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LOKPAL BILL

The Lokpal is a proposed body to be enacted as a law by Parliament, which will be headed by a chairperson who is or was a Chief Justice of India and eight other members. The Lokpal Bill, an effort to rein in the pervasive corruption in public life, was first mooted in the late 60s, However, it failed to become law despite successive attempts. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries. It provides for filing complaints of corruption against ministers and members of parliament with the ombudsman. The government's Lokpal Bill has kept the Prime Minister and the judiciary as well as conduct of MPs in Parliament out of the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog. The PM, however, will come under the purview of Lokpal after he demits office. The bill gives permission to Lokpal to probe any Union minister or officials of Group 'A' and above rank without any sanction. According to the government's draft, the body will have a chairperson and eight members, including four judicial members - who will be former or sitting judges of Supreme Court or chief justices of the high court. The Lok Ayuktas in the states does not come under the purview of this bill as the Centre cannot intervene in the powers of the state. The Lokpal will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions. What is Anna Hazare and civil society's proposed Jan Lokpal Bill for which they are fighting for? The Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the citizens' ombudsman bill, is intended as a more effective improvement to the original Lokpal Bill that is currently being proposed by the the government. The prefix 'Jan' (citizens) has been added to highlight the fact that these improvements include inputs from ordinary citizens through an activist-driven, non-governmental public consultation. The arguments given in favour of the Jan Lokpal Bill is that if made into a law, it will create an independent ombudsman body outside government control that will have the power to register and investigate complaints against politicians and public servants without the need to get a prior approval from the government. The proponents of Jan Lokpal Bill believe that it will effectively redress citizen's grievances, protect whistle-blowers and more importantly, deter corruption. The Lokpal will be a three-member body with a chairperson who is or was a chief justice or Supreme Court judge, and two members who are or have been high courts judges or chief justices. Implementation of the Lokpal bill will hopefully reduce corruption in India. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries. It provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister , other ministers and

members of parliament with the ombudsman. Anyone, except for a public servant , can file a complaint and the Lokpal has to complete the inquiry within six months. For 42 years, governments have tried to put in place the law. The bill was for the first time presented during the fourth Lok Sabha in 1968, and was passed there in 1969. However, the Lok Sabha was dissolved , resulting in the first death of the bill. It was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008. In September 2004, prime minister Manmohan Singh said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government would lose no time in enacting the bill. But strong lobbies blocked it. The Lokpal Bill, 2010, awaits an okay from a select committee. Former chief justice of the Delhi high court and rights activist Rajinder Sachar feels the bill is "shamefully toothless and meant to give a false reassurance to the people that the government is serious in its fight against corruption" . But former chief justice of India M N Venkatachelliah feels the PM must be out of its purview.