Date: 27 Jan 2011


It’s back to the Emergency! \\\\\\ January 25, 2011\\\\\ Editorial, The Pioneer \\\\\\ A SURYA PRAKASH\ \\\\\\\\\\ From Swaran Singh to Manmohan Singh: Congress has learned no lessons and hence continues its assault on the Constitution and institutions of state \\\\\\\ The Union Telecom Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, informs us that the methodology adopted by the Comptroller and Auditor-General to calculate the loss to the exchequer on the sale of 2G Spectrum (Rs 1.76 lakh crore) is “fraught with serious errors” because there was “no loss at all”. He has also insinuated that the CAG’s findings had actually helped the Opposition spread “utter falsehoods” about the manner in which the Government sold this scarce resource. \\\\\\\\\ Spokespersons of the Congress have followed suit with threats to move a privilege motion in Parliament against the country’s supreme audit institution, simply because the latter declared that it would not just sit back and watch Union Ministers run down the institution. \\\\\\\\\\\ Meanwhile, the Government and the ruling party have targeted two other institutions — the Supreme Court and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. After having appointed Mr PJ Thomas, an accused in the palmolein import scandal, as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the Government had the cheek to tell the apex court recently that the latter has no authority to examine his ‘suitability’ for the job. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has come under attack because it spoke the truth on the commissions pocketed by Ottavio Quattrocchi and others in the Bofors field gun deal. \\\\\\\\\ What does all this indicate? The first inference is that the Congress has hit the panic button. Unable to accept the fact that the stock of the Government headed by Mr Manmohan Singh has come crashing down in recent times, some of those in the top echelons of power and the party are going berserk and abusing all and sundry for their own follies. \\\\\\\\\\\ The second inference is that the Congress, which thrust a dictatorship on this country during Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Emergency 35 years ago, has learnt no lessons despite its shrinking electoral base. It still longs for the ‘good old days’ when bureaucrats, policemen, judges, jailors and journalists could be intimidated and made to do the party’s bidding. \\\\\\\\ Since the Congress still manages to subvert the Constitution and various institutions of the state by installing nincompoops, toadies and persons with doubtful integrity and qualifications in key offices, it wonders why a CAG, a judge or a person heading an appellate tribunal should display probity and independence and live up to the great ideals of our founding fathers. \\\\\\\\\\\\ Someone needs to give the party a wake-up call. India has come a long way since those dark days 37 years ago when it wanted an obedient Supreme Court packed with “committed” judges and an even more obedient media. In those days there was just one Justice HR Khanna who stood up to Mrs Indira Gandhi’s tyranny and wrote the lone dissenting judgement in the famous habeas corpus case. \\\\\\\\\\\\ Today, there are several dozen such judges. The media too has blossomed and diversified and it is both impractical and foolhardy to try and ‘manage’ it. The shift on the political front is even more dramatic. The Congress’s electoral base has shrunk by about 15 to 20 per cent. The days of single-party rule are long past us and India’s political map is now painted in myriad hues. \\\\\\\\\\\ Yet, it appears, old habits die hard. Recent events show that the Congress’s maladjustment to core constitutional values, which began in the 1970s, continues. In the mid-1970s, the Congress set up a committee headed by Swaran Singh to suggest amendments to the Constitution. \\\\\\\\\\ The committee proposed measures to weaken the judiciary and to alter the federal structure. It said the constituent power of Parliament to amend the Constitution should not be open to question or challenge and Article 368 should be amended to categorically prohibit judicial review. Also, High Courts must be barred from entertaining writ petitions challenging the constitutional validity of a Central law. \\\\\\\\\\\\ This report resulted in the obnoxious 42nd Amendment that virtually converted our democracy into a dictatorship. What had annoyed the Congress the most was the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Keshavananda Bharati case in which it declared that Parliament had no power to alter the basic structure of the Constitution. Anxious to please their party boss and Prime Minister, several leaders of the Congress launched a tirade against the Supreme Court during the debate on the 42nd Amendment and even threatened the judges. Here is a sample: \\\\\\\\\\\\ CM Stephen: “Now the power of this Parliament (through the 42nd Amendment) is declared to be out of bounds for any court. It is left to the courts whether they should defy it. I do not know whether they will have the temerity to do that but if they do ... that will be a bad day for the judiciary. The committee of the House is sitting with regard to the inquiry into the conduct of judges and all that. We have got our methods, our machinery.” \\\\\\\\\\\\ The Congress also mocked at the Supreme Court for propounding the doctrine of basic structure. Swaran Singh accused the courts of having “transgressed the limits” prescribed for them. \\\\\\\\\\\\ Swaran Singh: “The word ‘basic’ and the word ‘structure’ do not occur in the Constitution. They say: You cannot add to the Preamble; it will alter the rhythm of the Preamble ... First the basic structure, now the rhythm. Is it that we are sitting here as poets in order to look to the rhythm?” \\\\\\\\\\\ Mrs Indira Gandhi: “We do not accept the dogma of the basic structure.” \\\\\\\\\\\ Swaran Singh: “Some judges have imported the phrase ‘basic structure’. I would not say they have imported it. Since it does not exist in any other Constitution, they have invented it.” \\\\\\\\\\\\ NKP Salve: “In the life of every nation ... there comes a time when the Constitution has to be saved from the court and the court from itself.” \\\\\\\\\\\\ The threats that the Congress is now holding out to constitutional authorities like the CAG and the Government’s view on the powers of the Supreme Court remind us once again of those dreadful days. With due apologies to Mr Salve, it would be appropriate to say that in the life of our nation, the time has come when the country’s Constitution has once again to be saved from the Congress and the party from itself. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ Why? Because from the days of Swaran Singh to the days of Mr Manmohan Singh, little has changed in the Congress!’s-back-to-the-Emergency!.html\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ More at: 000000000