‘Parliament is the ultimate judge of what law should be, SC the ultimate judge of what law means. That has to be maintained’

JUSTICE MUKUL MUDGAL IN WALK THE TALK WITH SHEKHAR GUPTA IN THE INDIAN EXPRESS

My guest today is one of our great judges and if I may say so, in today’s context, the greatest friend of Indian sports ever in our judiciary, Justice Mukul Mudgal. Now, of course, you have the tough task of finding out what exactly happened with the sportswomen we love so much.

I have always loved sports. It started in school. I was in the water polo team of Modern School, Barakhamba Road, and in college and Delhi University. I was a keen follower of cricket. I have watched Test matches in Delhi in the lowest stands for Rs 2 a day. And watched an entire West Indies match standing up because by the time I reached, the stands were completely full.

Many people of this generation don’t know that in 1989, almost 22 years ago, you stood for the eight cricketers who were banned.

That is true. I read about this unfair ban being imposed on the cricketers. I filed a writ petition challenging the ban. Fortunately, the Chief Justice of India then was very pro-cricket, he was a member of the Karnataka Cricket Association, Justice Venkataramaiah. He took it upon himself.

You also fought for Chandrashekhar, the table tennis player.

It was a case of mishandling by a well-known hospital chain who did a small ligament operation on him. His brain was damaged because of anaesthesia. I must tell you that in the cricketers’ case, I was the advocate on record, the senior counsel were Mr Soli Sorabjee and Mr K N Bhat. None of them charged any money. Similarly in the case of Chandrashekhar, no money was charged…

So lawyers also have a heart when it comes to sports.

They have a heart otherwise too, but it doesn’t always show.

You were always a lawyer and a judge who had a heart when it came to sports.

I am very proud of it. Sports is a wonderful thing, a character builder and I think a good sportsman makes a good human being.

You also felt proud when these girls got these gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and then at Asian Games…

I was proud as an Indian that our girls could attain so much. Remember, a girl has to fight twice as much as a boy. There are many discriminations, there are many family hurdles and I felt very proud.

And then the disappointment?

Disappointment at the doping incident, yes. I am looking into it now, whether it was inadvertent or whether it was deliberate…

Is there a possibility still that it could have been inadvertent?

Possibility cannot be ruled out. In fact, they have asserted so. Whether it is a sham or there is a cover-up, we will have to go into it.

Do you think it will make their medals at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games suspect?

It could. I am not sure because I believe that till April, they had tested clean in all tests.

And at these tournaments too, they must have been tested?

Yes, they were tested. These are high-level athletes who are on the WADA list. They can be tested any time. So they have been tested regularly by neutral bodies and they have been found clean till April.

But does it wrench your heart to do this?

It does pain me. Supposing I find them guilty—I am not there to find them guilty, I am only holding an inquiry, that NADA will do—but if they are guilty of a deliberate violation, the minimum ban is two years.

Two years can pretty much finish their skill.

They are all in their prime and are raring to go to London for the Olympics. I don’t know what will be the fate of that.

Could something else have been done by the associations or by the Sports Authority of India to make sure that this did not happen, one way or the other?

The common grouse is that there aren’t enough supplements. And if that grouse is correct, I don’t think that top athletes should buy supplements from the market. They should get them from the Sports Authority. That is one of the longer-term measures I am looking at…whether athletes are compelled to buy from the market. And the Sports Authority of India should get them routinely checked, in any case.

You must be approaching this with greater enthusiasm than you have approached any case so far.

I would like to devote all my energies to it, as much as I can. I think it is my public duty as a former judge and as a current sports lover to do it and do it fairly.

You have been a crusader, not just for Indian sports, but many other things. We remember you better as a judge, the many orders you have given—khap panchayat case in Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hisar riots, orders you have given in the Delhi High Court, several of them…People also forget the Vishakha case, the Sunil Batra case. In the Vishakha case, the Supreme Court set the law for sexual harassment at work place.

That was a very interesting case. There I was appearing for the government and on the other side was Meenakshi Arora, who was fighting for the woman’s cause. We sat down together, drafted out guidelines. And the government’s role has to be lauded in that they fully agreed to all the guidelines. So I think in that case, it was a very positive role played by the government.

That is one of the stellar examples of the Supreme Court setting new legal framework and of the executive and the judiciary working together.

Yes, very much. There is nothing better than when they both work together and things are positive and lasting as you can see. The Vishakha judgment has had this effect. I am not saying sexual harassment is totally gone, but it has reduced drastically.

Tell us about the Sunil Batra case that started the whole tradition of PILs. These days people say this country is run by PILs.

This Sunil Batra was convicted in a bank van robbery case on Minto Road. It was in the early 80s and when he was convicted, he was put in solitary confinement. He wrote a post card to Justice Krishna Iyer saying that this incarceration in solitary confinement is cruel and inhuman and unconstitutional…even if I am on death row. The Supreme Court appointed eminent lawyer Y S Chitale and me as amicus curiae. We visited the jail, saw the conditions and then prepared a proper formal writ petition and filed it. That led to a constitution bench judgment and Sunil Batra won. It was a landmark judgment that lay down the rights of the prisoner and that has gone a long way.

And then this whole tradition of PILs started…

Yes, it started because newspapers also used to highlight this. But soon the system also started getting abused. People used this as a form of shopping, to choose a judge. That led to formulation of rules by the Supreme Court.

You used the expression ‘shopping’, but many of us heard this only when Kapil Sibal recently accused somebody of forum shopping and we were wondering what that was.

‘Forum shopping’ is when you choose your judge. That judge may not be hearing that subject matter but would try to manoeuver things in such a manner. What a chief justice does is he delegates every subject to a particular judge. So all cases on that subject go to that bench to ensure there is objectivity.

One more disclosure. Many of us philistines learned to learned to appreciate classical music in your home over these decades.

Well, that is the accident of birth. I was born in a family of renowned musicians. Everybody in my family is a musician, except me. Even my son is a rock singer.

So as somebody who wrote the first notes in this PIL saga, do you sometimes think it has gone too far or it is going too far?

Well, in certain cases, yes. I think what happens is that the separation of powers is not a rigid line. PILs are generally and largely because of the fact that the executive is not performing its function. The court may step in, the court may give guidelines, the court may cajole, the court may on occasion coerce the executive also…

The court may at times oversee as in the 2G case. If the court had not been overseeing it, the case would not have moved.

Yes, it is called Continuing Mandamus style, which means that the case keeps on getting listed before the court. Cleansing of Yamuna, cleansing of Ganga, these cases are never going to end, they may come up again, the court may give directions. But these are welcome things. I think these ought to be continued because environment cleansing is such a mammoth task, it is not going to get over very soon.

And even if this ends, new challenges will come.

New challenges will come. PIL will evolve further. And it also takes the shape of the chief justice of the day, he has a large role to play, he sets the character of the court, he sets the ethos of the court and depending on who the chief justice is, you will see the shift in PILs.

Where do you see it being overdone now?

Well, I would like to give an example of the CNG case. I was there myself as a counsel, assisting the court as an amicus. The court said CNG is a must. In my view, the court should have said the standards of pollution are thus set up in the Air Pollution Act and any medium of fuel which meets that pollution level is fine. The court should not determine what that fuel is, the court should determine what the level of pollution prescribed in the Act by Parliament is. And unless there is something glaring, Parliament is the ultimate judge of what the law should be. The Supreme Court is the ultimate judge of what the law means. And that has to be maintained.

So you think enforcing a fuel was overreach?

I’ll give you another example. Today three diesel cars pollute as much as a diesel bus and every year, an equivalent of the current fleet of 10,000 buses, that is, 30,000 diesel cars join Delhi roads and therefore the insistence on CNG is meaningless, it has become a tokenism…You have to stop pollution, you do not have to stop diesel buses or petrol buses and you do not have to stop buses per se, which are mass rapid transport.

In the current debate, we have had a couple of strong remarks and judgments from the Supreme Court. We have just had, as we speak, a red-hot judgment, saying that only the rich have the golden key to the doors of justice and so, the court has to weigh in on the side of the poor. Should we agree with it?

I won’t say only the rich have the key, but the poor certainly have a huge disadvantage when it comes to facing the odds in the court. That is where a strong judge comes into being. A strong judge and a good judge would even the scales of justice by appointing a good lawyer. Believe me, at least in the Supreme Court where I practised, good lawyers never refuse the brief of a poor man if the court asks. The best work in the Supreme Court has come because of the amicus curiae who have done the work totally free, who do not charge any expenses.

So how do you look at the tension that has arisen today? The executive is saying we should have a stronger Judicial Accountability Bill, the Prime Minister has spoken, Kapil Sibal has spoken, everybody is speaking. There is tension now. Justice Verma has said judicial activism should be used like a surgeon’s scalpel, not as Rampuri knives.

I think the truth is somewhere in between. Without judicial intervention, who would have looked at bonded labourers, construction workers? That is where PILs have benefited a huge amount of people.

But is what you see today healthy or has it gone a bit overboard?

I don’t think it is unhealthy. The tension between the executive and the judiciary is the hallmark of a good democracy. It is a very healthy thing. It should not become hostility. The executive has a right to complain of judicial overreach and the judiciary has a right of complaining about over-dependence on the executive. I would like to give you an example of financial autonomy. When you can trust the Chief Justice of India with the entire judicial system or the Chief Justice of a High Court with the entire judicial system, then what is the difficulty in giving him financial autonomy? You give a particular amount of grant and then it is up to him to regulate…Today every time something is to be bought, sanction is to be sought and this affects judicial autonomy.

You have seen the picture from all sides—as a lawyer, a judge and, if I may say so, as an activist, as a sports enthusiast. What are the two or three things you would want done that would one, make the judiciary a lot more effective, take away all its flaws; and second, to prevent this tension from going too far?

When you think about the judiciary and what ails it, the primary allegation made against the judiciary is arrears, that a case takes a long time. I would like you to consider three or four things. One, the judge strength of India is one of the lowest in the world per population, it is lower than in some African countries. And second, the workload of a judge. An average high court judge takes up 50 matters a day when a judge from western European countries or in the US is handling one case a day.

So you want many more judges?

Many more judges, better infrastructure, financial autonomy. I am not saying we don’t have laggards, we have. In fact, these are the ones who pull us down. The other thing as far as judicial independence is concerned, I would like to say that I would strongly favour the proposal of making the age of the retirement of the high court and Supreme Court judges same. Also, seniority should not be the sole criteria, the merit of the judge, the judgments delivered by him, the quality of the judgment should be also looked at.

But you still think the collegium system is still the best?

It has had aberrations…

Can I say you are a victim of some?

No, I wouldn’t say that. I think the collegium system, if it is manned by proper judges, is a good system. But appointments should be time-bound. From the time the name is proposed till the time the appointment is made should not be more than about three months. The minute a name goes, 1,000 complaints start coming and you start investigating all of them. Most of them, if not all, are frivolous.

One reason you sound so cool about your so-called retirement is because you have now got something that is really close to your heart, solving a problem for Indian sports.

Oh, yes. I thoroughly enjoy that. I am also advising on public health issues, I am with cultural trusts, cultural education institutes and I will always be available to them free of charge.

And you will now be Mr Sherlock Holmes in Patiala.

Well, I don’t have a Watson, that is all. It is an intriguing subject.

All I can say is that your face really lights up when we talk sports.

I love sports.

Mukul, keep that interest and you know, whatever may have got these girls into this mess, they couldn’t have found a better judge, lawyer or prosecutor.

Very kind of you to say so.

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Effective Lokpal not in sight

People determined to root out corruption

by Justice Rajindar Sachar (retd) IN THE TRIBUNE

AS expected, the government and Anna Hazare’s team have disagreed on vital points relating to the institution of Lokpal. The question of inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal is being falsely blown out of proportion by government apologists. The Prime Minister, though head of the government, is only the first among equals. In a democratic country, a political vacuum does not arise as the Cabinet has a collective responsibility. Also, our past experience does not show that all our Prime Ministers have been angels. Serious credible accusations have been made against them. The regret always was that in the absence of an independent mechanism like the Lokpal to enquire into these allegations, the ruling party was able to successfully scuttle any honest independent enquiry.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has in public consented to being included within the jurisdiction of the Lokpal as had his predecessor A.B. Vajpayee — the supposed concern of the ministers is puerile, being more loyal than the king.

The stand of ministers for the exclusion of Prime Minister is so incongruous when it is noted that the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, headed by Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan, has said that the Bill should cover Prime Minister also.

This cynicism is increased when we find that Mr Digvijy Singh, the self- proclaimed alter ego of Mr Rahul Gandhi, supports the Lokpal having jurisdiction over the Prime Minister — people are legitimately hoping that Mr Gandhi would also indicate his position on a matter which is causing such a division in society.

The suggestion to exclude the Prime Minister is sought to be justified by ministers by taking the puerile plea that the Prime Minister continues to be under the jurisdiction of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It is surprising that ministers are comfortable for the Prime Minister being prosecuted at the report of junior police officials but not at the instance of a high-powered body like the Lokpal. Is this not the unspoken premise that under the Corruption Act the CBI will have to get sanction from the government? But which subordinate will dare to sanction the Prime Minister’s prosecution? For heaven’s sake, do not play joke with the people and be reminded of what John Adams, one of the founding fathers of the US Constitution, said, “The people have a right, an inalienable, indisputable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge — I mean, of the character and conduct of their rulers.”

Another laughable justification by ministers is that the exemption will not be applicable after the Prime Minister has remitted office — this is like locking the stable after the horses have run away. Incidentally, even the discredited toothless draft Lokpal Bill, 2010, included the Prime Minister and members of Parliament.

The inclusion of the higher judiciary consisting of judges of the Supreme Court within the purview of the Lokpal is undesirable. I am conscious of the shame that some in the higher judiciary have polluted the institution. I am only suggesting a separate National Judicial and Accountability Commission. Call it the Lokpal (Judicial) Commission with the same powers as the Lokpal. This will serve the purpose and still keep the distance between the executive and the judiciary as mandated by the Constitution.

The rhetoric of Mr Kapil Sibal challenging anyone to give an example that “which PM in office anywhere has been prosecuted in the world”, I am sorry at this ignorance. Possibly, this is due to Mr Sibal not being assisted by his usually competent juniors who were with him when he was appearing in courts. Now, possibly, he is being ill served by his public relations officer — otherwise he would have been told that the present Prime Minister of Italy is being prosecuted before a magistrate on charges of corruption, having mafia links and deviant sexual behaviour. In France, proceedings were started against the then President Chirac for misappropriation of public money. Also in Israel, a former President has been sentenced to imprisonment for his deviant sexual behaviour by a magistrate.

The near contempt of the masses protesting at the scourge of corruption is shown by Mr Sibal comparing Anna Hazare to “Pied Piper of Hamlin”. Mr Sibal cautiously did not complete the story because those who were said to have followed the Pied Piper were rats, and following the Piper they just drowned in the sea. I need not comment on such crude and insulting comparison of the masses who are waging a struggle against corruption.

The government’s spurious claim by purporting to project Parliament as the real sovereign is fallacious. Dicey, the British constitutional authority, says, “Electorate is, in fact, the sovereign of England and the conduct of the legislature… should be regulated by understandings of which the object is to secure the conformity of Parliament to the will of the nation.”

Another heresy put forth against the holding of protest meetings by people to force the government to pass worthwhile legislation is that it is undemocratic and the only resort people have is to try to persuade the legislators to pass a particular law, and if they do not agree, then they should try their chance during elections. This is sheer heresy and negated by the Supreme Court (1960) in Dr Lohia’s case, who was arrested for asking farmers not to pay the increase in canal water rates to the UP government.

Ordering the release of Dr Lohia, the court said, “We cannot accept the argument of the learned Advocate-General that instigation of a single individual not to pay tax or dues is a spark which may in the long run ignite a revolutionary movement destroying public order. We can only say that fundamental rights cannot be controlled on such hypothetical and imaginary considerations. It is said that in a democratic set-up there is no scope for agitational approach and that if a law is bad the only course is to get it modified by democratic process and that any instigation to break the law is in itself a disturbance of the public order. If this argument without obvious limitations be accepted, it would destroy the right to freedom of speech, which is the very foundation of democratic way of life.”

A restrained approach by the government alone can prevent a collision with the masses, who are determined to vigorously pursue their struggle for an effective Lokpal.

The writer is a former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110704/edit.htm#4

Can Lokpal be investigator, prosecutor, jury and judge?

DHANANJAY MAHAPATRATIMES OF INDIA

Just 70 days ago, the UPA government succumbed to the pressure exerted by Team Anna, which posed as civil society being supported by advocates and actors, ex-babus, bloggers and twitteratti, swamis and social activists. The high decibel show at Jantar Mantar numbed the government’s political and constitutional thinking. Foxed by the red herring of Team Anna’s popularity, the Manmohan Singh government quickly agreed for a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill only to realise that the taste of the pudding is in its eating. Public placating of Team Anna was easy, but translating their exasperating demands into a bill was legally excruciating.

Though the Congress has now stressed that the government will not succumb to Team Anna’s pressures, the draft prepared by both sides, despite their inherent disagreements, has one thing in common. Representatives of both Team Anna and government have perceived more or less a Lokpal who will investigate, prosecute and then change cloaks to stand as jury and judge. This all-rolled-into-one power centre is abhorrent to any democratic system of governance, which gets its legitimacy from a fair system of justice delivery.

Why did the government first succumb to Team Anna, then criticise it and now question its representatives’ character? Does it reflect the vacillating mindset of the two power centres — the PM and the Congress president? Why did ministers rush to discuss with Team Anna on the one hand while on the other, a senior party leader publicly criticised the move? He also went around saying it was time for a young PM?

Manmohan Singh will celebrate his 80th birthday on September 26 next year. Rahul Gandhi will turn 42 in June 2012. Singh has not contested a Lok Sabha election, a victory in which transforms a candidate into a people’s representative. Rahul has won twice from Amethi. It is difficult to judge Singh’s feelings on the vacate-the-chair talk from within Congress circles when he is perceived to be engaged in finding solutions to the most trying situations, both political and social. But what must be worrying the PM and the entire political class is the confrontational build up between the representatives of people and the ‘civil society’ to garner space in the legislative arena in the name of participatory democracy.

Can self-proclaimed representatives of civil society be recognised as harbingers of new legislative framework when the Constitution recognises only the Parliament and Assemblies as law-makers? In the early 1970s, the famous Keshavananda Bharati case was argued before a 11-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution. The Indira Gandhi government had argued that a political party enjoying two-thirds support in both Houses of Parliament could delete all provisions.

The bench’s shock and dismay forced the government to mould its arguments, “Though legally, there is no limitation to the amending power, there are bound to be political compulsions which make it impermissible for Parliament to exercise its amending power in a manner unacceptable to the people at large.” The apex court in Keshavananda case [1973 (4) SCC 225] said, “The strength of political reaction is uncertain. It depends upon various factors such as political consciousness of people, their level of education, strength of political organisation in the country, the manner in which mass media is used and finally, the capacity of the government to suppress agitation.

“Hence, people’s will to resist an unwanted amendment cannot be taken into consideration in interpreting the ambit of the amending power. Extra-legal forces work in a different plane.” The SC refused to accept the argument saying it was difficult to fathom the depth and weight of people’s wish when it came to change in law. In the present context, people are exasperated by the level of corruption, but is it their wish to have a all-in-one Lokpal? Are extra-legal forces true reflectors of the people’s wish and will?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Can-Lokpal-be-investigator-prosecutor-jury-and-judge/articleshow/9007025.cms

Is the government serious about dealing with corruption?

TEAM ANNA IN THE HINDU

The Lokpal is designed to be a comprehensive anti-corruption institution independent of the government, empowered to effectively investigate corruption of all public servants. But most of the critical elements in this vision have been rejected.

Union Ministers and the members of Lokpal Bill drafting committee P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid address a press conference in New Delhi recently.

Union Ministers and the members of Lokpal Bill drafting committee P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid address a press conference in New Delhi recently.

The latest draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on hydrocarbon production sharing contracts and the transfer of oilfields to Reliance is only the latest of the mega scams to surface in the country. The breadth and depth of corruption in India is clear from the country’s plunging ranking in Transparency International‘s global corruption survey. Corruption has come to affect every citizen in the country. Bribes have to be paid for ration cards, passports, building permits, and for doing even normal business. Street vendors and rickshaw pullers are forced to pay bribes for exercising their fundamental rights. Villagers are forced to pay bribes for getting their wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) or for any other entitlements in other schemes. High-level corruption is plundering the public exchequer, distorting government policies, and creating a criminal mafia, which has come to dominate all institutions of power. Low-level corruption is making life impossible for common citizens.

A major reason for this rampant, widespread corruption is the lack of an independent, empowered, and accountable anti-corruption institution that can be trusted to credibly investigate complaints of corruption and prosecute the guilty. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is controlled by the very people who are the fountainheads of this corruption and is required to seek the permission of the very people who need to be investigated and prosecuted. The Central Vigilance Commissioner of India (CVC) is selected by the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the Leader of Opposition, who have a vested interest in ensuring that weak bureaucrats get selected. Moreover, the CVC has only recommendatory powers and most of his or her recommendations are disregarded by the government, which wants to protect corrupt public servants. The courts take years to conclude trials and there is also considerable corruption in the judiciary because of the lack of accountability of the higher judiciary and the lack of an effective anti-corruption agency to investigate corruption within its ranks.

This is why we have been demanding the constitution of an independent Lokpal institution — which will be completely independent of the government, empowered to effectively investigate corruption of all public servants of the Central government, including the Prime Minister, the judiciary, etc. (with Lokayuktas in the States to investigate public servants of the State governments and local bodies), and accountable in multiple ways to ensure that any corruption in the Lokpal institution would be immediately investigated and action taken. This is exactly what is required by the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which has just been ratified by India after much delay.

In the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by us, the 11-member Lokpal would be selected by a broad-based selection committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition, the Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC), the CAG, two Judges of the Supreme Court, and two Chief Justices of the High Courts. The selection would be done transparently by first setting up a search committee consisting of retired CECs and CAGs who would first call for public nominations, then prepare a shortlist which would be put up on a website for public comments about the shortlisted candidates after which the selection committee would finally select the members.

This 11-member Lokpal would have a full investigative agency under its control through which it would get complaints investigated. If corruption is found after investigation, the corrupt public servant would be prosecuted in special courts within the judicial system. The Bill provides that the number of special courts to try corruption cases would be increased to ensure that trials are completed within a year. Proceedings for removal of the corrupt public servant would also be initiated by the Vigilance Department under the Lokpal, which would give a full opportunity for hearing to the public servant. The Lokpal’s final recommendation for penalty against the public servant would be binding on the government. This would ensure that the bosses of the corrupt public servants who are often complicit in their corruption cannot protect them, as is happening today.

The Lokpal would thus be a comprehensive anti-corruption institution independent of the government. The 11 members of the Lokpal would be accountable to the Supreme Court of India, which would examine complaints against them and order their removal. The investigative and vigilance machinery under the Lokpal would be accountable to independent complaints authorities created in each State, apart from to the Lokpal itself. Moreover, the Lokpal institution would be subject to a financial and performance audit by the CAG. Most importantly, the functioning of the Lokpal would be mandated to be transparent and the details of its investigations would be put up on its website. Also, the orders of the Lokpal would be subject to judicial review by the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

In the last two meetings of the Joint Drafting Committee (JDC), the Ministers representing the government rejected most of the critical elements in this vision of the Lokpal. They see the Lokpal as an essentially 11-member institution where all decisions would have to be taken by these members themselves. Instead of a comprehensive anti-corruption machinery, they see it as an institution to look at a few cases of high-level corruption. Even there, they do not want the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary, and the Members of Parliament who take bribes for voting or speaking in Parliament to be covered. Also, they want the Lokpal to be merely a recommendatory body like the CVC in matters relating to the removal of corrupt public servants.

They were neither willing to debate these issues publicly nor even willing to place the audio records of the meetings on a public website. They were also not prepared to debate these issues further between us. It has therefore been decided that the Ministers would prepare their own draft and we would prepare our draft of the Lokpal Bill, each of which would be placed before the Cabinet, which would decide which Bill would be placed before Parliament.

We are repeatedly being told that laws have to be made by the elected representatives of the people and civil society has no role to play. This view shows an arrogance of power. Those running the government have forgotten that they are merely the representatives of the people and they must run the government and make laws as per their wishes. Therefore, while deciding which Lokpal Bill to pass, they must find out what the people want and, if they have any doubt about that, they can have a referendum on the disputed issues.

The people of this country are fed up with the all-pervasive massive corruption in the country and are determined to have a strong and independent Lokpal. Any government or party that goes against the wishes of the people will do it at its own peril.

(This article by Team Anna was submitted to The Hindu by Prashant Bhushan, one of the members of Team Anna on the Joint Drafting Committee of the Jan Lokpal Bill.)

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article2118287.ece?homepage=true