January 14, 2006

Defense Counsel for Quattrocchi

The Law Minster, Mr. Bharadwaj and the Minister of State in PMO, Mr. Pachouri, have admirably performed their roles as counsel for Quattrocchi of Bofors fame.

It is unclear whether they had the blessings of the Congress Party Leader or the Prime Minister or both in pursuing with the British Crown Prosecution Service to defreeze certain Bank accounts in the name of Ottavio Quattrocchi.

Unfortunately, their initiative is back-firing and one or both may end up losing their jobs as Ministers.

It is relevant to consider the following points on this subject:

1. The Law Minister was absolutely right that after such a long lapse of time, the CBI has not been able to make any headway as far as the case proceedings are concerned and it is unreasonable to continue to freeze the money in the accounts.

2. It is equally true and indeed, sad, that the prime investigating agency of the Government of India has not been able to do enough either due to incompetence or indifference.

3. While the views of the Law Minister on the subject may be valid, he had no business to take upon himself the role of the prosecuting agency and bypassing the legal channels, approach the Crown Prosecution Service with the request to de-freeze the accounts.

It is becoming evident that the various Ministers in the present Government are increasingly behaving as a law unto themselves.

This is what happens when there are extra-constitutional authorities that can influence the career paths of Ministers and lesser functionaries in the Government. The Ministers then work either on directions or on their own initiative to remain in the good books of their mentor.