The Lokpal Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 4th August, 2011. It was passed in both houses of Parliament in December, 2013. Anna Hazare's campaign for Jan Lokpal Bill for which he went on hunger strike was catalyst in the passage of this bill.
According to the Bill, a body called Lokpal is to be constituted. This would inquire into the offences committed by public servants that are punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. This body will have a independent status as that of the High Court and will have powers to investigate as well as prosecute the guilty. It's jurisdiction covers Group 'A' officers MPs, members of judiciary and even PM, though with some riders.
As per the bill, any complaint received by lokpal would be first investigated to find whether there is any prima facie evidence. In case of prima facie evidence the matter is further investigated and an opportunity to be heard is provided to the accused. The investigation should be completed within 6 months with a further extension of 6 months and the reasons for extension to be recorded in writing. The prosecution should be completed within 1 year by the special court to be setup on the recommendation of the Lokpal. Its time may be extended to 2 years and reasons for it has to be given in writing.
At the face of it, the bill appears to be a law that is strict to end corruption but there are certain loopholes in it. According to the media reports, there are as many as 7157 cases on corruption pending with the CBI. If all these cases are to be investigated a huge team of members would be required by the lokpal. A huge number of members involved will necessarily do not mean speedy disposal of cases.
As per the bill, the corruption case is to be investigated within 6 months and prosecution to be done within 1 year. Can such a large number of cases be disposed in such a time frame?
So the Lokpal bill is a noble idea, but its proper implementation is better said than done. In the long run, the office of the Lokpal may emerge as yet another place where piles of files of corruption cases maybe lying pending.
There is no provision in the bill for selecting the officers in the lokpal. There is no particular elaboration on as to what consists of prima facie evidence. There is no provision as to what is to be done in case if the case is not closed on time. It appears that the cases registered may be far less than the actual cases that may have occurred.
It is said that the person paying the bribe is also at equal fault to the person accepting the bribe. Many are willingly to pay the bribe to the corrupt persons while there are many others who do it because they have no other way out. The person who may probably complain would be the one who do not have the money to pay the bribe. Such person should have the courage to face the wrath from those in power. To muster such courage may be rare feat. Lack of faith in the system and delayed justice are other reasons why many may not come up to file a complaint.
So the Lokpal bill no doubt is a noble idea and its proper implementation may probably help reducing corruption but it lacks the ability to completely it root out from our country.