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Rediff.com  » News » CVC, CBI corruption complaints may be probed under Lokpal, says panel

CVC, CBI corruption complaints may be probed under Lokpal, says panel

December 07, 2015 15:42 IST

Citing overlapping of functions, a parliamentary committee on Monday recommended integrating Central Vigilance Commission and anti-corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation to work directly under the command and control of Lokpal to deal with corruption cases.

It also suggested inclusion of leader of single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, in case there is no recognised Leader of Opposition, as member of selection panel to choose chairperson and members of Lokpal.

If this recommendation is accepted by the Parliament, it will pave the way for Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge to be part of Lokpal selection committee headed by prime minister.

"The Committee is of the view that institutions of CVC and the CBI (in so far as its anti-corruption functions are concerned), be fully integrated with Lokpal and the institution of anti-corruption watchdog may be architecturally created vertically with the Lokpal at the apex level and CVC and CBI (anti-corruption wing) working directly under its command and control.

"The functions of Lokpal and CVC be clearly specified and overlap between functions and powers of CVC and Lokpal be addressed. Lokpal in turn should utilise these organisations for conduct of inquiry, investigation and prosecution," the panel said in its report submitted to both the houses of Parliament.

The parliamentary standing committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress MP E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, felt that public disclosure of assets and liabilities of public servants, including employees and politicians, may not be necessary.

It recommended review of existing rules, which reflect "colonial mindset of doubt and mistrust", on declaration of assets and liabilities by a government servant as they are "at present being used more to harass government servants than as a safeguard against corruption".

Suggesting uniformity in provisions for such declarations, the panel recommended "use of digital surveillance software to detect any disproportionate growth in assets and liabilities of a public servant beyond his known sources of income". 

There has to be an integrated set-up for Lokpal and its headquarters should be established within CVC's head office in New Delhi, the panel said in its report on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which was sent to it for examination on December 22, last year.

On the search and selection committees, the panel said no decision should be taken unless vacancy, if any, are filled up. "The Committee sees no reason for not filling any vacancy quickly that may arise in the search or selection committee. The Committee accordingly recommends that the bill may be modified accordingly," the report said.

The Lokpal selection committee has as its members the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.

"The Committee is of the view that whenever a member is unable to attend the meeting either of the selection committee or of the search committee, he or she should be accorded adequate opportunity to send his or her views in writing to the selection or search committee and such views of the absentee member should be taken into account while taking a decision by the committee.

"Only in rare situations where despite affording adequate opportunities to the absentee member, he or she fails to send his views to the search or select committee in writing, decision may be taken in absence of views of the absentee member after recording the reasons for non-availability of views of the absentee member," the panel recommended.

On inclusion of leader of single largest opposition party in the selection committee, it cited similar provisions in CVC Act for selection of the Central Vigilance Commissioner.

The Committee notes that in the present Lok Sabha, there is no recognised leader of Opposition and such a situation may arise in future as well. In the absence of LoP it is not possible to constitute the selection committee of Lokpal as per provisions of the Lokpal Act.

"In order to overcome such a situation, amendment is proposed to provide that the LoP recognised as such in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such LoP, the leader of single largest opposition party in that House shall be a member of the selection committee," the report said.

The panel said that public servant should declare the assets and liabilities to their competent authority. The Committee is of the opinion that the competent authority of the public servant should forward a copy of the assets and liabilities so declared by the public servant to the Lokpal who shall keep these declarations in a fiduciary capacity, it said.

"Both competent authority of public servant and Lokpal would be competent to review the returns filed by the public servants particularly in suspicious cases including through use of digital surveillance software to detect any disproportionate growth in assets and liabilities in public servant beyond his known sources of income," the report said.

This, however, should be done in a professional manner so as not to give rise to a feeling that every government servant is suspect and under surveillance. Further, it should be ensured that government servants are not subjected to unnecessary clarifications or queries as a result of such scrutiny, it said.

"Any feeling amongst public servants that they are not trusted and are working under surveillance is bound to affect their morale and productivity and would not be in public interest," the panel said.

The Committee is further of the opinion that the provision of double scrutiny by the competent authority of the public servant and by the Lokpal would serve the purpose sought to be achieved by making such declarations public while at the same time it would safeguard the public servant from the misuse of such information by miscreants and criminals and avoid any danger to the security and safety of the public servants and their family members.

"The Committee, therefore, feels that public disclosure of assets and liabilities of public servants may not be necessary and recommends accordingly," the report said.

The panel recommendations comes after a section of government employees expressed their reservation against putting in public domain details of their assets and liabilities, along with that of their dependent spouse and children.

The declarations under the Lokpal Act are in addition to similar ones filed by the employees under various services rules. There are about 50 lakh central government employees.

President Pranab Mukherjee had given assent to the Lokpal Act on January 1, last year.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act provides for establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries.