The Supreme Court’s query on Lokpal is quite valid. It is now over two years since the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre but there is still no sight of the ombudsman. The former UPA government did not take any initiative to pass the Lok Pal Bill.
It was forced to do so by the public opinion which found refl ection in the struggle launched by people like Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the BJP got the benefi t of supporting the agitation in the 2014 election. The Aam Aadmi Party is, in fact, a creation of the struggle for Lokpal.
Yet, if the Lok Pal Bill has not been implemented so far it is primarily because of the doublespeak of politicians. They say one thing on setting up the ombudsman- type institution and do something else. The reason given by the government is that the law insists on a committee consisting of the prime minister, the speaker and the leader of the opposition to select the Lokpal.
Since the Congress did not get adequate seats in the 2014 election, it could not get the post of leader of opposition. The solution is simple — amend the law to include the leader of the single largest opposition party. In fact, this was done for the appointment of some other posts like the vigilance chief.
The ruling party is not the only culprit. Most political parties, including the Congress, are opposed to the idea of Lokpal which had been pending for acceptance for several decades. It is a different matter whether the appointment of the Lokpal who will have extraordinary powers will be able to control corruption. The fear that it would become a super authority is too real to be scoffed at. In case the political parties are not serious about constituting the Lokpal, they would do well to review the Act and amend it accordingly. Their doublespeak must end. The sooner the better.