Daily Special Current Affairs Material for IAS (Pre) 2013 National Issues - Topic: "Government Lokpal Bill"

Daily Special Current Affairs Material for IAS (Pre) 2013

Chapter: National Issues

Topic: Government Lokpal Bill

Q. Who are the members of Selection Committee of Government’s Lokpal Bill?

Ans. The structure of the Government Lokpal Bill is such that it gives a dominant and preponderant voice to the political executive in the selection.

The Selection Committee (Clause 4) of the Lokpal (Chairperson and members) consists of the Prime Minister (Chairperson); the Speaker of the Lok Sabha (normally appointed by and owing allegiance to the ruling combination); a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister; and one eminent jurist and one person of eminence in public life, both nominated by the Central government.

Thus, in a nine-member Selection Committee four will be nominees of the government, and one the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, all enjoying the confidence of the ruling party. The other four members are Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court and a sitting Chief Justice of the High Court — both nominated by the Chief Justice of India. How will such a committee inspire public confidence or ensure a credible and independent Lokpal mechanism?

Q. Who are the members of Selection Committee of Jan Lokpal Bill (version 2.3)?

Ans. As against this, the Jan Lokpal Bill (Version 2.3) provides for a Selection Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, two judges of the Supreme Court and two permanent Chief Justices of the High Courts selected by collegiums of all Supreme Court Judges (four judicial members in all), the Comptroller and Auditor-General, the Chief Election Commissioner, and all previous chairpersons of the Lokpal.

It means a total of two politicians, four superior court judges, the CAG and the CEC. Surely, such a Selection Committee would inspire greater public confidence. The stranglehold of politicians representing the ruling combination in the Government Lokpal Bill is a highly malignant provision that requires to be summarily dropped.

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Q. Article 361?

Ans. Article 361 of the Constitution grants immunity from criminal proceedings only to the President and the Governors (earlier the Raj Pramukhs) during their term of office. No immunity from criminal or civil liability has been granted to the Prime Minister. Thus the basic structure of the Constitution negates and denies any immunity to the Prime Minister.

Q. What is the provision regarding immunity under Cr PC?

Ans. Clauses 23 to 29 completely undermine the provisions and procedures under the Code of Criminal Procedure which apply to all crimes, including crimes committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Under the normal procedure, the police have the power to investigate, gather physical and scientific evidence, interview and interrogate individuals who can assist the investigation and, thereafter, furnish their final report to the appropriate court under Section 173 of the Code. It is then for the court to either frame charges against the potential accused or discharges them. During the investigation and the final report (popularly known as the charge sheet), there is no question of giving any opportunity to show cause or disclose to the accused the material or the evidence collected. Under Clause 23, an opportunity to be heard, and a copy of the complaint and material collected, is to be given to the suspect at several stages before the completion of the investigation. Under Clause 24, inspection is to be allowed to the suspect when an investigation or inquiry is “proposed to be initiated by the Lokpal.” Similarly, under Clause 25, an opportunity to be heard is to be given to any person “other than the prospective accused.”

Q. What is the definition of ‘Public Servant’ as per government Lokpal Bill and what implication of it may be?

Ans. Clause 17 of the government Bill and related clauses expand the definition of “public servant” to include non-governmental organisations/ societies/ their office- bearers who receive donations from the public. Even autonomous NGOs not controlled by the government but aided by it are brought within the definition of ‘public servant.’ This is the most mischievous provision with a view to harassing, intimidating and blackmailing NGOs/societies and their office-bearers who are the principal activists and whistleblowers under the Right to Information Act, and who are leading the movement for an effective Lokpal to curb corruption at the highest levels.

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