Lokpal panel deadlocked on 6 issues

Efforts on to narrow down differences between govt, civil society

Three of these issues are now well known: the civil society demands of bringing the office of the prime minister as well as higher judiciary under Lokpal, and conduct of MPs inside Parliament. The government is opposed to all the three proposals.

The other three issues are: should one single Act be provided for both the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in states; should the government officials be subjected to inquiry and disciplinary action including dismissal/removal by Lokpal/Lokayukta; and, what should be the definition of the Lokpal and should it itself exercise quasi-judicial powers also or delegate these powers to its subordinate officers?

As regards bringing in the office of the prime minister under Lokpal, during the seven-rounds of meetings of the drafting committee, the government placed several proposals before the non-official members.

They included: bringing the prime minister as well as not bringing the prime minister under Lokpal; inclusion of his office but with exceptions – possibly excluding those relating to defence and foreign affairs, while yet another suggestion was that he would be open to scrutiny after he demits office.

Strong reactions

Already, there have been strong reactions from the civil society itself and political class against bringing in the office of the prime minister under the anti-corruption ombudsman. Retired chief justice of India J S Verma as well as Punjab Chief Minister P S Badal have opposed the proposal.

Also, there is a divided view on both the higher judiciary and role of MPs inside Parliament under Lokpal. Ironically, the civil society says the role of the Lokpal could be questioned before the Supreme Court and vice versa.

Former judges like ex-Delhi high court chief justice A P Shah have laughed at this proposal.

As regards the Lokpal and Lokayukta under one Act, the government wonders whether the states would agree to such a proposal. It has failed to take a stand as many states are still to give their views—or have refused to give their opinion—on the issue so far.

The government is wondering, official sources told Deccan Herald on Thursday, whether the conduct of the MPs inside Parliament (speaking on voting in the House) be brought within the purview of Lokpal. They say presently such actions are covered under Article 105(2) of the Constitution.

While both the sides agree that the size of the Lokpal should be 11 members with one of them heading it, there are differences over their powers. The main one being, should Lokpal itself exercise quasi-judicial powers also or delegate these powers to its subordinate officers ?

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