Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Difference between the two Lokpal Bills

The Government’s Lokpal Bill has rightly been termed as “Jokepal”, as it seeks to create one more rubber stamp, powerless and totally dependent on the Government, who can only push files from one place to another without achieving anything meaningful. Inclusion of the Prime Minister is not the only, not even the most important point of difference between the Government’s and the Civil Society’s Lokpal Bills. The key need today is to urgently create an investigating body which is independent of the politician’s control, since all corruption originates at the politician’s doorstep. And this is precisely why the Government is opposing the Jan Lokpal Bill. So long as the investigator reports to the Government, no meaningful investigation can be carried out against the misdeeds of those in power.

The table below shows the differences between the provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill and the Lokpal Bill introduced by the Government in Parliament.

Jan Lokpal
To conduct independent investigations and present cases before special fast track courts constituted by the High Court
Just one more investigating agency totally dependent on and controlled by the Government. No fast track procedure
Participatory and transparent selection, funding and removal process, independent of the government
Government dominated selection, removal and funding by government
Time bound punishment with stricter punishment for higher officers and politicians
No such provision
Prime Minister
PM can be investigated, though there will be special safeguards to prevent frivolous complaints against PM
PM can be investigated by bodies which are controlled by the PMO itself. No independent investigating body
Can be investigated if suspected of taking bribes to speak / vote in Parliament
No such investigation permitted
Permission to investigate corrupt and criminal charges against Judges
No such provision
State Government, Municipal Corporation, Panchayat staff
Included, as the Bill also creates Lok Ayuktas simultaneously
No provision to investigate State, Municipal and other employees
Department Vigilance, CVC and CBI
Departmental Vigilance in each government department, CVC and Anti-Corruption Wing of the CBI should be merged under Independent Lokpal
Government should have control over anti-corruption investigation
Lower bureaucracy
Included in the ambit of Lokpal
Excluded. Only 60,000 class I officers of Centre included
Public Grievance redressal
Fixed timeframe for services. In case of purposeful delay in performance of duty, penalties and prosecution
No citizen charters, penalty or prosecution
What if Lokpal becomes corrupt?
Complaints against Lokpal staff will be investigated by an independent authority - SC bench and special bench. Strict punishment within 2 months
Complaints against Lokpal staff will be heard by the Lokpal itself

As can be seen, the Government’s version has more exclusions than inclusions in its purview. The Government Lokpal cannot take up any corruption case of the Police, Road Traffic Police, Ration Card, Water Department, Municipal Corporation, State Government, etc.  Had Government Lokpal been already present, none of the current scams such as 2G scam, CWG Scam, Adarsh Housing Society scam, Mining Scam etc would have been within the purview of such Lokpal.

What is the use of such a Lokpal?

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