National

Third Lokpal alternative in the offing

With two rival versions of the Lokpal Bill already competing for public attention, the stage now seems to have been set for the emergence of a third alternative, courtesy the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information (NCPRI).

On July 6, the NCPRI, whose working committee includes National Advisory Council (NAC) member Aruna Roy, will present an “alternative approach” to the rival Lokpal Bills, drafted separately after talks broke down between the five activists and five Ministers on the Joint Drafting Committee. The “third way” is expected to be an improvement on both the Jan Lokpal Bill, drafted by the Anna Hazare side, and the watered-down ministerial version offered in opposition to it.

Consultations

The NCPRI and the NAC had been in the thick of consultations on the Lokpal Bill when the government, bowing to pressure from Mr. Hazare, announced the formation of the Joint Lokpal Bill Drafting Committee. The NAC withdrew from further consultations on the Bill, while the NCPRI said it would continue to hold broad-based discussions towards evolving a structurally and legally sound Lokpal Bill. At a consultative meeting, held on April 16, 2011, NCPRI members roundly criticised the clauses of the Jan Lokpal Bill, calling it a “Frankenstein's monster.”

The NCPRI has since looked exhaustively at the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill — which itself has undergone several changes — and the version finalised by the ministerial representatives. The NCPRI's position is that while the ministerial draft is flawed, it is also unable to accept the concentration of powers envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, preferring instead that the functions and responsibilities of the Lokpal be divided among multiple bodies.

The NCPRI's argument is that the Jan Lokpal Bill has made itself unsustainable by being too ambitious and combining too many objectives. Judicial accountability, political corruption and grievance redress, all of which have been brought within the ambit of the Jan Lokpal Bill, would each require a different approach as well as a mechanism of its own. The NCPRI wants the Lokpal to look primarily at high-level political corruption — the Prime Minister included — leaving judicial accountability and grievance redress to be addressed separately, the former by strengthening the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill and the latter through the institution of a grass-roots mechanism.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 12:08:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/third-lokpal-alternative-in-the-offing/article2159322.ece

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