FAQ: What is Lok Pal Bill? Why the ruckus over it?

The Lok Pal (anti-corruption body) Bill has generated widespread interest in the past few days.

The Bill is an attempt by the government, under massive pressure due to corruption charges, to gain some of its lost ground. However, civil rights activists, including Anna Hazare, Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, have termed the draft legislation as weak and demanded that fifty per cent of the members in the committee drafting the bill should be from the public.

But the common man appears to be in the dark about the scope of the poposed bill.

Here's an FAQ on the controversial bill.

What is the controversy between the government and Anna Hazare about?
Anna Hazare and other civil society activists have proposed a draft Lok Pal Bill to tackle the menace of corruption. The prime minister formed a sub-committee of the Group of Ministers to discuss the issue with these activists.

However, these two groups were unable to reach an agreement on the provisions of the Lok Pal Bill. According to the government, the activists demanded that the government should accept the Bill drafted by them without any changes.
What steps has the government taken to enact the Lok Pal Bill?

In January 2011, the government formed a Group of Ministers chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to suggest measures to tackle corruption, including examination of the proposal of a Lok Pal Bill.

What is the purpose of the office of Lok Pal?

The office of the Lok Pal is the Indian version of the office of an Ombudsman, who is appointed to inquire into complaints made by citizens against public officials.

The Lok Pal is a forum where the citizen can send a complaint against a public official, which would then be inquired into and the citizen would be provided some redressal.

What are issues that have generated debate on the Lok Pal Bill?

There are diverging views on issues such as the inclusion of the office of the Prime Minister, ministers and Members of Parliament, inclusion of judges, and powers of the Lok Pal.

Some experts contend that all public officials should be accountable while others feel that the autonomy and privilege of Parliament require the Prime Minister, ministers, and Members of Parliament to be accountable only to Parliament.