Credibility at stake
In a significant blow to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered that he will stand trial for every individual charge in the 30-year-old fodder scam. The former Bihar Chief Minister was convicted in one of the five fodder scam cases in 2013. He was then sentenced to five years in prison, leaving him disqualified to contest any election. Although the embezzlement of crores in government funds earmarked for fodder had begun back in the late 1970s, it was only in 1996, when the real scandal broke, during his tenure as Bihar Chief Minister, after a few state officials blew the whistle. The corruption scheme involved the fabrication of "vast herds of fictitious livestock" for which fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment was supposedly procured. More than the sheer amount of money syphoned off and the duration, what caught the attention of the national media was the role of a corrupt nexus that involved politicians, businesspeople, and bureaucrats.
It took the judiciary an extraordinary amount of time to arrive at a decision on these cases. Powerful and influential politicians entangled in corruption cases continue to benefit from the courts taking decades to pass judgements. The most recent example is that off former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. It took the judiciary a little more than 20 years to find her guilty of possessing disproportionate assets, and when they did, she had already passed away. Corruption in public life has a detrimental effect on the entire democratic process, sabotaging the very state institutions that are meant to serve the people. The court must expedite the trial process involving elected representatives charged with corruption to retain the people's faith in democracy. The credibility of the judicial system is at stake.