The Select Committee’s report on the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011, tabled in Rajya Sabha on Friday, makes it mandatory for States to enact a Lokayukta law within a year of the notification of the Central Act but gives them the freedom to decide the contours of their legislation.
The report enables the States to exercise the option of not including Chief Ministers or legislators within the ambit of the Lokayuktas. This is a departure from the 2011 Bill, Part III section of which provided for formation of Lokayuktas on the lines of the Lokpal Bill — a provision strongly opposed by parties that are in power in different States such as the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, citing the federal structure of the Union.
The Prime Minister is included under the Lokpal but with exemptions on issues of external and internal security, atomic energy, international relations and public order.
The report, along with “the amended Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2012 as reported by the committee” was tabled by Congress member Shantaram Naik. The 2011 Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and referred to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee in May this year. Any amendment to the original Bill would be moved by the government after Cabinet approval, sources said.
A key recommendation of the panel is the setting up of a Directorate of Prosecution under the CBI which will be headed by a Director. The CBI Director will be appointed by a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. The Prosecution Director will be appointed on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission and will have a two-year tenure. The power of superintendence over the CBI in Lokpal cases will vest in the Lokpal.
While most members wanted the CBI to have full financial autonomy, the report suggests that the government provide funds its director will require for effective investigation.
The chairperson or members of the Lokpal will not be affiliated to any party, says the report. The 2011 Bill said they shall not be “connected” to any party.
Instead of the President appointing an eminent jurist to the Selection Committee as proposed in the Bill, the report says, the jurist shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Selection Committee that comprises the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
In a significant change, the report has taken away the clause that allowed a public servant to be heard on a complaint against him/her during the preliminary stage or after preliminary inquiry. However, the power to sanction the filing of the charge sheet or closure report on a complaint shall vest with the Lokpal after giving the public servant a hearing.
The report removes the provision of government “aided” societies, trusts and persons from the jurisdiction of the Lokpal, and excludes organisations that receive donations from the public over a certain specified annual income.
Rather than vesting in the President the power to remove the Lokpal, the Supreme Court may conduct an enquiry following a reference from the President on a petition signed by at least 100 MPs, says the report.
“There was consensus on the report,” chairman Satyavrat Chaturvedi told a press conference. “Some members made suggestions which have been annexed to the report.” He “heartily” thanked Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley for his “legal insight, interpretations and solutions to the complex Bill” that was under the scrutiny of the panel.