Monday, June 24, 2024

Parliamentary Panel on Lokpal divided


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NEW DELHI: The issue of including the Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal saw the Parliamentary panel looking into the matter divided on party lines with the UPA and its outside supporters opposing the idea while the opposition demanded his inclusion with riders.

Consensus eluded the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice on the issue with Congress and its allies, as well as Lalu Prasad-led RJD and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, opposing the inclusion of Prime Minister within the purview of Lokpal.

Former SP member Amar Singh, who has been ailing for sometime, attended today’s meeting of the panel. Sources said he also sided with the ruling party.

The opposition- mainly the BJP and the Left parties- favoured inclusion of the Prime Minister under Lokpal.

A middle path was suggested by some members who said the Prime Minister can be brought within the ambit of the ombudsman but with some riders like excluding his duties relating to external affairs and internal security, among others.

Some members also argued that since the PM is included under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there is no need to put him in the ambit of the Lokpal as well. However, the opposition parties have used the same argument to say that if the high office is covered under PCA, why not the Lokpal.

Sources said though a majority of the members in the Committee felt the PM should not be included within Lokpal, no decision could be taken and the matter will be further discussed in subsequent meetings. The Parliamentary panel also discussed the composition of the selection and search committee for the Lokpal. Civil society activist Anna Hazare had demanded that there should be 12 members in this committee.

“Members felt the selection committee should comprise of the Prime Minister, who will represent the Executive; the Lok Sabha Speaker who will represnt the Legislature; the Chief Justice of India to represent the judiciary; and the Leader of Opposition,” sources said.

Other members who should be in the selection committee, according to suggestions made in the committee meeting, are the CAG, UPSC Chairperson and the Chief Election Commissioner.

Some of the members said such a selection panel would be competent enough to find an eminent person for the post of Lokpal. Since this commitee is so-powerful, it was felt that there is no need for a separate search committee.

The Committee further discussed the proposal to include Group B government officials as well under the Lokpal. The issue had figured in yesterday’s meeting of the committee.

“There was a discussion of having Group B officials along with Group A but no final decision was taken on the matter. But most members agreed that Group C and D cannot be included under Lokpal as the number of personnel is too big,” sources said.

The Committee also discussed the status of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

“Opposition members said it should remain a permanent, independent investigation agency of the Government of India and its directorate of prosecution should be made independent of any government interference,” sources said. (PTI)


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