Lokpal report tabled in Rajya Sabha
Amid din over various issues, a select committee of Rajya Sabha Friday tabled its much awaited report on Lokpal Bill, giving provisions to make CBI more independent, and conditional inclusion of prime minister under the proposed ombudsman.
The report which was tabled by Shantaram Naik of Congress, also delinks formation of Lokayuktas from the Lokpal Bill.
Addressing a press conference on the bill later, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Rajya Sabha select committee chief on the Lokpal Bill, said: "Drafting the recommendations was a difficult job because of legal issues and diversified views from different political parties."
"There were contradictory views but without exception, all members kept their political ambitions aside for national benefit. There was no argument while the bill was discussed by the select committee," he said.
He added that the bill will presented in the Rajya Sabha as amended by the committee.
"A select committee does not give just a report, but also amends the bill. The bill will now be presented in the Rajya Sabha as amended by the select committee," Chaturvedi added.
Among its recommendations, the select committee has suggested that the prime minister should be brought under the Lokpal's purview, except for matters related to external affairs, internal security, atomic energy, and international relations.
On the much debated point of CBI's independence, the committee says it will have a separate director of prosecution appointed by the central vigilance commission (CVC). Both, the CBI director and director of prosecution will have a fixed two-year term.
The Lokpal will have superintendence over and direction to Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) in Lokpal referred cases. CBI officers investigating cases referred by Lokpal will not be transferred without Lokpal's consent. The CBI will have a panel of non-government advocates.
The changes suggested for the CBI prompted the respective leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, to write to the prime minister asking him to delay appointment of the new CBI chief unless the Lokpal Bill is passed.
"We must record our strong disappointment and disapproval of this act of the government. We would request you to revisit this matter and keep this appointment in abeyance till such time this recommendation (of appointment through collegium) becomes a law of the land. Hopefully, this can happen in the next few days," the letter, signed by the two leaders, said.
Ranjit Sinha, director general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has been designated as the new CBI director.
The report also gave a time frame for probe by Lokpal. It has been fixed as three months for preliminary enquiry, six months for investigation, which can be extended by six months at a time, and one-year for trial, which can also be extended by one-year.
Under the amended bill, states will be free to decide the nature of Lokayuktas they create, but it will be mandatory to create a state anti-graft body within a year.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha at the end of the winter session last year. It was sent to the select committee in the budget session after several objections were raised on its present form.