Focus on Policy Implementation
The Supreme Court judgement on presidential reference talks about the auction route as not the only method for allocating natural resources. The five-judge apex court bench headed by chief justice SH Oapadia has said that the auction could be a better option where the aim is maximization of revenue, but then every method other than auction of natural resources cannot be shut down.
This is a balanced judgement and followed expected lines as the court cannot go into the wisdom of the executive in policy matters. The government policy will keep on changing with respect to the objective of the government and with respect to the type of natural resource.
The judgement clearly defines the role of executive and judiciary with respect to allocating natural resources. For eg, in the case of the 2G scam, policy making was a clear prerogative of the executive whereas judiciary stepped in only when the 2G policy was not implemented properly or there were anomalies in the 2G policy. In case of 2G spectrum, the government had opted for a first-come-first-serve basis but even that was not followed transparently as the focus was to give benefit to few companies, out of turn. So,the Supreme Court had no option but to cancel 122 licenses allotted to 9 operators.
In the case of the 2G or coal-gate scam, the anomaly was wrt implementation of the policy or changing the policy midway to please certain organizations, thereby directly or indirectly gaining favors. Even the verification of documents of companies wrt. certain policy guidelines, as decided by the government, was not being followed sincerely—and it is true for both 2G scam and coal-gate.
So the big question is: will the government follow the policy in letter and spirit or do we see a constant tussle between judiciary and executive where the executive focuses on policy making and implementation and the judiciary steps in when the government does not implement the policy as per the guidelines devised by the government?
A big question also is why the intervention of the judiciary is required when the government can proactively monitor projects like 2G spectrum or coal mining? If these projects have not been implemented within the time frame why are corrective measures not being taken by the executive? Corrective measures are taken only when the Supreme Court or the High Court step in, or when the opposition makes a lot of hue and cry, or when the media goes overboard with a particular issue.
If proper implementation is taken care of it will not affect India’s rating wrt investment; even foreign direct investment (FMI) will not be affected. It will also shorten the time for India to move from a developing economy to a developed economy as the whole objective is to get more from what is available in terms of natural resources.
If all government departments, be it central or state, can focus on proper policy implementation we can expect minimum corruption and money flowing into respective projects rather than changing hands from one person to the other. With more money flowing into the project, it helps the government or common man who gets benefited from these projects as there is no cost escalation or time overrun and the entire money is utilized for the project.
The government should focus on proper policy implementation and if somebody deviates from the policy, punishment should be given, irrespective of the stature of the person or the size of the company. Not an easy thing to implement in India but if implemented properly, it will help us in regaining investor confidence and also help us in getting more FMI into the country thereby checking the fiscal deficit in the long run.