10 things you must know about the Lokpal

Is the Government really serious about fighting corruption? There is no explanation why the Government has refused to operationalise the Lokpal Act in the last two and a half years



Photo by Sunil Saxena/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sunil Saxena/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

Is the Government really serious about fighting corruption? Even if the answer is in the affirmative, there is no explanation why the Government has refused to operationalise the Lokpal Act in the last two and a half years. The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Government’s inaction and warned that it could intervene. Here are 10 points which sum up the entire controversy.


1. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 was passed by Parliament in December, 2013, received Presidential assent on January 1, 2014 and was notified on January 16, 2014.


2. Almost three years later the Act is yet to be made operational.


3. As per the Act public servants, their spouses and children were to declare their assets by July, 2014. Since then the deadline has been extended by the Government five times.


4. Amendments hurriedly passed by Parliament, without discussion and through voice vote, in July, 2016 diluted provisions in the Act.


5. While the original Act brought 50 lakh central government employees, their spouses and their children under the Lokpal, the July amendment took out the spouses and children from the provision that required assets in their names also to be declared every year.


6. The amendment also diluted the Act by doing away with the public disclosure clause, leaving it to the discretion of the Government to decide on the form and manner of the declaration of assets.


7. Another amendment moved by the Government provided that only NGOs funded, but not aided, by the Government would be under scrutiny.


8. Objections by activists on clubbing NGOs as ‘public servants’ are yet to be addressed by Parliament or the amendments.


9. The Government of course is yet to constitute the multi-member Lokpal on the plea that there is no Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, who was to be a part of the selection committee.


10. Non-existence of the LoP has not prevented the Government from amending different laws and involving the leader of the largest opposition party in the appointment of Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Chief Information Commissioner and the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation.

Is the Government really serious about fighting corruption? Even if the answer is in the affirmative, there is no explanation why the Government has refused to operationalise the Lokpal Act in the last two and a half years. The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Government’s inaction and warned that it could intervene.

This is the question that the Supreme Court posed to the Attorney General on Wednesday. A bench headed by the chief justice T.S. Thakur offered three options to the Government. It should either promulgate an ordinance , pass a Bill making the suitable amendment or accept the directive of the Supreme Court. The bench listed the case for hearing on December 7. The proceedings were reported by livelaw.com.


Writing in The Indian Express on August 4, 2016 Anjali Bhardwaj described the amendments passed as a ‘betrayal’ and had this to say: “In Parliament, the relevant minister stated that the amendments were being brought about due to concerns raised by NGOs. This justification is fallacious as two concerns were expressed by the NGO sector—one, that the deadline for asset disclosure was too short; and two, functionaries of NGOs should not be termed “public servants”. The government could have extended the deadline without diluting the provisions of asset disclosure. The contentious issue of bringing NGO functionaries under the category of “public servants” has not even been addressed by the amendments.”

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Published: 24 Nov 2016, 2:36 PM