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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jan Lokpal – Know the facts about the differences…

In India, anybody can misinterpret any subject and take a billion people for a grand royal ride!

In the pursuit of knowing facts, we keep exploring the unexplored and get hold of some vital information to support an unbiased thought process. As discussed in the media, there are six major differences between the Government representatives and the civil society members, apart from the much larger structural issues. Let’s go through the facts of both the drafts as follows….

(The proposal by Anna Hazare group (The Civil Society Members) is referred as 'Jan Lokpal' and proposal by Government body is referred as 'Govt. Lokpal' hereunder…)

Issue – 1:

Jan Lokpal: All the representatives including the Prime Minister and the Judiciary should come under the jurisdiction of Lokpal and a seven member panel should conduct investigation in complaints against such senior offices.

Govt. Lokpal: Prime Minister and Judiciary cannot be investigated by Lokpal. Though there is an agreement that the MPs can be brought under Lokpal’s jurisdiction, the debate is that being the members of the House of Representatives, they get a constitutional protection against such investigations by an outside agency like Lokpal.

Note: These protections have caused several roadblocks in prosecuting many of our politicians in the history of independent India. It is high time to remove such privileges to effectively execute the law of the country with equal opportunity and impartiality.

Issue – 2:

Jan Lokpal: The Lokpal selection committee will include…

1)   The Prime Minister (Chairman)
2)   The Opposition Leader – Loksabha
3)   Two Supreme Court Judges
4)   Two Chief Justices of High Court referred by Supreme Court
5)   Chief Election Commissioner
6)   Comptroller and Auditor General
7)   Former Lokpal Chairmen

Govt. Lokpal: The Lokpal selection committee will include…

1)   The Prime Minister (Chairman)
2)   The Opposition Leaders (Loksabha & Rajyasabha)
3)   The member of a house, where the Prime Minister is not the leader
4)   The Home Minister
5)   A high Court Judge
6)   A Chief Justice of High Court nominated by the Chief Justice of India
7)   A Cabinet Secretary
8)   The President of National Science Academy

Note: The difference of opinion is about too many Govt. representatives in the Govt. proposed panel as it will influence/ bias the decisions of the panel, which may eventually lose its impartial stature.

Issue – 3:

Jan Lokpal: A 10 member search committee under the selection panel to be constituted to shortlist the candidates for becoming Lokpal members, which will then be presented before the Selection Panel, so that the efficiency and the selection process will be adhered within the stipulated time lines.

Five members in this society should be recognized social activists and eminent people from the society and other five members should be from former Chief Justices, former Chief Election Commissioners, former CAGs, etc.

Govt. Lokpal: Govt. does not think that this search committee is inevitable. However, after multiple discussions with civil society members, Govt. took a stand that it may be constituted if necessary.

Note: This committee is one of the essential requirements as the Lokpal selection process is not going to be easy. This committee can keep shortlisting the candidates without diluting/ shortcutting the process by adhering to the inbuilt check points and audits.

Issue – 4:

Jan Lokpal: The broad outline of the selection process should be as follows…

Thrice the number of required candidates for the Lokpal should be shortlisted by the search committee on time with maximum consensus. The Selection Panel shall select the final list from this list with maximum consensus and if three Selection Panel members disagree on the selection of a particular candidate, then he/ she stands rejected.

Govt. Lokpal: The selection process should be completely formulated by the Selection Panel. However, the process should be transparent.

Note: For any committee to start with, there should be a broad outline of the process and any amendments can be brought in after discussion as it evolves.

Issue – 5:

Jan Lokpal: The Anti – Corruption wing of CBI shall be merged into Lokpal and shall further function as investigating agency under Lokpal and as this division gets transferred, Government will cease to have any influence on this division thereafter.

Govt. Lokpal: Govt. does not agree on the merger of CBI division.

Note: When Lokpal is formed as a separate agency to handle all the corruption related issues, then there is no relevance of ‘Anti – Corruption Division’ under CBI at all.

Issue – 6:

Jan Lokpal: Provision to be made for protection of the people who were forced to give bribe in certain cases and protection for people who exposes corruption.

Govt. Lokpal: There are no such provisions.

Note: It is obvious that there should be protection for people who are victimized and for those who volunteer to expose corruption. These kinds of provisions are already there in various other segments under various investigating agencies and we should follow the same standard process here as well.

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