Code of omertà breached – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh must be lauded for verbalizing the oligarchic mindset of the government led by his party. His recent statement that his government does not act against certain individuals, despite having “enough evidence” to do so, is allegorical of the age we live in―the age in which laws are proliferating and the rule of law is evaporating.

Singh is unhappy that Arvind Kejriwal, by attacking Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra for the alleged land scandal, has broken the unwritten code among major political parties that the families of prominent leaders will not be dragged into the arena. “We don’t target people who are not in politics. This is ethics,” Singh said (A Congress leader talking about ethics is like Osama bin Laden eulogizing Mahatma Gandhi, but that is another story).

He mentioned the case of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya: “Everyone has a private life. For example, Ranjan Bhattacharya was not in politics but he was living with Vajpayee. Have we ever said a word about Ranjan?”

He went to say that his party and government have “enough evidence and reasons to say [that the family members of prominent BJP leaders are involved in unseemly activities] but we would not.”

What Singh is saying is that the top leaders of the ruling party and the Opposition are members of an exclusive club who tend to ignore the misdeeds of each other’s kin. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Or still better: you save my ass and I’ll save yours.

Evidently, it didn’t occur to Singh that his statement is tantamount to support for and being part of a political system which is the negation of the rule of law. Nor did it occur to him that he was favoring the rule by men over the rule of law―that is, a system which works as per the whims and fancies of the people in office and not according to the pre-established, objective legal framework. One need not be a political analyst to know that the spirit of the Indian Constitution is in favor of the rule of law and is against the rule by men.

If the rule of law is in operation, criminality of individuals is punished in accordance with the established laws and procedures; the familial or other connections have no bearing on the criminal justice system. Vadra and Bhattacharya, if they violate the law, get punished, howsoever powerful their relatives may be. This is why we have the term ‘majesty of law.’

The concept of the rule of law is ancient. Aristotle first elaborated it: “It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.”

The Roman statesman and thinker Cicero went a step ahead and said that liberty presupposed the existence of the rule of law: “We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.” So, the rule of law is the necessary, though not sufficient, condition for the efflorescence of liberty.

The website says, “British jurist A.V. Dicey popularized the phrase ‘rule of law’ in 1885. Dicey emphasized three aspects of the rule of law:

1. No one can be punished or made to suffer except for a breach of law proved in an ordinary court.

2. No one is above the law and everyone is equal before the law regardless of social, economic, or political status.

3. The rule of law includes the results of judicial decisions determining the rights of private persons.”

These ideas surely militate against the Congress practice of treating the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty above the law. According to Singh and other 10 Janpath loyalists, the members of this holy family can only be worshipped and never scrutinized or analyzed, let alone criticized. Hence the loyalists’ animus towards anybody who is less than deferential to the Family that, in their scheme of things, has the divine right to rule. Hence their designs to control the media and censor the Internet. And hence their rage against the accusers of Vadra.

The Dynasty-led Congress worked hard for over six decades to undermine the rule of law. Its hard work has borne fruit. Today, the political class is an oligarchic kleptocracy. It seems that the Congress-led regime has scaled new heights in sanctimoniousness: its functionaries and their cronies and kin continue to plunder even as the government keeps legislating for more entitlement schemes for the poor. They claim to be new-age Robin Hoods―robbing the public exchequer and national resources but paying nobody. The so-called Opposition, according to Singh’s confession, is complicit in the great loot. Like mafia, the political class has evolved a code of omerta.

Singh is upset that this code has been breached. And he speaks for many who venerate the Dynasty.

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