LOKPAL BILL PROTEST
Lokpal Bill: The compromise formula
The logjam between government and Team Anna might end in a compromise with Aruna Roy and Shekhar Singh led National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) pitching their alternative draft bill which tries to accommodate the concerns of both groups. Although the draft is radically different from one proposed by government and Team Anna, it is increasingly being discussed among activists and civil society members. It agrees with the basic structure of Jan Lokpal Bill but simultaneously brings in more checks and balances.
Both the Jan Lokpal Bill and the alternatives proposed by Roy and Singh’s team, agree on the inclusion of Prime Minister. NCPRI, however, has suggested some checks and balances in place before initiation of investigation. "Recommendations of a full Lokpal bench must be verified by a bench of Supreme Court before such an inquiry," says Shekhar Singh, member of NCPRI.
Another key suggestion of NCPRI is the separation of the anti-corruption agency from the grievance redressal agency. Apart from the Lokpal at the Centre, the NCPRI has also spoken about the need for strengthening the Lokayuktas in states. "We need to work under the framework of the Indian Constitution and strengthen the existing anti-corruption bodies to bring greater transparency," says Venkatesh Nayak, co-convener, NCPRI.
"For grievances a strong redress mechanism is required which will empower people rather than give absolute power to the office of Lokpal," says Nikhil Dey, co-convener of NCPRI. For this Dey proposes enactment of a law for public grievance redressal.
NCPRI wants the office of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner’s office to be strengthened and is batting for a stronger National Judicial Standards and Accountability Commission (NJSCA) to tackle corruption. CVC, Singh says, should tackle the cases of corruption against government officials below grade A and judiciary will be taken care of by NJSCA. "This would decentralise power and reduce the burden over Lokpal leaving it to investigate cases of corruption at higher levels including that among politicians and senior level officials," says Aruna Roy, member NCPRI.
Another key recommendation is to strengthen the Whistleblower Protection Bill. "This would help bring out the ground level cases to limelight," says Dey. NCPRI is also opposing the government’s plan to bring all Non-government Organizations (NGOs) and registered societies, which receive funds from public, under the ambit of Lokpal.
Prakhar Jain is a Trainee Correspondent with Tehelka.