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Jan Lokpal Bill

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Jump to: navigation, search The Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the citizens' ombudsman bill, is a proposed independent anti-corruption law in India. Anti-corruption social activists proposed it as a more effective improvement to the original Lokpal bill, which is currently being proposed by the Government of India.[1] The Jan Lokpal Bill aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers. If made into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body called the Lokpal (Sanskrit: protector of the people). It would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval.[2][3][4] In 2011, civil activist Anna Hazare started a Satyagraha movement by commencing an indefinite fast in New Delhi to demand the passing of the bill. The movement attracted attention in the media, and hundreds of thousands of supporters, in part due to the organizational skills of Arvind Kejriwal.[5] Following Hazare's four day hunger strike, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the bill would be re-introduced in the 2011 monsoon session of the Parliament.[6] Accordingly, a committee of five Cabinet Ministers and five social activists attempted to draft a compromise bill merging the two versions but failed. The Indian government went on to propose its own version in the parliament, which the activists rejected on the grounds of not being sufficiently effective, and called it a "toothless bill".[7]

Contents

1 Background 2 Key features of proposed bill 3 Difference between government and activist drafts o 3.1 Highlights o 3.2 Details 4 Timeline of Lokpal and cost 5 Campaign for the Jan Lokpal Bill o 5.1 Fast & Agitation Phase 1 o 5.2 Drafting Committee o 5.3 Fast & Agitation Phase 2 o 5.4 Notable supporters and opposition 6 Criticisms of the bill o 6.1 Nave approach o 6.2 Extra-constitutional o 6.3 Scope o 6.4 Criticism from Aruna Roy, Arundhati Roy and NCPRI 7 Support for the Bill

7.1 Surveys 7.2 Legislator support 7.3 Social media 7.4 Online surveys 8 Parliamentary actions on the proposed legislation 9 See also 10 References 11 External links

o o o o

Background
The word Lokpal was coined in 1963 by L.M.Singhvi, a Member of Parliament during a debate in Parliament about grievance redressal mechanisms. His son Dr. Abhishek Singhvi is now the head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee reviewing the bill.[8] The prefix Jan (translation: citizens) was added to signify the fact that these improvements include input provided by "ordinary citizens" through an activist-driven, non-governmental public consultation.[9][10] The Lokpal bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968[11] and passed the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. But before it could be passed by Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha was dissolved and the bill lapsed.[12] The Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008,[13] but none of them passed. The bill was inspired by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).[14][15]

Key features of proposed bill


Some important features of the proposed bill are:[9] 1. To establish a central government anti-corruption institution 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 Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process. 4. A selection committee will invite short-listed candidates for interviews, videorecordings 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 officework 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 anticorruption 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 Jan Lokpal Bill and Draft Bill 2010[16] Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Draft Lokpal Bill (2010) Ombudsman Bill) Lokpal will have powers to initiate Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or suo motu action or receive receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It complaints of corruption from the can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of the general public. Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Lokpal will have the power to Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited to initiate prosecution of anyone forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority". found guilty. Lokpal will have police powers as Lokpal will have no police powers and no ability to register well as the ability to register FIRs. an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations. Lokpal and the anti corruption wing of the CBI will be one independent The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected. body. Punishments will be a minimum of Punishment for corruption will be a minimum of 6 months 10 years and a maximum of up to and a maximum of up to 7 years. life imprisonment.

Details
The following table details differences between the Government and activist backed versions.[17][18][19] Comparison SlideShow uploaded by India Against Corruption.[20]

Issue Prime Minister

Judiciary

The Jan Lokpal Bill[10] PM can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.[17] Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench.[17]

Government's Lokpal Bill[1] PM can be investigated by Lokpal after she/he vacates office.[21] Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill".[18]

Can be investigated, but their Can be investigated with permission of conduct within Parliament, such Conduct of MPs seven member Lokpal bench.[17] as voting, cannot be investigated.[18] All public servants would be Only senior officers (Group A) Lower bureaucracy [18] included. will be covered.[18] Anti-corruption The Anti-corruption wing of the wing of the Central The Anti-corruption wing of the CBI CBI not be merged into the [18] will be merged into the Lokpal. Bureau of Lokpal.[17] Investigation (CBI) Any person can bring a complaint to Any "aggrieved party" can raise a Removal of Lokpal the Supreme Court, who can then complaint to the President, who members and Chair recommend removal of any member to will refer the matter to the CJI.[17] [17] the President. Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up Lokpal will conduct inquiries into Removal of Lokpal in each state, composed of retired its own behaviour.[17] staff and officers bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.[17] All state anti-corruption agencies Lokayukta and other local/state antiwould be closed and corruption agency would remain in Lokayukta responsibilities taken over by place.[18] centralised Lokpal.[18] No protection granted to Whistleblowers are protected by Whistleblower whistleblowers by Lokpal Lokpal.[17] protection Mahima.[17] Lokpal can either directly impose Lokpal can only refer matters to penalties, or refer the matter to the the courts, not take any direct Punishment for courts. Penalties can include removal punitive actions. Penalties remain from office, imprisonment, and corruption equivalent to those in current recovery of assets from those who law.[17] [17] benefited from the corruption. Lokpal can obtain wiretaps ( to make a Lokpal can issue contempt orders, connection to a telegraph or telephone and has the ability to punish those Investigatory wire in order to obtain information in contempt. No authority to powers secretly), issue rogatory letters, and obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory

letters, or recruit investigating officers.[17] Court system will handle matters Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous of frivolous complaints. Courts False, frivolous and complaints (including frivolous can give 25 years imprisonment vexatious complaints against Lokpal itself), with and fines of Rs 25,000 to complaints a maximum penalty of Rs 100,000.[17] 200,000.[20] NGOs not within the scope due to their NGOs are within the scope and NGOs role in exposing corruption.[19] can be investigated.[19]

recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders.[17]

Timeline of Lokpal and cost


1968 Rs 3 lakh[22] (300,000) 1971 Rs 20 lakh (2 million) 1977 Rs 25 lakh (2.5 million) 1985 Rs 25 lakh 1989 Rs 35 lakh (3.5 million) PM under lokpal 1996 Rs 1 crore (10 million) PM under lokpal 2001 Rs 1.5 crore (15 million) PM under lokpal 2011 Rs 1700 crore[22] (17 billion)

Campaign for the Jan Lokpal Bill

Lokpal activist Anna Hazare Main article: 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement The first version of the Lokpal Bill drafted by the Government of India in 2010 was considered ineffective by anti-corruption activists from the civil society.[23] These activists, under the banner of India Against Corruption, came together to draft a citizen's version of the Lokpal Bill later

called the Jan Lokpal.[23] Public awareness drives[24] and protest marches[23] were carried out to campaign for the bill. However, public support for the Jan Lokpal Bill draft started gathering steam after Anna Hazare, a noted Gandhian announced that he would hold an indefinite fast from 5 April 2011 for the passing of the Lokpal/Jan Lokpal bill.[6][25][26] The government has however accepted it. To dissuade Hazare from going on an indefinite hunger strike, the Prime Minister's Office directed the ministries of personnel and law to examine how the views of society activists can be included in the Lokpal Bill.[27] On 5 April, the National Advisory Council rejected the Lokpal bill drafted by the government. Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal then met social activists Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal on 7 April to find ways to bridge differences over the bill.[28] However, no consensus could be reached on 7 April owing to several differences of opinion between the social activists and the Government.

Fast & Agitation Phase 1


On 7 April 2011 Anna Hazare called for a Jail Bharo Andolan (translation: Fill jail movement) from 13 April to protest against Government's rejection of their demands.[29] Anna Hazare also claimed that his group has received six crore (60 million) text messages of support[30] and that he had further backing from a large number of Internet activists. The outpouring of support was largely free of political overtones; political parties were specifically discouraged from participating in the movement.[31] The fast ended on 9 April, after 98 hours, when the Government accepted most demands due to public pressure. Anna Hazare set an 15 August deadline for the passing of the bill in the Parliament,[32] failing which he would start a hunger strike from 16 August. The fast also led to the Government of India agreeing to setting up a Joint Drafting Committee, which would complete its work by 30 June.[32]

Drafting Committee
The drafting committee was officially formed on 8 April 2011. It consisted of the following ten members, including five from the government and five drawn from the civil society.[33][34] Member Qualifications and status Pranab Mukherjee Finance Minister, Co-Chairman Shanti Bhushan Former Minister of Law and Justice, Co-Chairman P. Chidambaram Minister of Home Affairs Veerappa Moily Minister of Corporate Affairs Minister for Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal Salman Khursid Minister of Law Anna Hazare Social Activist Prashant Bhushan Lawyer N. Santosh Hegde Former Lokayukta (Karnataka) and Arvind Kejriwal RTI Activist.

The Government's handling of the formation of the draft committee, involving the civil society in preparation of the draft Lokpal bill, was criticised by various political parties including BJP, BJD, TDP,AIADMK, CPI-M, RJD, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party.[35][36] The committee failed to agree on the terms of a compromise bill and the government introduced its own version of the bill in the parliament in August 2011.[37]

Fast & Agitation Phase 2


However, the Joint Drafting Committee failed to reach a conclusion and the five members of the Government on the panel came up with their own version of the bill, which was considered by Anna and his team as weak and will facilitate the corrupt to go free apart from several other differences. To protest against this, Anna Hazare announced an "Indefinite Fast" (not to be confused with "Fast unto death"). Anna and his team asked for permission from Delhi Police for their fast and agitation at Jantar Mantar or JP Park. Delhi Police gave its permission with certain conditions. These condition were considered by team Anna as restrictive and against the fundamental constitutional rights and they decided to defy the conditions. Delhi Police imposed sec 144 CrPC.[38][39] On 16 Aug, Anna Hazare was taken into preventive custody by Delhi Police. Senior officers of Delhi Police reached Anna Hazare's flat early in the morning and informed him that he could not leave his home. However, Hazare turned down the request following which he was detained.Anna in his recorded address to the nation before his arrest asked his supporters not to stop the agitation and urged the protesters to remain peaceful.Other members of "India Against Corruption", Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia were also taken into preventive custody. Kiran Bedi described the situation as resembling a kind of Emergency (referring to the Emergency imposed in 1975 by the Indira Gandhi Govt.).[39] The arrest resulted in huge public outcry and under pressure the government released him in the evening of 16 Aug. However, Anna Hazare refused to come out of Jail, starting his indefinite fast from Jail itself. Manish Sisodia explained his situation as, "Anna said that he left home to go to JP Park to conduct his fast and that is exactly where he would go from here (Tihar Jail). He has refused to be released till he is given a written, unconditional permission". Unwilling to use forces owing to the sensitive nature of the case, the jail authorities had no option but to let Anna spend the night inside Tihar. Later on 17 Aug, Delhi Police permitted Anna Hazare and team to use the Ramlila Maidan for the proposed fast and agitation withdrawing most of the contentious provisions they had imposed earlier.[40] The indefinite fast and agitation began in Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi, and went on for around 288 hours (12 days from 16-August-2011 to 28August-2011).[41] Some of the Lokpal drafting committee members became dissatisfied with Hazare's tactics as the hunger strike went on for the 11 th day: Santosh Hegde, a member of Hazare team who headed the Karnataka Lokayukta, strongly criticised Hazare for his insistence of "having his way", concluding I feel I am not in Team Anna any more by the way things are going. These (telling Parliament what to do) are not democratic things.[42] Swami Agnivesh, another central figure in the Harare group also distanced himself.[43]

Notable supporters and opposition

Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, a notable critic of the citizens' version of the Bill In addition to the activists responsible for creating and organising support for the bill, a wide variety of other notable individuals have also stated that they support this bill. Spiritual leaders Sri Sri Ravi Shankar[44] and Yog Guru Ramdev[45] expressed support. Notable politicians who indicated support for the bill include Ajit Singh[46] and Manpreet Singh Badal[47] as well as the principal opposition party, Bharatiya Janta Party.[48][49] In addition, numerous Bollywood actors, directors, and musicians publicly approved of the bill.[50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57] Notable opposition to the activists' version of the Bill was expressed by HRD minister Kapil Sibal and other Congress leaders; Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerjee; Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal leader Prakash Singh Badal; Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Jagdish Sharan Verma.[58] Although BJP showed their support earlier, there were reports that BJP shared Congress's concern "over letting the civil society gain the upper hand over Parliament in lawmaking".[59] The All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, representing the Dalits and backward castes, also expressed opposition to the bill proposed by Anna Hazare as well as to the government's version of the bill. The confederation opposed Hazare's proposed bill saying that it will be above the constitution and that proposers of the bill have support from elements who oppose reservation.[60]

Criticisms of the bill

Pro-bill activitist Arvind Kejriwal

Nave approach
The bill has been criticised as being nave in its approach to combating corruption. According to Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of the Center for Policy Research Delhi writes[61] that the bill "is premised on an institutional imagination that is at best nave; at worst subversive of representative democracy". The very concept of a Lokpal concept has received criticism from HRD minister Kapil Sibal in that it will lack accountability, be oppressive and undemocratic.[62]

Extra-constitutional
The pro-bill activist Arvind Kejriwal rejects the claim of Lokpal being extra-constitutional with the explanation that the body will only investigate corruption offences and submit a charge sheet which would then tried and prosecuted through trial courts and higher courts, and that other bodies with equivalent powers in other matters exist. The proposed bill also lists clear provisions for the Supreme Court to abolish the Lokpal.[63] Despite these clarifications, critics feel that the exact judicial powers of LokPal are rather unclear in comparison with its investigative powers. The bill[64] requires "...members of Lokpal and the officers in investigation wing of Lokpal shall be deemed to be police officers". Although some supporters have denied any judicial powers of Lokpal,[65] the government and some critics have recognised Lokpal to have quasi-judicial powers.[66] The bill also states that "Lokpal shall have, and exercise the same jurisdiction powers and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High court has and may exercise, and, for this purpose, the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (Central Act 70 of 1971) shall have the effect subject to the modification that the references therein to the High Court shall be

construed as including a reference to the Lokpal."[67][68][69] Review of proceedings and decisions by Lokpal is prevented in the bill by the statement "...no proceedings or decision of the Lokpal shall be liable to be challenged, reviewed, quashed or called in question in any court of ordinary Civil Jurisdiction.". As a result, how the trials will be conducted is unclear in the bill, although the bill outlines requiring judges for special courts, presumably to conduct trial that should be completed within one year. The critics hence express concern that, without judicial review, Lokpal could potentially become an extra-constitutional body with investigative and judicial powers whose decisions cannot be reviewed in regular courts.[70]

Scope
The matter of whether the Indian Prime Minister and higher judiciary should or should not be prosecutable by the Lokpal remains as one of the major issues of dispute. Anna's own nominee for co-chairing the joint panel Justice Verma, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, has expressed his constitutional objections for including the Prime Minister and higher judiciary under Lokpal.[71] According to him, "this would foul with the basic structure of the constitution".[72]

Criticism from Aruna Roy, Arundhati Roy and NCPRI

Critic Aruna Roy Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy who has said "Vesting jurisdiction over the length and breadth of the government machinery in one institution will concentrate too much power in the institution, while the volume of work will make it difficult to carry out its tasks". She and her colleagues at the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) have proposed an alternative mechanism consisting of five institutions.[73] Noted author and social activist Arundhati Roy was highly critical of Lokpal, stating "you could say that the Maoists and the Jan Lokpal Bill have one thing in common they both seek the overthrow of the Indian State", and "While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare's demands are certainly not. Contrary to Gandhiji's ideas about the decentralisation of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anticorruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy,.."[74][75][76]

Support for the Bill


Surveys
India Against Corruption conducted a referendum on Draft Lokpal Bill presented by the Indian Government in parliament and came out with results that showed overwhelming opposition to the Government's bill. As per the referendum results, 85% of the citizens participating in the referendum voted against the government's version of the bill. The team especially cited the results from the Chandni Chowk constituency, which happens to be the constituency of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, a vehement voice for the Government's version of the bill.[77][78] According to a nationwide survey conducted by CNN-IBN & CNBC-TV18 and published in early August, only a shade over a third of respondents have heard of Lokpal. Thirty-four percent of all respondents said they have heard of the ombudsman and only 24 percent know what it actually means.[79] One of the key Anna Hazare associate who is also one of the drafters of the Jan Lokpal Bill Prashant Bhushan has demanded a nation wide referendum on Jan Lokpal Bill to gauge the mood of the nation.[80]

Legislator support
Post the massive support to Anna Hazare's movement, several of the MPs across party lines have come out in support to the Jan Lokpal Bill. Most notable names are Congress MPs from Maharashtra Priya Dutt and Datta Meghe.[81][82] Datta Meghe also demanded that his party spokesperson Manish Tiwari should apologise to Anna Hazare for his uncharitable comments.[81] This support started coming as over 150 MPs and Ministers from different states were forced to remain confined to their houses as Anna supporters protested outside their houses. Protests were also seen outside the residence of Sheila Dixit CM of Delhi, Kapil Sibal, Pranab Mukherjee amongst others.[81][82][83] BJP MP Varun Gandhi is introducing Jan Lokpal Bill as a private member's bill in the parliament.[84]

Social media
As per the reports, Anna Hazare's fast was successful in mobilising the support of thousands in the virtual world of social media. On Independence Day, Anna had over 500,000 mentions through status updates and comments across top social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter in the country. Two days later, the number had shot up to 9 million.On YouTube, over 40,000 people watched the video shot by Kiran Bedi inside Tihar Jail in which Anna has addressed his supporters. Facebook has 542 fan pages by Anna's name.[85][86]

Online surveys

According to the survey conducted by STAR News and Nielsen, 87% of the 8900 respondents of the survey supported the Jan Lokpal Bill. The survey conducted in 28 cities across the country, including all four metros mainly deals with three important points: publics knowledge about the Lokpal Bill; awareness about Annas campaign; and the perceived problems with the Jan Lokpal Bill.[87] Over a million people joined the Times of India online anti-graft campaign, in one of the biggest ever voting exercises in the virtual world. The news analysis points that citizens want to make their voices heard and have found the platform offered by the campaign a viable one to do so.[88]

Parliamentary actions on the proposed legislation


Main article: 2011 parliamentary debate on anti-corruption legislation On 27 August 2011, a special and all exclusive session of Parliament was conducted and a resolution was unanimously passed after deliberations in both the houses of Indian Parliament by sense of the house.[89][90] The resolution, in principle, agreed on the following subjects and forwarded the Bill to related standing committee for structure and finalise a report:[91][92]

A citizen charter on the bill An appropriate mechanism to subject lower bureaucracy to lokpal The establishment of Lokayuktas (ombudsmen at state level) in states

Anna Hazare, civil rights activists along with protestors at site of the fast welcomed this development on being informed, terming it as a battle "half won" while ending the protest.[91]

See also
India portal Law portal

2011 parliamentary debate on anti-corruption legislation Corruption in India Corruption Perceptions Index India Against Corruption Indian black money Indian political scandals List of politicians in India charged with corruption List of scams in India Lok Ayukta

References

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Final Version 2.3 under official consideration redrafted by Ramarao Veluri, available on Govt of India website Jan Lokpal Bill Activists proposed version Dalit leaders To Meet Abhishek Singhvi With Bahujan Lokpal Bill

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