Electoral Bonds again being sold before Bihar polls but SC has no time for hearing
While the pandemic is naturally keeping a large number of people indoors, the Calcutta High Court’s order making all Puja pandals ‘No Entry Zones’ betrays a lack of understanding of the occasion
The Supreme Court of India has itself to blame for the erosion in its credibility and public confidence in its integrity. One abiding concern is the court’s reluctance to hear the petition against the Electoral Bonds. For two years the court did not even list the petition filed in 2017 itself. In 2019 when it finally heard it briefly, it refused to order a stay before the general election. And though the general election was over in May, the then Master of the Roster CJI Ranjan Gogoi did not list it again till November when his term came to an end.
A seemingly helpless Election Commission of India (why it is so helpless is not quite understood) has been a mute spectator even as Electoral Bonds are again on sale between October 20 and 28, just ahead of the Bihar election.
A series of disclosures under the RTI have revealed that in 2017 both Reserve Bank of India and the Union Law Ministry had raised objections to the scheme. But their objections and those flagged by the Finance ministry and the ECI were overruled.
It is also now known that the bonds are not transparent. The Government amended the law to allow donations from foreign countries and removed the obligation to disclose the donations to the ECI. Its claim that donors remain anonymous has also turned out to be false. The electoral bond scheme is opaque and allows for money laundering as feared by the RBI.
But though the country may know the scheme to be corrupt, what explains the reluctance of the Supreme Court to hear the matter and put an end to it? Surely it can put its seal of approval on the controversial scheme? Nobody will be surprised.
Durga Puja & the court
People outside West Bengal can have no idea about the scale and importance of the Durga Puja in the city of Kolkata. It is hardly a religious event. People from all communities take part in the festivities and ‘pandal hopping’, no questions asked. At a conservative estimate some 12,000 community ‘Pujas’ are organised in the city and for a week or so, the city descends on the streets for revelry, companionship and an orgy of eating and shopping.
The ‘darshan’ of the idols is mandatory less due to religious compulsions and more to admire the craftsmanship and decorations, to compare the idols and lighting, to find out which Puja came up with the most innovative ideas.
Not surprisingly, the city’s economy revolves around this annual event. Artisans, craftsmen, sculptors, electricians, vendors, musicians and artistes converge on the city to display their skills and make a living. This is the season that theatre, films, Jatra, musical concerts begin.
While the pandemic is naturally keeping a large number of people indoors, the Calcutta High Court’s order making all Puja pandals ‘No Entry Zones’ betrays a lack of understanding of the occasion. As it is, the order has come too late and after the organisers had already spent what they could. The order would basically mean that the annual event will never be the same again.
Sensitivity of the state to saving lives is understandable. But beyond warning citizens of the consequences, taking all possible precautions and informing people what they need to follow, one wonders if the court should have taken away the individual’s choice. I find it to be an unbelievably poor decision.
Hathras victim’s kin choked by police ‘security
UP Police has told the Supreme Court that it is providing a ‘three-layer’ security to the family of the young Dalit woman who died after assault and alleged gang-rape by four upper caste men in a Hathras village. But that ‘security’ has also meant the family is heavily surveilled. There are three levels of checks on the way to their house, as per media reports. Newly-installed CCTV cameras record every movement. For added measure, cops posted outside the house make a note of every individual entering and leaving the house. A local intelligence unit official records the video of any conversation media persons have with the family
“We need to have a record of all statements the family makes,” the official said.