Bill seeking to amend Lokpal and Lokyuktas Act introduced in Lok Sabha

A bill seeking to amend lokpalto include Leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha in a panel, which will select chairperson and members of the anti-corruption body, was introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The existing Act has the Leader of the Opposition in the panel but there is no LoP in the current House. The amendment will pave the way for Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge to be its member.

The selection committee is led by the Prime Minister and consists of the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him and an eminent jurist, who could be nominated by the President or any other member, besides the opposition leader.

Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh introduced The Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

The bill also proposes that “no appointment of a Lokpal Chairperson, member or the eminent jurist will be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy of absence of a member in the selection committee.”

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had rejected Congress demands for LoP status to its leader. Congress with 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after BJP’s 282 but fell short of 10 per cent of the strength of House, a requirement to get LoP status.

The bill also provides for qualifications for appointment of Director of Prosecution in CBI and for its functional independence. The Director of Prosecution is appointed under the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which governs working of the CBI.

There shall be a Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director who shall be an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India, for conducting prosecution of cases, according to the DSPE Act. The amendments also address other deficiencies in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

They seek to harmonise the provisions of the current Act with the existing regulating Acts, rules and regulations in respect of declaration of assets and liabilities by various categories of public servants and establish appropriate mechanisms to obtain and publish such information received from public servants for the benefit of the public.

All Group A, B, and C employees are expected to file the declaration under the new rules.

There are around 22,95,374 employees in these three categories, as per the government’s latest data.

 

CBI to be more powerful, govt enacting law

Taking a step forward in its fight against corruption, the Centre is considering a recommendation to give more powers to CBI by enacting a law which will empower it to probe graft cases nationwide without the consent of the state governments.

 If it comes into being, the proposed law will give statutory powers to the investigation agency specifically to look into corruption cases and prosecute offenders all over the country, highly placed official sources said.

 As per the proposal, which is at a nascent stage, the law will be enacted close on the lines of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008.

Sources said the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions will soon hold a meeting with Ministry of Law and Justice and certain officials of the CBI to devise a road map for the legislation.

 “The government is considering a proposal for giving statutory powers to CBI. Its main thrust is to minimize overlapping powers of state and central government investigating agencies,” a senior Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) official said.

 However, the official said “no decision” has been taken by the Ministry on it as yet.

 At present, the Central Bureau of Investigation functions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act. As per the Act, CBI requires consent from the state governments to probe and prosecute an official working under their control.

 The proposal was also discussed by a Parliamentary Standing Committee which had in May this year recommended a legislation giving statutory powers to CBI for the purpose terming it as a “dire need”.