In a major boost for the anti-graft movement, the government and Anna Hazare's team on Monday agreed on the provision of recovering losses caused to the nation from those found guilty of having committed corruption scams.
In the fourth meeting of the 10-member joint panel chaired by the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, which lasted over three hours, the two sides agreed "in-principle" on half of the 40 basic principles for the anti-graft Lokpal bill proposed by Hazare's team.
The joint panel agreed on the issue of empowering the Lokpal to order preparation of a list of the movable and immovable assets of the accused in cases of corruption, in case during the investigation its officers found that there was sufficient evidence to book them.
"Once a list would be ready, their assets would be frozen. The loss to the exchequer would be calculated in case the accused were to be convicted and this amount would be recovered from the sale of these assets," the proposal stated.
In its response, the government agreed to the proposal in-principle, but left the stage of determining the losses open ended for further discussions.
“Before taking a final decision, some examples like the Bihar Special Courts Act would be studied. Also some principles will be laid down how the assess the losses caused by a scam,” stated the meeting details provided by Hazare’s team.
"The speed at which the discussions are proceeding, give us hope that the bill draft will be ready by June 30," telecom minister Kapil Sibal said.
Hazare’s team said the government had so far not outrightly rejected any of their proposals. The joint panel also agreed to treat any asset not declared by a public servant “to have been obtained through corrupt means.”
During the next meeting of the joint panel on May 30, the tricky issues of bringing the higher judiciary and the Prime Minister's Office in the ambit of the Lokpal are likely to be discussed.