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Can you spot any loophole in the Lokpal draft?

Last updated on: May 9, 2011 13:13 IST

Can you spot any loophole in the Lokpal draft?

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Compiled by A Ganesh Nadar

The Lokpal Act finally seems set to turn into reality. With civil society members and citizens turning the heat on the government over the setting up of the anti-corruption body, the Lokpal bill occupies centrestage in Delhi's politics. The joint panel, comprising civil society members and Union ministers, has been meeting in New Delhi to hammer out the draft of the anti-corruption bill. 

Let's take a look at the highlights of the draft Lokpal Bill.

At the end of the feature, let us know if you can spot any loopholes in the draft and suggest corrective measures.


1. The functions of the Lokpal are to receive allegations of corruptions against government servants, grievances against them that include delays in day to day work, complaints from whistleblowers and complaints against the staff of the Lokpal itself.

2. After inquiry and investigation the Lokpal can close the case or initiate prosecution against the government servant and the private party which has benefitted from the said act of corruption. It can recommend penalties and dismissal of the government servant if corruption is proved. 

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3. It can cancel or modify licenses, contracts, permissions and agreements, which were the subject matter of the investigation. It can blacklist the companies or individuals involved. 

4. It can provide protection to whistleblowers. 

5. The Lokpal can take suo motu action against corruption, it can also change work practices in government offices that it feels leads to corruption or victimisation of whistle-blowers. 

6. It can issue search warrants, summon the accused and witnesses, and ask for any public record. It can order compensatory costs for false claims and also costs for delays. 

7. All proceedings of the Lokpal will be deemed judicial proceedings. 

8. The Lokpal will give an annual report to the President which will be placed in both houses of Parliament. It will also publish monthly reports of all its cases on its website. 

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9. All members of the Lokpal, including its investigating officials, will be deemed to be police officers.
 
10. Any government servant who does not follow the Lokpal's orders can be fined by it. The amount will be deducted from his or her salary. 

11. Trials under the Lokpal bill will be conducted by a special judge and the case has to be decided within a year. The investigations also have to be completed within a year. 

12. It has the power to tap phones and intercept messages over the Internet. 

13. Minutes and records of all Lokpal meetings will be made public.

14. Anyone can complain to the Lokpal directly or through a lawyer. Every complaint has to be looked into and will not be dismissed without hearing the complainant. 


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15. All hearing before the Lokpal will be video-recorded and will be available to the public who will have to pay for the cost of copying it. 

16. The decision whether to close or proceed with a case has to be taken within three months. 

17. Anonymous complaints are not permitted but the complainant can ask for protection to this identity. 

18. The loss to the government by any act of corruption will be recovered from the accused once his guilt is proven. He cannot sell his property when the investigations are on. He can be suspended or transferred if he interferes with the investigation. 

19. The minimum punishment is one year rigorous imprisonment which can go up to life imprisonment.

20. When you apply for a birth certificate or a ration card, if there is delay in the issuing of the document, you can complain to the Lokpal. The concerned official will be fined for the delay on a per-day basis. 

21. The Lokpal will have its own investigating wing and its own prosecution wing. 


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22. Every public servant has to declare his assets every year. If any undeclared property is found in his name, it will be deemed to be property acquired through corruption. 

23. Appeals against the orders of the Lokpal can be made to the concerned high court. 

24. People making false complaints will be fined. Genuine complainants will be rewarded.
 
This is the gist of the Lokpal Act. Do you think they are enough to curb corruption? Or do you think that the Lokpal has too many powers? Can you spot loopholes in the provisions? How would you like to improve it?

Send us your suggestions below. The best suggestions will be highlighted separately.



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