CREATING A FRANKENSTEIN
By Justice Markandey Katju
I had been keeping silent throughout the Anna Hazare Movement for creating a Lokpal (Janlokpal) because the media (particularly electronic media) had so much hyped the issue and generated such an emotional storm that anyone who would have raised some logical questions would have immediately been branded as a ‘deshdrohi’ or ‘gaddar’. Anna Hazare was depicted as a modern messiah, who, like Moses, had come to rescue his chosen people and lead them to a land of honey and milk.
Now that the brouhaha and hullabaloo has subsided it is time to make a cool, dispassionate, logical assessment of Mr. Hazare and his movement.
I have no doubt that Anna Hazare is an honest man, but my point is that the problems facing the country (and corruption is certainly one of them) are so massive that they can only be solved by a rational, scientific approach, not by emotional outbursts. Honesty alone is not enough.
So far as I could gather, Anna Hazare has no scientific ideas. Consider two of his statements:
1. His solution to alcoholism is to tie alcoholics to a pole and whip them. Is this a rational solution? Most poor people who drink liquor in this country drink cheap country liquor, not scotch. They drink to get some temporary relief from their miserable lives. To abolish alcoholism among them would be possible only by abolishing poverty, and that can be done by raising their standard of living and giving them decent lives. This is a gigantic task, and cannot be solved by flogging them in public.
2. Anna Hazare demands a right to recall elected representatives. But how is that possible within the system? Supposing a law is made that a motion can be moved for recall of an M.L.A. or M.P. signed by 10,000 voters. But for getting this motion passed there will have to be voting by all the voters in the constituency. This would mean another election. Is this feasible? An election entails a huge amount of expenditure, can a poor country like ours have repeated elections? I think the idea is totally impractical.
Now coming to the Lokpal Bill, whether Janlokpal Bill or Sarkari Lokpal Bill, it envisages overseeing the work of some 55 lac government employees in the country (of which 13 lacs are in the Railways alone), from Prime Minister to peon. Surely one person cannot enquire into the lacs of complaints which are bound to pour in. It will require thousands of Lokpals, may be 50,000 of them to do this. All these have to be provided salaries and other amenities, housing, offices, staff etc. And then where is the guarantee that these will not themselves become corrupt? In fact considering the low level of morality prevailing in India, we can be fairly certain that a large number of them will become blackmailers. In my opinion, the Lokpal Bill will create a parallel bureaucracy, which will turn into a Frankenstein monster. Instead of curtailing corruption, in all probability at a stroke it will double or triple corruption in the country.
I regret to say that the implications of creating such an apparatus were not rationally thought out, and instead some people thought that all problems of corruption will be solved by shouting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ or ‘Inquilaab Zindadbad’ from Jantar Mantar or Ram Lila Ground.
I may clarify that I am not against any kind of Lokpal. Justice Hegde did a fantastic job in exposing the corruption of the mining mafia in Karnataka. But the type of Lokpal envisaged in the Janlokpal Bill or Government Lokpal Bill are clearly impractical and unworkable.
I would therefore respectfully urge Parliament to defer consideration of the Bill before it and refer the matter to a Standing Committee (as Shri Lalu Yadav has suggested) where experts from various fields in the country and outside be invited to give their views, and only then a workable Lokpal machinery can be created. Passing Bills in a hurry and under pressure of some people having their own agenda will only add to the huge problems facing the country.