I am very disappointed in the manner Indian public has been led astray over the whole JLP bill. All the people more or less wants to bring a collective end to “Democracy” in India. Introduction of JLP is handling over of all our secular organizations to an entity which does not hold any accountability to anybody including the Supreme court, Prime Minister or President. Before turning on the flames, lets discuss a bit about JLP. I am 99.9% sure that most of you haven’t read a single letter in the proposed JLP. Before I proceed, let me tell you that the current constitution and the laws proposed are fully capable of tackling the corruption that India is facing. Creation of a new extra-constitutional authority will not bring an end to corruption. Infact with the proposed JLP, it will bring in a new era of super dictatorship, an era where the ruler can crush his/her opposition very easily, and an era similar to the emergency that was brought in by Indira except that it will not be called emergency. All voices which would be raised against the Lokpal will be effectively annihilated. Lets read and understand how. A simple Google search will reveal the proposals in the JLP. Without copying text from that bill, I will jot down the main points proposed and how it will manipulate democratic behavior.
First of all, it is compared to “Citizens Ombudsman Bill” which exists in a lot of countries. This comparison is totally false and misleading. Ombudsman in other countries are not given the rights and authorities which are asked in the bill. The members of Ombudsman are not selected on some stupid merit like “Being a Nobel prize winner of Indian origin!” or “Being a recognized social worker!” or “Being a Bharat Ratna!”. The stupidity is quite clear when you ask a Nobel winner physicist with no roots/interest in India to head the JLP office? Again, there are no provisions as to how long with such a JLP last and what if the JLP himself is corrupt. The bill is quite unclear and does not specify if it will/can initiate corruption/legal/criminal proceedings against LPs and JLPs at both central and state levels.
Albeit you can always Google up and try to find the facts yourself. A quick reading of the wikipedia page for JLP available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Lokpal_Bill suggest the following:
– The Lokpal will be supervised by the “Cabinet Secretary” and the “Election Commission”! – Since when did CS and EC act independently of the ruling party (aka Congress)? Read more on EC and CEC (Chief Election Commissioner of India) on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Commission_of_India. In effect, CEC can be removed by the parliament with 2/3rd majority in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. And isn’t the ruling government having a 2/3rds majority? So how does one make sure that Lokpal is governed independently? Still confused on what I am saying? Search on the internet for EC/CEC effectiveness during elections and one will be enlightened!
– Another proposed bill feature is “Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.” The definition itself is quite ambiguous and will be interpreted as necessary by the corrupt/criminal parliamentarians. Questions such as
– Who/What defines a clean record?
– What is the definition of private citizen and who/which group/organizations will reflect them? That question leads to, how will such a team of private citizens vote? Who will be appointed, how and on what basis?
– Does extra constitutional authorities like CPC, NAC, etc. have any say in the definition of LP?
– Lets take another one “A selection committee will invite shortlisted candidates for interviews, videorecordings of which will thereafter be made public.” Questions to be answered
– How will the candidates be shortlisted? On what merit? Does one have to be a medha patkar or arundhati roy or maybe sonia gandhi? (PS: I haven’t capitalized the first alphabets in names to show proper dis-respect for those personalities).
– And why would the video recordings be made public afterwards? If we can see the pope being elected live, why can’t we see an LP being elected live? Who will make and edit those recordings?
– “Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.” Do remember the term government in the prior statement. It only talks about corrupt individual and not corrupt organizations. Also what about losses to public and citizens?
– “Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within a month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.” So what defines substantive? Does it mean that a Lokpal can do away with smaller charges? Where is the mechanism to complaint against the officers/offices for Lokpal?
Now lets focus on some of the questions that are not yet answered by anybody fighting for the movement.
– “Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.” So what kind of complaints will they be looking into? High profile or organization based or individuals? If it is individuals, will it not overload the Lokpal?
– “Lokpal will have the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.” How does LP find one guilty? Does it employ its own investigative agents, or outsources it to private investigative agencies or uses the police/government machinery? Nothing has been defined here and it can be interpreted in a broad context. And how is prosecution defined here?
– “Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.” hmm.. so no need of the police anymore! Are these FIRs synced with police records? Does police have access to these FIRs?
– “Punishments will be a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment.” So looks like there is no big crime then corruption? Who is going to foot the bill for the prosecutions and the punishments? Will LP be a salaried employee of the government?
More questions like
– What is the span of the Lokpal?
– Will he be elected every 5 years, 10 years or once in his lifetime?
– Will he/she be void if he/she receives any political backing?
– Can organizations compete for the Lokpal position?
– Can the judiciary start an investigation against LP?
– What if the citizens are unsatisfied by LP?
– Who establishes and maintains the credibility of the LP/JLP?
– And will the citizens be able to select the members of the civil society and punish them if found inappropriate?
I am not against anti-corruption but I don’t see a point in raising another extra constitutional body to do the work of the already existing institutions. I don’t understand why the police and judiciary today cannot do what LP/JLP is crying out loud that it will do? I would suggest to make the Judiciary an independent body with full powers over police. And let them initiate all anti-corruption proceedings and give protection to whistle blowers!
But lets see if ever an LP/JLP is formed and if they can route corruption out of India. As far as I can see, it is just going to be another extra constitutional authority working for the benefits of the ruling elite then for the common man. Jai Hind!