The Parliamentary Standing Committee looking into the Lokpal Bill has recommended that MPs' conduct and the judiciary be kept out of Lokpal's purview and the Central Bureau of Investigation's prosecution wing be included in it. It did not, however, take a position on the inclusion of the Prime Minister within the Lokpal's ambit.
There has been unanimity among MPs in favour of conferring a constitutional status on the Lokpal and setting up Lokayuktas in States under a single legislation.
The draft report on the Bill, which has been circulated to members and would come up for finalisation on Wednesday, favours the Lokpal's jurisdiction over corporates, media and NGOs, insofar as receipt of donations are concerned.
However, even the draft document has not taken a position on the inclusion of the Prime Minister within the Lokpal's ambit. The issue will be considered in Wednesday's meeting.
The panel turned down Team Anna's demand for inclusion of the entire bureaucracy with the draft report favouring only inclusion of Group B, along with Group A officials, and leaving out the Group C and D staff.
On Team Anna's demand for scrapping Article 311 of the Constitution that gives protection to government servants against summary dismissal, the draft report favoured a “close and careful relook” to eliminate major obstacles to legitimate departmental action against delinquent officials.
The report said bureaucratic corruption had been relatively ignored amidst excessive media and civil society focus on political corruption, coupled with the doctrine of civil service anonymity, which India imported from the colonial rule.
Referring to the media, NGOs and corporates, the draft report said if the domestic and foreign funds were above Rs. 10 lakh per annum, such organisations—whether controlled by government or not—should be covered under Lokpal.
“It is thus clear that corporates, media or NGOs should and would be covered only to the above extent and not otherwise,” the draft said.
On the sensitive issue of inclusion of the Prime Minister, the report did not mention the “reasons and recommendations” in the chapter on the subject.
Members have been informed through a letter that the same would be framed and added in the report following discussions on the ticklish issue.
Team Anna member Kiran Bedi on Monday expressed disappointment at the recommendations in the draft report of Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill, saying going back on commitment given by Parliament will call for mass movement again.
“This is going back on the commitment and will call for a mass movement again,” Ms. Bedi said.
Ms. Bedi said the exclusion of the judiciary was a setback to people's demands as “people overwhelmingly wanted judiciary [to be included].She said if the prosecution wing of the CBI did not come under Lokpal's jurisdiction, the country would never see the decline and successful prosecution of the high and mighty. — PTI