Parl panel on Lokpal divided on including PM

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 22:11

New Delhi: The issue of including the
Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal saw the
Parliamentary panel looking into the matter divided on party
lines with the UPA and its outside supporters opposing the
idea while the opposition demanded his inclusion with riders.

Consensus eluded the Parliamentary Standing Committee
on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice on the
issue with Congress and its allies, as well as Lalu
Prasad-led RJD and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, opposing the
inclusion of Prime Minister within the purview of Lokpal.
Former SP member Amar Singh, who has been ailing for
sometimes, attended today`s meeting of the panel. Sources said
he also sided with the ruling party.

The opposition- mainly the BJP and the Left parties-
favoured inclusion of the Prime Minister under Lokpal.

A middle path was suggested by some 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 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 represnt 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 commitee is so-powerful, it was felt that
there is no need for a separate search committee.

The Committee 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.

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.


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First Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 22:11

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