Thursday, September 15, 2011

Former Chief Justice of India J.S.Verma Lecture on Corruption and the Way Forward

We Wait and We WonderImage via Wikipedia

Sunday, August 28, 2011

NDTV closes Anna's second fast with a good gathering - "We the People Must Stay Engaged with We the Elected"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

India Against Corruption Photo Gallery from Saturday, August 27th at Ramlila Maidan

Anna Hazare: "We have only won half the battle."

The spirit was infectious. The crowds were well-mannered and orderly. Not to mention enthusiastic and vocal. "Every section of society is here", noted a young boy walking past. "Babu-ji, dekhna, Anna-ji ki jeet hogi", insisted a white haired toothless man. The police was calm and pleasant. I may have missed Aamir Khan but I did meet Dr. Naresh Trehan who assured me Anna Hazare was fine. The crowds cheered and clapped with hands over heads when it was announced the Parliament would finally take a voice vote. Anna Hazare has lost 7 kilograms in 12 days but the protest is far from over. Indian politics will never be the same again.

Photo Gallery:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A time to talk. A time to do.

Anna Hazare - DelhiImage by vm2827 via FlickrWhile many are coming round to the view that a wider consultation is necessary to fend off a terrible government bill, Anna Hazare is in no mood to allow the government to waste any more time.

If the government does not show sincerity now, this situation is likely to spiral out of control. Despite appeals from Justice Hegde and others to stop his fast, Anna Hazare is in no mood to relent before his mission is completed.

Reminder: Anna Hazare is only asking for the government to introduce the Janlokpal draft in the Lok Sabha.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reporting with a difference: a NDTV Interview and a Times Now NewsHour Debate

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Corruption in India: The Premise We Cannot Pretend to Ignore

Overview of the Corruption Perceptions Index (...Image via WikipediaThis is a guest post by SCT discussing the substantive issues and contextual approach towards drafting multiple versions of the Lokpal Bill which guides on the question of including the PMO, Judiciary, Members of Parliament and junior officers in the ambit of the Lokpal or not.

There are three drafts on Lokpal bill coming in public domain. I do not to wish to go into details as the drafting details can be taken care later on if we are clear about the substantive issues to be tackled.

The popular perception is that corruption at high places of executive, legislature and judiciary has reached unacceptable levels and people at the top level of all the three wings of State are unwilling or unable to do anything. Recent examples of the PM office coming in disrepute over several large scams, Ministers or equivalent directly found prima facie accused of mammoth corruption, eight former Chief Justices accused of corruption in a petition before the Supreme Court, Parliament accepting shameful act open bribing on issue of "No Confidence", have made informed persons desperate.

Corruption has entered every institution and every walk of life and people feel that it flows from top. In such a situation, we have to have a mechanism for dealing with corruption by PM or his office, as also the corruption in higher judiciary particularly in the various High Courts.

If this is accepted, the drafts can be examined and seen as to which is most appropriate or that another draft with parallel bills for Judicial Accountability and Codification of Parliamentary Privileges be taken up. The problem is neither in drafting nor in any constitutional infirmity, it is in some of these "highest vested interests" agreeing to be treated on par with others and subject themselves to independent scrutiny.

The guest author is Shri S.C. Tripathi I.A.S. (Retd 1968) L.L.B. M.Sc. He takes an interest in education, economy, energy, legal, political and constitutional issues. This is his third blog.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Parliament and the People: Is the Janlokpal protest unconstitutional?

The Indian Constitution preambleImage via WikipediaThis is a guest post by SCT in which he shares a legal opinion on the sovereignty of parliamentary procedure for law-making in a free and functioning democracy.

There seems some confusion on two related issues, namely that the protest of Anna and team is unconstitutional and that Parliament is sovereign so when the bill is before Parliament all public action should cease.

Both the arguments are flawed. These arguments have validity only when an overwhelming number have full faith in these institutions. But these are not normal circumstances.

Firstly, the Parliament is neither Sovereign nor Supreme. The People are Sovereign as the opening lines of Preamble of the Constitution state clearly.

In modern times, large countries can not have Government by the People and that is why the Parliaments and Elected bodies legislate on behalf of the People and elect the Executive in a Democracy. But if they become dysfunctional, People have every right to protest peacefully so that the Parliamentarians can gauge the will of the People and one does not have to wait for the end of the tenure of the House.

It also implies that once elected, the Parliament or the legislators can not ignore the will of the People and become totally self-serving as is the common perception at this point on the issue of tackling corruption. We have seen how debates in Parliament on the issue of "No Confidence" can be won or lost by offer of bribe that was left shamefully unsolved by the Parliament forcing the Supreme Court to intervene.

On so many issues in the past, various groups have taken out processions and protest marches even while the bills are pending in Parliament. The most glaring example is the Women's Reservation Bill that has been with the Parliament for nearly a decade but whenever a discussion is planned, some interest groups threaten agitation and everyone in Government and the Parliament develops cold feet.

So, neither the Parliament is Sovereign nor a protest over any bill that is pending, unconstitutional. Even technically and constitutionally, the Sovereignty under Indian Constitution is not located in any single Institution at all time.

Now, on the second issue as to whether an agitation or fast is unconstitutional, I would only say that the question is absurd in a Democracy. Yes, conditions about the place can be imposed but not on numbers and days. If at any stage, there is commission of crime or violence or apprehension thereof (such as on later days of a fast unto death), the enforcement agencies deal with situations everyday and are expected to take legal action with which all are familiar.

The present situation is not a normal happening, it has to be taken as an abnormal situation because corruption has affected almost every person and he has felt helpless till he saw Anna's movement. A quick solution based on consensus and not on "smart" handling, is necessary.

The guest author, SCT, is Shri S.C. Tripathi I.A.S Retd. (1968) L.L.B. This is his second blog.

This Moment in the Movement: Beyond Lokpal Bill 2011

Detail from Corrupt Legislation. Mural by Elih...Image via WikipediaThis is a guest blog by 'SCT' in which he shares his thoughts on the India Against Corruption movement and offers a way forward on national anti-corruption policy issues.

The public support to Anna Hazare is not necessarily a vote for Janlokpal bill. It is an expression of wide scale resentment about the corruption that pervades all institutions and walks of life and has corroded the essentials of these institutions.

It is also an expression of disgust people feel over the inability and incapacity of the Government to take any effective measures. In fact the popular perception is that those who have to act are the ones benefiting from this sorry state of affairs.

The least Government could do was to read the mood of the people and present a bill giving more teeth to the Lokpal e.g. bringing PM and higher Judiciary under its ambit.

Also, the time has come to bring Electoral Reforms, at least those provisions that many Election Commissions and Law Commissions have recommended in the past.

Government must now introduce a bill for these reforms as the electoral process is the fountainhead of corruption.

The guest author, SCT, is Shri S.C. Tripathi I.A.S. Retd (1968). He takes an interest in education, economy, energy, legal, political and constitutional matters. This is his first blog, guest or otherwise.

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