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The Jan Lokpal Bill (Hindi: ), also referred to as the citizens' ombudsman bill, is a proposed anti-corruption law in India.

a. 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 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 reintroduced 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]

To establish a central government anti-corruption institution called Lokpal, supported by Lokayukta at the state level. 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. 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. A selection committee will invite shortlisted candidates for interviews, videorecordings of which will thereafter be made public. 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. 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. Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction. 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. 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. 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.

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] 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, as described in The Hindu[11] and Times of India[12]. Issue The Jan Lokpal Bill [13] Government's Lokpal Bill [14]

Prime Minister Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.[11] PM cannot be investigate by Lokpal.[15] Judiciary Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench.[11] Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial

accountability bill".[12] MPs Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench. [11] Can be investigated, but their conduct within Pariliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated.[12] Lower bureaucracy All public servants would be included.[12] Group A officers will be covered.[12] CBI The CBI will be merged into the Lokpal.[12] separate agency.[11] Only

The CBI will remain a

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.[11] Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI.[11] 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.[11] Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior.[11] Lokayukta Lokakyukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place.[12] All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.[12] Whistleblower protection Whistleblowers are protected law.[11] No protection granted to whistleblowers.[11] 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.[11] Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law. [11] Investigatory powers Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders.[11] 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.[11] 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.[11]. Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs25,000 to 2 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 tshirts 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 joint-draft 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 quasi-judicial 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

List of politicians in India charged with corruption Corruption Perceptions Index Corruption in India List of scams in India (Chronicle) Indian black money "None of the above" voting option in India India Against Corruption Indian political scandals Corruption Perceptions Index Lok Ayukta

References

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External links