Panel on Lokpal leaves PM issue to 'good sense' of Parliament

Written by: Pti
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Manmohan Singh
New Delhi, Dec 7: In a significant change of mind, the Parliamentary Committee has recommended inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal with some safeguards along with two other options and left it to the "good sense" of Parliament to decide on the final choice.

The Committee, however, favoured keeping out judiciary, MPs' conduct in Parliament and Group C and D employees at the Centre out of the ambit of Lokpal while recommending inclusion of C and D employees of the states under Lokayuktas.

The Parliamentary Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice which will meet tomorrow for adoption of the 199-page report has decided not to tinker with the present system of appointment of CBI Director.

In a new recommendation, the Committee has favoured 50 per cent reservation to members of SC/ST, OBC, minorities and women in the seven-member Search Panel for choosing a Lokpal and to make the Search Panel mandatory.

It also favours inclusion of Chief Ministers under the state Lokayuktas and if the report is accepted then the Bill should be named as Lokpal/Lokayukta Bill, 2011.

The recommendation for inclusion of Prime Minister excluding his decisions on national security, foreign affairs, atomic energy and space along with issues which come under "national interest" and "public order" marks a change from the earlier draft which was silent on the issue.

While members of parties belonging to BJP, BJD and the Left were insisting on inclusion of PM, those belonging to the Congress and some small parties, constituting a majority in the 30-member committee, were either opposed to it or were in favour only after he demits office.

Discussing various options on Prime Minister, the Committee recommended three options: inclusion without exception and qualifications, inclusion with no exclusionary caveats but after demitting office and inclusion of the Pm with exclusions on issues like national security and foreign affairs.

"...without going into the figures for or against or into the names of individual members, the Committee believes that, in fairness, all these three options be transmitted by the committee as options suggested by the committee, leaving it to the good sense of Parliament to decide as to which option is to be adopted," the report said.

It recommended that Group C and D category officials in the Centre "shall be brought specifically under the jurisdiction of the CVC".

It said the CVC should be made to exercise powers identical or at least largely analogous, in respect of class C and D officials as the Lokpal will do for group A and B category officials.

The panel had earlier decided to include Group C employees under Lokpal's ambit but had done a U-turn the very next day following stiff opposition from Congress members in the panel.

In the final draft, the Committee has recommended that officials in the state government who are equivalent to Group C and D at the Centre should be included within the jurisdiction of state Lokayuktas "with no exclusion".

It said employees of state-owned or controlled entities should also be covered.


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