Saturday, April 9, 2011

Notification Of Joint Drafting Committee To Prepare Draft Lokpal Bill

Ministry of law and justice has finally issues the official gazette notification constituting the joint drafting committee to prepare draft of the Lokpal Bill. The Bill would be placed in the next session of Parliament.

The joint committee would be headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and former law minister Shanti Bhushan would act as the co-chairman of the committee. The joint drafting committee will consist of five nominee ministers of the Government of India and five nominees of Anna Hazare, including himself.

The five Ministers are Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khursheed. The five civil society members are Anna Hazare, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal.

The joint drafting committee will commence its work forthwith and involve its own procedure to prepare the proposed legislation. The joint drafting committee shall complete its work latest by June 30.

This is a good step in the right direction, says Praveen Dalal, a Supreme Court Lawyer and managing member of India’s first RTI Helpdesk. The best part of this Notification is that it is flexible as it allows the Committee to follow its “own procedure”. Thus, expert opinion of others can also be taken and they can be a part of the same as the “invitee members” of the Committee, informs Dalal. Further, the Committee has to act in a “time bound manner” and this would also ensure early draft of the proposed Lokpal Bill of India, suggests Dalal.

Corruption has increased dramatically in India and legislations like Lokpal Bill and institutions like Lokayukta would go a long way in reducing the same. Further, laws like right to information act, 2005 go a long way in bringing transparency in the governmental dealing of India.

Recently, the right to information rules, 2010 were drafted by the Indian government. However, according to RTI experts like Praveen Dalal they are retrograde in nature. India needs an “optimum combination” of RTI Act 2005, Lokpal Law and Lokayukta Organisations, suggests Dalal.

Now the Committee for Lokpal Bill has been constituted, many reforms can be anticipated. However, the views and opinions of other experts and public at large must also be taken before the final Lokpal Bill is presented in the Parliament of India.