Lokpal or Jan Lokpal or Ombudsman or whatever name you give to this organization, it is a person who is expected to act as a trusted intermediary between the Government and the general public which would act as a watchdog, an authority and a force to look into, receive, enquire into, act upon, prosecute and penalize corrupt public authorities.
Much hope is being pinned upon this Lokpal to curb corruption in the Nation, which is almost universally recognized as the greatest menace our country is facing today. It is being thought that while all the present Institutions and Authorities have completely failed to perform their duty hence a new Public Authority by the name of “Lokpal” will dawn and will wipe away all the corruption or will at least make a substantial and noticeable dent to it.
I reject this assumption at the very beginning and call this hope as nothing that a big hogwash. If I can compare it with historical events, I might even be tempted to equate this kind of offering with all those generation of hopes which clever people have been generating over the Centuries to gather power and then to use or misuse it to it their own purposes.
While many of my friends might call this thought as being utterly pessimistic or dissuading, some would call it retrograde and some will term it a conspiracy and deep scheming. Some might get tempted to start searching into my past, unearthing some dark sides of my life and try to correlate my thought process with some kind of feeble and shameful attempt to save my own skin. There could be many other kinds of theories related to what I say.
But as they say in USA-“I care a damn” because to me what matters more is my conviction and my honesty to self than my getting a certificate from others.
Now the question is- “What does the Jan Lokpal Bill” propose? It proposes to provide an Institution which shall be having so wide ranging powers that it will not only get complaints directly from the people, will also get it enquired, will get FIRs registered if the complains are found true, will seize the property if it is found to be one that has been procured through ill-gotten means, will also start disciplinary proceedings if a person is a government servant and will penalize the government servant as well and so on. Lokpal will be a Police officer, will be the appointing authority, be the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and what not.
It is exactly at this point that I reject this concept in its totality both theoretically and practically. Theoretically because we don’t live in the Primitive ages when there was no division of power and authority. Yes we have Emperor Akbar who did not need any legal procedure to bring a person to his Court, to start the proceedings, to make an order of punishment and to get it executed immediately, all this in a hearing of a few minutes to a few hours. We also had Amitabh “Shahenshah” Bachchan who came out in the streets in the night with a song in the background and a rope sticking around his neck, delivering instant justice. But anyone who really believes in democratic values will understand that such concentration of power in one authority is not only completely against the very premises of democratic norms but is highly draconian and dictatorial. Add to this the adage-“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”: and you se the complete picture.
Look at the present situation when people are not even willing to lose their exalted position as members of “Drafting Committee” only and all the “Magsaysay awards winners” are so blatantly siding with him, brushing aside all serious accusations as being “insinuated”. Just thing what will happen when one of them gets to become the Lokapal with such unbridled powers and starts behaving in the same manner.
Then, there is the practical aspect. Yes, in “Nayak”, one day Chief Minister Anil Kapoor does deliver thousands of justice in a day but everyone who has been in administration very well knows in what manner the administrative procedures move. When millions of complaints will start pouring in the office of Lokpal, the person will find himself so much flummoxed and paralyzed that all his initial zeal will get evaporated within a week and the same enthusiastic revolutionary will find himself a creeping nerd, complaining of all kinds of systemic problems and resource crunch. We have seen this umpteen number of times and we will see it once again.
Next is the issue of an alternative. Yes, these are the problems with a Lokpal but then what is the solution? The solution is not in throwing away the baby itself (and when I say the baby, I mean the huge Governance mechanism that is already existing and functioning) but to look into their problems with all sincerity and honesty and try to find out real and practical ways of removing these problems and handicaps. Kindly don’t just try to implant an untested and untried alien in the entire mechanism which in all certainty will prove to be an administrative and bureaucratic burden. He will have all the staff from the same bureaucratic structure, his Secretary will be an IAS officer, his DG will be from IPS. His enquiry team will have Inspectors and Deputy SP from the same police. My God, when CBI could fail, Supreme Court could fail, Prime Minister office could fail (not at all claimed by me but as claimed by these people) then what is the possibility that the Lokpal will not prove to be turncoat. When we could not generate faith on people whom our own public elects and selects (through whatever means), how shall we pin our hopes on people who have got awards like Magsaysay or the Nobel, which are often said to have their own dynamics and their own fine politics. Would I like to repose faith on an award that was never bestowed to a Great person of Modern Era, Mahatma Gandhi while his disciple Martin Luther got it much easily?
Summing it up, Jan Lokpal is nothing but a big drama, an eyewash and to me it comes as an attempt to gain power through parallel means. If we want to get rid of corruption, which each one of us want, we can get it done not through some magic band like the Lokpal but through millions of small hard-fought battles in each towns and cities, in each Government office, in each Court and so on. At the same time, when fundamental and structural changes are needed at legal and judicial level, it has to be in the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Indian Evidence Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act but these things can be done only by the legal luminaries have sound legal understanding and not by some celebrity activists ripe with newer ideas, not all of them really having implementation utilities.
Yes, we are desperate for change but let not someone get advantage of our desperation to thrust some such implement which will soon start showing its own dangers. Instead, let us control our emotions, balance our thinking and take decisions with a proper combination of heart and mind and not through artificially induced incitements of a “Yes, we can” kind of “Promised world.” Life is not staged Bhangra but is a multitude of hard-fought battles
Amitabh, an IPS officer of UP Cadre- the views presented are his own. all the suggestions, comments, disagreements, criticism, threats, angers and praise are eagerly solicited at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or 91-94155-34526