Lokpal: Law Ministry favours safeguards for PMO officials

Lokpal: Law Ministry favours safeguards for PMO officials

The Law Ministry has favoured providing safeguards for officials of the PMO to insulate them from questioning by Lokpal on sensitive issues like national security, and the suggestion seems to have found support of some members of a Parliamentary panel.

The Ministry told the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Lokpal Bill that there was a need to change the draft of the Bill to protect officials of Prime Minister's Office (PMO) from being questioned on sensitive issues on which the Prime Minister himself is exempted.

Asked whether the protection provided to the Prime Minister in the present bill on issues like national security, nuclear energy and public order covers his officials, the Ministry said, "It applies to PM in person. The secretariat will be exposed (to probe) for that thing..."

When some panel members questioned that while the PM himself cannot be questioned on national security by the Lokpal, can his Principal Secretary be called to make disclosures, Ministry officials said that in such a scenario the provision needs modification.

Ministry officials said the provision should be suitably changed and favoured a suggestion by a senior opposition member that the draft needs to be "cleaned up".
They also agreed with a suggestion that people who handle sensitive subjects should enjoy "immunity".

Chairman of the Committee Satyavrat Chaturvedi is learnt to have said that a rational view will have to be taken on the issue on who would get protection.