India lower house of parliament passes controversial anti-corruption bill

[JURIST] The Indian lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha [official website], on Tuesday passed an anti-corruption bill [text, PDF] which proposes the creation of an official anti-corruption agency known as Lokpal. The bill was proposed in response to many corruption scandals that have occurred in India recently including a high court judge embezzling funds [JURIST report]. Also, Indian activist Anna Hazare's twelve day fast in August prompted the the Indian government to address the issue of corruption. But Hazare is now on another hunger strike [BBC report] against the Lokpal bill arguing it is not strict enough because it keeps one of the top Indian investigating agencies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) [official website] out of the jurisdiction of the new proposed agency. The Indian government has been criticized for its weak response to ending the corruption and more than 130,000 Hazare supports have volunteered to participate civil disobedience protests to force mass jailing [NYT report] if the parliament does not pass a stricter Lokpal bill. Hazare and his supporters want the proposed agency to have its own investigative arm, apart from that of CBI, and a charter within the agency that provides for a quick investigation of complaints filed against the government. The current Lokpal bill will be voted on in parliament's upper house, Rajya Sabha [official website], for final approval on Wednesday.

Corruption has been a major issue recently in Indian politics. Earlier this month, the Transparency Index (TI) released its Corruptions Perceptions Index in which it named India as one of the countries whose corruption perception had deteriorated since last year. In August, Indian president Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil addressed both houses of parliament [JURIST report] and stated that the Indian government would take measures to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption and that it will take other legislative and administrative measures necessary to improve transparency. In 2008, Indian PM called for the establishment of special courts [JURIST report] to deal only with corruption charges, telling a convention of high-ranking justices and government ministers that, "apart from pendency and delayed justice, corruption is another challenge we face both in government and the judiciary."

 

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