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Friday, August 19, 2011

All about Lokpal Bill

Anna is sitting on a hunger strike. Whole Nation is supporting him. Government is trying to save themselves. Anna is taking about ‘Lokpal Bill’. All this issue is only about a bill. What does this bill is all about? Why there are difference between the Anna’s Lokpal Bill and Government’s Lokpal Bill? What are those differences? Why they are not settling on a mid-way? What is this all? City Blog takes bring you all the information about ‘Lokpal Bill’.


Lokpal bill, which is also known as citizens' ombudsman bill, is a proposed law for the anit-corruption in our Nation. The bill first introduced Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and passed in 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. But, it didn’t get through the Rajya Sabha. Subsequent version were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008; and never passed.

Renewed calls for the bill arose over resentment of the major differences between the draft 2010 Lokpal Bill prepared by the government and that prepared by the members of the associated activists movement- mainly comprising of N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court and Lokayukta of Karnataka; Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhusan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the Indian Against Corruption movement.

According to the bill’s supporters consider existing laws are too weak and insufficiently enforced to stop corruption. On the other hand, critics of the Jan Lokpal Bill argue that the bill attempts to supercede existing constitutional bodies and attempts to create a super-institution with weeping powers, which can be dangerous for the future of democracy.

Key Features of proposed bill

1. To establish a central government anti-corruption institute called Lokpal, supported by Lokayukta at the state level.

2. As in the case of the Supreme Court and Cabinet Secretariat, the Lokpal will be supervised by the Cabinet Secretary and the Election Commission. As a result, it will be completely independent of the government and free from ministerial influence in its investigations.

3. Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Services officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.

4. A selection committee will invite shortlisted candidates for interviews, video recordings of which will thereafter be made public.

5. Every month on its website, the Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed. It will also publish lists of all cases received by the Lokayukta during the previous month, cases dealt with and those which are pending.

6. Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. Any resulting trials should be concluded in the following year, giving a total maximum process time of two years.

7. Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.

8. Government office work required by a citizen that is not completed within a prescribed time period will result in Lokpal imposing financial penalties on those responsible, which will then be given as compensation to the complainant.

9. Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within a month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.

10. The existing anti-corruption agencies (CVC, departmental vigilance and the anti-corruption branch of the CBI) will be merged into Lokpal which will have complete power and authority to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.

11. Whistleblowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases will also be provided with protection by it.



Difference between Government and activist drafts



Highlights

Difference between Draft Lokpal Bill 2010 and Jan Lokpal Bill

Draft Lokpal Bill (2010) Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill)

Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.

Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited to forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority". Lokpal will have the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.

Lokpal will have no police powers and no ability to register an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations. Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.

The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected. Lokpal and the anti corruption wing of the CBI will be one independent body.

Punishment for corruption will be a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of up to 7 years. Punishments will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment.



Detailed

The following table details differences between the Jan Lokpal Bill being offered by the Government and the one offered by Anna Hazare's team.

Issue The Jan Lokpal Bill Government's Lokpal Bill

Prime Minister

Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench. PM cannot be investigated by Lokpal.

Judiciary

Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench. Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill".

MPs

Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench. Can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated.

Lower bureaucracy All public servants would be included. Only Group A officers will be covered.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

The CBI will be merged into the Lokpal. The CBI will remain a separate agency.

Removal of Lokpal members and Chair Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President. Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI.

Removal of Lokpal staff and officers Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards’ set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members. Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior.

Lokayukta

Lokakyukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place. All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.

Whistleblower protection Whistleblowers are protected law. No protection granted to whistleblowers.

Punishment for corruption Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption. Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law.

Investigatory powers Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders. Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers.

False, frivolous and vexatious complaints Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh. Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs25, 000 to 2 lakh.

Scope All corruption can be investigated. Only high-level corruption can be investigated.



This is what Anna is doing. Now, you have a reason to support him.

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