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The Lokpal – promise by Parliament ? Will never happen voluntarily




When there was the big debates happening all over in August last year about the Lokpal, and the hunger strike by Anna Hazare, there was also a lot of pointing out that this was a wrong mission. Parliament is Supreme, and we should count upon the representatives of the people to do their duty by taking up the legislation and then forming a law. So, you had many famous people pointing out that we should let Parliament do their duty and take up the legislation where it will get properly framed in terms of a law after going through the standing committee. This was contrasted with the argument that it seems stupid to believe that Parliament would pass a strong law that would imperil the corruption that is primarily driven by politicians and political parties. I hope that Mr. Vinod Sharma (the political editor of the Hindustan Times has noted that all his statements about giving politicians a chance have been tried, and they have been seen to have failed, as expected by every rational thinking person).
Well, the argument is over and we have a clear winner. The Lokpal is an institution which has been talked about for more than half a century (ironically, it was the father of the disgraced politician lawyer Manu Singhvi (Dr. LM Singhvi) who raised the concept of a Lokpal in a debate in parliament; and it was his son who played a key role in delaying and almost scuttling the road to the Lokpal), and yet it is hard to believe that politicians could accept the concept of an independent legal authority which could investigate corruption scandals and launch prosecution without the nod of the Government (the actions of independent institutions such as the Courts, the CAG, the Election Commission would have told enough politicians that another independent institution that attacks the key money making power of political parties was not acceptable).

There are many arguments against a Lokpal, one of the key being that it would create a beast since the amount of corruption is so incredible and in all facets of life. This is such an incredible argument – if the level of corruption is so bad, then it is the biggest evil facing the country and its citizens and must be brought under control). Reducing corruption and doing some specific convictions would serve to showcase to a large number of corrupt officials and their political masters that corruption is not a safe racket, that there is a good chance of being convicted and sent to jail. If that means that for some time, there are more people seconded to the Lokpal, one should be willing to accept such a cost.
The actions taken by the political class since August are astounding. The entire Parliament accepted some key concepts, and in the first measure of delay, sent it to the standing committee, which after a long delay, came out with a bill that was weak in many aspects, and accepted Government control to some degree. Even NGO’s affiliated to the Government were dismissive of the Bill. This Bill was taken to the last day of the session, and in a cowardly act by the current Vice-President, allowed to move out of the winter session of Parliament. The Government claimed that the number of amendments proposed made it difficult to discuss and pass, and now, with the budget session over, it is pretty clear that another act of delay has happened.
Unfortunately, something that the politicians wished for has happened. Even though the citizenry is still angry about corruption, the last mobilization by Anna Hazare failed in December, and nobody in politics is unhappy over that. There is a feeling now that the status quo can continue, even though the various parties still make a noise about corruption, but that is it. And the CAG keeps on exposing more mega-scams where the actions of the Government has led to loss of revenue.




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