Citizens’ Ombudsman Bill or Jan Lokpal Vidheyak (in Hindi) is a proposed anti-corruption law designed to effectively nail out corruption, redress complaints and protect whistleblowers. According to designed bill made by some members of ‘India Against Corruption (IAC)’, a movement against corruption in the government’s bodies, “Jan Lokpal Bill” would work as an independent powerful institution like Election Commission of India and Supreme Court that would prevent corruption in government machinery, redress corruption grievances within a year and penalise the guilty no matter what he/she/they is/are without the interfering of the government.
According to the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill, the Jan Lokpal (Citizens’ Ombudsman) would be an anti-corruption institution on Central level that would control the corruption in the central government machineries and redress the complaints of central government’s offices, departments and institutions. Similar anti-corruption institutions “Lokayukta” would be set up in the states.
The Lokpal and Lokayukta would investigate corruption cases and complete the process within a year while the trial would complete in the next one year, means the whole process would complete in maximum two years in order to deterring the corruption on mass scale.
The first Jan Lokpal bill was introduced in the parliament in 1969, 42 years ago in the 4th Lok Sabha, which was passed but it failed in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament. Since then the bill were introduced in the Parliament nine times – 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008, but every times it was failed to pass out.
The version of proposed Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by IAC is version 2.2 while the government’s drafted Lokpal bill 2010′s version is 2.3, according to government’s website.
The Lokpal Bill version 2.2 was drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Shanti Bhushan, Former Minister of Law and Justice, Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist). Social Activist Anna Hazare and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi are also the members of IAC.
There are several differences in both versions claimed by IAC movement members.
Here are the Salient features of Jan Lokpal bill version 2.2:
- An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up.
- A complete independent powerful institutions like Supreme Court and Election Commission; No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
- Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.
- A selection committee will invite short listed candidates for interviews, video recordings of which will thereafter be made public.
- Lokpal and Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed on their website every months. Moreover, the lists of all cases received, dealt and pending during the previous month will also be published.
- Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. The trials for that case would be concluded in the following year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
- Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.
- Lokpal will have the authority to penalise the concerned person responsible for delay in work, carelessness and other reasons that hurt any citizen’s work. The institution (Lokpal and Lokayukta) will slap financial penalties that will be given as compensation to the complainant.
- Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within a month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.
- The existing anti-corruption agencies (CVC, departmental vigilance and the anti-corruption branch of the CBI) will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
- Whistleblowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases will also be provided with protection by it.
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