Citizens will be able to file complaints of corruption against any central government employee to the proposed lokpal, which will have its own inquiry and prosecution wings, according to the draft bill finally cleared by the cabinet on Tuesday night.
The fresh bill — The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 — allows the lokpal to oversee investigation of cases referred by it to by various probe agencies, including the CBI.
The agency will, however, continue to be under the government’s administrative control.
Donations from foreign sources exceeding R10 lakh under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act have also been brought under the lokpal.
Though the government’s draft saw some last minute changes to present a “strong bill in Parliament on Thursday”, as a senior minister put it. Initial reactions from Opposition parties and social activist Anna Hazare and his aides indicated a bumpy road ahead.
The government proposes to move a bill to amend the Constitution along with the main bill for creation of lokayuktas in states and for providing constitutional status to the lokpal. It will have to be passed by two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament.
Giving up its initial resist-ance, the government finally decided to allow the lokpal to “receive complaints against all categories of central government employees”.
After holding a preliminary inquiry, the lokpal will refer the matter to the Central Vigilance Commission.
The CVC will then send its report after a detailed investigation against Group A and B bureaucrats to the lokpal for further action. For Group C and D employees, action will decided upon by the CVC.
The lokpal will have its own directors for separate inquiry and prosecution wings, who will monitor the progress of investigations and filing of chargesheets in special courts, but it will have no police powers.
At least half of the members of the nine-member lokpal (including its chairman) will have to be from the judicial background and the other 50% from SC, ST, minorities and women.
The search committee, which will recommend names to the high-level selection panel for appointment of the lokpal chairperson and members, will also have a quota for weaker sections.
The lokpal will not require any sanction for filing chargesheets in cases referred by it for investigation. Similarly, the CBI would not have to ask any government department before conducting a probe in matters sent to it by the lokpal.
The CBI director will be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.