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Honesty Pays

In another major intervention by the judiciary an illegal action of the political executive has been corrected as the Supreme Court on February 2, Thursday cancelled the 122 2G spectrum licences granted by former Union Telecom Minister A. Raja on the ground that they were issued in a “totally arbitrary and unconstitutional” manner. Virtually directing the government of the day, a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly said the allocation of spectrum will be done through the policy of auction within four months. The order came on petitions filed by NGO CPIL and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy alleging scam in the allocation of spectrum licences by Raja in January, 2008 during the tenure of UPA-I government, on which the CAG had assumed the presumptive loss of upto Rs 1.76 lakhs. While some skeptics may see this as another instance of judicial activism and question whether it is at all appropriate for the court to act as a super government, nevertheless given the malafide decision of the concerned Minister what the SC has done is to make right a wrong done. So the intervention of the court and the order it has set should be welcomed. At another level the latest ruling is also a reflection of the rot within the government system where we have all sort of illegality and corruption taking place. Given this concern, the moral disciplining coming from the judiciary should be welcomed. In fact the landmark court ruling in the 2G case ought to be a lesson for all those in public life and not just the present Congress led UPA government.
The expose of the 2G scam and the midcourse correction taking place thanks to the judiciary should be a wake up call for the government system in India. It is a known thing that India is among the most corrupt country in the world. Year after year our bureaucracy is rated among the worst in the world. As per surveys done in the past, the Indian system is known for its inefficiency and corruption. If India’s civil servants are to be blamed, what about the political masters who actually enjoy the actual power? In the backdrop of the court verdict cancelling the entire allotted 2G license there is shock and anger among those who were simply following the government process. What will happen to their investment? Already, there is a negative image of India among potential investors. India may have tremendous long-term potential for economic growth, but the government system must improve in order to realize that potential. The uncertainty and fear among investors now created as a result of the 2G case has only confirmed the long held suspicion that India is a political and bureaucratic nightmare for businesses. Just imagine for those telecom companies who have come to do business it is going to be a “frustrating and expensive” affair. As one senior BJP leader put it, the consequences of the government’s “damaging policies” has led to “a creation of a global no-confidence across the globe”. This is a wake up call to the collective conscience. It is also high time to reform our government system. The various initiatives currently underway to fight corruption should find their logical conclusion. For this the political will is needed. Many may not agree but the biggest takeaway from the SC judgement is that it pays to be honest. It is a moral disciplining for all those in public office.

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