What is Jan Lokpal Bill

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.

Jan Lokpal Bill 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.

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. The Lokpal Bill, 2010, awaits an okay from a select committee.

What is Jan Lokpal Bill

The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.

Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.

Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and other known people like Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna Hazare and Mallika Sarabhai are also part of the movement, called India Against Corruption.

Salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill

  • An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up
  • Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
  • Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
  • The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  • How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
  • So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
  • But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
  • What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
  • What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
  • It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

Read more at: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/what-is-the-jan-lokpal-bill-why-its-important-96600&cp

Freedom Park witnessed a groundswell of support for social activist Anna Hazare

According to the state government’s order in January 2009, which was signed by under secretary, S N Krishna Kumar, the budget allotted for the development of Freedom Park was Rs 10.32 crore. The order clearly stated that any escalation in costs would not be taken into consideration and would be borne entirely by the developer. Yet, according to information obtained under the Right to Information Act, the BBMP cleared bills worth Rs 18.26 crore for the development of the park!

“The original budget for the project was about Rs 7.29 crore which was further revised and reconsidered. The original budget order (NAE/192/MNY/2005) in 2006 and the revised order in 2007 decided the budget would stand at Rs 7.29 crore. But the BBMP commissioner wrote a letter (EE (P.C-1)/PR/48/07-08) asking for another revision of the budget, given cost escalations due to delays. Finally, the Urban Development Department, which had had enough, called for a meeting and passed an order (NAE 506/MNY2007) in 2007 stating that the cost should not exceed Rs 10.32 crore. The bill would be entirely footed by the BBMP and any further escalation in costs would be null and void,” officials in the accounts department say.

Yet, the BBMP generously gave away more than Rs 8 crore of taxpayers’ money in excess for the project. According to information obtained under RTI, Rs 10.25 crore was spent only on development of the park. Another Rs 8 crore was spent on pathways, a children’s play area, the flooring for the people’s court, tree lighting, planting of Mexican grass, erecting a link fence and on the interiors of the theatre.

The project was spearheaded by K Gopal Swamy, the former engineer-inchief, but cost overruns have left officials in his own department flabbergasted. “I don’t understand how almost Rs 50 lakh has been spent on lighting trees in the park!” a senior official in the department said. M Ashok Kumar, the chief accounts officer, BBMP, was inaccessible on phone nor could he be reached in person despite several efforts to contact him.

Incongruously, Hazare is expected to address thousands of the city’s citizenry at the park during his two-day visit starting Friday.

Bangalore Mirror