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Why BJP, NDA Government Could Not Pass the Lokpal Bill in 1999-04 Term

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In the year 2011 we saw lots of development. From winning Cricket World Cup to the death of Osama, but the event and the development which was on the headlines throughout the year, specially the second half, was the protest led by Anna Hazare to make the Jan Lokpal Bill as a law in the country.

Anna Hazare with his team, as well as Baba Ramdev, tried to their best they could to make the government take this necessary step. But every time the discussion took place in the parliament, disappointment was the only thing which we all got. Today, all the anger is on the current ruling government, despite of various parties, including BJP, voiced against the bill in the parliament few days back. Though now BJP claims that it voted against the bill because they don’t want a weak Government’s bill but want a strong bill like Jan Lokpal.

Lokpal bill is not a new thing. It was first introduced in Lok Sabha in 1968 and after that it has been introduced many times but was a failure each time. The question is, if BJP is really in support of strong Lokpal bill, then why did it not pass when it formed the ruling government from 1999-04?

We analyze and look back on the news papers of that time and try to find the answer.

Friday, January 26, 2001: The LokPal Bill, as appeared on The Hindu.

MR. ATAL BEHARI Vajpayee’s recent statement about to the Lok Pal Bill settles the question about whether the office of the Prime Minister will fall within its purview. Over the last couple of months, there have been (unfounded) worries that conflicting views within the Union Government over the wisdom of including the Head of Government within the Bill’s ambit would eventually result in the Prime Minister’s exclusion, thereby diluting the proposed legislation in a significant way. Although fears were expressed that inclusion may result in the Prime Minister’s office being open to all manner of charges (including frivolous ones), bringing the Head of Government within the purview of the Lok Pal legislation is essential to send out the important signal that no one – irrespective of the importance of the office he holds – is above the law. An earlier draft of the Lok Pal Bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in 1998 (not passed because of the collapse of the previous BJP-led Government) specifically brought the Prime Minister within its ambit. Therefore, there was never any justification for the latest draft Bill to alter this provision. One of the major reasons why a Lok Pal Bill has failed to be passed by successive Governments is differences over the question of inclusion – those opposed strongly arguing that the Prime Minister’s office must be insured from the risk of too much litigation.

Then Prime Minister was not only thinking of bringing the Lokpal Bill back on table, but according to the news above, BJP had introduced the Lokpal bill in 1998 but couldn’t be passed because the government had collapsed after a mere 13 months of term.

On April 18, The Union cabinet had cleared the Lokpal bill to be brought to the Parliament for review. Like the previous version of the bill under BJP government, this one also included Prime Minister under it.

April 18, 2001: Cabinet clears Lokpal Bill, as appeared on The Times of India.

The Union Cabinet is understood to have on Tuesday night cleared the long-discussed Lokpal Bill to check corruption in high places, bringing within its ambit the office of the Prime Minister and members of Parliament. 
 
The Bill, which has been awaiting government’s nod, aims at ensuring probity in public life. 
The approval of the cabinet, at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, comes barely a month after the Tehelka expose of corruption in fictitious defence deals. 
 
The bill would now be brought before parliament to secure its passage. The ruling NDA in its election manifesto had pledged that its government would enact the Lokpal Bill with adequate powers to deal with corruption charges against anyone, including the Prime Minister. 
 
“In the administration of justice, we shall not allow discrimination between the rich and the poor, the empowered and the powerless, restore the majesty of law and objectivity of the state,” it had said. 
The Bill, which has been awaiting government’s nod, aims at ensuring probity in public life.

After the green signal from the Union cabinet, the bill headed towards the parliament and was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 14th.

August 14, 2001; Lokpal Bill Introduced in Lok Sabha Eighth Time, as appeared on The Hindu

The Lokpal Bill, seeking to check corruption in high places in the Government, including the office of the Prime Minister, was introduced in the Lok Sabha today.

The much-awaited but often-delayed bill was introduced by the Minister of State for Personnel and Pension, Ms. Vasundhara Raje Scindia, amid noisy scenes over alleged police excesses at a DMK rally in Chennai.

The bill, providing for the establishment of the institution of Lokpal to inquire into allegations of corruption against public functionaries, including the Prime Minister, has been in the pipeline for more than three decades.

It proposes to appoint the Lokpal and two members by the President on the recommendation of a committee headed by the Vice-President and comprising the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Home Minister, Leader of the House other than the House in which the Prime Minister is a member and Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

The Lokpal will inquire into complaints alleging that a public functionary has committed an offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The “public functionary” will cover the Prime Minister, the Ministers, the Ministers of State, the Deputy Ministers and the Members of Parliament. Other constitutional functionaries such as Judges of the Supreme Court, the Election Commissioners have been kept out of the purview of the bill.


Later the bill received tough response and criticism from opposition and other parties, specially there was a disagreement among them on the inclusion of Prime Minister under the range of this bill.

 
 

August 16, 2001; Is Lokpal Bill headed for panel again? as appeared on The Times of India

V K Malhotra said the government was keen to pass the bill in this session, sources in the union cabinet indicated that since this was a “fresh bill”, which had serious implications, the “normal practice” would be to send it to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny before taking it up. 


A senior cabinet minister compared the lokpal bill to the women’s reservation bill: he said while no one would dare oppose it publicly, there was virtually an unspoken understanding among parties not to allow it to come to the house for voting, as it would be politically embarrassing to be seen defeating it there.

The Samajwadi party says the MPs should be left out from the scrutiny of the lokpal. The main opposition party, the congress, which has publicly stated it supports the bill and wants it passed in this session, is also internally ambivalent on the issue. Of course, if the bill comes up for voting in the house, it is committed to pushing it through. The bill provides for inquiry into any complaint against ministers of the union government, including the prime minister and MPs.

After deep reviews and discussion, the bill was rejected in the Parliament as the majority of the opposition and other political parties didn’t agree and considered a lot of revisions, like exclusion of MPs and Prime Minister.
It was only two years from that day that BJP led government again cleared the Lokpal bill in 2003, which again included the Prime Minister.
June 28, 2003; Cabinet clears new Lok Pal Bill, as appeared on The Hindu.

The Union Cabinet has once again decided to put in place a Lok Pal regime, intended to check corruption in high places.

The office of Prime Minister has also been brought under the jurisdiction of the proposed Lok Pal. The Government would try to get the proposal passed in the coming monsoon session of Parliament.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting this evening presided over by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajapayee.

The Cabinet decided to incorporate the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs on the Lok Pal Bill, 2001 (introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 14, 2001).

The Standing Committee presented its report to the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman on December 31, 2001; and, the report itself was laid on the table of the House on February 26, 2002.

Like its many predecessors, the Vajpayee Government too has intermittently sought to mobilise parliamentary support for an anti-corruption institutional watchdog. In fact, the first time a Lok Pal Bill was introduced was as early as 1969; since then, six more attempts were made, and each legislative initiative was allowed to lapse, invariably with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

Finally, the attempt by BJP to promote this bill to form a law went in vain as the Government was brought down in the 2004 elections by the powerful public of India. Congress led UPA formed the government and the progress in Lokpal bill was blocked. Today Anna Hazare, his team and many other intellectuals are repeatedly explaining and encouraging government to promote this bill as it is for the good of all.

Lets begin the new year 2012 with the hope of seeing this bill as Law which will be good for India and hence for the world.

Disclaimer: We don’t support or criticize any political party, however we are keen on researching, analyzing and publishing what is not very known. Read our article on difference between BJP and Congress on economic and foreign policy

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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

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A Historical exploration of Khajuraho

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khajuraho temple

The UNESCO world heritage temples of Khajuraho are situated in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Built by the kings of Chandela dynasty during 950 to 1050 AD, these exquisite temples were lost to the world from 13AD onwards till they were discovered by the British in 1838 under the cover of dense date palm trees.

 This collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples are Khajuraho temples are famous for art on stone. Variously described as living temples, Temple of Love and consisting of unique erotic sculptures the Khajuraho group of temples are considered by many to be the pinnacle of India’s temple art. The temple complex creates an eclectic mix of spirituality, eastern philosophy, architecture and cultural heritage.

Khajuraho is best visited during winter on account of its extreme climate. Summer months can be very hot. The famous Khajuraho Dance Festival is held in March and attracts visitors from across the world.

 Khajuraho is well connected to major cities by train and by air. The airport is 5km from the city centre and links to Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. It is best recommended to use a trusted cab service provider like Savaari, where you can make an online booking by downloading the Savaari App.

Western Group of temples.

 The Western group of temples have the largest of the temples and are richly decorated and form the main area of attraction

  • Lakshmana Temple – The temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is the oldest of the Khajuraho temples and has some the finest sculptures that can be seen in India.
  • Kandariya Mahadeo Temple – This Shiva temple is covered with beautiful carvings, sculptures and frescos that are known for their beauty, grandeur and finesse.
  • Devi Jagdamba Temple – This relatively dainty temple dedicated to Goddess Jagadamba has three bands of sculptures and the uppermost layer has some of the most erotic sculptures that Khajuraho is also famous for.
  • Chitragupta Temple – One of the rare temples of the Sun God in the country.
  • Vishwanath Temple – The temple is unique for its colossal bull statue dedicated to Nandi, the favourite companion of Lord Shiva.

Eastern Group of Temples

  • Parsvanath Temple – The Jain temple shows an eclectic mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences in its three roof architecture.
  • Ghantai Temple – This Digambar Jain temple has a beautiful frieze inscribed on stone depicting the 16 dreams as seen by the Mother of Lord Mahavira. The temple though gets its name from the remarkable pillars, carved with chains and bells.
  • Brahma Temple – Among the oldest temples in Khajuraho, the temple is built entirely using granite and sandstone and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

 Southern Group of Temples

  • Chattarbhuj Temple – Situated 3 km from the main city, the temple is the only one in Khajuraho without any erotic sculpture and faces west. Best visited during the sunset, the temple is known for the intricate and beautifully detailed four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu.

Do remember to attend the Light and Sound Show conducted in the Western group of temples that describes the horary past of these beautiful monuments.

Khajuraho is surrounded by other places of interest, such as the Panna National Park and the Ranneh Falls. Do plan your visit and hire outstation or local cabs from the airport to visit these temple complexes.

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Explore the royal city of Mysore

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Call it the Heritage City or the City of Palaces, the city of Mysore still emanates a feeling of au royale even in a 21st century India. A place of heritage for royal families, sultans, and legendary names in history, every corner of Mysore is steeped in stories of victory, power, and grandeur. A tour of this majestic city is only justified when you explore the royal heritage of the City of Palaces.

Getting there

Conveniently located on the southern edge of the Karnataka State, Mysore is easily accessible from major cities. It takes about three hours to travel the 152 KM distance from Bangalore to Mysore.

History and Heritage

The city of Mysore served as the capital for the Kingdom of Mysore between the 1300s until 1956. These six centuries saw the kingdom change hands of rulers and kings, from the Wadiyar Dynasty, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. But the common element of all the rulers was their penchant for art and culture. Under their patronage, they contributed to the city’s visual and cultural glory which earned Mysore the fame of Karnataka’s cultural capital.

A royal tour

If you want to experience the regal side of Mysore, you cannot but miss these structures of historical and architectural significance. You can join a heritage walking tour to explore the city on foot, or head from Bangalore to Mysore by car and stop by at monuments, palaces, and museums and learn about the legends that made Mysore. You can start your walk from the Town Hall, built in 1884, as a tribute to the first Dewan of the city.

mysore-palace-598472_1280

Mysore Palace- The official residence of the royal family of Wadiyars, the palace itself is a work of marvel. An overwhelming blend of   Indo-Saracenic, neoclassical, Indo-Islamic and Gothic architectural works, the Mysore Palace is a breathtaking sight. Built in 1912, the palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts delicate works of mirrors, stained glass, mosaic and more. On any given day, you will find more tourists here than even at the Taj Mahal. Every Sunday, the palace comes alive with 97000 light bulbs bedazzling its façade and the premises.

Lalitha Palace– Yet another heritage building, the two-storied Lalitha Mahal sits on a ridge at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, which makes for a great vantage point. The palace was transformed into a hotel and offers a royal stay. If you truly want a feeling of royalty, then a stay here would be an experience.

Jaganmohan Palace– One of the seven prominent palaces of Mysore city, is a stunning work of ancient Indian architecture with intricate interiors and exteriors. The palace, transformed into a royal art gallery since 1915, houses paintings of the royal family, art by Raja Ravi Varma and an array of rare and antique musical instruments.

Museums- Stop by the Rail Museum to explore the archaic steam engines, the Maharani’s saloon, and other railway souvenirs. There’s also the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion showcasing more than 6500 folk artifacts from all parts of Karnataka. The Folk Art Museum, one of the most visited in the city, is also known for its collection of toys, models, and figurines.

Crawford Hall- Built in 1947, this is a must visit historic structure in Mysore. The royal palace is now known as the Mysore University but still renders a rich heritage to its ambiance.

Small, medium or large-scale, every historical building and monument of Mysore has a majestic touch to it. And such architecture speaks of its glorious past, which has left traces for the modern civilization to explore.

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India’s Victory at the International Court of Justice is the World’s Challenge to the Status Quo

Manak Suri

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For the past week, both the Indian and British media have rigorously covered the story of the re-election of India’s justice Dalveer Bhandari to the bench of judges in the International Court of Justice on Tuesday, November 21. That the Indian judge retained his position on the bench was not the sole reason for the story’s extensive coverage; his reappointment combined with the fact that it happened at the expense of the United Kingdom’s spot on the bench is why the story is making so many rounds… and no, that many Indians may see it as some sort of a comeback against Britain’s 200 years of colonial rule over the country is not the reason why it matters. It matters because this is the first time since 1946 that the UK has no judge on the ICJ bench, and that signals possible changes in the way international bodies govern and are governed. So what does this mean for India, for the UK and for the world at large?

The International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice or the ICJ was established in 1945 by the United Nations as its principal judicial branch and is located in The Hague, Netherlands. Its job is to settle legal disputes between states that are submitted to it and give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it. The court comprises of a total of 15 judges that are elected to 9 year terms by way of voting from both the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) separately. One third of the court is re-elected every three years, and no two judges of the same nationality may assume positions on the bench simultaneously. However, the rule that led to the deadlock between the candidates from India and UK is that a candidate must obtain an absolute majority in both the UNGA and the UNSC in order to be elected to the bench.

UN General Assembly vs UN Security Council: The Race in Numbers

On November 9 and November 13, in seven rounds of voting justice Bhandari secured between 110 and 121 votes from a total of 193 in the UNGA against figures between 68 and 79 secured by his British counterpart Sir Christopher Greenwood. However, among the UNSC, justice Bhandari lost out by 5 votes to 9 in favour of Sir Greenwood. In the face of uncertainty, the UK then pushed for a ‘joint conference’ under the rules of the court between the UNSC and the UNGA. Under the ‘joint conference’ three countries from each side then determine the name for the court. However, the rules do not mention the procedure to select these countries and understandably so, since the option was last invoked in 1921. Fearing not enough support from the council, criticism for invoking the charter, and harming its friendly as well as economic relations with India, the UK eventually chose to not follow through with the process and withdrew its candidature for the post. In the end, India secured the seat with a total of 183 votes out of 193 at the UNGA and all 15 at the UNSC.

There is More to the Victory than Meets the Eye

The result means different things for the parties involved and also for the balance of power and influence between countries. For the UK, there are hardly any positives to take away from this result amid already turbulent times. Many in the British media have viewed this loss as ‘a blow to British international prestige’ and the country’s acceptance of a diminishing role in global affairs. This was the UK’s second major defeat at the ICJ after it lost a vote by a margin of 94 to 15 countries in June when the UNGA voted in favour of referring the question of decolonisation and self-determination of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to the ICJ, which is currently under its control. Many within and outside the country have also been quick to blame Brexit for the situation in which they find themselves today, arguing that the other states, especially the ones within the European Union would have been less willing to snub the UK had the UK chosen not to leave the alliance. In the face of defeat, British diplomats have continued to maintain that they are happy that their close friend India has won, but have also not been shy of hiding their natural disappointment at their own loss.

For India, their victory in having a judge win the contest in getting elected to the ICJ bench against a permanent member of the UNSC is more symbolic than anything else. It reinforces India’s image at the highest stage as a major emerging global player and its ability to bring in greater reforms that push for more involvement from developing countries and emerging economies. Also, having a judge on the ICJ bench gives India an edge over Pakistan in the case involving former Indian Navy Officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court on the charges of espionage. True, a judge on the ICJ does not represent his/her country or their interests. However, as suggested by repeated criticism the court receives for being biased in favour of the states who appoint the judges, having a judge on the panel is certainly an asset for any country, no matter what the rules dictate on paper.

The most important takeaway from the whole episode far exceeds the ambitions of just the two countries and a race for a seat at the ICJ. India’s victory at the court reinforces the belief that power does not necessarily reside or has to reside with the ‘few global elite’, a sentiment which was expressed clearly when most member states of the UNGA backed India’s justice Bhandari to be re-elected against the choice of the permanent members or P5 of the UNSC. There seems to be an acknowledgment among the member states of the UN of the beginning of a change which sees an increasing shift in the balance of power away from the traditional powers of the world or the P5 – Britain, China, United States, Russia, and France. Of these countries, China was the only member to not have a judge on the ICJ between 1967 and 1985 till the final decision last week, when they were joined by the UK in the list. Last year, Russia was voted off the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the 2016 elections, France lost out on securing a position in the International Law Commission. While diplomats at the UN continue to maintain that there are no winners and losers here, that it is all part of a bigger picture, these developments undoubtedly mark diplomatic victories for the Group of 77 or the G77, a coalition of developing nations at the UN that have constantly pushed for an enhanced negotiating capacity. What remains to be seen is just to what extent they bring about a change in the status quo.

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