Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's core committee is meeting to decide its strategy after the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha appealed to him to end his 10 days old fast unto death.
Apparently 80 percent of the demands were met by the government. However, the issue of government's Lokpal Bill 2010 versus Team Anna's Jan Lokpal Bill requires a deeper study.
Finally, the crisis for stronger ombudsman legislation is escalating though neither side can achieve to bring a consensus on their proposed Lokpal Bill 2010 and Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's Ombudsman Bill).
Here are some comments and change of stances by political leaders on the issue:
Veteran political journalist and strategist Abhinandan Thorat, one of the earlier troubleshooters in the 'Operation Anna's since 1965' had the opinion: "I have never witnessed such massive protests led by Anna Hazare in the past. The government has handled the entire issue very poorly."
"The government is not sure as to who takes the final call. Team Anna is also not willing to move from their stand. The crisis could have been averted if the government had looked at the whole issue more sensitively and sensibly," he commented.
"I am sure that Anna Hazareji's views will receive the government's full attention as we move forward to fight this menace," appealed UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
"It is a clear signal to the Government to speedily make peace with the agitators before the political cost of appearing unmindful of corruption becomes too high," she added.
On the other hand "The way the civil society movement is continuing in the country, it gives an impression that the leaders have become legislators," said Finance Minister Mukherjee.
"Nobody can be compelled that a law has to be drafted as per his or her desire. It is for Parliament to decide and what Anna Hazare is doing is akin to challenging the constitutional authority of Parliament which is not acceptable," said Finance Minister Mukherjee criticizing Anna Hazare's demand.
"Parliament alone was the competent authority to make laws and none could compel it to draft a law as per their desire. And what Anna Hazare is doing is challenging the constitutional authority of Parliament, which is not acceptable," he added.
On the contrast young congress MPs like Priya Dutta and Sanjay Nirupama came out openly in support of Anna's movement.
"Judiciary has to come under the Lokpal and even the PM. I don't think PM has a problem with it," congress MP Priya Dutta said.
Extending her support to the movement she wrote to the 'India Against Corruption' for a 'corruption free nation.'
Showing supports to Anna's movement and cause Sanjay Nirupam also meet Anna's supporters at Vile Parle Police station in Mumbai. "Level best...but one MP alone can't make a difference," he said calling for unity among MPs.
The mix opinion is also prevail among Muslim leaders. "Anna Hazare must isolate from the political powers, if he is secular, then why has he not included any Muslims in his group," says Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari.
"There is no mention of communalism, which is a bigger threat. Communalism should be a priority and corruption comes second in this list," he said recollecting Anna's remark praising Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Meanwhile Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, supported Anna Hazare and his movement against corruption sensing the public mood.
Among the dalit sections, there is resentment for not including dalit members in the Jan Lokpal drafting committee.
"Did the civil society and the UPA not find any person from the SC in the entire country capable enough to become the member of the drafting committee", said BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on Friday.
She also demanded to "re-constitute" the Jan Lokpal Bill drafting committee.
Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan expressing his discontentment, maintain the same stand with BSP chief, saying that "One dalit activist or leader could have been accommodated in the five-member representation from the civil society in the committee constituted for Lokpal Bill."
He also attacked the yoga guru Baba Ramdev, stating that "some undesirable persons had shared the stage with Hazare".
On the other hand social activist and National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy has the strong opinion that giving widespread powers to an unelected body is a "threat to democracy." She also termed the Jan Lokpal Bill as "impractical and complicated" as it tried to extend from the prime minister to a peon.
"The Jan Lokpal is a threat to democracy as a powerful, non-elected agency can lead to abuse of power and abuse of authority. Power corrupts and absolutely power corrupts absolutely," she added.
The proposed Lokpal Bill 2010 is the subsequent versions of the than Lokpal Bill introduced by Shanti Bhusan in 1968 in the Lok Sahba, that was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but did not get through in the upper House Rajya Sabha in the years 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008.
Main features of Lokpal Bill 2010:
To establish a central government anti-corruption institution called Lokpal, supported by Lokayukta at the state level.
As in the case of the Supreme Court and Cabinet Secretariat, the Lokpal will be supervised by the Cabinet Secretary and the Election Commission. As a result, it will be completely independent of the government and free from ministerial influence in its investigations.
Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.
A selection committee will invite shortlisted candidates for interviews, video-recordings of which will thereafter be made public.
Every month on its website, the Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed. It will also publish lists of all cases received by the Lokayukta during the previous month, cases dealt with and those which are pending.
Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. Any resulting trials should be concluded in the following year, giving a total maximum process time of two years.
Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.
Government office work required by a citizen that is not completed within a prescribed time period will result in Lokpal imposing financial penalties on those responsible, which will then be given as compensation to the complainant.
Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within a month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.
The existing anti-corruption agencies (CVC, departmental vigilance and the anti-corruption branch of the CBI) will be merged into Lokpal which will have complete power and authority to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
Whistleblowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases will also be provided with protection by it.
Here is a detail differences between the two Lokpal Versions (Lokpal and Jan Lokpal).
|Subjects of Issue||Jan Lokpal Bill||Lokpal Bill-2010|
|Prime Minister||Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench||PM can be investigated by Lokpal after s/he vacates office|
|Judiciary||Can be investigated, though high level members may be investigated only with permission of a seven member Lokpal bench||Judiciary is exempt and will be covered by a separate judicial accountability bill|
|MPs||Can be investigated with permission of seven member Lokpal bench||Can be investigated, but their conduct within Parliament, such as voting, cannot be investigated|
|Lower bureaucracy||All public servants would be included||Only Group A officers will be covered|
|Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)||The CBI will be merged into the Lokpal||The CBI will remain a separate agency|
|Removal of Lokpal members and Chair||Any person can bring a complaint to the Supreme Court, who can then recommend removal of any member to the President||Any "aggrieved party" can raise a complaint to the President, who will refer the matter to the CJI|
|Removal of Lokpal staff and officers||Complaints against Lokpal staff will be handled by independent boards set-up in each state, composed of retired bureaucrats, judges, and civil society members||Lokpal will conduct inquiries into its own behavior|
|Lokayukta||Lokakyukta and other local/state anti-corruption agency would remain in place||All state anti-corruption agencies would be closed and responsibilities taken over by centralized Lokpal|
|Whistleblower protection||Whistleblowers are protected law||No protection granted to whistleblowers|
|Punishment for corruption||Lokpal can either directly impose penalties, or refer the matter to the courts. Penalties can include removal from office, imprisonment, and recovery of assets from those who benefited from the corruption||Lokpal can only refer matters to the courts, not take any direct punitive actions. Penalties remain equivalent to those in current law|
|Investigatory powers||Lokpal can obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, and recruit investigating officers. Cannot issue contempt orders||Lokpal can issue contempt orders, and has the ability to punish those in contempt. No authority to obtain wiretaps, issue rogatory letters, or recruit investigating officers|
|False, frivolous and vexatious complaints||Lokpal can issue fines for frivolous complaints (including frivolous complaints against Lokpal itself), with a maximum penalty of 1 lakh||Court system will handle matters of frivolous complaints. Courts can issue fines of Rs25,000 to 2 lakh|
|Scope||All corruption can be investigated||Only high-level corruption can be investigated|