Supreme Court proved courts’ power to fight corruption: Krishna Iyer

By George Joseph, IANS,

New Delhi : Corruption in India is above even god and the Supreme Court has proved that courts continue to support people’s fight against it, former Supreme Court judge and rights activist V.R. Krishna Iyer has said.

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The recent remarks by the apex court about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “inaction and silence” over the spectrum scandal proved that “despite its imperious nature, the courts still serve a purpose to guarantee people’s rights against corrupt practices”, Iyer, 95, told IANS in a telephonic interview from Kochi.

Iyer said he has sent a congratulatory letter to Justice Ganguly, one of the two judges hearing the public interest litigation in the 2G spectrum allotment issue.

“I know him well. He is an admirer of public interest litigation (PIL) that I pioneered when I was a Supreme Court judge (1973-80),” he said. “I wrote that his observations critical of the prime minister’s inaction were sharp.”

“Please convey my deep appreciation of this courageous operation to all your colleagues,” Iyer wrote in the letter.

“Court is one institution that still survives to battle corruption which must be eliminated if justice is to be a reality in India. It is the omniscient money power that governs state power today,” Iyer told IANS.

“Corruption, like god, is omnipotent in India and operationally on top,” the former judge observed. “Indian corruption is above god, above cricket, above Commonwealth Games. It is in every institution and office,” he said.

“Every Indian, including those in the central and state governments, is marketable and sells his dignity to dollar and MNCs,” he alleged.

“By silence and inaction, several others compromise on dignity. Inaction is not innocence. But action is an obligation,” he said.

Along with action against corrupt politicians, the courts must also proceed against corrupt judges, the veteran judge reminded.

“The Supreme Court must remain supreme and if it goes to sleep when its own brother judges are found to be corrupt or do not write judgments at all, it is a pity,” he said.

On Tuesday, the two-member bench comprising Justices A.K. Ganguly and G.S. Singhvi said it was “worried” at the “inaction” and “silence” by the competent authority (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) in answering a plea seeking permission to prosecute the then telecom minister A. Raja.

They were hearing a PIL filed by former union minister and Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy seeking permission to initiate legal proceedings against Raja.

Iyer is glad the PIL system that he pioneered has paved way for the case in the 2G scam as well. In a landmark judgment, Iyer had then said that as per Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the “national government was obliged to provide legal services” to the public.

Iyer began his career as a lawyer in 1946 and was a minister in the first Communist ministry in Kerala in 1957. The land reforms laws he drafted are considered to be benchmarks in formulating land reform and social justice legislation.

The veteran judge also gave an advice to Manmohan Singh: “Mere personal integrity is not enough. The prime minister should hound out the corrupt from the government. The integrity of his office is higher.”

(George Joseph can be contacted at [email protected])