Jan Lokpal bill unconstitutional and dangerous, say experts

Legal and Constitutional experts who deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee which met on Saturday to hear views on the various Lokpal bills before it, described many provisions of the Team Anna version of the bill as “anti-constitutional” and advocated strengthening of the existing anti-graft mechanism.

Deposing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, the experts were almost unanimous in underlying the importance of keeping judiciary, members of the Parliament and the Prime Minister outside the proposed anti-corruption ombudsman.

Former bureaucrat Jaya­prakash Narayan, who heads the Lok Satta Party, intellectual Pratap Bhanu Mehta from Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, Bar Council of India Chairman Ashok Parija, eminent lawyer Harish Salve and Dalit leader and Justice Party chief Udit Raj deposed on Saturday.

Narayan claimed that the Jan Lokpal bill drafted by Team Anna, would become a “super constitutional body” that would be “dangerous” for the country. Instead, he favoured setting up a National Judicial Commission to look into matters related to the judiciary, including allegations of corruption.

Monolithic authority

Salve is understood to have told the panel, headed by Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, that institution of Jan Lokpal would be “unconstitutional” as it would lead to creation of a monolithic authority that would destroy the liberties enjoyed under the Constitution.

The Jan Lokpal bill seeks to give powers of “suspension and transfer, search and seizure and contempt of court” with the institution of Lokpal – a proposal that was firmly opposed not only by the government but many political parties as well.

The former solicitor general wanted strengthening of existing laws like the Prevention of Corruption Act and also reinforcing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Central Vigilance Commission.

Role of CBI

Parija, on the other hand, was in favour of making CBI an independent Constitutional body which will be answerable to Parliament and not the government.

Moreover, Salve demanded an independent prosecution wing for the CBI so that the agency can go for prosecution without waiting for the government to provide it with law officers to argue cases in courts.

The experts were in favour of upholding the sanctity of Article 105 that grants certain rights and privileges on members of Parliament for their conduct inside the House.
Mehta argued in favour of keeping the office of the Prime Minister and non-governmental organisations out of the ambit of the Lokpal.

But Salve wanted all non-governmental organisations – both receiving government and private funds – to be covered under the Lokpal.

While Parija felt Citizen’s Charter would be an “effective and workable” mechanism to check corruption, Narayan wanted a “separate and effective” law to look into the functioning of the fourth estate but did not favout bringing the media under the purview of the Lokpal.

At the end of the two-day meeting of the panel, Singhvi said ten hours of discussions spread over two days were fruitful and intense and hoped for timely submission of the report.

Probe PC’s role in 2G scam: Anna

Mumbai, dhns: Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare, just two days after demanding State Lokayukta reformulation, on Saturday fired a fresh salvo seeking an inquiry into Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s alleged role in 2G spectrum scam. “We will accept the verdict.  However, an inquiry is a must,” Hazare told mediapersons at his Ralegan Siddi village.

Making an indirect attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Hazare accused some people in the government of  “trying to cover up Chidambaram’s role in the scam who in 2008 while holding the finance portfolio probably could have prevented the massive loss incurred to the exchequer in 2G licence allocation by insisting on auction procedure.”

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