Lokpal will have power to grant sanction to initiate prosecution against a public servant, a parliamentary committee has recommended, seeking to amend a provision in the bill which said no previous sanction was required for the ombudsman to bring charges.
The recommendation of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Lokpal comes against the backdrop of the stand taken by the government that the provision in the Lokpal bill to do away with previous sanction was against the "principle of protection".
"...The proposal to do away with the requirement of previous sanction...where prosecution is proposed by Lokpal, would be against the principle of protection needed for the public servants," the law ministry had told the Committee when it was scrutinising the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.
The constitutional protection available to civil servants under Articles 311 and 320, clause 3(C) of the Constitution would also be adversely affected by the provisions of the proposed law, the Ministry had said.
The panel tabled its report in the Upper House on Friday along with a copy of the amended Bill.
The committee has recommended changes in the clause, which now reads, "...The Lokpal shall have the power to grant sanction for prosecution..."
Another amendment proposed by the Committee says that a bench of at least three Lokpal members will obtain "comments" of the competent authority and the public servant concerned before granting sanction to its Prosecution Wing or investigating agency to file a charge-sheet.
According to Chapter VII, clause 23 (1) of the Lokpal bill, passed by Lok Sabha last year and taken up by Rajya Sabha, "No sanction or approval of any authority shall be required by the Lokpal for conducting a preliminary inquiry or an investigation on the direction of the Lokpal...or for filing of any charge-sheet or closure report on completion of investigation in respect thereof before the Special Court under this Act."
Despite suggestions by government to 'insulate' officials of the PMO, the Committee, headed by Satyavrat Chaturvedi, has not recommended any changes.
The Prime Minister, who is sought to be covered by the proposed law, is, however, exempted from the ambit of Lokpal on issues of external and internal security, atomic energy, international relations and public order.