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LOKPAL BILL A Drama Unfold

Written By Winston Bensford on Monday, March 19, 2012 | 9:54 PM

LOKPAL BILL A Drama Unfold

Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha – and the CJI or a judge of the SupremeCourtnominated by theCJI, andoneeminent juristnominated by the President. Had the government accepted the Standing Committee's recommendation, it could have dented somewhat the opposition's criticism. Though the Bill kept the CBIwith the government, it allowed the Lokpal to have its own anti-corruption investigative body. It eliminated the need to get prior sanction for investigationfromthe government. It provided for the confiscation of the assets of corrupt public servants and the recovery of losses caused by their acts of corruption from them. But it created a terribly cumbersome procedure
for investigation, by which a preliminary inquiry and hearing of the corruptpublic servantweremade
compulsory before investigation could begin. This ended the possibility of making surprise raids and
seizures on the premises of corrupt public servants or their abettors. The Bill of August provided that the
Lokpal would have its own investigation and prosecution wings. The Standing Committee, however,
sought to dilute this by recommending instead that the Lokpal conduct a preliminary inquiry, afterwhich the
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would investigate. Also, the CBI would have autonomy over its
investigation. The committee also proposed that the Lokpal will have a supervisory
role over the CBI in cases relating to Group A and B officers. The Bill of December further diluted these
recommendations. The Lokpal, it says, shall refer a preliminary inquiry against Group A, B, C and D
employees to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The Bill further says that after conducting the inquiry, the CVC shall submit a report to the Lokpal in the case of Group A and B employees and proceed according to specified procedure in the case of Group C and D staff. The CVC, according to the current Bill, shall send periodic reports to the Lokpal on its cases. The Rajya Sabhawitnessed a sordid
drama. Several parties which had walked out in the Lok Sabha (the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan
Samaj Party) or had not moved any amendments there (the Trinamool
Congress) moved amendments in
the Rajya Sabha and their representatives
delivered fiery speeches opposing
the provisions of the Bill.
When it became clear that at least
three of the amendments (those relating
to the selection and removal
of Lokpal members, the CBI being
brought under the administrative
control of the Lokpal, and the deletion
of the chapter on Lokayuktas in
the States) were likely to be passed,
the government engineered disturbances
in the House, resorted to filibustering
and prevented the amendments
from being voted upon. And
the House was prorogued with the
Bill hanging in the air.The drama in
the Rajya Sabha showed that the
government was not evenwilling to
go by the will of Parliament. This
gives rise to fundamental questions
about the functioning of Indian democracy.
The Bill adds that if a prima facie
case exists against a public servant,
the Lokpalmay refer it to the CBI for
investigation. Also, it may refer a
case for preliminary inquiry to the
CBI (other than Group A, B, C and D
officers). The Bill also provides that
the Lokpal shall exercise general
superintendence over the CBI (similar
to the CVC's supervision currently).
These additional dilutions in
the later Bill, according to critics,
reduce the Lokpal to just a post office.
The committee recommended that
the Lokpal conduct only the preliminary
inquiry andthat it be authorised
to initiate it suomotu. In such cases,
the inquiry would have to be done
by a five-member Lokpal Bench that
is not connected with the suomotu
initiation. More important, the accusedwould
not get an opportunity
to be heard at this stage, though the
Billof August allowed that. The later
Bill rejects both these recommendations
and sticks to the August version,
which provided that the Lokpal
could initiate an inquiry only on the
basis of a complaint by a citizen. The
only concession the Billmakes is that
the Lokpal shall have its own inquiry
wing to conduct a preliminary inquiry
on a complaint it has received
and has decided can be inquired
into.
Under Article 252 or 253
Some parties questioned that lokpal
bill should be brought under article
253 & not under article 252.
Article 252: Article 252. Power of
Parliament to legislate for two or
more States by consent and adoption
of such legislation by any other
State
(1) If it appears to the Legislatures
of two or more States to be desirable
that any of the matters with
respect to which Parliament has no
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power to make laws for the States
except as provided in Articles 249
and 250 should be regulated in such
States by Parliament by law, and if
resolutions to that effect are passed
by all the House of the Legislatures
of those States, it shall be lawful for
Parliament to pass an Act for regulating
that matter accordingly, and
any Act so passed shall apply to
such States and to any other State
bywhich it is adopted afterwards by
resolution passed in that behalf by
the House or, where there are two
Houses, by each of the Houses of
the Legislature of that State.
(2) Any Act so passed by Parliament
may be amended or repealed by an
Act of Parliament passed or adopted
in like manner but shall not, as respects
any State to which it applies,
be amended or repealed by an Act
of the Legislature of that State
Article 253: Article 253. Legislation
for giving effect to international
agreements Notwithstanding anything
in the foregoing provisions of
this Chapter, Parliament has power
tomake any lawfor thewhole or any
part of the territory of India for
implementing any treaty, agreement
or convention with any other country
or countries or any decisionmade
at any international conference, association
or other body.
Relation between Union and States
The relation between Union and
States is the very bedrock of the Indian
Federal system. India is a federal
State with a national government
and a government of each constituent
state.Although the structure
of India is federal in a general way,
yet there are certain aspects that are
unique to federalism as practiced in
India. The Indian government follows
a strong central bias.
Some of the special features of India
are as follows:
Agreement between the States: If
two states agree that the Parliament
can legally make laws with respect
to the two states, then the Parliament
can make laws relating to any
lawor set of laws related to the State
Laws. This is an extension of the Parliamentary
legislative as laid down
by the Article 252 of the Indian Constitution.
Implementation of Treaties: The
Parliament makes laws for the
implementation of treaties, even if
the subject falls under the legislative
power of the State, for the bigger
international interest of the
country. This power has been given
to the Union by the Article 253.
Suggested Amendments: Team
Anna hadsuggested 34amendments
to rectify the government's Bill, and
pointed out that four of these were
critical to making the Lokpal aworkable
institution. Thesewere that the
selection and removal procedure
should be made independent of the
government; the CBI should be
brought under the Lokpal's administrative
control or, alternatively, the
Lokpal should have its own investigative
body; all government servants
should be brought under the
Lokpal's investigative ambit; and the
procedure for investigation should
be in line with the normal criminal
investigation procedure. But the government
was adamant in not accepting
any of these either, and
went on to bulldoze the passage of
its Bill. It rejected all the amendments
moved by the Opposition in
the Lower House.
Notices for 187 Amendments
in Rajya Sabha
Notice had been given for as many
as 187 amendments to the Lokpal
and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 including
from the Trinamool Congress for
deletion of the entire Part III of the
Bill regarding establishment of the
Lokayuktas. The Biju Janata Dal and
the Shiromani AkaliDal too had given
similar notices. By afternoon, the
Rajya Sabha had received 173
amendment notices. The number
swelled to 187 by evening as announced
by theMinister of State for
Personnel V. Narayanasamy. Normally
notices are taken 24 hours in
advance but on Thursday, notices
were acceptedtill late evening,while
the government took the stand inthe
House that there were too many
amendmentswhich “needed consideration.”
Amongmajoramendmentswere the
ones given by the Bharatiya Janata
Party for deletion ofwords “not less
than” 50 per cent of members of
Lokpal belonging to Scheduled
Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other
Backward Classes, Minorities and
Women in Clause 3. They also asked
for deletion of the word ‘Minorities'
in Clause 3 and inclusion of Leader
of Opposition in Rajya Sabha on Selection
Committee in Clause 4. They
also wanted Lokpal to appoint his
secretary and not select from a
panel given by the government.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist)
gave amendment for replacement
of eminent jurist on the Selection
Committee with “an eminent
person to be nominated by the Chief
Election Commissioner, Comptroller
andAuditorGeneral andUnion Pub6
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lic Service Commission. They also
wanted the Inquiry Wing under the
Lokpal to be replaced by “InvestigationWing”
with the Central government
providing officers and staff
under exclusive jurisdiction of the
Lokpal as decided in consultation
with the Lokpal. The Party gave another
amendment for inclusion under
the Lokpal of “any corporate
body, its promoters, its officers includingDirector
againstwhomthere
is a complaint of corruption in relation
to grant of government licence,
lease, contract, agreement or any
other action to influence government
policy through corruptmeans.”
They wanted Lokpal to take suo
motu action in a compliant of corruption.
Other Angle
Passing of “Lokpal” Bill seems quite
an impossible task,because every
party to it has its interest.The UPA
government summarily “checkmated”
the social activists and
drove them into existential crisis
while simultaneously reducing the
Lokpal bill to a maere a game tool.
At the moment, the activists will be
happier with the “no bill at all” than
the current version of the bill tabled
by the government. None of the political
parties wants the Lokpal bill.
Even if individual politicians want it,
they can’t do a thing about it because
their “High Command” does
not want it. But the country’s future
is at stake. The politicians are out
to maintain the status-quo in order
to protect their corruptpractices and
ill-gotten wealth. But Team Anna
has accepted thismission and is not
going to relent until their goals are
met. Team Anna rallied the masses
and raised hopes of a utopian tomorrow
- one with a clean and independent
CBI under an incorruptible
Lokpal. But after an entire year of
wranglingwith the government.
Meanwhile, the elections in UP are
round the corner, and the Congress
has been expanding its reach with
some crafty electoral mathematics,
a specialization offered at the
Allahabad University. Ajit Singh is
already in the bag. He was traded
the lucrative civil aviation ministry
in return for joining the Congress
electoral alliance inUP. Likewise, the
Railway Ministry is being “dangled”
in front of Mulayam Singh Yadav of
the SP. Doingwell in the UP elections
will surely serve as a shot in the arm
for the Congress. First, it might
cause a mental breakdown for
Mayawati, especially after the election
commission decided to cover
her statues across the state. Secondly,
it sets the stage for Rahul
Gandhi’s coronation as the PM. Besides,
it will also give the Congress
greater leverage against Didi.
On the other side of this pitched
battle is the opportunistic BJP,which
recently threw open its gates for
Mayawati discards inUP. In contrast,
the same BJP passed a strong
Lokayutkha bill in Uttarkhand. The
BJP’s goal is simple - stall the bill,
harp on the government’s incompetence,
and cash in on the general discontent
in the country, in hope of
riding an anti-corruptionwave to get
back in power. The battle lines are
drawn. On one side is the Congress
party and its fickle, calculative allies.
The leading trouble-maker
among the allies is the TMC. The
Congress needs her now and she
knows that. Her primary long-term
goal is to put the CPI(M) out of business
in W. Bengal. But at present,
everything she does is to extract the
maximumfromthe Congress.
Conclusion
India’s politicians again stand discredited
in the eyes of people, who
are asking questions to which the
politicians, both the ruling party and
the opposition, do not have an answer.
Ifwe truly want to make India
corruption free we need to look at
the newgeneration. Yes the government
can help — first by cleaning
up their administration and then by
punishing corrupt people so severely
that punishment becomes a deterrent
to corruption. The government
can support and reward honesty —
reward people who pay taxes instead
of harassing them and go after
the peoplewho do not pay taxes
and yet lead opulent lives. Rewarding
honesty and penalising dishonesty
will create an ecosystem that
supports a life of integrity. Let the
honest man be privileged and acknowledged
so that people aspire to
be honest.
We need to target schools and colleges;
motivate the youngsters to
take charge so that they can start
changing theworld aroundthem.We
have to stop paying the cop for traffic
offences, and we have to have
the will to fight each time a bribe is
asked of us. The people of India need
the media now — the media that
catapulted the movement to fame
needs to open an action line where
every act of corruption can be reported
and exposed. Because this
battle can be won, this change can
be made and we do not need regulation
to do so.
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