'The Council of Ministers definitely had the moral responsibility to have vetted the report of the Governor and ought not to have been so precipitate in the decision and in the communication of decision to Moscow. 'I am afraid the President also has a moral responsibility' ' Fali S. Nariman, Eminent Constitutional Jurist and Rajya Sabha MP
'The Supreme Court.......found that Buta Singh's actions which led to the dissolution of the Assembly before it had met, amounted to a subversion of the Constitution.' 'There was a reprimand ' mild though it may appear ' inherent in the Court's observation that the Union Council of Ministers should have verified the contents of the Governor's report before pushing for dissolution. In fact the decision of the Union Cabinet to rubber stamp the Governor's report and hustle President APJ Abdul Kalam in Moscow into signing the proclamation of dissolution ' and all in the course of one night ' will go down as one of the most cynical moments in India's democracy.' ' Indian Express
'Congress's biggest culpability is that it is hiding behind the shield of legal formalism and not answering the tribunal of constitutional morality.'
' Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President Centre for Policy Research
Virtually on the eve of the Republic Day, as if to remind the whole of India that constitutional propriety and political morality was being given a go-by by the Congress Government in power, the Supreme Court gave its long awaited judgment on the Bihar Assembly dissolution case. The Congress Party headed by Sonia Gandhi, reacted through its spokesperson that there was no indictment of the Union Council of Ministers in its verdict. This seems to be a brazen attempt to take refuge in legalese when everyone knows , and it has been widely commented in the media that the Governor was only carrying out the instructions that he had received from his political bosses in New Delhi.
The observations quoted at the top from eminent jurists, newspapers edits and policy analysts adequately reflect how far off the mark is the official public posture of the Congress Party. The malafide intentions of the Congress Party in compressing all the processing of this devious move in one night or to be more precise, between midnight and three in the morning, is a damning comment on the Congress Party intentions and the Prime Minister who became the point-person in pushing it through at an unearthly hour. What was the emergency ? The emergency was that next morning the opposition NDA combine was going to stake its claim to form the government which was not to the liking of RJD leader whose party is a major constituent of the Congress Coalition.
At the time of writing of this piece news are filtering through that Governor Buta Singh has tendered his resignation on being indicted by the Supreme Court. Obviously, he has been made the fall guy by the Congress Party. The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh cannot evade moral responsibility in this game on the plea that the Government was misled by the Governor's report. In fact Dr Manmohan Singh has made matters worse by commenting that 'Whatever the Supreme Court says the country has to accept it.'
The sad part is that while the country is accepting that the Congress Party stands indicted by the Supreme Court judgment; it is the Congress Party that is not ready to accept blame for its political misdeed. Another Indian newspaper editorial (The Pioneer) has the following to say:
'The decision was entirely that of the Prime Minister, his colleagues and their political boss ...Now that he stands exposed, along with his advisers and political boss, instead of summoning grace to accept responsibility and offer an apology, Mr. Manmohan Singh wants the country to feel guilty for his and the Congress's misdeed.'
Coming close on the heels of the Volcker and Quatrochhi (Italian businessman involved in the Bofors case) scandals this Supreme Court indictment is likely to rub off much of the sheen of the Prime Minister and the Congress President.
Political leaders of all political hues have to realize that the Indian people are increasingly keeping the Indian polity under close scrutiny. The space for political expediency and constitutional improprieties exploited for political survival is now being closed.
On this 57th Republic Day, the thought that comes to mind is that while the Indian polity is failing in setting exemplary standards of political propriety, the electoral verdict of the people of Bihar and now the Supreme Court's landmark judgment have strongly revalidated India's democracy.