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An alternative lokpal bill?

delhi Updated: Jul 05, 2011 01:36 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Widening the debate on lokpal, the National Campaign for People Right to Information (NCPRI) wants Prime Minister under the ambit of lokpal but not higher judiciary and admits that Anna Hazare's team bitterness with the government has done damage to civil society movement in India.

In its format, the NCPRI had said that the lokpal should be one of the four bodies to deal with corruption, unlike Team Anna's version of corruption to be dealt by the lokpal. NCPRI believe its format is "more effective" and "balanced" but would be fined tuned after further consultation on Wednesday.

While the lokpal should look into allegations of corruption against political executive including Cabinet ministers, all MPs and MLAs and grade-A level officials of the government, a National Judicial Commission has been suggested to deal with higher judiciary.

NCPRI like the BJP and the Left parties wants PM to be brought under the ambit of lokpal with conditions that only cases where there is direct evidence of corruption against the PM, except security related, should be investigated.

NCPRI has also suggested that a National Public Grievance Commission having a district level grievance commission should be constituted having powers to penalize officers and compensate suffering citizens.

This commission will, however, not have powers to initiate disciplinary action against officials as it would be the domain of the Vigilance Commissions at the centre and state levels. "The CVC law should be amended to cover all non-grade A levels officials and initiate action against them directly," said Nikhil De, NCPRI's co-convenor.

To improve people's participation in fight against corruption, the NCPRI wants an overarching whistleblower law covering people in and outside the government. The present whistleblower law provides protection only government officials.

The NCPRI's draft module can be implemented under the existing government provisions as a law to set up national judicial commission and to protect whistleblowers has been introduced in the Parliament. A law to up lokpal, which would require tweaking if NCPRI's suggestions are accepted, is likely to be introduced in monsoon session of Parliament.

"Ours is not a final word," De said and added they want the government and political parties to consider their model before final view are taken on lokpal. While basic fundamentals of their drafts are same as that of Team Anna, NCPRI believes that one lokpal will be "unmanageable" and "too powerful".

Complimenting Team Anna for highlighting the corruption issue, another NCPRI member Shekhar Singh said the bitterness in the joint drafting committee has provided ammunition to political parties to slam voice from outside the ruling class.

In recent past, laws such as Right To Information, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and now National Food Security Act were drafted in consultation with the civil society but Singh wants the government to further strengthen the civil society consultation on important legislations.