It is being increasingly observed that the Supreme Court and other courts of India do not dare to challenge the decisions of the Modi regime.
By Rakesh Raman
The Indian court judges are so dishonest that when the case is against the rulers, they keep making meaningless statements in courtrooms or issue casual notices to the authorities to delay the hearings in order to give impunity to the accused politicians and their supporters.
But when a fake case is filed by the complicit police against the ordinary citizens, the judges are reluctant to grant bail to them and order to imprison the innocent people.
In the case of alleged corruption in the PM-CARES Fund, the Delhi High Court – according to The Indian Express report of July 13 – again delayed the case hearing for 2 months and the next date of hearing is fixed for September 16.
While the court should have asked a specialized anti-corruption agency such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to find out the financial irregularities in the PM-CARES Fund after taking the accused into custody, the court judges have been deliberately deferring the case so that it could be finally discarded without investigation.
As the secrecy around the PM-CARES Fund floated by the supreme leader of India, Narendra Modi, deepens, the Delhi High Court in a parallel case on July 7 had ordered to maintain opaqueness in the account.
According to a Live Law story of July 8, 2022, the Delhi High Court stayed an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the Income Tax (IT) department to provide details regarding the tax exemption granted to the PM-CARES Fund in accordance with the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
A single judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma observed that the issue of whether the Fund is a public authority is sub-judice before a division bench of the High Court and ordered that until the next date of listing, there shall be stay of the impugned order dated 27 April 2022. The next date of hearing is reported to be November 16.
In other words, the court found an excuse to provide impunity to führer Modi who silently controls and uses courts to take all decisions in his favour.
Earlier, a former Supreme Court judge Justice MB Lokur had expressed his anguish over the lack of transparency in the PM-CARES Fund. While the PM-CARES Fund was created by PM Modi on March 27, 2020 following the Covid-19 pandemic in India, the Modi government brazenly refuses to reveal the details of money collected and spent through this account.
Since the information about the Fund is not being revealed even through RTI applications, Justice Lokur believes that it amounts to the subversion of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In a report published on October 12, 2021 in the Live Law news site, Justice Lokur asked why there is no information out in the public domain about how crores and crores of rupees donated by average citizens and big businesses are being spent.
As the mystery around the PM-CARES Fund mounts, the Modi government claims that it is not a government fund. A functionary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had informed the Delhi High Court that it is not a Government of India fund and its accounts are audited by an auditor – a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
But the statement of audited accounts is not being released. “We don’t know where the money deposited in the PM-CARES Fund is going,” Justice Lokur said.
LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
An affidavit filed by an Under Secretary at the PMO who was discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on honorary basis, had said the Trust functions with transparency, although despite persistent demands by Indian citizens, PM-CARES Fund has not released its account statements.
The affidavit was filed by the PMO bureaucrat in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM-CARES Fund a ‘State Fund’ under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.
According to a report by NDTV, a bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Amit Bansal had fixed the matter for hearing on September 27, 2021. But in the ongoing case the court began hearing arguments on October 6 in a petition seeking that PM-CARES Fund be declared as ‘The State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
While dozens of reports and court cases have already raised concerns over the possible misappropriation in the Fund that Modi had created to collect public money to deal with Covid-19 crisis in India, the opacity in the use of the fund persists.
Since the Modi government continues to handle the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES Fund) in a secret manner, some former bureaucrats had expressed their dissatisfaction with the management of the Fund.
These former civil servants have highlighted the lack of transparency in the PM-CARES Fund, while the Modi government refuses to reveal the details of the Fund and does not entertain the requests filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
In their open letter to Modi, according to a report of The Indian Express, a group of 100 retired civil servants have flagged a lack of transparency in the PM-CARES Fund, asking for the financial details of receipts and expenditures to be made public.
The letter – signed by bureaucrats who have held important positions in both the Central and state governments – argues that there is a clear absence of transparency in every aspect of the PM-CARES Fund.
The signatories lament that neither details of donors and amounts received nor details of expenditures incurred are in the public domain. “This opacity is disturbing as the state governments handling the Covid-19 challenge were, and continue to be, sorely in need of financial assistance,” the letter says. The text of the letter along with the list of signatories was published by The Wire news service.
CORRUPTION AND IMPUNITY IN MODI EMPIRE
It is being observed that either the foreign leaders or the retired officials in India criticize Modi constantly for his inappropriate actions. But the serving bureaucrats, judges, and officials of law-enforcement agencies are so spineless that they never question Modi or his colleagues in the government. That’s why Modi and the members of his party are operating with full impunity.
It is not only the PM-CARES Fund that is being handled in an opaque manner, actually corruption is so rampant in the entire country that it has become the lifeblood of Indian politicians and top government functionaries.
Since all the anti-corruption departments in India exist as defunct outfits, the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians keep committing acts of corruption with impunity.
This fact is also stated in its annual country report released in April 2022 by the U.S. Department of State. In an exclusive section, “Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government,” the report asserts that the law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials at all levels of government in India. However, officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity while there were numerous reports of government corruption during the year.
The U.S. report further reveals that a lack of accountability for official misconduct persisted at all levels of government in India, contributing to widespread impunity. While investigations and prosecutions of individual cases took place, lax enforcement, a shortage of trained police officers, and an overburdened and under-resourced court system contributed to a low number of convictions, the report said.
In addition to the U.S. State Department report, there are multiple global surveys which reveal that corruption is increasing rapidly in all parts of India. The U.S. report adds that corruption in India happens at different levels including the payment of bribes to expedite services such as police protection, school admission, water supply, and government assistance.
While rampant corruption is happening at every step in India, the untamed bureaucrats are blatantly defying laws that are supposed to prevent corruption. The latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released in January 2022 by Transparency International reveals that India is among the most corrupt countries of the world.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, asserts that India, with a score of just 40, is ranked 85 in the world. In other words, India is more corrupt than 84 other countries.
All the anti-corruption agencies of India – such as the Lokpal, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Lokayuktas, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Economic Offences Wings (EOWs) of Police, state police departments, and also the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) as well as the Cabinet Secretariat – are working hand in glove with the corrupt government functionaries. That is why corruption is increasing exponentially in India.
As the PM-CARES Fund has presumably collected thousands of crores of rupees (estimated to be billions of dollars), there is a possibility of huge corruption in the management of the Fund.
The chattering classes believe that Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) use such dubious funds to win elections fraudulently either by manipulating the electronic voting machines (EVMs) or by purchasing voters and legislators of opposition parties in horse-trading deals.
But people demand transparency. “It is necessary that for reasons of probity and adherence to standards of public accountability, the financial details of receipts and expenditures be made available in order to avoid doubts of wrongdoing,” the bureaucrats demand in their letter to PM Modi.
SPINELESS JUDICIARY OF INDIA
Earlier, a Supreme Court ruling on August 18, 2020 had rejected a plea seeking directions to transfer all contributions made to the PM-CARES Fund to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
According to reports, the Supreme Court rejected a plea seeking directions to transfer contributions made to the PM-CARES Fund to the NDRF, a public account which is auditable and publicly available.
The petition, filed by NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL)’ through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had sought a direction to the Centre to transfer all contributions made to the PM-CARES Fund, set up for Covid-19 relief, to the NDRF. But it is being increasingly observed that the Supreme Court of India does not dare to challenge the decisions of the Modi regime. Many people believe that after the court’s refusal to probe the corruption in Modi’s Rafale deal, this case of PM-CARES Fund is also being brushed under the carpet.
It appears that the Supreme Court of India judges are scared of crooked politicians who virtually control them. When the case is against the government politicians or top officials connected with the politicians, the judges do not take any decision that may displease their government bosses.
In the past, multiple cases have been either ignored by the Supreme Court arbitrarily or the judgments have gone in favour of the Modi government. These cases include Ayodhya temple case, Rafale corruption case, electronic voting machines (EVM) fraud case, PM-CARES Fund case, Article 370 case on Kashmir, Judge Loya death case, Gujarat riots case, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) case, electoral bonds case, judicial corruption case, sextortion case of former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, environmental crime case, Pegasus spyware case, and a number of other cases which still await justice.
Thus, the Supreme Court of India has lost its credibility and relevance. If you evaluate the Supreme Court judgments (involving the Modi government or its supporters) through an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based expert system, you will find that almost all the judgments or delays are biased in favour of the government.
But there is no system to punish the judges who pronounce judgments influenced by their surreptitious links with politicians rather than any judicial reasoning.
While the Modi government is working in an autocratic manner and there is no political opposition to challenge Modi and his government, Modi is not being held accountable for his misdemeanours.
However, with the hope to hold Modi accountable, the former bureaucrats said in their letter: “It is essential that the position and stature of the Prime Minister is kept intact by ensuring total transparency in all dealings the Prime Minister is associated with.”
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.
He has also launched the “Power Play: Lok Sabha Election 2024 in India” editorial section to cover the news, events, and other developments related to the 2024 election.
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