On, 1st January, 2014 India received its big New Year gift as President Pranab Mukherjee signed the long awaited Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 which has now become a law. The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 17th December, 2013 and by the Lok Sabha on 18th December, 2013. The Lok Sabha secretariat on 31st December, 2013 sent to the Law Ministry a copy of the Bill which has been signed by Speaker Meira Kumar. The Bill was then forwarded to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the Presiden.
The much-awaited law is providing for creation of an anti-graft watchdog which will bring under its purview even the Prime Minister with certain safeguards. Now the Secretary Legislative Department in the Law Ministry will sign it and send it for publication in the official gazette. Once the bill is notified in the official gazette it will become a force of law.
The Bill aims to set up institution of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states by law enacted by respective legislatures within one year of coming into force of the Act. The Bill was first passed by the Lok Sabha at the end of the winter session of 2011. But it was challenged and highly debated in Rajya Sabha. Later, a select committee of the Rajya Sabha had suggested changes in the Bill, most of which which were incorporated and approved by the Union Cabinet. Following the amendments, the Rajya Sabha had passed the bill.
The Lokpal had become a bone of contention among ruling Congress, opposition BJP and civil societies with each one of them wanting to make changes in it to make it more effective. But only future will tell us the effectiveness of the new law. As we know from our past experience in India that every organisation which is created to regulate the corruption becomes corrupt itself in due course of time. This is due to the mindset of the people and the lengthy procedures existing in the country and lack of clarity in accountability of the people who run these systems. Though people complain about rampant corruption at every location in the system but the same people don't hesitate to bribe to get their things done as they desire. Unless we the people who shout a lot about corruption get united themselves and stop resorting to do wrong practices, there can't be reduction of corruption in the country. Any number of anti-corruption laws cannot stop it. Unless there is serious focus on streamlining the systems to make it people friendly and defined accountability, corruption can't get curtailed down. There are also other factors responsible for rampant corruption. The unreasonable delay in resolving the legal disputes where it takes 10 to 20 years to complete the judicial proceedings.
Let us see upto what extent the Lokpal will be able to check the corruption in the prevailing circumstances. But only time will tell us its litmus test.