Lokpal Bill to have safeguards for PM

The Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal Bill is working out some safeguards to investigate corruption charges against prime minister.

According to the formula being worked out, the Lokpal will have an in-camera proceeding for a prima-facie look into the charges. Only after it, a decision can be taken to investigate the charges against prime minister.

The contentious issues of bringing prime minister and judiciary into the ambit of the Bill are to be taken up by the Joint Drafting Committee when it meets on May 30.
The issue could not be taken up in the last meeting on May 23 as less contentious issues were taken up to have quick decisions.

Apart from the government, some civil society members  also showed reservations on bringing prime minister under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.

According to them, the head of the state should have the immunity from it. However, civil society members of the Joint Drafting Committee, Shantibhushan and Prashant Bhushan have been firm on the issue.

“No where in the world, political head has been exempted from corruption,” said Prashant Bhushan.

The Joint Drafting Committee has agreed in the case of ministers that if the allegations against any minister are substantiated after any inquiry, then for non-criminal misconduct, Lokpal would submit its report to the president with its recommendations.

The similar procedure can be adopted also in the case of a prime minister.
On the question of the government agreeing to this proposal, Swami Agnivesh said: “The government does not seem to be opposed to the idea.”

As far as judiciary is concerned, a similar formula is being worked out. According to this formula judges will have similar safeguards. In addition, judiciary will not remain under the jurisdiction of Lokpal after the proposed Judicial Accountability Commission comes into existence.

The government is trying hard to convince civil society members that the Judicial Accountability Commission will come into existence without any delay. The members want that judiciary be under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal till the commission is constituted.

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