Team Anna burn Lokpal Bill draft, govt slams

Anna Hazare vowed to go on fast from August 16 calling it the country`s `second freedom struggle`.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The civil society members led by Anna Hazare, Thursday, burned the government version of the Lokpal Bill in protest against its presentation in the Parliament.

The move by the civil society members comes a day after Hazare wrote an open letter to the Member of Parliament (MPs) asking them to block the presentation of the anti-corruption legislation in the Parliament.

However, the bill was introduced in the Parliament today.

Separately, expressing strong discontent over the government`s version of the anti-graft Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare today vowed to go on fast from August 16 calling it the country`s "second freedom struggle".

"The government is not willing to eradicate corruption. Aug 16 will mark the second freedom struggle in this country," Hazare told reporters at Ralegan Siddhi, 230 km from Mumbai.
"This is one last chance to eradicate corruption. People of India will not get a chance again," he added.

Meanwhile, the government slammed the burning of copies of the Lokpal Bill by Anna Hazare and his team members as "an affront to parliament".

"It`s an insult and an affront to parliament," Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal told reporters here.

Sibal added that if Hazare had differing views on the Lokpal bill, he should present these before the standing committee of parliament which will look into it.

On Tuesday, Anna Hazare, in an open appeal to the MPs, had contended that the legislation cleared by the Union Cabinet is `anti-poor` and ‘anti-farmer.

Hazare had said, “It is an insult for both MPs and the Parliament to put forth a weak bill, which overlooks common man’s concern.” Hazare had already made it clear that his fight is not against politicians but against the government, which has done nothing to improve the plight of the common man.

Salinet features of govt Lokpal Bill draft

The Lokpal bill seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the Ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.
The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions. Persons with impeccable integrity, with 25 years of experience in administration who have dealt with corruption and vigilance, would also form part of the Lokpal.

The institution would inquire into allegations of corruption in respect of the Prime Minister only after he demits office. Besides, it would take up corruption matters allegedly involving ministers, MPs, Group `A` officers and others equivalent to this grade in any body, board, authority, corporation, trust, society or autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament.

Every public servant will be made to declare his or her assets and liabilities. In case of default or misleading information, it will be presumed that the said public servant has acquired the assets through corrupt means.
The Lokpal can also recommend transfer or suspension of public servants connected with allegations of corruption. The Lokpal would not require sanction or approval under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in cases where prosecution is proposed.

The Lokpal will also have powers to attach the property of corrupt public servants acquired through corrupt means. At the same time, the bill provides for prosecution for false complaint.

The punishment term would not be less than two years in jail. The prison term can extend up to five years.

A penalty ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh is also proposed on people found guilty of making false complaints. The public servant is also entitled for compensation.

The anti-corruption watchdog can also seek the assistance of the Centre and the state government in conducting inquiries.
It provides for a time limitation period of seven years from the date of taking cognisance of an offence. In the case of the Prime Minister, the limitation period will apply after he or she demits office.

The measure does not provide for constitution of Lokayukta as in states.

The expenses to run the institution would be borne out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

The government hopes that if the Standing Committee comes out with its recommendations on the bill by August-end, then it could go ahead with its passage.

Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said that a decision on Lokpal will be taken by Parliament.

The Lokpal bill has had a long and chequered history. Legislations in the past had included the Prime Minister within the ambit of the bill only on a few occasions.

With PTI Inputs

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