The travesty of a Member of Parliament, Babubhai Katara, being arrested for people-trafficking is a sore reminder of the depravation that has permeated our lawmakers. That Babubhai was naive enough to believe that he could lead a lady in ghunghat masquerading as his wife through immigration in India and Canada, shows the level of (or lack of) intelligence that has become a hallmark of his peers.

What is worse is the decision of the Parliament’s Ethics committee to not take action against him as “charges against him were unrelated to his work in Parliament”.

It is appalling that 135 members of parliament have criminal cases pending against them.

In India, we have a tradition of declaration of assets etc. by candidates when they file their nomination for election. What is missing is a similar declaration once they have been elected. What we need is an annual declaration by all elected members of parliament, of their assets as well as the police record against them. Let the public then judge them.

The problem is such a practice can only be made mandatory by a law. But will the lawmaker be ready to make such a law?

One alternative could be that of an independent agency/NGO taking up this work and of publishing it at the year-end in the newspapers. The Right to Information Act can be very useful for this activity.

The people of India cannot afford to dismiss such crime with cynicism. It is our duty to act.

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