“This (Modi) government has attacked almost all public institutions and they are under threat,” says Dr. Vipul Mudgal, Director, Common Cause, one of India’s leading advocacy groups known for filing public litigations in the highest courts.
“If public institutions are used in this manner, the system of keeping checks and balances gets eroded,” he warns.
Citing examples to further his point, he argues that the Reserve Bank of India has seen two of its recent governors leaving in the midst of controversies while the appointment of the third one- a bureaucrat- raises serious questions.
Dr. Mudgal says, “CBI is wrongly used to suppress the political opponents by bringing in bureaucrats who can do your bidding.”
He adds that the office of Comptroller and Auditor General of India too is wrongly used to do a cover up for the government.
Dr. Mudgal has been a journalist, activist and media scholar in India, the UK, and South East Asia. He has held senior editorial positions at the Hindustan Times, India Today, BBC World Service and Asia Times. A doctorate in Media Studies from Leicester University, Dr Mudgal also heads a project called the Inclusive Media for Change at the CSDS, where he has earlier been a visiting Senior Fellow and founding Director of the Publics and Policies Programme. He joined Common Cause as Director and Chief Executive in March 2015.
Dr. Vipul Mudgal is in conversation with Pervaiz Alam.
The interview with Dr. Vipul Mudgal was recorded in Gurgaon, Haryana, India, on 4 February 2019.
Camera: Sajid Raza Khan
Editing & Online Production: Dhyan Akshat
What’s ‘Common Cause’?
Common Cause is an advocacy group, an NGO, founded by India’s leading consumer activist H.D. Shourie in1980.
‘Common Cause is especially known for the difference it has made through a large number of PILs filed in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, and quite a few cases have been taken to the National Commission established under the Consumer Protection Act,’ says NGO’s website.
‘In the recent years, Common Cause interventions have resulted in many more landmark judgments impacting the lives of millions of people.’
Following is a list of few cases filed by Common Cause during the last 10 years:
Petition challenged appointment of Mr. P. J. Thomas as CVC- as he could not be of ‘impeccable integrity’ while there was a charge sheet against him in a corruption case.
Landmark SC judgment delivered on March 3, 2011, impugned appointment quashed.
SC held recommendation of HPC for this appointment non est in law.
Also held that joint recommendations of PM and Home Minister, in disregard of incriminatory material on Mr. Thomas and dissent of LOP, amounted to arbitrariness.
CC with CPIL and ors. challenged spectrum allocation and telecom licenses issued in Jan 2008, exposing the Rs 1.76 lakh crore scam of arbitrary allocation.
Landmark decision on Feb 2, 2012, SC cancelled all 122 telecom licences allotted on or after Jan 10, 2008 to 11 companies.
Judgment firmly established that government policy cannot shield arbitrary executive decisions from judicial review.
PIL filed in 2012 seeking cancellation of arbitrarily allocations of captive coal blocks from 1993 onwards and probe by SIT.
Landmark judgment in 2G scam relied upon to argue for fair allocation of natural resources.
In landmark judgment in August 2014, Court ruled that neither the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, nor MMDRA empowered central gov to allocate coal blocks.
CVC appointment: Birla Sahara diaries (2015)
IA filed in November 2016, seeking court-monitored SIT for investigating documents recovered in Birla/Sahara raids.
IA filed in petition challenging appointment of CVC and VC- on grounds of institutional integrity.
IA unceremoniously dismissed on January 11, 2017 as lacking evidentiary value.
Irregular appointment of CBI Director (2016)
PIL challenged arbitrary appointment of interim CBI Director, in violation of established process.