LAWGIVER, KING AND JUDGE, OR LOKPAL
J. N. Manokaran
We are glad that we live in a vibrant democracy. However, many Christians do not realise that the concept of democracy is taken from the Bible. There are several revisionist historians who want to delink Bible from history and culture, and prove humanity’s progress. The Greek city-nation democracy became ‘mobocracy’ that they killed philosophers like Socrates. Some like Gandhi call India’s villages as ‘republics’ and glossed over the oppressive caste structure in rural India. Ambedkar countered Gandhi stating the villages were ‘cess pools’ from where the Dalits should migrate for better future.
However, the key verse to understand democracy is: "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is He who will save us" (Isa. 33:22). The Israelites were under God, who was their Judge, Lawgiver and King. Democracy springs out of these three words. The three pillars of democracy are: The Parliament (Lawgiver), The Executive (King) and The Judiciary (Judge). The three functions in a democracy were fulfilled by God Himself for the Israelites. In the secular world, these functions are fulfilled by human leaders.
Tainted Human Institutions
Human institutions are always tainted by sin as human being is a fallen creature. However noble the institution could be, they are tainted with sin, corruption and immorality. No human institution could be perfect. A good example is the church, which is imperfect. Therefore, we witness corruption, casteism, nepotism and other sins within the church. Therefore, the three functions in democracy ought to be different. Unlike monarchy, where the king takes all the three roles, democracy has three different leaders. In monarchy, the law was king’s word, even if uttered according to his selfish motives, or whims and fancies. The king was also the chief executive and arbitrator or judge. Hence, monarchy was not a dynamic option. The nations that experienced democratic institutions progressed, while nations with monarchy stagnated.
Checks And Balances
Since human beings are fallen sinful beings, the institutions they touch also become corrupt, and sometimes evil and wicked. There is a need for ‘checks and balances’ to make individuals and systems accountable, just and progress-oriented. So, in a democracy, the Parliament (Legislature) and the Judiciary are interdependent and mutually accountable. The Parliament cannot pass a law that violates the basic tenets of the Constitution, or executive cannot introduce a ruling or create an institution that violates the Constitution. The Judiciary can overrule a law that violates the basic tenets of the Constitution like the Fundamental rights. Recently, the Supreme Court (Judiciary) outlawed the creation of Salwa Judum (a militia created by the State Government of Chhattisgarh by arming local tribal youths to fight Left inclined Naxalites).
Prophetic Role Of Media
In democracy, media plays the role of prophet. In the Old Testament times, prophets had courage to rebuke kings, challenge oppressive structures/practices and condemn corrupt religious practices. Unfortunately, today Indian media plays the role of a false prophet promoting false ideologies, immoral ideas, bizarre role models and celebrates violence, crime, sex and oppression. Christians should be actively involved in media to redeem it to the intended functions of a prophet.
The Place Of Constitution
The Constitution is considered as supreme in a democracy. Even the Constitution could be altered by two-third majority in the Parliament. If Constitution is a human document and if it could be altered, then there is always a danger. Since human beings are fallen beings, there is always a danger to entrust final and ultimate authority to them. For all practical purposes, a majority community could easily oppress and marginalise others legally. The Constitution could be interpreted in such a way that immoral acts be justified and even celebrated. Freedom to homosexuals for public display and marriage is one such aberration of the interpretation of the Constitution in the US. Indian Constitution has numerous good aspects that are valuable and reflects the ethos and values of the Bible.
Democracy cannot just function with a human document (Constitution) as supreme authority. God of the Bible is the supreme authority. The Constitution cannot violate the Biblical commandments, moral laws and principles. When God was removed from the Western thought and secularism began to dominate, the democracy in the West lost its value and effectiveness. Many Western Constitutions have the structure, but lost the spirit, that is the Holy Scripture.
Paves Way To Unelected Tyrants?
In this context, it is necessary to understand the so called civil society movement that demands Lokpal that would have authority to receive complaint, investigate, prosecute, judge and punish. This is a clear violation of biblical norms. A single body or institution cannot have all authority (Lawgiver, King and Judge) vested in it. The members of the Lokpal would be unelected civil society members. Since they would be unelected, they are not accountable to anyone. The elected members of Parliament are accountable to the people who elected them; the executive is accountable to Parliament and Judiciary is the watchdog of the other two wings of democracy; however, the unelected members of Lokpal are not accountable to the people.
How would the members be selected is a big question? The meaning of ‘prominent members’ is vague. A group of unaccountable individuals could lead the world’s largest democracy and make the Parliament a laughing stock of the world.
Corruption is an issue; however, the solution does not lie in Lokpal bill as media makes out. How many supporters of this Lokpal bill are honest tax payers and do not transact dowry? There is a need for change of heart, not only change of law, to make India a great nation. That can happen only by repentance and accepting the Lordship of Lord Jesus Christ.