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Memorandum of Views & Suggestions on Lokpal Bill: Samvidhan Bachao Andolan

by Samvidhan Bachao Andolan

To,

Shri K P Singh,

Director,

Rajya Sabha Secretariat

201, Second Floor,

Parliament House Annexe,

New Delhi – 110 001

MEMORANDUM OF VIEWS AND SUGESTIONS ON LOKPAL BILL 2011 (BILL NO 39 OF 2011)

Sir,

This is in reference to the Newspaper advertisement No davp 31202/11/0019/1112, where in Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievance, Law and Justice have invited views and opinions on the Lokpal Bill that is posted on the website of Rajya Sabha. I have read the bill in detail and my views and suggestions are as follows:

(1) The heart of the Lokpal bill is to constitute a mechanism for dealing with complaints of corruption against public functionaries in higher places. However there are many instances of corruption by functionaries in the corporate sector which had duped the public in the past. To cite a few examples – Harshad Mehta scam, Satyam, Telgi, Citibank scams and school admission donations. At the moment, accountability is disproportionately inclined towards public functionaries in comparison to corporate. Also the Right to Information Act 2005 is not applicable in corporate or private institutions. Hence it is suggested to include corporate and private functionaries within the ambit of Lokpal Bill.

(2) As per the clause 17 (f) of the Lokpal Bill, the jurisdiction of inquiry of Lokpal extends to the societies or associations or trust that are wholly or partially funded or aided by the Government. While this is a welcome move, the media is completely left out from the ambit of the Lokpal Bill. ‘Paid news’ and ‘Paid opinion polls’ that influence the public opinion is a bad precedent. Hence it is suggested that media be brought under the ambit of Lokpal as it the fourth pillar of democracy.

(3) As per the clause 17 (f) of the Lokpal Bill, the jurisdiction of inquiry of Lokpal does not extend to societies or associations or trust that are constituted for religious purposes. Large numbers of people donate money in religious institutions which is managed by these societies or associations or trust. Sadly, some of these societies or associations or trusts have become safe havens of black money which some people dispose off in the name of donation. The societies or associations or trust have become richer day by day at the cost of loss to the Government exchequer. Take the most recent example of Sai Baba Trust where unaccounted crores of rupees and other wealth were found after Sai Baba’s death. And the trust itself is worth Rupees 1.4 lakh crores as per media reports, which is 50 times the annual budget of Government of India’s flag ship program – Sarva Siksha Abhyiyan. On top of that, majority (80 percentages) of the population in India are Hindus, who worship in Hindu temples. However many of these Hindu temples are controlled by the Brahmins, as is their birth right, as prescribed by the Hindu religious scriptures. Also the bylaws of these societies or associations or trust are formulated in such discriminatory way that they directly or indirectly exclude non Brahmi sections from their management. Isn’t it strange that Brahmins are entirely excluded from accountability to the public? Hence it is suggested to include in the ambit of Lokpal such societies or associations or trust that are constituted for religious purposes.

(4) The clause 4 (1) of the Lokpal Bill lists the members of selection committee to recommend appointment of Lokpal. The selection committee does not have representation from disadvantaged sections of the society viz - women, SC, ST and minorities to safe guard their interest. Hence it is suggested to include (a) Chairperson of National Women’s Commission, (b) Chairperson of SC / ST Commission and (c) Chairperson of National Commission of Minorities in the Selection Committee.

(5) The clause 2 (b) of the Lokpal Bill specifies that the Members of the Lokpal should not exceed eight of whom fifty percent shall be judicial member. There is no mention of inclusion of members from disadvantaged sections of the society viz - women, SC, ST and minorities communities as members in the Lokpal. The representation needs to be in terms of proportions in the population and recommendations made by various commissions from time to time. Hence it is suggested that apart from fifty percent judicial representation to include fifty percent representation for women, twenty five percent representation from SC / ST and twenty percent for minorities in the Lokpal.

(6) The clause 49 (1) of the Lokpal bill deals with offenses and penalties when a false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is made under the Act (Lokpal). Sometimes, it is seen that such a false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is knowingly made against an SC / ST functionary for harassment due to the prevailing societal prejudice. Hence it is suggested that if such a false and frivolous or vexatious complaint is made against and SC / ST functionaries then the relevant clauses under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 also need to be invoked and needs mention in the Lokpal Bill. These clauses from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 could be clauses 3.1 (ix), 3.2 (i), 3.2 (ii), 3.2. (vi) and 7.

(7) I have my full concurrence to all the clauses and sub-sections in the Lokpal Bill 2011 other than that mentioned above for suggestions to improve upon.

(8) The suggested additions other than the clauses and sub-sections in the Lokpal Bill 2011 are as follows:

a. It is observed that many a times the common man is connected with lower level of public functionaries and suffers due to indulgency in corrupt practices by any functionary. Hence it is suggested to include the lower level of public and private functionaries in the Lokpal Bill as well.

b. There needs to be a mechanism in which common man can blow the whistle and indicate corruption. Hence a website to register complaints and a common telephone number needs to be provisioned for this purpose as a via media for the common man to indicate possible corruption. Necessary clauses need to be included for the protection of rights of such whistle blower.

c. There have been instances in the past where funds allocated for the SC / ST subplan from the Government of India have been misused / diverted for the use that have not benefitted these disadvantaged communities. Take an instance of diversion of funds from SC / ST subplan to the Common Wealth Funds. This is against the Planning Commission guidelines. Hence it is suggested that diversions of funds from the SC / ST subplan should come automatically under the preview of Lokpal and the treated as offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989. If required then necessary amendments need to made under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989.

d. It has been observed that there are numerous cash flows during the election time. The marginalized communities viz: women, SC, ST and minorities that are the most disadvantaged and have less cash stands deprived. Hence it is recommended that election expenses also be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.

I am of the view that the Lokpal should not be above the Judiciary and the Prime Minister and a separate mechanism similar to the Election Commission needs to be constituted in the country. I trust that there will be a favorable response to my proposition.

Yours sincerely

All Members

Samvidhan Bachao Andolan


Courtesy: Arun Roopak

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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