The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

May 19, 2009


So now that we have the results of the elections in India, the intelligentia is busy discussing the increased number of candidates (both winning and losing) with criminal records. We see such headlines as: "India Voted for 150 Criminal Netas", and "150 Newly Elected MPs Have Criminal Records"

A look into the text reveals that the 150 Members of Parliament have criminal cases pending against them.

Some of the MPs have serious charges against them.

Added into the same text is a glib statement that the number of multimillionaires has doubled as compared to the last Parliament.

Now all this raises a question or two:

Are people confusing 'criminal records' with 'criminal cases against'? [I'd have thought the former applied to someone who has been sentenced in a criminal court, whereas the latter just means that there's a case pending against him in court. I may be wilfully naive here, but merely having a case against one is surely insufficient grounds for opprobrium. After all, one hasn't been sentenced. True, the judicial system in India is creakier than a bullock-cart, and cases take years to come up before a judge. And, knowing the corruption that permeates all layers of society, it is very likely that many of MPs are criminals de facto, even if not de jure. Still, it seems irresponsible to call someone a criminal before a verdict is reached in court.]

Possibly, then, people are upset that the judiciary hasn't got its act together to sort out these criminal cases, sentence the guilty and clear the innocent?

Or are people generally miffed that the increase in numbers of MPs with criminal cases against them implies an increased criminalisation of politics?

And why the addition of the wealthy into the criminal-cases mix? Are people claiming that these millionaires contribute to the criminalisation of politics? Or that some of these rich folks and defendants of criminal cases are the same people?


C K said...

Singapore's judiciary system used to have huge backlogs as well until the former CJ Yong Pang How (he retired a couple of years back) came and revamped the whole system.

There were some grouses at the swift manner in which certain cases are being cleared (the Penal Code was tweaked in some instances) but the backlog did clear as a result.

Fëanor said...

CK: I remember reading somewhere that Singapore used to have the jury system of trying cases, but there was a British lawyer who was so sparkling and persuasive that he swayed the juries irrespective of the merits of the case, at which point, you guys switched to the non-jury, i.e., judged by the judge system. (As we do in India.)

Guru said...

True the reform in teh judiciary which is sitting over millions of cases needs to be addressed to tackle this problem.
But this criminal tag is not defined by semantics but perception. In India especially in the wild hinterlands, you can have criminals who do not have a single case registered against them. But all concerned know that the bugger is 'goonda' turned politician. Unfortunately in the lust for power and seats.most parties turn a blind eye to these 'minor' matters.
There is another tangent to this, is a corrupt politician not a criminal? Seen in this light, the so-called numbers of such politicians would increase even further.
So I think we should not semantically justify such buggers and accept the public categorissation.

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