DailyPost 2167

What governments wishes is public interest. It has been the running story of Indian democracy for a long time. One suffix of public interest solves all the issues in one go. It is the magic bullet. It’s the panacea to all ills. The expressions are different, wherever legally required it is explicitly written, wherever not required and there is a need to deal it differently, it is done accordingly. The beauty of Indian democracy is that everything is done in public interest but the public is neither aware or is a party to it. Indian elections have become the processor to hand over carte blanche of public interest to the elected government and most of the times to the elected representatives and to government functionaries.

The parliament carries on its shoulders, public interest more than anything else. We will going with examples, recently few laws were made in public interest but after a yearlong agitation, that was again in public interest. The legislature literally has to take the will of the government through dictated by public pressure. What are the parameters to understand and gauge public interest? At what point in time is the government convinced that public interest is catered for in any issue. Public interest is the subjective spiritual feel which only the governments get to feel, when their wishes are to be pushed through. Most often than not results are presumed to justify public interest.

In general, it is tantamount to a camouflage and the history of innumerable decisions have proved to wrong. The bureaucracy provides all the support in this public interest game and goes hammer and tongs to prove its utility even if public discussion has not happened even once. If done, there are ways and means to keep it limited to amenable people. Unfortunately, the same thing happens to the bureaucrats as well. Public interest is both for the favoured and the ones running out of favour. Same principle helping all decisions to happen, is crazy in eyes of law, logic, perception, and practice. Recently, two Delhi bureaucrats being transferred to unknown locations would also have an act in public interest.

Once in power you are free to decide anything and everything in public interest. There is no need to substantiate any of your decision. Even in retrospect, you would never have to prove whether public interest was served or not. This is the reason why all ills of the public interest story in governance, democracy and public life will go on forever. Take the example of a senior officer’s tenure being extended beyond superannuation in public interest, why if anybody else would have been elevated, would public interest not have been served? Uncertainty for officers and for the organisation itself does not forebode well, and is certainly not in public interest. Robust functionaries, robust organisations and robust democratic processes and traditions can only take care of public interest.

Sanjay Sahay

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