SK Zoaib for BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: At a time when the civil society is asserting its right to dissent, Aruna Roy , noted Right to Information (RTI) activist and member of the National Advisory Council, has expressed dissent to the Lokpal version of the government as well as to the Jan Lokpal of Team Anna.
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), an organisation led by Roy, has chosen to take a different path from the one taken by Team Anna and has called for five separate institutions to deal with various kinds of corruptions in the country.
According to a letter written by Roy to social activists across the country, the NCPRI proposed National Anti-corruption Lokpal, Central Vigilance Commission, Judicial Standards and Accountability Lokpal, Public Grievances Lokpal and Whistleblower Protection Lokpal (officially called Public Interest Disclosure Bill) as different independent authorities to deal with various kind of corruption.
The NCPRI is also in favour of covering the prime minister under the National Anti-Corruption Lokpal but with certain caveats. Also, the suggestion includes amending the existing Central Vigilance Commission Act and strengthening the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill that is presently before Parliament. Whistle-blowers’ Protection Lokpal is also being talked about, which took a backseat in the recent days.
Roy has also claimed that the formal consultation for the existing Lokpal Bill did not take place despite assurances from both the government side and the civil members of the drafting committee.
Moreover, she also lamented the polarised discourse around Lokpal that made it
impossible to make suggestions and or suggest changes. “Every critique was attributed to wrong intent and viewed with suspicion and mistrust by the civil society members of the Joint Committee. Disagreement with the draft was viewed as tantamount to promoting corruption. We were baffled by such statements,” she wrote.
The approach paper of the NCPRI has begun garnering support among civil rights activists.
Mumbai-based RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao said: “Unfortunately, thoughtless zealousness is currently being dressed in the garb of patriotism. The right to hold a dissenting opinion is being demonized as leniency towards corruption.”
Expressing support to the viewpoint of NCPRI, he added: “I feel angry and betrayed that the proceedings towards framing a rational and effective Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill were hijacked to give birth to a pie-in-the-sky Jan Lokpal Bill. The bill to facilitate whistleblowers and protect their lives was left in the lurch.”