Raising their pitch on the Lokpal Bill issue, the Anna Hazare team on Thursday alleged that the government version of the ombudsman was not aimed at fighting corruption but for targeting those who complain against the menace.
The Anna Hazare team felt that the exclusion of a large chunk of the bureaucracy from the ambit of Lokpal and the provision to hear officials accused of corruption before filing of case and charge sheet were not proper.
They wondered how most public servants can be left out of Lokpal’s purview while bringing NGOs up to village level within its ambit. They expressed apprehension that Lokpal would be able to haul up activists from any of the organisations representing farmers, labourers and tribals or movements related to anti-corruption, land and other issues.
“Rather than gunning for the corrupt and corruption, government’s Lokpal seems to be gunning for those who complain against corruption,” the statement said.
It said the government argued that the Lokpal would get overwhelmed with too many cases if all public servants -- 40 lakh central and 80 lakh state government officials -- were brought under its ambit and restricted to around 65,000 officers above the rank of Joint Secretary.
“In sharp contrast, all NGOs are covered under government’s Lokpal, small or big, whether in state or centre.
“So, in a remote village, if a group of youngsters detect corruption in panchayat works using RTI, the youngsters can be hauled up by Lokpal but Lokpal would not have jurisdiction over Sarpanch, BDO or their corruption,” it said.
Citing an example, it said, Lokpal would not have jurisdiction over Delhi government officials, but it would have jurisdiction over all RWAs in the capital. “All small neighbourhood groups who raise donations to do Ramlila or Durga Puja would be under Lokpal’s scanner,” it said.
“No one can dispute the fact that corruption in NGOs needs to be addressed. But how can you leave most public servants out of Lokpal’s purview but bring NGOs up to village level within its purview?” the Hazare team said.
The statement said before the investigations actually start, the government servant can file a cross complaint against the citizen straight to the special court, without any preliminary enquiry by any agency, that the complaint is false or frivolous.
“The government will provide free advocate to the government servant to file this case. The citizen will have to defend himself on his own. Then there is stiffer punishment for the complainant than the corrupt government servant.
“If the Special Court concludes that the complaint is frivolous or false, the citizen faces a minimum of two years of punishment. But if corruption charges against government servant are proved, there is a minimum of six months of punishment for the corrupt government servant,” it said.