January 12, 2007

Police Reforms and the 9th Schedule

After all the murder and mayhem around SEZ and the obnoxious quota regime, there is a ray of hope that things can improve for the better in India.
First of course the news Infosys and its 50% growth in quarterly profits. More than Infosys, it is a great sign that things are going well for outsourcing industry in general and the IT industry in particular.

But IT adds only 5% to the GDP and touches perhaps 3% people in the country. For the other 97% there is a bigger ray of hope as well thanks to two initiatives taken by the Supreme Court.

First : They have tried to free the police from the tyranny of the local party bosses. Policemen are corrupt but not all ... there are some honest law enforcers still left but the moment they do anything good, they are transferred out of the jurisdiction by party bosses whose toes have been tread on. With the formation of the police board in each state, this should be minimised to a large extent.

The Home Minister and his cronies will not be able to 'punish' an honest policeman -- the transfer is the most effective punishment anyway, it causes severe distress to the family -- on a whim. All transfers will have to be approved by a board consisting of three senior police officers. But what about these officers themselves ? Can they be transfered as well ? Yes but there are two safeguards ... one, they cannot be moved within two years of their posting and two, to move them, the local party bosses will have to seek the help of bigger party bosses.

No system is perfect, but this will go a long way to insulate policemen from politicians and the first sign of success is that all politicians are yelling blue murder and an abrogation of their fundamental rights ( to ruin this country)

Second : The 9th schedule of the constitution, that haven for all illegal, irrational, obnoxious and obviously politically motivated legislation has been thrown open to judicial review. Earlier, however nasty a law was -- like the 69% reservation in Tamil Nadu -- were protected from all review by placing them in the 9th schedule. The general refrain was "parliament (or legislature) is supreme" ... much like the medieval concept of the "divine right of kings".

With this being thrown overboard, we have a hope that regressive legislation will now face review in the courts.

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These two events will have far reaching implications and these are positive implications, much more important and relevent than Infosys's profits or the current Sensex level.

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