THE LOKPAL DEBATE RESOURCE PAGE
The debate surrounding the creation of the office of Lokpal at the
centre has really not been a debate at all. It's more like a battle
of attrition between two entrenched, polarised positions whose proponents
seem disinclined to engage in any meaningful way.
Towards creating a genuine debate, the National Campaign for People’s
Right to Information (NCPRI) has circulated a letter
and documents. To this end, resources relating to the genesis,
contents and issues relating to the various drafts of the Lokpal Bill
are linked below.
"But who will listen to me?" Lots
of people are keen on getting your feedback on this issue.
For starters, we invite you to email your views to this address:
You can also join
us on Facebook to get updates and news.
You may also send your well-considered suggestions to the Parliamentary
Committee looking at this Bill by September 4, by emailing email@example.com.
Resources from the NCPRI website
Documents on Jan Lokpal Bill
Consultations on ‘Collective and Concurrent Lokpal
Anti Corruption and Grievance Redress Measures' by the NCPRI,
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and Inclusive Media 4 Change
3. NCPRI Press Release, August 16, 2011
4. About the NCPRI
5. NCPRI Press Note, August 20, 2011
6. Statement from Aruna Roy and Nikhil
Dey, September 11, 2011.
Comparisons of the various proposals from the NCPRI
1. India Against Corruption (IAC)
And The National Campaign For People’s Right To Information
(NCPRI) Approaches Towards The Lokpal: Agreements And Differences
2. Major Amendments Suggested to the Government's Bill. (pdf
only, because it is a composite of other documents)
Background resources on the Lokpal institution and
is Lokpal Bill? Another website with good resources.
Second Administrative Reforms Commission, Fourth
Report: Ethics in Governance, January 2007. (Hindi
Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi,
has been engaging with a range of related questions. Do visit
Library.The Initiative blogs here
and you can access their research here.
for Budget and Governance Accountability has also been
working in this area, but primarily from the point of view
Eldis.org is a useful portal that compiles academic papers
and practitioner reports on a range of development and governance
issues. See their section on Governance,
whose sub-themes include Accountability
InfoChange India has a section on Governance. Some recent
features that address accountability and this particular debate:
In 2009, a special issue of the InfoChange dossier Agenda
focused on Civil
India Together has a section devoted to the Right
Balaji compiled this list of articles in April
2011 on his blog that are useful for reconstructing the
debate and events at that moment.
Jayant Bhatt, An
Analysis of Parliamentary Privileges in India, LegalServiceIndia.com.
Letter from Aruna Roy, MKSS:
As a preface and a possible apology, let me say that this
is a combination between a letter and a note. Please bear
with the length of it. We write to you on a matter of mutual
and common concern, the Lokpal bill, now in Parliament.
The context of this letter is explained below.
When the Joint Drafting Committee of the Lokpal was working
on the Jan Lokpal , the NCPRI had written to the Chair,
Shri Pranab Mukherjee, and the co-chair Shri Shanti Bhushan,
enquiring about the TORs and the process of and participation,
in public consultation. Both assured us that there would
be formal public consultation. It did not happen.
When the government bill went to cabinet with the intention
of placing it in the monsoon session of parliament, the
NCPRI decided to make its position known. The NCPRI is continuing
with its deliberations and consultations and has prepared
an approach paper and a set of principles for circulation.
This is a work in progress.
The belief in consultations and discussion is
the reason why we write to you.
The NCPRI’s (National Campaign for People’s
Right to Information) involvement with legislation to deal
with corruption and arbitrary use of power, began with the
demand for an RTI law in 1996. The Lokpal was flagged as a
law that needed to be taken up along with the Whistle Blowers
Bill to address the killing of RTI activists and establish
accountability. A committee was set up in the September 2010
for that purpose. The issue of the Lokpal was however taken
up by some members of the NCPRI Working Committee, who formed
the IAC and the NCPRI discussions remained suspended.
The Lokpal discussion has had an interesting
trajectory. It began as the stated logical end of a large
middle class mobilization on corruption. The stated end of
that campaign was the demand for the setting up of a Joint
Drafting Committee for a Lokpal bill. In common usage and
understanding of corruption, the term casually refers to a
range of corrupt practices. The political/governance spectrum
is indeed more culpable than others. For it is mandated to
maintain integrity in public life, to keep the country on
keel with constitutional and other guarantees. This includes
preventing the arbitrary use of power and corrupt practices.
The Lokpal was too simplistically ordained by the campaign
as a solution to all varieties of corrupt practices in our
However the assurance that all solutions to
the entire gamut of corrupt practices could be worked out
through a strong Lokpal has left us with a great sense of
disquiet. Not only because it does not address the arbitrary
use of power. But because it is an unrealistic promise to
rising expectations that it is an alleviation of all ills
through one bill. It is also a question of the contents of
the Jan Lokpal draft itself.
There have been public meetings but few consultations
on the content of the Act in detail . While gestures and symbolic
assent - like sms and referendums - may approve the intent,
drafting of an Act needs more informed debate. The Lokpal
debate has had its share of general platitudes, we need now
to go beyond that. We also have to place the role of dissent
squarely in the fulcrum of the debate. The discussions after
all, flow from the acceptance that a strong Lokpal bill is
needed. Also that the earlier and even the current government
draft is faulty, even on principles.
The NCPRI however did make efforts before the
5th of April to arrive at a consensus with the IAC in a meeting
held on 3rd April in the NMML. The NAC took up the matter
independent of the NCPRI on the 4th April. The NCPRI had expressed
reservations about the over arching and overwhelming structure
of a law, which included grievances and corruption within
its ambit. It was argued that though both are equally important,
they require different mechanisms for implementation.
Subsequently events took over, and in the polarised
discourse, it became impossible to make suggestions and or
suggest changes. Every critique was attributed to wrong intent
and viewed with suspicion and mistrust by the civil society
members of the Joint Committee. Critique
of the Bill has evoked sharp reactions, and statements have
been made that no amendments or change to the principles or
the framework is possible, and that disagreement with the
draft was tantamount to promoting corruption. We were baffled
by such statements. The NCPRI however continued with the consultations
to evolve an approach, a set of principles and measures to
unpack the huge unwieldy and much too powerful structure proposed
by the IAC.
We are attaching a set of documents defining
our approach to the Lokpal, different both from the Jan Lokpal
and the Government bills. The NCPRI would like to share a
set of principles and a framework for deliberation. The summary
of our basic arguments is detailed below. This was placed
in the public domain by the NCPRI and the Inclusive Media
4 Change ( CSDS) on the 5th and 6th of June 2011.
The consensus that emerged was that in place
of a single institution there should be multiple institutions
and that a basket of collective and concurrent Lokpal anti
corruption and grievance redress measures should be evolved.
Summary of the NCPRI approach towards a series
of concurrent and collective Anti-corruption and Grievance
Rationale: Vesting jurisdiction over the length
and breadth of the government machinery in one institution
will concentrate too much power in the institution, while
the volume of work will make it difficult to carry out its
1. Unanimous endorsement of the need for accountability
of all public servants, including the contentious issue of
inclusion of the PM, with a few caveats. ( No one is above
the law, enforcing the rule of law).
2. An independent system for judicial scrutiny
3. An independent and strong institution to
scrutinize corruption of public servants and issues, which
require different administrative processes and organizational
4. A mechanism to redress grievances of the
5. Whistle Blowers protection.
The five measures proposed by NCPRI are:
1. Rashtriya Bhrashtachar Nivaran Lokpal (National
Anti-corruption Lokpal): An institution to tackle corruption
of all elected representatives, including the Prime Minister
(with some safeguards), Ministers and Members of Parliament
and senior bureaucrats (Group ‘A’officers) and
all other co-accused including those in the private and
social sector. The Lokpal will be financially and administratively
independent from the government and will have both investigative
and prosecution powers.
2. Kendriya Satarkta Lokpal (Central Vigilance
Commission): Amending the Central Vigilance Commission Act
to remove the single directive and empower the CVC to investigate
corruption and take appropriate
action against mid-level bureaucracy.
3. Nyayapalika Lokpal (Judicial Standards and
Accountability Lokpal): To strengthen the existing 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.
4. Shikayat Nivaran Lokpal (Public Grievances
Lokpal): To set up an effective time-bound system for grievance
redress for common citizens to make the government answerable
in terms of its functions, duties, commitments and obligations
towards citizens. The grievance redress structure would have
decentralized institutional mechanisms going right down to
each ward/block level, and would ensure a bottom-up, people
centric approach so that complaints and grievances
can be dealt with speedily and in a decentralized, participatory
and transparent manner. It will integrate public vigilance
processes like vigilance committees and social audits, and
provide for facilitation for the filing of all grievances/complaints
through the setting up of
block information and facilitation centres in every Block
(rural) and ward(urban) in the country.The grievance redress
mechanism will be a three-tier structure consisting of grievance
redress officers at the local level within the department,
independent district level grievance redressal authorities
and central/State level grievance redress commission. It will
include and rationalize existing
5. Lokrakshak Kanoon (Whistleblower Protection
Lokpal): To strengthen the existing Public interest Disclosure
and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, that
is currently before the Parliament, to ensure appropriate
protection of whistleblowers.
These institutions, where relevant, will also
be established at the State level. In addition there will
be a common selection process to staff these institutions.
We feel that all these measures need to be brought in simultaneously
to effectively tackle corruption at all levels and provide
a mechanism to redress grievances of citizens.
We write to you, to present this alternative,
to elicit your responses, and to invite you to be part of
the discourse. Please do let us know whether you are interested
in being part of the discourse and in receiving periodic updates.
Please forward this on to friends and other
(email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Scope and Coverage- Lokpal Basket of Measures (ppt
COLLECTIVE AND CONCURRENT LOKPAL ANTI-CORRUPTION
AND GRIEVANCE REDRESS MEASURES (PDF)
The purpose of this exercise is to present to the government
a well thought out and widely discussed set of measures that
could be simultaneously and collectively adopted to prevent
corruption at all levels, especially in high places, and to
effectively redress grievances. Such measures could include
the enactment of one or more laws in order to create the required
institutions and authorities, the amendment of existing laws
and practices, and the strengthening of existing institutions.
The concerns and issues that need to be kept in mind while
formulating the anti-corruption and grievance redress measures
1. Anti-corruption institutions must be financially, administratively
and legally independent of those whom they are called upon
to investigate and prosecute.
2. It is essential to have a multiplicity of decentralized
institutions, geographically and across levels, with appropriate
accountability mechanisms, to avoid the concentration of too
much power, especially unaccountable power, in any one institution
3. Irrational constraints, like the need to obtain prior sanction,
to investigate or prosecute should not be allowed.
4. However, institutions and processes must be fair and impartial
to both the complainant and the accused, and ensure that honest
persons are not harassed in the process of investigation and
5. Each anti-corruption institution must itself be accountable
in the same manner that it seeks to make other institutions
6. Appointments to these institutions must be done transparently
and in a participatory manner, so as to minimize the chances
of the wrong sorts of people getting in.
7. The functioning of each of these institutions and authorities
must also be transparent, while protecting whistle blowers
and respecting legitimate privacy and other concerns, as laid
out in the RTI Act. Efforts must be made to proactively disclose
as much information as possible, complying with and moving
beyond section 4 of the RTI Act.
8. Institutions must each be of a manageable size, with no
one institution becoming so large that its effective management
and control becomes a problem.
9. Similarly, institutions and authorities should not be allowed
to be overwhelmed but should be so designed that they can
deliver results within a reasonable time frame.
10. If democratic institutions falter or weaken, there is
no alternative to repairing and strengthening them. Setting
up a parallel regulatory or decision making process is unlikely
to help and such a parallel system is likely to itself get
11. Consequently, at the very least, initial complaints must
lie with each public authority, and they must be given an
opportunity of setting their own house in order. Only appeals
against what are seen as unsatisfactory responses should come
to the proposed independent bodies.
12. The basic framework of the Constitution need not be challenged
and solutions could be found that are within the framework
of the Constitution.
13. In order to ensure that the proposed institutions and
authorities are themselves credible and not prone to mutual
back-scratching, circular powers of oversight must be avoided
where institutions and authorities oversee each other’s
functioning and integrity.
14. In order to ensure efficacy and independence of an institution,
it must be given adequate powers and resources to both investigate
complaints and to ensure the effective prosecution of cases.
15. The development, in a bottom up manner, of appropriate
citizen’s charters, as also the codification of a comprehensive
set of entitlements for citizens, both in service delivery
as well as for democratic rights, should be a pre-requisite
to the setting up of a grievance redress mechanism.
16. Lessons need to be learnt from the experience with social
audits, especially in relation to the MGNREGA. These lessons
should influence the design and practice of social audits
for large government expenditures and contracts. Social audits
should also be conducted for assessing policies and their
17. The window of opportunity currently available, because
of the widespread public sentiment against corruption, must
be respected and fully utilized to bring in these measures
as soon as possible.
Following from these principles, some of the measures that
need to be concurrently and collectively implemented include:
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
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
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
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.
The National Campaign for People's Right to Information
16th August, 2011
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
(NCPRI) strongly condemns the arrest of Anna Hazare and his
team members and supporters. We also condemn the unwillingness
of the Delhi Police and the government to grant them permission
to hold a peaceful protest without agreeing to unreasonable
It is the democratic right of every person to protest peacefully
and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that
public protests do not inconvenience or endanger other people.
The government cannot abrogate this responsibility by either
banning or severely constraining public protests, or by shifting
their responsibility on to the protestors. How can Delhi be
the capital of the largest democracy in the world and yet
not allow the people of India to exercise their basic democratic
Though the NCPRI does not agree with many of the demands
of Anna Hazare and his campaign, we fully support their democratic
right to publicly make those demands and are fully committed
to protect such a right for all citizens of India.
We call upon the Government to immediately release Shri Anna
Hazare and his supporters, and provide permission for them
to continue with their non-violent democratic agitation.
(For the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information)
National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
This note attempts to clarify the allegations questioning
the ‘legitimacy’ of the National Campaign for
People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) and its proposal
on the basket of measures for the Lokpal Bill. It is also
to publicly clarify that the NCPRI is an independent, autonomous
network of transparency and accountability advocates. This
clarification becomes necessary in light of recent spurious
allegations that attempt to portray the NCPRI as a tool of
the Government of the day and attempt to blur the boundaries
between the NCPRI and the National Advisory Council (NAC).
The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information
(NCPRI) was formed in 1996 after the Beawar dharna in Rajasthan
where a grassroots group of peasants, and workers along with
activists were demanding transparency at the panchayat level.
The NCPRI’s involvement with the legislative process
to deal with corruption and arbitrary use of power began with
the demand for an RTI law in 1996. The NCPRI endeavours to
constantly engage and interact with the state and with other
institutions and agencies. It campaigns for an effective implementation
the RTI. It encourages and supports the development of materials
related to transparency and governance, the raising of awareness
about the fundamental value of information, the conduct of
research, and the setting up of information clearing houses.
It seeks to further the cause of transparency by adopting
other direct and indirect methods, including the filing of
information requests, the fighting of legal cases, and the
holding of public hearings. The NCPRI seeks to actively work
with other progressive campaigns and movements and in solidarity
with other progressive elements of society.
Since 1996 NCPRI has drawn in a broad cross section of people,
including retired judges, lawyers, journalists, social and
political activists and also civil servants in its advocacy
for a national RTI law. In 1996 the first draft of the RTI
Bill was made under the Chairmanship of Justice P.B. Sawant
who at the time was the Chairman of the Press Council of India
(PCI). The PCI and NCPRI together drafted the People’s
Bill on Right to Information and advocated for a national
RTI law for over a decade, which was enacted in October 2005.
Over the years the NCPRI has negotiated and engaged the government
of India to enact robust transparency legislation. However,
it has also not hesitated to confront the government where
attempts have been made to weaken or dilute the law. The July
2006 dharna against the first proposed amendments bill, the
second dharna in opposition to amendments in November 2009
and, numerous letters and exchanges, all open to the public,
convey the contentious process that has gone into the advocacy
for and enactment of the RTI legislation.
What is the NAC?
The National Advisory Council (NAC) has been set up as an
interface with Civil Society. The NAC comprises distinguished
professionals drawn from diverse fields of development activity
who serve in their individual capacities. Through the NAC,
the Government has access not only to their expertise and
experience but also to a larger network of Research Organizations,
NGOs and Social Action and Advocacy Groups. The NCPRI members
on the NAC are members in an honorary capacity, that is, they
do not receive and salaries, or other privileges. Except for
a travel allowance for attending meetings of the NAC in Delhi,
the members receive no monetary or other special privileges
The NAC provides policy and legislative inputs to Government
with special focus on social policy and the rights of the
disadvantaged groups. NAC 1 was set up to monitor the National
Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) a set of promises to the people.
The NAC ( 2), reconstituted in June 2009 also incorporates
and pays attention to the priorities stated in the address
of the President of India to Parliament on 4 June, 2009. In
addition, the NAC reviews the flagship programmes of the Government
and suggest measures to address any constraints in their implementation
and delivery. (http://nac.nic.in/).
Deliberation does not equal co-option:
To suggest that the NCPRI and the NAC are the same and to
question the legitimacy of NCPRI on its suggested basked of
measures on the Lokpal, simply because members of the NCPRI
are also members of the NAC appears to be a case of diverting
attention from the real issues, that is, the creation of a
strong and independent Lokpal. It is also reflective of a
disregard for difference in opinion. If one does not agree
with the methods or the suggestions made by NCPRI, it seems
rather naïve to accuse the NCPRI of being co-opted by
the government and assume that the NCPRI and the NAC are one
voice. For example, as the recent case of the proposed Food
Security Bill tells us, it is in fact untrue. The numerous
deliberations over what was proposed, what was ‘accepted’
and what has been left out, despite the many attempts by few
NAC members to bring a comprehensive Food Security Bill into
Parliament, suggests the radically divergent opinions of the
government and the NCPRI members within the NAC. (See NAC
minutes of meetings for more details: http://nac.nic.in/meetings.htm).
Discussions and debates within the NAC while cordial cannot
be presumed to be apolitical or less contentious. If one is
not protesting, shouting down the government or marching in
a rally, it cannot be assumed that engaging in negotiation
and dialogue is suggestive of co-option. In fact it is a part
of the same process- of demanding from outside the system,
and fighting for spaces for ones’ arguments. The NCPRI
has always held there is no compromise on the basic principles
of the issue they espouse or support. Thus, it does not deter
to lay out, upfront, the non-negotiable in any deliberative
process and maintains its tenacity to persist on substantive
discussion. What this “us” and “them”
distinction does is draw attention away from substantive discussion
over issues and processes.
The NCPRI note circulated last week (10th August 2011) details
the various discussions, meetings and exchanges on the Lokpal
Bill we need not go into that here. It is important to note
however, once the Government of India constituted the Joint
Drafting Committee (JDC), the NAC, which had taken up the
matter of Lokpal independent of the NCPRI on the 4th April,
stopped all consultations on the Lokpal Bill. However, as
the government bill went to cabinet with the intention of
being introduced in the monsoon session of parliament, the
NCPRI decided to make its position known. The NCPRI is continuing
with its deliberations and consultations. An approach paper
and a set of principles have been prepared for circulation.
This is a work in progress.
We will continue to put forth our suggestions, based on
our experiences with drafting and implementing transparency
legislations, on how to create the strongest and most effective
possible Lokpal. And we will continue to insist that the process
of consultation on the Lokpal bill be open to widest possible
Suchi Pande, Former Secretary, NCPRI, for the NCPRI
August 16, 2011
PRESS NOTE (pdf)
20th August 2011
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information
(NCPRI) has written to the Chairperson of the Standing Committee,
Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and the Prime Minister, enclosing
our alternative approach and detailed formulations for fighting
corruption and redressing grievances of citizens. The NCPRI
has also asked that wider consultations be held in order
to emerge with an effective set of legal measures. We believe
that citizens’ participation in the making of laws
is extremely important, and therefore this process should
be opened up to all citizens and citizens’ groups
who wish to contribute to it.
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information
is a platform of individuals and organizations committed
to making the government and society both transparent and
accountable. The need for strong anti-corruption and grievance
redress institutions has been under active discussion in
the NCPRI since 2010.
We feel that this an extremely crucial timein the country
when the provisions of the Lokpal bill need to be widely
discussed and evolved. The bill iscurrently with the Standing
Committee. The NCPRI has written to the committee today,
highlighting the need for the standing committee to invite
suggestions and comments from all interested groups across
the country, including the NCPRI. We have also written to
the government and leaders of all political parties demanding
that wideconsultations be held in all parts of the country
on the various provisions of the Lokpal bill.
The NCPRI has prepared a critique of the government draft
of the Lokpal bill (as introduced in the LokSabha) and has
evolved an alternate approach in the form of a basket of
collective and concurrent Lokpal anti-corruption and grievance
redress measures. The NCPRI approach builds onseveral public
consultations organized by it since April 2011. In the consultations,
there was unanimity that all public servants must be held
accountable and an effective mechanism for grievance redress
must be evolved. However, it was felt that no single institution
should be made responsible for this mammoth task. Vesting
all-encompassing power and responsibility in one institution
would overload the institution making it difficult for it
to carry out any of its tasks. Therefore, a consensus emerged
that a basket of collective and concurrent Lokpal anti-corruption
and grievance redress measures should be evolved.
In our view, the following five collective and concurrent
anti-corruption and grievance redress measures, will be
required to effectively tackle corruption and redress grievances:
1. RashtriyaBhrashtacharNivaranLokpal( National Anti-corruption
Commission): Anti-corruption Lokpal to tackle corruption
of all elected representatives- Prime Minister (with some
safeguards), Ministers and Members of Parliament and senior
bureaucrats (Group ‘A’ officers) and all other
co-accused including those in the private and social sector.
The Lokpal will be financially and administratively independent
from the government and will have both investigative and
prosecution powers. Please refer to note 1 for the major
amendments suggested by the NCPRI to the Lokpal bill (as
introduced in the LokSabha).
2. KendriyaSatarktaLokpal (Central Vigilance Commission):
Amending the Central Vigilance Commission Act to remove
the single directive and empower the CVC to investigate
corruption and take appropriate action against mid-level
bureaucracy. Please refer to note 2.
3. NyayapalikaLokpal (Judicial Accountability Commission):
To strengthen the existing Judicial Accountability and Standards
Bill, that is currently before the Parliament, to ensure
that the judiciary is made effectively and appropriately
accountable, without compromising its independence from
the executive or the integrity of its functions. Please
refer to note 3.
4. ShikayatNivaranLokpal (Grievance Redress Commission):
To set up an effective time-bound and decentralized system
for grievance redress for common citizens to make the government
answerable in terms of its functions, duties, commitments
and obligations towards citizens. This would be a bottom
up structure that rationalizes the lessons and structure
of the MGNREGA, proposed National Food Security Act and
other social sector programmes. The Grievance Redress Commission
would have representatives at the rural block and urban
ward level and Facilitation Centres would be established
in every Block to help citizens frame, register and pursue
their grievances. Please refer to note 4.
5. LokrakshakKanoon(Whistleblower Protection): To strengthen
the existing Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to
Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, that is currently before
the Parliament, to ensure appropriate protection of whistleblowers
and to make it applicable to all the above mentioned institutions
and also to all other relevant institutions. Please refer
to note 5.
This approach only requires the decision for one new law-
the Commission for redress of public grievances. The others
are all amendments in existing Bills/Laws. It would ensure
that no one is above the law, that institutions are appropriately
empowered and citizens get an accountable administration.
We feel it would be the most effective way of tackling corruption
at different levels while making the administration accountable
and empowering people.
Aruna Roy, Shekhar Singh, Harsh Mander, Nikhil Dey and
(For the NCPRI)
INDIA AGAINST CORRUPTION (IAC) AND THE NATIONAL
CAMPAIGN FOR PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO INFORMATION (NCPRI)
APPROACHES TOWARDS THE LOKPAL: AGREEMENTS AND DIFFERENCES
1. The IAC and the NCPRI are both committed to fighting
corruption and mal-governance, and supporting the setting
up of strong anti-corruption institutions.
2. The IAC envisages the Lokpal covering all public servants,
and at all levels, from the PM to the peon, including ministers,
elected representatives, all civil servants, and the judiciary.
The NCPRI agrees.
3. The IAC envisages all these being covered by one institution,
the NCPRI believes that this would make it too unwieldy,
overwhelm it by sheer numbers, and concentrate too much
power in the hands of a single institution. Therefore, the
NCPRI proposes three different institutions:
a. A RashtriyaBhrashtacharNivaran Lokpal (National Anti-corruption
Commission), to tackle corruption of all elected representatives-
Prime Minister (with some safeguards), Ministers and Members
of Parliament, and senior bureaucrats (Group ‘A’
officers),and all other co-accused.
b. The strengthening of theKendriyaSatarkta Lokpal (Central
Vigilance Commission),to be an investigative, prosecution
and appellate authority for the remaining categories of
c. The setting up of aNyayapalika Lokpal (Judicial Accountability
Commission)by strengthening the Judicial Accountability
and Standards Billthat is currently before the Parliament,
to investigate charges of corruption and misconduct against
4. The IAC proposes that the Lokpal should be independent
of the government, function transparently, and have the
mandate and ability to both investigate and prosecute allegations
of corruption.The NCPRI agrees that this should be the case
for each of the proposed three Lokpals.
5. The IAC proposes that a single Lokpal should deal not
only with corruption at all levels but also function as
a grievance redress mechanism. The NCPRI sees this as undesirable
and impractical, especially given the numbers that would
be involved and the need to tackle grievances in a decentralised
manner. It, therefore, suggests the setting up of an independent,
specialised and professional ShikayatNivaran Lokpal (Grievance
Redress Commission) to effectively redressgrievancesin a
decentralized and time-bound manner. This commission would
have representativesat the rural block and urban ward level
and could also become a single-window gateway for grievance
redress for various central and centrally sponsored schemes
like the MGNREGS.
6. The NCPRI has also proposed aneffectiveLokrakshakKanoon(Whistleblower
Protection Law), by strengthening the Public Interest Disclosure
and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, that
is currently before the Parliament, and ensuring that it
becomes operative for all institutions that receive complaints
relating to corruption and mal-governance and effectively
protects the identity and interests of “whistleblowers”.
7. The IAC and the NCPRI both agree that the Lokpal, as
an institution, should be replicated at the state level
(through appropriate Lokayuktas).
8. Both the IAC and the NCPRI find the Government’s
current Lokpal Bill, as introduced in Parliament, inadequate
and in parts draconian. However, whereas the IAC seems to
be demanding the withdrawal of the Government’s bill
from Parliament and the introduction of its “Jan Lokpal
Bill” into Parliament, the NCPRI believes that the
weaknesses of the Government’s bill must first be
discussed with the Parliamentary Committee that is seized
with the matter and all efforts must be made to persuade
the parliamentary Committee, the Government and the Parliament
itself to finally pass a bill that is adequate and appropriate.
9. The NCPRI is emboldened by the experience with the
RTI Act where, on the basis of various people’s groups
lobbying with the concerned Parliamentary Committee and
the Government, a large number of amendments were made by
the Government to the official bill and the much improved
bill was finally passed by the Parliament.
10. The NCPRI is committed to wide-ranging consultations
with all sections of society in the process of developing
any legislation, especially one that is so close to the
hearts of people. It rejects the view that only governmentscan
draft laws or that any one group of citizens has the sole
prerogative of speaking on behalf of the people of India.
It also rejects the view that mere disagreement with a viewpoint,
whether that of the government or that of a group of people,
can be termed as undemocratic, anti-national, or supportive
of vested interests.
Statement from Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey on the
alleged Statement by Mr Arvind Kejriwal in the Press Conference
at Ralegan Siddhi on 10th Sept 2011
We take exception to the following statement of Mr Arvind
Kejriwal as has been reported in the Hindu dated 11th September
“He said Ms. Roy had wrongly alleged that Team Anna
had not discussed the issue with her, in spite of having
had three meetings with the members. “When we were
supposed to meet her in [veteran journalist] Kuldip Nayar's
house, she sent us back from the gate saying that she didn't
want to talk to me. We tried, but she is not ready to engage
in dialogue,” Mr. Kejriwal said.” (There are
similar reports in other news media as well).
I/we have never alleged that team Anna has not discussed
the issue with me/us, (or more appropriately the NCPRI).
In fact, the NCPRI has never refused to engage in dialogue.
Mr Kejriwal himself states that the issue has been discussed
in “three meetings”, so the allegation that
we have refused to engage in dialogue is wrong on the face
I would like to set the record straight about the highly
objectionable personal aspersions allegedly cast on me that
“When we were supposed to meet her in [veteran journalist]
Kuldip Nayar's house, she sent us back from the gate saying
that she didn't want to talk to me” . I have not sent,
and could not have sent, nor would send anyone back from
the gate of anyone's house. We never met/saw/ or talked
to Mr Kejriwal that day to be able to send him away from
the gate. Nor did we ask for anyone to be sent away.
We were called by Mr Kuldip Nayar for a personal meeting,
where he had said he was going to call Justice Rajinder
Sachar, Ms Medha Patkar, and possibly Mr Prashant Bhushan.
When a member of the NAPM came and informed us that several
others from the IAC were also coming, we made it clear to
Mr Kuldip Nayar that neither Nikhil Dey, nor I were mandated
by the NCPRI to hold discussions on the law or the demands
of the campaign. Mr Kuldip Nayar said he had, in fact called
Medha Patkar, and Prashant Bhushan along with the two of
us, as friends, and understood that there could be no formal
dialogue or discussions.
As a matter of fact, Nikhil Dey and I met all those who
came to Mr Kuldip Nayar’s house that morning. We had
tea in a convivial atmosphere. We reiterated to everyone
that we were not mandated to hold discussions on the lokpal
issue, and had come to Mr Nayar’s house as friends,
and not as members of the NCPRI. For discussions between
the IAC and NCPRI on the lokpal issue, we requested Mr Prashant
Bhushan to call Mr Shekhar Singh of the NCPRI to fix a meeting.
This meeting was fixed and held. At no point has the NCPRI
said it will not meet Mr Kejriwal.
This is our personal statement. The other assertions allegedly
made by Mr Kejriwal that “Ms. Roy had not suggested
an alternative Bill or law,” but merely “a proposal,
a concept note,” and that many of the NCPRI proposals
were “Unconstitutional” will be discussed in
the public domain by the NCPRI.
Nikhil Dey and Aruna Roy, September 11, 2011