Proposed body is a bigger joke than the centre's lokpal, says Bhushan
GN Bureau | November 28, 2015
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should resign as he had come to power on the promise of providing a strong and independent anti-corruption watchdog but has failed. This was the pronouncement made by Swaraj Abhiyaan leader and former law minister Shanti Bhushan. "He came into power for the Janlokpal and has gone back on his words," the former law minister has said.
Bhushan Sr and his son and lawyer Prashant Bhushan today trashed the AAP government's lokpal Bill, describing it as 'shocking' and 'a big joke'. They had formed Aam Aadmi Party along with Kejriwal and others.
The AAP government's bill is will not create an independent agency, Prashant Bhushan cautioned. The two - who had helped the AAP draft a different kanlokpal bill during its previous regime in 2013 - said Kejriwal does not intend giving the people "an honest, transparent lokpal." The original bill has been significantly diluted and made less effective, Bhushans said.
The Delhi government has extended the ongoing winter session of the state assembly by a week to enable passage of the bill.
Prashant Bhushan said the proposed watchdog will not be independent and has been kept under government, in the bill. He described the proposed body as a bigger joke than the centre's lokpal that Kejriwal had once dismissed as "jokepal."
They have also said the draft bill was not made public and no public consultation was held.
The bill is not what the anti-corruption Lokpal movement had fought so deeply for. It is merely an eyewash and not the bill which made thousands and thousands volunteer for a crusade against corruption, Bhushan asked and put three questions:
- We would like to know what compelled the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to now bring the Jokepal bill, which he had once fought against?
- Does he now believe that a corrupt rat will go to jail on the basis of this new bill?
- How would he guarantee that the proposed Lokpal will not end up becoming his political instrument against opponents/ for corruption, as is the case with institutions like CBI or CVC?
According to Bhushans the proposed Delhi Janlokpal Bill, 2015 is a cheating with the people of Delhi and the Lokpal movement for the following reasons:
Appointment of the Lokpal
i) The section 3(1)a of the Delhi janlokpal bill, 2015 says that the selection committee would consist of high court chief justice, the chief minister, assembly speaker and leader of opposition. It makes it very clear that the AAP government wants the appointment of Lokpal to be controlled by political class and would not let any appointment be made without the approval of ruling party.
Promise: The janlokpal bill had envisioned that the appointments be made independent of the will of political class, but the provision in the present bill cheats the spirit of an independent janlokpal. Out of the four members in selection committee, three would be from the political class. This is completely contrary to what Arvind Kejriwal has had always said about the independence of lokpal.
Removal of chairperson or members of the janlokpal
ii) As per the provisions mentioned in section 6(1) of the proposed bill, the Lokpal can be removed by a motion passed by the Delhi assembly by 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting in the assembly. Needless to say, if the act sees the light of the day, the Lokpal will be completely at the mercy of AAP government.
Promise: We had always argued that the anti-corruption & investigating agencies end up becoming instruments in the hands of ruling governments, so an effective lokpal needs to be delinked from interference of ruling governments and political control. It is sad to see the AAP bringing a bill which would ultimately leave the Lokpal at the mercy of Delhi government, making it a joke.
No Independent Investigative Machinery
iii) No investigative machinery has been given to or placed under lokpal as per section 10 in the proposed bill. Without its own independent officers, solely recruited for and dedicated to the institution, the lokpal would merely be like the various other commissions and tribunals. This effectively means that the lokpal will have to carry its investigations through officers and machinery provided by governments. Needless to say the investigating officers would obviously be under the control of those governments which provide it.
Promise: The janlokpal movement had always stressed that investigating officers should be free of the influence or control of any government. It was argued that no less than an independent investigative machinery vested with the institution of lokpal would be effective in curbing corruption.
Jurisdiction of the lokpal
iv) As per the present bill, jurisdiction of the lokpal would be to investigate any corruption offence in Delhi, be it various agencies and functions under the central government. It means that the state lokpal can investigate the central government as well.
Promise: This is totally contrary to what was envisaged in our jan lokpal bill where the state lokayukta were supposed to investigate the corruption of officers of state governments only and the central lokpal would investigate the officers from central government. This provision has been introduced with malafide intentions to ensure that the central government does not approve and the bill never gets passed. The AAP will then claim that it tried to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill but the central government obstructed it.
Penalty on false complaints
v) This bill prescribes 1 yr jail for false complaints, the falsity of which will be decided by this 'sarkari lokpal'.
Promise: This is also what we had fought against since it will deter complainants. It is not there in the Uttarakhand bill which Kejriwal said this is modeled on.
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