Monday, December 26, 2011

Just ignore Anna….

That’s the challenge that his team members are throwing at the Government. Just do it is what I am saying. After all, more than this particular piece of legislation that is sought to be shoved down our throats using coercive methods, it is the precedent that it will set that should concern us all. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that everything about Anna’s movement has gone foul. The methods are foul. The demands are foul. And most importantly, their belief that not a single person in this country is trustworthy is foul.

Just evaluate the four demands from what I just said. Anna believes no one is trustworthy – except of course his chosen ones.

Non-negotiable demand #1: They want CBI to report to them for everything. Now as I have mentioned earlier, I have no problem if the CBI reports to the Lokpal for investigation. But that’s not the end of the Anna’s demand. He also wants the powers to prosecute the accused and he also wants the power to pass judgments against the accused. Anna trusts no one – not the prosecutors, not the judges. In fact, his core team member Shanti Bhushan has gone on record to allege that half the Supreme Court judges are corrupt. Does he need to prove his charge? Heck, no! He is civil society after all! Anything that he says is gospel truth – any attempt to demand an explanation amounts to emasculation of the civil society.

Let me not get personal here. Coming back to the issue, I am completely against vesting all three powers into one institution. The fact that this institution is proposed to be one made up entirely of non-elected members gives me the heebie jeebies. I would rather trust a known devil (the politician) than the deep blue sea (unelected members). I would rather retain the right to punish the politician than surrender it to unelected members who want fixed tenures and a very complicated and difficult process of removal.

Am I exaggerating the point here? No. Team Anna has clarified recently that those who are “proven” guilty by the Lokpal’s judicial arm can go in appeal to the High Court. So the first point of appeal is the High Court. Typically, one goes in appeal to the High Court after a lower court has pronounced a verdict. It may be a lower court or it may be a special body that is quasi-judicial. For instance, appeals against the orders passed by the Copyright Board (a quasi-judicial body) go to the HC. Appeals against any arbitrator’s order in a dispute go to the HC. So one has to agree that the Lokpal has assumed judicial or quasi-judicial powers unto itself. My problem with this is that the High Courts are so burdened with cases that an appeal against the Lokpal’s orders may take years to come up for hearing. Suppose the police were given such powers? Suppose the police charged a person and pronounced a verdict and put the person in jail arbitrarily? This is totally unacceptable. Do read my earlier posts on this subject – the wording of the JLP is very very specific and clear.

Non-negotiable demand #2: Include Group C and D workers directly under the Lokpal: Clearly Anna doesn’t trust the CVC. What does he have to justify this lack of trust in the CVC? Perhaps the recent episode when the “wrong” CVC was attempted to be thrust on the nation. Now no less than Justice Verma has clarified this matter. He said that the only reason Thomas was removed from the CVC’s post was that his credentials were not “impeccable”. They wouldn’t be till Thomas was exonerated in the 20-year old case that was pending against him. He stated emphatically that Thomas had not been proved guilty; nor would he be ineligible for becoming the CVC once his name was cleared. He in fact, accused the media of going overboard and branding him “Tainted Thomas”. He found this to be irresponsible journalism.

Coming back to the issue, there is no way (if I was designing the law) that I would allow Group C and D workers to be put under the Lokpal. Please remember the reason why this debate on the Lokpal started in the first place. The reason was corruption in high places. That’s what the Lokpal should focus on. 100% of its time should be targeted at the few thousand big fish that have the powers to siphon away lacs of crores of public money. But Anna has got caught by the trap of populism. He has become like a politician. He wants to appeal to the aam aadmi like politicians do. Well, if his only aim is to protect the aam aadmi, why is he unhappy with a separate law for for just handling citizen’s grievances? Why is he unhappy with keeping Group C and D officials under the CVC? Is his concern the corruption at lower levels? Or is it that the institution he is helping father won’t be the one able to claim all the powers and the glory? I am dead against including lower rung officialdom under the Lokpal – and I am in fact worried that the politicians will only too happily hand it over to the Lokpal and claim the credit for having a compromising spirit of handling Anna!

Non-negotiable demand #3: Selection of the Lokpal. Anna doesn’t trust the judiciary. That’s why he wants the CJI in the selection panel replaced by the Lokpal. Wow. But it’s not surprising really, given Shanti Bhushan’s views and the brainwashing of Anna’s mind that he must have diligently indulged in. So the CJI is to be assumed to be corrupt too. Then why is Anna proposing to have so many judicial members in his selection committee for shortlisting candidates? I’ll tell you why. Because Anna knows that it is impossible to paint the judiciary as corrupt. People won’t believe that. That’s why he’s ok having judges in the shortlisting committee – so that people don’t accuse him of doubting the judiciary itself. My view: Do not concede the demand. Keep the CJI as the third member of the Lokpal selection committee.

Non-negotiable demand #4: Suo motu powers to investigate corruption. Again, Anna doesn’t believe in the people of this country. He believes that even if people know of corruption, they may not complain to the Lokpal. That’s why he wants the powers to investigate suo-motu. I am sorry I cannot support this. A nominated body, backed by a law created under pressure, simply cannot be given so many powers.

Much glory is being claimed by Team Anna for the jail bharo internet campaign of theirs. Apparently, 1.4 lac people have registered. Firstly, this is a really small number considering it takes 5 seconds to register and there are 100 million internet users in India and many more abroad. Had the number been 20-25 million, I would have agreed that there is a large degree of support. Secondly, even this number is highly inflated. Try this. Try registering twice. Keep all information the same (Name, place, comment). Just register ten times with ten different mobile numbers (even if they are not yours!). You will be registered ten times! This is the commonest trick that organizers play. They verify the registering person based on his/her mobile number – but they have no way of ascertaining if the number is right or wrong…..(Is this not a type of corruption?!)

Every right thinking person is worried about the specific demands made by Anna. Every right thinking person is upset with the pressure tactics being used by Anna. Every right thinking person is concerned with the political nature this movement has assumed. Every right thinking person is disappointed with the uncompromising attitude of Anna that could lead to the Bill not getting passed at all. Every right thinking person is saying: Enough is enough. This is not the only issue concerning the people. There are many other issues that need the attention of the law makers and the government.

The real truth is that the original fight against corruption has been overtaken by the dictatorial attitude and methods of Team Anna. Long back I had written that the movement had turned cancerous. The developments of recent times just prove that. I am all in support of the current Lokpal Bill and demand that Parliament pass it immediately with whatever amendments that get the support of the MPs. I am aware that the Bill may have flaws, but I am prepared to take them up at a later date. Whatever happens, I don’t want Anna – the one who started it all off – to become the reason why this country is deprived of a strong Lokpal Bill any longer….

No comments:

Post a Comment