Welcome Checks

In what should be seen as a positive development as far as running the affairs of the country is concerned, the ‘independent’ judiciary as the third wing of the government has stepped into its role of putting a check on the political executive so that the latter does not overstep its power and that it functions in a more responsible manner. One of the problems associated with the running of governments is the concern over the growing influence of the political executive. The political class in particular has tried to concentrate all power in its hands so much so that it has assumed to itself the role of a dictator riding roughshod over the other organs of the government. And when this happens, we know that there will be abuse of power of the kind being witnessed in India during the recent past—whether it was during the organizing of the Commonwealth Games or allocation of 2G Spectrum in the Telecom sector. In fact if it was not for the Supreme Court’s intervention, the highest political office of the land, which is the Prime Minister, would have continued to remain silent on the corruption charges and other wrong doings of the political executive. For instance, the country’s Apex Court has asked the Prime Minister to explain why he took 16 months to examine a request for his now-sacked Telecom Minister A. Raja to face prosecution over alleged corruption. In further embarrassment for the government the Supreme Court also criticized the appointment of P.J. Thomas as India’s Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the head of a body charged with monitoring corruption, due to a pending criminal case against him. While some may question the appropriateness of the judiciary to issue such unsolicited diktat, nevertheless it has to be understood that allowing the political executive (here the government) to function without any checks will only encourage the abuse of power.
If we can suggest here, what we desperately need here in Nagaland is also checks of the kind mentioned above. The problem with the present state of affairs here in Nagaland is the unrestrained power wielded by our politicians. Unlike in mainstream India where atleast the legislature, judiciary and the media remain as active watchdog over the government (executive), the same cannot be said of our system. Although in theory we talk about the separation of power, here in Nagaland, the judiciary is yet to take off as an effective counterweight against the powerful executive. Further unlike Parliament which has been able to take on the government of the day, our legislature remains awfully weak in terms of acting as a watchdog and also uninterested in legislative business. The recent demand of the political parties for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the 2G scam is a reiteration of the checks mentioned in this column. Likewise unlike the national media which has been at the forefront in the fight against corruption and wrongdoing, the local media for whatever reasons also has not been able to do its job. Therefore unless Nagas build up their institutions into strong and effective instruments, we will have to simply remain as mute spectators to corruption and all forms of illegality and irregularity in the system manipulated by the political class and their cohorts.