The most basic difference between the Lokpal Bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill is that the earlier has been passed by the Indian government and the second one is the brainchild of the team of social activists led by Anna Hazare – the team that once included AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal as well. However, even at the secondary level there are some differences between both the bills. To start with, there is a difference in the area that comes under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal in both the bills. In case of both the bills MPs and ministers are being held accountable for any wrongdoing perpetrated outside the parliament.
The two bills also include the Group A government officials and ones who could be regarded as their equivalents. In the government version of the bill the PM can be investigated against only after he or she has left office and in case of the Jan Lokpal Bill (JLP) the PM is included even while in power. The JLP also takes into account the actions of the members of the parliament that are related to any speech made or vote given on any issue in the parliament. This right, however, has the backing of the Article 105 of the Indian Constitution.
The JLP also takes into account judges who have been left out of the purview of the bill passed by the central government. The former asks every government official to be made accountable but that is not the case with the government’s Lokpal Bill that looks to leave out the junior officers from its reach. The government bill has however included the NGOs who are provided by government funds as opposed to the Jan Lokpal Bill. The two bills are also different to each other when it comes to composition.
In the bill formed by the Indian government there is a chairperson and the maximum number of members permissible is 8. At least 50% of the members should have served in the Indian judiciary in order to be deemed eligible. In case of the JLP there is a chairperson as well but the number of members is 10 and 4 of them should have judicial experience. The two bills also differ in terms of selecting the members. In case of JLP, there are two stages. In the first stage the possible candidates are selected by a search committee. The committee is supposed to have 10 members.
5 of them are supposed to have previously been the Chief Justice of India, Comptroller and Auditor General or Chief Election Commissioner and 5 others are to be chosen from the civil society. Then there would be a selection committee whose members are supposed to choose the members of Lokpal from the candidates who have been shortlisted in the first stage and this includes important positions such as the Chairperson of Lokpal. The selection committee of the JLP will include dignitaries such as the following:
- Prime Minister
- Chief Election Commissioner
- Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha
- Comptroller and Auditor General
- A couple of Supreme Court judges
- Erstwhile chairpersons of Lokpal
- A couple of Chief Justices of High Courts
In case of the government’s version of Lokpal Bill the process involves lesser details. The selection is supposed to be the responsibility of a committee that is supposed to comprise the following individuals:
- Prime Minister
- A well known jurist
- A judge from the Supreme Court
- A famous civilian
- A chief justice from a High Court
The selection committee could employ a search committee in order to select the candidates who will be considered for membership into the Lokpal if it wants to. The two bills also differ when it comes to determining the qualifications of the Lokpal members. In case of the JLP, a judge should have at least 10 years’ experience and for an advocate it goes up to 15 years. The government bill however makes it necessary for the judicial members to have served as a judge, in case of the Supreme Court, or as a chief justice of a High Court. If they are none of the above they should have a minimum of 25 years’ experience in any one of the following domains:
- Anti-corruption policies
- Public administration
In case of the Jan Lokpal Bill the minimum age needed to be a member is 45 years and if anyone has worked in a government job in the immediately preceding 2 year span, he or she will not be deemed eligible to be a member.
Yet another area of difference between the two bills is in the process that is to be followed to remove the members of Lokpal. In case of the government bill the President can refer the Supreme Court if an inquiry needs to be instituted against a Lokpal member. If the said member is discovered to be corrupt or biased he or she can be removed from duty.
The President can make the reference on his or her own accord or if there is a petition that has been signed by 100 MPs. The President can also refer a petition made by a citizen against a Lokpal member if he or she is convinced that such an action needs to be taken. A member can also be removed for any of the following reasons:
- Working in a paid job
- Mental or physical infirmity
The JLP charts a separate course. First a complaint needs to be made against the member in question at the Supreme Court, which will then look into the same and in case any of the above-mentioned factors or misbehavior is found to have taken place, then it will make a recommendation to the President suggesting the removal of the said member.
The Lokpal Bill is only concerned with offences that are covered by the Prevention of Corruption Act. The JLP covers this and also offences committed by government officials as per the Indian Penal Code, continued violation of the citizen’s charter and if whistleblowers are victimized.
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