02 May 2017, Editorial – The Hindu

GS II: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

Lokpal And the Law

The ruling that the existing legislation is workable is an indictment* of the government.

Background on Lokpal and Lokayukta’s Act, 2013:

  • The idea of creating an anti corruption ombudsman, in the form of a Lokpal, was first conceptualized in 1968 in the fourth Lok Sabha. Thereafter in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 2001 efforts were made to enact legislation to create the institution of Lokpal, but these efforts remained unsuccessful.
  • After the bill saw active citizen engagement, it was finally passed on 01st Jan 2013.

Key Provisions of the Act:

  1. The chairman and members of Lokpal shall be appointed by a selection committee consisting of the
    • Prime Minister
    • Speaker of Lok Sabha
    • Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha
    • Chief Justice of India
    • Sitting supreme court judge as nominated by the CJI
    • Eminent jurist to be nominated by the President based on the recommendations of the other members of the selection committee.
  2. Lokpal at the centre will comprise of 8 members.
  3. Half of these members should have higher judicial experience and the other half should have experience in public administration, finance, insurance and banking laws, anti corruption and vigilance.
  4. Half the members of Lokpal shall be from amongst scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward castes, minority communities and women.
  5. Office of Lokpal shall investigate and prosecute cases of corruption.
  6. Jurisdiction extends to the
    1. Prime Minister
    2. Ministers
    3. current and former Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies
    4. government employees and employees of companies funded or controlled by the central or state government.
    5. institutions receiving foreign donations in excess of ten lakh rupees per year or such higher limit as specified.
  7. The Bill gives Lokpal the power of superintendence over CBI with respect to cases referred by it to CBI.
    • time limit of 60 days for completion of inquiry and 6 months for completion of investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (extendable by a written request by CBI and subsequent approval by Lokpal).
    • CBI officers investigating cases referred by the Lokpal can only be transferred with the approval of the Lokpal.
    • Establishment of a Directorate of prosecution within CBI to be headed by Director who is an officer not below the rank of joint secretary for conduction prosecution of cases under the Lokpal Bill.
    • The director of prosecution shall be appointed by the government on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.
  8. The central government is entrusted with the responsibility of making funds available to CBI for conducting investigation into Lokpal referred matters.
  9. All expenses of Lokpal shall be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.
  10. Imprisonment of up to seven years for public servants on grounds of corruption.
    • Criminal misconduct and habitually abetting corruption has a higher penalty and would result in imprisonment up to ten years.
    • Making false and frivolous complaints to Lokpal would result in a fine of up to one lakh rupees and imprisonment of up to one year.
  11. States have to mandatorily have a lokayukta in place within a period of one year from the passing of the Lokpal Bill.
  12. States will have the freedom to determine the nature and type of lokayukta depending on their requirements.

Has the Act been implemented?

No.

Reason for delay:

  • a parliamentary standing committee’s report on proposed amendments is still under consideration.
  • mainly related to the leader of the largest party in opposition in the Lok Sabha being considered as the Leader of the Opposition for the purposes of forming the Selection Committee to choose the Lokpal.
  • Currently no party in the Opposition has the mandated 10% of the Lok Sabha seats for having a Leader of Opposition.

Is the delay unnecessary?

  • Yes. The court has noted that the Act provides for the selection committee to make appointments even when it is truncated* due to a vacancy.
  • It has made it clear that the fact that some amendments have been proposed and a parliamentary panel has submitted a report would not constitute a legal bar on enforcing the existing law.
  • While the SC refused to read down the provision on the Leader of the Opposition to mean “the leader of the largest party in the opposition”.
  • Notwithstanding SC’s refusal, the govt. could have looked back at historic decisions regarding appointment of LoO
  • Selection of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Central Bureau of Investigation Director have been amended to treat the leader of the largest opposition party as the Leader of the Opposition in the absence of anyone recognised as such.
  • A 1977 Act on the salary of the Opposition Leader deines the position as the leader of the largest party in the opposition and recognised as such by the Speaker.

With SC stating that absence of a post cannot be held as a cause for delay and with the government being undecided on the status of selection of the Leader of Opposition, it is evident that there is a lack of political will to implement the Act.

Update Your Vocabulary

  1. indict: to charge with a fault or offense :  criticize, accuse

Eg: the grand jury could indict the mayor for fraud and embezzlement

2. truncate: Shorten (something) by cutting off the top or the end.

Eg: ‘the discussion was truncated by the arrival of tea’

Source: The Hindu, prsindia.org, merriam-webster.com, oxforddictionaries.com


GS III: Challenges to Internal Security and its prevention

Sukma is a wake up call

Only better training, equipment and tactics will help security forces prevail over Maoists.

The Sukma attack where 25 CRPF jawans lost their lives questions the  preparation, equipping, training and strategy adopted to deal with the insurgencies.

Issues and The Way Ahead:

  1. For several decades, combating LWEs (Left Wing Extremists)/Maoists has been characterised by recruiting CRPF soldiers but putting them through inadequate training.
  2. There are also shortages of Mine Protected Vehicles (MPV). Successive ambushes and attacks have shown the vulnerability of the CRPF and police parties in the Naxal areas.
    • The damage and loss of life from attacks with grenade launchers and improvised explosive devices (IED) can be lessened with movement in armoured vehicles.
    • In 2010, the Centre had sanctioned acquisition of 350 MPVs for the CRPF, but in March 2017, there were only 122 MPVs with the CRPF. Out of these 122 MPVs, about a dozen have been shifted to Jammu and Kashmir.
    • The authorisation by the Ministry of Home Affairs states that every battalion must hold 7-10 MPV’s while presently it is only slightly more than 1.
  3. Inadequate combat capability of state police forces.
  4. Lack of institutionalized intelligence-sharing between States and regions and regional coordination.
  5. Replication of Greyhounds:
    • The Greyhounds special force of undivided Andhra Pradesh has by far been the most effective force to have succeeded in reversing the trend of Maoist violence.
    • In 2012, the Home Ministry had proposed to replicate Greyhounds in five Maoism-hit States. Clearly, the proposal has not seen the light of day, especially in Chhattisgarh.
  6. CRPF leadership to re-evaluate tactics, training and equipment.
    • The use of technology (including drones) to increase surveillance around patrols to prevent ambushes is inadequate.
  7. Setting Up an Internal Security Ministry governing the internal security functions which is completely focused and held accountable for all the operations conducted against insurgency.

Source: The Hindu


 

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