FAQ: What is the Lokpal Bill?
By Sriram Sivaraman | Net Desk | Published: 19th December 2013 02:26 PM |
What is the Lokpal Bill? Why is it so important?
The Lokpal Bill, in blunt terms, is an anti-corruption Bill. The law will enable an anti-corruption watchdog to work independently and will have in its purview even the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office). It will also cover societies, organisations funded by the government.
After many unsuccessful attempts at passing the Bill that spanned over 46 years, it was finally passed by voice vote on 18 December, 2013.
How does it function?
The Lokpal will comprise of 8 members, of which 4 will be judicial members and the rest shall be from among SCs, STs, minorities and women. The Bill also mandates states to setup Lokayuktas within one year or 365 days of act coming into force. The state will have to appoint Lokayuktas.
Who selects the Lokpal?
The selection committee will consist of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha) and Chief Justice of India, an eminent jurist and Speaker of Lok Sabha.
The eminent jurist will be selected by the President of India, based on the recommendations of the other 4 members.
What is a Lokayukta?
It is an ombudsman organisation that will investigate allegations of corruption and malpractices by public servants. Citizens can directly approach the Lokayukta with their complaints.
So what does it mean to the common man?
- Its jurisdiction will cover all categories of government officials. Even the Prime Minister will be under the purview of the Lokpal.
- The Lokpal will have the superintendence over any investigating agency, even the CBI.
- Investigation by the Lokpal will be time-bound.
- Bill also includes confiscation of property acquired by corrupt-means even during prosecution.
- Bill has provision that will safeguard honest and upright public servants.
- Investigating officers can be transferred only with Lokpal’s consent.
- A Lokpal member can be suspended by the President after Supreme Court inquiry.
- Inquiry against PM has to be approved by two-thirds of the bench of Lokpal.
- For false and frivolous complaints, the penalty is imprisonment up to one year and fine up to Rs 1 lakh.
- Public servants can face imprisonment up to 7 years.
- Minimum term for conviction in a corruption case will be 2 years.
- No prior sanction required for investigating cases probed by the Lokpal.
Which bodies do not fall under the Lokpal’s purview?
Bodies creating endowments for or performing religious/charitable functions are excluded. NGOs also remain outside its ambit.