Ministers, MPs, bureaucrats to come under Lokpal purview

However, there is disagreement over bringing the Prime Minister and the judiciary under its ambit.

The proposed anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal, will not have to wait for the permission of the government to investigate allegation of corruption against ministers, MPs and bureaucrats.

During the third meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee to prepare a stronger Lokpal bill here last week, the members were unanimous that the ombudsman would not have to seek permission to either investigate or initiate prosecution against public servants.

The move to give powers to Lokpal to initiate investigations on its own would require amendments in certain existing laws. These may include the Prevention of Corruption Act, CrPC and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act - a law which governs the functioning of the CBI.

While there were basic principles on having an effective Lokpal among the members, there were certain areas which have an impact on existing laws and constitutional provisions which need more discussion, the meeting decided.

As of now, the sanction to prosecute a minister comes from the Prime Minister. In case of an MP, the sanctioning authority is the Lok Sabha Speaker or Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

However, inclusion of Prime Minister and judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal was a sticking point and the issue was flagged for broader discussion at the next meeting scheduled for May 23.

The meeting did not discuss the powers the proposed Lokpal will have. The latest version of the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by the Anna Hazare-led group proposed power to tap phone calls by the ombudsman and having institutions like the CBI and CVC under its supervisory control.

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