Peoples’ movement alone can fight corruption

Peoples’ movement alone can fight corruption

No to toothless citizens’ charter, no to Lokpal sans investigative mechanism, enact law against corruption in higher judiciary. Fight policies of sale of India’s land and resources to corporate to fight corruption.

Under the intense pressure of huge mobilization of people against corruption, in which the hunger strikes of Anna Hazare at Ramlila Maidan served as a flash point, the Lok Sabha laid down a three point parliamentary commitment towards the content of a new Lokpal Bill.

The central government has deliberately dilly dallied and had failed to place a bill before parliament until the twelfth hour had struck (i.e. the last day of parliament’s scheduled winter session). This despite the issue hanging over its head since the past six months.

Now a three day extension of parliament is going to go through the 10th attempt since 1968 to pass a Lokpal Bill. The last minute draft offers a mechanism of group C and
D central government employees being under CVC on issues of corruption and the CVC being supervised by the Lokpal on the this issue. It puts in place a mechanism to select the nine members Lokpal but there is a majority for government representatives on this panel. The CBI’s investigative wing is to be supervised by Lokpal on issues of corruption referred to it, but the administrative and financial control of CBI will not be transferred to Lokpal. A separate citizens’ charter bill has been brought avowedly to redress peoples’ grievances. Strange exceptions have been proposed for PM – is corruption permissible in defence deals and security issues ? Then why should all issues of corruption of PM not be dealt openly by Lokpal ? But no, the proposal is a secret investigation and report only to parliament. Why three fourth majority is required in case of PM ? MP and ministers will be covered by the bill but on the issue of PM, is corruption to be a question of parliamentary majority ? The Govt. Bill is an attempt not to punish but to protect the corrupt while pretending to fight corruption.

The question of corruption in higher judiciary has been abandoned both by Anna Hazare and by central government. A big section of injustices to the country and people is by deliberate miscarriage of justice by the Supreme Court and high courts. A case in the point is of Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The case was diluted, judged and reviewed by a single same judge who now heads the hospital of Union Carbide in Bhopal.

The citizens’ charter has been formulated as a separate bill which offers no actual relief to citizens but technically will be ultimately supervised by Lokpal. Any citizen who actually has the time, energy and social ability to get justice through this charter can anyway get his work done. The Anna Hazare team is now talking of citizens’ charter being under Lokpal but it had itself conceded the issue – in the parliamentary commitments, both this issue as well as group C and D employees were to come under lokpal under appropriate mechanism. The issue of administrative control of CBI had not been put by Anna Hazare at that time not made part of three conditions he had put then to break his fast and is not part of the parliamentary commitments he sought and got. Overall, the repeated negotiations of team Anna with the government, its vesting of faith on certain individuals, its vacillations on issues, refusal to touch policy issues and the looking to the corrupt to form a law to remove corruption, all show it to be looking for reforms within the status quo.

People’s anger against the policies of exclusion has ensured some proposal of representation of all sections on Lokpal. But the logic of almost all parliamentary parties and central government that law making is a prerogative of Parliament and people have no voice on the issue except through these ‘representatives’ is yet to be fought out. People have full right to express what laws they want and parliament must ensure that this will is addressed. They are supposed to enact for the welfare of country and people and people have the right to decide what is good for them. The anger of common people against corruption is what has been reflected in the broad movement for a Lokpal Bill and not the credibility of any reformists. We should remember that Team Anna’s Lokpal had provision for surveillance of phones and communications – they are after all part of status quo. The rights of the people are an issue on which broad militant struggles are the only answer.

People, who are worst sufferers of corruption, should not allow the corrupt to judge themselves. The fight against corruption is intimately connected with the fight against corrupt system. Any attempt to isolate the two will only result in miscarriage of the struggle, as has happened so often in the past. People and people alone can ensure that this does not happen