Justice N. Santosh Hegde, member of the Joint Drafting Committee on the Lokpal Bill, has expressed satisfactionat the Centre's response to the framing of the legislation. He said it had realised that the movement against corruption was a force to be reckoned with.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a lecture at the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) here on Friday, Justice Hegde said the government had come forward to hold sittings of the panel on a day-to-day basis after May 30. However, he felt the government might not agree to all the suggestions of the civil society represented on the panel; but that it certainly would have to accept the major ones.
The government, he said, could not escape conceding the general Lokpal Bill, which covered 70 lakh public servants, as against the ‘sarkari' legislation, which confined itself to probing charges solely against the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers. The idea behind covering officers of the Central government, he said, was that most often it was bureaucrats who had the final say in policy-making and not Ministers. Therefore, it was important that Secretaries were made accountable. Justice Hegde said the big question before the Committee was how it proposed to cover such a large number of government employees in its ambit.
The Lokpal need not have to question employees in the lower rung as it could refer complaints against them to the district authorities where they were posted.
Dismissing suggestions that the proposed Lokpal was a “monstrous” institution, he said its every action would be amenable to scrutiny by High Courts and the Supreme Court.
Observing that the present system — in which the permission of the Chief Justice of India was needed to investigate judges — was ineffective, he said a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court could also inquire into the role of the Lokpal.