Saturday, August 20, 2011

Features of the 3rd version of Lokpal Bill made by Aruna Roy and National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI)

1. Enacting a legislation for the setting up of Lokpal/Lokayukta Anti-Corruption Lokpals (Rashtriya/Rajya Bhrashtachar Nivaran Lokpal) at the Centre and in each of the states, that would receive, investigate and ensure effective prosecution of complaints about corruption relating to all elected representatives, including the Prime minister, Chief Ministers, Central and state Ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs, elected councilors, etc, and all class A officers, and to prosecute those against whom sufficient evidence is found. They would also have the power to investigate and prosecute any other person who is a co-accused in any of the cases being investigated or prosecuted by the Lokpal.

2. Amending the Judicial Accountability and Standards Bill, that is currently before the Parliament, to ensure that the judiciary is also made effectively and appropriately accountable, without compromising its independence from the executive or the integrity of its functions.

3. Drafting an act that provides for the setting up and functioning of Public Grievances Lokpal (Shikayat Nivaran Lokpal) at the centre and in each of the states. These commissions would have powers to ensure that detailed citizen's charters and norms of functioning are prepared for each public authority. They would also ensure that other entitlements and rights are codified, and that the obligations of each public authority are fulfilled. The grievance redress commissions would have decentralized institutional mechanisms going right down to each ward/block level, and would ensure a bottoms up people centric approach so that complaints and grievances could be dealt with speedily and in a decentralized, participatory and transparent manner. The functioning of the grievance redress processes could be linked to the RTI Act and also to recent, time-bound, service delivery laws providing for the imposition of penalty on officials who do not meet the prescribed time frames for providing services to the public. The experience of the Delhi Grievance Redress Commission could also be instructive.

4. Strengthening the institution of the CVC and bringing in under its purview all officers not covered under the Lokpal bill. Towards that end, providing the institution of the CVC with adequate investigative and prosecution powers and resources. Creating similar, independent, State Vigilance Commissions for each of the states, and also strengthening departmental enquiry procedures.


5.  An effective legislation to protect whistleblowers will be enacted. In addition, each of these institutions would also have provisions for protecting whistleblowers and their identity.
Each of these institutions and authorities will function transparently and will have to be accountable to the public for their actions (and inactions) through strong and effective accountability measures. An option that can be considered is that only one law be enacted that would contain all these proposed institutions and measures. However, the institutions must be separate and independent of each other.


Who is Aruna Roy ?

    Aruna Roy was born in Chennai, and was an IAS officer until 1974. She resigned from the IAS to join the Social Work and Research Center in Tilonia, Rajasthan, which had been set up by her husband Sanjit 'Bunker' Roy. 
    She worked at the SWRC until 1983, then moved to Devdoondri in 1990 and set up the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana, a group which is a working example of a transparent organization. She is a strong supporter of the movement for Right to Information, which succeeded in getting the Rajasthan Right to Information Bill passed.

    The MKSS built a grassroots movement that has triggered broad debate and a nationwide demand for the public's right to scrutinize official records - a crucial check against arbitrary governance.

    In 2000, she was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award for Community Leadership and International Understanding, along with J Arputham, the President of the National Slumdwellers' Federation. Aruna Roy requested that the award be given to the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana, but was informed that it was only given to individuals. She put the award money into a trust to support the process of democratic struggles.

What about NCPRI ?

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) is a platform of individuals and organizations committed to making the Indian government and society more transparent and accountable. It seeks to empower people and to deepen democracy, through promoting the people’s right to know. By encouraging disclosure of information relevant to the public, it seeks to fight corruption and social apathy, to make governments, and other institutions and agencies having an impact on public welfare, more humane and accountable to the people they are meant to serve.




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