Essay about the recently passed on Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill 2013
After eight unsuccessful attempts over the last five decades, Parliament on 18 December 2013 passed the historic Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill 2013. The Bill seeks to establish an anti-corruption watchdog that will have in its purview even the Prime Minister Office (PMO). President has signs on Lokpal Bill on January 1, 2014.
The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013 was passed by voice amid the opposition from the members Seemandhra region who were protesting against division of Andhra Pradesh to create Telangana state. During the passage of the Bill, Samajwadi Party members staged a walk out from the Parliament while Shiv Sena Party members voted against the Bill.
The passage of the Bill has been welcomed by anti-corruption crusader and social activist Anna Hazare. He sat on the fast for the Lokpal Bill passage for the fourth time on 10 December 2013. Among the amendments accepted by the government are delinking of the mandatory creation of lokayuktas by the state governments, one of the provisions which had stalled the passage of the bill in December 2011.
Important features of Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013:
- Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the States.
- The Lokpal consists of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight members of which 50% shall be judicial members.
- The Lokpal Chairperson or member shall not be connected with any political party and one member will be an eminent jurist nominated by the President.
- The selection of Chairperson and members of Lokpal shall be through a Selection committee consisting of
1. Prime Minister
2. Speaker of Lok Sabha
3. Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha
4. Chief Justice of India or sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CII
5. Eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India on the basis of recommendations of the four members of the Selection Committee.
- All ministers including Prime Minister with some safeguards and senior public servants are covered by the ombudsman, excluding the public servants under Army, Navy and Coastal guard.
- All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of 10 lakh rupees per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
- Provides adequate protection for honest and upright Public Servants.
- Lokpal will have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal.
- A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister will recommend selection of the Director, CBI.
- Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director of Prosecution under the overall control of Director.
- The appointment of the Director of Prosecution, CBI will be made on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.
- Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of Lokpal.
- The Bill also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
- The Bill lays down clear time lines for Preliminary enquiry & investigation and trial and towards this end, the Bill provides for setting up of Special Courts.
- A provision for mandate for setting up of the institution of Lokayukta through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within a period of 365 days from the date of commencement of the Act.