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The sad episode of Ramlila Ground on 04/05th June,2011 left a sad impression on the nation's psyche. The question is not who is right or who is wrong but the question is a more broader one--Whether what was being done by the Government as well as Baba Ramdev was right? Whether the stance taken by the Institution by the name of Civil Society is forcing the government in introducing the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament is right? Whether the insistence of the Civil Society in drafting the Lok Pal Bill in consultation with the government  is legally valid.

All these are important questions which are to be deliberated by the Legal fraternity since ultimately, it is going to become a law of the land. Since a law affects all the citizens of the country and more particularly the Legal Fraternity which is supposed to the guardians of the Law, the entire Legal fraternity including the best brains should come out and express their opinion.

In a very short recollection, before a proposition becomes a law, it has to pass through various stages. The very first stage is called a "Bill" which can be introduced in any of the two houses in the parliament. The Bill is then discussed and debated and suggestions etc. are incorporated as amendments. After the debate is over, the Bill is put to vote by the Speaker. The Bill is said to be passed if more than 50% members present approve it. The Bill then goes to other house of the Parliament. After passing of the Bill from the other house, it goes to the Presidential assent. After the President has signed it, it is published in the Gazette of India as an Act and becomes a law.

The entire Lok-pal Agitation led by Anna Hazare through Civil Society is to compel the  government to introduce the Lok-pal Bill in the Parliament. The Civil Society also wants the Government to involve itself in drafting the Bill. The Civil Society has nominated five members who will negotiate with the Government in drafting the Bill. Another agency Pantjali Yoga led by Baba Ramdev which was left out by the Civil Society started a parallel agitation though it was claimed by both Pantjali Yoga and Civil Society that they are in touch with each other and are acting in concert. Though, Civil Society has serious reservations  to religious organisations joining a political issue. Pantjali Yoga claims that it is a social organisation teaching Yoga and Better Health Procedures and not a religious organisation preaching religious tenets.

Though the intentions and credentials of Civil Society and Pantjali Yoga over an all important issue like Lok-Pal and Corruption in the country are not in the purview of this article, however, the following important legal considerations have to be looked into by Legal Fraternity :-

1.       As per the Constitution, only the Parliament(and State Legislatures) have powers to make rules. Even the Supreme Court has no control over the rules made by the Parliament. Then whether any extra constitutional authority can force the government to consult it for framing a rule? That is to say, can the Supreme Court ask the government to make a rule and compel the government to consult the Supreme Court while drafting the Bill/ Rule?

2.       What public authority has been vested in groups like Civil Society and Pantjali Yoga to represent the nation over this issue or any other issue. They are not public representatives, They have not sought or have been given mandate by the citizens of India to represent them over this issue. The collection of crowd or mob cannot be termed as a mandate as far as legal definition is concerned. Therefore, these groups must obtain public mandate before they take up the matter with the government.

3.       Why do these groups not taking up the proper route i.e. through Political Process. The ideal way is that a single or more political parties in opposition vacate their seats for the members of Civil Society and Pantjali Yoga . The members of Civil Society and Pantjali Yoga contest elections from those seats as Independent Candidates and enter Lok-sabha. Once, they are in the Lok-Sabha, they have every right to question the government or to force the government to act in a particular way, but not when they are outside the Parliament.

4.       Most importantly, what is the guarantee that these groups are not the proxies of the Government itself? This can only be verified if these groups take the political route and not the agitation route.

The point is that may be this time, the intentions and soul of the agitationist are good. But ,once a precedent is set, later on unscrupulous elements may take advantage to black-mail the government. This can only be avoided if the legal community is vigilant and not swayed by emotions or political affiliations.

Sanjay Kumar.

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