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Protestors & Govt must remove their misunderstandings

By Sqd Ldr Surya Mohan Dubey | PUBLISHED: 22, Aug 2011, 13:42 pm IST | UPDATED: 10, Sep 2011, 16:34 pm IST

 Protestors & Govt must remove their misunderstandings

The government's  attitude with existing burning situation in the country  may some time lead  to serious turns, if not tackled wisely. The protest till now is well within defined limits of democratic principles. The rigid behaviour of government  of neither mending its attitude to concede to just voice of mass nor finding better way to negotiate with protesters may cost dear to the country. Govt must try  to defuse the political turmoils turning to tug of war. The Government's  recent statements are in fact fuelling the situation.

The diverting tactics of Govt by making irresponsible statements (like "Anna's movement has US hand - Anna's  protesters using political backing of RSS and BJP and now that Parliamentary committee has sought public opinion), may offer open opportunities to International communities to budge into. Many foreign countries who are eying on India's booming economy may try to  take benefits.  It is apparently feared that if Annaji's fast keeps passing days without any results, the protesters may get agitated and resort to violence.  If the situation is not controlled, it may lead to serious chaos.
The Government in its own prudence must consider this issue a serious and most alarming one. The Lokpal Bill introduction is not a new issue.The Lokpal bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan in 1968 and passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. But it did not get through in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India. Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, but none of them were passed. The main reasons were different of opinions and the state of this bill still appears to be same rather indecisiveness appears on Govt part.  The broad difference between these two bill which has been prepared by the government and the other by Shri Annaji"s are indeed very significant. On looking at broad difference, it won't be difficult to assess that Govt is not in favour of bringing majority of agencies where major shares of scams have taken place.

Let us see them at a glance.:-
Difference between Government and activist drafts

Difference between Draft Lokpal Bill 2010 and Jan Lokpal Bill  (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill)

  • Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. Jan Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
  • Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited to forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority". Jan Lokpal will have the power to initiate prosecution of anyone found guilty.
  • Lokpal will have no police powers and no ability to register an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations.Jan Lokpal will have police powers as well as the ability to register FIRs.
  • The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected.Jan Lokpal and the anti corruption wing of the CBI will be one independent body.
  • Punishment for corruption will be a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of up to 7 years.In Jan Lokpal punishments will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of up to life imprisonment.

The following points detail differences between the Government and activist backed versions.

Prime Minister can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.
PM cannot be investigate by Lokpal.

Judiciary can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench. Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate "judicial accountability bill".

MPs can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench.Can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated.

Lower bureaucracy: All public servants would be included. Only Group A officers will be covered.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): The CBI will be merged into the Lokpal.The CBI will remain a separate agency.

Removal of Lokpal members and Chair: Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President.
Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI.

Removal of Lokpal staff and officers: Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members.[14]Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior.

Lokayukta: Lokakyukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place.All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal.

Whistleblower protection :Whistleblowers are protected by law.No protection granted to whistleblowers.

Punishment for corruption: Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption.Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law.

Investigatory powers: Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders.Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers.

False, frivolous and vexatious complaints: Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh..Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs 25,000 to 2 lakh.

Scope: All corruption can be investigated. Only high-level corruption can be investigated.

 From the above, it is lucidly clear that the bill drafted by Annaji's team is strong and may do justice to check corruption the way scams are taking place in India.  Prudentially, Government, must take this opportunity to debate the strongest bill. This opportunity  would give a broad platform for healthy discussions. The entire proceedings may be broadly telecasted so that entire public can watch, and also provision be made to accept broader suggestions of public during debate time. The ministers in their wisdom may take cognizance of public opinions and if considered the bill be suitably amended and passed.
In any way, this bill may not be  an end itself. This is merely a beginning and may prove a little  means to eradicate corruptions. Corruption which has made its deep root in each of us exists in may forms. Some are visible and few are found in most disguised forms.  Corruption just can not vanish from our society so easily. We all have to unitedly and constantly fight against it. The second freedom fight has just begun. This fight is yet to witness many hurdles at various levels. Every single citizen has to commit himself to boycott corruptions. We all have to fight it politically, socially, democratically and committedly on the ground in realities. Unless we, including our Government do not make up our mind, we can not conquer it. Wish Government mends it attitude and pass this bill to start with.