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Lokpal draft report to be ready by Mon, no consensus on PM

November 24, 2011 21:19 IST
Consensus on the inclusion of the prime minister under the ambit of Lokpal eluded a Parliamentary panel scrutinising the bill even as it prepares to circulate a draft report of the recommendations to the members in the next few days.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice scrutinising the Lokpal Bill on Thursday ended its internal deliberations with "broad consensus" on most of the issues including giving constitutional status to Lokpal.

While the government wants to give constitutional status to the ombudsman, in a bid to placate the opposition especially the Bharatiya Janata Party, Team Anna's suggestion that the same bill be used to create Lokayukta in states could also be recommended, sources said.

The government needs opposition's support to bring a constitutional amendment to give the institution a constitutional status.

Former Chief Justice of India J S Verma has told the panel that the same bill can create Lokayuktas in the states without any delay in setting up a constitutional body.

While this particular issue was not discussed today, there is a consensus that Lokpal be a constitutional body and that the constitutional amendment be used to set up Lokayuktas in states, the sources said.

A draft report of the recommendations of the panel could be circulated to the members as early as Monday. Lok Janshakti Party member Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday threatened to stay away from Committee's deliberations on Lokpal Bill if a provision for reservation for SC/ST, women and members of the minority community in the ombudsman's main body is not made in the proposed legislation.

On the inclusion of the prime minister's post under the ambit of the Bill, there were sharp differences with BJP members insisting on the inclusion with some safeguards. Members like Lalu Prasad (Rashtriya Janata Dal), Vijay Bahadur Singh (Bahujan Samaj Party) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) insisted that the PM should not be brought under the ambit of Lokpal.

Some Congress members supported the government version, which says a case against the PM can be investigated by Lokpal seven years after he demits office. Other members, including those from the BJD, suggested the draft given by NCPRI be used on the issue of PM. The draft broadly suggests that the full bench of Lokpal should decide on investigating the PM and forward its recommendation to the Supreme Court full bench which can take a call.

While there was a broad consensus among the members on the exclusion of Group C and D officials from the purview of Lokpal, BJP members in the panel today are understood to have\ insisted on their inclusion and pressed for following the Uttarakhand Lokayukta model.

There was a consensus on exclusion of higher judiciary, media and corporates from the ambit of Lokpal, but non-government organisations could be included under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog. The members are learnt to have agreed to include Group B officials besides Group A officials as stated in the government version of the Bill introduced in Parliament in August.

It is learnt that the Committee would keep the Central Bureau Investigation under the administrative control of the Ministry of Personnel, but the Directorate of Prosecution could be made answerable to the Lokpal. Once the CBI investigates a case of corruption, the Lokpal will prosecute the accused. The investigations of corruption cases could be monitored by the Lokpal with the government having little control. There were suggestions that the director of CBI could be appointed by the Lokpal. A member said the Committee could recommend the same.


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