The Story of the Lokpal

The Lokpal Bill is basically an anti-corruption bill drafted to control corruption by ministers and high level officials. The bill proposes to set up a Lokpal at the Center and a Lokayukta at the State level. (At present, 18 States have enacted  laws to set up Lokayuktas to fight corruption.)
The basic idea of the Lok Pal is borrowed from the office of ombudsman in Scandinavian (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway) countries. The office of the ombudsman originated in Sweden in 1809 A.D. Ombudsman is a Swedish word and refers to an official whose job is to investigate complaints from the public against government officers.
1966  – The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Morarji Desai recommended setting up of a Lokpal at the Centre, and Lokayuktas in the states.
1968 – The Lokpal Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha by Shanti Bhushan.
1969 – The Lokpal bill was passed for the first time in the 4th Lok Sabha but could not get through in the RajyaSabha
Subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and most recently in 2008. However, the Bill lapsed each time except in 1985 when it was withdrawn
CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION :There is no provision in the Indian Constitution for Lokpal and it will be set up as a statutory body created by an act of parliament.
The birth of Jan Lokpal from the Lokpal bill:
The Lokpal bill drafted by the government was riddled with loopholes which defeated the very purpose of the bill. As the Lokpal bill is to be introduced in the Parliament, civil society activists have come forward with an alternative bill called the “Jan Lokpal Bill”. Drafted by  justice Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Khejriwal, this bill is an improved version of the original Lokpal Bill. In short Jan Lokpal bill is Lokpal bill with teeth.
Under this bill, lokpal cannot initiate a case suo motu (on its own) nor can it receive complaints of corruption directly from the general public. People have to make their complaints to speaker of Lok Sabha or chairperson of Rajya Sabha. The complaints which are approved by them will reach Lokpal. (As speaker of Lok Sabha belongs to the ruling party, he may not work transparently on the issue. Hence, the intent of bill will not be fulfilled.)
Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo motu action and it can directly receive complaints from the public.
Lokpal will be an advisory body. It will forward its report to a “competent authority”. Hence, the lokpal will not have powers to take direct action.
Lokpal is not an advisory body. Lokpal will have the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.
The Government proposed a time limit of six months to one year for investigation against a corrupt official. However, no time limit for prosecution is proposed.
The Jan Lokpal draft suggests one year or less for investigation and one year for prosecution. So that the corrupt official lands in jail within 2 yrs.
Lokpal will have no police powers to register an FIR (First Information Report) or proceed with criminal investigations.
Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.
The Lokpal will be a three member body consisting of a chairperson who is a present or retired Chief Justice or Supreme Court judge, and two members who are  high courts judges or chief justices.
Lokpal would have ten members and one Chairperson. Out of them four need to have a legal background  (they need not be judges).
Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years.
The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
The selection committee consists of Vice President, PM, Leaders of both houses, Leaders of opposition in both houses, Law Minister and Home minister. (Selection committee will be heavily loaded in favour of the ruling party. Effectively, ruling party will make the final selections.)
Selection committee consists of members from judicial background, Chief Election Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and international awardees  (like Noble prize and Magsaysay winners of Indian origin). A detailed transparent and participatory selection process has been prescribed.
Lokpal will not have powers to investigate any case against PM, which deals with foreign affairs, security and defence. (which means that it will become impossible to investigate into cases like Bofors scam in the future!!)
There is no such bar on Lokpal’s  powers.
Nothing has been provided in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money.
Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from the accused after conviction.
There is no provision related to whistle-blowers.
Lokpal will have powers to provide protection against physical and professional victimization of whistle-blowers.
CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected.
That part of CBI, which deals with cases of corruption, will be merged into Lokpal so that there is just one effective and independent body to take action against corruption.
There is a strong punishment for frivolous complaints. If any complaint is found to be false, Lokpal will have the power to send the complainant to jail but if the complaint were found to be true.
Deterrence has been provided against frivolous complaints in the form of financial penalties against the complainant.

Civil society activists drafted the Jan Lokpal bill and sent it to government in December 2010. In March, 2011, several activists popularised the Jan Lokpal with their marchesIn AprilAnna  Hazare, a Gandhian rights activist, started a fast unto death demanding the enactment of the bill.
In response to the widespread protest, the Government of India constituted a 10-member Joint Committee of ministers and civil society activists to draft an effective  Lokpal Bill. Pranab Mukherjee is the Chairman of the draft committee and Shanti Bhushan its Co-Chairman.
Government representation:
Five Cabinet ministers part of the Drafting Committee:
·         Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister
·         P. Chidambaram, Minister of Home Affairs
·         Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law and Justice
·         Kapil Sibal, Minister for Communications and Information Technology
·         Salman Khursheed, Minister of Water Resources.
 Civil society representation:
Social activists who are part of the Drafting Committee are:
·         Shanti Bhushan, Former Law Minister of India
·         Anna Hazare, Social Activist
·         Prashant Bhushan, Lawyer
·         N. Santosh Hegde, Lokayukta (Karnataka)
·         Arvind Kejriwal, RTI activist
The draft was to be completed by June 30. The bill will be placed in  the Parliament in the monsoon session.


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