No more ‘with us or against us’, Anna
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In a span of four months, Anna Hazare is on a second fast unto death on the issue of corruption, and for his proposed Jan Lokpal, which he says will substantially curb corruption. The media is all out to boost Anna. The question is essentially framed as a fight against corruption: either one is against corruption and therefore for Anna Hazare, or one is against Anna and therefore for corruption.
There is no middle ground — that asks, for example, whether the proposed Bill will actually reduce corruption. It presumes that a multitude of Lokpals/Lokayuktas will cover about 14 million Central and state government employees. Assuming a modest figure of one complaint per 100 employees, we may have around 140,000 employees investigated every year. These complaints are to be investigated in a fixed time. Even if one Lokpal can handle 100 cases a year, we will still need 1,400 Lokpals.
This figure may be higher then the number of high court and Supreme Court judges in the country. Are we creating a structure parallel to the higher judiciary, but with much greater powers, and very little checks and balance? Anna assumes that all these Lokpals will be most honest, efficient and just. This itself is absurd in an environment where civil society doubts almost all those in elective office — even chief justices and military chiefs.
Their appointment, and, in the rare case, removal, would be substantially outside the powers of the prime minister. Incidentally their removal would be even more difficult than the removal of senior judges, which is already almost impossible.
Much more frightening is the power such a Lokpal/Lokayukta would exercise over the senior judiciary and the council of ministers. By just a simple threat to initiate an inquiry he would cripple the authority of the judiciary as well as the council of ministers. Note that this would run across the entire spectrum: from budgets, to defence, to foreign affairs. Most important, they would even exercise restraining powers over the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. In one stroke the prime minister would lose his administrative aura.
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