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Tamil Software
அழகி மென்பொருள்
  
Tamil-English bilingual webmagazine dedicated to education of the masses through E-books, articles, worldwide informations, Slideshows,
Presentations on various subjects, photographs and images, moral and objective oriented stories and Lectures including audio and video

Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Courtesy: Gopal Purushothaman, trainers forum

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

The mood is infectious, the energy palpable. Allowing him to fast 'unconditionally' at Ramlila Grounds is being heralded as a victory for Anna Hazare. It is time now, to go back to the real issue of 'why' Anna is fasting and that is for a much stronger version of the anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill as conceived in the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Interestingly Lokpal Bills were introduced in the Parliament several times (1969, 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008) but failed to be passed each time. Here's a comparison of the Lokpal Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Point 1 - Power

Jan Lokpal: Investigations can be initiated by the Lokpal suo moto in any case and or based on a direct complaint from the public. A reference or permission from anyone for investigation into any case is not required. Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal does not have the authority to either initiate action suo motu in any case or even receive complaints of corruption from general public. The general public can make complaints to the speaker of Lok Sabha or chairperson of Rajya Sabha and the complaints forwarded by Speaker/ Chairperson to Lokpal would be investigated by Lokpal.

Issue to debate: The government version on this point not only severely restricts the functioning of Lokpal, it also provides a tool in the hands of the ruling party to have only those cases referred to Lokpal which pertain to political opponents (since speaker is always from the ruling party). Moreover such a clause would also allow the ruling party to protect its own politicians.

Point 2 - Nature of authority

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have the powers to initiate prosecution against any one after completion of investigations in any case. It will also have powers to order disciplinary proceedings against any government servant. It has been envisaged to be more than just an advisory body.

Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal will be an advisory body and all its reports will be forwarded to a 'competent' authority post enquiry. The competent authority will decide on the further course of action and have final powers to decide whether to take action on Lokpal's report or not. In the case of cabinet ministers, the competent authority is Prime Minister. In the case of PM and MPs the competent authority is Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, as the case may be. Issue to debate: A Prime Minister may not act against any of his cabinet ministers based on the Lokpal's report, especially so in a coalition government where support of political partners is critical to government's survival. This has been proved in the case of A Raja, where the PM claimed to be 'helpless' to take any action against him.

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Point 3 - Prosecutory powers

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have the power to register FIR, proceed with criminal investigations and launch prosecution.

Govt's Lokpal: No such powers given to the Lokpal and hence all the enquiries conducted by Lokpal will tantamount to "preliminary enquiries".

Issue to debate: Even if the report of Lokpal is accepted, who will file the chargesheet in the court? Who will initiate prosecution? Who will appoint the prosecution lawyer? The government's Lokpal bill is silent on that.

Point 4 - Role of CBI

Jan Lokpal: The division of CBI that investigates cases of corruption will be merged into Lokpal to create a unified effective and independent body.

Govt's Lokpal: The bill does not say what will be the role of CBI after this bill.

Issue to debate: Are CBI and Lokpal expected to investigate the same case or CBI will lose its powers to investigate politicians? If the latter is true, then this bill is meant to completely insulate politicians from any investigations whatsoever which are possible today through CBI.

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Point 5 - False & true complaints

Jan Lokpal: False complaints will face financial penalties. But if guilty, Lokayukta is empowered to prosecute and take disciplinary action against the corrupt.

Govt's Lokpal: There is a strong punishment for "frivolous" complaints. If any complaint is found to be false and frivolous, Lokpal will have the power to send the complainant to jail through summary trial but if the complaint were found to be true, the Lokpal will not have the power to send the corrupt politicians to jail.

Issue of debate: The government's version of the bill appears to threaten and discourage those fighting against corruption.

Point 6 - Jurisdiction

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have jurisdiction over politicians, officials and judges with bodies like CVC and the entire vigilance machinery of government being merged into the Lokpal.

Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal will have jurisdiction only on MPs, ministers and PM. It will not have jurisdiction over officers.

Issue of debate: In most cases of corruption, bureaucrats and politicians are found to be equally involved and working in partnership. Going by the government's proposal, every case would need to be investigated by both CVC and Lokpal. This could create chaos and stifling of case records by one agency. There is also the possibility of the Lokpal and CVC reaching entirely different results. This clause is a sure way of killing any case.

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Point 7 - Appointment

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal would have ten members and one Chairperson of which four must to have a legal background while others could be from any background.

Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal will consist of three members, all of them being retired judges.

Issue of debate: By creating post retirement posts for judges, the government will make retiring judges vulnerable to government influences. In the hope of getting plush post retirement employment, judges may be biased towards the end of their term.

Point 8 - Selection of members

Jan Lokpal: Selection committee will comprise of members from judicial background, Chief Election Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor General of India and eminent people who have been recipients of international recognition like the Nobel and Magsaysay awards. A detailed, transparent and participatory selection process has been prescribed.

Govt's Lokpal: The selection committee will consist of Vice President, PM, Leaders of both houses, Leaders of opposition in both houses, Law Minister and Home minister.

Issue of debate: Barring the Vice President, all others are politicians whose corruption Lokpal is supposed to investigate. So there is a direct conflict of interest. Moreover the selection committee is heavily loaded in favour of the ruling party.

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Point 9 - Investigating the PM

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will be able to investigate any and all charges of corruption against the PM.

Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal will not have powers to investigate any case against PM, which deals with foreign affairs, security and defence.

Issue of debate: Have we forgotten Bofors already? Such a clause means that corruption in defence deals will be out of any scrutiny whatsoever.

Point 10 - Timelines

Jan Lokpal: Investigations should be completed within one year. Trial should get over within the next one year.

Govt's Lokpal: Whereas a time limit of six months to one year has been prescribed for Lokpal to enquire, there is no time limit for completion of trial.

Issue of debate: A trail could go on for years, defeating its purpose.

Point 11 - Taking action

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have power to direct disciplinary action, including dismissal of a corrupt officer from job.

Govt's Lokpal: It does not deal with corruption of Bureaucrats.

Issue of debate: Does the government version of the bill imply that corrupt bureaucrats continue in their job without any actions against them?

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Point 12 - Judges under jurisdiction

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have powers to investigate complaints of corruption against judges.

Govt's Lokpal: No mention of investigation of complaints against judges.

Issue of debate: Why? Do we not have corrupt judges?

Point 13 - Dismissal of complaint

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have to hear every complaint from the public before dismissing it.

Govt's Lokpal: Only the Speaker would decide which complaints shall be enquired into by Lokpal.

Issue of debate: Selective enquiry of complaints would make it easy to escape prosecution. As the speaker is from the ruling party, why would he give a go-ahead to complaints against his party/ government members?

Point 14 - Redressal system

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have the powers to orders redressal in a time bound manner. It will have powers to impose financial penalties on guilty officers, which would be paid to complainant as compensation.

Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal bill does not address this issue.

Issue of debate: Our entire governance system suffers from inadequate public grievance redressal systems, which force people to pay bribes.

Back to the basics: Lokpal & Jan Lokpal, a comparison

Point 15 - Victim/ Witness protection program

Jan Lokpal: Lokpal will have powers to provide protection against physical and professional victimization of whistle-blowers.

Govt's Lokpal: Lokpal does not have any powers to provide protection to complainants.

Issue of debate: Have we forgotten Satyendra Dubey already? Large number of people raising their voice against political corruption are being murdered. Will this continue?

Point 16 - Recovery of losses

Jan Lokpal: Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all accused.

Govt's Lokpal: Nothing has been provided in law to recover ill-gotten wealth.

Issue of debate: A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money?

Point 17 - Enhanced punishment

Jan Lokpal: The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

Govt's Lokpal: Under the present law, there is Small punishment for corruption- minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years.

Issue of debate: Having an enhanced punishment in place can act as a deterrent to corruption. People will not stop if they feel they can 'get away with it' in six months!

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