Wednesday, December 28, 2011
HELPING THE UPA TO UNDERSTAND PUBLIC MOOD
The UPA alone is not responsible for the mess in passing of the Lok Pal Bill. Those of us who followed the proceedings closely, will realise that the BJP and Team Anna are also party to the debacle. Team Anna and Anna himself were cautioned at the Jantar Mantar on 11 Dec 2011, by the leaders of all the political parties who were present, that the agitators should allow the Parliament to debate and finalise the bill.
Arun Jaitely said that "though the People’s voice is important, laws must be made in Parliament".
AB Bardhan of CPI was categorical. He said, "Strong anti corruption bill is required. But, Team Anna should hear the voices of not only the 9 members of its core group, but also other capable and experienced stalwarts. There is no dearth of such people in our country. We came to this venue to show our solidarity with the cause and not necessarily with the personalities speaking for Anna."
Similar advice was given by others like D Raja of CPI (M), Sharad Yadav (JDU), and Brinda Karat (CPM). Ramgopal Yadav ( SP) made a very pertinent point. "Do not abuse all politicians. I have seen well known 'beimans' wearing Anna Caps. Do not expect everything you demand will be included in the bill. But give time for the Parliamentary process and don't expect the Parliamentary Committee to work under pressure."
The more sane suggestions came from Nikhil Dey, member of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI). He emphasised the need for some more provisions along with the Lok Pal Bill. They are, Judicial Accountability Act, CBI should come under Lok Pal (only the anti corruption wing), PM should come under Lok Pal with some restrictions and safe guards, a proper mechanism should be in place before the class “C” employees are also put under the Lok Pal Act, because of the huge number of more than two lakhs involved. Pinaki Bose of BJD said, "the Lok Pal Secretariat itself is going to employ more than 40,000 employees, to execute the Act. Are they all going to come from the most honest strata of our society?"
Arvind Khejriwal had agreed that it will be a difficult task, but we have to start with the available material and keep improving". (Is it not vague?)
Contrary to the popular belief that the issue of reservation in the composition of the Lok Pal Committee was interposed by the Congress, when the Bill was tabled, it was in fact the demand of CPI and CPM, who first mooted this proposal. The reservation for Women was added later. It was Lalu & Mulayam who highlighted the same in the debate in Parliament.
Now, the pertinent issues are:-
There is an urgent requirement of a strong Lok Pal Bill.
This Bill has to be passed in the Parliament to give it the constitutional validity and sanctity.
The Members of the Lok Pal must be selected by a process devoid of any politics and nepotism.
Adequate safe guards must be in place before the Lok Pal Organisation itself turns into a monster. If the CBI is placed under the Lok Pal, such an eventuality may not be too far.
Before inducting the Class C Employees under the Lok Pal, proper mechanism should be in place for effective supervision. Otherwise, the Government activities will come to a standstill. Even, if one class “C” employee is arrested under the Lok Pal Act, there is every possibility that the entire department will go on strike.
In my series on India Against Corruption, I had mentioned a few more aspects. The Team Anna and its supporters must realise that the present Government including the entire opposition are with them on this issue. If it keeps up the same motto of "My way or the High way", the enormous efforts put in by the Country to pass the Bill may be jeopardised. No bill can be termed as weak or strong. It will depend on the concerned executing authority, who can find loop holes in the strongest of the Acts.
I will end this with an example.
The CBI investigating the Sohrabudin murder case in Gujarat, implicated the Ex- Home Minister of Gujarat, Amit Shah. The CBI then pleaded to the Supreme Court for transferring the case outside Gujarat, since many relatives of Amit Shah are in the service of the State Judiciary and the impartial progress of the case will be difficult. The Supreme Court accordingly transferred the case to Maharashtra.
The Gujarat Government ordered a probe and found out that the statement of the CBI was false and there were no relatives of Amit Shah in the State Judiciary. The CBI also had owned up to the false statement to the Supreme Court, terming it as an error.
What is clearly visible is that the controlling authority of any powerful organisation, whether it is the Government or the Lok Pal have scope for hoisting false cases and tormenting their opponents. Every Government in the Centre had done it in the past. How George Fernandez escaped the gallows for the mega scams he was linked to? Raja & Kalmadi are not so lucky. Not because of lack of effort on the part of the UPA Government and the PM, but because of some other constitutional bodies like the Court and the CAG.
Finding right person for the constitutional posts will solve half the problem. Laws in our country are adequate. But, the will to execute the same by persons bestowed with the powers, are scarce. Lok Pal Act alone is not the answer. It should be followed up by electoral reforms, Judicial Accountability Act and a few more measures.
Say No to Corruption is agreed, but with proper mind set. Let not the fire fighting process become costlier and catastrophic than the loss due to fire itself.
Col TN Raman