Posts Tagged ‘ Celebrity Gossips ’

NaMo’s Lok Pal

Finally the Indian Parliament has passed the Lok Pal Bill and we saw a lot of grand standing and credit posturing by all the political leaders of the Congress and the BJP.

Something surreal and sublime was happening in the country. For we Indians, used to seeing all political parties dispatching newly elected MLAs and MPs to some impregnable forts, blatant horse trading to cobble together majority, and parliament/ state assemblies being stalled for the silliest of reasons, this was a welcome change. The only time we saw our parliamentarians display unity was when it comes to their pay cheque.

Suddenly our leaders became goody two shoes. Post the Delhi elections we saw the victor and the vanquished, begging, prodding, and cajoling their biggest opponent Aam Aadmi Party to form the government. Parliament was ‘debating’, yes you read it right, debating on the need for an ombudsman organization, state funding of elections, electoral reforms, food security, price rise etc. Leaders were making ‘astounding discoveries regarding engaging people’. Basic principles of participative democracy is presented as ‘a bold new idea’. Our political class was displaying a new sense of exalted virtue and political morality. And India sure looked close to becoming a ‘paradise’.

Suddenly the leaders from Congress and BJP were graciously congratulating Anna Hazare for his contribution to ‘enact the Lok Pal Bill’. This was the same leaders who shooed away Anna and his India Against Corruption Movement, the last time around, ie., 2011, saying they were duty bound ‘to protect against outsiders trespassing into the law-making prerogatives of an elected Parliament’.

This time around, Anna, on his part, graciously accepted the ‘compromise Lok Pal’ offered by the government and called off his fast at Ralegan Siddhi. But, the most curious part was that all the leaders who spoke, conveniently forgot the contribution made by Arvind Kejriwal. But lost in the din was yet another important news – ‘Gujarat got its Lokayuktha’. And that brings me to the reason for writing this article.

ModiBut before we start I would like to take the legal meaning of ‘Ombudsman’ from which the concept of Lok Pal was born. In Government/Politics and Diplomacy, ‘ombudsman’ is a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration.

Gujarat passed Gujarat Lokayukta Act in 1986, but almost from the time Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, the Gujarat Lokayukta, has not been functional.

In 2001, when Modi came to power in Gujarat, Justice RM Soni’s was the Lokayukta. Justice Soni was appointed during Keshubhai Patel’s rule in 1998 and his term expired in December 2003 and the post has been lying vacant since then. From then on Modi scuttled every move to appoint a Lokayukta and make the Gujarat Lokayukta, functional.

Finally on 25 August 2011, the Gujarat Governor, Dr. Kamla Beniwal, appointed Justice R. A. Mehta to the post of Lokayukta of Gujarat. Justice Mehta was recommended for the post by the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court S.J. Mukhopadhaya in June 2011.  A miffed Modi accused the Governor of running a parallel government in the state supported by the Congress and demanded that she be recalled.

The Gujarat government then challenged the appointment in the Gujarat High Court, arguing that the Governor could not make the appointment without the State government’s advice. On 10 October 2011, the two-member High Court bench gave a split verdict and in January 2012, a third member upheld Beniwal’s decision. This was a major blow to Modi.

The Gujarat government then approached the Supreme Court, however lost the case. The SC upheld the Gujarat High Court’s verdict that though the decision on Lokayukta appointment was made without consultation with or approval from Modi, it was as per the letter and spirit of the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986.

The Gujarat government appealed against the SC verdict twice, but lost. Even after the SC upheld his appointment, Justice Mehta however desisted from charge of the office, citing 23 reasons. The controversy over his appointment, he said, had ‘denigrated the office of the Lokayukta and it had lost all the grace and dignity.’ (Read full text of his resignation letter here)

This was Modi’s chance. As is the norm in Gujarat, Modi wanted to appoint his man-friday for the role of Lokayukta, but he knew that this would not stand the scrutiny of law. So he now framed a new bill – Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013.

The new Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, was passed by the state assembly in April, 2013, but, unfortunately, on 2 September 2013, the bill was returned by Gujarat Governor. On 1 October 2013, the state assembly passed the bill for the second time. But this time Governor Dr. Beniwal was constitutionally bound to accept the bill. Thus finally Modi had his way and succeeded in subverting the Supreme Court decision on the appointment of Lokayukta.

Unlike the Gujarat Lokayukta Act, 1986 the new bill provided primacy to the Chief Minister, over the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice, in appointing the ‘ombudsman’. The new Gujarat Lokayukta Aayog Bill, 2013 empowers a selection committee chaired by the Chief Minister appoints the Lokayukta. The panel comprises the Speaker of the Assembly, a Minister, the Leader of Opposition, the State Vigilance Commissioner and a High Court Judge, ‘to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the HC in consultation with the collegium of five senior judges’.

The new Bill also proposes a special provision which gives pivotal power to the state government in excluding any ‘public functionaries’ from the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta.

Then we saw Jayaram Ramesh capturing headlines saying ‘Modi talking on lokayukta is like Asaram talking on rape’. Jayaram was spot on, but then you know that these politicians only put on a public show to deride each other in varying degrees restraining themselves only to varying degrees of their innate civility or belligerence as is their habit. But they go ahead and do what they want anyway – even change a law or bring in a new one to suit their whim and fancy.

Lokayukta is an ombudsman body which is supposed to look into irregularities brought to its notice against the decisions taken by the state cabinet and the administration. Then how can the Chief Minister who is the head of the state cabinet have supremacy in deciding who should be the ombudsman?

This not only belies fundamental logic and intelligence. To me, it is a travesty of the institution of the ombudsman, but also provides an indication of authoritarian incoherence and double speaks by the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Damodardas Modi.

Heads up – the politicians win. Tails up – the people lose !!!

Cartoon : Courtesy Satish Acharya

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Criminality in Indian Political System

For the first time, I had seen a ray of hope when in July 10, 2013 the Supreme Court of India upheld the 2004 Patna High Court ruling, which held that when a person in custody was disqualified to vote, he was also disqualified from contesting the elections.

This ticked the political parties in Parliament and they joined hands to amend the Representation of the People Act 1951 to negate the impact of the apex court verdict directing immediate disqualification of MPs and MLAs on being sentenced for more than two years in a criminal case.

Learned lawyers in Parliament like Kapil Sibal and Arun Jaitley introduced a provision to Section 62(5) which says “by reasons of the prohibition to vote under this sub-section, a person whose name has been entered in the electoral roll shall not cease to be an elector.” In effect treating a person in lawful custody in a criminal case as a voter and hence qualified to contest elections.

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The political parties of all hues backed the UPA Government on the move to amend the Act. To understand why this unity you need to understand the criminal antecedents of our elected representatives. According to an analysis done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW), the Lok Sabha has 30% ie., 162 members have criminal cases against them. 14% have serious criminal cases. Our State Assemblies put together has 31% ie. 1258 members have criminal cases against them. 18% have serious criminal cases. In a break-up of political parties, 75% of Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs since 2004 have declared criminal cases against them, followed by Rashtriya Janata Dal with 46% such candidates and Janata Dal (United) with 44%. The BJP and Congress were at 31% and 22%, respectively.

Now you should understand the urgency. The apex court passed the judgement on July 10, 2013 and the amendments to RPA was rushed through in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on August 27, 2013 and September 7, 2013 respectively.  The amendments to the bill were passed within about 15 minutes in both houses, after a brief discussion. Some members of course wanted an elaborate debate on the amendments but the overwhelming majority of the House, including Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal, Leader of Opposition in LS and RS – Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, pushed for its passage even without discussion.

Now the final nail on the coffin of this attempt to cleanse our Parliament of dirty politicians have been done by Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhaya.  Through their judgement they have effectively killed the collective hope of the people of India. It must be recalled here that in 2002 and 2003, two vital orders from the same Supreme Court had made it compulsory to candidates to file information regarding any or all criminal cases pending against them, their educational qualification as well as details of the combined wealth of the candidate and their spouses.

But I still have indomitable faith. My faith is in Aam Aadmi Party, for I find them as a few good men and women, who have taken a stand to clean the dirt in politics and I am willing to give them a chance.

My request to all my friends in Delhi is to go out and cast your vote for the Aam Aadmi Party and then we can build the movement to a credible alternative to these Criminal Politicians, across the country.

God Bless India.

PS : I am not a member of Aam Aadmi Party but just a Indian citizen tired of seeing the desperation of both Congress and the BJP. Both wants to make it a Presidential election showing a Pappu and a Feku. We know them, we have seen them in action. They have brought down the standard of debates in Parliament and election rallies to pits. We have also seen them both in action together in Parliament to scuttle the best opportunity to decriminalize the Indian political system.

Cartoon : Courtesy The Hindu & Copy Right Keshav

My Butterfly

This poem is dedicated to a little girl of 6 who is watching a beautiful butterfly soaring in the sky, spreading her delicate wings on an Indian Summer. The little girl wants to capture the beauty of the butterfly but the butterfly remains elusive, just beyond her reach. The poem is about the feelings that run in this little girls mind…

little girl - butterfly

I was sitting on the porch, gaping at the pristine blue sky.
Enjoying the colours breaking slowly, on an Indian summer.
My eyes fall on a butterfly in fluorescent elegance,
Hoping from flower to flower to collect nectar.
 
A delicate and beautiful butterfly, so full of life,
Quietly swirling in the breeze, hovering calmly.
I still myself and track her flight,
Trying to capture, the eloquence.
 
Breezy it is, as she flaps her wings.
I try lunge forward to capture her.
But she’s too quick and eludes me.
Just beyond the mesh of my imagination.
 
Towering in flight, scything through foliage,
Tricking me time and again, I chase to exhaustion.
The more I chase the further she flies,
More elusive she becomes, frustrating me.
 
I want her to know, I wouldn’t hurt her.
I just want to see her up close and personal.
Capture her everlasting beauty in my eyes,
To re-live the beauty with my eyes closed.
 
For from the start, I always knew deep inside,
That I would not be allowed to keep her.
I guess it’s hard to accept that, I will have,
To let her go and watch her fly away.
 
My Butterfly, for once settle on my hand and then…
You can test your wings and fly to the herd.
For you still decide when to say goodbye!!!

 

Photo: Courtesy flickr.com