Wednesday, August 3, 2011


4  Aug 2011



From R Rajagopalan

NEW DELHI: The government is introducing the controversial Lokpal Bill in the Lok Sabha on Thursday for establishing the institution of Lokpal (ombudsman) to inquire into allegations of corruption against the public functionaries in high places.

The 41-page Bill Iis dated August 1 but circulated by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to the MPs on Wednesday surprisingly also contains an analysis of another bill drafted by the civil society led by Gandhian Anna Hazare. The analysis has been carried out by the PRS Legislative Research of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, comparing two draft Bills of the joint committee and recommendations of various expert committees on the questions framed by the government on the Lokpal Bill.

The Hazare group has been lobbying that its draft should be also circulated to the Parliamentarians to let them decide what should be the best in enacting a law to curb corruption. The Loksabha Secretariat has fulfilled its wish and that could not have been done but for an express direction of Speaker Meira Kumar.

The analysis also provides vital statistics on some facts and figures of corruption cases against government officials and a background note on the Lokpal Bill, providing detailed look at genesis, history of the Lokpal and recommendations made by various committees.

Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy will be moving the Bill for introduction. As the government has already announced, it will be then sent to a parliamentary standing committee for a thorough scrutiny before Parliament takes it up for passage.

PRICE RISE & 13/7 REPLIES: On Thursday at noon, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will be replying to the day-long debate in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday on the price rise, followed by voting on it. CPI group leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who has moved an amendment to the BJP-Government compromise motion, may force a division to let people know who hold the government and its policies responsible for the unending inflation.

It is, therefore, to be seen how the main opposition BJP reacts as its former finnce minister Yashwant Sinha cited the wrong policies of the government leading to the price rise but the party has made a deal with the government to get its motion passed unanimously by a voice vote and without any division to count votes.

Home Minister P Chidambaram will be also replying to a short duration debate in the Rajya Sabha on the national security with reference to the 13/7 Mumbai blasts that remained inconclusive on Wednesday.

NINTH ATTEMPT: This is the ninth attempt to set up an institution of the Lokpal. A statement of objects and reasons attached to the Lokpal Bill points out that eight Bills were moved in the Lok Sabha in 1968, 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 2001. All these Bills lapsed on dissolution of the respective Lok Sabhas except in case of the 1985 Bill that was withdrawn after its introduction. Had the government introduced the Bill in the Rajya Sabha this time, it would not have met fate of the previous Bills in case the present Lok Sabha is dissolved or completes its term before it passes the Bill.

The official government statement refers to the Joint Drafting Committee set up on April 8 to draft the Lokpal Bill to deal with complaints on corrupton against public functionaries in high places through a "stand-alone legislation." It also set the Lokpal will have own investigation and prosecution wings with such officers and employees "as felt by it to be necessary."

The category of public functionaries to come under its purview include a prime minister after he demits office, a minister of union, a member of Parliament, any group "A" officer or equivalent, as also chairperson and members or officers equivalent to Group "A" in any body, board, etc. established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly financed or controlled by the Centre and any director, manager, secreatry or other officer of a society or association or trust wholly or partly financed or aided by the government or in receipt of any donations from the public, except for organisations created for religious purposes.

The statement also notes that the Lokpal will have powers to search and seizure and certain powers of a civil court as also atatch property prima facie acquired by corrupt means. It says the Bill also provides for a mechanism to waive sanction or approval under Section 197 of the CrPC or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


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