Many proposals missing from govt draft

The government has been arguing that shifting of the CBI under the umbrella of the Lokpal would deny the Executive its own investigative wing for taking care of other issues.

New Delhi: Powers to tap phones, issuance
of letters rogatory and recommendations for changes in work
practices to reduce scope for corruption are among the
proposals made by the Anna Hazare team in their Jan Lokpal Bill which do not find a mention in the government draft.

The draft submitted to the joint committee on Lokpal
bill by the Hazare team also seeks power to the proposed
ombudsman to acquire modern equipment necessary for proper
investigation and inquire into the assets declaration
statements filed by all MPs.

According to the Jan Lokpal Bill, an approporiate
bench of Lokpal shall be deemed to be "designated authority
under Section V of the Indian Telegraph Act empowered to
approve interception and monitoring of messages of data or
voice transmitted through telephones, Internet or any other

In the powers and functions of the Lokpal and its
officers section of the civil society`s draft, the ombudsman
can authorise a bench of the Lokpal to issue letters rogatory
in relation to any case pending investigation.

This provision is in contrast to the stand taken by
the Hazare team in the fourth meeting of the joint drafting
committee held on May 23 when lawyer Shanti Bhushan clarified
that the intent was to allow Lokpal to directly approach the
court for letters rogatory and not to route such requests
through the government.

Bhushan`s comment came after Home Minister P
Chidambaram pointed out that the powers of issuance of letters
rogatory was within the domain of the courts. A letter
rogatory is a formal request from a court to a foreign court
for some type of judicial assistance.

According to the civil society draft, Lokpal should
have powers to make recommendations to public authorities, to
make changes in their work practices to reduce the scope of
corruption and whistle blower victimisation.

Their draft makes it mandatory that public authorities
should send its "compliance report to Lokpal within two months
of specifying detailed reasons, wherever they choose to or
reject any of these recommendations".

The civil society draft also seeks power for the
Lokpal to recommend cancellation or modification of a lease,
licence, permission, contract or agreement, if it was obtained
by corrupt means and blacklisting of a firm, company or
contractor or any other person involved in corruption.

On the merger of anti-corruption wing of CBI into
Lokpal, the Hazare team`s draft says that the Centre shall
cease to have any control over this unit. Earlier, the civil
society side has been demanding the merger of Central
Vigilance Commission into the Lokpal but it does not find
mention in their new draft.

The government has been arguing that shifting of the
CBI under the umbrella of the Lokpal would deny the Executive
its own investigative wing for taking care of other issues.

The civil society draft also provides for immunity to
bribe giver if he "voluntarily and gives timely" information
to the Lokpal about the giving of the bribe him with entire
evidence for getting the bribe taker caught and convicted".

On the panel to select Lokpal, the civil society draft
says it should consist of the Prime Minister, Leader of
Opposition in Lok Sabha, two judges from Supreme Court, two
High Court Chief Justices, Chief Election Commissioner, CAG
and all previous chairpersons of Lokpal.


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