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Special assembly session to take up Jan Lokpal bill at IG stadium

January 31, 2014 20:30 IST

The Delhi Cabinet on Friday decided to call a special session of Assembly to take up the Jan Lokpal Bill, which seeks life term as maximum punishment for corrupt babus, on February 16 at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium instead of historic Ramlila ground as announced earlier.

A meeting of the Delhi Cabinet, presided by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, deliberated on the draft bill that features various strict measures to contain graft like confiscation of assets of officials and not allowing any retirement benefits including pension to them, if found guilty.

The chief minister's office as well as DDA, NDMC and Delhi police have also been kept under the ambit of the Bill, said officials. This provision may be opposed by the Centre all the three agencies report directly to the Home Ministry.

Kejriwal said a final decision on the bill will be taken by the cabinet on Monday.

PWD Minister Manish Sisodia said the cabinet decided to call the Assembly session from February 13 to 16 and the House will sit at the Indira Gandhi stadium on the last day of the session where public will also be invited to attend.

The Aam Aadmi Party government had earlier announced that it will convene a special session at Ramlila ground, the venue of Anna Hazare's anti-graft movement, to pass the much-talked about bill which was one of the main poll planks of the party.

Officials said the Cabinet decision on convening the assembly session will have to be cleared by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung.

The Delhi Police had opposed government's proposal to convene the session at the Ramlila ground, citing security issues.

Officials said government is mulling fixing six months time limit to complete investigation in corruption cases.

Soon after assuming office in December, Kejriwal had said his government would pass the Jan Lokpal Bill from Ramlila ground by the first week of February.

A senior official said the draft bill seeks life imprisonment as maximum punishment while six months in jail has been proposed as minimum punishment. The maximum time for investigation has been kept at 12 months.

He said anybody found guilty or dismissed from service will not be entitled to any government benefits including pension.

As per the draft Bill, the anti-corruption branch of Delhi government will be merged with Lokayukta. Lokayukta can take suo motto cognisance of corruption charges as well as prosecute the corrupt officials. There will be two wings of the Lokayukta, an investigation wing and a prosecution wing.

In the Lokayukta panel, there will be one Lokpal and 10 other members, who will be selected by a seven-member committee. The selection committee comprises chief minister, Leader of Opposition, two sitting High Court Judges, one previous Lokayukta and two eminent personalities who will be selected by other members.

"There is no caveat on filing corruption charges against any public servant including the chief minister. Any general public or government official can complain to Lokayukta about corruption cases as per the draft bill," added the official.

A committee headed by the Chief Secretary and secretaries of Urban Development, Law and Finance departments, besides advocate Rahul Mehra was given the responsibility of drafting the Bill.

Unlike Centre's Jan Lokpal Bill, there are provisions for protection of whistle-blowers and witnesses in the draft bill, besides Citizen's Charter under the Delhi's version of the bill, the official added.

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