Current Sideshow Of Allegations Must Not Delay Lok Pal Bill

The political clique in Delhi is getting rattled by the clamour and signs of that are visible with the recently ‘leaked’ CDs.  The current controversy about the CDs and alleged discussions by Shri Shanthi Bhushan and some others is distracting and diverting our attention (either deliberately or inadvertently) from the main issue of fighting corruption and building a new framework to ensure better governance and address the dysfunctionalities in our democracy and Government – which includes the Lokpal Bill.

The best course would be to stop this current side-show of allegations which, unfortunately, has started looking and sounding like a motivated smear campaign. But at the same time, the issues raised by the CD are important and need to be examined thoroughly. If the Hon’ble Supreme Court finds it appropriate, it should admit the petition regarding ‘contempt’, and in the process, have both the Truth Lab and the Central Forensic Science Laboratory file their findings regarding the character of the CD under affidavit. This will once and for all establish the truth.  Equally, if it is found to be false, an investigation must be launched on who was behind this.

But most importantly, the issue of finalizing an effective Lokpal Bill cannot be delayed.  We should not get distracted and allow the spotlight to move elsewhere.

The members on the Lokpal Bill committee representing civil society must be those who have visibly taken on Government and political corruption. That can be the only qualification to be on the Committee. Therefore, arguments making rounds about composition of members of civil society reflecting disdain to democracy is not valid – since these arguments are relevant when it’s a functioning democracy and consistently functioning and responsible institutions of democracy/government. We must accept that our democracy and republic has declined and transformed into something very different from what our founding fathers envisioned.

In the interest of transparency and for enhancing citizens’ participation in the process, the proceedings of the Lokpal committee meetings must be telecast live on Lok Sabha TV.  The mandate of the Lok Sabha television is to cover issues related to Parliament and strengthening of parliamentary democracy. Thus, discussions relating to the formulation of a legislation with such high public interest would certainly make the case for live telecast – which, in turn, will allow supporters, critics and sceptics to provide inputs into the process through an online system that must be established parallelly for receiving such comments.

This will, to a large degree, delink the public chatter and allegations from the actual performance of the participants during the negotiations. It will also ensure that the cause of the mass movement through its representatives remains uncompromised while, at the same time, the committee has the benefit of technical and other inputs from outside experts based on their viewing and analysis of the deliberations within the Lokpal committee.

This will also foster transparency and serve as a most powerful deterrent to any member of the committee to go against the interests of the citizens of India in the process of drafting this important legislation.  Additionally, it will address the issues about possible pressures and compromises on the part of members of the committee.

The above measures would ensure the smooth, undisturbed and expeditious functioning of the drafting committee and hopefully produce a satisfactory draft bill to take care of the various facets of corruption.

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