The Delhi Legislative Assembly has passed the Jan Lok Pal Bill last week and it got uploaded in the Delhi Legislative assembly web portal only yesterday. The Bill opens with a statement that the “Government is steadfastly committed to the establishment of the National Capital Territory of Delhi as a “Corruption Free Zone” and has made every effort to restore probity in public life”
Constitution, Appointment of Jan Lok Pal
The Lok Pal is designed as a three member body having one Chairperson andtwo Members to be known as the Janlokpal. These members are to appointed by recommendation of a Selection Committee consisting of-
Chairperson and members of the Jan Lok Pal has a tenure of five years and they can be removed only on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity and can be dismissed through a motion passed by the Assembly with two-thirds majority.
Jan LokPal can investigate Central Government ?
The most controversial Section in the JanLokpal Bill seems to be the following
Section 7 - Matter which may be inquired into by Janlokpal. – Subject to the provisions of this Act, on receiving complaints from the Government or from members of the public or suo motu, the Janlokpal may proceed to inquire or investigate into the allegation of ‘corruption’ occurring in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
According to eminent lawyer and former AAP leader, PrashantBhushan, this section would mean that the Lokpal would be able to investigate any corruption offence in Delhi, be it related to the various agencies under the central government. "It means that the state Lokpal can investigate the central government as well, In all the draft Lokpals that we have prepared till date, state Lokayuktas are not supposed to have any such powers.”, he had said terming the bill as ‘MahaJokePal’
No Investigating agency under Jan Lok Pal ?
The Jan Lok Pal Bill, as it was presented in India Against Corruption movement had a provision which enabled Lokpal to “recruit investigating officers and other officers and staff and get them trained inmodern methods of scientific investigation.”, but it seems that the new Bill does not provide for an independent investigation agency for Jan Lok Pal.
Protection for Whistle-blowers.
Section 26 of the new Bill says that the Janlokpal has powers to issue necessary orders to provide full protection to whistle blowers from any threat of physical harm or administrative harassment and identity of such whistle blowers shall be kept strictly confidential and protected if the whistle blower so desires. The provision further reads that if the Janlokpal is satisfied upon inquiry or investigation, that the complaint of the whistle blower is genuine, in addition to criminal action as may be taken under this Act against such person involved either in the act of corruption or in the harassment of such whistle blower, it would also be open to the Janlokpal to recommend disciplinary action against such person.
The statement of object and reasons reads “Corruption in India has been pernicious to the nation’s progress and stability; by subverting the role of public institutions, undermining the democratic system and coagulating the economy. It cannot be overstated that the eradication of corruption requires the establishment of an effective and expeditious anti-corruption authority, both at Central and State level, having detailed powers and functions, which works in tandem with the other investigative and judicial bodies of the country”. It further states that through the present Jan Lok Pal Bill, the anticorruption mechanism and institutions in Delhi are sought to be strengthened, and made more efficacious, expeditious, transparent, accountable, and independent.
Read the full text of the Bill here.