Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clear divergence on key issues in Lokpal draft bills

Clear divergence on key issues in Lokpal draft bills

PTI | Jun 22, 2011, 02.39 pm IST

NEW DELHI: The two draft bills on Lokpal are a study in contrast with clear divergence on key issues like inclusion of the Prime Minister and MPs' conduct inside Parliament. 

The government draft excludes the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament from the ambit of the proposed ombudsman, in denial of civil society's demands. 

Talking about the jurisdiction of Lokpal, the government draft says in clause 17(1), "subject to the other provisions of this Act, the Lokpal shall inquire into any matter involve in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption by a public servant made in a complaint in respect of the following: 

"Any person who is or has been a minister of the Union other than the Prime Minister, (b) any person who is or has been a Member of either House of Parliament..." 

However, it added, that the Lokpal "shall not inquire into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any such allegation of corruption against any member of either House of Parliament in respect of anything said or a vote given by him in Parliament or any committee thereof..." 

These provisions go against the civil society draft which said, "no investigation or prosecution shall be initiated without obtaining permission from a seven member bench of the Lokpal against any of the following persons: 1) Prime Minister and any other member of the Council of Ministers 2) any judge of the Supreme Court or any High Court and 3) Any MP." 

According to the civil society draft, Lokpal should have powers to make recommendations to public authorities, to make changes in their work practices to reduce the scope of corruption and whistle blower victimisation. 

Their draft makes it mandatory that public authorities should send its "compliance report to Lokpal within two months of specifying detailed reasons, wherever they choose to or reject any of these recommendations". 

The civil society draft also seeks power for the Lokpal to recommend cancellation or modification of a lease, licence, permission, contract or agreement, if it was obtained by corrupt means and blacklisting of a firm, company or contractor or any other person involved in corruption. 

On the merger of anti-corruption wing of CBI into Lokpal, the Hazare team's draft says that the Centre shall cease to have any control over this unit. Earlier, the civil society side has been demanding the merger of Central Vigilance Commission into the Lokpal but it does not find mention in their new draft. 

The government has been arguing that shifting of the CBI under the umbrella of the Lokpal would deny the Executive its own investigative wing for taking care of other issues. 

The civil society draft also provides for immunity to bribe giver if he "voluntarily and gives timely" information to the Lokpal about the giving of the bribe him with entire evidence for getting the bribe taker caught and convicted". 

On the panel to select Lokpal, the civil society draft says it should consist of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, two judges from Supreme Court, two High Court Chief Justices, Chief Election Commissioner, CAG and all previous chairpersons of Lokpal.

Courtesy_


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