Opinions continue to remain polarised on the contentious Lokpal Bill, even though the Centre accepted 14 of the 16 recommendations proposed by the Rajya Sabha select committee. As expected, the amended bill has come under sharp criticism from anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal, and lawyer-cum-activist Prashant Bhushan, who have accused the government of not showing enough commitment to tackle corruption. But the government feels it has done its bit. In its current state, the bill is quite different from its original version. Some of the changes are vital, especially the one that gives states the power to pass their own Lokayukta legislations. The other amendment regarding the selection of Lokpal too raises expectations. Yet, the government’s rejection of the right of the Lokpal to prosecute government officials on its own can be construed as a move to protect its own. The other thorny question is why can’t the Lokpal be involved in the decision to transfer an investigating officer?
This is merely the tip of the iceberg. Many more questions will be raised when the Bill is first sent to the Upper House and, if passed, then back to the Lower House. For instance, what happens to the CBI? Will it truly be an independent investigative agency?
The Lokpal Bill’s journey is not getting over anytime soon. Hazare and his compatriots will need to save their energy for a long struggle.