Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Strongest Lokpal

Anna Hazare and Team have confused and confounded discussions about the proposed Lokpal by equating its strength with executive independence and authority.

They have talked of “wiping out corruption” by enabling the Lokpal to investigate all branches and levels of government, including the Prime Minister and the judiciary, and giving it the power to suspend officials on its own findings, before conviction in a court of law. To give clout to that unconstitutional combination of police and judicial functions, Team Anna wants to put the Central Bureau of Investigation under the Lokpal.

No other country has such an institution. In fact, there is only one parallel in all of history: the Grand Inquisitor of the Catholic Church who loosed murderous persecutions on the hapless people of medieval Europe.

Unlimited and fawning television coverage of Team Anna has prevented anyone from questioning its fundamental premise that a “strong” Lokpal requires a new overweening power centre within the constitutional structure of the Indian State.

Such a power centre would be prone to corruption, and if the Lokpal turned out to be an ambitious and unprincipled individual, it would open the door to an entirely new level of evil, subverting the democratic system.

The strongest Lokpal could be one with no executive, police or quasi-judicial functions, but one empowered to investigate, report and recommend action on any matter under the purview of the State.

Appropriately staffed, such a Lokpal would have enormous moral power. Every other organ of government, every official, would feel the pressure to be honest. Far more than an institution that joins in the scrum of power, such a Lokpal would be an effective check on corruption.

No comments: