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Anti-corruption campaign: The caretakers of the Jan Lokpal Bill
New Delhi, April 9, 2011
He has become India's hope, strength and a new face of the country's battle against corruption. The man who believes that the motive of his life lies in service to his fellow humans -- Anna Hazare.
The 71-year-old Hazare brought the world together for the cause and took the fight against corruption to the corridors of highest authority and challenged the government at all levels. Both the common man and well-known personalities supported the Gandhian alike.
A soldier for 15 years in Indian Army, Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare engaged for service in the armed forces after the 1962 India-China war when the government exhorted young men to join the Army.
In 1978 when he was 39 years old, he took voluntary retirement from the 9th Maratha Battalion and returned home to Ralegaon Siddhi, a village in Maharashtra's Ahmadnagar, and fought for the farmers in the drought-prone area under his organisation -- the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (People's Movement against Corruption).
In 1995-96, he forced the Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra to drop two allegedly corrupt Cabinet Ministers. In 2003, he forced the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state government to set up an investigation against four ministers. He fought from the front to have the Right to Information (RTI) implemented.
The social leader is now fighting for the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill, an anti-corruption Bill that envisages speedy action in corruption cases against everyone, including ministers and senior bureaucrats. He observed a hunger strike in Delhi against the menace that lasted for four days till the Government bent to his demands of forming a joint drafting committee consisting of both civil society members and ministers.
His colleagues on the committee will be veteran advocate Shanti Bhushan as the co-chairperson, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal and former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde.
Born on November 11, 1925, Shanti Bhushan is a former Union Law Minister in the Morarji Desai ministry and was featured at 74th position in a list of the most powerful Indians in 2009.
During his ministership, he had introduced Lokpal Bill in 1977, but it could never see the light of day, because of the collapse of the government.
One of his most prominent cases was when he represented Raj Narain in a case against Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha judged late Ms Gandhi guilty and declared her election to the Lok Sabha void. The decision resulted in widespread political protests and ultimately resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency in India.
Shanti Bhushan's son Prashant Bhushan walked shoulder to shoulder with him in a campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reform (CJAR). The campaign has been responsible for action against the alleged judicial misconduct of Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, the 36th Chief Justice of India, and for the declaration of assets by the judges.
Arvind Kejriwal is a Haryana-born crusader for greater transparency in the Government. He was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006, for activating India's Right to Information (RTI) movement at grassroots.
A graduate from IIT Kharagpur as a Mechanical engineer, Kejriwal joined the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in 1992 and was posted at the Income Tax Commissioner's Office in Delhi. Realising much corruption prevailed in government, he was instrumental in bringing in a number of changes to increase transparency in the Income Tax office.
In July 2006, he spearheaded an awareness campaign for RTI across India and to motivate others, he has now instituted an RTI Award through his organisation.
JUSTICE SANTOSH HEGDE
Justice Santosh Hegde, son of former Speaker of Lok Sabha K S Hegde, was one of the choices of the civil society groups, led by Hazare, to become the chairman of the Joint Drafting Committee for the Lokpal Bill.
A former judge of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Nitte Santosh Hegde has also been Solicitor General of India and is the present Lokayukta (ombudsman) for Karnataka.
In his tenure as the Lokayukta, he had exposed major irregularities in mines in Bellary, including those owned by Obulapuram Mining Company and by G Karunakara Reddy, G Janardhana Reddy and G Somashekara Reddy who are ministers in the Government of Karnataka.