COVER STORY OF JAN LOKPAL
Indiatoday is facing a widespread disease in its administrative government functioning known as CORRUPTION. The very prevalence of the disease is due to its nature and strength to influence the human mind. It poses a challenge to the moral, ethical and behavioural conduct of humans.
It has a fascination towards the human social needs and an ability to penetrate through the system quickly which lacks a strong mechanism to fight and curb it. This can threat a country’s dignity and reputation. In spite of all the efforts towards making the government administrative functions free from its spread, it has been receiving overwhelming figures in scams every year. The very question stands, that where is the loophole or if an appropriate antidote has been devised till date to fight the menace? The answer is “yes”, the antidote has been devised long back and it is the Lok Pal Bill. To understand the very functioning and nature of the Lok Pal, one definitely has to go through its base in the Constitution of India and its very nature. Let us have a look at the present and proposed Lok Pal bill of the Civil Society and its difference, also eventual effect upon the system.
• -No politician or senior officer ever goes to jail despite huge evidence because Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) and CBI directly come under the government.
• –Before starting investigation or initiating prosecution in any case, they have to take permission from the same bosses, against whom the case has to be investigated.
• -No corrupt officer is dismissed from the job because Central Vigilance Commission, which is supposed to dismiss corrupt officers, is only an advisory body. Whenever it advises government to dismiss any senior corrupt officer, its advice is never implemented.
• -No action is taken against corrupt judges because permission is required from the Chief Justice of India to even register an FIR against corrupt judges. Nowhere to go – People expose corruption but no action is taken on their complaints.
• -There is so much corruption within CBI and vigilance departments. Their functioning is so secret that it encourages corruption within these agencies.
• -Weak and corrupt people are appointed as heads of anti-corruption agencies. •-Citizens face harassment in government offices. Sometimes they are forced to pay bribes. One can only complaint to senior officers. No action is taken on complaints because senior officers also get their cut.
• –Nothing in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money.
• -Small punishment for corruption- Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years.
SYSTEM PROPOSED BY CIVIL SOCIETY-
• –Lokpal at centre and Lokayukta at state level will be independent bodies. ACB and CBI will be merged into these bodies. They will have power to initiate investigations and prosecution against any officer or politician without needing anyone’s permission
• –Investigation should be completed within 1 year and trial to get over in next 1 year. Within two years, the corrupt should go to jail.
• –Lokpal and Lokayukta will have complete powers to order dismissal of a corrupt officer. CVC and all departmental vigilance will be merged into Lokpal and state vigilance will be merged into Lokayukta.
• –Lokpal & Lokayukta shall have powers to investigate and prosecute any judge without needing anyone’s permission.
• –Lokpal & Lokayukta will have to inquire into and hear every complaint.
• -All investigations in Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be transparent. After completion of investigation, all case records shall be open to public. Complaint against any staff of Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be inquired and punishment announced within two months.
• –Politicians will have absolutely no say in selections of Chairperson and members of Lokpal & Lokayukta. Selections will take place through a transparent and public participatory process.
• –Lokpal & Lokayukta will get public grievances resolved in time bound manner, impose a penalty of Rs 250 per day of delay to be deducted from the salary of guilty officer and award that amount as compensation to the aggrieved citizen.
• -Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all accused.
• –Enhanced punishment – The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
Now if we make an evaluation of the proposals of the civil society , a very effective bill has been proposed taking into consideration the very nature and aspects of the corruption in the Government administration , the point that has to be noted here are very clearly mentioned in the draft itself , that the bodies like CBI and ACB will be made independent of the government administrative control , hence making them more liberal and free in carrying out the investigation proceedings against the government officials and politicians. Moreover, Lok Pal has been made much more powerful in terms of taking any immediate action after the establishment of the facts against the officer concerned. He has been conferred the powers of their dismissal which is not present in the existing system .Lok Pal can initiate inquiry against judges accused of misconduct/misbehaviour without the consent of the Chief Justice. The investigative proceedings have been kept extremely transparent in nature. It is clearly stated that after the investigations transparency will be maintained and all the records will be made public (also through the website). The selection of the Lok Pal at the centre and the Lok Ayukt at the state level will be transparent and with public participation. With the whole process being transparent and in the public domain, there will be no room for any confidentiality of the matter under investigation and henceforth leaving no room for corruption to take place. Under the new draft proposed by the civil society , specific provisions have been kept for recovery of misappropriated money . The Punishment has also been increased to a minimum of 5 years and max life imprisonment. Therefore, it is pertinent that a strong draft has been prepared and the intentions of the draft makers have been very serious towards curbing corruption in all the areas, i.e. procedure, process and punishment.
I leave it for the readers now to pose questions and queries regarding this and initiate a room for discussion as to which system would be better or rather to say that which antidote will work much effectively.
AUTHOR : Ankur Mudgal
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org