Parl panel on Lokpal overturns two key decisions

Overturning its two key decisions within a day, the Parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal Bill on Thursday favoured exclusion of group C officials.

New Delhi: Overturning its two key decisions
within a day, the Parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal
Bill on Thursday favoured exclusion of group C officials from Lokpal
and not to tamper with the present selection process of CBI
Director despite opposition by at least 10 members.

A day after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Personnel and Law and Justice had finalised its report on the
Lokpal Bill, its Chairman Abhishek Singhvi called an emergency
meeting this evening to discuss the two issues afresh.
In the meeting, several members, mostly from Congress,
said group C officials should not be brought under Lokpal as
it would bring "too much pressure" on a new institution.

They also said the appointment of CBI Director was not
under the jurisdiction of the Committee as the Lokpal Bill was
aimed at creating the institution of the ombudsman.

At least ten members, mainly from BJP, SP, CPI-M and RSP
opposed the "sudden U turn" saying a decision taken by the
Committee cannot be amended. "If they have reservations, they
should give a dissent note," BJP member Kirti Azad said.

However, ignoring their contention, Singhvi is learnt to
have agreed with the exclusion of group C employees and not
tinkering with the selection process of the CBI chief.

Congress sources said "the sense of the meeting"
overwhelmingly was to exclude group C and not to change the
appointment procedure for CBI Director.

Yesterday, the Committee had favoured including group C
employees under Lokpal`s purview and have a new selection
committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of the
Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Lokpal Chairman.
In the 30-member Committee, there are nine members from
Congress, one each from Trinamool Congress, RJD and LJP. BJP
has seven members while CPI-M, AIADMK and SP have one member
each. BJD and BSP also have one member each in the Committee
which also has two Independents and as many nominated members.
RSP and SDF also have one member each.

The trigger of today`s meeting was the letters written by
Shantaram Naik (Cong) and Bhalchandra Mungerkar (Nominated,
who later joind Congress).

The two had flagged the two issues and asked Singhvi to
call as meeting to discuss the same.

Six of the seven BJP members today submitted their
dissent notes to Committee Chairman Abhishek Singhvi and said
its Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani will do the same

BJP`s dissent note is on non-inclusion of the Prime
Minister under the ambit of Lokpal, exclusion of the lower
bureaucracy and not having the public grievances mechanism as
part of the Lokpal institution.

RSP member Prasanta Kumar Majumdar also registered his
dissent on non-inclusion of the Prime Minister within the
purview of Lokpal.

SP member Shailendra Kumar said he would submit his
dissent note on non-inclusion of group C employees under the
ambit of Lokpal and not having the mechanism of public
grievance under the Lokpal system.

Some Congress members later explained that their change
of stand claiming that after the implementation of the Sixth
Pay Commission, there is virtually no difference between group
C and D employees.

"As it is, the patwaris, tehsildars and SHOs who actually
are known to take bribe are state government employees and
are covered under Lokayukta, Prevention of Corruption Act and
other penal provisions," a Congress member said.

The Congress members said group C and D officials of the
central government are covered by the CVC, hence overloading
the new institution of Lokpal would not be advisable.

"If the experiment of group A and B is good, then more
categories can be included later," the member said.


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