The government may no longer get to appoint the chief of the country's premier investigating agency, the CBI, instead an independent panel could make the selection.
As reported by HT on January 30, the cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to a majority of the recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha select committee that examined the lokpal bill, including delinking the appointment of lokayuktas in states from the legislation.
The committee, which presented its version of the lokpal bill in Rajya Sabha in last November, recommended that a panel comprising the prime minister, Chief Justice of India and leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha should appoint the CBI director.
This provision was also a part of the bill passed by Lok Sabha in December 2011, but since the legislation got stuck in Rajya Sabha, the government appointed the new CBI director Ranjit Sinha in October according to the laid procedure despite protests by the BJP.
Minister of state for personnel V Narayanamay said the government accepted 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the committee, including a separate prosecution wing for the CBI, whose director would be appointed by the central vigilance commission.
The anti-graft watchdog will be a nine-member body. Members will be chosen by a committee of PM, Speaker, CJI, leader of the opposition and an eminent jurist.
But, the cabinet shot down suggestion that a public servant against whom a graft complaint is filed should not be given a hearing till a probe is done.
The recommendation that the CBI officials probing cases handed over by the lokpal should not be shifted without its permission, too, was not accepted.
Social activist Anna Hazare, who launched a stir for an independent anti-graft watchdog, and the BJP said the government was not serious in its fight against corruption.
Hazare, who is in Patna, termed the amendments as a "farce" while the BJP said the government didn't want to free lokpal as well as the CBI of its control.
Rajya Sabha is expected to take up the bill during the budget session that begins February 21. Once cleared by it, the bill will move to Lok Sabha.