What India wants - Jan Lokpal Bill!
It all started on Tuesday, 5th April 2011 when the entire nation was still in the
world-cup hangover. Anna Hazare, a veteran Gandhian
and well-known social activist decided to go on
an indefinite strike for his demand of a stronger anti-graft Lokpal Bill through
greater involvement of civil society.
And his step created a tsunami of support!
It is rarely seen in India that people come together in huge numbers for supporting
a cause. They might do it in small sections, but the entire nation, so far, has
been swinging only on one tune and that is cricket. Anna Hazare’s fast changed this
It was in 1969 when the
first Lokpal Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but could not get through
in Rajya Sabha and now after 42 years from there, the Lokpal bill is still pending
in India. The Jan Lokpal Bill or the Citizen's Ombudsman Bill is a draft anti-corruption
bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists that would pave the way for a
Jan Lokpal, an independent body which would have the power to prosecute politicians
and bureaucrats without government permission.
The bill has been drafted by Shanti Bhushan, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Justice
N. Santosh Hegde, renowned advocate Prashant Bhushan, former chief election commissioner
J. M. Lyngdoh in consultation with the leaders of the ‘India
Against Corruption’ movement and the civil society. The draft bill demands
for the institution of the office of Lokpal at center and Lok Ayukta at state level.
It is designed to create an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal systems
and to provide effective protection to whistleblowers.
The argument and the support for the Jan Lokpal Bill is centered around the fact
that India is one of the top three economies in the world but sinks to number 87
due to widespread corruption in the government departments. All the eight versions
of the previously presented Lokpal bill are said to be too weak to address this
menace, yet none of them could have been passed.
Government Proposal (Lolpal Bill 2010) :
- Lokpal will have no power to initiate ‘suo motu’ action (i.e. on its own) or receive
complaints of corruption from public. It would probe only complaints forwarded by
the Lok Sabha Speaker or Rajya Sabha chairman. It will enable the ruling party to
protect its own.
- Lokpal will be an advisory body. It will forward its enquiry report to ‘competent
authority’, which will have the final say.
- No police powers to Lokpal. All its probes will tantamount to ‘preliminary enquiries’.
It cannot register FIRs or proceed with criminal investigations.
- CBI and Lokpal will have no connection with each other.
- Mild punishment for corruption - minimum 6 months, maximum 7 years.
- No provision to recover ill-gotten wealth. (That means a corrupt person can come
out of jail and use the money.)
Anna Hazare’s proposal (Jan Lokpal Bill) :
- Lokpal will have powers to initiate investigations ‘suo motu’ in any case and directly
entertain complaints from the public. It will not need reference or permission from
anyone to initiate investigation into any case.
- Lokpal will be much more than an advisory body. It will have powers to initiate
prosecution against anyone after completion of investigation in a case. It will
also have powers to order disciplinary proceedings against any government servant.
- Lokpal will have police powers. It will be able to register FIRs, proceed with criminal
investigations and launch prosecution.
- The anti-corruption wing of the CBI will be merged with Lokpal so that there is
just one independent body to act against graft.
- Enhanced punishment - minimum 7 years, maximum life imprisonment.
- Loss caused to the government owing to corruption will be recovered from all the
- Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area.
Today, Anna Hazare’s battle against corruption is fast spreading
across the nation, the youth are highly inspired and voice their support
in real and virtual world. The struggle has a long way to go even after the bill
is passed. The inspired youth, supporting celebrities and the strong corporate entities
should continue their efforts to tackle the menace of corruption. Mere passing of
bill would not be sufficient if we want to totally eradicate corruption.