Vinod Rai
Vinod Rai

In the second term of the UPA, there was a time when the allegations of corruption in the allocation of coal and 2 G spectrum dominated the headlines of all the newspapers. Where did all the allegations emanate? The source was the CAG report. At the time CAG was Vinod Rai.

All these allegations became election issues. Finally, on the charges of corruption and incompetency, the UPA was voted out of power. The rest is the history of competency and clean governance! We shall go to that little later. But we should remember that based on the allegations, a CBI inquiry was ordered by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner during the UPA rule.

Ministers were made to resign and some of them were even arrested. However, after several hearings, a special CBI court acquitted all accused and the judge said that the case was baseless. That was the saga of corruption raised by Vinod Rai.

After coming to power did the BJP say or do anything about those charges of corruption? They said absolutely nothing and did absolutely nothing.  But they were grateful to the person who made these charges against the UPA government. How did they express their gratefulness to Vinod Rai? To know this, we must examine the career graph of Vinod Rai after BJP’s coming to power.

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The latest development is interesting. Vinod Rai has tendered an unconditional apology to Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam, seven years after he alleged that the former MP put pressure on him to keep former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name out of his report. This became big news at the time of releasing his autobiography Not Just an Accountant: The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper.

Now, tendering an unconditional apology yesterday Rai submitted a notarized affidavit and said: “I have realized that in answers to questions posed to me by the interviewers, I had inadvertently and wrongly mentioned the name of Sanjay Nirupam as one of the MPs, who pressurized me to keep the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s name out of the CAG report on the 2G spectrum allocation during the meetings in the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) or the sidelines of the JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee), etc.,” Rai said in the affidavit, adding the statements televised and published were “factually incorrect”.

So much for the conscience keeper of the nation! Let us follow the trails of the development. A huge controversy was raised by his report on the allocation of coal and 2 G spectrum. It was such a controversy that the BJP came to power banking on it. Later everybody realized that there was no such anomaly. Even if there were some anomalies those were not of such high dimension.

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Here certain things come to our mind. A man, utilizing his official position created a huge ruckus and helped BJP come to power. And after his retirement, he enjoyed various plumb posts under BJP rule. From supervising working of the public sector banks to running of the BCCI, one after another he was entrusted with so many important assignments as if he was a person with rare integrity and ability.

As mentioned above all the corruption charges raised by him were nullified in the court of law. Finally, yesterday came his unconditional apology. Even after all this he could write an autobiography and name it as conscience keeper of the nation.  How can somebody glorify himself in this manner? It seems something is seriously wrong with such people. People who are motivated and devoid of any conscience can only indulge in such things. This is really disturbing.

Here we should also try to understand one thing. There was a time when to a great extent the institutions could work independently, whether it was the office of the CAG or the office of the Chief Vigilance Officer, or for that matter any other constitutional offices. All those offices are still in existence. But we don’t hear anything about their activities these days.

These institutions have become part of the government, losing their independence and autonomy. They have failed in discharging their responsibilities. Till the other day, the Supreme Court of India was also behaving like this, toeing the line of the government almost on everything.

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However, things are changing presently under the present CJI. In some of its recent judgments, the apex court has castigated the government and taken it to the task. We have observed that when the institutions start asserting themselves, the aberrations and excesses of the government can be contained to a large extent.

In this connection, we can mention the formation of an independent expert committee by the SC to investigate the issue of the Pegasus spyware.  Yes, the majority matters in a democracy. A decision can be arrived at by majority votes. But that does not mean that we should leave everything to the whims of the ruling party which enjoys the majority.  For example, can we equate justice with majority opinion?

Justice is beyond majoritarian principles. It has some inherent ingredients and an inner congruity. We must remember that an elected government fulfills only one criterion of democracy. There are many other things that make a democracy a democracy. And one of the fundamental principles of democracy is the separation of the judiciary from the executive. An independent judiciary is always a headache for a government. But it is a shooting bum for ordinary citizens.

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Paresh Malakar

Paresh Malakar is a commentator based in Guwahati. He can be reached at: