Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Niira Radia finds judiciary's corruption shocking

Of late I find that the mainstream press very selectively decides what the rest of us find out or notice, and most people are simply too busy or lazy to fight that. Probably this has always been the case but with the Niira Radia tapes having tainted established journalists, the press is fighting back in a big way by suppressing everything about the tapes.

So if you, like me, receive the Hindustan Times or similar mindless mainstream publication, you might not have recently heard of retired Justice Vijender Jain. His appointment as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2006 was controversial, with the then President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam returning the appointment file after expressing reservations (prompted by dissenting views of other judges). He also brought this case to the attention of the Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh. Nevertheless the Collegium responsible for this appointment, comprising Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, and Justice B. N. Agrawal, returned the file reiterating their strong support for Justice Jain's appointment. The President was then constitutionally obliged to sign it.  A nice clear article (The Hindu, December 2006) on the course of events can be found here.

All that was in 2006. Cut to the present, and visit this page in the current (December 27 2010) issue of Outlook magazine. The article features a partial transcript of a conversation between Niira Radia and Sunil Arora, the latter being a former Chairman of Air India and a serving bureaucrat. There is also a link to an mp3 file of the entire conversation, that you can download and hear with your morning tea instead of wasting your time on television. The key moment of the conversation is the statement by Mr Arora " I mean this litigant had paid Rs 9 crore to that high court judge in Delhi", followed at a later point by the revelation of the judge's identity: "Vijender Jain, naam bhi bataa deta hoon" (Vijender Jain, I'll even tell you the name).

Of course this is only Mr Arora's opinion so far, and the country is yet to find out whether the shocking accusation  is true or not. But I personally find Ms Radia's own candid reactions to this revelation fascinating. To the first line she responds "Good God!". Later she says "My God!" (what a religious lady she must be..). But finally on being told the name, she lamely says "Haan, I know".

So for India's most prominent fixer, corruption in the higher judiciary is shocking even though the name of the (allegedly) corrupt judge is no surprise. For me, that says a lot.


Sayan said...

The Right to Information act not apply to mainstream media. Don't we have the right to know if and how the newspapers and tv channels are entrenched in big business?

Amitabha said...

Perhaps she is shocked by the amount. Her experience with corrupt people might have led her to imagine a figure lower by an order of magnitude.