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
  • 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.