The draft of the Lokpal Bill cleared by the Union cabinet on Thursday has, predictably enough, upset members of “civil society”. They are angry at the exclusion of the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary, and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament from the ambit of the Lokpal.
In all three instances, giving the Lokpal a free hand would have been problematic.
The office of the Prime Minister had to be excluded for political reasons. Including the other two categories requires constitutional amendments—a procedure that needs time. And “civil society” was not willing to give the government any time beyond 16 August.
While citizens are free to stage protests, the Union government needs to ensure that these do not get out of hand. The chaotic scenes witnessed in New Delhi during yoga teacher Ramdev’s protest should be avoided at all costs.