In December last year the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to the NDA government on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets worth Rs 59,000 crore from the French company Dassault Aviation and had ruled that there were no irregularities in the decision making process, pricing or in the selection of offset partner in India. Immediately thereafter a leading national daily published some leaked documents related to the Rafale deal. Based on these findings three prominent men Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha filed a joint review petition in the apex court for re-adjudicating the case.
The Centre argued in the court that the presented documents were unauthorised copies and could not be accounted for. The top court has however, overruled the argument and decided to have fresh hearing of the case, the date for which will be fixed accordingly. As we understand there is nothing abnormal in the matter and it is a procedural issue as it happens in many cases where the review petitions are filed and accepted in the Supreme Court.
What is incomprehensible is the stand taken by the opposition led by the Congress that the apex court has accepted that there was corruption in the deal. Nowhere has it been pronounced by the court in this regard. Rahul Gandhi who is habituated to saying ‘chowkidar chor hai’ has crossed all limits of political discourse saying that what he has been articulating over the months that Modi has stolen Rs 30,000 crore from the Air Force and given to Anil Ambani has been accepted by the top court. If the Congress President can stoop so low by arriving at his own lopsided conclusion merely on the basis of the review petition being accepted by the court, it is a disgrace.
The Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has rightly said that Rahul Gandhi has committed contempt of court by claiming that the Supreme Court has endorsed corruption charges in the Rafale deal. She has further asserted that the government is prepared to submit all the documents pertaining to the deal before the court. Let the hearing on the Rafale procurement proceed in the SC to unfurl the truth and silence the foul mouthed leaders.
Low turnout, cause for serious concern
The first phase of the Lok Sabha elections saw high to very low voter turnout. Topping the list was Tripura with 81.8 % voter turnout followed by West Bengal, Manipur and Nagaland with 81%, 78.2% and 78 per cent respectively. However, what seems disturbing is the relatively low 66% for Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh having polled on 63.69%, Telengana 60%, J&K 58%, Uttarakhand 57.85%, Maharashtra just 56% and Bihar at the lowest at 50%.
From Andhra Pradesh onwards, it seems almost certain that the winner will poll less than the percentage of voters who have not taken part in the electoral process. This denotes a high degree of disenchantment of the electorate in the political process and thus credibility of this huge democratic exercise seems to be waning wherein elaborate arrangements and huge amount of money is spent on conducting elections.
In the low turnout States therefore it means that elected representatives will have got only a minority majority. The apathy of the people towards elections is a cause for grave concern.
The Constitution of India gives every adult (18 years or above of age) the right to choose representatives through the exercise of his/her right to vote. The voters exercise their right to vote to elect representatives to the Lok Sabha, the State Legislative Assemblies and the local bodies down to the Gram Panchayat.
As a democratic country, India is built on the foundations of election. Our Parliament and Legislatures are of the people, by the people and for the people. Voting is a constitutional right that we are privileged to have. We take it for granted, but the Constitution has given us the right to elect who we want, and the right to make the change.
Serving of liquor beyond time limit
The other day the High Court in Goa permitted a resort in south Goa to serve liquor after 11 pm till 1.30 am for the GoaFest. Although the rule of stopping serving of liquor is in force due to the model code of conduct yet permission has been granted as the lawyer for the resort informed the court that since the event was widely advertised in April 2018 and people have been invited and Rs 3.5 crore have been spent hence the Fest should not stopped.
On the same premises, would a birthday party or wedding be allowed to serve liquor beyond the time limit if the event was planned months in advance? A few days back a biopic on the prime minister was cleared for screening by the Supreme Court of India provided the Election Commissioner’s Office (ECO) gives the go-ahead. The latter ordered that the release of the film be shelved till after the elections are over.
Now this raises a point, should not the High Court in Goa given the go-ahead to the resort to serve liquor but with a caveat that the appellant seek consent from the Supreme Court or ECO?
Sridhar D. Iyer, Caranzalem
With regards to the imported fish, it should be banned totally. Goans have enough fish caught by the locals. It is better to have fresh fish rather than frozen fish, be it with chemicals or not. Each time we eat fish it is like nailing a nail in our coffins by the day. We don’t need imported fish. The govt is of the people and we should get what we want and not what the govt plans for us.
Goans are still living in fear and at the rate the FDA are checking at the borders chemical filled fish is bound to come in from outer states. The only way to stop this chemical fish is by stopping the import fish. Ramponnkars and other local people catching fish will earn some extra money by this move. Even if the FDA increases its staff tonnes of fish in no way can be checked. Ice packed fish in mini trucks cannot be checked individually. So what is the need for the FDA staff to waste their sleep for unjustified reasons?
Stop the import of Fish ...That’s it!
All 3 govt portals should be combined
Presently at least three web-portals www.pgportal.gov.in, www.helpline.rb.nic.in and a similar on website of Prime Minister as -Write to Prime Minister - are there for enabling people to lodge submissions with portal www.pgportal.gov.in handling only complaints, but that on website of Prime Minister is also entertaining suggestions and feedback. All the three portals are managed by Department of Administrative Reforms of Government of India in the same manner.
All these three portals should be combined and simplified by providing all special characters in the unified portal duly publicized by retaining maximum character-limit to avoid people filing extra-long submissions. But provision of suggestions and feedback must be there. In case all the three portals are to be retained, then also all special characters should be allowed with portal www.pgportal.gov.in equipped to handle suggestions also.
Responses on submissions made must be e-mailed also rather than those having made submissions required to track responses from the portals. Provision of transferring submissions to concerned ones by those having received submissions may also be there.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi