The stumbling LOKPAL crusade

Taking it a step further, if people have lost faith in constitution, then the former talk is rendered useless and to restructure is the lone solution but then again, making Civil Society part of Constitutional process (just like Legislature,  Executive, and Judiciary) is fair, but accepting their demand on gun point of fast, which they believe is right, isn’t unconstitutional and  undemocratic?

CBI

Well, naming it unconstitutional does not justify Governments incompetency in making reformed judgments and resolving political feud, which was essentially the summary of All Party Meeting. Indeed, the threats by Anna did work in hastening the process, with inclusion of PM and lower bureaucracy under the ambit of Lokpal. Further, even though Govt. is bound to follow any deadline dictated by Anna, Govt. has urged him to not pressurize incessantly. The issues pertaining to Government’s Lokpal were PM’s inclusion, inclusion of 57 lakh Group C employees, autonomy of CBI, inclusion of Citizen’s charter, Judicial Accountability and protection to whistle blower. The Govt. has shown consensus towards acceptance of PM’s inclusion with safeguards, and Group C employees inclusion who will be referred by CVC, but consensus on CBI’s autonomy remains a contingent issue.

It has often been debated that a Lokpal with an investigation wing is of no importance. The same stands correct but inaccurate. With CBI being one of the prime investigative agencies in the country, it is better to use it for the works of Lokpal to not waste resources. But, since CBI is headed by the Government, corrupt politicians are hard to eradicate, for any investigation by Lokpal forwarded to CBI for verification would be discarded ruthlessly. It is thus, more important to make CBI autonomous rather than putting it necessarily into Lokpal, although the later might work as well. The other issues of Citizen’s Charter and Judicial Accountability have been presented as separate bill. IAC had considered exempting Judiciary from Lokpal if a separate bill was formulated. The inclusion of Judiciary into Lokpal was earlier rightly criticized by NCC for separation of Judiciary from executive. On similar lines, the Govt. went on to pass Judicial Accountability Bill but the same is being criticized by opposition parties such as BJP for inadequate explanations regarding National Oversight committee and , and the response of Activists is unheard of, who were unaware of whole proceedings. The same goes for Citizens Charter & Grievance Redress Bill, which IAC demanded must remain under Lokpal, but the Governments stance on clearing it as a separate bill is sure to come under scrutiny. The Whistleblowers Bill was further passed by the Government. The Government with coming elections in three states has shown greater responsiveness however the urgency shown, has led to criticism of bill condemned by opposition and civil society, for discussion as suggested by civil society was averted. The only bill that suffered a setback was Food Security Bill because of differences in opinion within the Govt., and hence, would be discussed in later sessions.

The passing of three bills does typify a sense of urgency within the Government. Whether it is the ending winter session or the threats by Anna (most would go by the later) the Government is expected to come up with a Lokpal Bill. What remains to be seen is if Govt. could have a consensus, if Anna would engage in protests or would he show patience, and if he goes for protests which is most likely, whether it will be peaceful protests or fast-unto-death peaceful protests. Further, the “sense of house” passed by Parliament, that emphasized on passing of bills under the jurisdiction of Lokpal has been violated, for a weaker Citizens Charter has already been passed as a separate bill by the Government.

Lokpal as an anti-corruption primo is inevitable, guided by IAC which has been working for its strongest version. If the means justify the end is a question much discussed, but is often overshadowed by what it has achieved, and further reasoned by the inability of Govt. to solve it’s internal feuds, political differences, and reach a consensus. There is indeed no denying that the movement has bestowed the nation with an opportunity, but it should never be forgotten that the present stage is no finale, but a beginning of sorts. India as a nation has lacked implementation where problems lie in bureaucratic chambers, and a Lokpal if not profound in implementation would be yet another chamber. The best part of the bill has been exuberant public discussion and debate, and inclusion of Civil Society into constitutional regime. The fact that some have suggested IAC to make up a political party, often forget the imperative that has been set out by IAC, which is undoubtedly corruption, and becoming part of political system would not help strengthen the process. Thus, the stumbling Lokpal crusade is aggressing still, and the fact that its stumbling emphasizes on the flexibility to change it inhibits within its formulation.

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