Chidambaram could not have dared to contest: But Judiciary should be ashamed of how it helped him stay in power for the whole term

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is not contesting for the Loksabha.

It is being touted that he has opted out of the race. Wrong. He is not in the race, because he could not have dared to contest.

Had he dared to contest, he could not have suppressed the fact that he has not yet proved that he had not acted against the Republic of India. Electoral malpractice is a serious offense against the Republic and he is facing the prosecution for having resorted to electoral malpractice in Election Petition No.5 of 2009 filed by R. S. Raja Kannapan.

Besides documented allegations of bribe given in cash to voters directly through agents and indirectly through bank officials in form of assistances, there are serious allegations about his misusing the Returning Officer to be declared the winner, when, in fact, majority of the voters of his constituency had voted against him.

Kannapan’s allegation on this particular count is that, he had won the election by bagging more votes than Chidambaram. But the scenario was force-changed by Chidambaram, who used the Returning Officer of an Assembly segment of his Parliamentary constituency in manipulating the votes counted in the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th rounds in Alangudi. The R.O. and other election officials in connivance with him, added the votes secured by Kannapan to the kitty of Chidambaram, as per allegation. Had the manipulation not been done, Kannapan would have been declared elected by a margin of 7,034 votes, the election petition says.

Chidambaram is facing the prosecution that demands nullification of his election on this ground too. The prosecution’s case is registered as 5 of 2004.

Chidambaram has not filed any counter in the case so far, but has hoodwinked the Court to continue as elected candidate, by trying to stymie the case through applications for its rejection on flimsy grounds time and again.

In rejecting his last application, The High Court of Madras, on 7.6.2012 observed, “The said application filed on 21.12.2009 was dismissed on 04.08.2011. The present application seems to have been filed on 11.07.2011 just before the pronouncement of the order in the original application. The present application was filed under Order XIV Rule 8 of the High Court Rules r/w Order VI Rule 16 and Order VII Rule 11 of CPC and Sections 81, 82, 86, 100(1), (b), (d) (ii), (iii), (iv) and 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951”.

This observation, however, makes it clear that, while failing to counter the charges of electoral malpractice including manipulation of votes through the channel of the Election Commission represented through the Returning Officer, Chidambaram – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s closest collaborator in sabotaging the main thrust of India’s Constitution as far as its political economy is concerned – has illegitimately remained a member of the Loksabha by blocking the Court to complete the case.

Election Laws make it a must for a candidate to declare about charges of illegalities he/she is facing or has been found guilty of.

Had Chidambaram dared to contest, he must have been bound to swear an affidavit showing the pending election case, which is a case over his offense against the Republic of India, as manipulation of votes is nothing but an assault on what constitutes the very essence of the existence of a democratic republic.

So, the fidgeting Chidambaram has not dared to contest. But we Indians have the right to be ashamed of our judiciary’s collaboration with such offenders, as despite his dilatory tactics judicially rejected, the Court could not complete the case, as a result of which, he completed the whole term as a member of the Loksabha whereto his constituency had refused him entry.

It is essential for the Supreme Court to take stock of how many election cases stay pending in various courts for the whole term of election, rendering thereby the election laws totally inconsequential. Earlier in these pages I had argued that the Judiciary should have election benches/tribunals – like the green tribunal – dedicated only to election petitions as otherwise the fellows that criminalize politics and manipulate elections shall continue to rule the roost, despite refusal of mandate to them by the voters, taking advantage of paucity of time in High Courts or the Appex Court, to decide the election cases. The Apex Court should wake up to this call before mandate 2014 is delivered by the people.

And, in Chidambaram’s case, his membership of the outgoing Loksabha be nullified with retrospective effect if his electoral malpractices are established. He should then be punished for treason against the Republic of India, so that such offenses do not occur in future and the nation is not hoodwinked by rabid betrayers of the country. It is essential that Indian democracy is saved from becoming hollower.

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