Facts & Figures

Government’s Lokpal Draft is Dangerous

Government's Lokpal Draft is Dangerous

Government's Lokpal Draft is Dangerous

The Government’s Lokpal Bill covers about 0.5% of public servants, yet it brings under ambit virtually ever citizen’s group and organization, registered or unregistered, meant to serve the social sector. This raises a pertinent question- Whom is the Lokpal really targeted at?

There are more than 1.25 Crore central and state government employees. Out of this merely 65,000 Group A Central Government employees would be covered in the Government bill leaving out all the lower officers and staff. This effectively means that there is no remedy against corruption that a common person faces daily in police, roads, industry, licensing, transport, roadways, municipality, rations, health services, education, pension, provident funds, panchayat, forest department, irrigation department etc.

On the other hand, Lokpal would have jurisdiction overall NGOs, trusts, societies like RWAs, big or small, whether registerd or unregistered, whether they receive government funding or not, up to the village level! For instance, consider a group of citizens that unearth corruption of the Sarpanch and Block Development Officer (BDO) in a village. The government’s Lokpal can’t take any action against the Sarpanch or BDO but it can lock up the group of active citizens. Each and every association, like Resident Welfare Associations, Market Associations, even your neighborhood committees that organize festivals like Durga Puja, Ramlila, etc. would be under the purview of Lokpal.

While there is no disagreement that the rot of corruption is also afflicting many societies, associations and NGOs, there already exists a plethora of laws like the Trust Act, Societies Act, FCRA, etc. to monitor them. Lokpal was originally intended for checking corruption in public servants. Regardless, if it is being extended to all associations of civil society, then why shouldn’t it cover all companies, businesses, political parties, and media houses?

Government’s Lokpal provides greater protection to corrupt!
Provisions in the government’s Lokpal Bill heavily favor corrupt public servants. Under this bill, a public servant accused of corruption is allowed to turn around and file a lawsuit against the complaint accusing him of filing a frivolous complaint. The government will provide a free advocate to the accused to help prove the citizen was wrong, while the citizen has to fend for himself. If the complaint proves to be frivolous, the minimum sentence for the citizen is two years. But if the corruption charges are proved, the minimum sentence for the public servant is just six months!
Will then any citizen dare raise a voice against corruption?

Following are the differences between The Government’s Lokpal Draft and Civil Society’s Jan Lokpal

Corruption of Prime Minister

  • Government’s Draft : If PM is involved in corruption, then CBI would investigate, not the Lokpal. (CBI directly comes under PM. How will CBI investigate its own Boss?)
  • Civil Society’s Draft : Lokpal, which is an independent body, would investigate PM. (If government doesn’t want PM’s corruption to be investigated, let them amend constitution upfront rather than making a pretense of investigations by CBI.)

Corruption within Judiciary

  • Government’s Draft : A committee of three judges from the same court will give permission for investigation against the accused judge. (How will judges from the same court give permission to investigate their colleague judge?)
  • Civil Society’s Draft : A seven member bench of Lokpal will give permission after an open hearing.

Corruption of MP’s

  • Government’s Draft : If a MP votes or Puts up a question in parliament in return for a bribe, then he/she could be investigated by a committee of other MPs as is the present system. (In the past 62 years, many instances of MP’s taking bribe have surfaced but not even a single instance has been honestly investigated nor any MP sent to jail.)
  • Civil Society’s Draft : The investigation would be done by an independent Lokpal.

Corruption faced by common citizen

  • Government’s Draft : Every department will declare its citizen charter specifying work to be done, the officer responsible, and time required. However, it doesn’t state what happens in case of dereliction of duty. (Today any work like license, ration card, business permits, etc. in a government department requires the citizen to pay a bribe. Why will the department change from this modus operandi when there are no penalties for non-performance?)
  • Civil Society’s Draft : If the citizen charter is violated, then the Lokpal would penalize the concerned officers, and the penalty would go to the complaint as compensation.

Selection of Lokpal

Government’s Draft :

  • In a ten-member Selection Committee, six are politicians, of which five will be from the ruling party. (This kind of system will increase the probability that a corrupt persons and those favorable to ruling party are finally selected.)
  • Selection process will be decided by Selection Committee.

Civil Society’s Draft :

  • Selection Committee would compromise of two politicians, four judges and head of two independent constitutional authorities.
  • The search committee will compromise of civil society members and retired constitutional authorities.
  • A detailed selection process has been described, which would be transparent and have people’s participation.

Accountability of Lokpal Members

  • Government’s Draft : The member of the Lokpal would be accountable to the government. Only govt. an file a petition in the Supreme Court for their removal.
  • Civil Society’s Draft : The accountability of the Lokpal members would be to the Public. Any citizen can file a petition in the Supreme Court for removal of a corrupt Lokpal member.

Corruption within Lokpal staff

  • Government’s Draft : The member of the Lokpal would be accountable to the government. Only govt. an file a petition in the Supreme Court for their removal.
  • Civil Society’s Draft : The accountability of the Lokpal members would be to the Public. Any citizen can file a petition in the Supreme Court for removal of a corrupt Lokpal member.

Jurisdiction of Lokpal

  • Government’s Draft : Only group ‘A’ officers of the Central Government would come under the jurisdiction of Lokpal, while the lower level officers and the state employees would be left out. (So where would the common citizen go to complaint about corruption in licensing, Panchayat, Schools, Hospitals. Rations, etc.?)
  • Civil Society’s Draft : All the employees of the Central Government will be under Lokpal’s ambit. On similar patterns of Lokpal, Lokayukta will be set up at state level and all the employees od atate government will be under its ambit.

Whistleblower’s Protection

  • Government’s Draft : The CVC is responsible of protecting the whistleblowers. However, the CVC neither has the capacity nor the legal powers required to protect whistleblowers.
  • Civil Society’s Draft : It should be Lokpal’s responsibility to protect the whistleblowers. The Lokpal has been given sufficient powers for the same.

Removal of corrupt officers

  • Government’s Draft : The power to remove officers lies with the minister of that particular department. (Since the minister also gets a cut out of the money that is taken as bribe, corrupt officers are rewarded rather than punished.)
  • Civil Society’s Draft : The decision to remove a corrupt officer lies with a bench of Lokpal members which would hear such cases in public.

Punishment for corruption

  • Government’s Draft : Maximum punishment for corruption in 10 years.
  • Civil Society’s Draft : The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. Officers; senior in rank would attract stiffer punishment.