Not about changes, but effectiveness
Apropos of “Cabinet gives nod to 14 Lok Pal Bill changes”, these are inconsequential changes to give an impression that the institution of Lok Pal will be effective in curbing corruption in high places. However, it will be a toothless body, just as it was in the original bill. By incorporating 14 of the 16 suggestions made by the Rajya Sabha select committee, the government wants to tell the opposition parties that it has travelled half way and it expects them to do likewise. But the government cannot fool the public. The issue is not about the changes that have been accepted, but about making the Lok Pal effective against corruption. As long as investigative agencies like the CBI, ED and CVC are not truly free of government control, there will be no deterrent action against corrupt ministers and bureaucrats.
—Subramanian Venkataraman, Mumbai
Apropos of “Lokpal struggle on”, the government has done its (best) bit, as you say, and in its current state the bill is quite different from its original version. The most significant change is empowering the states to pass their own Lokayukta legislations. An investigating wing has been proposed in the much-maligned CBI, with the director to be appointed by the Central Vigilance Commission and the Prime Minister’s Office, under its purview, with some riders relating to national security and external affairs. By obtaining the cabinet approval for the reworked draft, the government has proved its commitment and it is hoped that it will be passed in the budget session of Parliament. Anna Hazare will do well to put an end to his obsessive demand for nothing less than his Jan Lokpal, which he claims is the only mantra to fight corruption and that it certainly is not.
—V Subramanyan, Thane
No boost from rate cut
We have been hearing for some time that the economic slow down is unlikely to be a permanent feature. But the negative outlook has been a worrying factor, while there has been limited progress on the fiscal front. This would have been understandable if the country had faced some natural calamity. But there is no justification for the lack of decision-making by the UPA government during the past eight years. This has hurt development in all the fields and the next six months are going to be crucial. The government has to depend on its allies and with the elections round the corner hardly any one will be prepared to risk taking the hard decisions required. The cut in the repo rate and cash reserve ratio may result in lower loan rates. But this is hardly going to turn around the economy.
—CK Ramani, Mumbai
Fairness, not advice
The delay in ending the ban on Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam is unjustified. The Madras high court ruled that the film cannot be shown until January 28, by which time the judge would see it for himself. After the special screening was held, the court asked Haasan to sort out the issue with the protesting groups. Courts are supposed to dispense fairness and not hand out advice. There have been instances when the judiciary has adopted a practical, even reconciliatory, approach, one that endeavours to find a common ground between adversarial parties. However, in this case, it merely threw the ball back at Haasan, asking him to find a way out of the chaos that was not of his making. In doing so, it declined to take a hard decision based on law. Two years ago the SC set aside the two-month ban on the Hindi film “Aarakshan”, on the ground that states cannot ban films that have been cleared by the censor board, merely on the fear of a law and order problem.
The SC held that “freedom of expression cannot be censored on account of risk of protests and processions and menace of aggression.” Also, recently, the SC discharged a petition challenging the Tamil Nadu government’s ban on the film “DAM 999”. The ban on Haasan’s most ambitious film must be nullified and the police directed to provide ample security to theatres and moviegoers. As it is the right of the Muslim groups who are hurt to express their dissent, they should be allowed to protest, but only peacefully. Any violence must be dealt with sternly.
—K V Raman, Mumbai
No pressure on bank manager
Apropos of “Stressed over recovery of loans, bank manager commits suicide”, the report is wrong. Vilas Narsale was one of the best performing manager of UCO Bank and was rewarded for his outstanding contribution several times. There was no pressure exerted by the bank to recover the loans and no action of any sort was initiated against Narsale by the bank. The police investigations reveal that it was an accident.
—R Seetharama, zonal manager, UCO Bank, Mumbai
Ordinance to push change
It is gratifying to note that the government is bringing about the required amendments to the existing rape laws through an ordinance, rather than waiting for Parliament to enact fresh laws.
This shows it is earnest about the expeditious implementation of various proposals made by the Verma Committee. If the matter were to be taken up by Parliament, even in a special session convened for the purpose, the filibustering by various political parties would have scuttled the enactment of the required legislation, like it happened in the case of the Lok Pal and women’s reservation bills. Or, vested interests would have shelved the matter by referring it to a select committee. This must be avoided at any cost. The ordinance should also provide for harsher punishment for juveniles involved in heinous crimes like kidnap, extortion, rape and murder. Even life imprisonment without remission for the minor accused in the Delhi gang rape case would be a strong deterrence for potential juvenile criminals.
—Vijay Mohan, Chennai