Sunday, February 5, 2012

On the judgment by O. P. Saini delivered on Feb 4, 2012

We have a surprising judgment on the 2-G case. This pertains to the quashing of Subramanian Swamy's plea for initiating an investigation into the role of P. Chidambaram in the 2-G scam. Judge O. P. Saini dismissed the plea. We are not legal experts thus we can provide only a lay person's perspective on the matter.

From what Subramanian Swamy's post-judgment interview, we gathered the following:

1. There were huge irregularities in the allotment of 2-G spectrum.

2. A. Raja was the Telecom minister.

3. The decisions were known to the then finance minister (P. Chidambaram) and the Prime minister Manmohan Singh.

4. Various bodies within the government were cautioning the government (for example CAG report etc.) and their recommendations were ignored.

Subramanian Swamy contended that the role of P Chidambaram must also be investigated. Now we can simplify the situation further as follows:

1. There was some wrongdoing for which A. Raja is being tried and investigated and is in jail.

2. P. Chidambaram was in the know (at least) of what was going on.

Subramanian Swamy argued that Under these circumstances there is a case for initiating an investigation on P. Chidambaram and therefore his conduct must be investigated.

Judge Saini, in his judgment, argued that being in the know does not imply collusion etc. therefore does not imply any prima facie culpability for criminal intent; and therefore rejected Swamy's plea.

Let us rephrase it again:

Subramanian Swamy argued that there is sufficient evidence to raise suspicion therefore investigation must commence.

Judge Saini pronounced that the evidence was not sufficient to establish prima facie culpability for criminal intent and therefore quashed the request.

Now we request you to notice the subtle yet obvious difference. Swamy is asking for investigation while the judge responds saying that criminal intent is not evident.

Notice these following facts:

1. A. Raja has been indicted for decisions and 122 licenses were canceled by the Supreme Court.

2. P. Chidambaram was in the know of the decision making. vis-a-vis the spectrum allotment (For the time being let us ignore the fact that P. Chidambaram also issued directives which make his role even more suspicious).

3. The complainant seeks investigation while the judge denies sufficiency of evidence of criminal intent.

In our opinion, this is tantamount to jumping the gun. Without investigation criminal intent may not be established and the judge opines that without evidence of criminal intent investigation can not be granted.

Under these circumstances we can ask the following rhetorical question: If the evidence is already there why would one need to investigate? And without investigation how will evidence be collected?

We need to wait till the Supreme Court decides and gives its final verdict on the matter. However, there is one point that is obvious.

If it is indeed the case that the complainant sought only an investigation and produced evidence sufficient to raise suspicion enough to necessitate investigation; and if, on this plea, the judge decided, on the basis that there was no evidence of criminal intent, that there was no need for investigation; then this is sheer stupidity. We repeat that we are not expert in legal matters and we have presented a lay person's perspective, and a better understanding on the issue may evolve after a higher court's view on the matter is known.

Here we wish to raise an important issue: Judges who commit obvious mistakes must be penalized for such mistakes. For example, each such mistake could be assigned a number and if the sum total of the numbers accruing from such mistakes crosses a threshold, the judge must have to undergo some training, or the judge could also be made to face demotion in rank.

Judging matters is surely a very difficult task, however it is also a very important task and we need to ensure that only those who merit such a stature should be allowed the privilege of judging matters. Especially those who exhibit incompetence must be made to undergo corrective actions.

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