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The Timeline and History of Lokpal

The history behind passing the Lokpal and Lokayukt Act, 2013 is long and arduous. It was a bill that was proposed before both the houses of parliament in different forms from the year 1968 but formally took it form in 2013. One of the reason behind this can be the perception of parliamentarian treating as a threat themselves relating to this bill. Also because of this bill being so sensitive in nature, it always found itself in the cold bags of both the legislation houses and adapted to various changes to become an act.

The journey of this act started from 1963 when the idea of an Indian ombudsman emerged through the halls of Parliament while discussing about budget allocation for the Law Ministry. The term Lokpal, which literally meant “people’s protector” was coined be L.M. Singhvi, then Rajya Sabha member and a respected and renowned Jurist. The main aim behind establishing such institution was to control the practise of corruption which was eating the core of our government system.

After this, the first bill was introduced in the parliament in 1968 and was moved by former law minister Shanti Bhushan but it failed to get the force of law. This was the beginning of the various failed attempts made by various governments to pass the bill. Similar attempts were made in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 2001. Thus even after making 8 attempts to pass the bill, they were not successful.

The need for passing the bill was not baseless and many legal and statutory bodies of the country recommended the passing of the bill. The first Administrative Reforms Commission headed by MP Moraji Disai, recommended the immediate establishment of an ombudsman at national and state level to check the acts of public officers including the MPs in 1966. The Commission to review the working of constitution also in 2002 made similar recommendations. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission in 2005, like its previous suggestions again stressed the need for passing the Lokpal act without any further Delay.

 Yet even after so many recommendations and attempts to pass the bill, the establishment of Lokpal in India seemed to have become an impossible task. Then like a ray of hope for India, an Anti-Corruption movement was launched by the famous social activist of Civil Society Anna Hazare in 2011 which called for the enactment of Jan Lokpal Bill. After many failed negotiations he went to a four-day hunger strike which finally made the government relent and agreed on setting up a commission comprised of the government and members of civil society for drafting a bill. They came to a compromise and introduced two bills, the Jan Lokpal Bill and the Lokpal Bill.

After much deliberations and recommendations, the government withdrew the two opposing acts and after much discussion introduced the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill 2011 in the Lok Sabha. After some changes being made and modifications done to the act, the Lokpal and Lokayukt bill was passed and it became the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013.

Thus as we see, the journey of this specific legislation is long. This particular statute has travelled for a long time and has seen struggle to gain recognition.

  • Early history and the failed attempts
  • the Anti-corruption movement of 2011
  • the passing of the bill

BY : Kopal Bansal

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