There was a “divergence of views” between the government and the civil society members on a number of issues relating to the scope of the Lokpal Bill, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

“While state governments took a stand that they could furnish their views only when a draft bill is presented to them, some civil society members had divergence of views on issues relating to the scope of the Lokpal Bill,” Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy told the lower house in a written reply.

“Some of the major issues on which there were divergent views are -- should there be a single enactment providing for Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the state?, should the Prime Minister and judges of Supreme Court/High Courts be brought within the purview of the Lokpal? And should the conduct of MPs inside Parliament (speaking or voting in the House) be brought within the purview of the Lokpal,” he said.

The minister said that there is a demand for strong anti-corruption law to deal with the menace in the country.

“The government constituted a joint drafting committee on April 8, 2011 to prepare a draft of a Lokpal Bill, with five nominee ministers of the government and five nominees of Anna Hazare, including himself.

“Based on the deliberation of the joint drafting committee and on the basis of inputs from Chief Ministers of states and from political parties, the government drafted a Lokpal Bill and introduced it in the Lok Sabha on August 4, 2011,” he said.

Mr. Narayanasamy said the bill “seeks to establish an institution of Lokpal dealing with complaints of corruption against public functionaries at high places.”

The bill inter alia provides for establishment of an institution of Lokpal with its own investigation and prosecution wing, conferring the Lokpal with powers of a civil court for enforcement of attendance and empowering the Lokpal to make searches and seizures and also to attach property which, prima facie, has been acquired by corrupt means, he said.

An elaborate vigilance system already exists in the ministries and departments to check corruption at all levels of administration. It is the primary responsibility of the secretary (head) of the department to maintain the purity/ integrity of the organisation, he said.

Besides, the comprehensive legislation and statutory provisions under various laws such as IPC, CrPC, PC, PC Act have adequate and stringent provisions to punish those who are found guilty, the minister said.

He told the lower house that the government has constituted a Group of Ministers to consider measures that can be taken by the government to tackle corruption and has also ratified United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and introduced the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 in Parliament.

Mr. Narayanasamy, while replying to a separate question said a report by Transparency International India and Centre of Media Studies -- India Corruption study 2010 -- “represents a point of view” when the study says that rural population has to pay bribes to get basic services.

The government is fully alive and committed to implement its policy of “zero tolerance against corruption” and is moving progressively to eradicate corruption from all spheres of life by improving transparency and accountability, he said.

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