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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

'Lokpal or Jokepal'

Kiran Bedi   February 15, 2014
First Published: 16:15 IST(15/2/2014) | Last Updated: 17:47 IST(15/2/2014)

Arvind Kejriwal is not telling people that Lokpal Bill, which he has used (or over-used) as the reason to quit Delhi government in just 49 days, is National Act today!   And, that Delhi only needed an amended Delhi Lokayukta!
 
When confronted by this, he says "oh, its a jokepal! He belittles it. He rubbishes it. Because if he respects it he loses the agenda for the political chaos he needs for electoral gains! He is in a political arena and whatever he says and does has a political self interest in the garb of public interest!

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Therefore, to mislead and get votes on this account he is compelled to keep this diversion alive!

Which is why he does not explain to people the key empowering-added-new provisions of the National Act which is equally applicable to Delhi! People need to know and focus on it to ensure it takes off correctly! And becomes the much needed institution country has been waiting for! (This is the much amended one from the kinds offered by government during and post anti corruption movement)

Here are the key elements of the National Lokpal which Kejriwal does not tell his vote bank, lest he loses his key agenda

* The CBI's director appointment: In the new Act it's by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, leader of the opposition and the chief justice of India. (People wanted this and got it)

* The Selection Committee for lokpal members, comprises of the Prime Minister, chief justice of india, leader of the opposition, Lok Sabha speaker,and an eminent jurist to be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the selection committee

* The lokpal would have eight members: four from the judiciary and the others with expertise of law, investigation, finance, vigilance, anti-corruption etc. Also, with due representation from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and women.

Overseeing CBI

* The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will be overseen by the lokpal in relation to cases referred by the lokpal. In all matters referred by the lokpal to the CBI, the latter will be directly reporting to the lokpal only. Hence, it stands insulated from any political interference in Lokpal referred cases. (no more law ministers' interference of the kind witnessed earlier).

* CBI officers investigating lokpal cases will be transferred by the government only with the prior approval of lokpal

* CBI will also be free to appoint its own team of lawyers with the lokpal's consent. Currently, it's a very bureaucratic route.

* CBI shall have directorate of prosecution under a director who shall be under the CBI director. (This, too, is a major improvement. Law officers come from the law ministry

* The government shall provide all such expenditure, which in the opinion of the CBI director is necessary to conduct a fair investigation. The CBI director will be responsible for all expenditure sanctioned and spent on the conduct of such investigations. (It cuts out all existing red tape, and makes the CBI director the head of his own organisation, which he has been seeking for a long time)

Inquiry wing

* There shall be an inquiry and an investigative wing too, which enables the lokpal on receipt of a complaint to decide whether to get the complaint inquired into, or order an investigation by any investigation agency, even besides the CBI!

* The government, however, has proposed that prior to this, the government official may give a hearing before filing charges! (Within norms of natural justice)

* Another important change is the issue of sanction from the government before proceeding with the complaint concerning a government servant (not needed now).

* The Prime Minister is included with certain exceptions such as public order, space, defence matters etc but not the Prime Minister's office!

* The lokpal can be removed by the President after a Supreme Court inquiry on a reference from the President on a petition signed by at least 100 MPs.

* In case of a false or frivolous complaint, those made in good faith should not be penalised.
* The lokpal Act to be a model Act for all the states to pass lokayuktas within a year. Many states till now do not have one.

We may at least begin with this Lokpal Act and improve it as we proceed!

It is finally providing for an independent anti-corruption system and opens the cage of the 'caged parrot' (CBI). .The country is finally getting a mini Supreme Court for anti corruption matters. It now needs few other bills such as whistleblower and Grievance Redressal Bills! Hope a stable government, post elections, provides for these! As these are pending in Parliament.

Orissa assembly has become the first state to pass a Lokayukta on the lines as National Act. It ought to have made good news! But Alas!
 
Mr Kejriwal needed to work on Delhi Lokayukta and improve it. He would have for the support of all! Most of all the Central government would have gained!
 
But did Kejriwal government want it? If it did it could have done what Orissa government did! Pass an amended Delhi Lokayukta Act with due process!
 
The intention of Kejriwal was suspect from day one due to several lawless acts of his and some of his party members! It was not governance from day one, but disruption, chaos, blame games, vote banks, fear and threats!
 
This is not administration but abuse of it! A serious breach of trust!
 
(The writer is a former IPS officer)

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