How do you feel about the Jan Lokpal draft?
This is an extremely important Bill that is going to change many fundamental aspects of accountability and law. For that reason, 12 versions or discussions for three months is extremely inadequate and there are many questions that remain unanswered. Therefore, it’s important that this is discussed in the public domain, so that if the law goes back to the government, it has to be a draft that has addressed all the issues. Not that it goes there and the whole process is raked up again. Also for the legitimacy of the process.
So, did you feel that the movement got ahead of the process of putting together a better draft?
A movement usually only looks at broad issues. It was fine but in terms of the legislation, it left much to be desired.
Now that a deadline has been set, will there be enough time to debate and gather intelligent inputs so the law is representative and not in danger of getting stuck again?
Now that these five people are members of the joint committee, they have an accountability at many levels to all of us. They should make a law that will absorb all the valid points raised by lots of people, and integrate them into an Act that doesn’t lose its own legitimacy. So now the onus is on them for transparency, accountability, timely dissemination of information and also for overseeing that there is no unnecessary delay, but also understanding that there are some things that will take some time.
Where do you stand on some of the specifics of the Lokpal debates as they play out now?
I think the imbalance is in the expectation that creating a powerful Lokpal will somehow get you a corruption-free India. I think what they really need to see is that the Lokpal is powerful and independent. But not so powerful that the power itself corrupts its position. Corruption is not merely money. It’s also the unchallenged power of anybody that leads to corruption. That’s why we need to work hard on it so we don’t damage anybody’s Constitutional independence.
Revati Laul is a Correspondent with Tehelka