20 June 2011
Ever since the Joint Committee to draft Lokpal Bill was formed, as a sequel to Anna Hazare’s fast, its Government members’ speeches and actions bespeak Government’s unwillingness to come up with a Lokpal bill to curb corruption firmly with alacrity.
Existing laws and machinery having failed for over 30 years to contend corruption, makes it imperative to scrap the law, and put instead a more stringent and effective measure into effect.
That the corruptions indulged in 2006 came to light only now, clearly proves that administrative and legislative procedures in vogue failed to detect and act against corruption in time.
For any Government, the fair step now will be to admit failure, and welcome the civil society’s wish, will and readiness to help establish corruption-free governance.
How can MPs elected by people disregard the views and needs of the people, their electors? Any disregard or dilution to the measures proposed by the civil society members or leaving out some offices or positions from the purview of Lokpal, clearly mean that Government stands to support corruption.
Government’s Concerns are misplaced:
Lokpal and Position of the PM: If Prime minister has to ask for resignation of his nominee ministers on grounds of corruption, Prime Minister must also be equitably prepared to resign under similar situations. This is more important for the Prime Minister or any other person of high office, as he is first and last a citizen, like others. What is applicable to other citizens should be applicable to him too. One enforcing law must himself be heeding and be under the same laws to a much greater transparency.
Lokpal is not a parallel Institution: Kapil Sibal has said, the Government cannot accept any “parallel institution to control or regulate the Government actions”. A senior functionary of the Government making such a statement is ridiculous. In administrative matters, procedures, implementation of legislation, etc. Government is the only machinery and Lokpal is integral to it, like Election Commission, etc. The very fact that people have approached the Government to set up Lokpal institution proves that the Government is supreme and the people also have sufficient esteem for it.
Coalition cannot be an excuse to permit or substantiate corruption: No party has absolute majority. Coalition is the means for Government formation, says the Home Minister. PM also said coalition compels many wrongs. Do parties join the Government, to indulge in corruption or to provide rightful governance?
India needs it now, even if there is no precedence: Questions like “which Prime Minister in office anywhere in the world has been prosecuted”, etc. are at best childish, if not offensive. For a sovereign country like India, to seek and bring a legislation even for the first time in the world, we need no precedent at all. Let us create precedents, as we have done in the case of RTI.
Principles on which Lokpal should be established:
Lokpal is Integral to Government: Lokpal comes into action, when some one is found to indulge in corruption. What is the harm when corruption is dealt with under Lokpal? Government must feel relieved and helped. Their own function will improve. Government authority is not questioned at all, in this. On the other hand, by bringing to life an effective Lokpal, the Government will only be validating the Lokpal design and purpose in full, thereby evoking greater esteem from the people of the land.
Power to both Prevent and Prosecute: Ensuring that all positions and offices of the Government are under the purview of Lokpal and also ascertaining that the ‘machinery’ to prosecute also rests with the Lokpal, will lay the foundation for creating corruption-free Governance and establish a value-based society.
Checks and Balances: Checks and balances are the basic principle to ensure the proper functioning of democratic governance. And the three pillars, namely parliament, executive and judiciary, have to be faithfully under an independent watchdog. Thus Lokpal becomes an imperative in such a scenario.
Impartial and Impersonal: In designing any measure like Lokpal institution, every one should foster an impartial and impersonal outlook. The guiding insight should be the long term needs and interests of the Nation, not the parochial concerns to safeguard any of the present incumbents of governance.
Any lack of sincerity in the planning itself will only pronounce that the Government stands for corruption, not for its mitigation and elimination. Foundation for Restoration of National Values (FRNV) and the entire Nation urge the Central Government to set right the situation without even a day’s delay.
Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha
Founder, Narayanashrama Tapovanam
Inspiration & Guide, Foundation for Restoration of National Values