Judicial custody to MP in Cash for Vote case

The court has sent to judicial custody one sitting Member of Parliament and two former Members of Parliament today. The case relates to the inducement and seduction of opposition MPs to vote for the government in July 2008 vote of confidence in the parliament. Three members of the opposition brought to the Lower House or the Lok Sabha, currency worth a few crores or more than 10 million rupees.  They complained that the government was trying to buy their vote for the survival of the government in the crucial vote of confidence. The vote of confidence was necessitated by the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal. The government was looking set  to lose the vote of confidence and hence all kinds of reports were making rounds. Aayaa Ram, Gayaa Ram or horse trading, meaning purchasing the elected representatives to form the government or continue to run the government in case of falling majority by inducements like cash payments or ministerial berth in the council of ministers are common in India for several decades now. The three MPs belonged to the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party). The persons managing the purchasing of the BJP Members of Parliament  belonged to the Samajwadi Party, which decided to support the government in that confidence vote. This MP has been charged by the Delhi police and the court has sent him to 14 days judicial custody. The other two MPs are not sitting MPs. Their third colleagues is a sitting MP and he can not be touched without the permission of the Speaker, which has yet to come. Some others are also to be arrested.

 The Delhi Police has not established the beneficiary of that murky deal. Nor has it been able to disclose the source of such huge money and the whole money trail. Obviously, it was the Congress party that was the ultimate gainer by saving the Manmohan Singh government. The government won the confidence vote but lost the moral authority. Thereafter it is an account of scams after scams, growing in size with each exposure. God only knows how many votes were purchased with that kind of payments in cash, but at least three MPs showed  the courage to inform the house of the government’s undemocratic methods of winning the vote of confidence.

 It was the fittest case to have been referred to the Privileges Committee of the Parliament. Someone dared to seduce the Hon’ble Members of Parliament by giving them crores of rupees in bribe to vote in a particular manner! Is it not derogatory? Is it not an insult to the Parliament of India? The fact that some dalals (pimps, brokers, agents, wheeler-dealers or fixers) in the corridors of power took the MPs so lightly and thought them to be purchasable commodity is a standing shame and should have been dealt accordingly. The dignity of the Indian Parliament was violated! And the matter escaped scrutiny of the Privileges Committee!!!

 Had it been considered as a gross breach of the privilege of the parliament, the culprits would have been brought to book long ago, irrespective whether they belonged to the treasury benches or the opposition. But it was left for the courts to decide the matter. The same courts had been hauled up for violating the orders of the Speaker in the past (the famous case of the single bench judgement(Allahabad High Court) against the orders of the Speaker of the UP state assembly, followed by the arrest warrants issued by the Speaker of the assembly  against the judge, appeal to the double bench and quashing of the arrest warrant, followed with arrest warrants against both the judges…refers). How come the parliament, having the best legal brains on its benches, chose to delegate its powers to the courts?

Nobody can question the Speaker’s orders. But if the Speakers issue statements after demitting office, those statements can be questioned. Why is the former Speaker trying to justify his orders or give opinion on the subject now? Right or wrong they are there on record. If any need arises to justify or change those orders, the Lok Sabha Secretariat will do the needful  in the normal course of its duties with the permission of the incumbent Speaker. It was not a simple bribery offence, but a case of gross breach of privilege of the MPs and should have been so taken when they brought it to the notice of the Speaker in the House. MPs never betray lack of sense of responsibility and therefore deserved to be treated respectfully. They are the people’s representatives. Unfortunately, they were penalised.

 Now explanations are being sought from the PM by prominent leaders from the Left Parties.They could take strong action then and insisted on referring the matter to the privileges committee of the parliament. They can do so even now. Why not move a breach of privilege motion, as the action flows from the proceedings of the earlier Lok Sabha and the present House has yet to take a final decision. There were many other  MPs , who were expelled for something less significant  and perhaps lost their perks, pension and allowances. Who takes action on these issues once the court pronounces one guilty and three innocent or three guilty and one innocent or all innocent or more guilty?

 Such acts are a challenge to the parliamentary democracy of India. They depict the Indian Parliamentarians as corruptible (which none of them really might be).

Unless the guilty are punished severely in an honest investigation by the privileges Committee and kept in the Speakers lockup, dalals will not learn any lessons and repeat their nefarious activities. We, the people of India, demand that the parliament treats the public opinion as a   petition and proceed to bring to justice the criminals who dared to commit such breach of privilege of the parliament, in the interests of democracy and to establish in public eye its true superiority.



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