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Lokpal Bill: Social activists vs government

Wednesday April 06, 2011 05:12:28 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Veteran social activist Anna Hazare is on a fast-unto-death at the Jantar Mantar here to press the government to involve the civil society in drafting the anti-graft Lokpal Bill. The activists have come up with an alternative bill which aims to give more teeth to the proposed legislation. Here is the comparison between the two versions.

1. Government view: The Lokpal has been proposed to be an advisory body which after enquiry in any case will forward its report to the competent authority for further action.

Activists' view: The Lokpal will have the powers to initiate prosecution against anyone after completion of investigations in any case. It will also have powers to order disciplinary proceedings against any government servant.

2. Government view: The Lokpal will not have any power to either initiate action suo motu in any case or even receive complaints of corruption from general public. The complaints can be made to the speaker of the Lok Sabha or the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha. Only those complaints forwarded by them to the Lokpal will be investigated.

Activists' view: The Lokpal will have powers to initiate investigations suo moto in any case and also to directly get complaints from the public.

3. Government view: The Lokpal has not been given police powers. Therefore, it cannot register a first information report (FIR).

Activists' view: The Lokpal will have police powers. It will be able to register FIRs, proceed with criminal investigations and launch prosecution.

4. Government view: The bill is unclear on the CBI's role.

Activists' view: The CBI's department that deals with cases of corruption, will be merged into Lokpal so that there is one effective and independent body against corruption.

5. Government view: If any complaint is found to be false and frivolous, the Lokpal will have the power to send the complainant to jail.

Activists' view: Deterrence has been provided against frivolous complaints in the form of financial penalties against the complainant.

6. Government version: The Lokpal will have jurisdiction only on MPs, ministers and the prime minister. It will not have jurisdiction over officers.

Activists' view: The Lokpal will have jurisdiction over politicians, officials and judges. The Central Vigilance Ccommission and the entire vigilance machinery of the government will be merged into the Lokpal.

7. Government view: The Lokpal will not have powers to investigate any case against the prime miister, on deals in foreign affairs, security and defence.

Activists' view: There is no such bar on the Lokpal's powers.

8. Government view: Punishment for corruption is a minimum six months and the maximum seven years, as it exists at present.

Activists' view: The punishment would be a minimum of five years and the maximum of life imprisonment.

The alternative Jan Lokpal Bill has been drafted by RTI activist Aravind kejriwal, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

The comparison is from India Against Corruption, the banner under which the activists have come together to improve the proposed legislation.



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