Tag Archives: lokpal bill

Who Anna Hazare? What Jan Lokpal Bill?

Coming to my own blog after a very long time. Must admit have been very busy and when not busy, then lazy.  But today I had to leave all work and laziness aside because the cause I wanted to write about and support by writing about, is very close to me.  It’s about this man called Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal bill. I must also admit that I am writing this post from the comfort of my home with a stomach full of food. I am not fasting nor am I sitting in the April Sun in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. That way I am an armchair activist (like so many others) but I wanted to write about this and contribute in whatever way possible.

Who is Anna Hazare?

Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare or Anna Hazare, is a social activist and a social worker. He used to work as a driver in the Indian Army and has been greatly influenced by Swami Vivekanada, Ghandiji and Acharya Vinobha Bhave.  He is especially recognized for his contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra.

After voluntary retirement from the army, Hazare came to Ralegan Siddhi village in 1975. Initially, he led a movement to eradicate alcoholism from the village. Next, he motivated the residents of the village intoshramdan (voluntary labour) to build canals, small-scale check-dams and percolation tanks in the nearby hills for watershed development; efforts that solved the problem of scarcity of water in the village that also made irrigation possible. He helped farmers of more than 70 villages in drought-prone region in the state of Maharashtra since 1975. He also motivated the residents of the village to build a secondary school in the village through voluntary labour.

Below is the Wikipedia based information on the entire anti corruption crusade started by Anna.

Lokpal Bill movement

In 2011, Anna Hazare led a movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament. As a part of this movement, N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the India Against Corruption movement drafted an alternate bill, named as the Jan Lokpal Bill (People’s Ombudsman Bill) with more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman). Hazare has started a fast up to death from 5 April 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, to press for the demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a new bill with more stronger penal actions and more independenceto the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Ombudsmen in the states), after his demand was rejected by the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh.

The movement attracted attention very quickly through various media. It has been reported that thousands of people joined to support Hazare’s effort. Almost 150 people are reported to join Hazare in his fast. He said that he   would not allow any politician to sit with him in this movement. Many social activists including Medha Patkar,Arvind Kejriwal and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi have lent their support to Hazare’s hunger strike and anti-corruption campaign. This movement has also been joined by many people providing their support in Internet social media such as twitter and facebook. In addition to spiritual leaders Swami Ramdev,Swami Agnivesh and former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev,  many bollywood celebrities like Shekhar Kapur, Siddharth Narayan, Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar, Pritish Nandy, Priyanka Chopra, Prakash Raj,Aamir Khan, Chetan Bhagat showed their public support through twitter. As an outcome of this movement, on 6 April, 2011 Sharad Pawar resigned from the group of ministers formed for reviewing the draft Lokpal bill 2010.

Anna Hazare started his “Fast until Death” at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, stating “I will fast until Jan Lokpal Bill is passed”

The movement gathered quite a significant amount of support from India’s youth visible through the local support and on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Background of the movement

The movement started due to the resentment because of the serious differences between the draft Lokpal Bill 2010 prepared by the government and the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by the members of this movement, which has received significant public support:

Draft Lokpal Bill 2010

  1. Lokpal will have no power to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public. It can only probe complaints forwarded by LS Speaker or RS Chairman.
  2. Lokpal will only be an Advisory Body. Its part is only limited to forwarding its report to the “Competent Authority”
  3. Lokpal will not have any police powers. It can not register FIRs or proceed with criminal investigations.
  4. CBI and Lokpal will have no connection with each other.
  5. Punishment for corruption will be minimum 6 months and maximum up-to 7 years.
  6. Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
  7. Lokpal will be much more than an Advisory Body. It should be granted powers to initiate Prosecution against anyone found guilty.
  8. Lokpal will have police powers. To say that it will be able to register FIRs.
  9. Lokpal and anti corruption wing of CBI will be one Independent body.
  10. The punishment should be minimum 5 years and maximum up-to life imprisonment.
  11. Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area

Jan Lokpal Bill

  1. Lokpal will have powers to initiate suo moto action or receive complaints of corruption from the general public.
  2. Lokpal will be much more than an Advisory Body. It should be granted powers to initiate Prosecution against anyone found guilty.
  3. Lokpal will have police powers. To say that it will be able to register FIRs.
  4. Lokpal and anti corruption wing of CBI will be one Independent body.
  5. The punishment should be minimum 5 years and maximum up-to life imprisonment.
  6. Lokpal will not be a monopoly for particular area

Now the question arises, why Jan Lokpal bill is so important.

Source: http://indiaagainstcorruption.org/

Jan Lokpal, an independent body  that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.

Drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist), the draft Bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.

Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi and other known people like Swami Agnivesh, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Anna Hazare and Mallika Sarabhai are also part of the movement, called India Against Corruption. Its website describes the movement as “an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. We have all come together to force/request/persuade/pressurize the Government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill. We feel that if this Bill were enacted it would create an effective deterrence against corruption.
A look at the salient features of Jan Lokpal Bill:

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up

2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.

3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.

4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.

5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.

6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.

7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.

8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.

9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.

10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

To summarise, we can say, it will give more power to RTI act, corruption will be tackled and dealt with quickly, whistle blowers will (most likely) also get some protection for raising their voice against corruption.

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There are many sections in the society who belive that Anna’s crusade is politically motivated or BJP might be behind all this. To set the record straight, let me add that Anna’s crusade is India’s crusade and is not politically motivated. In fact, Uma Bharti and Chautala were turned away when they wanted to join Anna.  According to Anna, the politicians can come, sit amidst the public, listen to Anna’s speech and go away. Politicians will not be allowed to share the stage as he does not want any political colour to be given to his crusade and thereby maligning this noble cause.  He also went ahead and said that his crusade is completely non-violent like Gandhiji who protested by going on hunger strike against every wrong in the society. Anna being a staunch Gandhian, is following the same path of hunger strike because all other avenues are closed.  His crusade is not against the government nor does he want to create any political instability.  He trusts no political party and wants to have a dialogue with either Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh. It clearly shows that Anna believes no one other than these two people in the entire government or the political setup of the country. Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh should not waste time in addressing this issue which has mobilised the entire nation.

According to Anna, this a 2nd freedom struggle for our country. Struggle to free our country from petty gains and  greed.

My support to Anna.

For more information you can read

indiaagainstcorruption.org

For list of scams you can read this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_political_scandals

For corruption Index of various countries for 2010 you can read this

http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

By the way, India ranks very high on corruption.  And like they said in the film, Rang De Basanti, “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, usse perfect banana padta hai.” Anna’s step is a step towards that. Lets support him.



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