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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

CM Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet clears Jan Lokpal Bill

PTI  New Delhi, February 03, 2014
First Published: 18:52 IST(3/2/2014) | Last Updated: 08:34 IST(4/2/2014)

After slashing power and water bills, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) inched closer to delivering on yet another election promise on Monday when the Delhi government cleared the draft of the much-talked-about Jan Lokpal Bill.

The bill provides for covering all public servants — from the chief minister to Group D employees — and seeks life term as maximum punishment for those found guilty of corruption.

It provides for a legal right of protection to "honest" officials, whistleblowers and witnesses besides having provisions for time-bound investigation and trial of corruption cases.

Soon after assuming office in December last year, chief minister Kejriwal had said his government would pass the Jan Lokpal Bill by the first week of February.

The draft bill was cleared at a cabinet meeting presided over by Kejriwal. Bringing the Jan Lokpal Bill to contain corruption was a key election promise made to voters by the AAP.

PWD minister Manish Sisodia said no provision for any "special privileges" for even the chief minister and council of ministers had been proposed in the bill when it comes to cracking down on corruption.

He said government would not send the bill to the home ministry for approval. Sources said the law department had mentioned in its noting that the Delhi government had to get clearance from the home ministry before tabling any bill.

"This is one of the most widely debated bills in India's parliamentary history over the last few decades and Delhi government is of the view that it has come up with an effective bill to restore the public confidence in its elected representatives and other public servants," Sisodia told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

He added the bill approved by the Delhi cabinet provided for "certainty and swiftness" of punishment to those found involved in graft.

The minister also said selection panel for appointment of Lokpal chairperson and members would be "transparent" and free of political control. The seven-member panel will have the chief minister as the government nominee.

"The only law which comes closest to this bill is the bill passed by the Uttarakhand assembly in 2011, but it too had some limitations in filing complaints against the CM and ministers. This bill for the first time provides a legal right of protection for the whistleblowers and witnesses in corruption cases," Sisodia said.


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