WHAT’S GOING WRONG AT THE CENTRE? by Joaquim Correia-Afonso, Benaulim.

What seems to be ailing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its government at the Centre? Dr. Manmohan Singh is an able administrator and economist and I have great regard for him. Who doesn’t anyway? During his first term as Prime Minister (UPA – 1) he steered through all the opposition from within and from without, with dexterity. He got the better of the Left, specially with regard to the nuclear programme.
At the elections that followed, the Congress won with more members than previously and consequent less dependence on alliance partners (UPA – 2). However, it soon got entangled in scams – 2G, CWG – that caught it like a spider catches a fly in its web. And the Government seems to have gone on the defensive, even going slow on reforms which should, otherwise, have been on fast forward.
The confrontation between the government and the people has reached a serious level. The gap is increasing and becoming more and more difficult to bring the two closer together on a common platform. Two important issues that have been bothering the civil society in recent times are corruption at all levels of administration and the black money stashed in “safe havens” abroad. Hence the demand for a Jan Lokpal.
It is true that civil society cannot take over the role of elected Parliamentarians. Parliamentary democracy cannot be undermined. However, the Central government is seen to be dragging its feet on the issue of detecting and bringing back black money amassed abroad, thus showing its reluctance in curbing this evil. Government and civil society cannot meet on common ground in the drafting of the Lokpal Bill. The Bill will be discussed in Parliament and then any number of changes can take place which, again, may not be acceptable to the civil society. But Parliament will be the ultimate decider. It seems obvious, though, that politicians will not want themselves and others of their ilk to be probed, or their actions “screw-tinized” by a Lokpal belonging to the civil society. The Lokpal cannot be an authority above Parliament.
I agree with Raghav Chandra who, elsewhere in the print media, has expressed the view (and that bears repetition here) that “the Lokpal should be an overseeing body, to oversee the State’s instruments for tackling corruption. A citizen’s watchdog, comprising eminent citizens, distinct from the investigative mechanism of the State, would better safeguard society’s interests. It could call for records of investigations done by the vigilance agencies, hold discussions with citizenry and then ensure that no wrongdoer was let off lightly.”
India is a Parliamentary democracy. The Lokpal cannot overrule Parliament, or a decision by the President. Parliament has the power to impeach – whether the President, or a Supreme Court or High Court Judge (if I am not mistaken). It can also remove the Prime Minister (and a Legislative Assembly the Chief Minister of a State) by a vote of no-confidence. Or a government can be voted out of power during voting on financial matters. The Constitution does give us some safeguards. I should say sufficient safeguards.
Mr. Raghav Chandra also opined that in the proposed Lokpal Act “nobody, however big, should remain above scrutiny”. In my humble opinion, the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of a State and the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the High Courts should be left out of the jurisdiction of the Jan Lokpal. However, the Lokpal, as envisaged by Raghav Chandra, could point out any wrongdoings by the above and leave to Parliament the decision on action to be taken. They should not be “above scrutiny”.
But the nation’s Constitution and Parliament are supreme. Let us not undermine their supremacy, let no one take over Parliament’s authority or encroach on its jurisdiction.


Dalia said...

Powerful or not that powerful. Politicians and criminals are protected by the law of the jungle. Criminals for a huge chain in our society where they protect each others. What happened to Monserrate when he was openly caught carrying hard currency? Killers of Cipriano are not yet booked or matter forgotten? Killers of Melwyn are freely roaming. Jivba Dalvi is "just shunted out" to keep the noise low. Killers of Velips in Balli enjoy high profile life and General Dyer talking nonsense. Criminal activities by the  elected representatives is a big hurdle in our law and order system. The proctectors of law are now the culprits. Everything gets covered up. The criminal are free.

Likewise, the Centre is not interested to expose most of it's criminals who have stashed money in every corner of the World. By now, the politicians are busy studying the loopholes in the proposed Lok Pal Bill.

Joaquim Correia Afonso said...

Regarding the black money stashed abroad, it was left to the Supreme Court to appoint a Special Investigation Tem (SIT) to investigate and monitor steps taken to bring the unaccounted money back home. The Court criticised the government over the "laggardly pace" of handling black money cases and directed the government to issue notification forthwith for appointment of the SIT, while it also ordered the government machinery to cooperate with the SIT.

Regarding the Lokpal, all parties to the issue seem to have agreed that the nation must have a "strong" Lokpal.

Post a Comment