Prashant Bhushan made a powerful speech using his full knowledge of the working of the system, as well as by being one of the architects of the Jan Lok Pal Bill, to explain what he felt was the root of corruption and the way to uproot corruption.
At the very beginning, he appreciated Prakash Rao’s presentation which had preceded his, for its simplicity and clarity.
He pointed out that corruption has increased by leaps and bounds following the liberalization- privatization program launched 20 years ago.
He pointed out that the Lok Pal bill of the government was deeply flawed.
It was the government that would set up the Lok Pal if the new Bill was passed. It would have ministers like Raja, it would have judges like those indicted as corrupt such as the Sikkim Chief Justice, it would have bureaucrats like Thomas. He pointed out that just like the CVC and other bodies were compromised, the Lok Pal would also be compromised from the very beginning.
He pointed out that the kind of scam that took place over a vote on an important national issue — the nuclear bill — in which money was traded for getting votes, or the case in the early nineties when the then Rao-Manmohan government survived by bribing Jharkhand MP’s, would not be in the purview of the government Lok Pal. Interestingly, the Supreme Court had also ruled that if MPs voted according to the bribe, they cannot be penalized.
He pointed out that the government bill ensures that whistleblowers will be harassed. The accused will be told all the details of who filed charge sheets against them, so that they could take action against them.
He pointed out that the investigative machinery would consist of lower level officers, under control and supervision of their seniors, whom they are supposed to investigate. They are supposed to investigate the same people who recommend their promotions and influence their career trajectory!
Corruption involves people from the highest to the lowest level in the state machinery. The government bill, he pointed out, deliberately excludes the majority of officials from the purview of Lok Pal. This means that two separate investigations would be carried out, and one would never know whether it would ever lead to any results.
Prashant Bhushan termed the Government Lok Pal Bill as a "bill to promote corruption".
Prashant Bhushan made a call for direct democracy. He said, in today’s age, it is possible to have internet kiosks in every village, every basti. So after informed discussion, people of our country at the level of panchayats, gram sabhas, tehsils, districts, urban colonies, states, and all over the country could vote if necessary on an issue, if need be every week.
He called on those assembled to vigorously participate in the mass agitation around Anna Hazare’s fast to be launched on August 16, 2011.
(based on notes of a LRS Correspondent)