The very first day of the year 2014 turned out to be promising one, as the much awaited Lokpal bill became an act after receiving signatures from the President of India on January 1, 2014. It brought cheer to all the citizens who were waiting for the act to be made to curb corruption in the country.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill was pending in the Parliament since many years. It was due to the efforts of India against corruption movement that the bill again came to life & demand was raised to make it a law as early as possible.
However critics say that the passing of the Lokpal bill was a publicity stunt by the government for attracting votes in the forthcoming general elections this year.
The Lokpal Bill, 2013, also referred to as The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013 seeks to provide for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connecting them. The states will have Lokayuktas appointed and there will be one Lokpal at the centre.
The bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on 22 December 2011 and was passed by the house on 27 December 2011 as The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011. The bill was subsequently tabled in the Rajya Sabha on 29 December 2011. After a marathon debate that stretched until midnight of the following day, the vote failed to take place for lack of time. On 21 May 2012, the bill was referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha for consideration.
The Lokpal bill was finally passed in the Rajya Sabha on 17 December 2013 after making certain amendments to the earlier Bill and in the Lok Sabha on 18 December 2013. After that it received assent from the President of India.
The few changes that were made in the newly passed bill are; bringing Prime Minister under its ambit, but with certain limitations & no transfer of the CBI officer investigating the case without the permission of Lokpal, etc.
The bill was introduced in Parliament following massive public protests led by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his associates at Ralegaon Siddhi, Maharashtra in December 2013.
The Lokpal bill is one of the most widely discussed and debated bills in India, both by the media and the people of India at large, in the recent times. The bill received worldwide media coverage.
However, the big question is how to implement Lokpal Act properly and will it end corruption in the country? The answer to this is even more complex. Making Lokpal a law is not enough, what is needed is its proper implementation and authorization.
Also the persons appointed as Lokayuktas should be free to act in their own authority. The person should not work for the ruling government and he should work for the people to serve the nation.
We have seen in past how some agencies of the government failed to act against the government in corruption cases. This act that has provided a stronghold & the independence of Lokpal should be protected.
One of the contentious points of the Act is the committee which will recommend the name of the Lokpal will have members from the ruling party with no opposition members or from the civil society. This means that it is giving an option to the government to abuse the power as it has happened in the past. The recommendation should be given by a broader based committee and this should provision should be incorporated in the Act sooner tha later.
Another important question that is not answered is the background of the Lokpal? Whether the Lokpal should be form the legal background, an eminent jurist or a retired or serving bureaucrat. All these questions need to be answered. Critics say that the Lokpal will only add to the expenditure of the government. Is it true?
The need of the hour is to properly implement the Lokpal act and have a fair recommendation for the Lokpal. We can only nip corruption in the bud if transparency is maintained while selecting the Lokpal and also during the proceedings of the corruption cases. Corruption is the biggest cause of dissatisfaction among Indians. It is hoped that the Lokpal will be able to make India corruption free.