Lokpal: No decision on PM in Parl panel`s draft

Last Updated: Monday, November 28, 2011 - 23:23

New Delhi: The Parliamentary Standing
Committee going into the Lokpal Bill has recommended keeping
out judiciary and MPs` conduct in House out of its purview and
rejected the demand for hiving off the prosecution wing of CBI
to come under its jurisdiction.

Members have unanimously recommended conferring
constitutional status on the Lokpal and setting up of Lokpal
and Lokayuktas in states under one legislation.

The draft report on the Bill, which has been circulated
to members and would come up for finalisation on November 30,
favours Lokpal`s jurisdiction over corporates, media and NGOs
in so far as receipt of donations from public within the
country or from foreign sources.
However, even the draft document has not taken a position
on inclusion of Prime Minister in the ambit of Lokpal. The
issue will be considered in the Wednesday meeting.

Various options, including inclusion of Prime Minister
with safeguards and coverage after demitting office, have been
suggested.

Another of Team Anna`s demand for inclusion of entire
bureaucracy has been turned down with the draft report only
favouring inclusion of Group B, along with Group A officials
and leaving out the entire C and D staff.

Vis-a-vis Team Anna`s demand for scrapping Article 311 of
the Constitution that gives protection to government servants
against summary dismissal, the draft report favours a "close
and careful relook" to ensure major obstacles in taking
legitimate departmental action against delinquent officials
are eliminated.
The report said bureaucratic corruption has been
relatively ignored in the context of excessive media and civil
society focus on political corruption, coupled with the
doctrine of civil service anonymity, which India imported from
the colonial rule.

Referring to the media, NGOs and corporates, the draft
report said if the domestic and foreign funds are above Rs 10
lakh per annum such organisations - whether controlled by
government or not - should be covered under Lokpal.

"It is thus clear that corporates, media or NGOs should
and would be covered only to the above extent and not
otherwise," the draft said.

On the sensitive issue of inclusion of the Prime
Minister, the report has not mentioned the `reasons and
recommendations` in the chapter on the subject.

Members have been informed through a letter that the same
will be framed and added in the report following discussions
on the ticklish issue when the committee meets on November 30
and December 1.

While Team Anna has demanded the inclusion of the
judiciary, the draft report said the end result would be the
possible and potential prosecution of even an apex court judge
before the relevant magistrate exercising the relevant
jurisdiction.

"...This would lead to an extraordinarily piquant and an
untenable situation and would undermine judicial independence
at its very root," the report said identifying the judiciary
as a "separate and distinct organ" of the State.

The report recalled its recommendations on the Judicial
Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, and said the
judiciary cannot be left unpoliced and reiterated that the
process of judicial appointments be revisited through a fresh
legislation.

On the issue of inclusion of the conduct of MPs inside
Parliament, the committee, while rejecting the demand, said
the constitutional safeguards given to MPs under Article 105
are sacrosanct and time-tested.

It said given the near unanimity in the committee and
among political parties, it was necessary to retain the
safeguard and keep the conduct of MPs inside Parliament
outside the ambit of Lokpal.

"Even an investigation as to whether vote, speech or
conduct in a particular case involves or does not involve
corrupt practice would whittle down such unfettered autonomy
and independence within the Houses of Parliament down to
vanishing point," the draft report said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, November 28, 2011 - 22:38

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