HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Protection for public servants in new lokpal bill

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 30, 2013
First Published: 00:23 IST(30/1/2013) | Last Updated: 10:11 IST(30/1/2013)

The latest version of the lokpal bill, likely be cleared by the cabinet on Thursday, is a much-amended version of the original that was passed in Lok Sabha but got stuck in Rajya Sabha in 2011.


Providing some protection to public servants, the new bill requires the anti-graft watchdog to hear the accused before initiating any investigation.

The Rajya Sabha select committee - which reviewed the earlier bill - had said that the lokpal could order a probe straightaway. But the government feels this could result in the harassment of public servants.

The government, however, will allow the lokpal to grant sanction for prosecution of the public servant, a power that was earlier enjoyed only by the government.

If the bill gets cabinet clearance, it will go to Rajya Sabha and then again to Lok Sabha.

The suggestion of the panel to keep NGOs out of the purview of the bill was also rejected. The centre will only exclude religious and charitable institutions from the lokpal's ambit.

The recommendation that the government should retain the power to transfer CBI officers working under lokpal without the approval of the anti-graft body was also knocked out.

The Centre, however, accepted some of the panel's suggestions such as allowing the states to create their own lokayuktas. The earlier bill had sought to create both lokpal and lokayukta through a single legislation.

The government also agreed to appoint the fifth member of the lokpal - an eminent jurist - on the basis of the recommendations of the other four members - the Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha speaker, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of India.

The earlier bill allowed the government to directly pick the fifth member.

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