If you (really) want to fight black money, won’t Lokpal make more sense?

The government, about to complete half the term, is in no hurry to bring in the ombudsman

GN Bureau | November 24, 2016


#parliament   #supreme court   #politics   #economy   #Common Cause   #Shanti Bhushan   #Anna Hazare   #corruption   #demonetisation   #black money   #Narendra Modi   #Lokpal   #Congress   #BJP  
File Photo: Team Anna during 2011 campaign against corruption
File Photo: Team Anna during 2011 campaign against corruption

Remember the Lokpal? The one-point panacea for all corruption and black money. It is a law, on the statute book. And while the government has launched a surgical strike against black money that has hit everybody other than its intended targets, this law is quietly gather dust. And the government is completing its half-way mark.

In 2011, the whole nation had come together to press the demand for a Lokpal law. The agitation, led by Anna Hazare, generated the kind of passion and fervour that independent India has witnessed maybe not more than five times so far. Reports of corruption during the Congress regime also added to the anger. At one point, the leaders of the agitation wanted the Lokpal bill to be passed the same day – it could not wait even a day more.

Eventually, the bill was passed (incidentally, during the Congress rule) in early 2014. The search committee started its job, and the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, opposed the choice of the jurist on the search panel, and before the matter could proceed further it was time for elections.

That is where the matter rests today when half of this government’s term is over.

The catch, it has been argued, is that since the largest opposition party – Congress – did not win even ten percent of the seats, there is no leader of opposition (a contestable argument, but it has precedents, and it is the reality), so the law has to be amended to include the leader of the “largest opposition party” in the search panel.

Fair argument. That amendment has been introduced in parliament. And it has not moved in two and a half years. In the meanwhile, since a deadline was coming up for bureaucrats and NGOs to declare their assets, an amendment was rushed last year and it was also passed in a couple of days. But the LoP amendment remains pending.

If there was any urgency to fight corruption, the government could prioritise the amendment bill and no opposition party would have blocked it! If there was any urgency to fight corruption, the government could have taken the ordinance route as well – after all, the government has done so in dozen-plus cases so far where it felt there was urgency. To dilute the land acquisition law, the government issued an ordinance thrice over – but none so far on Lokpal.

Common Cause, an NGO, has gone to the supreme court with a PIL seeking to expedite the constitution of the Lokpal. On November 23, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause, said, “We don’t have Lokpal even today, despite the Act being notified in 2014. Even jurist has not been appointed and the will of people is being frustrated. Do you require another Anna andolan?”

According to an Indian Express report, the court said, “Now we don’t have an LOP for past two-and-a-half years and it is likely that for the next two-and-a-half years, we would not have the LOP. Since it is not likely to happen, there won’t be any LOP. Then will you allow the law to become redundant just because there is no LOP? An institution like this which is for probity in public life can’t be allowed to become redundant. This institution won’t work like this.”

It was unfortunately due to such procedural delays only that the Modi government in Gujarat – in spite of its best intentions – was deprived of a Lokayukta for almost whole of its 12 years.

The delay in setting up the office of the Lokpal becomes all the more relevant today, when the best measure the government could come up with to fight black money has (a) led to chaos, (b) likely to impact economy, (c) has no way of catching the big fish, and (d) cannot stem generation of fresh black money.

Also read: Organised loot and legalized plunder: MMS on currency chaos

The Lokpal, however, would (a) not harassment to people, (b) not impact economy, (c) target big fish, and (d) stem any future generation of black money.

If the government has still preferred the ‘surgical strike’ route over Lokpal, there must be some good reason for it. We are yet to figure it out, though.

 

Comments

 

Other News

Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban: A way forward for sustainable sanitation

"Sanitation is more important than independence". --Mahatma Gandhi The world is moving towards global transformation and sanitation is an important aspect in the development of any country. The United Nations (UN) has observed in 2015-16 that 19.7%

Media taking advantage of a divided Bollywood: Shatrughan Sinha

Legendary film star and politician Shatrughan Sinha has said that friendship in Bollywood is limited to onscreen, and there is no unity and some news channels are taking advantage of this situation. “Groups within the industry or their supporters may sometimes come together for some c

‘2.40 lakh TB cases went unreported in India in 2019’

In India, only 2.40 million out of an estimated 2.64 million cases of tuberculosis were reported to the government, that is, 2,40,000 TB patients went unreported, in 2019, according to the WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2020. The reporting of TB cases, however, has significantly increased ov

We must fight for Right to Information

Fifteen years back, the Right To Information (RTI) Act became operational on October 12, 2005. It was the auspicious day of Vijayadashmi. It appeared to herald a new evolution in Indian democracy. Citizens who had been advocating this law saw an opportunity of converting India’s defective elective de

Uddhav shoots back at governor’s sarcasm

As Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari went sarcastic and wrote to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, asking him if he had turned ‘secular’ – an epithet he hated, as the places of worship remain closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic; the Shiv Sena chief replied he did not need certificat

4 info panels headless as RTI completes 15 years

When it was launched on October 12, 2005, the Right to Information Act ushered in a revolution, empowering common citizens to ask questions on a range of government activities and seek accountability. Over the years, they – especially a new breed of activists – made good use of the new law, to

India Police Virtual Summit and Awards 2020

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter