It seems very likely that the debate on Lokpal bill is getting close to the finish line.
The bone of contention between the protagonists and the antagonists of the bill is not the bill itself but the provisions in it which would act as a deterrent to stop corruption and if the deterrent is not strong enough for some with malafide intent, the concerned people who committed the financial crimes would be arrested and sent to jail. There is also a debate on the inclusion of certain offices in the bill.
We can say that the movement to fight against corruption in India got a formal launch when Anna Hazare started his fast at Jantar Mantar. The level of frustration among the public was so high because of all the scams (2G, CWG etc) that the fast catapulted into a massive public outcry and thousands came out in support of Anna Hazare. It is not that the public came out in his support because of his leadership or oratory skills, it simply happened because of the message. The average Indian supported the message and by default, also the messenger.
As it normally happens in politics, more debates and discussions and less work is taking place. Abhishek Singhvi, the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill came out with some recommendations which is not acceptable to Team Anna. The areas of dispute are the inclusion of the Prime Minister's office, CBI, lower bureaucracy, citizens's charter etc. Citizen's Charter of an organisation is to improve the quality of public services. This is done by letting people know the mandate of the concerned Ministry/ Department/ Organisation, how one can get in touch with its officials, what to expect by way of services and how to seek a remedy if something goes wrong. The Citizen's Charter does not by itself create new legal rights, but it surely helps in enforcing existing rights.
The discussion and negotiation between the government and Team Anna is going on for a very long time without any concrete results. It is so tragic that the country is demanding a simple law on how to stop corruption and put the guilty in jail but the government is unable to provide a solution. The Indian public is questioning that is it paradoxical to ask a gang of thieves to come up with deterrents to stop the crime? I feel that the only person who is serious from the government side to have a very strong lokpal is our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Unfortunately, he is as timid as he is honest. It is not a secret that his fate is also controlled by a remote control. Even though he might be very frustrated, he always presents an image of a happy player who is playing under a foreign coach. There is a reason for this public outcry. Most of the people associated with the government have given us reasons for it. How is it possible that people associated with the government experience an exponential growth in their financial well-being while the average public is struggling even for a linear growth? These people and the government agencies have given us more than enough reasons to suspect their sincerity.
The government is going to discuss the provisions in the lokpal bill either on Sunday or Monday.
NDTV has exclusive information about the contours of the Lokpal Bill that will be brought to the cabinet. Some of its key features are:
'¢ The Prime Minister will be under Lokpal but with certain safeguards
'¢ The PM can be referred for a preliminary probe if three-fourth of all Lokpal members agree
'¢ The proceedings will be in camera, and the report will have to be sent to the Parliament
'¢ On the issue of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the agency will report to the Lokpal only on cases referred to it by the ombudsman
'¢ The CBI chief's appointment remains an outstanding issue and will be dealt with later, though in principle, the government agrees on a selection panel comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, the Lok Sabha speaker and the Lokpal chairman
'¢ On the issue of the removal of the Lokpal, the government doesn't favour an impeachment
'¢ The removal of the Lokpal can be done through a reference of the President
'¢ If 100 MPs sign a petition against any Lokpal member, the President has to refer the complaint to the Supreme Court
I have written several articles on corruption and the movement against corruption and I am also giving the links to some of them. I feel that the lokpal bill should cover everything except the judges of the Supreme Court. The Indian public has the utmost faith in the highest judicial branch of the country. They have, time and again, showed their prudence on a lot of issues and imparted the level of confidence which the public feels is needed for the proper functioning of our democracy. The modalities of the provisions can be worked out but everyone, except the Supreme Court judges, should be under the lokpal. The government had given an assurance that the lokpal bill would be passed by December 23, the last day of the winter session of parliament. Anna Hazare has even said that if it is not passed in this session, he would go on fast and also start the jail bharo agitation. Team Anna should make sure that they agree with the government provisions only if it is in the interests of the people. I very strongly feel that anyone opposing the bill should be deemed a person of being not loyal to the country. In a landmark legislation aimed at combating corruption in public life, the Bihar state assembly on December 7, 2011 passed by voice vote the Bihar Lokayukta Bill, 2011, for constitution of a strong and effective Lokayukta in the state bringing within its ambit the office of the chief minister, ministers and officials down to the lowest rung. The same kind of bill should be replicated at the national level.
LINK to some articles