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Jan Lokpal in India

Lokpal in India: Importance and Challenges

What is Lokpal :

-       A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman who represents the public interest. The concept of an ombudsman is borrowed from Sweden.The Lokpal has jurisdiction over all Members of Parliament and central government employees in cases of corruption.

-       The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 with amendments in parliament, following the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare.

-       The Lokpal is responsible for enquiring into corruption charges at the national level while the Lokayukta performs the same function at the state level.

Current Situation :

-       As of February 2018, and ever since the related Act of Parliament was passed in India, The Indian Government is yet to appoint a Lokpal.

History :

-       The term "Lokpal" was coined by Dr. L.M.Singhvi in 1963. The concept of a constitutional ombudsman was first proposed in parliament by Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen in the early 1960s.

-       The first Jan Lokpal Bill was proposed by M.C. Setalvad in 1968 and passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969, but did not pass through the Rajya Sabha.

 

Jan Lokpal Bill movement

 

  • Anna Hazare's hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, on the second day of his fast.
  • Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists, seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within one year and conduct trials for the case within the next year.
  • Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (a former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (a Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (a RTI activist), the draft Bill envisaged a system in which a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth confiscated.
  • Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and others, like Anna Hazare, Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and Mallika Sarabhai are also members of the movement, called India Against Corruption. Its website describes the movement as an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption.

Features of the Jan Lokpal Bill

  • An institution called Lokpal at the centre and Lokayukta in each state will be set up.
  • Like the Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be to influence their investigations.
  • Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in the next one year, so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
  • The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  • How will it help a common citizen? If the work of any citizen is not done in a prescribed time, in any government office, Lokpal will impose a financial penalty on the guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
  • So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card had not been made, or if the police are not registering your case, or if any other work is not being done within the prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month's time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal, like rations being siphoned off, poor quality roads being constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off.
  • But won't the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won't be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities, not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.

What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt?

  • The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.

o   Fundamental duties

  • To the cases and make jurisdictions against corruption cases with the Lokpal.
  • To judge whether a case is genuine or whether a fake complaint has been made.
  • To potentially impose fines on a fake complaint, or even a short span of jail time, if the case is not proved to be legally true.

 

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013

The historical Lokpal and Lokayuktas act 2013, was passed by Indian Parliament paving the way for establishment of a Lokpal (Ombudsman) to fight corruption in public offices and ensure accountability on the part of public officials, including the Prime Minister, but with some safeguards.

  • Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% will be judicial members 50% members of Lokpal shall be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
  • Selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal through a selection committee consisting of PM, Speaker of Lok Sabha, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI. Eminent jurist to be nominated by President of India on basis of recommendations of the first four members of the selection committee "through consensus".
  • Lokpal's jurisdiction will cover all categories of public servants.
  • All entities (NGOs) receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs 10 lakh per year are under the jurisdiction of Lokpal. Centre will send Lokpal bill to states as a model bill. States have to set up Lokayuktas through a state law within 365 days.
  • Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any central investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • A high-powered committee chaired by the PM will recommend selection of CBI director. The collegium will comprise PM, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India PM has been brought under purview of the Lokpal, so also central ministers and senior officials.
  • Directorate of prosecution will be under overall control of CBI director. At present, it comes under the law ministry.
  • Appointment of director of prosecution to be based on recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.
  • Director of prosecution will also have a fixed tenure of two years like CBI chief.
  • Transfer of CBI officers investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of watchdog.
  • Bill incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.

On may 15th 2018,Mukul Rohtagi (Former Attorney Journal of India) has been appointed as eminent jurist in the selection panel of Lokpal.

 

 

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