Lok Pal Bill to be given final shape shortly

The cabinet secretary would be asked to set up these two committees. The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, discussed the latest draft of the Lok Pal bill which seeks to include the Prime Minister in the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman.   The bill, which has had a chequered history and is under circulation with various ministries,  would be given final shape shortly, sources said.

The GoM is likely to complete its work and finalise recommendations in the next few meetings and submit its report before the beginning of the coming budget session of Parliament starting February 21. The ministerial group hopes to enable the government to place an anti- corruption framework during the budget session of Parliament.

Set up on January 6 in the face of a consistent Opposition onslaught on the government over a series of scandals, the GoM was asked to handle seven specific issues including the proposal to amend Article 311 of the Constitution, which is meant to protect government servants against arbitrary dismissal and punishment.

The view in the government is that this Article, supposed to act as a shield for honest employees, has now become a hindrance in the fight against corruption. The GoM will also look into whether a section in the law, which makes it mandatory for the CBI to seek government nod before investigating a case allegedly involving any official of the rank of joint secretary and above, is required at all.

The Friday meeting was attended by  Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony, Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

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