In an ambitious proposal bound to raise eyebrows, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare’s team has asked for the proposed Lokpal to be empowered to probe the bribery allegations against MPs in return for asking questions, or voting inside Parliament after receiving gratifications.
This surprising proposal is part of the fresh addition to their version of basic principles of the anti-graft Lokpal bill, which are expected to be taken up for discussion by the 10-member joint drafting panel on Monday.
“We want the misconduct of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs, within the Parliament, in case it amounts to be an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal,” states the document submitted to the government.In its earlier draft, Hazare’s team had proposed that the Lokpal would only conduct any probe against MPs in case the matter was forwarded by the Lok Sabha Speaker or the Rajya Sabha chairman.
It has, however, changed its position, “following the feedback from the public which wants strong action against corrupt MPs”, said a civil society member of the joint panel.
The move to allow the proposed Lokpal to probe complaints of graft against the MPs for their alleged wrongdoings inside Parliament could have far reaching consequences.
MPs, at present, enjoy immunity for their actions inside Parliament under article 105 of the constitution.
Though civil society activists are hopeful of finding the necessary political support for their drastic proposal, it will have to cross many hurdles. First, it remains to be seen how the government team in the joint panel will react to it.
Next, in case both sides agree to put it in the draft bill and the bill is introduced in Parliament with this contentious clause, for it to become a reality, the constitution would have to be amended.
A constitutional amendment has to be passed by a majority of two-thirds MPs in both houses of Parliament.