Voluntary groups send a model Lokpal bill to PM

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NEW DELHI - A group of voluntary organisations Wednesday sent a model Lokpal Bill to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and asked him to make it a law to plug loopholes in the anti-corruption system in the country.

“The two cornerstones of Indian enforcement infrastructure are the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC). Unfortunately, both have been rendered ineffective due to the way they have been set up,” RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal said the CVC is independent but does not have powers while the CBI has powers but is not independent. As a result, the first cannot punish while the latter cannot investigate fairly.

“There is an urgent need for an effective alternative. The government is purportedly working on a bill to set up such an agency with the name of Lokpal. However, it seeks to make the Lokpal an advisory body without jurisdiction over bureaucracy. These provisions will make the Lokpal ineffective,” he said.

According to voluntary organisations, six features are necessary for effectiveness of the Lokpal — independence from the government; complete jurisdiction over politicians, bureaucrats and judiciary; powers to investigate and prosecute without prior permission; capability of recovering losses from a convicted public servant, protection to whistleblowers; and a transparent, participatory process of appointment of Lokpal which is independent of political interference.

These draft Lokpal Bill has been put together by the activist group with the advice of a number of relevant experts like Justice Santosh Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge and the Lokayukta of Karnataka, former CVC Pratyush Sinha, and eminent Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

“There is no law in the country which provides for recovery of the loss caused to the government due to the corruption of any politician or officer. For the first time, this bill seeks to recover the loss suffered by the government from those who are convicted. Lokpal shall also be responsible for providing protection to whistleblowers,” said former top policewoman Kiran Bedi.

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