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Jan Lokpal Bill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Jan Lokpal Bill (Hindi: ), also referred to as the citizens'
ombudsman bill, is a proposed anti-corruption law in India. It is designed to effectively deter
corruption, redress grievances of citizens and protect whistle-blowers. If passed and made
into law, the bill seeks to create an ombudsman called the Lokpal (Sanskrit for protector of
the people) - an independent body similar to the Election Commission of India with the
power to investigate politicians and bureaucrats without prior government permission.[1] First
introduced in 1969, the bill has failed to become law for nearly over four decades.[2]
In 2011, Gandhian rights activist Anna Hazare started a Satyagraha movement by
commencing a fast unto death in New Delhi to demand the passing of the bill. The movement
attracted attention in the media, and thousands of supporters. Following Hazare's four day
hunger strike, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the bill would be reintroduced in the 2011 monsoon session of the Parliament.[3]
Attempts to draft a compromise bill, merging the Government's version and that of the civil
group's version, by a committee of five Cabinet Ministers and five social activists failed. The
Indian government introduced its own version of the bill in the parliament, which the activists
consider to be too weak.[4]

Contents
[hide]

1 Background
2 Key features of proposed bill

3 Difference between Government and activist drafts

3.1 Highlights

3.2 Detailed

4 Protests
o

4.1 Local march by Delhi residents

4.2 Satyagraha Movement by activist Anna Hazare

4.3 One-day fast by Mumbai residents

4.4 Jail Bharo Andolan by activist Anna Hazare

5 Notable supporters and opposition

6 Government response

7 Drafting Committee

7.1 Chairmen

7.2 Government representation

7.3 Civil society representation

8 Criticisms of the Jan Lokpal Bill

9 Controversies

10 See also

11 References

12 External links

Background
The bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968[5] and passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in
1969. However, it did not get through in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament
of India. Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998,
2001, 2005 and in 2008.[6] But these 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 of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal
and Prashant Bhushan a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the
India Against Corruption movement.
The bill's supporters consider existing laws too weak and insufficiently enforced to stop
corruption.[7][8]

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 shortlisted 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 Draft Lokpal Bill 2010 and Jan Lokpal Bill[10]
Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's
Draft Lokpal Bill (2010)
Ombudsman Bill)
Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or Lokpal will have powers to initiate
receive complaints of corruption from the general public. suo moto action or receive
It can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of complaints of corruption from the
the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.
general public.
Lokpal will have the power to
Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited
initiate prosecution of anyone
to forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority".
found guilty.
Lokpal will have no police powers and no ability to
Lokpal will have police powers as
register an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations.
well as the ability to register FIRs.
Lokpal and the anti corruption
The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected.
wing of the CBI will be one
independent 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.

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, as described in The Hindu[11] and
Times of India[12].
The Jan Lokpal Bill [13]
Can be investigated with permission
Prime Minister
of seven member Lokpal bench.[11]
Can be investigated, though high
level members may be investigated
Judiciary
only with permission of a seven
member Lokpal bench.[11]
Issue

MPs
Lower
bureaucracy
CBI
Removal of
Lokpal members
and Chair
Removal of
Lokpal staff and
officers
Lokayukta
Whistleblower
protection
Punishment for
corruption

Investigatory
powers
False, frivolous
and vexatious
complaints

Government's Lokpal Bill [14]


PM cannot be investigate by
Lokpal.[15]
Judiciary is exempt and will be
covered by a separate "judicial
accountability bill".[12]

Can be investigated, but their


Can be investigated with permission
conduct within Pariliament, such as
of seven member Lokpal bench.[11]
voting, cannot be investigated.[12]
All public servants would be
Only Group A officers will be
included.[12]
covered.[12]
The CBI will be merged into the
The CBI will remain a separate
Lokpal.[12]
agency.[11]
Any person can bring a complaint to
Any "aggrieved party" can raise a
the Supreme Court, who can then
complaint to the President, who will
recommend removal of any member
refer the matter to the CJI.[11]
to the President.[11]
Complaints against Lokpal staff will
be handled by independent boards
Lokpal will conduct inquiries into
set-up in each state, composed of
its own behavior.[11]
retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil
society members.[11]
Lokakyukta and other local/state anti- All state anti-corruption agencies
corruption agency would remain in would be closed and responsibilities
place.[12]
taken over by centralized Lokpal.[12]
No protection granted to
Whistleblowers are protected law.[11]
whistleblowers.[11]
Lokpal can either directly impose
penalties, or refer the matter to the
Lokpal can only refer matters to the
courts. Penalties can include removal courts, not take any direct punitive
from office, imprisonment, and
actions. Penalties remain equivalent
recovery of assets from those who
to those in current law.[11]
[11]
benefited from the corruption.
Lokpal can issue contempt orders,
Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue
and has the ability to punish those in
rogatory letters, and recruit
contempt. No authority to obtain
investigating officers. Cannot issue
wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or
contempt orders.[11]
recruit investigating officers.[11]
Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous
Court system will handle matters of
complaints (including frivolous
frivolous complaints. Courts can
complaints against Lokpal itself),
issue fines of Rs25,000 to 2 lakh.[11]
with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh.[11].

Scope

All corruption can be investigated.[12]

Only high-level corruption can be


investigated.[12]

Protests
Main article: 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement
Local march by Delhi residents

On March 13, 2011, a group of Delhi residents dressed in white shirts and t-shirts drove
around the city for four hours in support of an anti-corruption campaign and the passing of a
Jan Lokpal Bill.[16]
Satyagraha Movement by activist Anna Hazare

Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare went on hunger strike "unto death" on April 5, 2011,
pending the enactment of a Jan Lokpal Bill.[17]
One-day fast by Mumbai residents

Around 6,000 Mumbai residents also began a one-day fast in support of similar demands.[18]
Protesters chose yellow as their colour and were seen wearing yellow dresses, T-shirts while
waving yellow banners. Inter city protest co-ordination is underway to observe Yellow
Sunday.[citation needed]
Jail Bharo Andolan by activist Anna Hazare

people protesting against the imprisonment of Anna Hazare in New Delhi, India
Hazare also announced plans to start a Jail Bharo Andolan protest on 13 April 2011 [19] if the
Jan Lokpal bill is not passed by the government. He also stated that his group has received six
crore (60 million) text messages of support[20] and that he has further backing from a large
number of Internet activists.

Candle light vigil at India Gate against the imprisonment of Anna Hazare
The protests are not associated with any political parties, and Hazare supporters discouraged
political leaders from joining the protests, because Hazare believes that political parties were
using the campaign for their own political advantage.[21] Hazare announced to go on fast again
from 16 August 2011 if Jan Lokpal Bill was not presented before Parliament of India. But
government rejected his demand to present any other bill except the one drafted by them. To
stop Hazare from going on Hunger Strike government put forth lots of conditions in front of
him if he wanted to protest. Few of which were that no more than 5000 people can gather
with him, the fast must not exceed three days and anytime medical check up could be
conducted. Out of which Anna accepted few conditions to start his protest. But on Monday
morning, Aug 16, Sec 144 was imposed around JP Park, New Delhi where he had planned to
protest.

A person holding the Indian Flag at the India gate while protesting against the imprisonment
of Anna Hazare
So Delhi Police arrested Anna from the place he was living on charges that his protest can
cause law and order problems in Delhi. After his arrest thousands of people gathered in city
to protest against government. People took out rallies in large numbers and gave arrests.
Police arrested thousand of people and were put inside stadiums converted to jails. [22] The
city observed a candle light protest at India Gate in response. The nation as a whole witnessed
widespread protests against the alleged atrocities of the government.

Notable supporters and opposition

In addition to the activists responsible for creating and organizing support for the bill, a wide
variety of other notable individuals have also stated that they support this bill. Spiritual
leadersSri Sri Ravi Shankar[23] and Yog Guru Ramdev[24] have both expressed support.
Notable politicians who have indicated support for the bill include Ajit Singh[25] and
Manpreet Singh Badal[26] as well as the principal opposition party, Bharatiya Janta Party.[27][28]
In addition, numerous Bollywood actors, directors, and musicians have publicly approved of
the bill.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36]
Notable opposition has been 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. [37] Although BJP showed their support earlier,
there are reports that BJP shares the Congress's concern "over letting the civil society gain the
upper hand over Parliament in lawmaking".[38]

Government response
To dissuade Hazare from going on an indefinite hunger strike, the Prime Minister's Office
have directed the ministries of personnel and law to examine how the views of society
activists can be included in the Lokpal Bill.[39]
On 5 April 2011, 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.[40] Hazare's fast was supported by the CPI(M) with their politburo issuing a
statement demanding an effective Lokpal Bill.
After several rounds of talks, on 8 April 2011, Anna Hazare announced to his supporters that
the Government had agreed to all his demands and he would break his fast on the following
Saturday morning. According to the understanding reached, five of the ten-member jointdraft committee would come from society . Pranab Mukherjee will be the Chairman of the
draft committee and Shanti Bhushan his Co-Chairman.[41]
Government's handling of the formation of the draft committee, involving the civil society in
preparation of the draft Lokpal bill, was criticized by various political parties: BJP, BJD,
TDP,AIADMK, CPI-M,RJD, BJD, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party. [42][43]
On July 28, 2011, the Union Cabinet ministers approved a bill that will be introduced in the
Parliament in August 2011 for approval. This bill contains parts of the provisions proposed in
Jan Lokpal bill. The essential features are: (1) Lokpal consists of eight members and a
chairperson; the Chair will be retired Chief Justice; four members should have judicial
background such as retired justices from the Supreme Court; the other four members should
have 25 years of administrative experience in particular dealing with corruption with
integrity; members are appointed for a term of five years; Lokpal will have its own
investigation and prosecution wing; it has the authority to investigate corruption matters
involving any ministers, Members of Parliament, any Group A officers in any organization set
up by the Parliament; Lokpal will not have the power to prosecute but will have to refer the
case to the Supreme Court. A nine member committee, headed by the Prime Minister (with
members including the Speaker, opposition party leader, a minister and reputed legal

professionals) and the Prime Minister and Supreme Court and High Court justices are
exempted from he jurisdiction of Lokpal. If this bill becomes law, one major change from the
current practice is that the LokPal can initiate investigation of government officials and
ministers and other elected representatives without prior approval from the government, as it
is practiced now under the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988. [44] Anna Hazare was
arrested on 16 August 2011 By Delhi Police on his way to the JP park where he was supposed
to start his unlimited hunger strike, since the local government earlier refused to issue
permission for Hazare to carry out his strike in JP park. Arwind Kejriwal and many
supporters also arrested.

Drafting Committee
The drafting committee was officially formed on 8 April 2011. It consists of ten members,
including five from the government and five drawn from society.[45][46] 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. [47]

Chairmen
The Government of India accepted that the committee be co-chaired by a politician and a
non-political activist. It is reported that Pranab Mukherjee, from the political arena, and
Shanti Bhushan, from civil society, will fill those roles[citation needed].

Government representation
Five Cabinet ministers will be a part of the Drafting Committee. They are:

Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister, Co-Chairman;


P. Chidambaram, Minister of Home Affairs;

Veerappa Moily, Minister of Corporate Affairs;

Kapil Sibal, Minister for Communications and Information Technology; and

Salman Khursid, Minister of Law

Civil society representation


Five leading social activists will be a part of the Drafting Committee. They are:

Shanti Bhushan, Former Minister of Law and Justice, Co-Chairman;


Anna Hazare, Social Activist;

Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer;

N. Santosh Hegde, Former Lokayukta (Karnataka); and

Arvind Kejriwal, RTI Activist.

Criticisms of the Jan Lokpal Bill

Some believe that the bill is nave in its approach to combating corruption. According to
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President, Center for Policy Research Delhi, the bill "is premised on an
institutional imagination that is at best nave; at worst subversive of representative
democracy".[48] The Lokpal concept was criticized by the Human Resource Development
(HRD) minister Kapil Sibal because of concerns that it will lack accountability, oppresively,
and undemocratically.[49]
The claim that the Lokpal will be an extra-constitutional body has been derided by Hazares
closest lieutenant, Arvind Kejriwal. He states the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by civil society will
only investigate corruption offences and submit a charge sheet which would then tried and
prosecuted, through trial courts and higher courts. Kejriwal further states that the proposed
bill also lists clear provisions in which the Supreme Court can abolish the Lokpal.[50]
Although Kejriwal has stated that all prosecutions will be carried out through trial courts, the
exact judicial powers of LokPal is rather unclear in comparison with its investigative powers.
The bill [51] 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,[52] the government and some critics have recognized Lokpal to have quasijudicial powers. [53] The bill 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." Review of proceedings and
decisions by Lokpal is prevented in the bill, stating "...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." 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. Without judicial review, there is concern that Lokpal
could become a extra-constitutional body with investigative and judicial powers whose
decisions cannot be reviewed in regular courts.[54] Whether or not to include the Prime
Minister and higher judiciary under the Lokpal remains as one of the major issues of dispute.
Although Hazare proposed Justice Verma, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as
the Chairman of the Lokpal Bill panel,[55] Justice Verma later expressed his constitutional
objections for including the Prime Minister and higher judiciary under Lokpal, stating "this
would foul with the basic structure of the constitution". [56]
Aruna Roy, a NAC member and Magsaysay Award winner, 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 Peoples Right to Information
(NCPRI) have proposed a different mechanism consisting of five institutions.[57]

Controversies
In April 2011, the involvement of the bill co-chairman Shanti Bhushan was questioned after a
CDROM emerged with audio clippings of a telephone conversation allegedly between him,
Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh about influencing a judge.[58] All involved reacted to
the allegation saying that the CD was fabricated and demanded a formal investigation to
verify its authenticity.

See also