List of differences between Civil Society and Government versions of Lokpal

India Against Corruption, the umbrella body spearheading the struggle for a powerful anti-corruption mechanism, has given out a list of areas where the government has simply failed to see eye to eye with them.

The requirements that Government has refused are the following, according to the IAC:

  1. Including the PM, Judge and MP voting
  2. Including all all government servants including ‘low grade’ ones
  3. Penalty for public servants refusing to do your work (deemed corruption)
  4. Citizens should be able to complain against corrupt Lokpal
  5. Selection committee to be comprised of non-politicians
  6. Direct filing of case against suspect after initial investigation in special benches of High Courts
  7. Safeguards against mis-use of stay orders
  8. Lokpal’s ability to remove the corrupt officer (as case is going on)
  9. Bigger punishment for higher ranking officers
  10. Lokpal’s ability to decide how much money it needs to operate every year
  11. Phone-tapping ability to Lokpal
  12. More than 11 officials in the institution

Out of these, perhaps the most important are whether or not citizens can complain against every government official or not and also how many officers will be there in the Lokpal institutions to carry on the work.

While the Government wants only very senior officers (so called Class A government employees and not Class B, C or D), the campaigners led by Anna Hazare want every government officer to be included.

The second point — about how big Lokpal will be — is also important as the government’s suggestion of just 11 people in the institution will not be enough to extend the Lokpal organization right down to the district headquarters. According to what the campaign wants, the 11 member panel will only be a supervisory body and there would be an army officers in each district who are tasked with collecting complaints from the public and conducting preliminary investigation and filing a case in the High Court if necessary.

Another important way in which the Civil Society wants to prevent harassment of ordinary people is by forcing government servants to do their duty within the stipulated time. If they don’t do their duty by issuing a certificate, for example, and keeps the citizen waiting unreasonably, he will be punishable by the Lokpal. However, the government bill does not want such a provision.

Two crucial ways in which the Government is trying to make sure that the Lokpal remains under its control and will never challenge it are by making sure that the selection committee is full of government’s people and that a complaint against the Lokpal can be filed only by the Government.

The Civil Society on the other hand, wants the Lokpal to be accountable to the people. Even if the government thinks the Lokpal is not corrupt, if the citizens think it is, they should have the right to approach the Supreme Court, according to Anna Hazare and Co..