New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved proposals submitted by the Department of Personnel and Training for moving official amendments to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill-2011, as suggested by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December, 2011 and taken up for discussion and passing in the Rajya Sabha, but the debate remained inconclusive and thereafter, the Rajya Sabha adopted a motion to refer the Bill to a Select Committee for further examination and report.
Some of the important recommendations made by the Committee and decisions taken by the Cabinet on them are as follows:
a) The Government has accepted the Committee recommendation to do away with Part- III of the Bill, which deals with setting up of the Lokayukta in the States. The Committee has recommended replacement of Part-Ill of the Bill with a new Section (63), which provides for setting up of the institution of Lokayukta through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within a period of 365 days from the date of commencement of the Act.
b) The government has decided to accept the Select Committee recommendation that the fifth member of the Selection Committee, may be nominated by the President on the basis of recommendation of the first four members- Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India).
c) Religious and charitable institutions, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will not come under the jurisdictions of the Lokpal.
d) The Select Committee has recommended that the Lokpal should be given the power to order an investigation straightaway in case Lokpal finds that a prima facie case exists.
The Government has decided to accept this recommendation subject to the modification that the Lokpal should, before coming to a conclusion that there exists a prima facie case for entrusting the matter for investigation, call for the explanation of the public servant and only then decide whether there exists a prima facie case for ordering investigation.
e) The Government has decided to accept the Select Committee recommendation that the words 'connected with any political party' may be replaced by the words 'affiliated with any political party' so as to overcome the ambiguity associated with the words 'connected with any political party'.
(f) The Select Committee has recommended that the power to grant sanction for prosecution of public servants could be shifted to the Lokpal in place of the Government. The Select Committee has also recommended that Lokpal may be required to seek comments of the competent authority and the public servant before taking such decision. Government has decided to accept this recommendation.
(g) The cabinet has accepted following recommendations of the Select Committee with a view to strengthening the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): -
(i) Setting up of a Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director of Prosecution under the overall control of Director, CBI
(ii) The appointment of the Director of Prosecution on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.
(iii) Maintenance of a panel of advocates by CBI, other than Government Advocates, with the consent of the Lokpal for handling Lokpal referred cases
(iv) Transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal with the approval of Lokpal
(v) Provision of adequate funds to CBI for investigating cases referred by Lokpal, etc. However, the government has not accepted the recommendations seeking approval of Lokpal for transfer of officers of CBI investigating cases referred by Lokpal, as it would, in Government's view, affect the smooth functioning of the CBI.
The Select Committee had submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha on November 23,