The government’s proposed anti-corruption law will, for the first time, allow the common man to complain against corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
Faced with a belligerent Opposition following many alleged scams in the past year, the government plans to arm the anti-corruption ombudsman — likely to be called Lokpal — with powers to conduct a time-bound probe and make its reports public, HT has learnt.
The Lokpal appears to be an attempt by the government at beating the Opposition at its own game. The draft bill — which may be the basis for promulgating an ordinance to counter the Opposition’s consistent demand to set up a JPC to probe the 2G scam — provides for a six-month inquiry period.
“Any person other than a public servant may make a memorandum of complaints under this act to the Lokpal...In case of the PM, the complaint shall be made to the Speaker of the House of the people (Lok Sabha),” states the draft bill.
The power to order a probe into any allegations against the PM will be subject to approval from the Speaker. The procedure for ministers and MPs will be the same; if they are Rajya Sabha members, permission of the House chairman will be mandatory.
“After completion of the probe, the Lokpal will submit the report to the Speaker in case of the Prime Minister, to be placed in the House at the earliest. If the House is not in session, within a week of its reconvening, it will have to be made public,” states the bill.
The procedure will be the same for ministers and MPs. In case of bureaucrats and other government officials, the Lokpal will inform their appointing authorities.
“For politicians and government servants, within 90 days of receiving the probe reports, the competent authorities will have to reply to the Lokpal what action they have taken against them,” states the draft.
In case of the PM, the proposed law has empowered the Lok Sabha to be the competent authority to decide any action.
However, the Lokpal would not have the powers to investigate complaints against the President, vice-president, speaker and deputy speaker of Lok Sabha, deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha, sitting judges of Supreme Court and high courts and other constitutional functionaries like the CAG and election commissioners.