FINALLY, THE JAN LOKPAL BILL GETS THE NOD

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The Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill, is an anti-corruption bill drafted and drawn up by civil society activists in India seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body to investigate corruption cases. The Rajya Sabha passed the Lokpal Bill on 17th December 2013 and the Lok Sabha passed the Bill on 18th December 2013.

The Jan Lokpal Bill aims to effectively deter corruption, compensate citizen grievances, and protect whistle-blowers (a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization). The prefix Jan signifies that these improvements include inputs provided by ‘ordinary citizens’ through an activist-driven, non-governmental public consultation.

The Jan Lokpal Bill was amended several times including the above picture given since its introduction in the Parliament in 2011.

Some important features of the proposed bill are:-

  1. To establish a central government anti-corruption institution called Lokpal, supported by Lokayukta at the state level.
  2. As is the case with the Supreme Court of India and Cabinet Secretariat, the Lokpal will be supervised by the Cabinet Secretary and the Election Commission. As a result, it will be completely independent of the government and free from ministerial influence in its investigations.
  3. Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.
  4. A selection committee will invite short-listed candidates for interviews, the video recordings of which will thereafter be made public.
  5. Every month on its website, the Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed. It will also publish lists of all cases received by the Lokayukta during the previous month, cases dealt with and those which are pending.
  6. Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. Any resulting trials should be concluded in the following year, giving a total maximum process time of two years.
  7. Losses to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.
  8. Government office-work required by a citizen that is not completed within a prescribed time period will result in Lokpal imposing financial penalties on those responsible, which will then be given as compensation to the complainant.
  9. Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within one month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.
  10. The existing anti-corruption agencies, departmental vigilance and the anti-corruption branch will be merged into Lokpal which will have complete power authority to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
  11. Whistle-blowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases will also be provided with protection by it.

Here is a map of the world showing less corrupt and highly corrupted countries:-

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By 2025, the UN report says that India will reduce their corruption level significantly and will join other advanced countries like USA, Canada, Australia, UK, South Korea and New Zealand.

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