Having created history in getting Parliament’s nod for the Lokpal bill, which had been hanging fire for nearly half a century, the next major challenge for the UPA government is whether it would be able to establish the anti-corruption watchdog before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
With the passing of the bill in both Houses of Parliament begins the lengthy and cumbersome procedure for the creation of Lokpal, which could take months before it will actually start functioning.
Once President Pranab Mukherjee gives his consent by signing the bill to turn it into a new law, the ministries of personnel and law will have to begin the work of framing rules for clarity and details on how the Lokpal institution will work.
Since the Lokpal empowers citizens to complain against public servants — including the Prime Minister, union ministers, MPs, government employees and those managing government funded trusts and associations — the government will be required to lay down clear guidelines on how complaints will be entertained and screened.
Only after the rules are finalised and framed will the government be able to officially notify the Lokpal Act and begin the process to select its chairperson and eight members.
According to the bill passed by the Parliament, the government will first setup a seven-member search committee for providing a list of shortlisted names to the selection panel for the post of Lokpal chairperson and members.
The selection panel, to be headed by the Prime Minister, will comprise the Lok Sabha Speaker, Chief Justice of India and the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha as its members, and it will recommend names to the President for the final appointment of Lokpal.
A senior government official said at least 300 officials will be required by the Lokpal to begin its initial work, apart from the large scale fresh recruitment which the CBI and the Central Vigilance Commission will have to do for beginning the inquiry in cases to be handed over by the Lokpal.
The final figure of fresh recruitment in the Lokpal and other probe agencies will be much higher and could run into thousands, the official said.