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By Way2k Way2k
Way2k 9 Oct 2012
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!

Jan Lokpal Bill 

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 picture overnight!

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 accused.
  • 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.

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