Will Lokpal be a harbinger of change?

Will Lokpal be a harbinger of change or is it a Jokepal as some went public without reading the changes which had been brought about by the Select Committee of the Parliament.

Will Lokpal be a harbinger of change or is it a Jokepal as some went public without reading the changes which had been brought about by the Select Committee of the Parliament. It was these improvements which Anna Hazare and his associates accepted and welcomed it a right beginning. Getting the Lokpal was an impossible mission made possible by a collective effort of millions, led by Anna Hazare, over the past three years. Akin to an assembly line, some played a pivotal role and others supportive in the passing of Lokpal.

Some initiated it and stayed on, some fought for it but left it after getting frustrated, and some came in between and stayed on till the end. This is one law if Indian Parliament had passed soon after independence, the country would have been world’s largest and most prosperous democracy. It would not have had criminal and corrupt elected on money power collected by abuse of position, enslaving bureaucracy but honest and visionary statesmen of the calibre who led India to freedom from colonial rule. They would have valued what they had inherited, and not destroyed it and made themselves rich and powerful at the cost of the poorest. Country lost trillions since independence belonging to the country’s poor. It was time to end this.

The crusade started with several activists coming together.Undoubtedly Anna had a core team of few to be the face of India against Corruption movement on strategy, organisation and mobilisation etc. Starting January 2011, India against Corruption movement was demanding along with other demands, independence of CBI, India’s premier investigating agency on corruption matters. Since independence it was politically controlled and manipulated. It had lost trust over the years to an extent that a time came when country’s highest court, theSupreme Court of India started to oversee key investigations, latest being the Coalgate. It repeatedly averred it hopes to see a caged parrot (CBI) set free. So what is the Lokpal today as passed by the Parliament? Let’s analyse and see if it is worth it? Will it be able to deliver and punish the high and mighty? Will it send out a larger message of fear and deterrence? Will chances of getting caught and punished and even losing ill-gotten wealth be strong? Will there be a change in the way bureaucrats deliver or the Ministers dispense their discretionary powers with a sense of equity?

Let’s begin with how Lokpal will change the way CBI works? First, appointment of its Director: Earlier it was entirely in the hands of government. Now it shall be by a collegium of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and leader of Opposition. (Hence takes away unilateralism) On Investigation: Whatever matter is entrusted by Lokpal to CBI, the investigating agency will only report the matter to Lokpal. It will have its own prosecution wing and can choose lawyers from the Lokpal approved panel.

(Takes away any interference or influence of the government even in this sphere) On Sanctions: like for instance in the Adarsh Society scam, the Governor of Maharashtra has declined to accord sanctions to CBI to proceed against scam officers. With Lokpal in place no sanction will be needed. Lokpal will proceed on merits of the case. It can order a preliminary enquiry or investigations from CBI or any other agency in the country. The law permits search or seizure of assets if suspected to be from corruption money, according to circumstances of each case. Composition of Lokpal: They shall be appointed by Selection Committee, comprising of PM, LOP, CJI, Speaker and eminent Jurist. This collegium will be supported by a Search Committee. It shall comprise of eight members. 50% from Judiciary and the other four with expertise of law, investigation, finance, vigilance, anti-corruption etc. Also with due representation from SC, ST and women. (Just one Director CBI is now replaced by 8 Independent Members) Expenditure: The government shall provide all such expenditure, which is in the opinion of the Director CBI as it necessary to conduct a fair investigation. (It cuts out all existing red tapes, and makes Director CBI as head of his own organisation. The Prime Minister included: With certain exceptions such as public order, space, defence matters etc. but not the Prime Minister’s Office!

Removal of Lokpal: By the President after a Supreme Court inquiry on a reference from the President on a petition signed by at least 100 MPs. Lokpal Act to be a Model Act for all the States to pass Lokayukts within a year. Many States till now do not have one. Those which have can improve them as much as they want it to be. How do these provisions appear? Are these serious or are these jokes? Should people not have confirmed the provisions before giving misleading statements by terming it as a Jokepal? Lokpal will be like a Supreme Court against Corruption! Message is no public servant should take his duties lightly anymore! Punishment now shall be a certainty! This is just the beginning. More is still to come. Such as Whistle Blower Bill, Citizen Charter and Grievance Redressal etc. India has changed! For ever! Thanks to People Power!

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