Lokpal Bill to be introduced in Lok Sabha tomorrow

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Corruption
New Delhi, Aug 3: The much-hyped Lokpal Bill, which aims to set up an anti-corruption watchdog in the country, will be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Aug 4.

The Lokpal Bill seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

The Lokpal, consisting of Chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.

Persons with impeccable integrity, with 25 years of experience in administration who have dealt with corruption and vigilance, would also form part of the Lokpal.

The institution would inquire into allegations of corruption in respect of the Prime Minister only after he demits office.

Besides, it would take up 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.

Every public servant will be made to declare his or her assets and liabilities. In case of default or misleading information, it will be presumed that the said public servant has acquired the assets through corrupt means.

The Lokpal can also recommend transfer or suspension of public servants connected with allegations of corruption.

The Lokpal would not require 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 also have powers to attach the property of corrupt public servants acquired through corrupt means.

At the same time, the bill provides for prosecution for false complaint. The punishment term would not be less than two years in jail. The prison term 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.

The public servant is also entitled for compensation. The anti-corruption watchdog can also seek the assistance of the Centre and the state government in conducting inquiries.

It 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 measure does not provide for constitution of Lokayukt 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 Standing Committee comes out with its recommendations on the bill by August-end, then it could go ahead with its passage.

PTI

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