Delhi govt clears Jan Lokpal bill

Delhi govt clears Jan Lokpal bill

Delhi Cabinet today cleared the draft of the much talked-about Jan Lokpal bill which provides for covering all public servants –- from chief minister to Group D employees -- and seeks life term as maximum punishment for those found guilty of corruption.

The bill provides for a legal right of protection to "honest" officials, whistleblowers and witnesses besides having provisions for time-bound investigation and trial of corruption cases.

The draft bill was cleared at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Bringing the Jan Lokpal bill to contain corruption was a key election promise made to the voters by AAP.

PWD Minister Manish Sisodia said no provision for any "special privileges" for even the chief minister and council of ministers has been proposed in the bill when it comes to cracking down on corruption.

He said government will not send the bill to the Home Ministry for approval. Sources said the Law Department had mentioned in its noting that there as per existing norms, Delhi government has to get clearance from the Home Ministry before tabling any bill.

"This is one of the most widely debated bills in India's parliamentary history over the last few decades and Delhi government is of the view that it has come up with an effective bill to restore the public confidence in its elected representatives and other public servants," he told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

He said bill approved by the Delhi cabinet provides for "certainty and swiftness" of punishment to those found involved in graft.

The Minister said selection panel for appointment of Lokpal chairperson and members will be "transparent" and free of political control. The seven member panel will have the Chief Minister as the government nominee.

"The only law which comes closest to this bill is the bill passed by the Uttarakhand assembly in 2011, but it too had some limitations in filing complaints against the CM and ministers. This bill for the first time provides a legal right of protection for the whistleblowers and witnesses in corruption cases," Sisodia said. 

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