Anti-graft Lokpal bill in Lok Sabha Thursday

August 3rd, 2011 - 9:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) The much-talked about Lokpal bill for creating an anti-corruption watchdog in the country will be introduced in the Lok Sabha Thursday.

The proposed legislation doesn’t cover the prime minister within the purview of the ombudsman during his or her term in office. But once the prime minister demits the office, he or she may be investigated for any wrongdoing during the term.

It also excludes the judiciary and any action of an MP in parliament or committee.

Having both investigation and prosecution powers, the ombudsman once created will have a chairperson and 10 members, half of them judicial.

The institution will be appointed by the president on the recommendation of the selection committee consisting of the prime minister, speaker, leader of the house of which prime minister is not member, minister of home affairs, leader of opposition in both houses, judge of Supreme Court, chief justice of a high court, President of National Academy of Science, and Cabinet Secretary (secretary of committee).

According to the draft bill provided to IANS by PRS Legislative Research, the ombudsman will have powers to investigate all corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

It covers MPs, ministers, ‘Group A’ officers, any ‘Group A’ officer in a company or body owned by the government, any officer of a society or trust that is financed by the government or gets funds under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 or gets funds from the public.

Procedure for MPs and ministers: After the investigation, if any person is found guilty, the Lokpal may file a case in its special court and send a copy of the report to the competent authority (for minister it is the prime minster, for MPs it is the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha).

The speaker/chairman shall lay the report on the table of parliament. The house shall examine it and send a report to the Lokpal on any action taken within 90 days.

As per the draft, every public servant will have to declare his or her assets and liabilities.

The Lokpal also has powers to recommend transfer or suspension of public servants involved in any corruption case. It can also attach the property of corrupt public servants acquired through unfair means.

The draft bill also provides for prosecution against anyone who files a false complaint. The punishment term would not be less than two years in jail that can go up to five years. A penalty from Rs.25,000 to Rs.2 lakh is also proposed against those found making false complaints.

The Lokpal will have the power to search and seize documents, provisionally attach property for 90 days, file for confirming the attachment within 30 days, and recommend suspension of the public servant connected with allegation of corruption.

The bill after being introduced in the Lok Sabha Thursday will be referred to the standing committee. If the committee comes out with its recommendations by August-end, then the government would go ahead with the passage of the bill that is being opposed by civil society members in its present form.

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