Harish Jharia

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29 December 2011

India needs an ombudsman for tackling Corruption And Black Money In High Places: Lokpal vis-à-vis CBI

                      Anna Hazare

© Harish Jharia 

What is the meaning of Lokpal?

The concept of Lokpal has been derived from the globally known entity of ‘ombudsman’ that stands for an intermediary body who works between the people and the government for dealing with cases of corruption.  Ombudsmen are also appointed separately in different departments of any government for attending to the grievances and corruption charges reported by the people of that country. 

For example, in the USA the Ombudsman International takes complaints regarding public officials and/or public corruption by civil servants. In that regard, they contract a private investigator to investigate the complaint themselves. Should the complaint be found to be true, they will forward the complaint and fact-finding data to the Attorney General and /or other law enforcement agencies.

The history of demand for the Lokpal:

The Indian version of ombudsman is proposed to be ‘The Lokpal’, for which Anna Hazare and his civil society activists have initiated a nationwide stir and forced the reluctant Indian government to initiate process of passing the Lokpal bill in both the houses of parliament of India and make it a law. Not only the politicians in the ruling party Congress were reluctant, even most of the Members of Parliament from other parties were also reluctant for supporting this bill. 

The demand for the institution of Indian ombudsman Lokpal was raised by Indian people 40 years back. Since then different drafts of Lokpal bills were tabled in the Indian parliament for dozens of times. But, the Lokpal bill never crossed the acid tests through both the houses of Indian Parliament. The Indian politicians as Members of Parliaments (MPs) did not let it happen. 

Now the similar situation has arisen and the controversial government’s draft of Lokpal bill has been passed by the lower house Lok Sabha. Subsequently, it is the turn of the upper house of the Indian parliament Rajya Sabaha to pass the same in the process of making it a law? The people of India are keeping their fingers crossed awaiting the outcome of the verdict of the highest house of power in India. 

Lokpal vis-à-vis CBI:

The Indian government’s version of Lokpal bill has a major and serious difference from that of the one drafted by the civil society, headed by the anticorruption crusader Anna Hazare. That is the position of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) vis-à-vis the Lokpal. The government wants the most powerful investigation authority CBI to be under the control and administration of the Indian government. 

On the other hand, the civil society headed by Anna Hazare wants that the CBI should be a part of the Lokpal for investigating cases of corruption and fighting the cases against the culprits in the courts of law. Apparently, the CBI is proposed to report to the Lokpal only for the cases of corruption and black money. The Lokpal itself is also proposed to deal with only financial crimes committed at all the levels of governance. 

It is better known to the Indian Members of Parliament as to why don’t they want the CBI to function under the administrative control the Lokpal. 


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