The major official amendments to the Lokpal Bill on which the Rajya Sabha gave its nod relate to giving a hearing to an officer charged with corruption before the Lokpal orders an investigation, during an enquiry and before the sanction of prosecution.
On the insistence of Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, however, the government agreed to add a “proviso” that this shall not be applicable if Lokpal orders raids and searches and wants to maintain an element of surprise.
“In the interest of evolving consensus”, the government did not persist with its amendment to include under Lokpal donations received by institutions of trusts and religious bodies. It also did not press its amendment allowing the government to transfer a CBI official investigating a Lokpal case without the approval of the Lokpal.
The CPI(M) and the CPI’s amendments to include projects covered under public-private partnership and private companies and corporate houses did not get carried.
Referring to the “sense of the House” resolution passed by Parliament in August, 2011, Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal said the Lokpal Bill provided for States to set up Lokayuktas within a year of the passing of the Central law while the Citizens Charters Bill, 2012, is pending in Lok Sabha for approval. The government intends to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act to deal with “supply side corruption”.
Before leading his party’s walk-out, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said the Bill had provisions that would not allow officers to take decisions and would bring the country to a standstill.