The government’s top law officer has cautioned that some key lokpal bill provisions on probe into corruption complaints may be vulnerable to challenge in a court of law. These provisions in the anti-graft bill were passed by the Lok Sabha last year.
In his presentation before the Rajya Sabha select committee, which is currently examining the controversial legislation, attorney general GE Vahanvati has pointed out that the procedure defined for a probe agency to submit its report to the lokpal for further action could “create complications.”
Vahanvati's presentation has been cited by the BJP, seeking changes in the bill, in its eight-page note submitted to committee chairman Satyavrat Chaturvedi.
"For example, if the CBI states in its report after investigating a case that it should be closed, but the lokpal insists that a chargesheet should be filed in a court, what will happen?" the attorney general asked the committee members.
"Such a scenario can create a tricky situation in which the person facing a probe can allege that he is being discriminated against. In my view, all loopholes should be plugged and a solution be found so that there is no room for a possible legal challenge to any provision of the bill," he stated.
The select committee had asked for the attorney general's views following objections from many of its members on the procedure defined in the lokpal bill for investigating complaints of corruption. They had stated that the procedure was not in accordance with the criminal law.
"One clause of the bill says a three-member bench of the lokpal will consider the report of investigation and decide the next course of action. The very next clause says the chargesheet will be filed by the lokpal prosecutor… Aren't these two provisions contradictory?" leader of the opposition Arun Jaitley had asked the law ministry officials during the course of committee deliberations.
The ministry officials had struggled to provide a suitable response to the committee, which had then asked the department of personnel and training (DoPT) to reconsider the clause, which provides for an opportunity to a public servant to present his version before the inquiry is initiated.