Anna Hazare, is a social activist who is especially recognized for his contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India and his efforts for establishing it as a model village, by irradicating alcoholism from the village and motivating the villagers to do ‘shramdhan’ to solve the water scarcity problem, for which he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by Government of India, in 1992.
He had also led a movement in Maharastra state, which forced the Government of Maharashtra to repeal the earlier weak act and pass a more stronger Right to Information Act, which was later considered as the base document for the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI).
Why has he did “Fast Unto Death”?
To exert pressure on the Government of India to enact a strong anti-corruption act as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, a law that will establish a Lokpal (ombudsman) that will have the power to deal with corruption in public offices.
The demand is to implement the Jan Lokpal Bill in place of the proposed Lokpal Bill drafted by the government and pending for last 42 years.
What is Lokpal Bill?
The word Lokpal means an ombudsman in India. An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests.
The Lokpal Bill provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister, other ministers, and MPs with the ombudsman.
The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in Rajya Sabha, subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, yet they were never passed and its still pending.
What is Jan Lokpal Bill?
In India, the Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill that would pave the way for a Jan Lokpal, an independent body like the Election Commission, which would have the power to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.
The Lokpal Bill drafted by the government has languished in the Rajya Sabha for 42 years. The bill has been drafted by Shanti Bhushan, former IPS Kiran Bedi, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, renowned advocate Prashant Bhushan, former chief election commissioner J. M. Lyngdoh in consultation with the leaders of the India Against Corruption movement and the civil society. The bill proposes institution of the office of Lokpal (Ombudsman) at center and Lok Ayukta at state level. Jan Lokpal Bill is designed to create an effective anti-corruption and grievance redressal systems at centre and to assure that effective deterrent is created against corruption and to provide effective protection to whistleblowers.
“Lokpal” Vs “Jan Lokpal”
|Lokpal Bill||Jan Lokpal Bill
|Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by LS Speaker or RS Chairman.||Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
|Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body. Its part is only limited to forwarding its report to the “Competent Authority”.||Lokpal will be much more than an Advisory Body. It should be granted powers to initiate Prosecution against anyone found guilty.
|Lokpal will not have any police powers. It can not register FIRs or proceed with criminal investigations.||Lokpal will have police powers. To say that it will be able to register FIRs.
|CBI and Lokpal will have no connection with each other.||Lokpal and anti corruption wing of CBI will be one Independent body.
|Punishment for corruption will be minimum 6 months and maximum up-to 7 years.||The punishment should be minimum 5 years and maximum up-to life imprisonment.
|Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area|
Outcome of “Fast Unto Death” movement ?
The central government issued a gazette notification constituting a joint committee headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to draft an anti-graft Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill.
Excerpts from the notification:
“Government of India here by constitutes a joint drafting committee to prepare a draft of the Lokpal Bill . The joint drafting committee will consist of five nominee ministers of the Government of India and five nominees of Anna Hazare , including himself. The five Ministers are Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily , Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed. The five civil society members are Anna Hazare, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan , senior advocate, Prashant Bhushan, advocate and Arvind Kejriwal of Parivartan. The chairperson of the committee is Pranab Mukherjee and co-chairperson Shanti Bhushan, convener Veerappa Moily. The joint drafting committee will commence its work forthwith and involve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation. The joint drafting committee shall complete its work latest by June 30.”
The gazette notification has been signed by V.K. Bhasin, secretary of the legislative department of the law ministry.
Jai Hind !!!