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Lokpal bill in Lok Sabha today – some highlights of the bill
CauseBecause Citizen Bureau, August 4, 2011

Aimed at setting up an anti-corruption watchdog, the much debated Lokpal bill will be tabled in the Lok Sabha today.

With a chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, Lokpal is expected to have authority to investigate and even prosecute. It will also be provided with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions. Here are some highlights of the bill:

  • Lokpal will have an authority to investigate corruption matters allegedly involving ministers, MPs, Group 'A' officers and others equivalent to this grade in any body, board, authority, corporation, trust, society or autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament.
  • The Prime Minister’s office will be out of the Lokpal’s ambit, but Lokpal will have a right to question the Prime Minister (PM) after his term in office is over – when he is not the PM.
  • In case Lokpal decides finds that a public servant involved in any corrupt activity, he can recommend transfer or suspension of those public servants.  
  • Lokpal will not need any sanction or approval under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, or Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in cases where prosecution is proposed.
  • The Lokpal will have powers to attach the property of corrupt public servants acquired through corrupt means.
  • To control misuse of Lokpal, the bill provides for prosecution for false complaint. The punishment term would not be less than two years in jail and can extend up to five years.
  • A penalty ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh is also proposed on people found guilty of making false complaints and entitles public servant for compensation.
  • The anti-corruption watchdog can also seek the assistance of the central and the state government in conducting inquiries.
  • The bill provides for a time limitation period of seven years from the date of taking cognisance of an offence. In the case of the Prime Minister, the limitation period will apply after he or she demits office.
  • The present bill measure does not provide for constitution of Lokayukta as in states.
  • The expenses to run the institution would be borne out of the Consolidated Fund of India.

The government hopes that if the bill could go ahead with its passage if the Standing Committee can present its recommendations on the bill by August-end.

Interestingly, the first legislative attempt at Lokpal in India failed after the bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969, but could not get through in the Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008, but were never made a law.

 




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