Amended Lokpal Bill: Salient features
1. Lokayuktas: The new bill mandates states to set up Lokayuktas within 365 days. States have the freedom to determine the nature and type of Lokayukta.
The old bill said the law shall be applicable to states only if they give consent to its application.
The old bill gave power to the central government to appoint state Lokayuktas while the new draft gives this power to the states.
2. Constitution of Lokpal: The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which fifty percent shall be judicial members. Fifty percent members of Lokpal shall be from among SC, ST, OBCs, minorities and women.
The older version said the chairperson shall be the Chief Justice of India or a present or former judge of the Supreme Court or a non-judicial member with specified qualifications (chief justice or a judge of a high court).
3. Selection of Lokpal: The selection committee will have prime minister, Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India. A fifth member of the selection committee for selection of Lokpal under the category of "eminent jurist" may be nominated by the president on the basis of recommendation of the first four members of the selection committee.
In the old bill, selection of the fifth person was left entirely to the president.
4. Religious bodies and trust: The new bill includes societies and trusts that collect public money, receive funding from foreign sources, and have an income level above a certain threshold, it excludes bodies creating endowments for or performing religious or charitable functions.
The old bill expanded definition of public servant by bringing societies and trusts which receive donations from the public (over a specified annual income) and, organisations which receive foreign donations (over Rs.10 lakh a year) within the purview of the Lokpal.
5. Prosecution: In the new version, before taking a decision on filing a charge sheet in a case upon consideration of the investigation report, the Lokpal may authorise its own prosecution wing or the concerned investigating agency to initiate prosecution in special courts.
Under the old bill, prosecution of the case could be done only by the prosecution wing of the Lokpal.
6. Central Bureau of Investigation: For independence of the CBI, in the new bill a directorate of prosecution will be formed. Appointment of the director of prosecution will be on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal will be only with the approval of Lokpal who will also have superintendence over CBI in relation to Lokpal referred cases.
7. Hearing: The new bill says a government servant will get a hearing before a decision is taken by the Lokpal.
8. Prime Minister: The prime minister will be under the purview of the Lokpal with subject matter exclusions and specific process for handling complaints against the prime minister.
9. Investigation: Inquiry has to be completed within 60 days and investigation to be completed within six months. Lokpal shall order an investigation only after hearing the public servant.
Inquiry against the prime minister has to be held in-camera and approved by two-thirds of the full bench of the Lokpal.
10. Penalty: False and frivolous complaints - imprisonment up to one year and a fine of up to Rs.1 lakh. Public servants - imprisonment up to seven years. Criminal misconduct and habitually abetting corruption - jail term up to 10 years.