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The Hazardous attack on representative institutions
Forty Two Years, Eight Standing Committees and Indian polity has no Lok Pal. This premise was often heard in deliberations in the argument that flowed for Anna Hazare 'anshan' or using fasting as a method to protest against the government.

THE JAN Lokpal Bill seeks to create an institution of ombudsmen of citizens as an anti-corruption strategy for India. This institution is unique in other democratic countries as well. It was in the fourth Lok Sabha that the plea for Lokpal was made. The bill lapsed then with the dissolving of Lok Sabha in 1969. Time and again, it was revived yet it did not successfully turn into a law.


The panorama of current times is marred by corruption; the noble aim behind the intentions of effort to put pressure on the government to match to the version of the coterie of five members of the Team Anna cannot be doubted. However, the par excellence initiatives of surrounding the government with pressure tactics fail short of parliamentary supremacy and representational legitimacy.

The right to protest is a fundamental right of every citizen. However, protest under the shield of blackmailing the government of the day begs the merit of answers to certain questions. All the citizens are entitled to appeal and protest, but not at the expense of threatening to commit suicide. The right to demand from a representative government cannot come at the expense of holding the government to ransom and creating law and order problems.

In India, the Parliament is supreme, not sovereign. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution begins with a ringing declaration of, ‘We, the people of India’. The sovereignty vests with the people of India. However, the aspect of a parliamentary democracy provides us with democratically elected representatives. The ground on which the team Anna is claiming that they are better representatives of Indian people seems unclear. It needs to be debated that where is the mandate for them to claim to be better representatives of grievances of citizens than their own elected representatives via periodic elections. India may have been home to colossal problems of poverty, unemployment, violence, hunger, yet the democratic apparatus has been sacrosanct in its working for more than half a century.
There are often remarks of ‘large numbers of Indian citizens want this bill as seen in referendum’.

It is high time that the team Anna clarifies that who and what are these large number of people. An instance of the same is a referendum which was claimed to be conducted in favour of the Jan Lok Pal Bill in Chandni Chowk (where I am voter), and several thousand like me were unaware when and its other whereabouts, making us perceive it as a sheer paper-gimmick. Even at the time of fasting campaigns, there less than a ten lakhs people on streets. Seen in an arithmetic perspective, this is less than half of one percent of Indian population of nearly 1.2 billion which elect the Indian Parliament. Further, how many present out there genuinely knew about what are the features and controversies around Lok Pal Bill. The claim to legitimacy of the self-appointed civil society actors is indeed thin.

The idea of giving deadlines of need the get the bill by this date did aptly pointed towards the procedural delays involved in the legislative process. However, at the same time, a nation cannot afford a hasty piece of legislation under the pressure gimmicks. Just because the legislation is marred by adjournments and MPs running to the well of the house for the entire noisy panorama does not mean we deny the time to government to decide. Does that also imply that the Anna crusaders shall up in arms, if the Parliament calls their protests a bluff?

Constitution is indeed a living document, which has always been receptive to the changes in the contextual circumstances. The notion of fast track that is being propagated in the Jan Lok Pal approach is regressive which might end up disturbing the contours of basic structure of our Constitutional ethos. 

A certain degree of intolerance of the Indian citizenry was seen in attacks and protests upon houses of Members of Parliament. The neck and noose of Jan Lok Pal controversy lies around government mismanagement of the negotiation process with the team Anna. Further, the state has often spoken and bargained with several other non-state actors like militancy in Kashmir, multilateral global governance regimes like WTO, then why it cannot do so with peaceful protests of revulsions by the citizens against corruption. However, one also needs to appreciate the constraints involved in the administration and government apparatus. Today, if the state gives in to their demands in this manner, then later other activists might derail the day to day functioning of the state under the shield of moral authority. This does not go down well with a democracy.

There is a tendency often to blame the politician and systems for all the evils that plague our polity. In this notion of ‘soft target’, we never think that today governance exists under multiple layers. We need to expand this notion of accountability, not only from our representatives, but from several others players in the public domain, what about the NGOs and CSOs often which exist in the web domain to siphon off funds, the corporate which have been practising unethical business practices under this run-away model of neo-liberalism, the pseudo glamorous world which are propelling people to adopt destructive changes in their lifestyles following them, the academicians who subtly use ‘left-right-centre’ ideology to dismiss able candidates in university interviews, etc.

Just blaming the political process and adding a layer of another institution of Lok Pal shall do no good. India is home to law in every field. Mere existence of laws and institutions is no guarantee of its good operation. The vision of Jan Lok Pal is commendable, yet it is strategically flawed. The bill is with the standing committee and the need of the hour is to deal with it in getting the clauses of dissent towards a workable consensus. It may not have been fruitful in the past, yet that does not merit the case of divulging pessimistic notions about our sacred political institutions.


Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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