NCPRI picks holes in govt's lokpal bill | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

NCPRI picks holes in govt's lokpal bill

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Dec 28, 2011 01:09 AM IST

NCPRI on Tuesday said that the proposed lokpal would not be "independent" of the government and empowered to detect and investigate cases of corruption.

It is not just Team Anna and BJP who are unhappy with the government's lokpal bill, even National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy's National Campaign for People's Right To Information (NCPRI) opposes it. NCPRI on Tuesday said that the proposed lokpal would not be "independent" of the government and empowered to detect and investigate cases of corruption.

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In a 10-point critique of the lokpal bill, the campaign pointed out several lacunas in the bill which could make the proposed Ombudsman an ineffective body to fight corruption.

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The campaign said the Bill envisages a selection committee for lokpal and lokayukta that is biased in favour of the ruling party, which three of the five members are either from, or nominees, of the government. They are the prime minister, Lok Sabha speaker and nominee of the President. "This militates against appointment of independent authorities," the critique read.

Another area, where independence of lokpal has been compromised, is keeping the Central Bureau of Investigation under government control. Though the Bill envisages the lokpal to have powers of superintendence and direction over the CBI, the campaign said experience has shown that such powers are meaningless without administrative control.

Even Team Anna and BJP have demanded that the CBI should be under the administrative control of lokpal to make it independent of the government.

The campaign also said that the power to suspend a member of lokpal with the government, while a complaint is pending in a court of law, would leave members of the institution at the mercy of the government. "It is, therefore, essential that the government in no way be involved in this process and complaints against the members of the lokpal and lokayukta be received directly by the Supreme Court or high court respectively," NCPRI said.

The campaign also termed the condition that lokpal will not be able to investigate complaints made after a period of seven years from the date on which the offence was committed would be "unnecessarily restrictive". "Such a statute of limitation is entirely uncalled for and should be removed," the campaign said.

The NCPRI also questioned the provision of empowering the Central Vigilance Commission to investigate complaints against lower bureaucracy (group C and D) asking whether CVC will set up anti-corruption police stations in nook and corner of the country. Or, the government expects villagers to come to Delhi or district headquarters to lodge a complaint.

Lastly, the campaign also said the bill to be weak on making the lokpal accountable and suggested that it should be accountable to a Parliamentary Standing Committee having powers to refer a complaint against lokpal to the Supreme Court.

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