Monday, August 22, 2011
LOK PAL BILL - SUGGESTIONS MAILED TO RAJYA SABHA SECTT - DATED 22.08.2011 (POST.2) = JURISDICTION,ACCOUNTABILITY OF LOK PAL ETC
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
SUGGESTIONS TO PARLIAMENT
ON LOK PAL BILL
(Continued from Post.1)
INCLUSION OF ALL GROUPS OF STAFF UNDER LOK PAL
Government Bill says – Only Group A shall come under Lok Pal. Not others.
Jan Lok Pal Bill says – all should come under Lok Pal.
SOLUTION : All Groups (A, B, C and D) must technically come under Lok Pal. But, Lok Pal must directly investigate only Groups A and B – which are both key functionaries under Government.
Grs. C & D must be handled by the respective departmental Anti-Corruption / Vigilance wings as at present.
But, today, their performance is not much satisfactory – because, their staff are drawn from the same department ( and even same office ) and go back after some years to the same department and same office. So, they are subject to all pulls and pressures. Their investigation is not unbiased. Huge bias enters into their methods of selection of cases for investigation, methods of investigation and in recommending punishments. The Punishments are not at all uniform for the same type of offences.
There is a huge need to standardize punishments for same offence – to reduce bias.
Hence, the personnel for the departmental Anti-corruption / vigilance wings must be selected by Lok Pal on inter-departmental basis – and not on intra-departmental basis - and they must function under Lok Pal only.
They will have full authority to investigate every case of complaint and recommend punishments for corruption. They will report details to Lok Pal monthly. Lok Pal will have full authority to re-investigate any serious case, if it wants to. Non-corruption cases can be handled by the departments themselves.
The same thing holds good for Lok Ayukth at state level.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF LOK PAL / LOK AYUKTH
In this case – I am not in agreement with both drafts.
Jan Lok Pal Bill wants Lok Pal’s accountability to Public. Accountability to 120 crores of public, in any form, is meaningless and ineffective.
Government Draft wants accountability to Government – on which Lok Pal exercises its Jurisdiction for its corruption – and hence, this too is meaningless and ineffective.
SOLUTION : Both Lok Pal and Lok Ayukth must be accountable only to the Supreme Court of India – which must have the final say / approval in their appointments as well – though committees may be formed as stated in JAN Lok Pal Bill draft.
To re-emphasize, the principle of accountability to Public or to Government are both equally meaningless. Supreme Court is the only authority to whom these constitutional functionaries must be accountable. Supreme Court may in its wisdom, nominate the Judicial Lok Pal to look at the Lok Pal / Lok Ayukth’s monthly or quarterly reports and submit its report to a 3 member Bench of the Supreme court. Supreme Court may issue whatever advices it wants to – to Lok Pal and Lok Ayukth, for handling of cases.
However, Lok Pal may submit advisory reports and statistical reports to Parliament – for its views and consideration. Parliament may also send its review report to Lok Pal for its consideration.
METHOD OF ENQUIRY & PUNISHMENTS
In this respect also , I strongly differ from Both Drafts.
I was in Government / PSUs for about 42 years – and I have seen why many people fall prey to the temptation of bribery. Most of these people are reformable. Some people are corrupt under compulsion. Corruption is usually a coterie Business. Therefore, I do not recommend a punishments like sending to jail for a term – for most cases of first offence.
Our legal systems must not always remain PUNITIVE in nature but must become REFORMATIVE in Nature.
Present Methods of enquiry have developed on the experience of several decades and are adequate. The only thing required is - every enquiry must conclude within a maximum of 6 months. If we dump all cases before Lok Pal – each case will take decades – like in our legal system now. Justice will be delayed and denied in the process – both to the complainant and to the accused.
Therefore, only Gr.A and B are good enough for Lok Pal – but Lok Pal can over see the Departmental vigilance wings on cases of Gr.C and D.
Is Jail sentence to be totally ruled out ? No. Let it come in, from the second offence. Not from the first offence. First offence, unless too serious need not go to courts of Law. Punishment should be imposed by Lok Pal / Lok Ayukth, through controlling departmental officers, who shall have no option in the matter.
In respect of Gr. A officers – today, the UPSC plays a large part in reducing the punishments recommended by CVC for them. This is bad. Once Lok Pal comes in – the provision for UPSC consultation and discretion must be done away with in respect of corruption cases. Or else, the whole process done by Lok Pal ends in a farce. The officer escapes with his offence, because of the tortuous process of UPSC consultation. This is so in respect of many CVC recommendations in case of UPSC recruits (Gr.A officers).
This is for Government officers – not ministers. For Ministers – Let Lok Pal decide punishment based on Gravity of offence and recommend to the courts of Law.
PROTECTION TO COMPLAINANTS & WHSITLE BLOWERS
There should be adequate protection to complainants and whistle Blowers. They should not be subjected to punishments themselves. Lok Pal must take up cases where there is prima facie some evidence or strong circumstances to believe the complaint.
Since Corruption is widely prevalent – “boss, subordinate, their bosses and their subordinates” are all likely to be in a ring of corruption, each protecting the other. Therefore, it is not easy for a complainant to prove a particular case. The Lok Pal has to devise several methods to trap the culprits – but that can happen only in future cases – the particular case of complainant relating to past may not be possible to prove.
But, at the same time, false complainants like contractors want to trap even an honest officer in a false case. This must be kept in mind. So, if a complainant is to be punished, the intention o complainant must be ascertained very clearly. Here also – first offence must be disposed off with fine. Second offence onwards only – Jail sentence etc must come into picture – that too very rarely.
It depends on the wisdom of Lok Pal / Lok Ayukth. If he punishes complainants and whistle blowers, his sources of corruption cases will dry up – as has happened in case of the Police Departments, who harass the informers of crimes often. So nobody comes up with information now.
Also, complainants and whistle blowers are subject to harassment by the corrupt officers / Ministers. Many RTI activists were killed or harassed in many states by contractors, Government setup and so on. Wherever needed, Lok Pal / Lok Ayuktha must in fact provide them Protection. He should have necessary powers for the same.
SOLUTION : There shall be no punishments for complainants / whistle Blowers in case, the complaints cannot be proved. But if the complaint is totally proved to be a false complaint motivated to implicate an honest officer, then, Lok pal must have powers to impose fines in case of first offence and Jail term for subsequent offences, which must not exceed 6 months in any case.
SPECIAL BENCHES IN HIGH COURTS FOR APPEALS
Special Benches are essential to fast track the cases and complete them within 6 months maximum. Otherwise, justice will be delayed by decades as in other cases at present.
Lok Pal will decide the Budget and it will be a charge on consolidated Fund of India. The processes will be same as on case of Supreme court and other constitutional functionaries whose expenses are a charge on consolidated fund of India. Similarly, Budgets of Lok Ayukth will be a charge on the consolidated fund of the states.
PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION ON PRO-ACTIVE BASIS
Lok Pal shall be entitled to take adequate steps or prescribe procedures to prevent Corruption on Pro-active basis. CVC has been prescribing several steps in the past also for preventing Corruption.Lok Pal shall have authority to supplement existing rules and procedure to strengthen them to prevent corruption.
RIGHT TO TAP PHONES
Both Government and Lok Pal shall have power to TAP Phones for pro-active prevention of corruption. But, all cases of Tapping of phones shall be with adequate reasons recorded in writing and decision shall be taken at a high level.
DELEGATION OF DUTIES BY LOK PAL
Lok Pal shall have powers to delegate duties to officers working under him. Powers of Interrogation shall be delegatable only up to a certain Higher level – commensurate with the seriousness of the complaints and rank of the authority complained against.
Lok Pal’s jurisdiction shall extend to all PSUs, as they are already covered under CVC Act . And, CVC shall come under Lok Pal.
NGOs funded by State Governments – may come under Lok Ayukth of the state in which they are situated.
NGOs funded by central Government may come directly under Lok Pal.
The Lok Pal / Lok Ayukth must have adequate Powers to investigate and launch prosecution and recommend punishments as aforesaid. Government shall have no functional control on Lok Pal. The principle of Judicial Independence shall apply equally to Lok Pal/ Lok Ayukth. They shall be bound to complete each case within 6 months in over 95% of the cases. Other complicated cases may extend by another 6 months.
* * * JAI HIND * * *
INDIA’S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION = SUGGESTIONS TO PARLIAMENT STANDING COMMITTEE ON LOK PAL BILL = POST.1 = SHOULD PM,JUDICIARY COME UNDER LOK PAL
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
SUGGESTIONS TO PARLIAMENT
ON LOK PAL BILL
As of now, there are 2 major Draft Bills that emerged in the Panel formed by the Government with 5 members from Team Anna and five from the Government. Apart from these two drafts – there can be any number of proposals from interested Individuals / organizations (like the present writer) – whose contribution and thinking can be valuable in finalizing a Draft Lok Pal Bill which is suitable for India.
There are a few major, contentious Issues in respect of all the Draft Bills – like - (1) The inclusion of the PM under Lok Pal Jurisdiction (2) bringing the Higher Judiciary under Lok Pal. (3) Lok Ayuktha Provision in the Lok Pal Bill (4) Bringing All present Anti-corruption wings under Lok Pal / Lok Ayuktha and so on.
I will present here my alternatives for these contentious issues. I was in the service of the Government / PSUs for over 41 years – and have come across all these problems during this period. I was also heading the HR & Management training wing of a National Academy of a PSU (as DGM) and have dealt with the issues at length as part of my duty. Also – I had made a number of suggestions to Sri N.Vittal, the then CVC when he called for suggestions for toning up the corruption tackling mechanism. Subsequently, when the current CVC called for similar suggestions to tackle corruption – I had submitted many suggestions to him also. Thus, based on my perception and experience, I am now making these suggestions to the Parliamentary standing committee as well.
In doing this, I have examined the Government Draft and the Team Anna Draft both – so that the contentious issues are well addressed.
INCLUSION OF PRIME MINISTER UNDER LOK PAL
Government Draft says – investigate PM only after his tenure is over. This is meaningless. This means, allow him to commit the biggest corrupt practice in the history of any Nation but yet, keep quiet till he demits office after 5 Years. Obviously – the Nation will be terribly at loss in such a situation. The Nation cannot afford such a potentially corrupt PM and needs relief from him, quickly.
On the other hand – Jan Lok Pal Bill Draft says – Investigate the PM – for every single complaint by any Tom, Dick or Harry.
In a country like India, there will be thousands of complaints pouring into Lok Pal’s office daily – alleging the PM’s role in every single thing happening in their Towns. India cannot function if PM is subjected to Lok Pal’s Jurisdiction in such a cavalier manner.
A Prime Minister is the Head of Government and is the most important functionary in India. The whole country’s progress depends on the success or failure of this one man. In my view, while Lok Pal functions are very important – they are much less in importance – compared to the functions of the Prime Minister.
Only a highly functional leader will be prone to commit mistakes also – though not indulging in corruption. He must be allowed to move ahead – and permitted some mistakes as well – else, no country can progress.
If he is waiting at Lok Pal office frequently to answer for all sorts of complaints – there will be no Governance of the country what so ever. The dignity of India in the comity of Nations will suffer very badly. Equality Before Law as a concept is good and necessary – but, it must be implemented in such a manner that the country’s interests do not suffer adversely.
Unequal persons must not be treated equally. A clerk or officer accepting a Bribe for issuing a form or granting a loan – must never be equated with a Prime Minister who approves huge schemes like NREGA, budgets running into lakhs of crores, sensitive schemes of defense and so on. I also do not personally agree with some decisions of PM – but that is no reason for making the PM visiting Lok Pal office to answer my questions. In fact, discretions at the level of a PM (in consultation with a standing committee of all parties) must be much more sweeping than at present. The President of USA enjoys such powers. That should not be construed as corruption.
Solution : If there is a significant corrupt act by the PM, 50 (or 75 / 100) MPs(number to be decided by Parliament) may sign a complaint (Individually or in Group) and submit to Lok Pal, with reasonable – even circumstantial – evidence and this shall form the basis for Lok Pal’s investigation on this complaint. Not otherwise. Lok Pal investigating all Public complaints against the PM is definitely incorrect and risky for the Nation.
This third alternative is a more viable, more sensible and more practical alternative to both the drafts. I suggest Parliament to consider this third alternative.
I suggest a similar method for members of the council of Ministers also – with a reduced number like 25 MPs signing a petition to Lok Pal and submitting it with circumstantial / actual evidence. We are only looking at CORRUPT ACTS – and even Potentially corrupt Acts – and not mere procedural lapses which are taken care of by CAG.
INCLUSION OF JUDICIARY UNDER LOK PAL
The second contentious issue is – Judiciary.
Government Draft says a TOTAL NO to inclusion of Judiciary under Lok Pal and seeks to include them under a Judicial Accountability Bill. When the Government will introduce JAB and what will its effective Provisions be – are matters unknown at present.
Government may take any amount of time for introducing the JAB and when it actually does – it may or may not make it effective at all. This is the criticism against Government on Lok Pal Bill as well.
JAN Lok Pal Bill wants all Judiciary to be included under Lok Pal Bill itself.
As in the case of Prime Minister – both these drafts stand at North Pole-South pole distance - in this case also.
In my view - it is absolutely incorrect and dangerous to place judiciary under the same Lok Pal, under whom all other executives are placed.
This Lok Pal himself - is more akin to an Executive. We may say – Lok Pal will only investigate – but prosecution will again be done by Judiciary. I want to know, how many times, say a chief Justice or Justice of Supreme Court, has to sit before the Lok Pal’s office for investigation – before the investigation is completed and sent to the relevant court for prosecution, or, totally dropped by the Lok Pal? It does not sound sensible at all.
Also – Judicial Independence must not be compromised for any reason – and it is one of the most basic tenets of Indian constitution and the Biggest safeguard for India. 2G , CWG and other scams would not have been dealt with so effectively – but for an independent, vigilant higher Judiciary. At this point of time – I do not expect any Lok Pal, to match the performance of our Higher Judiciary in such fearless, yet, unbiased tackling of Issues.
SOLUTION : The third alternative is therefore clear. Make a Judicial Lok Pal Bill right now – exactly on the same lines as the Lok Pal Bill and introduce it simultaneously with the Lok Pal Bill. The Judicial Lok Pal will oversee all Judiciary – and comes from within the Judiciary.
What is needed is – the Judicial Lok Pal also must become a reality urgently – NOW – and should not wait for another 42 years.
INCLUSION OF LOK AYUKTH IN LOK PAL BILL
This is another most important issue.
Lok Ayukth for all states must become a reality under the same Act as Lok Pal. There is huge corruption in State Governments in most departments at all levels.
How many states today have a Lok Ayukth and why so many states do not have a Lok Ayukth at all ? Because, those state Governments do not want such a body. But the People of the country want Lok Ayukth in each state – effectively stopping all Bribery.
Many state Governments are highly Autocratic – and highly corrupt as well. They tend to use their Police Powers in very arbitrary manner – against complainants. Look at how many Land Grabbing complaints remained unattended in Tamilnadu for years – where there is no Lok Ayukth at all. And most complaints are against the then ruling party members. It can happen in any states ruled by any party in Power. I am not leveling any charge against a single Party. Corruption and violence and misuse of Police powers against complainants is widely prevalent in all State Governments and all Parties tend to indulge in it.
We all know that. We can’t be hiding under the pretext of Federal structure for creating Lok Ayukth.
Let not a state Chief Minister be free to nominate his own Lok Ayukth under an Act made to his taste. Many CMs may not nominate any Lok Ayukth and many states may not make any Lok Ayukth Laws at all. Is this acceptable?
If a state does not want to make the law and rules for Lok Ayukth, we are at square one on corruption again. In my view, it is more urgent in many states than even in the central Government.
SOLUTION : Please do include Lok Ayukth for states in the same Bill as Lok Pal – and in exactly the same way. Let Lok Ayukth be uniform for all states. The appointment of Lok Ayukth must also be uniform – and beyond the purview of the state CMs.
CVC & CBI UNDER LOK PAL
This is yet another contentious issue.
Jan Lok Bill wants the Anti corruption wings of CBI and CVC to be brought under Lok Pal.
Government Bill wants Lok Pal to develop parallel machinery.
SOLUTION : If there is an instance of corruption – who should investigate that case? Will Government and Lok Pal do simultaneous investigation on the same case? How is that feasible? Government can always say – we are investigating – you please wait! This concurrent jurisdiction on corruption charges is unacceptable.
Let Lok Pal be the only organization to look into all corruption charges. Therefore, let the CVC and Anti-corruption wing of CBI come under Lok Pal. If Government wants a particular corruption charge coming to its notice be investigated – it must transfer it to Lok Pal – with a classification like urgent, Immediate and so on. Lok Pal must take this Government’s need into account and act on them with the same urgency.
Like Judicial Independence – let there be independence for Lok Pal in this matter. other suggestions continue in POST.2 NEXT at URL :
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
INDIA’S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION = POST.2 = SELECTING LOK PAL = STANDARDIZING PUNISHMENTS = LOK PAL ACCOUNTABLE TO WHOM?
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Can Lok Pal bring down corruption from current levels significantly - within 5 years time?
He may; or, he may not.
It depends on who sits in the Chair.
Ø Some one who makes it the mission of his life to root out corruption – must sit in the chair of Lok Pal.
Ø He must have Zero tolerance to corruption.
Ø He must have infinite energy and guts to take on the high and mighty gangs of corruption.
Ø He must enjoy huge public support.
Ø He must not belong to any Political Party.
Ø He must not have any bias – in favour of / against any class, such as forward, backward, SC/ST, minorities, religious, regional, racial etc… it is not a tall order. India does have many such people. We must find some one like that.
Many of the past / present directors of Infosys and of many TATA Group companies – are good choices. This includes Ratan TATA – despite his age and despite attempts by some people to drag his name into controversies. TATA Group has lost out many opportunities in Independent India – due to their aversion to corruption. Kiran Bedi also can be a good choice.
Some of the Judges of the Supreme Court have really shown absolutely zero tolerance to corruption. They can be good choices. India needs to keep in mind all these choices – because, we need not only Lok Pal but also several Lok Ayukthas – whose importance is equally great – in each state.
India needs to hurry through this one change – change from a corruption-filled nation to a corruption-free nation. The Lok Pal and the Lok Ayukthas in states must have the mission to accomplish it in 5 years sharp. In one tenure.
Who should select the Lok Pal?
It must be a small committee – consisting of 2 Supreme Court Judges, the Prime Minister and the Principal opposition leader. The outgoing lok Pal must also be a part of the selection committee from the second Lok pal onwards. I don’t think, we need to make it a large committee – with many others included therein. No Minister shall be a part of the committee – for the simple reason that they are directly subject to his scrutiny.
Let us deal with another related subject. What should be the Punishments for the Corrupt?
In India, the system of punishments is very peculiar.
For the same offence – there is a huge range of punishments, which makes it ridiculous and introduces heavy favouritism.
I had sent a number of suggestions to CVC twice in the past, first, a few years ago, and the second, an year ago.
I had pointed out that whether it is Administrative vigilance cells, or CVC or the Disciplinary Authorities – the punishments recommended / accorded by them to the guilty corrupt officials are not Uniform for same / similar offence.
More often, the punishment seems to depend on the mood of the moment. Or, the fate of the guilty.
There is need to standardize the Punishments.
For instance – for LTC fraud – let us say – the uniform punishment shall be – (1) 50 percent Salary cut for 5 years and (2) recovery of total loss caused to Government. In case of a second fraud – compulsory retirement, with 25% Pension cut. The vigilance wings, CVC or punishing authorities shall not have discretion to reduce or increase this.
For acceptance of Bribe by a Group D or C official, the punishment shall be – (1) Compulsory transfer beyond 200 (say, 200-250) KMs, and (2) 50% salary cut for 5 years. For a second offence – compulsory retirement with 25% Pension cut.
For acceptance of bribe by a Group B official, the punishment shall be –(1) Demotion to Gr.C and (2) 50% salary cut for 5 years. For a second offence – compulsory retirement with 25% Pension cut.
Acceptance of Bribe by a Group A official –(1)Demotion to the Lowest Grade in Group A, and (2) 50% salary cut for 5 years. For a second offence – compulsory retirement with 25% Pension cut.
I have given a few illustrations. But currently – for the same LTC fraud, one man may be let off with an increment cut, but, another may be dismissed. Yet another may be made over to CBI. There is huge variation in the punishments recommended / given – which makes a mockery of the principle of Equality Before Law. This huge variation in punishments itself – is an open invitation to CORRUPTION.
The same principle applies to courts of Law. They also need to standardize punishments. But, Jailing, as a punishment, is not one that I would suggest for such offenses.
Economic Offence deserves Economic Punishment and it is a sufficient corrective measure. As simple as that.
What do you do for an MLA, MP or Minister? For Bribe taking, seize 50 percent of their Total Property, if it is less than Rs.1 cr and all property above Rs.1 Cr if the property is above Rs.1 Cr; Seize all properties of the spouse and children, which are disproportionate to their known sources of Income. And make him ineligible to contest any election for 10 years.
Actually Standardizing the punishments is an urgent necessity for all offences – whether these are handled by CVC, CBI, Administrative authorities – or Courts.
I do not suggest any one to be put in Jail for any such economic offences. No punishment for economic offenses should destroy a person’s life (or his dependants’ lives) totally. But, it must be deterrent enough for him and others – not to commit such crimes again.
We must ensure that Punishments are reformative and not destructive. In India, most laws, as they stand today, are destructive and not reformative in awarding Punishments.
When a person comes out of Jail , he comes out more often, as a hard core criminal, while, when he went inside, he only committed a first time offence out of a temptation. To add to his woes, the Police force do not allow him to live peacefully and legally thereafter. These are Hard facts in India. Therefore, we must mould punishments to make them clearly reformative – and not destructive. So, economic offences need punishments – but such economic punishments can be made stringent and deterrent.
Let us deal with another related question.
Should the Lok Pal be accountable to Parliament?
If Lok Pal has to check the corruption of all MPs and Ministers – can he be made accountable to them? There will be a number of cases of the same group – under scrutiny by the Lok Pal? Can he be accountable to all of them. Obviously not.
Reports relating to MPs and Ministers must be sent to the chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Reports relating officials – not related to cases in the first group can be sent to Parliament.
There are many such aspects of the proposed institution of the Lok Pal, which require careful examination and decision. Let us hope – Parliament will give due thought to all these aspects and come up with a strong Lok Pal Bill.
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For the first Post : readers can go the following URL :
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
INDIA’S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION = LOK PAL BILL = TEAM ANNA vs GOVERNMENT = THE BALL IS IN PARLIAMENT
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Are we witnessing that - Corruption in India has gone up by several notches, in the last 2 years?
Or, do we see that - India’s fight against corruption has gone up by several notches in these two years?
The Truth seems to be - Both.
The Prime Minister was candid enough to admit of coalition compulsions. But – evidently, it was difficult for him to speak beyond that – at that stage.
In India, the lower level corruption is suffocating enough – for the common man. The tragedy is- everybody knows of it; and yet no one even tries to make a dent on it, leave alone, put an end to it.
Is it so difficult to discipline a traffic constable, a land registrar or an RTO? No one knows why no one really wants to end the corruption even in these small pockets. These are examples. Many Government offices are reeking in corruption.
But, the reason why lower level corruption persists so rampantly – is becoming increasingly clear – when scam after scam is nailing the highest levels of Political and bureaucratic leaders. How will they have the heart to tackle the lower level corruption?
It has taken all the power in the hands of an Independent Judiciary, to force reasonably fast and straight forward investigations into many of the scams, unearthed by the Opposition Parties, media, press, CAG and a few others.
For some more time to come – the media and news papers may be awash with scam news only – but, if the stern message goes round quickly – the scams too may come down quickly.
While the unearthing of scams may be credited to media, press and opposition parties – forcing the CBI to conduct a reasonably Good, Fast and straight forward investigation must be credited to the Higher Judiciary.
Where does Team Anna Fit into the Fight against Corruption?
Team Anna was instrumental in looking for a permanent, effective solution to the problem of corruption. Team Anna prepared the Jan Lok Pal Bill and forced the Government into discussions on the Lok Pal Bill. It has also forced the Government to (propose to) introduce a Lok Pal Bill (however fractured) in the current session of Parliament. Team Anna therefore deserves all praise – from this angle of India’s fight against corruption.
Where did Swami Ram Devji fit into all this? In my opinion, he also was a sincere crusader against corruption and his fasting also was largely successful. The midnight charge against him and his volunteers, the lathi charge and bursting of tear gas shells on sleeping / half asleep peaceful, unarmed volunteers has shown the Government in very poor light. Of course, that some of Ram Devji’s demands were impractical in the short run, also helped the Government. There was no one to advice Ram Devji to skillfully maneuver his agitation against the wily Political class.
In this aspect – Team Anna had and has a few vocal, skillful crusaders like Kiran Bedi, Santhi Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejrival – apart from Anna Hazare himself.
It was certainly difficult for Ram Devji (or any body in that situation) to respond properly to the pell-mell situation created by the mid night charge on half sleepy volunteers. The small errors committed by him in that confusion (in assuming a murderous plot against him), and trying to wear a woman’s robes to avert it – weren’t the best responses - but looking from his angle, not unreasonable and not unpardonable. It doesn’t make him any the less sincere in fighting corruption and Black money – compared to team Anna. It is just that he needs some good advisers in these Political fights.
In my opinion – it is wrong for Team Anna to keep him away from the Fight. It emboldens any Government to try similar tactics with Team Anna or any peaceful agitator in future. The 4 Bulls and the Lion story from Pancha thantra is to be remembered by Team Anna too.
But, much water has flown in the rivers of India since then. A scam a Day seems to be coming to light in recent days. Too many things are happening.
The Draft Bill prepared by Government is expected to be introduced in Parliament in a day or two. It may be referred to a standing committee straightaway – unless Opposition Parties force discussion on it.
What are the main aspects on which the Government Bill differs from Jan Lok Bill – and what should be done about them? This is what Team Anna is strategizing and this is what the Opposition Parties are mulling over right now.
Evidently – Government is not right in many provisions of the Draft Bill it has prepared. This ,Team Anna is relentlessly exposing. But – unless sufficient number of MPs are convinced – the Jan Lok Bill provisions have no chance of getting accepted and incorporated in the Final Bill.
Team Anna is right in many things – but is not right in one thing at least. It is not right in not looking at all opinions and debating on them, and coming down a little, on some of their own demands.
After all – if both sides stick to their respective view points – there can be no meeting point at all. The Jan Lok Pal Bill will be forgotten, the moment, the Government Bill, with some modifications proposed by opposition are accepted and approved.
When the Bill is approved by the Parliament, much of the sheen on the fight for Lok Pal bill by Team Anna will fade away – since, the approved Bill will then represent the will of the people – and over 500 eloquent MPs will be standing behind it.
Let us admit that – some Politicians are corrupt – but many are NOT. It is on them that we all, including Team Anna, must necessarily depend.
Any improvements in the Bill will have to be carried out NOW, with the help of these MPs – or else – we will perhaps have no further opportunities for it. It is therefore NOW or NEVER.
In what aspects should Team Anna come down?
I will mention one instance, for starters. Inclusion of the higher judiciary under the purview of the Lok Pal – will certainly not be acceptable to the Higher Judiciary. A non-Judge, judging a Judge – is not acceptable under the scheme of Independence of Judiciary – which is an essential feature of our constitution. I do not know if watering down Judicial Independence in this respect even needs a constitutional Amendment. The Politicians also do not seem to prefer it.
Also - if so many scams are today being investigated with vigour by the CBI – the full credit goes to the Independence of the Higher Judiciary in India. Yes. We do need an institution to look into judicial corruption – but let that be an independent part of the Judicial system – and not Lok Pal.
We still do not know how an independent Lok Pal is going to function in India. A Lok Ayukth in Karnataka may have unearthed a few scams, that too, at the time of laying down his job – but that is all we have to show (from this institution) for the whole country. It is not blaming an institution or the Individuals – Such new institutions need time to pack vigour in their working.
So many CECs were there – but one Seshan made a lot of difference. So many CAGs were there. But, only now, people are talking of CAG. So many CVCs were there. Which CVC, if any, made any big dent in bureaucratic corruption?
Among all Lok Ayukths also, many in India remember only one – Santosh Hegde! So, a Lok Pal position – also needs a Gutsy, honest, energetic man – a man with a big mission in his heart. Otherwise, cleaning what today looks like the fabled Augean stables is a Herculean task.
Therefore, and for many other reasons – I feel, Lok Pal is not the best institution to tackle Judicial corruption. Let there be an independent Judicial body for it.
Should the Prime Minister come under the purview of Lok Pal or not? Yes. And, No. Both. It should not be suo motu. It should not be on the complaint of a few Individuals or one or two MPs. It should not be on the basis of Media reports. I would say – the Prime Minister may be investigated if, say – 100 MPs ask for it, on the basis of sufficient grounds. The institution of PM should not be dragged into small controversies. The same provision should prevail (with say, 50 MLAs seeking investigation) for the Chief Ministers of States.
Now – what are the institutions which must come under Lok Pal, to help him? The Anti–Corruption wing of CBI must come under Lok Pal. The Anti corruption wing of CVC must come under Lok Pal. There is No way that Lok Pal can function efficiently, if these Portions of CBI and CVC do not come under Lok Pal. This also implies – that these two bodies must not remain under Government control.
Lok Ayukth institution must be similarly constituted in all states and brought under Lok Pal. But, like High courts under Supreme Court – Lok Ayukths must function independently – and Lok Pal may keep advisory Powers on them.
The uniform Lok Ayukth bill must be a part of the Lok Pal Bill itself.
Should the Lok Pal have Powers to look into charges against all Government servants of all Grades.Not really necessary. Inclusion of Group A and Group B under Lok Pal, apart from MPs, Ministers etc is sufficient. Else – the total focus will be lost.
The Administrative vigilance wings which handle corruption charges against lower officials – must however report to Lok Pal – or the CVC under the Lok Pal – of all complaints of corruption, how they investigated and what was the result. In select cases – Lok Pal shall have Powers to seek further investigation, or, where a huge racket is suspected, Lok Pal may be free to ask CBI to investigate. But, in general, It is not appropriate to burden Lok Pal with cases against Lower level officials. It is counter productive.
Last question –
Should Anna Hazare go on Fast Now? What is the Purpose, Sir? If all MPs are taking a view on the Bill in the Parliament - a Fast on the Bill outside the Parliament serves little purpose.
Anna has written a letter to all MPs. It is a Good Move.
A Padayatra to draw the attention of people and keeping up the heat on Government will be a Good move.
Meeting all ruling party and Opposition leaders – and placing your view points will be a good move.
Approaching the press and other media will be a Good move.
Galvanizing the opinion leaders of all hues – and also the general public in any other manner is a Good move.
But – a FAST, at this stage, does not look like a good move. It gives the Politicians a Good Handle to discredit a good movement.
Therefore – My appeal is – kindly keep up the pressure and be a little flexible. A little Give and take is always part of any good negotiation. The best path is always the third path. Not yours and Not his. That is how the world works.
We all wish to see a corruption–free India at the earliest and Tean Anna has to play its role carefully in it. We all wish to see that the Indian Parliament too, adopts a little more flexible attitude – and come up with a strong Lok Pal Institution.
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