Tytler. Bofors...
And in all of them it's the same cynical, brazen and blatant arrogance on display, as the Congress went about subverting due process in sheer disregard.
Apart from these, equally randomly, consider Nanavati Commission of Enquiry on 1984 carnage, Jharkhand, Goa, Bihar, Office of Profit, Navin Chawla, Pratibha Patil, Volcker...
In all of these cases, the party seemed to think that it could literally get away with just about anything. And, whenever cornered, it has sought to adopt the higher moral ground
By dropping a Natwar Singh then or a Jagdish Tytler now, the party seems to think it has done the nation a favour, and merrily gone back to business as usual, issuing its empty sermons on secularism.
Brazenly undermining institutions, particularly the CBI, will be some of this outgoing government's lasting achievements.
Update: April 29: More Brazenness
When we consider the current controversy over the Gujarat affidavits, and the conflicting witness accounts, it is instructive and horrifying to see how the 1984 cases drag on over the years. Take today's Indian Express report which shows how the CBI chief gave Tytler a clean chit, his officers had said prosecute him:
[CBI Joint Director Arun] Kumar discussed the merits and demerits of the evidence against Tytler at length. Kumar acknowledged that Surinder Singh had done several flip-flops in his testimony against Tytler. For example, he told the Nanavati Commission in January 2002 that Tytler led the mob and incited it to “burn the Gurudwara and kill Sikhs,” but he retracted this and filed a second affidavit in August 2002 denying the first. He reaffirmed this affidavit in April 2006 but then in an interview in December 2007, he claimed he had seen Tytler inciting the mob, a charge he repeated when he was examined in the US. “The cases have been politically used and misused time and again. If one relies upon the statements of witnesses, their changing statements will be quoted to prove them unreliable. On the other hand, the other side will argue that accused persons are so influential that nobody can depose truthfully in India.It is also instructive to read, in another context, HS Phoolka describing his unending and heroic battle in the 1984 cases in his recent book co-authored with Manoj Mitta, When A Tree Shook Delhi -- the 1984 carnage and its aftermath:
Read the full piece here
[Soli] Sorabjee was absolutely uncompromising when it came to the integrity of the affidavits that the CJC was going to submit before the Mista Commission. He would repeatedly say to me, 'Go for quality, not quantity'. He was insistent that while preparing the affidavits of the victims and others, we should ensure that they were packed with facts, stark facts, with no embellishments, and authentic to the last detail. Sorabjee taught us, in effect, to crossexamine our own witnesse so that we were fully satisfied that he or she was genuine. The idea was to pre-empt the possibility of any of our witnesse breaking down when the other side would actually cross-examine them before the Misra Commission.
The exacting standards set by Sorabjee increased my responsibility manifold. As the CJC's convenor, it was my task to get affodavits prepared with such rigour. Given the magnitude of the task, it was not possible for me to do it single-handedly. Fortunately, a number of advocates volunteered their services to the CJC for preparing affidavits. But since I was junior to most of them too, the only way I could seek to enforce quality was by invoking Sorabjee's moral authority.
If any shoddy affidavits still got past me, Sorabjee himself was there as the last goalkeeper. This was evident from the very first batch of affidavits I showed to Sorabjee for his approval. The batch consisted of ten affidavits, all prepared by an advocate who was not only senior to me but was also a well-known human rights activist. Yet, Sorabjee threw these affidavits back at me saying, 'I don't want crap like this. These affidavits have less facts and more opinions and hearsay.' In a plaintive tone, I explained to him that I could not correct those affidavits because of the standing of the advocate who had prepared them. Sorabjee thundered: 'I don't care. I will hold you responsible even if a single kind is filed.'
All those ten affidavits were discarded by us, and chastened by that experience, I was more rigorous than before in weeding out bad affidavits. Out of some 3,000 affidavits offered by us, I chose only about 550 to be filed before the commission. This means that I selected one in five affidavits. It was on account of such care that every witness produced by us before the Misra Commission withstood the cross-examination despite all the efforts made by the other side to discredit him or her(Pg 112-113)
MJ Akbar's Byline from his blog
What would have been the reaction of Indians if the shoe thrown by Jarnail Singh at Home Minister P. Chidambaram had actually hit his face?
Sympathy is a sentiment best measured by mercury. A little shake of the thermometer and it can shoot off in either direction. Jarnail Singh did himself a great favour by missing. If the shoe had hit the Home Minister smack in the face, who knows, he may have shared some sympathy.
The errant shoe did far more damage than an accurate one might have done. It served Indian sentiment to a nicety, by delivering a sharp message without causing physical damage. Singh claims that he had never meant to hit the Home Minister in any case, but I am not too sure that he was in control of his actions when he suddenly spurted into the national limelight and Sikh lore. It was an involuntary gesture sparked by a deep, traumatic pain, a signal that the human spirit would not be defeated even when the hopelessness of an individual confronted a massive and even insolent cover-up by authority.
Read the full piece: When Everybody is Guilty, No One Is Guilty
Sujan Dutta in the Telegraph:
When the shoe flew past Union home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram and the camera showed two men packing off the sardar from the Congress Party venue, I knew it — the face was turned away from the cameras but that gait had to belong to my friend Jarnail.
Jarnail Singh, who hates getting out on zero, who tonks the tennis ball a long way during winter weekends of cricket and chucks the ball a long way from the fence, too, had thrown — and missed — a target two metres from where he was sitting.
But he had made the transition from byline to headline.
(Video Courtesy: CNN-IBN)
P. Chidambaram may have been able to regain his composure after being momentarily taken aback, the BJP may feel momentarily gleeful, stand-up comedians and puppet shows on TV may get more ammunition for their laughter-challenged shows, but even before this shoe was hurled, Siddharth Varadarajan wrote in the Hindu:
the Congress party’s decision to give tickets to Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler is a reminder of the impunity that is built into the very edifice of Indian politics and law.
Even before the Central Bureau of Investigation gave its predictable “clean chit” to Mr. Tytler and declared there was no evidence to prove his involvement in the November 1984 massacre of Sikhs, the Congress party high command had no qualms about fielding him and Mr. Kumar for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Delhi...
I do not care how many innocent people might have died as a result of the actions Mr. Tytler is alleged to have committed. The answer to that question involves a burden of proof which is beyond the ken of an average person. The question I want an answer to is this: How many people did you save, Mr. Tytler? You were an important leader of the ruling party at the time and your clout is such that the Congress even today feels obligated to give you a ticket.
It seems futile at times to mourn the loss of the Congress party's moral centre in general and on Gujarat, post-2002, in particular, but in an exceptionally moving and deeply-felt piece, Aakar Patel, perhaps deliberately ignoring the recent Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar tickets, makes a valiant effort to stir awake the morally comatose party:
I have no quarrel with Narendrabhai. He represents an aspect, the bitter resentment, of Gujaratis, and he does it well. I have family and friends who respond to his bigotry; I can no more hate him than I can hate them.
My problem is with the Congress. It has rolled over and died in a state where it should stand up and fight against this hatred from the inside, like Gandhi would have done, and Patel.
...Dear Rahul, both of us will be 40 in months. Middle-aged and closed of mind, as the men you see about you. Hemingway said, “The world is a beautiful place, and worth fighting for.” I don’t think it’s a beautiful place. But I think we should fight anyway.
Read the full piece: Don't roll over and play dead in Gujarat