The Delhi Cabinet on Monday cleared the ‘Delhi Lokpal Bill, 2014’ that aims to bring all public servants– from the Chief Minister to all Group D employees – under its ambit with no safeguards or “special privileges” extended even to the Chief Minister’s Office. The Bill will be tabled in the Assembly to be convened on February 13 without sending it to the Home Ministry for approval as has been the convention so far.
The Bill was passed at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, fulfilling a key election promise made to voters by the Aam Aadmi Party. Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia hailed the passage of the Bill as a “historic moment” and told reporters that the Bill ensures time-bound investigations and filing of charge sheet. The Bill also guarantees legal protection to whistleblowers and witnesses who will speak up against corruption.
“For the first time, every honest officer will be rewarded each year and encouraged to continue working honestly,” said Mr. Sisodia, adding that the government will bring in a policy that will ensure special rewards and incentives to honest officers.
Mr. Sisodia acknowledged the “progressive nature” of a similar Bill passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly in 2011, on which the Delhi Lokpal is loosely based, but said the former has limitation in filing complaints against the CM and Ministers.
The selection panel for the appointment of the Lokpal chairperson and members is transparent and free of political control, he said, adding it will have only a single government nominee - the Chief Minister.
The Lokpal, which will have the power to initiate suo motu investigation on a complaint from an individual, will also go after business entities that are beneficiaries of an offence with the guilty having to pay a fine up to five times the loss caused to the public exchequer. As per the draft, the Lokpal institution will have a chairperson and 10 members.