Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Anna Hazare is on an indefinite fast

People, Fasting and Parliament

The fast by activists led by Anna Hazare has elicited different responses from different people. While there is agreement on the need to fight corruption, some have criticized the method.

Their objections are as below:

1) In a parliamentary democracy parliament is supreme. Parliament can not be pressurized by fasting.

2) Self-appointed people can not make law. It is for elected representatives to make law.

3) The agitators have contempt for politics and democracy.

4) The agitation amounts to blackmail.

5) The agitation is fascist.

Let us examine the objections.

1) People are supreme in a democracy. Parliament represents people. MPs are elected to do the will of the people and not as they want. Fasting is a legitimate way to put pressure on parliament. MPs forget they are representatives of people and not lords and masters. The constitution begins with the words “We the people”.

2) Where were these people when NAC which functions as a super cabinet with Sonia Gandhi as super prime minister was formed? NAC has vetoed many draft bills prepared by cabinet committees. Many bills have been drafted by Non-MPs and some have become law. Indira Jaisingh had drafted one bill that became law. She was not an MP then, not an MP now.

3) If there is contempt for politics and democracy it is due to politicians. Winter session of parliament did not function on the demand of JPC. The government did not yield then. It yielded when budget session began. MPs disrupting parliament is not a pretty sight. MPs increasing and multiplying their salaries, allowances and privileges as they like and neglecting their duties does not inspire confidence. Where is democracy when a candidate who has lost Lok Sabha election becomes prime minister or home minister?

4) Since when fasting has become blackmail? Did Gandhi resort to blackmail when he fasted?

5) There is nothing fascist about the agitation. The activists are not stopping traffic, forcing shutdown of offices, schools, colleges and shops, uprooting railway tracks, setting fire to public and private property or engaged in stone pelting. When Jats, Gujjars and others resort to such methods no one calls them fascist. Calling a non-violent and peaceful agitation fascist is a poor joke.

There are some who say NGOs are corrupt. In that case it is for them the expose corruption by NGOs.

The government is not ready to issue a notification. The dispute about the chairman of drafting committee is not settled. Anna Hazare has called for people to fill jails on 12/4/2011.

The excuse that ministers are busy with elections and not free to do anything about Lokpal Bill till they are over is not acceptable. There are no Lok Sabha elections and central ministers are not required to participate in state and union territory elections.

Fast for Lokpal Bill

Anna Hazare is on an indefinite fast for Jan Lokpal Bill. This bill is different from the Lokpal Bill the government has in mind. The government is not ready to meet representatives of activists to reconcile the two bills.

Lokpal Bill is a small step in fighting corruption at the top. The bill has made occasional appears over the last 42 years. Many people have come forward in support of Anna Hazare and there are indefinite fasts in various cities. In California, Indians marched supporting the fast against corruption. Candle light vigil has taken place.

The activists do not want Sharad Pawar, Kapil Sibal and Veerappa Moily in the drafting committee of Lokpal Bill. They do not want politicians to join their movement. Om Prakash Chautala and Uma Bharti had to go back. The activists want the committee to have five ministers and five activists. Swami Agnivesh wants a new constitution for India. Arvind Kejriwal called the people to come to Jantar Mantar and make it the Tahrir Square of India. The movement is known as crusade against corruption.

Permission of Speaker or Chairman should not be a requirement for prosecution of MPs. Permission of President should not be a requirement for prosecution of Prime Minister and other ministers.

Sometimes the motives of people who fight against corruption are questioned. Indian Justice Party lead Udit Raj has said that actions against K. G. Balakrishnan and Dinakaran are because they are Dalits. He did not say the two judges were not corrupt. He said “There were serious complaints against former CJIs A. S. Anand and Y. K. Sabharwal too. In Sabhalwal’s case, there was documentary too… But no action was taken against them. In the case of Balakrishnan and Dinakaran, both have been dubbed guilty without any clinching evidence.” Udit Raj can try to prosecute A. S. Anand and Y. K. Sabharwal.

The judicial system we inherited from the British has failed us. The system’s foundation is wrong. It says. No innocent person shall be punished even though hundred criminals escape. Hundred criminals escaping is not justice. Even one criminal escaping is not justice. The system’s foundation should be, No innocent person shall be punished and no criminal shall escape.

Punishment for corruption should be proportionate to the amount. If the punishment for corruption involving 100 rupees is imprisonment for a day, then for 10,000 rupees it should be 100 days, for 1,00,00,000 rupees it should be 1,00,000 days and so on. The punishment period should not have parole or remission. Time spent in hospital should not be considered and period of imprisonment should be extended accordingly. If any loss is caused to the country the loss should be recovered from the corrupt person and that is separate from the punishment for corruption. For example, if a man has a 20 crore rupees bribe and caused 1,000 crore rupees loss he should be punished for the bribe and loss should be recovered from him and if after selling his property if the amount falls short there should be additional punishment. If the act of corruption has resulted in the death of a person, the corrupt person should he hanged.

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