The arrest on Wednesday by a CBI team of former central miniser and senior Congress leader Palaniappan Chidambaram in a corruption case, from his residence in Delhi has by now become a topic of heated political debate.
The political leadership of our country are used to uttering the expression 'Law will take its course' like an axiom and according to this principle Chidambaram has only been subjected to a legal procedure; then he will have to proceed in compliance with law and if innocent he can prove it and get out of the clutches of law; there is no point in making a hullabaloo about it. Chidambaram, like any other citizen, is just a citizen. But the fact of the matter is that things are not that simple or straight forward.
Although the precept of 'law will take its course' is a nice truism for ears, there are some issues attached to it. In fact, the course law should take is the course of justice. When law moves only along the technical track of law, there will be occasions for its conflict with justice. In such critical situations, it is upto the legal system to make law not deviate from the path of justsice, and the lofty wisdom of judges will play a key role in ensuring that law is on right track. In other words, it is a blind premise that law always takes the course of law or justice. It is the wishes of those in power that most often define law and justice. When it comes to that, the machinery of law will be seen to gather unusual speed.
It cannot be said with any certainty whether Palaniappan Chidambaram is involved in the corruption case surrounding INX Media or not. That is for the judiciary to judge. Few may be presuming either that Chidambaram is a saint unlikely to be involved in such matters. The case here is linked to his son Karti too. It is also true that during the UPA regime, there were several controversies and allegations about Karti. As for Chidambaram himself, during his term as home minister, he had shown extra zeal in applying law blindly. It would perhaps be in that period that the highest number of innocent youth were hunted down in the name of extremism. All that set aside, it is a fact that in the current case there are several signs of overenthusiasm which raise doubts in the minds of impartial observers. After much high drama, Chidambaram's peittion for anticipatory bail was scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on Friday. But without waiting for that, a look-out notice was issued against him; a publicity hysteria was created using the TV channels under the government's control or influence; and then he was arrested after an unusual break-in through sclaing the compound wall of his residence. All this gives a no benign message. One cannot apply the innocent-looking adage of law taking its course here. At the least, the agencies concerned could have waited till his bail petition being heard on Friday. But perhaps they may have had to please their masters. To sum it up, no one should mistake this for a moral battle against corruption.
The arrest of Chidambaram does also sends some other signals. The government at the Centre is one that has no qualms about doing anything on the strength of its brute majority. It is one that, in a span of a single day, liquidated a state, made it into two and brought them under central rule. It is when considering how long struggles for the formation of a state take in our country that one can realize the magniture of such whirlwind lgislations. The core fact to understand here is that the current central government is a dispensation that does not fit in with our conventional conceptions of a government. It is in the final stages of a campaign that will turn 40 lakh human beings into non-citizens of the country. A regime that liquidated a state will not have any hesitation in cancelling a people too. Therefore, hitherto tried mode of functioning and political programmes will not suffice any more. What is needed is to realize that we have entered a new era, that we need to make home work accordingly and open defensive mechanisms. If the Opposition delays this, they will vanish gradually but that much faster.