Saturday, May 02, 2009

Making Sure Prosecutors Act as a Check on Government

In this recent piece in the Indian Express I argue that India needs more strong and independent prosecutors to help address the continuing governance gap. I wrote the piece for a couple reasons. First, I feel that the government's prosecution apparatus is under-studied and theorized. Whether it's the CBI, the AGs office, or the state pollution control boards not enough is known about what drives prosecution decisions, nor is there sufficient public scrutiny in this regard. Second, prosecutors could act as an important check on government agencies, but all too often do not. This is a missed opportunity in the quest to make sure that law is properly implemented against citizens and the government.

One of the statistics that peaked my interest in this topic, but I did not have space to include in the article I came across when doing research on the state pollution control boards. If you do a Manupatra search you will get 12 cases in the Supreme Court in which a state pollution control board was a primary party. If you type in MC Mehta you get 119. Now this statistic may be misleading for a number of reasons - state pollution control boards were probably a secondary party in a number of other cases, many of the cases go through the appellate authority and so never enter the normal legal system, etc. Still, it brings home that these boards (like most prosecution agencies in India) aren't exactly pushing the law forward.
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