systemhalted by Palak Mathur

LokPal Bill

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#Courtesy Times of India. Copy pasted from Times of India!!

Much has been made of the decision to put the Prime Minister under the purview of the proposed corruption watchdog, the Lokpal, but the official draft of the Lokpal Bill is full of escape clauses for politicians. All critical decisions in the proposed anti-corruption regime will remain firmly in the hands of the ruling dispensation, although that is the main cause for the widespread impunity for scams involving politicians. In fact, the official draft, which may be promulgated as an ordinance soon, is hardly an improvement on the current situation. Civil society has proposed an option with more teeth.

Government bill Civil society bill
1. The Lokpal will have jurisdiction only over the Prime Minister, ministers and MPs. 1. The Lokpal will have jurisdiction over politicians, bureaucrats and judges. The CVC and the entire vigilance machinery of the Centre will be merged into the Lokpal.
2. The Lokpal will not have suo motu power to initiate inquiry or even receive complaints of corruption directly from the public. The complaints will be forwarded to it by the presiding officer of either House of Parliament. 2. The Lokpal can not only initiate action on its own but it can also entertain complaints directly from the public. It will not need reference or permission from any authority.
3. It is purely an advisory body and can therefore only give recommendations to the Prime Minister on complaints against ministers and to the presiding officer of either House on complaints against the Prime Minister and MPs. 3. After completing its investigation against a public servant, the Lokpal can initiate prosecution or order disciplinary proceedings or both.
4. Since it has no police powers, the Lokpal cannot register an FIR on any complaint. All it can do is a preliminary inquiry. 4. With the corruption branch of the CBI merged into it, the Lokpal will be able to register FIRs, conduct investigations under the Criminal Procedure Code and launch prosecution.
5. Anybody found to have lodged a false complaint will be punished summarily by the Lokpal with imprisonment ranging from one year to three years. 5. The Lokpal can only impose financial penalties for complaints found to be false.
6. The Lokpal will consist of three members, all of whom will be retired judges. This may aggravate the trend of retiring judges becoming vulnerable to government pressures. 6. The Lokpal will consist of 10 members and one chairperson, out of whom only four are required to have legal background without necessarily having any judicial experience.
7. The committee to select Lokpal members will consist entirely of political dignitaries and its composition is loaded in favour of the ruling party. 7. The selection committee will consist of members from judicial background, chief election commissioner, comptroller and auditor general of India and international awardees (like Nobel prize winners and Magsaysay awardees of Indian origin). The bill prescribes a transparent and participatory selection process in great detail.
8. If a complaint against the Prime Minister relates to subjects like security, defence and foreign affairs, the Lokpal is barred from probing those allegations. 8. There is no such bar on the Lokpal's powers
9. Though a time limit of six months to one year has been prescribed for the Lokpal to conduct its probe, there is no limit for completion of trial, if any. 9. The Lokpal will have to complete its investigation within one year and the subsequent trial will have to be over in another year.
10. Nothing has been provided in law to recover ill-gotten wealth. After serving his sentence a corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money. 10. Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all those proved guilty. 


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