Ten differences between Jan Lokpal Bill and Govt Bill

Ten differences between Jan Lokpal Bill and Govt Bill

MR Madhavan, PRS Legislative

Updated Aug 19, 2011 at 07:01pm IST
The streets are witnessing a demand that the government’s Lok Pal Bill be
replaced by the Jan Lok Pal Bill (JLP) as drafted by the team led by Anna
Hazare. There are several significant differences between the two bills. In this
note, we describe the some of these differences.

First, there is a divergence on the jurisdiction of the Lok Pal. Both bills
include ministers, MPs for any action outside Parliament, and Group A officers
(and equivalent) of the government. The government Bill includes the Prime
Minister after he demits office whereas the JLP includes a sitting Prime
Minister. The JLP includes any act of an MP in respect of a speech or vote in
Parliament (which is now protected by Article 105 of the Constitution). The JLP
includes judges; the government Bill excludes them. The JLP includes all
government officials, while the government Bill does not include junior (below
Group A) officials. The government Bill also includes officers of NGOs who
receive government funds or any funds from the public; JLP does not cover NGOs.

Second, the two Bills differ on the composition. The government Bill has a
chairperson and up to 8 members; at least half the members must have a judicial
background. The JLP has a chairperson and 10 members, of which 4 have a judicial

A dispassionate and unbiased analysis of
the two versions of the Bill and their main differences.

Third, the process of selecting the Lok Pal members is different. The JLP has
a two stage process. A search committee will shortlist potential candidates. The
search committee will have 10 members; five of these would have retired as Chief
Justice of India, Chief Election Commissioner or Comptroller and Auditor
General; they will select the other five from civil society. The Lok Pal
chairperson and members will be selected from this shortlist by a selection
committee. The selection committee consists of the Prime Minister, the Leader of
Opposition in Lok Sabha, two Supreme Court judges, two high court chief
justices, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General
and all previous Lok Pal chairpersons.

The government Bill has a simpler process. The selection will be made by a
committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the leaders of Opposition in both
Houses of Parliament, a Supreme Court judge, a high court chief justice, an
eminent jurist and an eminent person in public life. The selection committee
may, at its discretion, appoint a search committee to shortlist candidates.

Fourth, there are some differences in the qualifications of a member of the
Lok Pal. The JLP requires a judicial member to have held judicial office for 10
years or been a high court or Supreme Court advocate for 15 years. The
government Bill requires the judicial member to be a Supreme Court judge or a
high court chief justice. For other members, the government Bill requires at
least 25 years experience in anti-corruption policy, public administration,
vigilance or finance. The JLP has a lower age limit of 45 years, and
disqualifies anyone who has been in government service in the previous two

Fifth, the process for removal of Lok Pal members is different. The
government Bill permits the president to make a reference to the Supreme Court
for an inquiry, followed by removal if the member is found to be biased or
corrupt. The reference may be made by the president (a) on his own, (a) on a
petition signed by 100 MPs or (c) on a petition by a citizen if the President is
then satisfied that it should be referred. The President may also remove any
member for insolvency, infirmity of mind or body, or engaging in paid

The JLP has a different process. The process starts with a complaint by any
person to the Supreme Court. If the court finds misbehaviour, infirmity of mind
or body, insolvency or paid employment, it may recommend his removal to the

Sixth, the offences covered by the bills vary. The government Bill deals only
with offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The JLP, in addition,
includes offences by public servants under the Indian Penal Code, victimization
of whistleblowers and repeated violation of citizen’s charter.

Seventh, the government Bill provides for an investigation wing under the Lok
Pal. The JLP states that the CBI will be under the Lok Pal while investigating
corruption cases.

Eighth, the government Bill provides for a prosecution wing of the Lok Pal.
In the JLP, the CBI’s prosecution wing will conduct this function.

Ninth, the process for prosecution is different. In the government Bill, the
Lok Pal may initiate prosecution in a special court. A copy of the report is to
be sent to the competent authority. No prior sanction is required. In the JLP,
prosecution of the Prime Minister, ministers, MPs and judges of Supreme Court
and high courts may be initiated only with the permission of a 7-judge bench of
the Lok Pal.

Tenth, the JLP deals with grievance redressal of citizens, in addition to the
process for prosecuting corruption cases. It requires every public authority to
publish citizen’s charters listing its commitments to citizens. The government
Bill does not deal with grievance redressal.

Given the widespread media coverage and public discussions, it is important
that citizens understand the differences and nuances. This may be a good
opportunity to enact a law which includes the better provisions of each of these
two bills.



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