Corrupt people shaken with real possibility of Lokpal Bill

The unearthing of alleged misconduct by Shri Shanti Bhushan in flat allotments in Noida, undervaluation of property in Allahabad, and his alleged conversation with certain politicians, together with willful targeting of his son, Shri Prashant Bhushan suggests that there are vested interests that are unhappy that a Lokpal Bill, that can really make a dent on corruption, may be prepared especially with both father and son in the Joint Drafting Committee.

"The Lokpal Bill has been in limbo for more than four decades now, and the real possibility of a strong Lokpal Bill appears to have shaken certain sections of politicians, media and business interests, who are trying to stall the process by personal attacks on the probity of civil society's members in the Joint Committee" said Arundhati Dhuru, firebrand social activist of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA).

A statement issued by the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) said: "The triumph of the Lokpal Bill campaign, which shows the effectiveness of people power is clearly unpalatable to certain sections who, rather than discussing the details of the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill, are attempting character assassination of two of India's finest public interest lawyers."

Prashant Bhushan is well known and respected by social movements and civil society for his public work for more than two decades now. "Apart from cases involving irregularities in government procedures in the Bofors scam and the 2G Spectrum allotment, he has appeared in numerous cases involving Sardar Sarovar Dam, Vedanta University Land Acquisition, Bhopal Gas Accident and many other cases which have been brought to him from time to time, at his own expense with no charges to people. His efforts through Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), have brought judicial accountability, corruption within judiciary and need for large scale reforms under public glare. Further, Prashant's constant effort in trying to raise his voice against Operation Green Hunt has also raised hackles in certain quarters. We stand by Prashant Bhushan at this hour when a vilification campaign is being launched against him and urge him to continue with the work in the Lokpal drafting committee in the larger public interest" said NAPM's statement.

"The attempted character assassination at this juncture is a crude attempt to derail the current people's campaign against corruption. Clearly, only those who are neck deep in corruption and who are in the line of fire of justice will benefit from diverting attention from the Lokpal Bill by personal attacks on Shanti and Prashant Bhushan family. After all the struggle for public causes earn enough enemies if not many good friends" said NAPM's statement.

"We strongly reiterate that alleged misconduct by any persons including the Bhushan's should be investigated and dealt with by due process of extant law. The personal conduct of individuals must not be allowed to interfere with the people's desire for effective legal means to combat corruption. The Jan Lokpal Bill needs to be vetted with well-argued criticism from all quarters. It is nobody's case that a strong Lokpal Act will solve the curse of corruption, but attempts to scuttle the Bill or place a weak, toothless Bill, before Parliament are acts against the people of India. Focus on establishment of the institution of Lokpal is the need of the hour" said NAPM's statement.

The NAPM statement was signed by Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey, Maj Gen (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, JP Singh, Arundhati Dhuru, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Sister Celia, SR Darapuri, Rajendra Ravi, Bhupendera Singh Rawat, Mukta Srivastava, Anand Mazgaonkar, Vimal Bhai, Ajit Jha, Kavita Srivastava, Bobby Ramakant, and Madhuresh Kumar.