Thursday, December 16, 2010

Does the buck ever stop in India?

Harry Truman, the U.S. president who decided to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bring an early end to the war with the imperial Japan and who a few years later sacked the hero of the war in the Pacific, General Douglas McArthur, for his open dissent, had "The buck stops here!" written on his desk in the Oval Room and quite appropriately so because the buck did actually stop with him. But in our democracy, the biggest in the world, who is our Harry Truman? Who ultimately is responsible for what all goes on in this country, who is responsible for our fractured polity, for our democracy in a disarray?

Reghupathi, a judge on the Madras High Court, writes to H.L. Gokhale, the head of his court, about the Union Telecom minister A. Raja trying to influence him to give anticipatory bail to two accused for murder. Gokhale forwards the letter to the head of the Supreme Court, K.G. Balakrishnan, who in turn writes to the Union Law minister, Veerappa Moily, about the incident without mentioning Raja's name. Moily takes no action because the offending Union minister's name is not there, it does not occur to him though to ask for that name from Balakrishnan who has a copy of Reghupathi's letter to Gokhale giving Raja's name but feels he can not reveal it because Reghupathi has not addressed the letter to him.

What is all this - a comedy of Himalayan stupidities? And who are the principal players - a former head of the Supreme Court, who is now heading the National Human Rights Commission, and a Union Law minister. No, the buck does not stop in India until it finds its way to the minister's pocket.

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