Monday, May 14, 2012

Lokpal - when will it come ? - the final push !!


We have heard this before – once again the clamour for Lokpal Bill is making news !  Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal has announced, that if  the Union government does not bring a strong Lokpal Bill by May 22 [2012]  when the ongoing Parliament session ends, India Against Corruption (IAC) will launch another nationwide movement.  In Bhubaneswar to interact with India Against Corruption (IAC) volunteers here, Kejriwal said the biggest ever campaign will demand three things:

The passage of  Jan Lokpal Bill; that any bill introduced in the Parliament and assemblies be  first be referred to the gram sabhas and maholla sabhas for taking people's opinion and that the members of Parliament and assemblies should make their case based on the will of the people. Thirdly, the looting of land of poor farmers by corporate should stop. Land can be transferred only after written agreements by farmers elaborating the conditions thereof. And there should be strong Lokayuktas in every state, he said.

Here is something recalled from Lokpal bill in essence and its history – posted earlier also.
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In an age rocked by scams, one outsmarting other by thousands of crores, many  have encountered corruption – having to pay illegal gratifications to people – many do that to have work done out of turn, faster or the way it would not, while some have to do even for having the regular work done.   As a matter of fact, one will be forced to accept that there is corruption in public life and things are not what they should be.

There have been many strong attempts to eliminate this at the grassroot level and the need for a robust system acting as deterrent and instill fear against corruption has been strongly felt.  Jan Lokpal Bill is one such bill - also referred to as the Citizen's ombudsman Bill, it  is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent corruption investigation body.  The Jan Lokpal Bill aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers. If made into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body called the Lokpal (translating to ‘protector of people’) – a  body  empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval.  The prefix Jan signifies the fact that these improvements include inputs provided by "ordinary citizens" through an activist-driven, non-governmental public consultation.

The common man (aam admi)  expects that JAN LOKPAL BILL will act as deterrent and instil fear against corruption.  Some important features of the proposed bill would be : -
-  establishment of  a central government anti-corruption institution, completely independent of Govt and free of ministerial influence.
-  having Members appointed through a transparent and participatory process and candidates selected through a qualified clean committee
-  maintaining transparency in all its action, making its actions public, accessible to common and investigations conducted time-bound manner.
-  losses to the public exchequer quantified, those responsible for such loss convicted and losses recovered.
-  merging the various agencies involved and providing enough authority to completely investigate and prosecute
-  Whistle-blowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases  to  be provided with protection by it.

The call Lokpal bill gained momentum and echoed across the country spearheaded by the Gandhian Anna Hazare.  His call spread throughout the country and people responded with the spirit of patriotic zeal and enthusiasm. 
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Its success will do a lot good to the Nation.  The Jan Lokpal Bill is not new though.  It is an offshoot of the Lokpal bill first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968, passed by the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008 – none of them have seen the light.  The word ‘Lokpal’ seemingly has a lengthier history than the ‘Lokpal bill’ which is 42 years old. The word Lokpal was coined in 1963 by L.M.Singhvi, a Member of Parliament during a debate in Parliament about grievance redressal mechanisms.

L. M. Singhvi born in Jodhpur (1931 – 2007) was an eminent Indian jurist, parliamentarian, constitutional expert, scholar, distinguished diplomat. He was the longest-serving High Commissioner for India in the United Kingdom He was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1998. LM Singhvi was a member of the Third Lok Sabha from 1962-67 from Jodhpur as an Independent . He was elected to Rajya Sabha (1998–2004) as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A linguist and a prolific author, Singhvi was also a well acknowledged scholar of Jain history and culture, remained president of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. He spearheaded the Indian delegation to the United Nations conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993. There are reports now that he had moored the idea of the Lokpal bill way back in the 1960s based on his study on the Ombudsman's role in the Scandinavian countries.

Whether it seeks to be an extra-constitutional authority and whether the  Indian Prime Minister and higher judiciary should or should not be prosecutable by the Lokpal remain some of the most contentious issues. 

The Nation looks forward to an Authority empowered to prosecute wrongdoers and do justice within a specified timeframe

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th May 2012.

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