Friday, April 15, 2011

Lokpal Bill would endanger democracy

The media did not lose sleep when last month between March 11 and March 16 in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh’s Koya commandos, the Central Reserve Police Force and CoBRA battalions burnt more than 300 houses, raped five adivasi women and killed five men in Timapuram, Morpalli and Tarmetla villages of Dantewada, accusing them of being Naxalites (even Naxals don’t deserve to be raped and killed). It also never raised the plight of missing persons in Kashmir whose court cases are stuck in the home ministry for want of permission to proceed against officers.

Anyway, with or without the patronage of the media, the masses are angry with politicians and sooner or later they would get wise enough to get angry with the media too, for taking a stand only when it suits them.

What the Lok Pal promises is a short cut to justice. For public servants (such as the government employees, judges, armed forces, and members of Parliament) can also be prosecuted for corruption under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, these require the investigating agency (such as the CBI) to get prior sanction of the central or state government before it can initiate the prosecution process.

Lawyers wonder if an all-powerful Lok Pal would endanger democracy. For instance, now the judiciary and legislature keep a check on each other, but once the Lok Pal comes with powers to try government members and judges, it would be putting too many powers in one basket. Says lawyer Sanjay Parikh: A system has to be in place to ensure that the cure does not become worse than the disease. Also, the Lok Pal cannot break the nexus between the government and the private sector and restore the trust of the people.

However, an ombudsman like God, is an attractive idea and as decades would go by, there may exist one for each sector, for example for real estate (drafted by home dwellers rather than the real estate companies), one for educational institutions, one for health institutions, one for labour rights, etc. The lesson to be learnt is that new institutions would replace the old, if the latter don’t prove effective and accessible to the people.

Sreelatha Menon in Business Standard. More Here.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...