Sunday, June 5, 2011

An Ideal Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 Of India By Praveen Dalal

In this guest column, Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of New Delhi based Law Firm Perry4Law and leading Techno Legal Specialist of India has shared his views regarding the ideal Jan Lokpal Law of India. He has also sent his suggestions in this regard to the Government of India.

Any Person or Institution that believes that Jan Lokpal Law of India is not requires is certainly Corrupt and Anti National. This is the reason why the Government of India cannot deny its enactment. However, Indian Government can “Delay” it enactment and the same would amount to “Denial” of the very Jan Lokpal Law of India.

This “Delaying Tactics” is not new to Indian Government. The Lokpal Bill has been drafted for more than 42 years by Indian Government and it has failed to become an applicable law till now. The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in the Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008.

India’s intentions to ignore Corruption were also apparent when it did not “Ratified” the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Although India signed the Convention in 2005 but Indian Government refused to ratify the same. This is also the reason why Anti Corruption Laws of India remained not only “National’ in nature but also redundant and ineffective. Of course, India has now ratified the Convention and it has become mandatory for India to keep its laws in line with the same.

Realising that India is not at all serious in eradicating corruption, the Civil Society took up the task upon itself. Under the leadership of Anna Hazare the fight against widespread corruption in India was started. This resulted in the formulation of a “Joint Drafting Committee” (JDC) to draft a Jan Lokpal Bill of India 2011. However, the JDC failed to reach at a “Consensus” and it is believed that the deadline of drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill would pass without any such Bill being drafted.

In the meanwhile, Baba Ramdev also started his fight against widespread corruption in India. He also raised a demand to consider black money deposited in foreign bank accounts as “National Property” and to formulate a law in this regard. Unfortunately, in my personal opinion, the Government of India adopted “Unconstitutional Methods” to derail and demoralise this agitation of Baba Ramdev and he was detained and then deported from New Delhi. This entire episode is “Highly Unfortunate” and it would have been better if the matter could have been solved through “Negotiations”.

Although Indian Government has taken a “Drastic Step” yet my “Concerns” are more than that alone. In this entire episode we have forgotten about enactment of suitable Corruption Laws in India like Jan Lokpal Act of India 2011. My specific concerns at this stage are what the Indian Jan Lokpal Act 2011 must incorporate to make it Just, Reasonable, Strong, Robust and Effective. I believe that Jan Lokpal Act 2011 of India is “Not a Panacea” for all sorts of Corruption related problems in India. Nevertheless it is an important “Milestone” in the fight against corruption in India. So besides fighting Corruption, India must also focus upon Administrative, Legal and Judicial Reforms.

Further, if Jan Lokpal Act 2011 of India has to be successful it must incorporate many more issues like Technology, Whistleblower Protection, Harmonisation between Judicial and Lokpal fields, Right to Information, Mandatory Electronic Services Delivery, etc.

The Jan Lokpal Act 2011 of India must be Techno Legal to be most successful. It must “Empower” Indian Citizens not only Legally but also Electronically. E-Governance and use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) must be an essential part of the Lokpal Mechanism. Further, the proposed Jan Lokpal Act 2011 of India must be kept “Flexible” by incorporating “Enabling Provisions” now for which Rules can be framed subsequently. This way a “Vested Right” is created in favour of Indian Citizens to fight against corruption in India and even the Government of India would have sufficient time to develop finer modalities at a later stage.

I hope India Government would consider these “Concerns and Suggestions” of mine and they would prove useful to all concerned.