The constitution of India is the mother of all laws. It is a comprehensive document that underscores the importance of rule of law and equality before law. While on one hand it states that every citizen of India is equal before the law, irrespective of the office s/he occupies or has occupied in the past, it also provides multiple defences to the arrested person. Consider this in light of the arrest of senior congress leader of Karnataka, Mr. DK Shivakumar and the reaction of the party and its members. The former minister was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for serious allegations against him in a money laundering case. The law took its course with government officials, judges and advocates in picture but the Congress party, rather than resorting to lawful means and justifying the accused in the court of law, decided to take law in its own hands and created an atmosphere of intimidation by protesting against the arrest in the public, bringing the Bengaluru city to a grinding halt. What followed was violence, rioting and an attempt to subvert the process of law.
The cunning congress party repeated its stance of ‘political vendetta’ by the ruling BJP in the case,an easy excuse that it is employing at a time when party’s senior leaders are being brought to books for their past sins. Let’s remind the party that the allegations against Mr. Shivakumar haven’t come up lately and the Income Tax Department has been probing the dealings of the leader since long. Indeed, the congress party and its ally, JDS (Janata Dal Secular), had to vacate the seat of the government some months ago but this was owing to legislators of both parties going disillusioned with the functioning of the coalition government and the shift in power was imminent. The congress party remains unconcerned with the serious accusations against its leader, which involve recovery of unaccounted wealth and using illicit means to bring the black money back into the legal channel by resorting to money laundering and hawala.
The gravity of the matter can be grasped from the fact that the ED has claimed to have detected unaccounted assets that run into hundreds of crores and that Mr. Shivakumar and his close aides operate more than 300 bank accounts. That Mr. Shivakumar has been the so-called ‘troubleshooter’ for the congress party in Karnataka is a much documented and studied subject. Political experts can easily recall how this man used all his political and money power when Congress leader Ahmed Patel was eying a consecutive term in Rajya Sabha. The man is also well-known in power circles for his ability in bringing party legislators to a common understanding and then flying them out of one place to another with a view to preventing their defection or defying party’s whip. Mr. Shivakumar is the same man who once acted as savior for congress party CM Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh by sequestering party MLAs in a Karnataka resort and ensuring that the trust vote results in congress’ favour. Mr. Shivakumar’s tactics, however, failed in July this year when the congress-JDS coalition lost power in Karnataka to the BJP.
The list runs long and a simple google search can reveal many more misdeeds of the man who was quick to decry his ‘innocence’ after the arrest. Mr. Shivakumar cunningly placed his trust in the country’s judiciary, which turned out nothing more than a botched gimmick. The arrest when challenged in the court was ruled lawful and bail was not granted to the politician owing to law enforcement agencies’ credible probe and a plethora of evidences that speak piercingly against the culprit. Now that all the avenues of defeating the law were lost, the leader has questioned his detention alleging that he is accused of financial irregularities and not of terrorist activities. The congress and its leaders seem to have overlooked the fact that the power of ED to detain an offender are enshrined in the law of the country and court’s rejection of first the anticipatory bail and then the bail plea after arrest corroborate that the Income tax Department (which filed the chargesheet last year) and ED are both abiding by the rules laid down under the law.
The ED has lately declared that at least 200 complaints against Mr. Shivakumar have been received by the agency relating to dubious dealings in a housing project where the money of many investors perished. A probe is on. The question that arises out of this is whether the violent protest by congress party after the leader’s arrest and the recurrent resort to ‘political vendetta’ are acceptable? The arrested person has multiple lawful options to challenge her/ his arrest in the Indian democracy and hence, it shall be in the best interest of the congress to defend their leader in the court of law rather than on roads and in news rooms. This is no emergency when the congress party employed all unconstitutional means to detain opposition political leaders and curb any form of dissent against the tyrannical government of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. This is, indeed, a time when law enforcement agencies aren’t functioning under any political pressure and are probing cases of graft against powerful men with an unbiased approach. This is a time when covert phone calls to officials can’t save an offender from the clutches of law.
Mr. Shivakumar and other congress party leaders are to understand that the age of vested interests and subversion of the rule of law by the powerful is a thing of the past. The party must contest the accusations against its leaders in the court of law and not on public roads and TV debates. The plank of ‘political vendetta’ can no longer dupe the general public and the sympathy of voters cannot be gained on unjust grounds. The process of law and justice in India was never this fair and expedient as it is today, no culprit can dream of escaping the law. Better to abide by the laws than to blame ruling party for one’s own sins.
(The article “The Arrest Of Shivakumar Further Exposes Congress’ Corruption” published in magazine Uday India in October 12, 2019 English edition)