This refers to the life sentence awarded to the former Union Minister and JMM leader, Shibu Soren, in the Shashinath Jha murder case. That the UPA Government all along had a Minister accused of murder is shocking. Imagine someone guilty of murder deciding the fate of the citizens. Is it not possible to vest the President with the power to refuse to administer the oath of office to a person with a criminal background? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh owes an explanation to the nation for accommodating a person like Mr. Soren in the Cabinet.
It is impossible to believe that a potential life convict was a lawmaker until a few weeks ago. The UPA Government has been caught on the wrong foot. The fundamental question that arises is: how was Mr. Soren made a Minister in the first place by Dr. Singh given the nature of cases pending against him? There is something seriously wrong with the conduct of politics in India.
That politicians who are expected to protect people's interests can be involved in murder is appalling. The verdict is a warning to self-centred, power-hungry, and corrupt politicians.
The electorate should purge political parties by rejecting their ambitious criminal leaders who take pride in challenging the law for their narrow self-interest. The law-enforcing agencies and courts must give priority to cases pending against politicians and bureaucrats so that the cause of development, democratic values, and constitutional integrity is protected. The likes of Shibu Soren who thrive on the politics of convenience should be removed from the political scene before it is too late.
The way leaders are being exposed of late is a cause for concern. Scams and a host of similar ills have struck at the roots of democracy. Leaders should serve as role models for the youth. To expect the electors to vote for the right candidate is unwise because educating them about the contestants' credentials is difficult. It is for the elected members to behave in a manner that brings credit to the people, Parliament, and the country.
Rettavayal S. Krishnaswamy,
The Soren judgment is significant for its potential impact on the lower judiciary. Life sentence for a powerful Minister by a Delhi sessions court judge will go a long way in not only boosting the judiciary's image but also in encouraging judges of lower courts to deliver without feeling threatened by extraneous pressures.
The fact that a top politician could be tried and sentenced is indeed a credit to our law-enforcement authorities.
Mr. Soren has earned the notoriety of being the first Cabinet Minister to be sentenced to life imprisonment. But very few people got to know about the proceedings in the Shashinath Jha case through the fourth pillar of democracy. The media attention was too little for readers/viewers to learn about the serious-but-not-sensational case till the Delhi court found the JMM supremo and four others guilty of murdering Jha. This is the sorry state of journalism in India.
Life sentence for Mr. Soren and three years imprisonment for Navjot Singh Sidhu in a case of road rage death show that justice is alive and kicking in India. By punishing the rich and powerful, the judiciary has not only instilled faith in the people but also put would-be high profile perpetrators of crime on notice.
Mr. Soren's sentencing is not likely to have an impact on the image of the Manmohan Singh Government because it has already generated a good number of controversies. In any case, Mr. Soren was an accused even before he took charge as Minister. The BJP, for its part, has the Sidhu issue to hang its head in shame. It has been long since the ruling party and the Opposition have been able to feast on each other's shortcomings. The cartoon (Dec. 4) amply illustrates the fact.
Mr. Soren and Mr. Sidhu have resigned from their positions but the criminalisation of politics remains a haunting spectre. It is time the political class acted, lest democracy is reduced to a shambles.
One of the few things we can be proud of is the judiciary. It is good to see justice being done with respect to the powerful.