November 29, 2011

What's there in Government's Lokpal Draft?

The Government’s Lokpal draft is a document to uphold almost the same status quo regarding retaining of power in the administration. The draft will bring only minimal changes to restrain corruption.

According to the draft Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo motu action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. It means the ombudsman will need to stand still even if it comes across with incidence of corruption.

Secondly, Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body with a role limited to forwarding reports to a "Competent Authority". But we should take notice of the fact that because the competent authorities have failed to provide proper actions, the concept of Jan Lokpal has come.

Thirdly, Lokpal will have no police powers and no ability to register an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations.  In other words the draft wants to say – be a silent spectator to the ever increasing crimes and police harassment (through inaction) in the country.

Fourthly, The CBI and Lokpal will be unconnected. This point can be accepted to provide a better ambiance to the CBI to investigate in its own style. But still it is a hope that involvement of Jan Lokpal can add to reach the truth limiting corruption in the Bureau.

Fifthly, all state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities be taken over by the centralized Lokpal. But, practically, the very objective of bringing the ombudsman will not be achieved by limiting the power only to the central body.

Next, it grants no protection to the whistleblowers by Lokpal. We have already witnessed the lethal consequences the RTI activists have seen till date. In this context, is it secured to cease protection to the whistleblowers?

These vast loopholes in the Government’s Lokpal draft will limit the proposed Power of the citizens’ ombudsman’s bill and the goal of the notion will not be attained.

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