India Plans to Establish Anti-Corruption

NEW DELHI, 16-11-2000: The Indian government will introduce a bill in parliament in the coming winter session to set up the office of Lokpal to investigate corruption charges against serving civil servants and ministers.

The government is determined to introduce the Lokpal bill in the winter session of parliament,'' cabinet spokesman and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Mahajan did not give any details on the bill. The winter session of parliament starts next week.

The bill has failed to get parliament's approval several times in the past due to lack of consensus among lawmakers about the exact functions of the Lokpal (Ombudsman) and whether to include the office of the prime minister in the definition of public servant.

A recent survey by a private agency showed 2/3rd of more than 2,500 people questioned thought there was corruption in Indian government offices and this corruption has taken our country backward by 25 years.

Nearly half of those interviewed said they or someone close to them had given a bribe to obtain a government service.

In October, former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and his ex-cabinet colleague Buta Singh were sentenced to three years in jail by a special court in a vote-buying case, but this will not help as these politician know they will be acquitted in Supreme Court.

The case involved allegations that in 1993 Rao tried to influence a parliamentary vote of no-confidence by bribing four lawmakers of a regional group.