The Jan Lokpal was conceived as an independent empowered and accountable ombudsman
which
could independently, credibly and expeditiously investigate corruption offences of all
public servants who are today not being investigated because the investigating agencies are
controlled by the same public servants who need to be investigated. Such a L
okpal would
need to be functionally, financially and even in terms of appointment and accountability be
independent of the government and indeed the political establishment even if they are for
the time being not in government. A Jan Lokpal bill was drafte
d by the Civil Society
members of the joint drafting committee for this purpose in June 2011 which had the
support of at least 80% people of the country. A fast was undertaken by Anna Hazare at
Ramlila Maidan in August 2011 for this purpose, at the end to
which the Parliament passed
a unanimous resolution committing to passing a Lokpal Bill which would have at least 3
elements: That all public servants, high or low would be included in the investigative ambit
of the Lokpal; that the Lokpal would also monito
r the Citizen’s charters and have the power
to penalize public authorities and servants who violate it; and that the Lokpal bill would
contain provisions for Lokayktas on the same lines as the Lokpal for the States, which would
take of corruption among Sta
te Public servants.
Unfortunately however, the government introduced and passed a farcical bill called the
Lokpal Bill 2011 in December 2011. The same bill was then brought before the Rajya Sabha
but torn up and thrown away and then referred to the Select
Committee. The Bill as passed
by the Lok Sabha left the selection of the Lokpal essentially in the hands of the government.
It also left the accountability of the Lokpal in government hands, thus completely
compromising the independence of the Lokpal. Equa
lly importantly, this bill left the Lokpal’s
corruption investigations in the hands of a government controlled CBI. Also, the bill did not
contain even a single one of the 3 provisions which the Parliament had unanimously
promised Anna Hazare before he bro
ke his fast. Only group A public servants and not all
were brought within the Lokpal’s purview; There was no provision for a State Lokayukta’s in
this bill; and there was no mention of a citizens charter. Moreover, the investigation of the
Lokpal was cripp
led by the need to first have a preliminary inquiry where the accused public
servant would have to be heard (thus allowing him to destroy evidence) before even the FIR
could be registered. And worst of all, a person whose complaint was labeled “frivolous o
r
vexatious” by this government controlled Lokpal could be imprisoned for upto 5 years (even
more than the punishment for corruption)! That is why we had called this bill a Jokepal bill
or a bill for the protection of corrupt public servants.




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