SC CLAMPS DOWN ON BRIBES FOR VOTES!

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Union Minister Shripad Naik was given the ticket for the sixth term in the Lok Sabha North Goa seat. For a Saturday following the week when the Supreme Court reversed itself in the cash-for-vote scandal. For a Saturday following the week of “No Immunity for Lawmakers Accepting Bribes for Votes” speeches. For a Saturday following the week when English has survived because it is been adopted by its users all over the world. For a Saturday following the week when Bombay High Court cleared ex-Delhi University Prof G N Saibaba of all the charges of terrorism.

SHRIPAD ONE MORE TIME!
AND a few stray thoughts on Shripad Naik being given the ticket for the sixth term for the Lok Sabha north Goa seat. Shripad Naik has been the face of the BJP for more than 30 years. Shripad Naik had been the tallest BJP leader and much before Manohar Parrikar came onto the scene. Shripad was the logical and ideal choice to lead the BJP in the state assembly.
However, when Manohar Parrikar entered politics, he kept all rivals out. Manohar Parrikar was extremely possessive and marginalized all the other BJP leaders. Parrikar pushed Shripad Naik in Lok Sabha as he did not want any competition within the state.
Manohar Parrikar marginalised Laxmikant Parsekar, who was a very effective chief minister. He also had Rajendra Arlekar, senior BJP leader, appointed as governor to one of the BJP-ruled states Himachal Pradesh. Rajendra Arlekar is now the governor of Bihar. Shripad Naik was given a ministry of state and he became a minister of state for the first time during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the prime minister.
Shripad returned to cabinet when Narendra Modi became the prime minister of the country. Shripad was never the most efficient of all the ministers. He was not considered good enough for a cabinet rank. It is an irony of Goa with only two members in the Lok Sabha, it does not have much political clout at the center. It’s only an outstanding administrator or very politically influential leader who was made as a full-fledged cabinet minister. Shripad was accommodated at the center to keep the local BJP leadership happy.
In the outgoing Modi ministry, he held the position of Minister of State for Tourism & Waterways, which does not include major ports including the Mormugoa port. On the eve of the 2024 elections, several state BJP leaders like Sadanand Shet Tanavade wanted Shripad to step down. BJP wanted somebody younger to be nominated to the North Goa Lok Sabha seat.
I recall when Shripad Naik met me while I was in the GMC ward, his attitude was to let the dogs bark while he enjoyed the confidence of Narendra Modi. In the BJP nobody talks about High Command. High Command consists of one man High Command comprising of Narendra Modi.
Shripad Naik has always been a very humble person. When his older sister in her 80s was admitted to GMC at the GMC’s Geriatrics Ward he had come to visit her. His sister had been admitted with a BP-cardiac fluctuation problem. She refused to do the stenting she had been advised to do. Shripad came quietly late in the evening to visit her. He did not ask for his sister to be admitted to the GMC’s private VIP room. His sister was taken care of by her daughters. Shripad was kind enough to visit me in the same ward and I assured him that I would support him for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat. I have no problems with supporting Shripad as I always support good humble candidates irrespective of their party labels.
For Narendra Modi empowering women means giving the ticket for the South Goa parliamentary seat to Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s wife Sulakshana Sawant, so that she becomes the BJP candidate from South Goa. I hope Narendra Modi does not make the rumor a fact.

CASH-FOR-VOTE
AND a few stray thoughts on the Supreme Court reversing itself in the cash-for-vote scandal. The SC has finally identified the major source of corruption for voting on certain bills in the parliament. Big industry play a major role in how the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha vote on economic bills. The budget session affects the life of corporate houses and major popular products. In the budget if the tax on excise duty on particular products comes down it offers a major benefit to the industry concerned.
Particularly in products the volume is huge, which is one of the reasons why there is a huge scam allegedly in the changes made to the liquor excise. The Delhi government’s decision to bring down the rate of excise on liquor benefited a lot of people, particularly liquor dealers throughout the country. From the existing stock alone liquor vendors and wholesalers must have made Rs100s of crore. It was alleged that liquor dealers from various other places in the country paid the Aam Aadmi government to reduce the liquor excise. Senior AAP minister Manish Sisodia has been in jail for more than a year in this regard.
Many other AAP leaders and Arvind Kejriwal himself have been accused in the alleged excise duty scam. If now the excise duty on almost every other product has been converted into GST. This is in the exception of the two biggest revenue sources for the state and central government which are liquor and tobacco industries. The tobacco industry has almost been virtually killed because of the huge excise duty. As the price of cigarettes has doubled every five years. Unfortunately, the increase in excise duty does not decrease the number of smokers. It only forces them to switch to cheap brands.
Worst still many smokers including former chief minister, Manohar Parrikar, switched gutka – infinitely worse thing to do. But also imagine windfall gains if duty was hiked on popular products like Maggie noodles.
The growth of any industry depends on how much tax it has to pay. The IT industry flourished because of the huge tax concessions. IT industry enjoyed during the early years of its growth. Now the focus is on AI. Those involved in the IT industry or particularly in AI sector still enjoy massive tax benefits. The SC has noted that it is not necessary to prove that the MPs voted to favor a private party. All that was needed is to establish that a bribe was accepted.

ARREST OF PROF SAIBABA
AND a few stray thoughts on the Bombay High Court clearing Professor Saibaba of all the charges of terrorism. Prof Saibaba was arrested under section 13 of UAPA Act punishment for unlawful activity. The HC ruled that no case has been made out for the arrest of Prof Saibaba. The charge of Maoist links was very weak. Saibaba was arrested on May 9, 2014. He has been in police custody ever since.
Earlier the Nagpur bench at the Bombay HC had acquitted Saibaba. The police have been charged with harassing Prof Saibaba. Saibaba is a son of a farmer and topped all his exams including masters in English. He has a PhD in English from Delhi University. Sai Baba is the founder of the All-India People Representative Forum and an NGO which assists poor against whom false cases were filed. Judge for yourself who is guilty and who innocent.

BRIBES FOR VOTES
AND a few stray thoughts on no immunity for lawmakers for accepting bribes for votes. The Supreme Court has set aside a key 1998 ruling, thus removing Constitutional immunity for members of parliament and legislative assemblies who have received a bribe for a vote or a speech in the legislature. A seven-judge bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, and Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, PS Narasimha, JB Pardiwala, Sanjay Kumar, and Manoj Misra, have overturned the PV Narasimha Rao order of 26 years ago in which a five-judge Supreme Court bench held that MPs and MLAs could claim immunity for bribes under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the constitution. Such lawmakers would be immune from prosecution if they upheld their end of the bargain.
In 2012, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha leader Sita Soren was accused of accepting a bribe for a Rajya Sabha vote and claimed immunity under Article 194(2). When the Jharkhand High Court dismissed her plea, Soren challenged it in the Supreme Court which heard the case in October 2023. “The judgment in PV Narasimha Rao which grants immunity from prosecution to a member of a legislature who has allegedly engaged in bribery for casting a vote or making a speech has wide ramifications on public interest, probity in public life, and parliamentary democracy. There is a grave danger of this court allowing the error to be perpetuated if the decision were not reconsidered.” It observed that it was disagreeing with the overruling in the earlier verdict.
The Supreme Court also said that the offence of bribery under the Prevention of Corruption Act is “complete” the moment a bribe is taken and cannot depend on whether the receiver makes good on the promise. “Corruption and bribery of members of the legislature erode the foundation of Indian parliamentary democracy. It is disruptive of the aspirations and deliberative ideals of the Constitution and creates a polity which deprives citizens of a responsible, responsive, and representative democracy,” the court also said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has enthusiastically welcomed the judgment with an all-caps “swagatam” or “welcome” on X.
“A great judgment by the Hon’ble Supreme Court which will ensure clean politics and deepen people’s faith in the system,” he wrote. Modi’s party, Bharatiya Janata Party, has however been criticised for engineering defections in various states like Karnataka, Goa, Manipur and Madhya Pradesh.

ENGLISH AND ENGLISH
AND a last stray thought on how English has survived because it has been adopted by users all over the world. There are typical Indian versions of English. The most widespread is the explanation “back answer.” In the Queen’s English you say he answers back but never back answer. There are several friends in neighboring Karnataka. One of them a senior PR professional in Goa used to use the expression neighbor. A lot of people are not aware that the word neighbor does not have a plural. If there is more than one neighbor you normally say neighbors. There are several other manifestations of Indian English.
Interestingly, you hear very little real English in England. We doubt if even 5% of the population of the UK speaks the Queen’s English. Even members of the royal family relapse into colloquial English. I recall walking to a church on Sunday to join my then girlfriend, Eva Griffith, in London. I met the typical Brit and asked him the way to the church. He retorted that “I do not go to any church, I go to the local bar.” This was at 7 am. The Americans don’t speak English at all. The less said of Australians the better.

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