Today’s newspapers are full of the news of the extraordinary judgment pronounced by Justice CR Kumaraswamy of the Karnataka High Court, while disposing the case relating to the disproportionate assets of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. I get four newspapers daily and I also browse a few more on the net. All have reported this ‘breaking news’ prominently. I am glad that I have read and re-read the news correctly and can not be hauled up for ‘contempt of court’!

Before I proceed further, let me repeat verbatim what the learned Judge had stated, so that we are absolutely clear about this historic judgment. First, the headlines in most newspapers, which state that “Having 10% disproportionate assets is no corruption: HC”. Well, after so many years and decades, ‘corruption’ as it relates to disproportionate assets, is not ‘corruption’ at all! What a relief to millions (or is it billions) in our country in all fields of endeavour, from the lowly policeman to the highest government servant, not forgetting the political leadership of all political parties!

Why only government servants, as the judgment will now be on the statute books and lawyers, having access to the latest ‘All India Reporter’ will invariably quote it in all their arguments in various courts. What successive political leaders and others of the same ilk could not achieve in decades has now been done! A historic judgment indeed! All one has to do is to ensure that one does not cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of 10% of your wealth and you are home-clean and dry and fully legitimate.

Before you think there must be a catch somewhere, let me now repeat, again verbatim, what the Learned Judge has stated in this part of his judgment: “It is well settled law that… when there is disproportionate asset to the extent of 10%, the accused are entitled for acquittal”. The learned judge also cited a 1977 Supreme Court ruling in Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case. He further elaborated that in the case before him, the percentage of disproportionate assets is only 8.12%; the Learned Judge added that “it is relativity small. In the instant case, the disproportionate asset is less than 10% and it is within permissible limits. Therefore the accused are entitled for acquittal. When the principle accused has been acquitted, the other accused who have played a lesser role are also entitled for acquittal”.

What a splendid judgment! What many governments, strong and weak, wanting to or at least making noises about ending or reducing corruption in public life, could not achieve, has been done by a flourish of the mighty pen of an Honourable Justice of a High Court. Now, all corrupt practices are well within the law, provided one confines one’s greed, illegal dealings and underhand kickbacks for services rendered within the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of 10%.

One of course rues as to why this gem of wisdom did not come sooner. Besides the high standing of our country in the ‘Most Corrupt Nations Index’, all past civil servants, political leaders on the retired list and others in every conceivable field must be wringing their hands in despair for missing so many opportunities in the past for increasing their wealth legitimately, keeping in view the magic number of 10%!

I can now visualize the calculations going on in the minds of all corrupt individuals in our country (and the numbers we are talking about is huge-not less than 70% of our population, barring infants and invalids), as to what 10% of their declared wealth means and how much more they can increase it with a little bit of risk and manipulations.

Now, aspirants for political office in the Centre, in States and in subordinate offices like corporations, panchayats etc must be planning how much additional wealth they can declare in the next elections, for the more they declare, the more their 10% will legitimately fetch! Till now, the aspirants for political office used to try and show how little their wealth had increased from the previous such declaration by undervaluing their immovable properties, valuing them at purchase prices or less and not at current prices. However, such manipulations will now not be necessary. Instead, ways and means will be found to show increased wealth, as more the wealth, more the 10%!

Our non-official citizens, like film stars; cricketers and those who lay huge amounts on bets on them; corporate honchos; ‘hawala racketeers’; paid-media personalities; and indeed every one bent on making a fast buck (tax-exempt of course); must be meeting their chartered accountants, lawyers et al, to ensure that they do not lose out on this God-sent judgment, pronounced by the honourable justice system of our nation!

I can visualize happiness in every household and the increase in the notional wealth of India will bedazzle all the high and mighty economists of the world! If India can wipe out corruption in this legal manner, why not every other country!

Jai Ho! ‘Tusi Great Ho’!!!