Lokpal Bill

Lokpal Bill

Introduction

The word Lokpal means an ombudsman in India. The word has been derived from the Hindi words “lok” (people) and “pal” (protector/caretaker). So the word Lokpal means ‘protector of people’. The concept of Lokpal has been drawn up to root out corruption at high places in the prevailing Indian polity.In India, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draft anti-corruption law that would create an ombudsman called the Jan Lokpal; this would be an independent body similar to the Election Commission with the power to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without prior government permission.

Drafted by Shanti Bhushan, retired Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, advocate Prashant Bhushan, former chief election commissioner J. M. Lyngdoh in consultation with the leaders of the India Against Corruption movement and civil society, the bill proposes the institution of the office of Lokpal (Ombudsman) at the center and local Lokayukta at the state level. The bill is designed to create an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal system that effectively deters corruption while providing effective protection to whistleblowers.

For 42 years, the government-drafted bill has failed to pass through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India. The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but stalled in the Rajya Sabha. Subsequent Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008 but all failed to pass. Following the four day Anna Hazarefasting struggle, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the Lokpal Bill would be introduced in the 2011 monsoon session of parliament.

The Lokpal will be a three-member body with a chairperson who is or was a chief justice or Supreme Court judge, and two members who are or have been high courts judges or chief justices.

Implementation of the Lokpal bill will hopefully reduce corruption in India. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries.

It provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister , other ministers and members of parliament with the ombudsman.

Anyone, except for a public servant , can file a complaint and the Lokpal has to complete the inquiry within six months.

For 42 years, governments have tried to put in place the law.

The bill was for the first time presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968, and was passed there in 1969. However, the Lok Sabha was dissolved , resulting in the first death of the bill.

It was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008.

In September 2004, prime minister Manmohan Singh said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government would lose no time in enacting the bill. But strong lobbies blocked it.

The Lokpal Bill, 2010, awaits an okay from a select committee.

Former chief justice of the Delhi high court and rights activist Rajinder Sachar feels the bill is “shamefully toothless and meant to give a false reassurance to the people that the government is serious in its fight against corruption” .
But former chief justice of India M N Venkatachelliah feels the PM must be out of its purview.

Salient features of lokpal bill
  1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up
  2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
  3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
  4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
  6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
  7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
  8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
  9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
  10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

Benefits of lokpal bill

  • An institution called lokpal at the center and Lokayukta in each state will be setup.
  • Like the Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations
  • Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigation in any case will have to be completed in one year. The trial should be completed in the nextyear so that the corrupt politician , officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
  • The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  • If the work of nay citizen is not done in the prescribed time in any government office, the lokpal will impose a financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
  • The member will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians , through a completely transparent and participatory process.
  • It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.
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