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Lokpal Bill


The Jan Lokpal Bill is an independent anti-corruption law in India. It is a more effective improvement to the original Lokpal bill.

The Lokpal Bill, 2011 with amendments was passed in parliament which allows the formation of Lokpal in India. It has counterpart in all the states of India called Lokayuktas.

Aim

The aim of the Jan Lokpal Bill is to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens and protect whistle-blowers. The bill would create an independent ombudsman body called the Lokpal if the bill is made into law. The body would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval.

The demand first came in April 2011 when civil activist Anna Hazare staged an indefinite fast in New Delhi demanding the passing of the Jan Lokpal bill. The movement gained a lot of attention in media, and attracted hundreds of thousands of supporters. After four days of hunger strike, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that the bill would be re-introduced in the 2011 monsoon session of the Parliament. A committee of five Cabinet Ministers and five social activists attempted to draft a compromise bill merging the two versions. The Indian Government went on to propose their version in the parliament.

Parliamentary Panel

On December 7 2011, a parliamentary standing committee has finalized the draft of the Lokpal bill even dissent was expressed from its members. Sixteen of the thirty member panel including three Congress MPs have expressed their dissent on the draft. The report is liklely to be tabled in the Parliament on December 9. The Congress MPs Deepa Dasmunshi, PT Thomas and Meenakshi Natarajan has demanded inclusion of Group C employees and to make CVC accountable to the ombudsman. Social activist Anna Hazare rejected the draft saying that it is wrong to put lower bureaucracy under Lokayukta as proposed by the parliamentary committee. Some issues like including bringing the prime minister under Lokpal has been left to the Parliament.

The Lokpal bill has been tabled in the Parliament on December 9, 2011. Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, laid down the report in the Parliament. Team Anna has expressed their dissatisfaction with parliamentary panel's recommendations.

Second Fight for Independence

Anna Hazare announced that he will do a day-long hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on December 11, 2011. He termed it as a second fight for independence. Speaking to reporters one day ahead of his fast, Hazare criticized that the Lokpal draft adopted by the Parliament is toothless. He said that many MPs have expressed their dissent over the draft. The Standing Committee has not considered any of the 34 recommendations that they have submitted. He criticized that the Government cheated them and didn't present their bill. What the Government submitted is more like promotion of 'corruption' bill, he said.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2011 Introduced in Lok Sabha

On December 22, 2011 the Government introduced in Lok Sabha the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, aimed at setting up the body of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas at the level of the States. Government also introduced a Bill for amending the Constitution for conferment of Constitutional status on both bodies. Government also withdrew earlier Lokpal Bill, 2011 as it decided to introduce a new comprehensive Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 Bill after consideration of the suggestions made by the Parliamentary Committee which recommended significant changes in the scope and content of the earlier Bill.

The salient features of the proposed new Bills are as under:-

Focus on improving accountability

  • Establishment of new institution in the Constitution called Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for the States. These autonomous and independent bodies, shall have powers of superintendence and direction for holding a preliminary inquiry, causing an investigation to be made and prosecution of offences in respect of complaints under any law for the prevention of corruption.
  • The Bill provides a uniform vigilance and anti corruption road map for the nation, both at Centre and States.
  • The Bill institutionalizes separation of investigation from prosecution and thereby removing conflict of interest as well as increasing the scope for professionalism and specialisation.

Structure of the Institution:

  • Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members of which fifty percent shall be judicial Members.
  • Fifty per cent of members of Lokpal shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
  • There shall be an Inquiry Wing of the Lokpal for conducting the preliminary inquiry and an independent Prosecution Wing.
  • Officers of the Lokpal to include the Secretary, Director of Prosecution, Director of Inquiry and other officers.

Process of selection

The selection of Chairperson and Members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection Committee consisting of –

  • Prime Minister;
  • Speaker of Lok Sabha;
  • Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha;
  • Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI;
  • Eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India

A Search Committee to assist Selection Committee in the process of selection. Fifty per cent of members of Search Committee shall be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.

Jurisdiction

  • Prime Minister to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal with subject matter exclusions and specific process for handling complaints against the Prime Minister. Lokpal can not hold any inquiry against the Prime Minister if allegations relate to:
  • International relations;
  • External and internal security of the country;
  • Public Order;
  • Atomic energy
  • Space.

Any decision of Lokpal to initiate preliminary inquiry or investigation against the Prime Minister shall be taken only by the Full Bench with a majority of 3/4th. Such proceedings shall be held in camera.

  • Lokpal's jurisdiction to include all categories of public servants including Group 'A', 'B', 'C' & 'D' officers and employees of Government. On complaints referred to CVC by Lokpal, CVC will send its report of PE in respect of Group 'A' and 'B' officers back to Lokpal for further decision. With respect to Group 'C' and 'D' employees, CVC will proceed further in exercise of its own powers under the CVC Act subject to reporting and review by Lokpal.
  • All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
  • Lokpal will not be able to initiate inquiry suo moto.

Other significant features of the Bill

  • No prior sanction shall be required for launching prosecution in cases enquired by Lokpal or initiated on the direction and with the approval of Lokpal.
  • A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister with leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India as members, will recommend selection of the Director, CBI.
  • Provisions for confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
  • Lokpal to be final appellate authority on all decisions by public authorities relating to provision of public services and redressal of grievances containing findings of corruption.
  • Lokpal to have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them.
  • The Bill lays down clear time lines for :
    • Preliminary enquiry – three months extendable by three months.
    • Investigation – six months extendable by six months.
    • Trial – one year extendable by one year.
  • The Bill proposes to enhance punishment under Prevention of Corruption Act :
    • Maximum punishment from 7 years to 10 years
    • Minimum punishment from 6 months to 2 years
  • The Bill proposes to give legal backing to Asset Declaration by public servants.
  • The Bill also seeks to make necessary consequential amendments in the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003, and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.

Lokpal

The word 'Lokpal' was coined by LM Singhvi during a debate in Parliament about grievance redressal mechanism in 1963. The Lokpal bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. The Lok Sabha was dissolved before the bill could be passed in the Rajya Sabha and the bill lapsed. Subsequent versions of Lokpal bill were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008. None of them passed.

Drafting Committee

MemberQualification, Status
Pranab MukherjeeFinance Minister, Co-Chairman
Shanti BhushanFormer Minister of Law and Justice, Co-Chairman
P ChidambaramMinister of Home Affairs
Veerappa MoilyMinister of Corporate Affairs
Kapil SibalMinister for human resource & devlopement
Salman KhursidMinister of Law
Anna HazareSocial Activist
Prashant BhushanLawyer
N. Santosh HegdeFormer Lokayukta (Karnataka) and Supreme court Justice
Arvind KejriwalRTI Activist

Lokpal Bill in News

Baba Ramdev to continue fast
Ramdev gives ultimatum to Prime Minister to intervene

Baba Ramdev begins three day fast at Ramlila Maidan
Ramdev says three-day fast is just the first phase of his agitations

Monsoon session of Parliament to begin today
BJP planning to corner the government in the Monsoon session over several issues

Anna Hazare disbanded - No further talks with Government on Lokpal issue
Hazare says no talks on Lokpal with Government

Team Anna confirms they will form a political party
Arvind Kejriwal confirms that they will form their own political outfit to fight against corruption

Team Anna to call off hunger strike on Friday
Team Anna wants to find a political alternative to government

Anna Hazare joins indefinte hunger strike at Jantar Mantar
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare joins Team Anna members at Jantar Mantar. Joins indefinite hunger strike.

Anna Hazare says he is not against joining politics
Social activist Anna Hazare said that he will join politics if asked

Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev announce protests against UPA Government
Anna Hazare's protest begin from July 25 at Jantar Mantar; Ramdev's protests at Ramlila Maidan from August 9

Delhi Police denies permission to Team Anna to hold indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar
Delhi Police denies permission to Team Anna to hold indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar from July 25

BJP says Congress fears Lokpal
With the war of words between Team Anna and the ruling Congress Party over the passage of a strong and effective Lokpal Bill intensifying, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday asked the UPA Government not to attack the civil society activists, who are crusading against corruption.

Manish Sisodia accuses UPA of fooling people
Team Anna member Manish Sisodia has termed the letter written by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to veteran social activist Anna Hazare, ruling out all the demands of the civil society activists as an attempt on part of the government to fool the people fighting against corruption.

Anna asks Govt. to focus on Lokpal to avoid further public embarrassment
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare on Tuesday launched a blistering attack on the ruling Congress Party, saying the UPA Government should ensure the enactment of a strong Lokpal Bill to save itself from further public embarrassment.

Kejriwal slams PM, asks Govt. to focus on battling corruption
With Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh asking his party cadres to effectively tackle the misinformation and falsehood being spread by 'disparate' and 'desperate' elements, Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal on Monday once again hit out at the former, saying it would have been significant if the ruling UPA Government would have thought fighting corruption.

No differences with Ramdev, but naming corrupt is essential, says Kejriwal
Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal on Monday clarified that there is no difference of opinion between him and yoga guru Baba Ramdev, but emphasized that the naming of persons involved in various charges of corruption is essential.

Anna asks Sachin to pitch for strong Lokpal in Parliament
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare on Monday congratulated cricketer Sachin Tendulkar on becoming member of the Rajya Sabha and expressed the hope that the batting maestro would raise his voice for a strong Lokpal Bill in Parliament.

Baba Ramdev to meet BJP president Gadkari
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev will meet Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, here on Monday to seek the party's support for his crusade against black money.

Kiran Bedi demands strong law to tackle black money
Former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer and Team Anna member Kiran Bedi has demanded introduction of a strong law to unearth and bring back black money stashed away in foreign banks and tax havens abroad.

Kejriwal left agitation venue because of illness, clarifies Baba Ramdev
Yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Sunday clarified that Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal left the anti-graft agitation venue at Parliament Street here because he was ill.

I will fight till end against corruption, says Hazare in Delhi
Asserting that the second war of independence has begun, veteran social activist Anna Hazare on Sunday said that his fight against corruption will continue till his last breath.

Manmohan Singh promises to enactment of an effective Lokpal act in his New Year message
In his New Year message to the nation, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said that the UPA Government is committed to enact an effective Lokpal Bill.

Lalu Yadav opposes inclusion of PM under Lokpal ambit
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday reiterated his demand for the exclusion of the Prime Minister from the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.

Narayanasamy confident of Lokpal Bill being passed in Budget Session
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), V Narayanasamy, on Saturday said the government will talk to various political outfits and ensure that the Lokpal Bill is passed in the forthcoming Budget Session of Parliament.

Anna aide criticizes Sonia Gandhi for tabling weak Lokpal Bill
Accusing Congress President Sonia Gandhi of tabling a weak Lokpal Bill in the Parliament, Kumar Vishwas, a close aide of veteran social activist Anna Hazare, today said the UPA Government is acting deaf and dumb and not feeling the pulse of the nation

Team Anna postpones its crucial meeting on Lokpal
Former senior police officer and civil society activist Kiran Bedi on Saturday said the core meeting of the her team members, which was to be held at Anna Hazare's native village Ralegan Siddhi on January 2 and 3, has been postponed due to the ill health of the veteran social activist.

Constitutional expert Subash Kashyap says Government 'shied away' from voting on Lokpal Bill
Top political commentator and constitutional expert, Subhash Kashyap, has said that the UPA Government shied away from voting on the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha, and then adjourned the House.

Uma Bharti critical of Rahul Gandhi for blaming BJP over Lokpal logjam
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Uma Bharti has criticized Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi for blaming BJP for the non-passage of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament.

BJP supporters stage protest against Central Government for non-passage of Lokpal Bill
Members and supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staged a demonstration against the Central Government in New Delhi on Friday protesting against the non-enacting Lokpal Bill after Rajya Sabha, was adjourned sine-die without voting for the Bill.

Rahul slams BJP for obstructing Lokpal Bill
During his election tour of Uttar Pradesh, Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for' intentionally blocking ' the passage of a strong and efficient ombudsman bill in the Parliament.

RJD MP justifies himself, says tore Bill spontaneously
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) lawmaker Rajniti Prasad on Friday justified his actions of tearing the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha, and said that he was not provoked by anybody.

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