As the issue of Lokpal snowballs into a political hot potato, Law Minister Salman Khurshid in an exclusive interview for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7, answers questions on the issue Lokpal , independence of CBI, the politics of reservations, team Anna and many other contentious issues.
PC: Hello! I am Prabhu Chawla, and our guest for today on Teekhi Baat is Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, welcome to our studio Salmanjee.
SK: Thank You, Prabhuji and I am happy that I am back in your fourteenth episode.
PC: Congress got freedom for the country, by putting the British out of power, but you adopted their strategy of divide and rule. Divide political parties and rule all of them. And you have done a very good thing about lokpal, made everyone fight on this issue; this is what we expected of you, divide and rule, make Laloo fight with Mulayam, Mulayam with BJP and CPM with somebody else.
SK: Please see, we want the Lokpal bill to come to reality. And we want it because it is needed today and today the environment is such that people seek faith in such an institution which can stop corruption, only time will tell, whether it will be able to stop it or not. But even then, there is a necessity.
PC: There is a necessity. But today discussion is happening whether it should be reservation for minority or not, Laloo started giving speeches on this issue. The discussion to stop corruption is not happening, but sure they say in the last sentence that Lokpal should be a strong bill. But the whole discussion in parliament was centred around the topic whether there should be reservation for minorities. This means you wanted to divide people, people say your intentions are not right.
SK: No, no please see, let the Lokpal be formed first, after that we will talk of intentions. Because, before anybody announces decisions on our intentions, you are questioning intentions, which is not good, I believe that the condition that our politics is in today, the reality, is the same thing which we are seeing on television today. Now to run from this reality and form any institution, that will not run. We will have to accept the reality. If this reality can be changed, time will change it, some big leader will change, some party will change it that is a different issue. But today this is the reality.
PC: You want to show you are ushering in change, tinkering and altering the system.
SK: We are not tinkering with the system, please see.
PC: Kiran Bedi said that the earlier bill was not Lokpal but Jokepal. But today people are saying that you have made jalebi.
SK: Who is the joke on, the people who said that this is a jokepal bill and the other bill was good. Who is the last laugh on.
PC: You messed with the lokpal bill so much, people are saying you have made it jalebi pal bill.
SK: Eat the jalebi and see.
PC: One will get diabetes.
SK: No, diabetes will not happen by eating jalebi , but if one already has diabetes, then jalebi has a bad effect.
PC: You have made such a jalebi nobody is understands what is what.
SK: These days sugar free jalebis are also made.
PC: You have put rabri on it
SK: (laughs) rabri daal di.
PC: Your intention is that the lokpal bill should be formed, because the kind of bill that you have brought forth, from what I read I could make out that there will be two agencies to deal with corruption in the country. The idea of Lokpal was to have one agency to deal with corruption in the country. Now CBI which should have been under Lokpal, is out of its ambit.
SK: This is whose idea, of them who have not fought elections. Who has not experience of coalition government, who is not inspired nor experienced about politics, he said that he has had a vision, let anyone have won or lose an election, he should accept that vision. We heard, tried to understand, tried to mould it into our thought process, some of the aspects we moulded into our thought process, but they say that not even one word should be changed from here to there, and if that happens, we will not accept.
PC: That man disturbed your sleep, you sat all day along with other ministers, some went to receive them or others at airport, you first surrendered and today you say that the man is wrong.
SK: Please listen, I am not saying wrong.
PC: I mean you are saying things like he has not fought an election. Earlier also he had not fought, it is not a new fact brought it light. He dictated you to sit all night, pass it in the Loksabha session, you followed their agenda and calendar. Later, you understood the politics, and started to divide.
SK: If we would have given no response, then we would have been labelled as insensitive.
PC: Some said who are they (team Anna) to decide about how the parliament will go about…
SK: In parliament all agree on this issue, that we will listen to everybody, but doing the thing is our job, nobody can dictate us, and there is nothing wrong in that.
PC: They dictated and you followed their agenda and time frame, they will sit for hunger strike on 29th, hence we have to pass.
SK: No, no, no, since last time we said that we will pass it in next session, hence it will be tabled in this session, it is not so that anybody is giving us a schedule, that they (team Anna) are doing something on this date, and hence we do such and such thing before. People also told us, why are you doing it now, show it to them, do it later. We said no, if there is a feeling in the country, how much ever support it may have got, more or less, it is a good through and hence we must respect it.
PC: Your language has changed since Soniaji said that we will fight, ‘Soniji ki lalkaar, Congress ladne, marne ko tayiaar’
SK: Why not, why
PC: Why not earlier, why not earlier, the day Soniaji said we will fight, earlier you used to right letters to them, suddenly they said we will fight.
SK: The army starts when the commander says start, soldiers, move ahead. Before that the army stands, silent.
PC: Earlier you were compromising
SK: We didn’t compromise; there is no harm in talking. Even if somebody talks today, I think that talks should happen. Nothing happens in a democracy by shunning dialogue. There should be a dialogue. But dialogue cannot be one sided. There should be give and take from both sides. We move ahead a bit, the other moves back a bit, we accommodate them somewhat, then accommodate us somewhat.
PC: In the bill you have brought out, you accommodated no one, you did what you had to do. You kept CBI totally out of the ambit, you also attacked the existing federal structure, that the leader of opposition also said, and others agreed.
SK: Leader of opposition did not do that.
PC: The leader of opposition said that you cannot make such a law which curbs powers of the states
SK: May be she would have not read the whole bill, which states that the law will only be enforced in the states if the incumbent assembly in the states wants to keep this law above the existing law and proposes the same.
PC: The law is being brought to reduce corruption in India, there are two agencies, will CBI or Lokpal be big according to you.
SK: No, no there will be different administration for CBI and lokpal.
PC: If a complaint goes to both places, then what will happen.
SK: No, no it cannot go to both places, because, if a complaint goes to the place at first, is regarded a s valid complaint. Just for example, if an application has to be made in the High Court and Supreme Court under article 32, if you give it first in the High Court under article 226, then the Supreme Court will not hear it. If you give it first in the Supreme Court, then the High Court will not hear the matter. And sometimes the Supreme Court says to the other court to send the application to Supreme Court as they have similar applications before them. They say we will hear it collectively. This is what the Supreme Court says, in every organisation, there are rules, every organisation, there is a system, if you have a choice at two places, then you must go to only one place, for which there are rules.
PC: On the one hand CBI does independent inquiry, does trap cases, but you have not given any such powers to Lokpal.
SK: Lokpal cannot do investigation, when it receives any complaint; it will start in inquiry, after the inquiry, if Lokpal wants an investigation, the CBI will do that.
PC: If anybody wants to complain against you, he will go to Lokpal,
SK: It is his own choice.
PC: Just presume he went
PC: Then Lokpal gives the matter to CBI to investigate; the CBI will investigate, isn’t it.
SK: CBI can do, some other agency can also do, like Delhi police.
PC: Mostly, corruption charges against public servants are investigated by CBI.
SK: Because they are given to CBI.
PC: But Lokpal.
SK: Lokpal can autonomously do it, but if Lokpal wants to give it to somebody like CBI, they will have an option to do that.
PC: But if it goes to CBI, then it is under your control, the central governments control.
SK: No, it is not under our control.
PC: Will you give it to Delhi police or state police.
SK: CBI is not under our control, you have read the Supreme Court decision of Vineet Narayan, CBI is under CVC. CBI works independently.
PC: CVC in under Prime Minister, this means it is all under political control.
SK: Why not do one thing, let us say there will be no prime minister in India, issue would have been over. But there will be a prime minister, and everywhere there will be a chief minister, and the prime minister will have some powers at least. Will we make a prime minister sans any powers.
PC: There are all powers; the law is for the whole country.
SK: Then why do you need the prime minister, have only MP’s.
PC: There is a leader to take decision; otherwise too many cooks spoil the broth, there should be a super cook.
SK: Hence, will be give the super cook any rights or not.
PC: The government is there to form system and make it independent.
SK: Make system independent, let Supreme Court announce a decision and put them on the computer, after which there is no need for hearing the decisions again, you see the computer.
PC: You are forming two agencies.
SK: We are not forming two agencies. When there is a CBI, the police in every state has a CID.
PC: CID did not have prosecution power, but investigation power.
SK: Prosecution and investigation are two difference things. Even now, who appoints prosecutor under CrPC, the state government appoints. It is used by the police. I the whole world, prosecution and investigation are different wings. Only in our country, prosecution and investigation has been attached. If prosecution and investigation are attached, then the safeguards are over.
PC: When you changed or made laws two three times after under pressure from team Anna. Are you not sending across a message that democracy has been rooted so strongly in this country, that outside voices can also force the legislature, to make the law,
SK: They don’t force, they persuade, like I spoke to you today, you said one such thing, whether it be Teekhi, Seedhi, then I will go to Prime Minister and say that Prabhu Chawlajee said one very good thing, we also should incorporate.
PC: But I don’t say that I will sit one hunger strike if you don’t agree.
SK: That I don’t know, hunger strike is a different issue. But if you say a good thing, then I should listen. Not only because Prabhu Chawlaji said it in his programme.
PC: You will not agree, but you have set a precedent that any civil society movement, will persuade you, force, to say it in your words, to bring a law fast.
PC: Then how is parliament supreme.
SK: Parliament, in today’s democracy, a dialogue with civil society, any group, stake holders , that we say always hence we put on our website that we want to make such and such a law and invite suggestions. Then when it goes to standing committee, advertisements are issued, and seek inputs from all stakeholders, let the issue be pertaining to patents, or making any law, or making any policy, then people come, give their opinion. You know that before the budget, finance minister speaks to the stake holders. In the same way, this thing has been taken ahead, because today, democracy has become participatory, it is not the case that you vote once in five years and sit at home. Now, every day in a democracy, that you make your voice heard, to your MP, write letters,
PC: Stage Dharnas.
SK: No, no even Dharnas, even Dharnas are a part of our political system.
PC: You said parliament is supreme, people should give their suggestions, but should parliament be allowed to pass any law.
SK: No, no if parliament passes a law, which is not good, then the people who have been voted to power in parliament, who are in majority, will lose next time.
PC: There is a history of parliament, like the 40th or 41st amendment in the constitution, when emergency was imposed, even that law was passed by the parliament.
PC: That was not interest of the country.
SK: And lost after that.
PC: After that, there was 44th amendment, which means parliament can make even wrong laws, public is supreme. Your imposed emergency and took away people’s rights.
SK: That is not the case, public is supreme, which is true, but the same supreme public game themselves a constitution, and gave rights of amendment to the constitution,
PC: It means we will make the law, then Supreme Court will declare it ultra vires, like it did earlier.
SK: According to our understanding, we will do what is right, but we cannot duplicate supreme court here, what can happen in supreme court, cannot happen here. The kind of arguments and thoughts presented in supreme court, and the kind of study that is done in supreme court, that cannot happen in parliament.
PC: I am reading his statement; which he said in the house, our work is form legislation, the supreme court will decide its implications.
SK: Of course.
PC: In the constitution, it has been said you cannot have more than 50 per cent reservations, but you said,
SK: Now, supreme court, sees two things, what you have said and what you have done, you said minimum 50 per cent,
PC: Not less than 50 per cent.
SK: Yes, not less than 50 per cent, all right, then it is minimum. But if you exceed 50 per cent
PC: But you said not more than 50 per cent.
SK: No, no if we exceed 50 per cent, then Supreme Court will say it is wrong. But supreme court, in the two matters of Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, the limit, set by the supreme court itself, has ordered to go more than that, has given this right.
PC: In services not in constitutional bodies, it has not be done for CEC
SK: No, it is not there, not in Supreme Court, reservation is not there in Supreme Court, not in any high court. This is an experiment in the modern world, in the background of changing politics, not leaving all parties, one party raised the issue of minorities,
PC: This is what you wanted, use the minority card and divide.
SK: So should we not put it.
PC: No, I am not saying that, I am saying reservation shouldn’t be there, but there should be merit based reservation in this country.
SK: You are saying it shouldn’t be there, but you having a firm point of view. Now there are people who say it should be there, but it should be this much, not that much, now only seeing his benefit he changes, then he has to be told that you are faltering.
PC: But to attach the word minority, earlier you told we will not attach, then you withdrew the bill,
SK: I will clear the issue for you. In the all party meeting, in that 99 per cent of the people, including BJP, they said that there should be reservations. But BJP had not said anything in the matter of minorities.
PC: Then why was it not in the bill.
SK: It was in the bill, cabinet passed it, it was in the bill, then there were talks with all stakeholders, in which there were talks with the BJP too, when the issue was raised that there is a category for socially and educationally backward minorities, that category cannot assimilate all minorities, they said that, and hence we said that we will think over it. Hence, till that time, we did not include it in the bill, but when we thought, and after giving a thought everybody formed an opinion that there should be no doubt as it is a constitutionally valid category, hence we included it.
PC: There are five minorities recognized nationally, with you make minorities fight against minorities in the Lokpal.
SK: No, why.
PC: You will keep five, each from one community,
SK: No, we will not be able to keep five.
PC: Then you will leave somebody.
SK: if we keep four, then one will be left, but next time.
PC: You will have to have one women member.
SK: About women member, women can be included from anywhere.
PC: How many members are there in Lokpal.
SK: Lokpal has nine members.
PC: From nine, if you have to include, five, four minorities, then after four, one woman.
SK: Now it is not said that if somebody is from minority, then the person cannot be woman. It can so happen a woman from minority is included.
PC: Then five are done, from where will you take backward.
SK: No, all five won’t come at one time. One backward, one dalit,
PC: Then according to you, somebody or the other will be left out.
SK: In backward also there are 2000 different backward,
PC: In this country, you started a discussion, earlier scheduled castes, scheduled tribe, which is ok, which was for the first 10 years in the constitution, now it is permanent, accepted, for eradicating social backwardness. But now if you split the minorities, then in this country, till when will you continue splitting caste, sub caste, religion, sub religion, is it in the interest of the country.
SK: I ask you, if you want to finish this system, can we take all people together and ask them, are you getting justice, till people keeping on thinking that they didn’t get justice as compared to others, till then reservations will have to continue.
PC: This is what the politicians say
SK: This is even in America.
PC: Public is not demanding reservations as much as politicians.
SK: That is not the case, there are reservations in America,
PC: That is affirmative action
SK: There is affirmative action, hence you are saying there should be affirmative action but not reservation.
PC: Yes, in affirmative action economic criteria are included.
SK: In affirmative action, at someplace economic and some place social criteria are included, some where there is historical, there can be anything.
PC: There is a logic behind that, here, let anybody be rich or poor, everybody gets it.
SK: No, that is not the case, there is a creamy layer.
PC: That is in backwards, it is not in religion based reservation.
SK: No, no, what we know, creamy layer was not written in the constitution. Supreme Court gave directions regarding the same.
PC: What do you think, the bill that has come now finally, (Lokpal bill), will you be able to get the current draft passed, or will there be changes.
SK: That is our aim, but Pranab da has said that we have come with a free mind, everybody have to get together and pass it. What is somebody’s opinion on it,
PC: You don’t have majority.
SK: No majority that does not mean
PC: Hence, you will have to take everybody together.
SK: If there would have been no majority, how would we have been in the government?
PC: You are in the government because you don’t let the no confidence motion come.
SK: No, no
PC: Don’t let any voting resolution come
SK: That is not the case, vote is cast every day. We have our partners, our colleagues,
PC: The majority was not in favour of your bill today in the house.
PC: Let’s take today’s sense of the house
SK: It has been admitted on the basis of the sense of the house.
PC: But people have not asked for division.
SK: If division is not demanded, is it our fault, or theirs
PC: Now you will have to do some compromises to take people together.
SK: Compromise is a word which people understand wrongly. But dialogue
PC: You will have to do adjustment
SK: Accomodation, not adjustment and accommodation and dialogue is a part of democracy.
PC: Will the government think on making some necessary changes in Lokpal bill later.
SK: That happens in every bill and in many bills official amendments are moved in which people say that do these amendments in the bill. It happens in every bill, and where there is brute majority, where there is no need to listen to anybody, there a person can ask to close eyes and ears and ask to vote. But where there are coalition governments, there dialogue has to be done, accommodation has to be done,
PC: Tell me one thing, who will do Lokpal’s inquiry, if there is a complaint of corruption against them.
SK: There is a provision of inquiry of Lokpal, the complaint will go to the Supreme Court, a Supreme Court committee will inquire into it, even today this happens, you will know that the head of Prasar Bharati, if there is a complaint against person holding that post, it goes to the Supreme Court, Supreme Court inquires, after that, Hon. President is told,
PC: What about the staff under Lokpal.
SK: There is a system for staff under Lokpal. Their inquiry can be done by Lokpal themselves or the Lokpal can give it to somebody else.
PC: Who will do CBI’s inquiry
SK: Who does CBI’s inquiry today
PC: Can Lokpal do it or not
SK: CBI themselves to CBI’s inquiry today.
PC: If any independent inquiry has to be done then, will Lokpal have the right.
SK: Even CBI people are from group A, group B. The complaint of group A,group B can go to Lokpal.
PC: You mean they can do CBI’s investigation
SK: Why not, there is no problem, there have to be checks and balances.
PC: Will you get this law passed in this session
SK: I have full hopes, I have full hopes and we have this aim in mind because we have promised the country that will be get the bill in this session.
PC: Promised the country, due to Anna’s fear
SK: No, no,no,no, we did not get scared. Please see, one senior citizen, who is respected by so many people, if he is in pain, he is in trouble, in matter of his health, if we gave some indications, that we want his health to be fit and fine, then is it a bad thing,
PC: You have brought this bill fast to keep his health right.
SK: No, no it is the issue of that time. Sense of the house
PC: Am taking of today
SK: No, we are doing what our sense of the promise was.
PC: Their team rejected you bill today, they will sit on hunger strike, they are ready to fight against you
SK: No issues, now what can be do
PC: Aar paar ki ladai ke liye taiyaar hain
SK: Aar paar ki ladai kya hain, why will we fight against them. We have to do something in this country; we will do that and show. If the country is with us, we will go ahead, if it is not with us, we will stop.
PC: The country is with you or not, that will be known in elections. These all things you have done keeping the UP elections in mind
PC: You are UP incharge
SK: Keep on giving us best wishes.
PC: Thank you for coming to our studio.
SK: Thank you, Prabhuji!