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anna's lokpal vs. government lokpal

anna's lokpal vs. government lokpal "Satyagraha can rid society of all evils, political, economic, and moral.Satyagraha thrives on repression till at last the repressor is tired and the object of Satyagraha is gained.Satyagraha does not depend on the outside [for] help; it derives all its strength from within....The method of Satyagraha requires that the Satyagrahi should never lose hope, so long as there is the slightest ground left for it"- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Gandhiji's theory of Satyagraha was revived when a country-wide peaceful agitation against corruption gained momentum under the leadership of a 73-year old civil activist Anna Hazare. With thousands of dissenting 'aam aadmi' flooding the streets in support of the Citizens' Ombudsman "Jan-Lokpal Bill" (JLP) over the Government Lokpal Bill (GLP), the nation throbbed and a renaissance has begun within Indian democracy. However, most of the agitators do not cognize what JLP contends.

Although the movement reached its destination half – way on 28th August, 2011; when Parliament adopted a resolution to include three crucial demands by Anna'a Camp i.e. inclusion of lower bureaucracy, appointment of Lokayukta at the State level and incorporation of a Citizens' Charter under GLP, it becomes necessary to know where exactly the two bills diverge and also to analyze significant points of their differences.

One of the most debated points is the inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal. On one hand where GLP includes. Another important point of difference is the Selection procedure and composition of Lokpal members. JLP provides for an independent 'Search Committee' consisting of retired constitutional authorities (like judges, eminent IAS officers etc.) to shortlist potential candidates. The Lokpal chairperson and members are to be b selected from this shortlist by an independent 'Selection Committee'. The Selection Committee shall comprise of two politicians, four judges and two retired constitutional authorities, minimizing the scope for government interference in the selection process.

On the other hand GLP provides for a panel of 10 members, 6 of whom are politicians, 5 of whom are from the ruling party, to select the Lokpal members. Even the 'Search Committee' which searches for eligible Lokpal members shall be selected by the same panel. Undoubtedly, such a panel will facilitate the Government to appoint its own people thereby reducing the role of the Lokpal to a mere puppet.

The two Bills also differ on the point of accountability of the Lokpal. Where on one hand JLP makes the Lokpal accountable to the people, by giving them enough freedom to lodge a complaint in the Supreme Court and seek removal of a corrupt Lokpal, GLP makes the Lokpal accountable to the Government wherein only the government can seek removal of Lokpal by filing a petition in the Supreme Court. Such concentration of power will not only give a licence to the government to appoint inefficient and corrupt Lokpal but will also defeat the very purpose of enacting a citizens' ombudsmen bill which aims at greater citizen participation. With respect to allegations or complaints of corruption against Lokpal Members, the JLP provides for a comparatively better machinery by establishing an independent authority to address such complaints contrary to the provision laid down in GLP which makes the Lokpal itself the 'concerned body' to hear cases against its own staff. That will do more harm than good as it may not only prejudice the mind of the Lokpal but also induce inherent corruption.

The dismissal of a corrupt public servant under JLP is proposed to be carried out by a bench of the Lokpal which shall hold open hearings and decide whether to remove the official or not, after the completion of investigations and filing a case in a court for prosecution. Whereas under GLP such dismissal is left to the minister of the concerned department. Like a relay race requires a chain of participants and the efficient and timely exchange of a baton, corruption also involves chain of corrupt officials and the exchange of gains arising out of such collaboration. In almost all such cases, the ministers are found to be beneficiaries at some or the other level which renders justice impossible.

A good legislation is one with simplified procedure, effective remedies and most importantly speedy justice. Keeping this in mind the JLP proposes to set up Special benches in the High Courts to expedite the appeal cases of corruption. To our dismay this provision is not accommodated in the GLP.With regard to the tapping of phones, the required permission is to be granted by Lokpal Bench under JLP while under GLP approval of the Home Secretary is needed. So the next time you spot 'Richie-Rich' hobnobbing with the Home Secretary, do not be surprised if he comes under the scanner and exits dirt-free. JLP intends to enact not only a corruption-free legislation but also a fearless and secure platform for its citizens. It is for this very reason, that protection is provided to the whistle-blowers, victims and witnesses of corruption. It is indeed unfortunate to note that no such protection is provided under GLP. According to the Government, protection for whistleblowers is being provided through a separate law. But the said law is so incompetent that it has been badly trashed by the Standing committee of the Parliament itself last month. The much debated aspect of establishing a Lokayukya at the State level which would probe into corruption cases of State level ministers, MLAs and State Government officials has also gained victory after the government nodded in approval for the inclusion of this provision in the GLP.

With corruption spreading its wings, even the NGOs have not been able to keep themselves out of this ditch. Although JLP intends to bring only government-funded NGOs under its ambit, the Government intends to have jurisdiction over all the NGOs in the country, be it small or big, registered or unregistered. Delegation of authority has been considered as the key for effective management worldwide. A similar structure is also made under the JLP where Lokpal members will only hear cases against senior officials and politicians or cases involving huge amounts rest cases shall be heard by other officers of Lokpal. On the other hand, the GLP provides that all work must be done by the 11 member team of Lokpal which is likely to result in unnecessary piling up of cases.

The method of inquiry into the cases of corruption also differs in both the bills. Under JLP, the method would be the same as provided in Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). After preliminary enquiry, an FIR will be registered. After investigations, case will be presented before a court, where the trial will take place. On the contrary GLP seeks to amend CrPC in order to provide special protection to the accused. After preliminary enquiry, all evidence will be provided to the accused and he shall be heard as to why an FIR should not be registered against him.

After completion of investigations, again all evidence will be provided to him and he will be given a hearing to explain why a case should not be filed against him in the court. Such a process would not only severely compromise all investigations with easy availability of evidences at every stage but would also disclose the identity of the whistleblowers thus threatening their security. Such a dim-witted process is unheard of in criminal jurisprudence. Another heated point, which has now received government's consent is the creation of a Citizens' Charter, which will specify which work to be done by which official and in how much time. Violation of the Charter will attract a penalty and shall be deemed to be corruption.

In the light of the above mentioned differences and taking into consideration the seriousness of growing corruption in our country, it is necessary to enact a Draconian legislation rather than a feeble and toothless one. As citizens of the largest functional democracy, it is our duty to not let the Government give any false illusion of creating an anti-corruption law. We hope the Government sticks to its promises for the inclusion of three crucial demands put forward by Camp Anna as discussed earlier. Democracy is a system by the people, for the people and of the people, and therefore today more than ever, the words of the Mahatma resound loudly in every Indian's heartbeat – "..Be the change that you wish to see..."

disha gandhi

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