No consensus in Lokpal panel on inclusion of PM

Consensus eluded the Parl panel on Lokpal on the issue of including PM within the ambit of the ombudsman with a majority opposing the suggestion.

New Delhi: Consensus eluded the
Parliamentary panel on Lokpal on the issue of including the
Prime Minister within the ambit of the ombudsman with a
majority opposing the suggestion, saying it could lead to
complications while some others favoured it with riders.

While some members of the Parliamentary Standing
Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice
felt the Prime Minister should be brought under the Lokpal,
others felt this should be avoided.

A middle path was suggested by some other members who
said the Prime Minister can be brought within the ambit of the
ombudsman but with some riders like excluding his duties
relating to external affairs and internal security, among

Some members also argued that since the PM is included
under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there is no need to
put him in the ambit of the Lokpal as well. However, the
opposition parties have used the same argument to say that if
the high office is covered under PCA, why not the Lokpal.

Sources said though a majority of the members in the
Committee felt the PM should not be included within Lokpal,
no decision could be taken and the matter will be further
discussed in subsequent meetings.

The Committee also discussed the status of the Central
Bureau of Investigation.

"Opposition members said it should remain a permanent,
independent investigation agency of the Government of India
and its directorate of prosecution should be made independent
of any government interference," sources said.

The Parliamentary panel also discussed the composition
of the selection and search committee for the Lokpal. Civil
society activist Anna Hazare had demanded that there should be
12 members in this committee.

"Members felt the selection committee should comprise
of the Prime Minister, who will represent the Executive; the
Lok Sabha Speaker who will represent the Legislature; the Chief
Justice of India to represent the judiciary; and the Leader of
Opposition," sources said.

Other members who should be in the selection committee,
according to suggestions made in the committee meeting, are
the CAG, UPSC Chairperson and the Chief Election Commissioner.

Some of the members said such a selection panel would
be competent enough to find an eminent person for the post of
Lokpal. Since this committee is so-powerful, it was felt that
there is no need for a separate search committee.

The committee also further discussed the proposal to
include Group B government officials as well under the Lokpal.
The issue had figured in yesterday`s meeting of the committee.

"There was a discussion of having Group B officials
along with Group A but no final decision was taken on the
matter. But most members agreed that Group C and D cannot be
included under Lokpal as the number of personnel is too big,"
sources said.

Former SP leader Amar Singh, who has been ailing for
sometime, attended today`s meeting of the Parliamentary panel
on Lokpal.

Sources said he suggested that the Prime Minister
should be excluded from the ambit of Lokpal.

RJD Chief Lalu Prasad and LJP President Ram Vilas
Paswan also spoke on the same lines, saying the PM should be
kept out of the Lokpal`s purview.

Opinion on this issue got divided on party lines with
the Congress, its allies and parties close to it suggesting
that the PM be kept out while the opposition- mainly the BJP
and the Left- were of the view that he should be included with
some riders.


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