Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Coal Conundrum --Executive Failure and Judicial Arrogance by P.C. Parakh


This is a book by  a former Secretary Coal , Government of India  describing in detail how a senior civil servant  was made to suffer, eight years after his retirement criminal proceedings against him, for taking reforms in Coal sector forward. Mr. Parakh has impeccable reputation for integrity throughout his service career. The book also  goes on to show  that economic reforms can be  brought about only when  reforms in judiciary and administration of criminal justice are also taken up simultaneously.
           The book deals with the case pertaining to the allocation of  a coal block in Orissa,   involving Hindalco which  resulted in criminal case against  Mr. PC Parakh (the then coal Secretary),Dr. Manmohan  Singh(former Prime Minister of India) and  industrialist Kumar  Mangalam  Birla. When , due to ignorance or arrogance ,  a citizen has to lose reputation  and dignity , and has to suffer prolonged mental agony ,no court  in the country has the capacity to  compensate the citizen for such a loss.  As  Mr. Arun Shourie in his  foreword to this book says:”He must  set out the truth in words that the lay person will understand , not leave the matter to lawyers and their legalese. The reputation has been assailed in public, it must be restored in the public’s mind.”He goes on to say that in times like ours , to stand up to calumny ,to stand up to an unjust system  is itself one of the tasks  that the honest have to perform for our country.
 A law that criminalises an executive action on the basis of one of the many multiple interpretations  and which does not call for strict proof of criminal intention , can be misused and abused  on the basis of subjective thinking .Such bad laws like Section 13(1)(d)  of  Prevention of Corruption Act , 1988. ( obtaining a valuable thing or pecuniary advantage  merely by abusing official position) must be soon thrown out of the statute book by the Parliament .The sooner it is done , the better it will be  for the governance of the country. Otherwise civil servants will hesitate to take decisions, resulting in poorer governance.
       Mr PC Parakh  has revised his views about a career in civil service in India. It is not the smaller pay packet that civil servants get  as compared to their counterparts in multinationals .It is  the real possibility that a sincere and honest civil servant like Parakh , may be robbed off his/her dignity , honour and self-respect , and be financially ruined by being forced to run around  investigators, lawyers and courts  in the evening of life  (Mr. Parakh is 71 years old and still waiting for  final decision of the court).Incidentally, the book was self published by Mr. Parakh  , as no publisher was perhaps willing to publish it .

This book must be read  by  all the serving  civil servants .It must also be read by all serious aspirants to  a career in civil service in India. And it should be read by  all citizens of this country (India) who want to see a better governance and economic reforms implemented well .