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Lokpal Bill – Jan Lokpal Bill – A Struggling History of Jan Lokpal Bill and Importance of Lokpal Bill in India in the Context of Corruption

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lokpal Bill is not a new word for Indian people. It is frequently used against corruption. Anna Hazare creates a new history for the demand of Jan Lokpal Bill in the year of 2011. There is a discussion about a struggling history of Jan Lokpal Bill and important of Lokpal Bill in India in the context of corruption.

What is Jan Lokpal Bill?

Jan Lokpal Bill is a proposed anti-corruption law drowns up by prominent civil society activists to deter corruption effectively. Word of Jan Lokpal Bill derives from Lokpal which means ombudsman (Legal Representative) in India.

Lokpal word has been derived from the Sanskrit words "loka" (people) and "pala" (protector/caretaker). So Lokpal is meant as the 'protector of people’.

Jan Lokpal Bill is referred as citizens' ombudsman bill also in India. Ombudsman would create the law called the Lokpal Bill. It would be an independent body similar to the Election Commission of India.

The Lokpal will have a three-member body with a chairperson. The chairperson will be a chief justice or Supreme Court judge. Other two members will be high courts judges or chief justices.

Importance of Jan Lokpal Bill:

It is being expected that Lokpal bill will reduce corruption in India. The Jan Lokpal bill provides powers to of filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister, other ministers and members of parliament with the ombudsman.

The Lokpal Bill gives us a right, except for a public servant, to file a complaint and the Lokpal has to complete the inquiry within six months.

History of Lokpal Bill:

There is a struggle for Lokpal Bill of last 42 years. First time, the bill was presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968. It was passed there in 1969.

Lokpal Bill was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008. In 2010, Lokpal Bill, awaits an okay from a select committee. According to former chief justice of Delhi high court and rights activist Rajinder Sachar, Lokpal Bill is "shamefully toothless and meant to give a false reassurance to the people that the government is serious in its fight against corruption". But former chief justice of India M N Venkatachelliah said that the PM must be out of its purview. Statement of M N Venkatachelliah was supported by Rahul Gandhi also.

A Role of Anna Hazare in Jan Lokpal Bill:

Kisan Baburao Hazare aka Anna Hazare went on hunger strike "unto death" on April 5, 2011 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi. He gave a statement that the government must treat the Lokpal Bill as the people's 'right and not a largesse'. The movement for Lokpal Bill of 72-year-old Gandhian Magsaysay award winner - Anna Hazare inspired people of India. Lokpal Bill movement took a new shape and more than six crore people supported it.

Anna Hazare appealed to the youth of nation to come forward for Jan Lokpal Bill 2011, “this is the second freedom struggle of India. After the JP movement, this is the first people's movement. I'm delighted to see the youth's participation in this movement. I look up to them with lots of expectations.”

Differences between Government’s Lokpal and Jan Lokpal Bill:

Lokpal Bill:

Government will not have any power:

To initiate action suo motu in any case

To receive complaints of corruption from public

To register an FIR

Police powers

To investigate any case against PM in foreign affairs, security and defence

To jurisdiction over bureaucrats and government officers

Jan Lokpal Bill 2011:

The Jan Lokpal Bill will have power:

To initiate investigations suo motu in any case

To complaints from the public

To initiate prosecution after completion of investigations

Police powers

To register FIR, proceed with criminal investigations and launch prosecution

To jurisdiction over politicians, officials and even judges

To merge the entire vigilance machinery into Lokpal

Recent Updates about Jan Lokpal Bill:

Once again, Anna Hazare has announced to fast unto death at Jantar Mantar from August 16 if the government doesn’t pass the Jan Lokpal Bill. It will be the second battle of independence for him. He suggests his followers to opt the path of non-violence.

About Jan Lokpal Bill:

The Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 is a draft anti-corruption bill. The bill is drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist). The draft Bill predicts a system where a corrupt person would go to jail within two years if he found guilty. It seeks power to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.

Features of Jan Lokpal Bill:

LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up in the centre of LOKPAL

Lokpal will be completely independent body like Supreme Court and Election Commission from the government

Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year against corrupt people

Trial should be completed in next one year to send jail within two years

Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers if any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time

A person can approach Lokpal if his ration card or passport or voter card is not being made

A person can approach Lokpal if police is not registering his case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time

A complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months

Lokpal will provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption

Drafting Committee of Lokpal Bill:

Drafting committee of Lokpal Bill was officially formed on 8th April, 2011. The drafting committee would have 10 members including 5 from the government and five from the civil society.

What is the need of Lokpal Bill in our society?

Do you think Lokpal Bill is really needed in our society to make an ideal state? Government has already CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI to stop corruption. What would be moral line of Lokpal Bill? Why a person will not be corrupt where money is everything? How an anti-corrupt society or state will fulfill the basic needs of people? Can a capitalist state be anti-corrupt which motive is nothing but profit? How a profit oriented society can serve basic need of people? How the difference between rich and poor will be filled?

Government has already exposed the power of ‘STATE’ demolishing strike of Ram Dev Baba at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi. We have seen the monopoly of Indian government in union budget 2011 also. In this context, people should think about the future of Lokpal Bill.

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