ndsharma's blog

Posts Tagged ‘VYAPAM Scam

The Delhi High Court has not helped further the cause of transparency in public life by staying the direction of the Central Information Commission (CIC) to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to permit examination of Class XII records of Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani. The High Court order was based on a petition filed by the CBSE which had claimed that the records were ‘personal information’.

It defies comprehension how someone’s educational qualifications can be ‘personal information’. The matter was raised earlier before a Metropolitan Magistrate who had also dismissed the petition with the argument that the ‘complainant (petitioner) may not have filed it if she was not a Central Minister’. The Magistrate had also noted ‘a great delay of 11 years’ in filing the complaint.

If one’s educational qualification falls in the category of ‘personal information’, then one’s criminal record should also be treated as ‘personal information’. After prolonged deliberations, the Election Commission of India has made it mandatory for aspirants to enter Parliament or a Legislature to make public all information about the prospective candidate including educational and criminal records.

The Election Commission has not taken it upon itself to scrutinise the accuracy of the particulars given by a candidate. It is left to the alert citizens to find through proper channels if the information given by a candidate is true or false.

The Metropolitan Magistrate’s argument that information about Smriti Irani’s educational records was being sought only because she is a Central Minister is also specious. People are interested in finding out the veracity of her claims only because she is an important public figure.

Forgery is fast becoming a norm rather than exception in India and is quite visible in educational fields. The Vyapam Scam of Madhya Pradesh Government can be cited as an example in which politicians, bureaucrats, judicial officers, police officers and free-lance racketeers joined hands for decades and destroyed careers of honest, hardworking youth. Smriti Irani’s stubborn resistance to her educational records being made public only confirms the suspicion that there may be something fishy about her educational claims. The Judiciary’s attitude can, at best, be described only as retrograde.

The Congress government of Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand is facing a crisis following large scale defections from the ruling party. Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal has tried to save the government, for the time being, by allowing the Appropriation Bill to be passed by a voice vote. But Kunjwal has only followed what Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma had done last year. Kunjwal did it to save government. Sharma had done it to save corruption. 

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya has described Kunjwal as an agent of chief minister Harish Rawat and has accused him of violating the provisions of the Constitution by allowing the Appropriation Bill to be passed by voice vote. BJP spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan said that ‘he (Kunjwal) has no moral right to preside over the proceedings of the State Assembly as he has brought his office into disrepute. He should resign immediately if he has even an iota of self-respect left in him’. BJP leaders perhaps think that only Congressmen should have self-respect, those belonging to BJP do not require it. 

Appropriation Bill is a Constitutional provision. After the budget estimates have been passed by the Assembly, the Appropriation Bill is presented to the House in a prescribed manner, debated and voted, if the members so desire, and passed.  The BJP leaders’ allegation is that Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Kunjwal has not put the Appropriation Bill to vote as the members had desired and thus violated the provision of the Constitution. Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma had done worse in his eagerness to save chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Vyapam scam-related embarrassment. 

Last year the budget session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly was due to start on February 18. Two days before that, Digvijaya Singh threw a virtual bombshell. He submitted a sworn affidavit to the High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) claiming that the excel sheets in the computers of the Vyapam had been tampered with to save chief minister Chouhan. Later he released a copy of his affidavit with the “tampered” excel sheets at a press conference.  

On February 24, STF told the media that an FIR had been registered against the Governor on the basis of the statements made by some Vyapam officials who had been arrested by Special Task Force (STF) over a year earlier and were in judicial custody. The STF did not explain why it waited for over a year to act on the allegations made by the Vyapam officials in custody.  

The FIR against the Governor created a sensation but it did not dampen the clamour against the chief minister. As Chouhan found it too embarrassing to face the incessant Opposition demand in the House for his resignation, Speaker Sita Sharan Sharma abruptly adjourned the budget session sine die on a motion of Legal Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra as the House assembled on February 26 (though it was scheduled to last till March 27). Before adjourning the House, the Speaker declared the budget passed – as well as the Appropriation Bill introduced, admitted and passed, in flagrant violation of the rules. 

The Appropriation Bill cannot be passed at 11 AM. Rule 158(2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha says that after introduction of the Appropriation Bill in the Vidhan Sabha, the Speaker will allot day or days for discussion of its various stages and “shall at 5.0 clock on the allotted day or as the case may be, the last of the allotted days, forthwith put every question necessary to dispose of all the outstanding matters in connection with the stage or stages for which the day or days have been allotted”. Apparently, for Speaker Sharma, saving the chief minister from continued embarrassment was more important than observance of the rules and propriety.


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Value of propaganda

Adolf Hitler believed in the use of propaganda as an integral element to seizing and holding on to political power. His maxim was 'the bigger the lie, the more easily it will be believed, provided it is repeated vigorously and often enough'. (Sean Murphy in his book 'Letting the Side Down')

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