India’s Civil Society has brought out the Jan Lokpal Bill that has been drafted has been drafted by eminent members of the civil society like Prashant Bhusan,Kiran Bedi,Lyngdoh and other. The bill proposes institution of the office of Lokpal at the federal level and Lok Akyukta at the state level. Jan Lokpal Bill is designed to create an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal systems at centre and to assure that effective deterrent is created against corruption and to provide effective protection to whistle blowers.You can understand what the Lokpal Bill is from Arvind Kejriwal an eminent social Right to Information (RTI) activist through this video.You can also read the summary of the Jan Lokpal Bill here
The existing Lokpal Bill proposed by the government is quite toothless and has glaring loopholes which make the whole anti-corruption exercise a sham exercise.The whole selection process,powers and member of Lokpal give rise to vested interests and would make it a fruitless bill.The deficiencies of the government version of the Lokpal are
a) Selection of 3 retired judges by the ruling government only to the Lokpal Panel.Gives rise to vested interests,Jan Lokpal advocates selection of any eminent citizen who has fought against corruption.Selection will be made by government,civil society members and judiciary.
b) Bureaucrats outside the purview of the Lokpal Bill,Speaker Power.This is a huge loophole as government bureaucrats have been found to be ringleaders in most corruption scams taking place in the country.The recent CVC case where PJ Thomas was implicated and Supreme Court had to force the government to remove him
c) No Sou Moto Recognition of Legal Cases – Complaints against the Legislature Members can only be made to the Speaker of Parliament who can decide.This makes no sense as Speakers in India have sullied their image with repeated partisanship to their party.Independent and impartial speakers in Indian parliaments are hard to find.Jan Lokpal can take Sou Moto cases
d) No Defence or Foreign Matter Jurisdiction – Again most of the large scams have taken place in Defence Deals.This has happened under the rule of both the main political parties.Bofors,HDW Submarine are some of the bigger Defence Scandals.Lokpal will have no authority to investigate these.The Jan Lokpal version allows investigations into such cases.Exceptions are only allowed in existing cases before judiciary or currently held legislation.It also imposes strict jail terms for corruption cases.
The Jan Lokpal Bill has the power to transform Indian state and system and have a major impact on transperency like the RTI Bill.However there are extremely powerful interests opposing this Bill..Hazare alleges the 9 member group of ministers who drafted the proposed draft bill are the most corrupt ministers.A lot of support and pressure is needed from the civil society and citizens to get this to move forward.