Lokpal Act: Inadequate Measure Against Corruption

The Lokpal law has finally been passed by both houses of Parliament. This historic achievement has been possible only because of the enormous public awareness and movement against corruption.

But the Lokpal that has been enacted falls short of an institution that can effectively combat corruption. The appointment of the Lokpal will be by PM, Leader of Opposition, Speaker, CJI and one jurist nominated by these four. This still fails to ensure a Lokpal that is truly independent of the political representatives. Removal of the member of the Lokpal also lies in the hands of elected political representatives alone, and no citizen can initiate a move to remove a Lokpal member.

The Lokpal fails to include corporations and conduct of MPs in Parliament in its ambit. This means that the crucial corporate element in huge scams, as well as scams like questions-for-cash or cash-for-votes, will remain outside the ambit of the Lokpal. PPP projects are also left out of the ambit of the Lokpal – in spite of the fact that these are the norm in the neoliberal regime, and PPP projects have been known to be riddled with corruption.

The Act fails to have any provision for protection of whistleblowers – and surely, without this provision, it will be much harder to establish corruption. Not only that, the Act actually has a provision that will intimidate potential whistleblowers – it states that a person who makes a false or frivolous complaints can be jailed for up to one year. The law also does not mandate States to enact Lokayuktas. Corruption in the judiciary and armed forces is yet to be addressed. The Lokpal Act passed by Parliament, therefore, shies away from confronting and correcting the worst practices of corruption that we witness today.

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