Scholars at the university set up by IT czar Azim Premji doubt the effectiveness of the all-powerful Jan Lokpal to fight corruption without legal reforms.
They assert that without highly contentious legal reforms, the Jan Lokpal bill can at best marginally improve investigation rates and filing of chargesheet in corruption cases without securing more
The scholars fault both Jan Lokpal bill and the Centre\’s legislation for not taking into account the experience of Lokayuktas.
\’We conclude that a bill that does not assimilate the experience of existing anti-corruption agencies in states like Karnataka is doomed to fail,\’ A. Narayana, Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Vikas Kumar of Law, Governance and Development Initiative of Bangalore-based Azim Premji University said in their recently released study.
The presumption of a criminal conviction model is at the core of the Lokpal bill, which means that it will come up against the same environmental limits – the efficacy of the criminal justice system – that the Lokayukta in Karnataka confronts.
Noting that while there was \’agreement on the core moral imperative to tackle corruption seriously\’, the study said the debate \’has quickly moved from this agreed premise to the questionable conclusion that we need a powerful national institution to prosecute and convict the corrupt under the criminal law.
\’The Indian debate on the Lokpal has focused extensively on the remedying institutional inefficiencies at the complaint and investigation stage in the Lokpal. No matter how successful these innovations are, they will not tackle the core problem with a criminal trial in India: the trial stage,\’ the study said.
\’If we use criminal conviction as the measure of success then the best Lokayukta in the country (that is Karnataka Lokayukta) is undoubtedly a failure. But a caveat is in order: the Lokayukta does not administratively control the criminal court. Hence, we should attribute this failure to the choice of a criminal conviction model as the centrepiece of our anti-corruption strategy,\’ the study advocated.
Their findings are based on a study of the debate that has been raging for several months on the Jan Lokpal bill as proposed by Hazare and his team and the working of the Karnataka Lokayukta, the most active state ombudsman in India.