Licence to lie

Opposition for opposition’s sake has been the guiding principle of political parties, and, frivolous, half true, and false statements, their main tools to create mountains out of mole hills. This has to be stopped, writes Prof H C Pande

For some reason, well thought out or not, the political parties and the politicians have been granted the extra-ordinary privilege of lying through their teeth in the legislature, as well as, in the public meetings, which ,if uttered in a court of law ,by the common citizen, attracts penal procedures under the perjury act CRPC sec. 40,and,if expressed in public,invite defamation suits under CRPC sec.499.The licence of the Hon’ble members of the legislature to remain in the driver’s seat and, run the vehicle of democracy,is renewable every five years no matter how many collisions, resulting in fatalities and casualties, have been caused, during their earlier tenure, by their reckless driving. The voters who are the licensing authorities, accept, their declaration in their application, that, they have never violated the rules and regulations in their previous term and are fit as a fiddle, and, in spite of their myopic eye-sight and arthritic joints, can see clearly, and, do the hard leg-work well enough, to build the country’s future. Since the licensing authorities, often enough, cannot see beyond their cast, creed and party affiliation, the renewal of the license is ensured.
This license has cost the country dearly. The losses have been enormous in terms of time, men, money and reputation. Agitations by political parties, for cooked up or frivolous reasons have delayed projects by decades, and have caused damage to public and private property. From blocking roads and damaging railway tracks to opposing major projects the list is unending.
Two cases, one decades old,and, the other rather recent are fine examples.
The Narmada dam foundation-stone was laid in 1961 by Prime Minister Nehru but the project was held up due to agitations for several decades. There were Court cases and agitations of all sorts, by political parties, by conservation combatants, by human rights heroes,and publicity poseurs, which only delayed the completion of the project. The project could only be completed by 1991,with the nation paying for the delay with a hefty six-fold increased cost on the original estimated expenditure. The political parties had their axes to grind, yet surprisingly, this major project, providing irrigation facilities to the water starved lands to the extent of close to 2 lac hectares, and, drinking water to lacs of parched throats was being even opposed, ironically, by celebrities who had no knowledge or interest in the drought conditions of the region, and carried Bisleri bottles to quench their thirst during the photo-shoots of the sit-ins under the shades of parasols.The political parties that fomented the unrest had no knowledge, or even interest, in the technical feasibility or the cost-benefit ratio of the project nor would suggest any realistic plans for the rehabilitation of the people being displaced.
The massive,Covid19 vaccination, program of the government, now recognised internationally, was sought to be derailed by publicly spreading lies that the vaccine developed in the country is fake and ineffective. A prominent political leader went to the extent of stating that he would not get vaccinated as he does not trust the X’s vaccine. This created quite some confusion in the early days of the campaign.Yet, the same leader, unashamedly, without any apology, got himself vaccinated later, exemplifying that the leaders today care for themselves and not for the public.
The number of violent demonstrations and riots, triggered by, or, even organised on, half-truth or outright lies, stated in the legislature or publicly by the political leaders are legion.
Opposition for opposition’s sake has been the guiding principle of political parties, and, frivolous, half true, and false statements, their main tools to create mountains out of mole hills. This has to be stopped.
Accepted legal principle in common law is ‘Falsus in uno,falsus in omnibus’, once a lier always a lier. Accordingly, if a legislator makes one false statement in the floor of the house, or, makes it publicly, it follows that for the rest of the term his statements would be equally false. Debarring such legislators for the rest of the term would be a just punishment.

(Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus, BITS, Mesra)

Share via