The recent debate on the Janlokpal Bill (People’s ombudsman) has brought issues of corruption, the state and the repercussions of the nexus between the two on society at large. The demand for an ombudsman isn’t new to India , as the Lokpal Bill first tabled in 1968 had subsequently been introduced in the Parliament eight times (last in 2002 )– all previous attempts had been unsuccessful until the Lokpal and Lokayukta bill, 2011. The public furore caused by the protests initiated by the octogenarian Anna Hazare ushered unprecedented national interest in anti corruption measures in the 21st century. This ought to be examined in terms of the changed demographics it sprang from, within the context of an all pervasive media .
It is worth noting that it is political corruption which has emerged as the dominant theme within the provisions of the Janlokpal Bill. With the skeletons of scams and frauds tumbling out of the government’s (UPA II) closet, the social realization of the enormity of ill utilization of public money found a voice, an articulation in Anna Hazare’s movement. The involvement of the civil society in resurfacing the debate is evident in the different versions which came up for such a Bill namely: the government, Team Anna and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI).
There has been a peak in public debate over legitimacy of the methods used for such a demand, some even terming it as holding the government hostage by threatening with a fast unto death and the doubts on the competence of legal analysis by the civil society . On the other hand, it has been acknowledged as an exasperated society’s plea for legal safeguards against corruption. The government’s positions vis-à-vis the bill have been said to oscillate between the lack of political will to aiming at political gains for 2014 general elections. Either way, the debate has brought the issue of corruption back in national prominence and legal activism.
Crucially important is the recognition that Janlokpal Bill has initiated the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill,2011 but they are not one and the same after having gone through multiple changes between 2011-13. Moreover, the current bill is considered to be a fairly diluted version of the original demands for the Janlokpal . Yet, many consider the Bill to be a mere start which can be amended later for improvements. This brings to question the effectiveness of such a bill and the reasons for which its existence was deemed necessary.
Historical Timeline Of Anti Corruption Measures
In order to trace the roots of the Lokpal,it would serve well to probe the anti corruption legal framework that India functions in. The earliest attempts were made through the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1947.
A.D. Gorwala's Report on Public Administrators 1951 and P.B. Gajendragadkar's expressions on the role of Administrators in a Democratic Welfare State examined corruption within...