Rajya Sabha

December 17, 2013

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks on the Lokpal Bill | Transcript

Sir, I thank you for giving me the chance. Our Party, All-India Trinamool Congress, all along was in favour of a stringent law to wipe out corruption, particularly at the highest level. We are happy to note that this Bill has been introduced after a long tug of war on different issues and after a lapse of four decades of formulation of the original Bill, though in a different form. Sir, this Bill is now set to see the light of the day, but had it been enacted earlier, perhaps, the country would not have witnessed the series of scams like Adarsh Awas, Commonwealth Games, 2G, coalgate, helicoptergate and what not. Although it is better late than never, I am sorry for the fact that it was not enacted at the appropriate moment.


In any event, Sir, my Party had all along advocated for a Lokayukta institution at the State level and I would like to remind the hon. Members, through you, that in the winter session of the year 2011, we had moved dozens of amendments for deletion of the portion which reflected about the establishment of Lokayukta together with Lokpal in the Central Bill. At that point of time, the Government did not accede to our request, although our demand was supported by majority of the parties and there were, perhaps, no two opinions about the fact that if the Central Act provides for a legislation for Lokayukta in the Central Act, it will affect the federal character of the Constitution. And, I would remind again that on different occasions, this Government has tried to encroach upon the authorities of the State Governments and State institutions in different ways. But Article 1 of the Constitution, if we go through it properly, states that India is a Union of States; it is not a unitary State. Since it is a Union of States, the sacred feature of federalism must be respected.


Us samay to hum sarkar ke sath they / Hum sarkar key sath they, isliye humne sarkar se appeal bhi kii, lekin sarkar ne use mana nehi / Mana nehi / Idhar subhah se mein bahut sangeet shun raha hoon, isliye mujhe bhi Md. Rafi saab ek purana geet yaad aa gaya / uske ek-do line mein bolna chahta hoon / Hamara party ka maksad aisa tha, humne socha aur bola bhi ki –


“ Chale the sath milkar, challenge sath milkar,

Tumhe rokna parega, meri awaz shunkar“


Lekin unhone meri awaz ko nehi shuna, who nehi ruke, to hum eek nirnay lena para, kyunki ek ke bad ek janbirodhi kanoon aur nirnay is sarkar ne liye, jo is desh ki aam janta ke khilaf the / Is liye hamne inka tyag kiya, hamesha ke liye tyag kiya / Aab shayed who roh rahe hai aur soch rahe hai ki “ Sathi re, tere bina bhi kya jeena “ khair, yeh toh filmi geeton ki baat ho gayi /


Now, I would like to endorse this Bill in view of the fact that there is no such provision in this Bill accepting that the State Legislatures would enact appropriate legislation for establishment of Loyayukta at the State level.


Some of the hon. Members were suggesting that there should be a model for that. We are opposed to that, Sir, because already in different States, Lokayukta Act exists. In some of the States, there is Lokayukta Act, and, in some of the States, for example, in my State, there is no such existence of any Lokayukta institution. For the last 34 years, the previous Governments could not form any Lokayukta institution in our State but we are ready to do that. But if there are different types of Lokayukta legislation in different States, let it be continued, or, if you want uniformity, then, all the existing Acts should be given a go-by. Is it possible in the given situation?


Therefore, I support the Bill. The portion which has been mentioned in clause 63 is alright according to us. Now, I want to put a serious question on clause 3(2) of the Bill although we have not given any amendment this time because we do not want to carry a message to any quarter that we are opposed to this Bill. We are not. From day one, we are in favour of the Lokayukta. From day one, we are in favour of Lokpal but in the manner it was moved, and, in the form, it was tried to be enacted, we opposed to that only.


Now, Sir, if we look at clause 3(2), we will find that there is a provision that Lokpal shall consist of a Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of India or is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court. Why all the time are such authorities headed by Judges only? It has become a Judges’ breeding ground all the time, be it Central Administrative Tribunal, State Administrative Tribunal, Competition Commission and so on and so forth. All these institutions are headed by Judges. Why should it be a breeding ground for the Judges and retired Judges? This point crept in my mind again when I went through a reported incident of sexual harassment of a law intern by a former Judge of the Supreme Court. Therefore, I would suggest the Government, particularly, the hon. Law Minister to think and re-think over the issues in the coming days. I do not know whether he will be there or not, whether this Government will be there or not but whoever will be the Law Minister, whichever Party forms the Government, they should have a serious look into this.


Sir, now, I come to clause 3(4). It says, “The Chairperson or a Member shall not be a Member of Parliament or a Member of the Legislature of any State.” Why? Already, sub-clause 2 of clause 3 speaks about who will be the Chairman and who will be the Member. Then, what is the need of saying that an elected representative of the Parliament or the Legislature shall not be either the Chairperson or the Member of the Lokpal?


According to me, it is a stigma on the elected representatives of Parliament and Legislatures, and Panchayats and Municipalities also. It has been categorically stated in sub-clause 4 of clause 3 that a Member of Parliament or a Member of Legislature or a member of a Panchayat or Municipality shall not be Chairperson or a Member. It is a stigma as if all the elected representatives of the people are corrupt, as if all the elected representatives indulge in offences involving moral turpitude. This is not a fact. It is true that the people are losing faith in the political leadership because of the monumental scams one after another. But that does not necessarily mean that allpolitical parties or political leaders are corrupt or involved in offences involving moral turpitude. I would request the hon. Law Minister to remove this portion. There is no need for this because this Bill has already provided for as to who a Chairperson or a Member will be. All the time political leadership is treated as a sacrificial goat and others as holy cows. What is going on in our defence? What is going on in our bureaucracy? What is going on in the fourth estate? We have seen that.


Recently, a book has been published titled ‘The Siege.’ What the book says is that there is a honey bee who is divulging our secret and confidential defence documents to foreign countries. I want to know whether any inquiry has been instituted or is being conducted. There is no rejoinder from the Government authorities against the author of the book or against the contents of the book. What kind of state are we living in? A foreign author writes a book and says that our defence institutions are doing such anti-national activities and the Government is keeping mum. And here is a Lokpal. Bring any Lokpal or Dharmpal, we don’t have any objection to any Lokpal or Dharmpal. But that Lokpal or Dharmpal should also look into such kind of things which are appearing here and people across the world have come to know about the situation prevailing in India.


Sir, I would like to point out another clause. It is clause 45. It talks about undisclosed assets. It says, “.. such assets shall, unless otherwise proved, be presumed to belong to the public servant and shall be presumed to be assets acquired by corrupt means;” Sir, I think the word ‘presumed’ should be replaced with the word ‘treated’ because the law does not prescribe any presumption. Law does not prescribe any assumption or presumption. The word should not be ‘presumed’ but it should be ‘treated.’ I would request the hon. Law Minister to kindly consider whether the word ‘presumed’ should be replaced with the word ‘treated’ or not. This is another humble suggestion.


Sir, finally, I would like to thank the Government for accepting our suggestions as far as Lokayukta is concerned. Therefore, we wholeheartedly support this Bill.


Thank you, Sir.