New Delhi: The Union Cabinet, Thursday, approved the Lokpal Bill draft and announced that it will be introduced in the Monsoon session of Parliament, set to begin on August 01.
The most important issue that was mulled over during the two-hour long deliberations is the one concerning the demand by the civil society to bring Prime Minister and higher judiciary under the ambit of the proposed Lokpal.
The Bill approved by Cabinet has kept the PM and higher judiciary out of the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
1. PM and judiciary will be out of the purview of the Lokpal
2. PM can be questioned by the Lokpal after he demits office
3. Conduct of MPs inside Parliament also kept out of Lokpal
4. The office of the Lokpal will have eight members besides the Chairman. 50% of the members will be from the judiciary
5. Only a serving or retired Supreme Court judge or the chief justice of a High Court can be appointed as chairperson of the anti-corruption ombudsman
6. Members other than the judiciary ought to have impeccable integrity and have at least 25 years experience in public life
7. Lokpal given sou moto powers
8. As per the approved draft, the Lokpal will have an independent investigation arm to ensure time bound probe.
9. The Lokpal will be empowered to probe any
Union Minister or officials of Group A and above without any
10. While the Lokpal will have separate teams to
conduct inquiries and investigations, it will not have the
power to prosecute someone accused of corruption.
11. Besides, it would also take up corruption matters
allegedly involving Ministers, MPs, Group `A` officers and
others equivalent to this grade in any body, Board, authority,
corporation, trust, society or autonomous body set up by an
Act of Parliament.
12. The Lokpal would not require sanction or approval under
Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or Section
19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in cases where
prosecution is proposed.
13. The Lokpal will also have powers to attach the property
of corrupt public servants acquired through corrupt means.
14. Lokpal will have the right to recruit its staff
15. Seven year limitation: The Lokpal will not enquire any complaint which is made seven years after the offence is committed
16. Judicial accountability will be provided through a separate bill called Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill
17. The Lokpal will be appointed by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, leaders of opposition in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Chairman of Rajy Sabha, one member of the Union Cabinet, a sitting judge of the SC and another of HC.
18. Removal of Lokpal can only be recommended by the President to the Chief justice who would revert with his observations. The President will be the final say on the matter.
19. The funding of Lokpal will be done from the Consolidated Fund of
India on the lines of the Supreme Court.
The details of the approved draft was announced in a joint press conference by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and MoS PMO V Narayanaswamy.
Reacting to the bill, Social activist Anna Hazare, who has been campaigning for a strong Lokpal Bill to fight corruption, said, “This Lokpal Bill is a joke played on the nation … the govt has betrayed the nation. We will fight tooth and nail for it”.
A 10-member Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee, constituting members of the civil society and the government, was formed in April after a fast by Hazare to demand a stringent anti-corruption law.
The civil society members want the Lokpal bill to be passed in Parliament by August 15.
Anna Hazare had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informing him about his decision to go on an indefinite fast from August 16, if the government dithers on the Lokpal Bill.
There are differences between activists and government and even among political parties about the structure and selection process of the Lokpal.
With PTI Inputs