B S Raghavan

Averting danger of NCTC's politicisation

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on May 03, 2012

I had concluded my last column on the Chief Ministers' meet on NCTC by earnestly urging that the agency should be made independent, like its US counterpart.

But there is a snag in the proposition: The peculiar knack of the Indian political incubus to infect and subvert every institution without exception.

The bureaucracy, the police, the Defence forces, the CBI, the judiciary, legislatures, academia, media — not one of them commands the trust and confidence of the people any more.

In these circumstances, the proposal I had made for bringing the NCTC within the purview of an oversight body of eminent professional, knowledgeable and experienced public figures reviewing its functioning at regular intervals cannot also be a sure-fire remedy.

The NCTC is also bound to go the way of all the rest of the institutions unless effective safeguards are in place to stop the rot from setting in.

It is clear that no solution will come from the CMs' meet, because the entire political culture of the country in and by itself constitutes the problem.

However well-conceived the structure and charter hammered out collectively by the Home Minister and the CMs, that alone can be no guarantee for the NCTC's credibility and efficacy. Let me cite a few factors that will militate against its purposeful functioning.

Heading the list is the unchallengeable doctrine that has taken root in the country's governance to the effect that all members of the political establishment are to be treated as VVIPs., that they can do no wrong and that all allegations against any of them ought to be instantly dismissed as false, baseless, politically motivated, immunising them from any investigation.

They are strangers to the kind of fearless and impartial discharge of duty by functionaries in, for instance, the US detailed for enforcing security regulations.

This is the mindset that makes them raise a hue and cry whenever even a consular official is sought to be frisked. It also explains the long list of the denizens of the political class exempted from any security check-up (among whom even Ms Priyanka Gandhi's husband, Mr Robert Vadra, is reportedly included!).

The popular perception is that even the British rule had not seen the degree of intolerance, high-handedness and authoritarianism that have crept into the political class and officialdom. Only the other day, an MP from Gujarat broke down in the Lok Sabha while narrating the excruciating harassment to which he was subjected by the police. The people find all public servants inaccessible, insensitive and vengeful, and flaring up when asked to redress grievances.

LEAF IN A STORM

A good proportion of membership of State Assemblies and Parliament, and even the Cabinets, is composed of persons with criminal cases slapped against them reportedly for commission of offences such as murder, rape and the like.

This has defiled the very fount of governance. Because of their lack of exposure to the decencies of public life and norms of civilised behaviour, the tainted members, forming part of governments, think nothing of browbeating the institutions and deliberately packing them with people in their own image who will carry out their bidding.

The greatest danger of all facing the NCTC is its falling a victim to the shameless vote bank politics played by all political parties with no holds barred. Just look at how the FBI in the US, and the MI5 and MI6 in the UK function, and how politicised India's CBI has become.

The police in other democratic countries do not hesitate to explore all the leads, even including interrogation of the Heads of Government, to the solution of a crime, but in India, there is every chance of police investigation and prosecution being fouled up to suit political dictates.

It is said that even the National Investigative Agency, the latest from the Home Ministry's stable, is not free from partisan pulls and pressures.

Thus, even if the CMs' meet has the happy ending of all of them agreeing to the establishment of the NCTC in the light of the Standard Operating Procedures circulated by the Home Minister, Mr P.Chidambaram, fears will persist in the people's minds about whether and how long it will be able to withstand wilful manipulation by the political class and whether, like all institutions, it will also be reduced to a leaf in a storm.

Published on May 03, 2012

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