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30th-Sep-2014

Desperately corrupt ones never learn any lesson

By Editorial Desk

One of India's most colourful and controversial politicians, Jayalalitha was jailed for four years on corruption charges at the weekend. In a case that lasted 18 years, she was found guilty of amassing unaccounted wealth of more than $10m (£6.1m).In its ruling on Saturday, the special court in Bangalore also ordered her to pay a 1bn rupee ($16m; IRS = 100 crore) fine and resign as Chief Minister. Jayalalitha's lawyers will appeal against the judgement at the Karnataka High Court and also seek bail.
Meanwhile in our country the ACC-which was formed specially to try the corrupt, remains a toothless tiger and entirely at the whims of the government¾despite being, at least nominally, an autonomous organisation. It has failed miserably to bring to account any of the people linked with the Padma Bridge scandal as it accused former Secretary of the Bridges Division Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, but the anti-graft body did not include in the case former communications minister Syed Abul Hossain and former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury. After a 20-month investigation, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said no corruption took place in the Padma Bridge project. The anti-graft body cleared seven accused of the corruption charges. Meanwhile it targets opposition leaders who are accused of committing corruption in a different era - thus setting a dangerous precedent - any party which comes to power would automatically charge its opponents. So instead of upholding the law it becomes a system of retribution or vengeance.
It is worthwhile to notice the two situations as India's clearly indicate that sufficient respect exists for the rule of law for a Chief Minister to be arrested and sent to jail. This indicates that democratic institutions like the judiciary are functioning as healthy institutions of a vibrant democracy without any interference from the legislative or judiciary branches. This is also in stark contrast to our system of governance as the legislative now, forty years after independence, has the power to impeach judges. This violates the fundamental precepts of democracy which clearly calls for a separation of the roles of the three branches which would allow them to work independently of each other, so as to enable each to function independently.
This is not the first time that a Chief Minister of one of India's states has been sent to jail - in 2013 the special court in Ranchi in the eastern state of Jharkhand ordered Lalloo Prasad Yadav - a former Chief Minister of Bihar and also an ex Union Minister, to pay a fine of 2.5m rupees ($40,481; £24,938) as well as serve five years of "rigorous imprisonment". He is among 45 people, including senior bureaucrats and politicians, who have been convicted by the court. Similarly, Dr Jagannath Misra, also an ex Bihar Chief Minister and former Union Minister, was also sent to jail.
In contrast to this in Bangladesh, the corrupt ones in high places think they are well protected because corruption is done collectively.  Thousands of crore takas are being looted from government banks to every other government institutions to the knowledge of the general public. Instead of fighting corruption in Bangladesh, corruption is protected by the government so that the corrupt ones can go on unpunished. The government is threatening the judiciary to punish the judges politically. The rule of law is being denied here so that highly corrupt ones remain above law and outside the reach of the law.