Pushing for a slew of anti-corruption laws, the Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared three crucial Bills relating to judicial accountability, protection of whistleblowers and Citizens Charter — issues which Anna Hazare wants to be brought under the ambit of the proposed Lokpal.
Discussions on the Food Security Bill, however, remained inconclusive, and the Bill is likely to be brought up in the next Cabinet meeting expected to be held on December 18, 2011.
The Bills approved by the Cabinet were the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill, 2010, widely known as the Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill and Citizens’ Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill, 2011.
Team Anna has been demanding that the judiciary, a Citizens’ Charter and a Grievance Redressal mechanism be brought under the Lokpal. However, the government and some of opposition parties felt there should be separate laws to deal with these issues.
The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, seeks to lay down judicial standards and provide for accountability of judges and establish a credible and expedient mechanism for investigating into individual complaints for misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court and to regulate the procedure for such investigation.
It also proposes to form a panel to incorporate a provision to have in-camera proceedings of the committee which will scrutinise complaints against judges.
The Bill seeks to make it mandatory for judges to stay away from maintaining “close relations or close social interaction” with lawyers who practice in the same court.
However, sources said some Ministers felt this provision should be dropped.