What is this Jan Lokpal Bill over which we are seeing this entire movement started by Anna Hazare? To know this, we need to first know what the Lokpal Bill is. Lets start with what Bapu said, decades ago!
“Corruption will be out one day, however much one may try to conceal it: and the public can as its right and duty, in every case of justifiable suspicion, call its servants to strict account, dismiss them, sue them in a law court, or appoint an arbitrator or inspector to scrutinize their conduct, as it likes.”
-Mahatma Gandhi (1928)
-Mahatma Gandhi (1928)
The word Lokpal means an ombudsman in Hindi. The word has been derived from the Hindi words "lok" (people) and "pal" (protector/caretaker). So word lokpal means 'Protector of people'. The concept of Lokpal has been drawn up ostensibly to root out corruption at high places the prevailing in Indian polity.
India is a country where honesty and integrity in public and private life have been glorified and upheld in great epics such as the Vedas, Upanishads and in the books and practices of every religion practiced here.
Yet, India today is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Bringing public servants under a scanner which makes them strictly accountable is the start of a movement against corruption in India. And one significant step in attacking the spectra of corruption in India will be the implementation of the Lokpal bill.
The Lokpal Bill drafted by the government has languished in the Rajya Sabha for 42 years. The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008. Yet none of these bills were ever passed.
Jan Lokpal Bill
Lokpal Bill has been introduced eight times in Parliament since 1968. All the eight versions have been very weak. Even these weak versions have not been passed so far because Lokpal Bill seeks to investigate politicians.
The movement for Jan Lokpal Bill started due to the resentment because of the serious differences between the draft Lokpal Bill 2010 prepared by the government and the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by the members of this movement, which has received significant public support. The current lack of any laws to curb endemic corruption has made the need for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Salient features of proposed Jan Lokpal Bill
- An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up.
- 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.
- Cases against corrupt people thus will not linger on for years. 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.
- The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
- Help to 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.
- One 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.
- Government appointing corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members 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.
- 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.
- The 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.
- It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.
For more information and to support the cause, please visit:
India Against Corruption
(Sources: Lokpal Bill, Jan Lokpal Bill)