‘Whether true or false, it has serious ramifications for our democratic polity’
The former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma on Sunday sought a probe into Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s claim of having evidence of graft against kin of BJP leaders A.B. Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, saying it was “very disturbing” and indicated a “conspiracy of silence” at the top.
He said that political parties were failing in their duty if they did not bring in the public domain lapses of one another.
In an interview to Karan Thapar on TV channel CNN IBN, Mr. Verma said he felt “completely disgusted” with lack of morality in Indian politicians.
Mr. Verma was asked about what he thought of the Congress leader’s statement that he had information about certain instances which were equivalent to corruption on the part of family members of the BJP leaders, but would not reveal them.
“Well, that is a very disturbing statement. Whether true or false, it has serious ramifications for our democratic polity. If it is true, it reveals a conspiracy at the top against combating corruption about which people are talking all the time and it shows that political morality is at its lowest ebb,” he said.
“I would say in either case, if it is untrue, it is unfair to the people who are named. If it is true, then it is a very serious matter and it is not a personal matter. It has got something to do with the nation as a whole,” he said referring to Mr. Singh’s statement.
Mr. Verma said that law enforcement agencies should take note of the statement and try to get information from Mr. Singh which he claimed to have.
On the allegations against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, he said that not only the person in seat of power but also those in proximity should also be above suspicion because they could influence decisions.
Asked about the BJP’s “reluctance” over asking questions about Mr. Vadra’s land deals, he said that “ït is failure of duty because personalities don’t matter.”
Mr. Verma was asked whether he thought it was morally right for BJP president Nitin Gadkari to continue as the party chief in the face of allegations against him.
“If there is any prima facie evidence which any reasonable person would accept as evidence then there is a moral duty not to wait for the outcome in a court of law, one must step down,” he said.
Mr. Verma said that the attitude of people in power towards corruption was giving a fillip to the protests on the streets.
Comparing the situation in India with that abroad, he said that businessman Rajat Gupta in the U.S. and a former Prime Minister of Italy were convicted for much lesser charges.
“Rajat Gupta must be ruing the day when he decided to do all what he did, elsewhere. If he was here, he would be safe. He would not have even been investigated,” he said.
Speaking about his assessment about corruption in the judiciary, Mr. Verma said that the perception about judges was changing. He was in favour of setting up an effective mechanism to enforce judicial accountability.