The word Lokpal (Sanskrit: protector of the people) means an ombudsman and has been derived from the Sweden. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries. It is drawn up ostensibly to root out corruption at high places the prevailing in India.
The Lokpal Bill also referred to as the citizens’ ombudsman bill is a proposed anti-corruption bill that has the power to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians, bureaucrats and people in power. For the past 42 years different governments have been trying to put this law into place. The first lokpal bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in Rajya Sabha, subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, yet they were never passed.
The Jan Lokpal Bill – जन लोकपाल विधेयक, also referred to as the citizens’ ombudsman bill is a proposed independent anti-corruption law in India. Anti-corruption social activists proposed it as a more effective improvement to the original Lokpal bill. The prefix Jan (translation: citizens) was added to signify the fact that these improvements include input provided by “ordinary citizens” through an activist-driven, non-governmental public consultation.
In 2011, renowned civil activist Anna Hazare started a Satyagraha movement by commencing an indefinite fast in New Delhi to demand the passing of the bill. The movement attracted attention in the media, and hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country. The movement has literally brought the government to its knees and this pressure tactic has resulted in the bill being seriously discussed in the Parliament. Today is the 11th day of Anna starting the fast and hopefully there would be a positive resolution.
This Jan Lokpal bill has been drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist). The Jan Lokpal draft bill envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission. Main objective of the bill is to provide speedy, cheaper form of justice to people.
If made into law, the bill would create an independent ombudsman body similar to the Election Commission of India called the Lokpal. It would be empowered to register and investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats without prior government approval. The Jan Lokpal Bill aims to effectively deter corruption, redress grievances of citizens, and protect whistle-blowers.