Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lokpal should catch big fish to send a strong message: Lok Satta

While whole-heartedly welcoming the passage of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament, Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that it would be deemed a success only if a dozen corrupt high-level politicians and civil servants are sentenced to rigorous imprisonment and their properties confiscated annually.

In a media statement, Dr. JP pointed out that such deterrent punishment would send a strong message to the entire nation on the Government’s commitment to fight corruption.

Dr. JP reiterated the Lok Satta Party contention that there is no alternative to creation of an independent, empowered Lokayukta at the State level because that is where corruption is omnipresent and hurts the common man most. Andhra Pradesh, for instance, has only a toothless Lokayukta.

The passage of the Lokpal should be regarded as only a beginning in the war against corruption. The war can become full-fledged only when a stringent law on the lines of the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act (SAFEMA) is in place providing for confiscation of the entire property of the corrupt.

The Lokpal law should be supplemented with a law to guarantee Government services as a matter of right to every citizen with provision imposition of penalty for failure to deliver services. A Bill drafted by the Lok Satta in this regard at the instance of the Parliamentary Committee is before Parliament.

Dr. JP also demanded that laws, rules and regulations should be ushered in to ensure that all scarce natural resources like telecom spectrum, iron ore and coal mines are allocated in a competitive and transparent manner.

According to Dr. JP, the Lokpal law will cover about 2000 high-level politicians and civil servants at the Central level. The Central Vigilance Commission will deal with lower level employees under the superintendence of the Lokpal.

Dr. JP recalled with happiness that most of the recommendations made by the Lok Satta Round Table 2011 on the Lokpal have been incorporated in the amended Bill. Some of the best legal brains in the country including the late Justice J. S. Verma and Justice M. N. Venkatachalaiah took part in the Round Table and suggested changes in the Lokpal Bill conceived by the Government.

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