The Lokpal Bill 2011, which is also referred to as the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 is a legislation against corruption that looks to set up the post of Lokpal in order to look into complaints of corruption that have been brought against public servants or even matters where they may be involved in some shape or form. The bill had been tabled at the Lok Sabha on December 22, 2011 and the lower house of the Indian Parliament gave its consent to the same 5 days later. The bill was placed in the Rajya Sabha on December 29, 2011. It is also regarded as an effective version of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
There was a rather long debate regarding the bill in the upper house of Indian legislature and this meant that the house could not vote on the same owing to paucity of time. The bill was handed over for purposes of consideration to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee on May 12, 2012. Owing to the delay in introduction, Anna Hazare, a prominent anti-corruption crusader, organized numerous public protests that ultimately led to the bill being introduced into the parliament. In fact, Time Magazine, named the protest as one of the leading news stories of 2011.
A member of the parliament named Laxmi Mall Singhvi first came up with the term Lokpal in 1963. This happened when there was a debate at the parliament regarding mechanisms to address popular grievances. In 1966 the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) that was led by Morarji Desai came up with an interim report that dealt with redressal of the grievances of common people. In the report the ARC suggested the creation of 2 special authorities for addressing the problems faced by citizens – Lokayukta and Lokpal.
By way of the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act in 1971, Maharashtra became the first state to start the Lokayukta procedure. Following are the states that still now do not have either a Lokayukta or a Lokpal:
- Andhra Pradesh
- Arunchal Pradesh
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Tamil Nadu
- West Bengal
The bill was introduced for the first time in the parliament in 1968 but before the Rajya Sabha could pass it the Fourth Lok Sabha was dissolved. History repeated itself in 1971 as well when the Fifth Lok Sabha faced a predicament, similar to its predecessor. In 1977 a Joint Select Committee made some recommendations regarding the bill but before they could be mulled over the 6th Lok Sabha was dissolved.
In 1985 the bill was taken back by the government and in 1989 it lapsed when the 9th Lok Sabha was dissolved. During 1996, the Standing Committee on the bill was able to put across its report to the Parliament on May 9 but before the governmental stand could be revealed the Lok Sabha was dissolved. The same thing happened in 1998 as well. In 2001 the bill lapsed yet again when the Lok Sabha was dissolved. As of 2011-12 the bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is under consideration by a select committee of the Rajya Sabha.
Condition of corruption in India – how it has affected the country
Corruption is regarded as one of the major factors that have set the country back in recent times. Bloomberg LP has gathered data between January 2010 to October 2011 which shows that 40 whistleblowers have been beaten up and 12 have lost their lives for their efforts to try and bring to light corruption being perpetrated at the local level through their enquiries to the Right to Information Act (RTI). Manmohan Singh can be credited for introducing the legislation some 6 years back and till date there have been at least 529 thousand requests in this regard.
As per Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2011 India occupied the 95th spot. A survey done recently shows that India’s growth has been thrown off track and it has also lost billions of dollars owing to this sordid phenomenon. Global Financial Integrity, an organization based in Washington, has performed a study that reveals that owing to factors such as tax evasion, corruption and criminal activities India has lost 462 billion dollars by way of unauthorized financial transactions.
In such a critical condition one feels that it is absolutely necessary to pass the bill as soon as possible and also empower the officials with as much authority as possible to take necessary actions against the wrongdoers.