Lokpal Bill Simple Facts, Importance, Features & Details
What's the Jan Lopal Bill: Straight Facts
- The Jan Lokpal Bill (Hindi: जन लोकपाल विधेयक) (Citizens’ ombudsman Bill) is an Indian draft anti-corruption bill that would create the Jan Lokpal, an independent body similar to the Election Commission with the power to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without prior government permission.
- Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.
- The bill is designed to create an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal system that effectively deters corruption while providing effective protection to whistleblowers.
- The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.
Historical Facts on the Jan Lokpal Bill
- For 42 years, the government-drafted bill has failed to pass through the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.
- The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but stalled in the Rajya Sabha.
- Subsequent Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008 but all failed to pass.
Key features of proposed Jan Lokpal Bill
- To establish a central government anti-corruption institution called Lokpal, supported by Lokayukta at the state level.
- As in the case of the Supreme Court and Cabinet Secretariat, the Lokpal will be supervised by the Cabinet Secretary and the Election Commission. As a result, it will be completely independent of the government and free from ministerial influence in its 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 shortlisted candidates for interviews, videorecordings of which will thereafter be made public.
- Every month on its website, the Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed. It will also publish lists of all cases received by the Lokayukta during the previous month, cases dealt with and those which are pending.
- Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. Any resulting trials should be concluded in the following year, giving a total maximum process time of two years.
- Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.
- Government officework required by a citizen that is not completed within a prescribed time period will result in Lokpal imposing financial penalties on those responsible, which will then 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 which will have complete power and authority 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.