Friday, December 30, 2011

hang the Lokpal !

So its all over! The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned sine die, and the Government, despite being repeatedly asked,  has chosen not to disclose to the Parliament what it plans to do next to institutionalise a strong and effective Lokpal. That the Lokpal bill as passed by the Lok Sabha was riddled with inconsistencies and weaknesses is now common knowledge. That the entire Opposition was united in demanding certain amendments to the bill so as to provide for an effective Lokpal is also known. That the government chose to defend the bill till, literally, the twelfth hour was seen and heard by all. What next? We have been told that the government needs to "examine" the numerous amendments moved by Members of the Rajya Sabha. How long the examination will take, whether the bill will be taken up two months from now in the Budget session etc etc -----these are questions to which, as citizens, we will be given no immediate answers. We, the people, are the "ruled" and would do well to hold our peace till the "rulers" decide to speak ----that message came loud and clear today.

 We may shout ourselves hoarse that we have had enough of the petty and not-so-petty corruption that is sapping the nation's life blood. We may remind the government again and again and again that we have waited long enough for a strong, effective anti-corruption Ombudsman. We may even draft them a model bill. Its not enough -----not because the government or our elected representatives are engaged in other more pressing, nation building activity, but because they just don't care. The status quo suits the "rulers". Why should they change it until and unless they are left with no choice but to do it ? This attitude is best demonstrated by the fact that among the few amendments to the Lokpal bill that the Lok Sabha passed, the most significant was the deletion of Section 24 which required the Parliament to take action against MPs against whom the Lokpal had instituted criminal proceedings under the Prevention of Corruption Act !

They will simply make feeble attempts to enact a "suitable" law ----a law that suits them because it sets up a Lokpal that acts at their  bidding, or is so hamstrung by  convoluted procedures that it does not act at all. Even such a Lokpal could prove unsettling or inconvenient, so only a pretense of action will be made, no outcomes will actually be achieved. 

There was a lot of talk today about a "weak" Lokpal being better than no Lokpal at all, about how the institution could be strengthened through amendments in a "phased" manner. I find the logic simply galling, when seen in the context of the fact that we have been trying to give ourselves a Lokpal for several decades, there are numerous reports and studies already available, as also a model law and several alternative formulations drafted by civil society. When we know what the constituents of a strong, effective Lokpal must be, when even the draft formulations of the structures and procedures that achieve that objective are available, how can a "weak" Lokpal be possibly justified?

The truth is that the attitude of the "rulers" is : hang the Lokpal ! It is for us, the people of India, to not give up the battle and fight to win the war.


  1. Thank you for your insights, Priya. I am following your posts and learning from them.

  2. Of late, media (including the 'enlightened' commentators therein) has been protraying the failure of latest Anna movement.

    But look at the irony - till Anna fasts, Lok Sabha ensures that Lokpal Bill is passed. Once Anna calls off the fast, Rajya Sabha falters. This is the fact, even if we ignore the quality of the Lokpal Bill - Bad , Worse or Ugly.

    One thing is certain - had there been no Anna agitation, the Govt. wouldn't have done this much for the Lok Pal.

    The citizens have to continue the fight.

  3. Shameful!!!! Indian MPs did it again...13 hour mockery of Parliament, Democracy and The spirit of being an Indian. Lokpal stuck yet again!! Truly a dumb Charade!
    I witnessed d buffonry on Tuesday as well! Actual a pity to see all this! Forgot to mention the additional 7 hours of buffoonery that took place on tuesday- courtesy Lok Sabha TV...