The new Lokpal Bill to be drafted by a joint committee of ministers and activists will empower the anti-corruption ombudsman to probe allegations of graft against Supreme Court and high court judges, co-chairman of the panel, Shanti Bhushan said on Monday.
The veteran lawyer dismissed apprehensions that this provision would encroach upon the judges standards and accountability bill, pending in parliament. “We merely want the criminal investigations in cases of bribery involving judges to be carried out by a specialised police force of lokpal and nothing more,” Bhushan said.
Supporting him, another member of the panel, Justice Santosh Hegde, the lokayukta of Karnataka, said there was unanimity in Hazare’s team on the issue of empowering the lokpal to eradicate corruption."On the ...issue of specialised lokpal police force being allowed to probe allegations of corruption against judges, we are all one."
Bhushan said their panel did not intend to touch the judges acountability bill.“It is before the parliamentary standing committee and in my view is a very poor and flawed bill, but since it deals with the procedure for removal of a judge for misconduct, it is not our immediate concern” the jurist said.
The government draft of the lokpal bill had kept the judges out of the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman, but the civil society activists have made it clear they would not compromise on the issue.
“In our view an ordinary inspector cannot be allowed to investigate judges of
the Supreme Court and high courts. There should be a specialised force and the judiciary should welcome our proposal,” he said.
Arvind Kejriwal, another member of the joint drafting committee said in case it is felt that any clause proposed by their team clashed with the judges bill, they would be open to discuss and find a solution.