Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: Draft Lok Pal Bill

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Draft Lok Pal Bill

The Joint Drafting Committee shall consist of Five nominee Ministers of the Government of India and Five nominees of Shri Anna Hazare (including himself) .

The five nominee Ministers of the Government of India are as under:

  1. Shri Pranab Mukherjee (Chairperson) , Union Minister of Finance.
  2. Shri P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs (Convenor) .
  3. Dr Veerappa Moily, Union Minister of Law and Justice.
  4. Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource and Development and Minister of Communication and Information Technology
  5. Shri Salman Khursheed

Union Minister of Water Resources and Minister of Minority Affairs

The five nominees of Shri Anna Hazare (including himself) are as under:

  1. Shri Anna Hazare
  2. Shri Justice N. Santosh Hedge
  3. Shri Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate (Co-Chairperson)
  4. Shri Prashant Bhushan, Advocate
  5. Shri Arvind Kejriwal. Committee shall evolve its own procedure to prepare draft. Committee shall complete its work latest by 30th June, 2011.

Lokpal Issues

  • The Lokpal Bill provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister, other ministers, and MPs with the ombudsman.
  • The First Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) (initially Chaired by Morarji R Desai, MP, and later on K Hanumanthaiah) while recommending the constitution of Lokpal was convinced that such an institution was justified not only for removing the sense of injustice from the minds of adversely affected citizens but also necessary to instill public confidence in the efficiency of administrative machinery.
  • Following this, the Lokpal Bill was for the first time presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968, and was passed there in 1969.
  • However, while it was pending in the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was dissolved so the bill was not passed at that time.
  • The bill was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998,2001, 2005 and most recently in 2008. Attempt by different governments:
  • There were tw-attempts by Mrs. Indira Gandhi to bring this bill int-law in 1968 and 1971. They met failures due to dissolution of Lok Sabha tw-times.
  • In 1977, there was an attempt by Morarji Desai to fructify the law which was not done due to dissolution of Lok Sabha.
  • This time Rajiv Gandhi had taken initiative for this bill in 1985. Again the same issue of dissolution haunted.
  • In 1989, V. P. Singh had proposed the bill but later taken back.
  • In 1996, Deve Gowda government had taken the issue and n-decision was taken until dissolution of Lok Sabha.
  • In 1998 and 2001, A. B. Vajpayee had taken the issue of Lokpal, but the situation was not changed.
  • There were tw-attempts by Congress government in 2005 and 2008.
  • Each time, after the bill was introduced to the house, it was referred to some committee for improvements-a joint committee of parliament, or a departmental standing committee of the Home Ministry-and before the government could take a final stand on the issue the house was dissolved.
  • Several flaws have been cited in the recent draft of the Lokpal Bill.
  • Meanwhile the activists of India Against Corruption (IAC) have prepared a draft for the bill called Jan Lokpal Bill.

Jan Lokpal Bill vs Govt՚s Lokpal Bill

  1. The government Bill provides for nothing to recover ill-gotten wealth. A corrupt politician or bureaucrat can come out of jail and enjoy the money. The Jan Lokpal Bill seeks to recover from the accused the loss caused to the government due to corruption. It also increases punishment for the corrupt from a minimum of six months and a maximum of seven years to a minimum of five years and a maximum of life imprisonment.
  2. The Jan Lokpal Bill seeks to empower the Lokpal to initiate probe su-motu and directly entertain public complaints. The government Bill requires complaints to be routed through the Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairperson.
  3. The government Bill makes the Lokpal only an advisory body, vesting powers in the Prime Minister for action on its reports against cabinet ministers and in Parliament for action against the Prime Minister and MPs. The Jan Lokpal Bill gives the Lokpal powers to initiate prosecution after completing investigations. It also gives the Lokpal police powers to register FIRs, proceed with criminal investigations and launch prosecution.
  4. It would be impossible for the Prime Minister to act against a cabinet minister on the basis of the Lokpal՚s report due to the compulsion of coalition politics. It gives the example of former telecom minister A Raja.
  5. The Jan Lokpal Bill proposes merger of the Central Vigilance Commission with a part of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to create a single point of investigation in cases of corruption. The government Bill proposes to take away powers from the CBI to investigate politicians, thereby insulating them from investigations.
  6. The government Bill gives power to the Lokpal to send to jail through summary trial anybody filing false and frivolous complaints, but it does not give the Lokpal power to send corrupt politicians to jail.
  7. The government Bill proposes that all three Lokpal members should be retired judges, which could make retiring judges vulnerable to government influence just before retirement.
  8. The government Bill proposes to have the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, leaders of both houses of Parliament, leaders of the Opposition in both houses, law minister and home minister in the selection panel for the Lokpal member. Barring the first one, the rest are politicians whose offices the Lokpal can investigate for corruption. Also, the committee will have a majority members from the ruling party or coalition.
  9. Civil society has suggested that the committee consist of members with judicial background, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General and international awardees, like Nobel and Magsaysay awardees, of Indian origin.
  10. It would become impossible for the Lokpal to investigate a case like the Bofors scam if the government Bill is enacted, as it proposes that the Lokpal will have n-powers to probe a case against the Prime Minister, if the case deals with foreign affairs, security and defence.
  11. The government Bill prescribes a time limit of six months to a year for the Lokpal to complete the inquiry. There is n-time limit suggested for the completion of trial. The Jan Lokpal Bill, however, proposes that the investigations be completed within a year and the trial be over within the next year.
  12. The government Bill gives n-powers to the Lokpal to provide protection to those exposing political corruption, while the Jan Lokpal Bill empowers the Lokpal to provide protection to whistleblowers.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India