Who is Anna Hazare and why is he not eating?

There’s an old man in our country who has chosen hunger over corruption. And he knows how the country can make him eat again – The Jan Lokpal Bill.ed
Padma Bhushan Kisan Baburao Hazare was working in the Indian Army for 15 long years before a close brush with death in 1965 made him dedicate his life for the people of India. And thus was born a social activist who made sure that one Ralegan Siddhi village was transformed from a highly degraded village ecosystem in a semi-arid region of extreme poverty to one of the richest village ecosystems in the country.
And now this social hero is hungry again.

Again it’s about a village. A large village infested with corruption so deep that the 1.2 Billion villagers have been begging for something like a Jan Lokpal Bill to help them kill the monster.
What Jan Lokpal Bill is all about:
Remember the RTI (2005) act? The Jan Lokpal Bill is another potential sword in the hands of the common people, which if enacted, would make it very difficult for the corrupt officials/ bureaucrats/ politicians to escape unscathed from the hands of the Judiciary.
The government is proposing to bring a very weak lokpal bill. Alternately, Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (activist) have together drafted a strong anti-corruption law called Jan Lokpal Bill which requires that investigations into any case should be completed within a year and the trial should get over in the next one year so that a corrupt person goes to jail within two years of complaint and his ill gotten wealth is confiscated.
Not beating around the bush, let’s come to the 10 salient features of this bill .
(Information courtesy: www.indiaagainstcorruption.org)
1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up.
2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.
3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.
4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.
5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.
6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.
7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.
8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.
9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.
10. It will be the duty of the Lokpal to provide protection to those who are being victimized for raising their voice against corruption.

The bill has been drafted very meticulously, as almost everyone of us has had some experience of corrupt officials and the way they escape the laws. Keeping the Lokpal and the Lokayukta unrelated to the government is a very smart move for obvious reasons. Some other ‘non-obvious’ ways in which this bill can help us have been tabulated as follows:
(Information courtesy: www.indiaagainstcorruption.org)
Existing System System proposed under the JL bill
No politician or senior officer ever goes to jail despite huge evidence because Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) and CBI directly come under the government. Before starting investigation or initiating prosecution in any case, they have to take permission from the same bosses, against whom the case has to be investigated. Lokpal at centre and Lokayukta at state level will be independent bodies. ACB and CBI will be merged into these bodies. They will have power to initiate investigations and prosecution against any officer or politician without needing anyone’s permission. Investigation should be completed within 1 year and trial to get over in next 1 year. Within two years, the corrupt should go to jail.
No corrupt officer is dismissed from the job because Central Vigilance Commission, which is supposed to dismiss corrupt officers, is only an advisory body. Whenever it advises government to dismiss any senior corrupt officer, its advice is never implemented. Lokpal and Lokayukta will have complete powers to order dismissal of a corrupt officer. CVC and all departmental vigilance will be merged into Lokpal and state vigilance will be merged into Lokayukta.
No action is taken against corrupt judges because permission is required from the Chief Justice of India to even register an FIR against corrupt judges. Lokpal & Lokayukta shall have powers to investigate and prosecute any judge without needing anyone’s permission.
Nowhere to go - People expose corruption but no action is taken on their complaints. Lokpal & Lokayukta will have to enquire into and hear every complaint.
There is so much corruption within CBI and vigilance departments. Their functioning is so secret that it encourages corruption within these agencies. All investigations in Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be transparent. After completion of investigation, all case records shall be open to public. Complaint against any staff of Lokpal & Lokayukta shall be enquired and punishment announced within two months.
Weak and corrupt people are appointed as heads of anti-corruption agencies. Politicians will have absolutely no say in selections of Chairperson and members of Lokpal & Lokayukta. Selections will take place through a transparent and public participatory process.
Citizens face harassment in government offices. Sometimes they are forced to pay bribes. One can only complaint to senior officers. No action is taken on complaints because senior officers also get their cut. Lokpal & Lokayukta will get public grievances resolved in time bound manner, impose a penalty of Rs 250 per day of delay to be deducted from the salary of guilty officer and award that amount as compensation to the aggrieved citizen.
Nothing in law to recover ill gotten wealth. A corrupt person can come out of jail and enjoy that money. Loss caused to the government due to corruption will be recovered from all accused.
Small punishment for corruption- Punishment for corruption is minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years. Enhanced punishment - The punishment would be minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.
After having read till here, don’t you think that Mr. Hazare knows why he has chosen this bill over his food? It’s high time we support efforts like this to make our land a better place. The least we can do is to support the cause over facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198421130191214
Team aS supports Anna Hazare and hopes that this important sword of a bill gets introduced rather than a very weak lokpal bill that the government is trying to push in. We are not idiots out here who would accept any bill in the name of Lok Pal. At least Anna Hazare isn’t. That’s what makes him hungry for more.
The question is, what makes you hungry?
Alok K.


Mohi said...

We are with him. Equally hungry, equally anxious.

Itsmeonly said...

The differences b\w existing and proposed system clearly shows why no government has passed this bill...
Every indian should support Anna Hazare..!!

Unknown said...

Thanks to Anna Hazare,our country has found a pavement from athenian democracy.But better route i.e.Civil and Responsible Democracy:D

Anonymous said...

hey thank you for the informative read. from a long time i have been trying to understand this whole thing but due to the dull explanation in the newspapers would chuck it aside. but your article explained every minute detail in an interesting way.

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