Balakrishna Pillai

Balakrishna Pillai, who was sentenced to one year's imprisonment for corruption

While the civil society is pressing for the Lokpal Bill to check corruption, the Kerala government is finding an innovative method to free corrupt politicians from jail through the backdoor.

The plan is to free R. Balakrishnan Pillai, Kerala Congress (B) leader condemned for corruption, from jail on the ground that he is past 70 years of age. To appear to be fair, the government also plans to release other prisoners who are past 70 from jail. The implications can be far-reaching as this becomes a precedent for future releases. Even now, murderers need to be in jail only for 10 years get a release. In future, a murderer can immediately be out of jail if he is past 70 by the time he is sentenced.  We know that convictions can be delayed by several years in our system.  So, if you are past 65, you can murder anybody with immunity.

In the case of politicians, most of the Ministers and leaders heading government agencies would not have to fear anti-corruption law, whether it is Lokpal or any other law. Many of them become ministers or occupy important posts past 50 years of age.  Going by the experience of investigation and trial of the palmolein case, we know that it is not difficult to delay verdicts on corruption cases by two decades.

Though there had been many allegations of corruption against politicians in the State, Balakrishna Pillai is the only person who could be convicted. Now, even he would be out of jail. Thus, politicians would have to fear no law unless he is too young like P. K. Jayalekshmi (Minister for Tribal Affairs who is less 30 years of age)! Almost all the politicians, who are facing corruption charges in Oommen Chandy’s ministry and past ministries could escape jail, if convicted.

No need to add that the Government move will seriously undermine the rule of the law in the State.