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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Jan Lokpal Bill

It’s time we stand up against corruption

         Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal, this Bill has been refined on the basis of feedback received from public on website and after series of public consultations. It has been vetted and supported by Shanti Bhushan, J M Lyngdoh, Kiran Bedi, Anna Hazare and others. It was sent to the PM and all CMs on 1st December,2010

Salient features of  Jan Lokpal Bill :
  • An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up
  • Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able 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 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 any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on 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 is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in 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 ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
  • 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 and 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 shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
  • What will happen to existing anti­corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti­corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician
 Views from various people of PUNE :

The Jan Lokpal Bill will enable recovery of corruption money
BB Somani , member, India Against Corruption Movement

  The Jan Lokpal Bill is actually to control corruption. This bill will help to form an autonomous body like the Election Commission and Supreme Court. All its dealings will be independent of any kind of politics. Normally, we are required to take permission from the president or governor to file a complaint against any politician. With the implementation of this bill, such consent will not be necessary. The officer in charge will be able to take action against anyone without interference from political forces. Moreover, the trial against people will be completed within one year and the guilty would be punished in one year as well. The punishments range from small fines to life-term imprisonment. Later, death sentence would also be included. The best benefit of the bill would be the recovery of corruption money. Thus, money will be recovered from those found guilty of scams and corruption. The chief officer of Lokpal will be appointed by a committee that includes a Supreme Court judge, representative from parliament and other eminent people.

The bill will bring even the prime minister of India under scanner.
Bhavesh Bhati, President, Dnyan-Setu

It is high time the government passes the Jan Lokpal Bill to bring tansparency in governance and accountability among our political leadership. The bill will even bring the prime minister of India under the scanner as he is also a government servant. We are seeing corruption in all government offices, but there is no law to punish corrupt officials. The Jan Lokpal Bill that we are demanding through our campaign is efficient with autonomous powers to punish the guilty. So, it’s time everyone comes forward and  supports the bill. Today, citizens face harassment in government offices and are at times forced to pay bribes. No corrupt officer is dismissed from his job because the CVC’s advice to remove such a person is never implemented.

Our legal system is ill-equipped to deal with corrupt leaders
Vivek Velankar, president, Sajag Nagrik Manch

Today’s politicians and bureaucrats are looting the country more than even the Mughals and Britishers did during their reign in India. The legal mechanism in the country is not strong enough to bring these corrupt and power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats to book. Many well-known names in politics and the government are involved in scams and corrupt dealings, but no one has been caught and punished by law till now. We need a strong mechanism under the law to punish these corrupt leaders and bureaucrats. It is encouraging to see like-minded and influential people coming together to support this cause. As the campaign gains momentum, the government will have to pass the bill. We are also participating in a one-day fast on Tuesday opposite Bal Gandharva Rangmandir. It is imperative for the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the states to be autonomous. Otherwise, they will become like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a government agency for criminal investigation and national security that plays to the tune of politicians. For swift and unbiased action, it is important that these bodies remain independent.

It’s a step towards a corruption-free India 
Tanmay Kanitkar, founder member, Parivartan

I believe the ‘India Against Corruption’ campaign has made citizens of all major cities of India aware about the Jan Lokpal Bill. The bill is not the only solution to tackle corruption, but it will be an important step towards a corruption-free India. There is a need to mobilise the masses to fight against corruption. It is good to have people like Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal as leaders. Along with these national leaders, we should look for local-level leaders who have a good vision for this campaign. What we have seen so far is partial support from the educated upper middle class. The rest are still in their shells, not willing to come out on the streets for larger good. However, I am sure they will join us soon. Laws are made and changed. We want people to change their approach and reactions towards corruption. Law is a strong tool to convert people’s will into action. And thus, it is important to support this tool of the Jan Lokpal Bill. We have never hidden our doubts about the functionality of Lokpal or Lokayukta. The bill seems very idealistic. There are complaints of corruption against autonomous bodies like the Election Commission as well. Personally, I’m not convinced about the idea of having Nobel laureates in the selection committee. The whole draft is based on the ‘assumption’ that Magsaysay awardees and Nobel laureates are good people (and politicians are bad). I’m not denying that they are good people so far. But that may not always be the case. Still, we believe in healthy debates and transparent functionality. The intentions of the Jan Lokpal Bill are appreciable and encouraging. Thus we, as citizens of India, must support this campaign.

( The idea of having Nobel laureates and Magsaysay awardees has been removed as per the latest draft. )

The Lokpal system will help people at the grass-roots level
Radhesham Jagtap, chairman, Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janandolan Nyas (Ralegan Siddhi)

Anna Hazare, chief of Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janandolan, has started the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement. Ours is the parent body of IAC. The  simplest example I can give of how the bill will help is about a police station. If you go to file an FIR and some official refuses to write down your complaint, you can directly complain to the Lokayukta of the specific division. In the shortest time, the official who refused to write your  complaint will be arrested and your complaint will be attended to. Another example is that if any official from Lokpal is corrupt, there are provisions to punish him as well. This shows that the Lokpal system is transparent and will help people at the grass-roots level

The RTI Act has unearthed cases, but process is extremely slow
Krishnakumar Iyer, spokesperson, Professionals Party of India

Corruption has become a deep-rooted phenomenon in our society and all of us are at our wits’ end about how to tackle it. Any system of governance (and governance of a nation is a system) to function well has to ensure three aspects: prevent misuse of public funds, detect their misuse as and when it happens and correct the system once such fraud takes place. As a nation, we are far from preventing corruption due to lack of checks and balances of politicians and bureaucracy. However, we can certainly build a mechanism for detection and punishment. Today, when the aam aadmi is forced to pay a bribe despite his unwillingness, he does not know where to go and seek recourse, as all other government bodies like the police, CVC and CBI are under the thumb of the political leadership and bureaucracy.
           The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, to an extent has helped unearth cases of corruption. However, in many cases, the process is extremely slow due to vague and misleading responses from government officials. Unless the detection and enforcement bodies are kept independent, the power to investigate, prosecute and punish will always be compromised.India desperately needs an independent body, which can tackle corruption in basic government services for the average citizen to corruption in the management of the country’s assets like mines, telecom spectrum and so on. What is equally important is that cases of corruption are resolved within a reasonable time. The Jan Lokpal Bill is a well thought out concept and can bring about a sea change to the disease of corruption. It is every Indian’s duty now to support this bill instead of taking the easy way out of paying a bribe.

- Taken from our own Flyer for 5th April's event and the article published in DNA on 5th April,2011.

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