India’s biggest Anti-Corruption Law or just another Bill awaiting scrutiny?

Civil society activists led by Hazare boycotted the meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal bill, and wrote a letter to Pranab Mukherjee demanding the government to make its stand public on some of the key issues related to the anti-corruption legislation. According to reports, the  Anna Hazare team laid out five major demands and added that government’s intentions raised serious doubts about having a strong anti-corruption watchdog. The POA, for the June 8 protest against police’s ruthless atrocity towards peacefully campaigning masses is all set and it seems that there’s no backing out now for team Anna.

Prashant Bhushan, on behalf of team Anna Hazare wrote announcing their decision not to attend the meetings on the ground that the government wants to practically leave everyone out of Lokpal’s ambit -Prime Minister, horse trading of MPs, middle and lower bureaucracy judiciary. The decision hailed in as an aftermath of the Delhi Police crusade to intervene and disrupt the peaceful protest that too during dead hours when most of the people were sleeping.

Unmindful of the boycott by Hazare and his colleagues, government representatives went ahead with its work on drafting the Lokpal bill. In fact the government didn’t even render heed to the activists’ request of rescheduling of the next meeting of the JDC from June 10 to some other date because of some prior engagements of Hazare. The meeting resulted in several sections of the Lokpal Bill being drafted and it was assured that a strong Anti-Corruption Law would be handed over to the public by June 30th. What also surfaced across was government’s critique towards Team Anna’s boycott, doubting their commitment towards getting a strong Lokpal Bill.

Arvind Kejriwal also commented that “If the public unanimously says that  they do not want the Lokpal to investigate charges of a Prime Minister’s corruption, then they are ready to drop it and negotiate with the government. If the public does not want an investigation by Lokpal the charge of a bribe given to judge, then we are ready for a compromise,” he said.

The popularity of these campaigns underscores a growing unrest among middle class Indians, who are increasingly fed up with corrupt practices that affect every aspect of ordinary life. It also betrays anger at an inability and, more importantly, reluctance to act on the part of democratically elected representatives. There is deeper suspicion now of their motives than ever before. It is worrying that India, described as “the world’s fastest-growing democracy” lacks a truly accountable political process. Undoubtedly the country is advancing on the economic front, yet this contrasts uncomfortably with the erosion of basic democratic values. Corrupt practices have infiltrated all walks of life: government functionaries, judges, lawyers, engineers and even doctors are seen as corrupt.

Garima Obrah