Anna team wants MPs' conduct in bill ambit

Civil society deletes clause in Basic Principles

This demand will form a part of the ongoing discussion on the proposed Bill as civil society members of the Joint Drafting Committee have amended the Basic Principles of the Jan Lokpal Bill, the document which forms the basis for drafting the Lokpal Bill.

The Joint Drafting Committee meeting scheduled for Monday is likely to take up the issue when it discusses the question of bringing the prime minister and judges under the ambit of Lokpal Bill because the issue relates to the immunity of MPs for their activities inside the House which is of vital importance.The Basic Principles of Jan Lokpal Bill were submitted to the government members of the Joint Drafting Committee on May 2.

Along with other proposals, it had proposed, “For complaints against any politician for his/her conduct inside Parliament, Lokpal shall only investigate the matter on receipt of a reference from Chairperson of either House. After investigation, the Lokpal shall submit its report to Chairperson, who shall present it in the House for decision on the same.”

Now the civil society members have deleted this part from the Basic Principles.  Clarifying their stand on the issue, India Against Corruption, which spearheads the Anna Hazare’s anti-graft movement, said, “its deletion would mean that we want conduct of MPs within Parliament, if it is an offence under Prevention of Corruption Act, also to be covered.”

“The inclusion of the power to investigate MPs’ conduct inside Parliament into the jurisdiction of Lokpal has been done after various public consultations organised across the country, and we do not find any problem in its acceptance,” said civil society activists.
However, when safeguards are being considered for inclusion in the proposed Bill for the prime minister and judges, this demand may receive opposition from the politicians.

Moreover, the issue was discussed in the meeting of Joint Drafting Committee on May 7. Except for prime minister, the government members had agreed for all public representatives including ministers to be brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal Bill. The civil society had also agreed to continue the immunity enjoyed by MPs inside Parliament.

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