Janlokpal to Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011
The genesis of the demand for the Janlokpal Bill lay in the indefinite hunger strike undertaken by Anna Hazare on April 5, 2011. This prompted the government to form joint drafting committee consisting of ministers and civil society members. Despite Team Anna and the drafting committee being on different pages regarding the formulation of the bill, the government version of the Lokpal Bill , 2011 was introduced in Parliament. Additionally, the Lokpal Bill, 2010 was considered a diluted version of the Janlokpal for it provided no whistleblower’s protection, there was no inclusion of the PM, independence of the CBI was not addressed and could not take punitive action in terms of confiscating disproportionate assets etc. This yet again led to a public uproar prompting Anna Hazare to sit on a second round of hunger strike. This led to the introduction of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 (thereby withdrawing Lokpal Bill, 2011) in December 2011 which was passed by the Lok Sabha and sent to the Rajya Sabha.
Finally, the Bill was finally passed on 18th December,2013 after passing through a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha and has secured the Presidential assent as well making its way to being an Act with the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states.
Naturally, the current discourse on this ombudsman is based on the nomenclature of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 and not as Janlokpal. The Bill is to provide for the establishment of a body of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto .
The negotiations and the consequent changes to the Bill since the genesis of the Janlokpal till the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 is a window to the actual adherence to the civil society/Team Anna’s demands in reality. Since the Janlokpal was replaced by the Lokpal Bill, 2011 and which in turn was replaced by the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011, it is imperative to see the changes as they stand today i.e. in Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011.
• One of the stark amendments which characterized the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 which exposed a clear dilution of the very first draft of the Janlokpal is the requirement that before investigation by any agency (including the CBI) where there exists a prima facie case, the Lokpal shall call for the explanation of the public servant before embarking on an investigation. Moreover, the Bill, once passed, shall be applicable to states if they give consent to its application.
• Although the Prime Minister has been brought under the purview of the Lokpal, unlike government’s initial Lokpal bill, 2011, the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 requires that an inquiry against the PM has to be approved by a 2/3rd majority of the full bench of the Lokpal. While the initial claims for made for a time bound redressal mechanism in the...