`Govt draft on Lokpal excludes PM`

Last Updated: Monday, July 25, 2011 - 20:50

New Delhi: The government draft on Lokpal
Bill, which is expected to be considered by the Cabinet this
week, does not include the Prime Minister in the purview of
the Ombudsman but the final call on the ticklish issue will be
taken by Parliament and its Standing Committee.

Disclosing this, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the
bill will be introduced in Parliament in the Monsoon session
starting on August one.

The government`s draft has been prepared by the
Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which is the
nodal ministry, and the issue is likely come up before Cabinet
this week or early next week.

"Once the Cabinet approves the draft, with or without
changes, that is the government`s draft that will be
introduced in Parliament. So we will introduce the Lokpal Bill
in the Monsoon session of Parliament," he said.
On the controversial question of bringing the Prime
Minister`s post in the ambit of Lokpal, Chidambaram said,
"According to present thinking, and subject to change by the
Cabinet, the government`s draft keeps out the Prime Minister.
...Our considered view at the moment, subject to change by the
Cabinet, is that the PM should be kept out of Lokpal."

The Home Minister noted that there are several arguments
for and against keeping the Prime Minister out of the ambit of
the anti-corruption watchdog.

"Each one is a reasonable point of view. Ultimately, it
is for the government to adpot a point of view and introduce
it in Parliament. The Standing Committee can change it,
Parliament can change it," he underlined.
"I am willing to acknowledge your point of view is
reasonable. But I have got reasons why I take a point of view.
And if you are in government, you take that view and
introduce it in Parliament," Chidambaram said in apparent
reference to Anna Hazare-led civil society activists who
insist on inclusion of PM in the ambit of Lokpal.

"I am not able to understand why people should say my
point of view is the reasonable point of view and yours is
unreasonable. That I don`t agree at all," he said.

He said the government was not "tampering" with any
other law. "Whatever other law is there let the law be there,"
he said apparently hinting at the Prevention of Corruption Act
which covers the Prime Minister.

Turning to the Joint Drafting Committee which failed to
arrive at a common draft for the bill, the Home Minister said
the government representatives and civil society
representatives "indeed" had points of difference, but there
are also dozens of points of agreement.

He said the points of agreement included an independent
investigating arm under Lokpal, independent people as part of
the selection committee for Lokpal and a five-year term for
the ombudsman.

"Of course there are points of agreement and there are
points of disagreement. So ultimately what emerged was two
drafts. Now, the all-party meeting said we are not concerned
with two drafts, we want to see the government`s draft," he
said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, July 25, 2011 - 20:00

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