21 Dec 2011

Lokpal Bill Approved by Indian Cabinet

India’s Cabinet approved yesterday a bill to establish an ombudsman body to fight corruption in the country. The bill shall be presented in Parliament tomorrow and is expected to pass before the end of the current legislative session. However, anti-corruption activists and the opposition questioned the bill’s provisions and claimed that it will create a toothless agency.

One of the main controversial points regarding the approved bill refers to the fact that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s main criminal investigation agency, will maintain its powers and the new Ombudsman agency will only have the authority to refer cases to CBI for investigation.

Another critical point is related to the government officials that will not fall under the scope of the new agency. The bill established that a serving Prime Minister may be the target of corruption probes, but members of CBI and low-level bureaucrats will be outside its jurisdiction.

Activists led by Anna Hazare strongly criticized the bill and continue to advocate for the Lokpal body to be established as an independent agency with investigative capacities. Mr. Hazare vowed to begin a three-day hunger strike on December 27th to pressure the government to accept the bill proposed by him and his supporters.

Read the full article “Indian Cabinet’s Anti-Graft Bill Brings Vow of Further Protests” on bloomberg.com. The picture featured above is from bbc.co.uk and is credited to the Associated Press (AP).