Anna Hazare, the face of the anti-graft movement, had extended his support to the Delhi Janlokpal Bill 2015. His support comes at the time when former aides, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, had publically trashed the bill as ‘mahajokepal’. Suspended BJP leader OP Sharma, in conversation with this correspondent has termed it as, “Joker’s Jokepal.”
However, Arvind Kejriwal’s claims, that Janlokpal “it is strongest anti-corruption law of Independent India” seems plausible. TEHELKA decodes five points for its readers from the “historical bill” tabled in the Delhi Assembly, which has been overlooked during the entire hullabaloo:
1. Fine upto five times the loss: Probably for the first time any anti-graft legislation in India has a provision of recovery of losses to public exchequer due to the act of corruption by the culprit. It aims to recover upto five times the loss through various means including attachment of property and confiscating the assets which the Janlokpal (ombudsman) feels are proceeds of the concerned act of corruption.
2. Time Bound Inquiry and judgment: The present Bill proposes that inquiry shall be completed within six months of its commencement, making it a time bound process. In rare cases it can be further extended for a period of 6 more months i.e. 12 months in total. The special courts are supposed to close the cases within six months itself.
3. No special privileges, even for CM: Offices of Chief Minister, ministers and all other offices including private companies who are in public-private arrangement with the government will have no special privileges. Inquiry and punishment in these cases too will be carried out, just like in any other case, under Janlokpal.
4. The higher the post, the higher the punishment: The Bill has a provision which states that while awarding the punishment, the rank of the person must be considered. It says, ‘the Special Court may take into consideration the rank of the public servant while awarding him punishment and the Special Court may award higher punishment to a public servant holding higher rank.’ Under the legislation a culprit can be jailed for six months to 10 years which can be extend to a life term imprisonment in special cases.
5. Whistle-Blowers Protection: Since the inception of Right to Information Act, safety of whistleblowers has become one of the biggest concerns of the civil society. Once a whistle blower himself, Kejriwal had made provisions for Whistle-Blowers protection in this legislation itself. The section has provisions to protect the whistle blower from any physical and administrative harassment. Also, the identities of those providing information, evidence and helping the investigation, will be kept a secret. It means the Delhi’s Janlokpal Bill will safeguard the interests of public servants like Ashok Khemka and Sanjeev Chaturvedi, who were penalized for exposing irregularities and corruption within the system.
However, it will be interesting to see how the Modi Government responds to this legislation, which, if passed, will cover the Central government offices and its public servants who fall in the territory of Delhi (NCT).