The face-off between the government and Anna Hazare team regarding the Lokpal Bill does not augur well. When Anna Hazare caught attention of people by launching agitation in Delhi, everyone felt the need of a strong Lokpal. In fact, the government gave its nod for drafting the Lokpal Bill with the help of Civil Society. The absence of Lokpal indicates shortcoming of the Indian democratic system. The first Administrative Reform Commission in 1967 had expressed the need of formation of the Lokpal. Thereafter, as many as eight attempts were made to pass the Lokpal Bill, but not a single party showed its interest to convert it into a law. It spells out message that political parties do not like to constitute Lokpal for its own interest. Civil Society has a firm opinion that only the Lokpal can bridle the malpractices done by people sitting at the helm of affairs, because now CBI, CVC and its allies are not sufficient to curb corruption. These agencies are incapable to put forth evidences against the senior leaders and bureaucrats who are involved in corruption, hence the judiciary is also not capable to put a check on them.

The ruling dispensation also supports capable ombudsman, but it does not agree with the plea of Civil Society that Prime Minister and Chief Justice should be brought under the purview of the Lokpal. The government also wants to keep top bureaucrats and MP’s activities in the Parliament out of the Lokpal. This is not fair because corruption has deeply rooted in the system. Be it offices of the Central or state governments or public sector undertakings, work is not possible without bribing under the table. Now corporate world too charges people for providing them any facility. 

Owing to corruption, common people have to incur expenses to the tune of billions of rupees. According to an estimate, the amount of money spent by common people in bribing is bigger than the quantum of rupees taken by the leaders sitting on high pedestal and bureaucrats in exchange of awarding contracts or other concessions; or money bribed by corporate world instead of giving them favour. The corruption faced by common people hardly gets media attention because this graft has become a routine. Media covers only those corruption cases which are unearthed by them or the issues triggered by RTI or the CAG report. There are a few cases which are unveiled by the government itself. When any scam hits the headlines, it is felt that corruption is prevailing on the top only, whereas it abounds at lower level as well. It is disappointing that no one takes pain to control them. The corruption at lower level will be reined in only when it is controlled on the top.

If Civil Society is emphasizing on bringing people sitting on the top under the ambit of the Lokpal, there is nothing wrong. But there is a need of in-depth discussion on bringing Prime Minister and Chief Justice under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal. It is required to think earnestly that the Prime Minister or Chief Justice was ever directly involved in graft. Making Prime Minister or Chief Justice accountable for prevailing corruption on the top of administration or Judiciary on moral ground or terming them as corrupt is two different things. The people holding such a high postion should not be involved in corruption. As law is amended with the changing of time, so both the parties should adopt flexible attitude. Now it seems that both the parties firm to prove each other a wrong. It is wise that the Civil Society should not be adamant on bringing Prime Minister and Chief Justice under the purview of Lokpal. It will break the logjam, but the ruling government should drop its stand on sparing senior bureaucrats and MPs to bring under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal. If the people sitting at high pedestal have no fear of being accountable for any wrongdoings, it will be difficult to control soaring corruption.

However, there have been much debates on corruption and black money, but no suggestion or option has come out as yet to bridle corruption. Its main reason is functioning of the political parties and the government, which have become totally corrupt. India is a big democratic country due to which it is reigning supreme in the world, however, there has been a sea-change in comparison with the time when the Constitution was written. Those who drafted the Constitution might have never thought it that vote bank politics and blind race for grabbing power will lead to a grievous form of corruption. It is natural that corruption is spreading fast because now a days politics means grabbing power only. Today the ruling dispensation takes such a decision which finally leads corruption. The nub of the problem is political party is not ready for political reform nor electoral reforms. Political parties require colossal amount of money which could not be possible without corruption. Undoubtedly, the formation of the Lokpal cannot fulfill the need which is essential for political, electoral and administrative reforms. Political parties do not show their will-power for all these reforms. They make only statements regarding a strong Lokpal. When there is no valid talk on Lokpal, there is a least chance of an honest debate on political, electoral and administrative reforms. In the course of fighting against corruption, common people should not violate rules and regulations for their personal gains by bribing corrupt employees. If people are determined to abide by rules, the fight against corruption will go easier.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on June19, 2011 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)