`Link punishment of corrupt officials to rank`

Last Updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011 - 17:35

New Delhi: Civil society members are
expected to make a strong pitch for graver punishment,
including life imprisonment for high ranking officials in
cases of corruption, when the joint committee to draft the
Lokpal Bill meets here on Monday.

They will also demand that a corrupt government official
serve a minimum of one year rigorous imprisonment and a
maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

"Punishment shall be higher if the status or rank of the
accused is higher," reads a recommendation of the civil
society members led by Anna Hazare.

These issues were discussed by the Joint Drafting
Committee on Lokpal Bill chaired by Pranab Mukherjee during a
meeting last week.

Hazare`s team also wants to bring within the purview of
the Lokpal, conduct of MPs inside Parliament, if it is an
offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

A proposal to this effect was made during the meeting of
the joint drafting committee on May 23.

Hazare`s team and the government had agreed in principle
on a provision to attach the properties of corrupt government
officials on completion of investigation of charges against
them.

They also agreed on recovering the losses caused by the
corrupt officials by auctioning the properties acquired by
using `ill gotten` wealth.

However, there were differences on when to issue the
notification on the list of assets of an official. The
proposal states that the assets cannot be transferred after
issuance of the notification.

Meanwhile, the civil society members appear to have
raised the pitch for early enactment of the Lokpal Act, saying
Hazare would return to Jantar Mantar on August 16 if the Bill
is not passed by Parliament.

The setting up of the joint drafting committee was a key
demand of Hazare and his supporters as part of their agitation
for strong measures to tackle corruption in government and
public life.

The Committee was constituted through a government
notification on April 9 after Hazare ended his 97-hour fast on
the issue.

The Committee is chaired by Mukherjee and has Union
ministers Kapil Sibal, Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid and P
Chidambaram as members. Besides Hazare, the civil society
members are Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, advocate
Prashant Bhushan, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, and RTI
activist Arvind Kejriwal.

Hazare`s team has voiced concern over the slow progress
of the Bill drafting process following which it was agreed
to hold meetings more frequently.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011 - 17:35

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