Lokpal panel meet: To free judiciary and PM from radar?
The meeting was attended by Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh N Hegde, former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal along with other members of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee.
There were some key decisions made in the meet that was attended by officials including four non-government members, two former Chief Justices of India and other prominent citizens. There was unanimity in the thought that the higher judiciary would not feature in the Lokpal radar.
There were hectic discussions on how the drafting committee will be formulated. Sources were quoted as saying to the Indian Express, “Almost everybody, including some members of the drafting committee, agreed that the procedure for appointment of Lokpal as provided in the Jan Lokpal Bill may not work. There was near consensus on having a search committee to first shortlist candidates and then a selection committee headed by the Prime Minister to make the final selection."
There were also intense debate over the Prime Minister's office falling under the purview of the Lokpal. Speaking on the exclusion of the judiciary from the Lokpal blanket, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma stated, “While there is no question that some measures should be in place to make the judiciary accountable, it was felt that to curb corruption in the higher judiciary, a better mechanism is required."
On the other rather sensitive issue, the Prime Minister falling under the Lokpal radar, the opinions were largely divided. On this subject, both Verma and Chief Justice M N Venkatachaliah opined that while the government did not express any disfavour on the proposal, the members of the committee said that investigations on the Prime Minister would jeopardize the political stability and would tamper the face of India in the world stage.
Incidentally, it was the two Chief Justice's who was against bringing the PM under the Lokpal. There was also clarity on the thought that the Lokpal should only take up those cases that involved a huge amount of money and which shamed India's name and not get involved in petty cases.