'Bid to save Raja through Bill failed'

Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde with environmentalist Yellappa Reddy at a discussion on the Jan Lokpal Bill in Bangalore on Monday. DH Photo

“The amendment, made in a hurry by the government in 2008, I suspect, was to save the then telecom minister A Raja in lieu of the 2G spectrum scam. However, the Bill was never implemented and made into an Act,” Hegde told a gathering of civil society members at a meeting to discuss the Jan Lokpal Bill here.

Had the Bill been passed into an order, then Raja could have gone scot-free, he said, as the bill proposed the removal of Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988.

The relevant section states: “A public servant is said to commit the offence of criminal misconduct,-if he,-while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest.”

Jan Lokpal Bill

Hegde, who is also a member of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, said the team had been deliberating upon possibilities for the Lokpal to investigate any suspicious arms deal.

“We are trying to convince the government to allow the Lokpal to investigate into matters of defence deals signed by the country. Unfortunately, the government has opined that it is a matter of national security and a sensitive issue,” said Hegde.

He said the civil society representatives who comprise 50 per cent of the Lokpal Bill draft panel, were trying their best to convince the government representatives of the importance of empowering the Lokpal to investigate defence deals.

The institution may also carry powers to look into black money stashed away in foreign banks, he said. “We will try to provide powers to the Lokpal to look into bank accounts that are registered in Swiss banks that have a trail of black money under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” he said.

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