There are many problems with the Lokpal Bill 2011, the most serious being the lack of independence to the anti-corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation. There have been problems as well with the civil society approach to the negotiations with the government. Civil society should now put down the non-negotiable demand of a Lokpal with full control over investigation and prosecution, and for one law to operate nationally.

Both civil society and government have travelled a long way on the Lokpal Bill. The official Bill is a much improved version of earlier efforts. Most of the key elements for a strong and effective law are in place. What remain are differences on whether the Lokpal should cover all civil servants, at the centre and the states, and whether the office should also redress public grievances. A huge Lokpal will lose focus and itself become an oppressor; a more nuanced approach is thus called for. Civil society groups need to bridge their differences and carry the Bill through its last stage.

The chronicle of Bhopal in the courts is of a case doomed to failure. In step after step from that fateful night of 2 December 1984 onwards, the government, legal luminaries and, even on occasion, the Supreme Court of India failed the victims of Bhopal, and one could even say failed the test of justice.