The Rajya Sabha Select Committee on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 has, however, said the state governments will have to set up their own ombudsman.
A Parliamentary Committee has recommended delinking creation of Lokayuktas from the Lokpal Bill, a provision that was strongly opposed by political parties including those supporting the UPA.
The Rajya Sabha Select Committee on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 has, however, said the state governments will have to set up their own ombudsman through enactment of law by the state legislatures within one year of commencement of this law.
The Committee’s recommendation is seen as a major concession to Opposition parties and UPA allies, which had termed the original provision as an attack on federal structure saying the state governments should be free to enact their own law regarding state-level ombudsman.
The Lokpal Bill, whose passage was stalled in Rajya Sabha during the last winter session, had a provision that provided for appointment of a Lokayukta in every state under the central law.
The Bill was referred to the Committee in May this year for a detailed examination amidst stiff opposition over its several provisions.
The Select Committee, which adopted its draft report today, is learnt to have not recommend any changes in the provision relating to “reservation”.
The original provision said ‘not less than 50 per cent of the members of Lokpal would be from SC, ST, OBC, minorities and women.
The Committee’s report said that “these provisions merely aim at providing representation to the diverse sections of the society in the institution of Lokpal...”and only indicates “the quantum of representation and not reservation”.
BJP has strong reservations about the provision and is understood to have given a “suggestion note” in today’s meeting opposing any provision for reservation in the measure.
The original clause in the Bill provides that ‘not less than 50 per cent of the members of the Lokpal, shall be from amongst those belonging to SC, ST, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women.
There was a strong view in the Committee that such a provision does not not have a constitutional basis and may not be sustainable.
The Department of Personnel and Training was of the view that these provisions were in the nature of “representation” and not reservation and hence were sustainable.
The Department of Legal Affairs felt that an “affirmative action” in favour of women following the philosophy underlying the provisions of Art 15(3) of the Constitution may not be “inapposite".
The Committee noted that there was no concept of reservation either in the higher judiciary or among men falling in the category of persons with outstanding ability from among whom the Chairperson and Members of the Lokpal are to be selected.
“Thus, the reservation principles are not applicable in such a high profile body,” the Committee said.
However, considering the Articles in the Constitution that provide for reservation, the Committee said the provisions in the Bill merely aim at providing representation to the diverse sections of the society in the institution of Lokpal and the rules of reservation are not not involved in this case.
“Accordingly, the Committee does not recommend any change in the proviso to Clause 3(2)(b) that indicates the quantum of representation and not reservation,” the report said.
Members from the Left parties too are learnt to have given a ‘suggestion note’ demanding inclusion of private sector under the ambit of Lokpal.
Despite suggestions by Law Ministry officials during their depositions suggesting ‘insulation’ to officials of the PMO, the Committee, headed by Satyavrat Chaturvedi, has not recommended any changes.
The Prime Minister, who is sought to be covered by the proposed law, is, however, exempted from the ambit of Lokpal on issues of external and internal security, atomic energy, international relations and public order.
Partially accepting suggestions made by parties like BJP and JD (U) on making CBI independent of government control, the Select Committee is learnt to have recommended that its chief be appointed by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
It also recommended that CBI should have a separate Directorate of Prosecution under a Director who should function under the agency chief. It said the Director of Prosecution should be appointed by the CVC.
The CBI chief and the head of prosecution should have a fixed tenure.
It said for cases referred by Lokpal, CBI may appoint a panel of advocates, “other than government advocates”, with the consent of the ombudsman.
CBI officers investigating cases referred by Lokpal will only be transferrede by the aproval of the anti-corruption watchdog.
The Committee said the poweer of superintendence and direction of CBI in relation to Lokpal referred cases must vest in Lokpal.
On the issue of suspension of Chairman or member of Lokpal, government was of the view that since President is the appointing authority, he should have the power to remove.
The members in the committee said that instead of it being an executive decision, there should be “judicial application of mind".
“The final view that emerged in the Committee was that the suspension of Chairperson/Members shall be operative only after the recommendation/interim order of the Supreme Court to that effect,” the report said suggesting amending the clause accordingly.
The panel also recommended that NGOs getting direct support in form of funds from the government be only covered by Lokpal or the proposed institution will be flooded by complaints