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Lokpal Bill – Controversies and the present scenario

Anand B.A., B.L

Controversy on Antrix-Devas agreement on S-band spectrum– Controversies and the present scenario Anand B.A., B.L 2012 Jaipur Literature Festival - A ray

2012 Jaipur Literature Festival - A ray of hopeB.L Controversy on Antrix-Devas agreement on S-band spectrum Figures bust myth India's bureaucracy is “bloated”

Figures bust myth India's bureaucracy is “bloated”spectrum 2012 Jaipur Literature Festival - A ray of hope 57th Filmfare Awards 2012 Winners India

57th Filmfare Awards 2012 WinnersFigures bust myth India's bureaucracy is “bloated” India showcased military might, cultural heritage on 63rd

India showcased military might, cultural heritage on 63rd Republic Dayis “bloated” 57th Filmfare Awards 2012 Winners US Presidential Election 2012 - Republican Candidates Who

US Presidential Election 2012 - Republican Candidatesmilitary might, cultural heritage on 63rd Republic Day Who should judge the judges? RBI cuts ‘cash

Who should judge the judges?Day US Presidential Election 2012 - Republican Candidates RBI cuts ‘cash reserve ratio’ (CRR) to spur

RBI cuts ‘cash reserve ratio’ (CRR) to spur growth2012 - Republican Candidates Who should judge the judges? Introduction The word Lokpal was coined in

Introduction

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. 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.

The Lokpal bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 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. The Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971,

1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, but none of them passed. The bill was inspired by the Hong Kong Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC).

Timeline and Lokpal bill cost

1968

1971

1977

1985

1989

1996

2001

2011

– Rs 3 lakh (300,000)and Lokpal bill cost 1968 1971 1977 1985 1989 1996 2001 2011 – Rs 20 lakh

– Rs 20 lakh (2 million)1971 1977 1985 1989 1996 2001 2011 – Rs 3 lakh (300,000) – Rs 25 lakh

– Rs 25 lakh (2.5 million)2001 2011 – Rs 3 lakh (300,000) – Rs 20 lakh (2 million) – Rs 25

– Rs 25 lakh– Rs 20 lakh (2 million) – Rs 25 lakh (2.5 million) – Rs 35 lakh

– Rs 35 lakh (3.5 million) – PM under lokpallakh (2 million) – Rs 25 lakh (2.5 million) – Rs 25 lakh – Rs 1

– Rs 1 crore (10 million) – PM under lokpalRs 25 lakh – Rs 35 lakh (3.5 million) – PM under lokpal – Rs 1.5

– Rs 1.5 crore (15 million) – PM under lokpalunder lokpal – Rs 1 crore (10 million) – PM under lokpal – Rs 1700 crore

– Rs 1700 crore (17 billion)lokpal – Rs 1.5 crore (15 million) – PM under lokpal The first version of the

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. 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. Public awareness drives

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India and the sex selection conundrum2012 UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam Notification

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Pereira – hit and run casechief Gen Vijay Kumar Singh A year after Jasmine and Tahrir U.S. broadens rape definition, includes

U.S. broadens rape definition, includes male victimsA year after Jasmine and Tahrir Pereira – hit and run case The saga of the

The saga of the Lokpal Billcase U.S. broadens rape definition, includes male victims Iran’s blockade of supply of Crude Oil The

Iran’s blockade of supply of Crude Oilincludes male victims The saga of the Lokpal Bill The Bhagavad Gita Controversy 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam

The Bhagavad Gita Controversyof the Lokpal Bill Iran’s blockade of supply of Crude Oil 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is as

116-year-oldof supply of Crude Oil The Bhagavad Gita Controversy Mullaperiyar dam is as good as new

Mullaperiyar dam is as good as new

Syria Uprising ofControversy 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is as good as new and protest marches were carried out to

and protest marches 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. 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. 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, 2011 to find ways to bridge differences over the bill. However, no consensus could be reached on 7 April owing to several differences of opinion between the social activists and the Government.

The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation

within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year. Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of

Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and

bureaucrats without government permission. Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and other known people like Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna Hazare and Mallika

Sarabhai are also part of the movement, called India Against Corruption. Its website describes the movement as “an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. We have all come together to force/request/persuade/pressurize the

Government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill. We feel that if this Bill were enacted it would create an effective deterrence against corruption.”Anna Hazare, anti-corruption crusader, went on a fast-unto-death in April, demanding that this Bill, drafted by the

civil society, be adopted. Four days into his fast, the government agreed to set up a joint committee with an equal number of members from the government and civil society side to draft the Lokpal Bill together. The two sides met several times but could not agree on fundamental elements like including the PM under the purview of

the Lokpal. Eventually, both sides drafted their own version of the Bill. The

2011 government has introduced its version in Parliament in this session. Team Anna is up in

Yemen Uprisingversion in Parliament in this session. Team Anna is up in of 2011 Libya Revolt of

of 2011

Libya Revolt ofin this session. Team Anna is up in Yemen Uprising of 2011 arms and calls the

arms and calls the government version the “Joke Pal Bill.” Anna Hazare declared that he would begin another fast in Delhi on August 16. Hours before he was to begin his

hunger strike, the Delhi Police detained and later arrested him. There are widespread

2011 protests all over the country against his arrest. The website of the India Against

Mullaperiyar Dam - Two States and a Water Issuecountry against his arrest. The website of the India Against Egypt Uprising of 2011 Russian Elections

Egypt Uprising of 2011Against Mullaperiyar Dam - Two States and a Water Issue Russian Elections 2011 and its aftermath

Russian Elections 2011 and its aftermathDam - Two States and a Water Issue Egypt Uprising of 2011 Corruption movement calls the

Corruption movement calls the Lokpal Bill of the government an “eyewash” and has on it a critique of that government Bill.

Features of Jan Lokpal Bill

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up

2. 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. 3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is dead(LHC) Medical exams need to be as rigorous as in U.K Vaclav Havel, in any case

Vaclav Havel,rigorous as in U.K North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is dead in any case will have

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.

4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.

5. How will it help a 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.

6. So, you 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.

7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That 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.

8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? 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.

9. What will happen to 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.

10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

Drafting committee on Jan Lokpal bill

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.

Member

Pranab Mukherjee Finance Minister, Co-Chairman

Shanti Bhushan

P. Chidambaram

Veerappa Moily

Kapil Sibal Salman Khursid

Anna Hazare

Prashant Bhushan Lawyer

N. Santosh Hegde

Arvind Kejriwal

Qualifications and status

Former Minister of Law and Justice, Co-Chairman Minister of Home Affairs Minister of Corporate Affairs Minister for human resource & devlopement Minister of Law Social Activist

Former Lokayukta (Karnataka) and Supreme Court Justice

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

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leader of "Velvet including BJP, BJD, TDP, AIADMK, CPI-M, RJD, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party Revolution",

former Czech

President, is

dead

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.

Difference between Jan Lokpal Bill and Draft Bill 2010

Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s

Draft Lokpal Bill (2010)

Ombudsman Bill)

Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo motu action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.

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 the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.

Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited to forwarding reports to a “Competent Authority”.

Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.

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

Lokpal and the anti corruption wing of the CBI will be one

The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected.

independent body.

Punishments will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment.

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

Withdrawal ofbe a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of up to 7 years. American troops

American troops

in Iraq Killing of
in Iraq
Killing of

Osama Bin Laden voted Top News Story of 2011

AIMA opposes Centre's move on CMAT –Killing of Osama Bin Laden voted Top News Story of 2011 17.12.2011 Indian Government to lay

17.12.2011

Indian2011 AIMA opposes Centre's move on CMAT – 17.12.2011 Government to lay guidelines for Hospital Safety

Government to

lay guidelines

for Hospital

Safety

Indian PrimeIndian Government to lay guidelines for Hospital Safety Minister’s visit to Russia, December 2011 Koodankulam

Minister’s visit

to

Russia,

December 2011

Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant – the IssuesIndian Prime Minister’s visit to Russia, December 2011 Mullaperiyar Dam Issues and current Scenario Impact of

Mullaperiyar Dam Issues and current ScenarioDecember 2011 Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant – the Issues Impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on

Impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on Indian Economy– the Issues Mullaperiyar Dam Issues and current Scenario A Law that thwarts Justice Investigating the

A Law that

thwarts Justice

Investigating the investigation(FDI) on Indian Economy A Law that thwarts Justice Let us amend the Law, it is

Let us amend the Law, it is only fair to womenA Law that thwarts Justice Investigating the investigation Euthanasia – India’s call NY becomes 6th U.S.

Euthanasia – India’s callinvestigation Let us amend the Law, it is only fair to women NY becomes 6th U.S.

NY becomes 6th U.S. state to legalize GayLaw, it is only fair to women Euthanasia – India’s call Details The following table details

Details

The following table details differences between the Government and activist backed

versions.

Issue

The Jan Lokpal Bill

Government’s Lokpal Bill

Prime Minister

PM can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.

PM can be investigated by Lokpal after she/he vacates office.

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”.

Conduct of 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

All public servants would be included.

Only senior officers (Group A) will be covered.

bureaucracy

Anti-corruption

The Anti-corruption wing of the CBI will be merged into the Lokpal.

The Anti-corruption wing of the CBI cannot be merged into the Lokpal.

wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

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Marriage

UP has lowest rape rate amongMarriage all states- NCRB Prime Minister's Independence Day

all states-

NCRB

Prime Minister'sMarriage UP has lowest rape rate among all states- NCRB Independence Day speech, 2011 Let us

Independence

Day speech,

2011

Let us amend the Law, it is only fair to womenNCRB Prime Minister's Independence Day speech, 2011 India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue Joint Statement, July, 2011

India-U.S. Strategicspeech, 2011 Let us amend the Law, it is only fair to women Dialogue Joint Statement,

Dialogue Joint

Statement, July,

2011

Aadhaar Project - on a platformIndia-U.S. Strategic Dialogue Joint Statement, July, 2011 of Myths UPSC aspirants can now choose Indian languages

of Myths

July, 2011 Aadhaar Project - on a platform of Myths UPSC aspirants can now choose Indian

UPSC aspirants can now choose Indian languages for Interview

South Sudan, the new NationUPSC aspirants can now choose Indian languages for Interview A Law that thwarts Justice NY becomes

A Law that

thwarts Justice

NY becomes 6th U.S. state to legalize Gay MarriageSouth Sudan, the new Nation A Law that thwarts Justice The Libyan Crisis Euthanasia – India’s

The Libyan CrisisJustice NY becomes 6th U.S. state to legalize Gay Marriage Euthanasia – India’s call Bill seeks

Euthanasia –6th U.S. state to legalize Gay Marriage The Libyan Crisis India’s call Bill seeks to let

India’s call

Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sexGay Marriage The Libyan Crisis Euthanasia – India’s call 56th Idea Fimfare Awards Removal of Lokpal

56th Idea Fimfare Awardscall Bill seeks to let 12-yr-olds have non-penetrative sex Removal of Lokpal Any person can bring

Removal of Lokpal

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.

members and Chair

Removal of Lokpal

Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.

 

staff and officers

Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behaviour.

Lokayukta

Lokayukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place.

All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralised Lokpal.

Whistleblower

Whistleblowers are protected by Lokpal.

No protection granted to whistleblowers by Lokpal Mahima.

protection

Punishment for

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.

corruption

Investigatory

Lokpal can obtain wiretaps ( to make a connection to a telegraph or telephone wire in order to obtain information secretly), 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.

powers

False, frivolous and

Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of Rs 100,000.

Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can give 2–5 years imprisonment and fines of Rs 25,000 to

200,000.

vexatious complaints

NGOs

NGOs not within the scope due to their role in exposing corruption.

NGOs are within the scope and can be investigated.

One step forward, two steps back (Editorial: The Hindu dt 24.12.2011)

2011 Hopelessly ineffectual and constitutionally suspect, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill,

Mandela's and his life timesconstitutionally suspect, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, Why Egypt matters after Tunisian Revolution Tunisian 2011 is

Why Egypt matters after Tunisian RevolutionLokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, Mandela's and his life times Tunisian 2011 is nothing less than a

Tunisianhis life times Why Egypt matters after Tunisian Revolution 2011 is nothing less than a betrayal

2011 is nothing less than a betrayal of national trust. It is inexcusable that a Bill, substantially weaker than the August 2011 version that was forced to be withdrawn on

the widespread belief that it would be fortified in key areas, has been tabled in the Lok Sabha. The whole purpose of the exercise is supposed to be the creation of a strong, effective, and credible mechanism to go after corruption, especially political corruption, which has assumed monstrous proportions in India. The key provisions of

the new Bill relating to the selection of the nine-member Lokpal, its anti-corruption

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revolution and

its fallout

68th Annualrevolution and its fallout Golden Globe Awards, 2011 Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska is Miss

Golden Globe Awards, 2011

Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska is Miss Americaand its fallout 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, 2011 2011 2010 - 2011 Tunisian Jasmine Revolution

2011

2010 - 2011

Tunisian

Jasmine

Revolution

2010 Sports

News in brief

Top 10 global weather events in 2010- 2011 Tunisian Jasmine Revolution 2010 Sports News in brief PIO and OCI Cards – An

PIO and OCI Cards – An overview on mergerSports News in brief Top 10 global weather events in 2010 Archives January 2012 (19) functions

Archives

January 2012in 2010 PIO and OCI Cards – An overview on merger Archives (19) functions and powers,

(19)

functions and powers, and administrative control over India’s premier criminal investigation agency mock that purpose.

In the first place, Section 4 of the Bill, which provides for a five-member Selection Committee to choose the chairman and eight other members of the Lokpal, gives the

government political control over this process. Secondly, the separation of the power to enquire, investigate, and prosecute set out in the Bill is much worse than the scheme contained in the earlier Lokpal Bill, Section 20 of which gave the Lokpal its own investigation wing. In allowing the Lokpal only an Inquiry Wing headed by a Director of Inquiry “for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988” and denying it its own investigation wing, the new Bill neuters the anti-corruption watchdog. Allowing the Lokpal “a Prosecution Wing headed by the Director of Prosecution for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act” may look like a step forward.

But this cannot possibly make up for the failure to provide for a clean process of independent investigation that is safeguarded from executive interference. At a time when the Lokayukta in a State such as Karnataka has its own investigation wing –

something it has used to very good effect – it is retrogressive to withhold this instrument from the Lokpal.

At the same time, the new Bill has sought to keep the Central Bureau of Investigation out of the Lokpal’s purview ostensibly on the ground that it should have autonomy over its investigations. Given the agency’s record of bowing to the diktats of its political masters, there is no reason to believe that investigations, even those that are

Lokpal-referred and Lokpal-monitored, will be free of political interference. The Centre, which has retained administrative control (read: promotions, transfers, etc.) of

December 2011 the CBI via the Ministry of Personnel, knows better than most that he who pays the CBI via the Ministry of Personnel, knows better than most that he who pays the

(35)

August 2011 (1) (1)

July 2011 (5) (5)

June 2011 (4) (4)

February 2011pays the (35) August 2011 (1) July 2011 (5) June 2011 (4) (1) January 2011 (14)

(1)

January 20112011 (1) July 2011 (5) June 2011 (4) February 2011 (1) (14) December 2010 (20) November

(14)

December 20102011 (5) June 2011 (4) February 2011 (1) January 2011 (14) (20) November 2010 (10) October

(20)

November 2010(4) February 2011 (1) January 2011 (14) December 2010 (20) (10) October 2010 (19) September 2010

(10)

October 2010(1) January 2011 (14) December 2010 (20) November 2010 (10) (19) September 2010 (21) August 2010

(19)

September(14) December 2010 (20) November 2010 (10) October 2010 (19) 2010 (21) August 2010 (18) July

2010 (21)

August 2010November 2010 (10) October 2010 (19) September 2010 (21) (18) July 2010 (11) June 2010 (15)

(18)

July 2010 (11) (11)

June 2010 (15) (15)

May 2010 (12) (12)

April 2010 (19) (19)

November 20092010 (11) June 2010 (15) May 2010 (12) April 2010 (19) (1) piper calls the tune.

(1)

piper calls the tune. While the proposal that a new panel (comprising the Prime

Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Chief Justice of India or his nominee)

selects the Director of the CBI will go some way in enhancing the credibility of the

agency, the opportunity to confer on it genuine independence is being lost.

Just as problematic is the constitutional validity of some basic provisions of the Bill.

The inclusion of minorities among the groups given reservation in the nine-member body is bound to be challenged on the ground that it amounts to a quota being given on

grounds of religion. While this issue has little bearing on tackling corruption, the deep and seemingly irreconcilable political divisions it has created, reflected in the manner

in which it dominated the parliamentary debate on the Bill, is bound to have a bearing on its passage. Is this a ploy to let anti-corruption legislation fall victim to a wholly

extraneous issue – reservation? Will it be allowed to degenerate, as in the case of the

women’s reservation bill, into a legislative exercise that everyone claims to support but few really want?

There have also been serious concerns on another constitutional front – federalism.

While it is hard to fault the principle of having comparable mechanisms and

instruments to go after corruption at the central and State levels, the legislative

procedure adopted is open to question. Rather than mandating the creation of a

Lokpal-like structure in every State, would it not have been in keeping with India’s

federal structure and regional sensitivities for the central legislation to have model or enabling provisions for constituting effective Lokayuktas in States? Given the strong national public mood against corruption, it is unlikely that State governments would

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risk going against it. Unfortunately, the improvements in

risk going against it.

Unfortunately, the improvements in the new Bill have been overshadowed by the slew

of regressive alterations. The inclusion of the Prime Minister under the Lokpal with

certain exceptions is a step up from the earlier stipulation that permitted any inquiry only after he or she demitted office. The new Bill brings both Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ officers under the Lokpal’s ambit. While this is short of Team Anna’s demand that Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ officials be covered as well, it is an improvement on earlier drafts, under which the Lokpal’s purview was limited to Group ‘A’ officers. Further, while the ‘C’ and ‘D’ categories will be covered by the Central Vigilance Commission, cases relating to them will be reviewed by the Lokpal. The idea of granting constitutional status to the office of the Lokpal would have had traction had the Bill vested the body with the strength and self-sufficiency to make a serious impact on corruption. Unfortunately, a mixture of bad faith and a reluctance to loosen the grip on the handle

of power have contributed to the making of a Bill that has caused deep divisions in

Parliament and enough disenchantment to fuel a new round of Team Anna-led protests against the Centre. The country is no closer to a consensus on the Lokpal Bill than it was many months ago.

CBI’s autonomy seriously compromised?

A day after the introduction of the anti-graft Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011, in the

Lok Sabha, sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation on 23.12.2011 felt that the

agency’s autonomy of investigation had been “seriously compromised”. CBI sources

said the Bill did not seem to confer greater autonomy to the investigative agency—one

of the focal points of the civil society’s agitation for bringing about a strong, effective

and credible Lokpal to tackle corruption in high places.

“The dependence of CBI on the government in financial and administrative matters is the main cause for the public perception that it can be influenced by the government and that its investigations are not immune to the government’s interference and pressure.

They said the CBI Director should be given administrative and financial powers on the lines of the Secretaries in the Union Government. “CBI Director should be empowered

to induct officers up to the rank of Joint Director. He should also have powers for

engaging special counsels and specialists of different disciplines,” sources in the agency said. The sources also said that Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police

Establishment (DSPE) Act, which calls for obtaining sanction before proceeding against government officials of the rank of Joint Secretary and above, should be repealed. “The DSPE Act needs to be amended to repeal this provision, as this is one

of

the major impediments in pursuing investigations against public servants of the rank

of

Joint Secretary and above,” they said.

The sources said that Section 23 (1) of the Lokpal Bill, which provides for functional autonomy for registration and initiation of prosecution, was applicable only for cases referred by the Lokpal.

The sources said the Bill envisaged reporting by the CBI to the Lokpal, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Department of Personnel and Training, and the Ministries

of Law and Home. “Instead of gaining any functional autonomy, CBI would now have

too many superior authorities to which it should report. This multiplicity of reporting

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would be a grave impediment to effective and efficient discharge of duties by the CBI. This multiplicity of supervision can be taken care of only by providing more financial, administrative and legal autonomy to the CBI.

They said Section 20 (7) of the Lokpal Bill provided for the extending of police powers to persons who are not police officers, who would be authorised to take a final decision after investigation and filing of police report in the competent court. “This is against the provisions of Section 173 of the Cr PC. In any case, the provisions of Section 173 of the Cr. PC should not be dispensed with. The investigation agencies, including the CBI, must continue to exercise full powers to take a final decision and file a police report before the competent court. The process of investigation, right from registration of FIR till filing of police report, is one single continuous process and a prerogative of only the police, and the integrity of which needs to be protected at all times to ensure quality and fair investigation,” the sources said. Citing a judgement of the Supreme Court in 1968, the sources said the police, and no other authority, should be entitled to forming the final decision in an investigation. The sources said the investigation agency could give a status report to the Lokpal/CVC on the outcome of investigation in respect of Lokpal/CVC-referred matters, as was being done currently in cases referred to the CBI by the courts. Further, they said, a provision could be incorporated to the effect that no court shall take cognisance of any charge sheet against a public servant in a case referred by the Lokpal/CVC, except with the previous sanction of the Lokpal/CVC.

Legal experts term Lokpal quota politically motivated

Some legal experts reckon that reservation in the Lokpal is not in conformity with provisions of the Constitution, and is politically motivated. The former Attorney- General, Soli Sorabjee, and jurist Rajeev Dhavan maintain that it will go against the very principle of reservation, besides leading to litigation, putting a question mark over the efficacy of the legislation. The former Chief Justice of India, V.N. Khare, who welcomed broader representation reflecting the plurality of Indian society, wondered how far reservation in the Lokpal would stand legal scrutiny. Mr. Sorabjee said reservation was meant to empower disadvantaged sections and create a level playing field in employment and education. On the other hand, the Lokpal was meant to check corruption, and reservation in it would not serve any purpose. Such a provision was constitutionally questionable. He maintained that the manner in which the government had provided reservation for the minorities suggested that it was an “election gimmick.” Mr. Dhavan said the inclusion of the minorities was unconstitutional and in a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which says there shall be no discrimination on grounds of religion. “It is a political concession, without [any] constitutional basis, motivated by a political class that is unable to cope with stresses and strains of the system. The measure makes no sense from the standpoint of the Constitution or common sense. It is unprecedented and should not have been made.” Justice Khare, who supported the idea, felt that the manner in which the government had phrased it raised doubts about the provision’s ability to stand legal scrutiny. “I can’t say what would happen if it is challenged. At the same time, I believe that the minorities do deserve a place in bodies like the Lokpal on the criteria of economic, educational and social backwardness.” He maintained that the wording in the Bill should have merely said there would be representation to the backward classes, irrespective of their religion, as provided in the subordinate legislation or rule.

Lokpal Bill passed, Constitution Amendment Bill defeated

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The Lok Sabha on 27.12.2011 night passed a historic Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, but defeated a parallel Constitution (116th Amendment) Bill, which would have given the Lokpal constitutional status.

In a major embarrassment to the UPA government, Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee admitted that the government did not have the requisite two-thirds majority

to get the Constitution Amendment adopted. “It is a sad day for democracy,” he said.

Rahul upset

After three clauses of the Constitution Amendment Bill were defeated, Speaker Meira Kumar announced that it had fallen and had become “infructuous.” Congress general secretary and MP Rahul Gandhi, who had first proposed that the Lokpal be given constitutional status on the lines of the Election Commission, appeared visibly upset. His idea was also favoured by the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Lokpal.

The Whistle-blowers Bill (Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010) was also passed by the Lok Sabha, which literally burnt the midnight oil to complete the legislative business.

After a marathon debate, lasting for over 10 hours, the Lok Sabha passed by voice vote the Bill for creation of the Lokpal.

Fate in Upper House

In

the next step, the Bill will have to get the nod from the Rajya Sabha before it goes

to

the President for her assent. The UPA government does not have a majority in the

Upper House and so the fate of the anti-graft Bill will be at the mercy of the Opposition.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill also saw a number of amendments, moved by the government. One of the key amendments accepted was keeping the defence forces and coast guard personnel out of the purview of the anti-graft ombudsman and increasing the exemption time of former MPs from five to seven years.

SP, BSP walk out

A number of amendments moved by the Opposition, which sought to bring corporates

and the media under the Lokpal, were defeated. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan

Samaj Party staged a walkout, saying their demands were not being met.

In an intervention, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a “holistic” approach was needed to deal with the “cancer” of corruption but rejected demands for bringing the CBI within the purview of the Lokpal. No entity should be created inconsistent with the constitutional framework, he cautioned.

Watch! More to come………

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