FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
SUGGESTIONS TO PARLIAMENT
ON LOK PAL BILL
As of now, there are 2 major Draft Bills that emerged in the Panel formed by the Government with 5 members from Team Anna and five from the Government. Apart from these two drafts – there can be any number of proposals from interested Individuals / organizations (like the present writer) – whose contribution and thinking can be valuable in finalizing a Draft Lok Pal Bill which is suitable for India.
There are a few major, contentious Issues in respect of all the Draft Bills – like - (1) The inclusion of the PM under Lok Pal Jurisdiction (2) bringing the Higher Judiciary under Lok Pal. (3) Lok Ayuktha Provision in the Lok Pal Bill (4) Bringing All present Anti-corruption wings under Lok Pal / Lok Ayuktha and so on.
I will present here my alternatives for these contentious issues. I was in the service of the Government / PSUs for over 41 years – and have come across all these problems during this period. I was also heading the HR & Management training wing of a National Academy of a PSU (as DGM) and have dealt with the issues at length as part of my duty. Also – I had made a number of suggestions to Sri N.Vittal, the then CVC when he called for suggestions for toning up the corruption tackling mechanism. Subsequently, when the current CVC called for similar suggestions to tackle corruption – I had submitted many suggestions to him also. Thus, based on my perception and experience, I am now making these suggestions to the Parliamentary standing committee as well.
In doing this, I have examined the Government Draft and the Team Anna Draft both – so that the contentious issues are well addressed.
INCLUSION OF PRIME MINISTER UNDER LOK PAL
Government Draft says – investigate PM only after his tenure is over. This is meaningless. This means, allow him to commit the biggest corrupt practice in the history of any Nation but yet, keep quiet till he demits office after 5 Years. Obviously – the Nation will be terribly at loss in such a situation. The Nation cannot afford such a potentially corrupt PM and needs relief from him, quickly.
On the other hand – Jan Lok Pal Bill Draft says – Investigate the PM – for every single complaint by any Tom, Dick or Harry.
In a country like India, there will be thousands of complaints pouring into Lok Pal’s office daily – alleging the PM’s role in every single thing happening in their Towns. India cannot function if PM is subjected to Lok Pal’s Jurisdiction in such a cavalier manner.
A Prime Minister is the Head of Government and is the most important functionary in India. The whole country’s progress depends on the success or failure of this one man. In my view, while Lok Pal functions are very important – they are much less in importance – compared to the functions of the Prime Minister.
Only a highly functional leader will be prone to commit mistakes also – though not indulging in corruption. He must be allowed to move ahead – and permitted some mistakes as well – else, no country can progress.
If he is waiting at Lok Pal office frequently to answer for all sorts of complaints – there will be no Governance of the country what so ever. The dignity of India in the comity of Nations will suffer very badly. Equality Before Law as a concept is good and necessary – but, it must be implemented in such a manner that the country’s interests do not suffer adversely.
Unequal persons must not be treated equally. A clerk or officer accepting a Bribe for issuing a form or granting a loan – must never be equated with a Prime Minister who approves huge schemes like NREGA, budgets running into lakhs of crores, sensitive schemes of defense and so on. I also do not personally agree with some decisions of PM – but that is no reason for making the PM visiting Lok Pal office to answer my questions. In fact, discretions at the level of a PM (in consultation with a standing committee of all parties) must be much more sweeping than at present. The President of USA enjoys such powers. That should not be construed as corruption.
Solution : If there is a significant corrupt act by the PM, 50 (or 75 / 100) MPs(number to be decided by Parliament) may sign a complaint (Individually or in Group) and submit to Lok Pal, with reasonable – even circumstantial – evidence and this shall form the basis for Lok Pal’s investigation on this complaint. Not otherwise. Lok Pal investigating all Public complaints against the PM is definitely incorrect and risky for the Nation.
This third alternative is a more viable, more sensible and more practical alternative to both the drafts. I suggest Parliament to consider this third alternative.
I suggest a similar method for members of the council of Ministers also – with a reduced number like 25 MPs signing a petition to Lok Pal and submitting it with circumstantial / actual evidence. We are only looking at CORRUPT ACTS – and even Potentially corrupt Acts – and not mere procedural lapses which are taken care of by CAG.
INCLUSION OF JUDICIARY UNDER LOK PAL
The second contentious issue is – Judiciary.
Government Draft says a TOTAL NO to inclusion of Judiciary under Lok Pal and seeks to include them under a Judicial Accountability Bill. When the Government will introduce JAB and what will its effective Provisions be – are matters unknown at present.
Government may take any amount of time for introducing the JAB and when it actually does – it may or may not make it effective at all. This is the criticism against Government on Lok Pal Bill as well.
JAN Lok Pal Bill wants all Judiciary to be included under Lok Pal Bill itself.
As in the case of Prime Minister – both these drafts stand at North Pole-South pole distance - in this case also.
In my view - it is absolutely incorrect and dangerous to place judiciary under the same Lok Pal, under whom all other executives are placed.
This Lok Pal himself - is more akin to an Executive. We may say – Lok Pal will only investigate – but prosecution will again be done by Judiciary. I want to know, how many times, say a chief Justice or Justice of Supreme Court, has to sit before the Lok Pal’s office for investigation – before the investigation is completed and sent to the relevant court for prosecution, or, totally dropped by the Lok Pal? It does not sound sensible at all.
Also – Judicial Independence must not be compromised for any reason – and it is one of the most basic tenets of Indian constitution and the Biggest safeguard for India. 2G , CWG and other scams would not have been dealt with so effectively – but for an independent, vigilant higher Judiciary. At this point of time – I do not expect any Lok Pal, to match the performance of our Higher Judiciary in such fearless, yet, unbiased tackling of Issues.
SOLUTION : The third alternative is therefore clear. Make a Judicial Lok Pal Bill right now – exactly on the same lines as the Lok Pal Bill and introduce it simultaneously with the Lok Pal Bill. The Judicial Lok Pal will oversee all Judiciary – and comes from within the Judiciary.
What is needed is – the Judicial Lok Pal also must become a reality urgently – NOW – and should not wait for another 42 years.
INCLUSION OF LOK AYUKTH IN LOK PAL BILL
This is another most important issue.
Lok Ayukth for all states must become a reality under the same Act as Lok Pal. There is huge corruption in State Governments in most departments at all levels.
How many states today have a Lok Ayukth and why so many states do not have a Lok Ayukth at all ? Because, those state Governments do not want such a body. But the People of the country want Lok Ayukth in each state – effectively stopping all Bribery.
Many state Governments are highly Autocratic – and highly corrupt as well. They tend to use their Police Powers in very arbitrary manner – against complainants. Look at how many Land Grabbing complaints remained unattended in Tamilnadu for years – where there is no Lok Ayukth at all. And most complaints are against the then ruling party members. It can happen in any states ruled by any party in Power. I am not leveling any charge against a single Party. Corruption and violence and misuse of Police powers against complainants is widely prevalent in all State Governments and all Parties tend to indulge in it.
We all know that. We can’t be hiding under the pretext of Federal structure for creating Lok Ayukth.
Let not a state Chief Minister be free to nominate his own Lok Ayukth under an Act made to his taste. Many CMs may not nominate any Lok Ayukth and many states may not make any Lok Ayukth Laws at all. Is this acceptable?
If a state does not want to make the law and rules for Lok Ayukth, we are at square one on corruption again. In my view, it is more urgent in many states than even in the central Government.
SOLUTION : Please do include Lok Ayukth for states in the same Bill as Lok Pal – and in exactly the same way. Let Lok Ayukth be uniform for all states. The appointment of Lok Ayukth must also be uniform – and beyond the purview of the state CMs.
CVC & CBI UNDER LOK PAL
This is yet another contentious issue.
Jan Lok Bill wants the Anti corruption wings of CBI and CVC to be brought under Lok Pal.
Government Bill wants Lok Pal to develop parallel machinery.
SOLUTION : If there is an instance of corruption – who should investigate that case? Will Government and Lok Pal do simultaneous investigation on the same case? How is that feasible? Government can always say – we are investigating – you please wait! This concurrent jurisdiction on corruption charges is unacceptable.
Let Lok Pal be the only organization to look into all corruption charges. Therefore, let the CVC and Anti-corruption wing of CBI come under Lok Pal. If Government wants a particular corruption charge coming to its notice be investigated – it must transfer it to Lok Pal – with a classification like urgent, Immediate and so on. Lok Pal must take this Government’s need into account and act on them with the same urgency.
Like Judicial Independence – let there be independence for Lok Pal in this matter. other suggestions continue in POST.2 NEXT at URL :