India Against Corruption: Jan Lokpal Bill
The Union Cabinet on Thursday has cleared the revised Lokpal Bill draft, which has incorporated most of the amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, but anti-corruption activists are still not satisfied.
Some of the recommendations in the bill include appointing the Lokayukta and the placing the Central Bureau of Investigation under Lokpal supervision.
So what is missing in the newly drafted-Lokpal Bill that has made anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and others reject it bluntly?
The revised Lokpal Bill has incorporated 14 of the 16 amendments recommended by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, which was constituted after the draft bill failed to gather support in the Upper House of the Parliament. A few key recommendations were sidelined, disappointing anti-corruption crusaders including Anna Hazare.
Activists are of the opinion that CBI should be under the Lokpal for more effective checks on corruption. The revised bill has kept the agency out of the Lokpal even though it falls under its supervision. The recommendation that Lokpal should approve the transfer of CBI officers investigating cases was rejected.
"I have written a letter to Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister asking whether CBI and CVC will be under the Lokpal. If they're not, how will we check corruption," Hazare told IBN Live.
"The proposed new draft of the Lokpal Bill is useless. We will continue our fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill and force the government to pass it," he added. "Such a bill will not benefit the people."
"It (Lokpal) will not have the power to investigate. It will forward the complaints to CBI and CBI continues to remain under the government's control. If Lokpal finds that an officer in CBI is not doing the right job, would the Lokpal have the power to change that officer," said former member of Team Anna and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal.
Another key recommendation of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee that was sidelined is the accountability of public servants. The panel is against the proposal to allow officials defend themselves during the preliminary inquiry stage, but the revised bill allows public servants to present their views before an inquiry.
Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and member of Team Anna supported the new draft of the Lokpal Bill saying that it has addressed most of the key concerns.
"Cabinet clearance of lokpal has baby steps*Appt of Director*Only Anti-corruption Wing of CBI under supervision of Lokpal!A beginning of LP!," she said on Twitter.
"It will do us no harm if we begin with proposed lokpal and v keep improving it as we go along!Being very high powered it will carry weight!"
According to the amended draft, every state should pass the Lokayukta Bill within a year from the day the centre government passes the bill. The appointment of the Lokayukta has been left to the states. People affiliated with political parties can't be a part of the Lokpal panel.
The director of prosecution should be appointed by the CVC instead of the centre.
Lokpal can order a probe straightaway and NGOs, other than religious organizations, will come under the Lokpal purview, according to the new draft.
The amended Lokpal Bill will now be put to vote in the Rajya Sabha. It will be placed before the Lok Sabha for fresh approval once the Upper House clears it.
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