Government's Lokpal Bill: Key points

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 24, 2011 20:12 hrs

New Delhi: As the government prepares to table its latest version of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament on Thursday, here's a closer look at the finer points of the Bill.

Members with judicial background

The Lokpal will be a constitutional body consisting of nine-members. A former Chief Justice of India (CJI), a retired Supreme Court (SC) judge or an eminent person with a judicial background will head the Lokpal as a Chairperson.

A panel consisting the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the CJI and an eminent jurist will select the Lokpal and its members.

There is up to 50 per cent reservation in the Lokpal for SC/ STs, OBCs, minorities and women. Five out of the total nine Lokpal seats are reserved.

The Lokpal will be accountable to the Parliament.

PM under Lokpal -- but with clauses

After much debate on the issue, the Prime Minister will come under the Lokpal's ambit, but there are some safeguards put-in-place to restrict the lokpal's jurisdiction on the leader of the country. 

The Lokpal will be able to review allegations of corruption against the prime minister, but PM's decisions concerning matters of national security will be out of the purview of Lokpal.

In case of complaints against the PM, the bill says any decision by the Lokpal to start a preliminary inquiry or probe against the PM can only be taken by the Full Bench of the Lokpal with a majority of three-fourth.

No CBI, no investigative wing

And since the CBI, one of the key talking points on the bill, has been kept out of the Lokpal's ambit, the Lokpal will not have any investigative powers. The Lokpal will not have any separate investigation wing and will instead review cases and subsequently refer them to existing investigative bodies like the CBI.

The Lokpal will not have jurisdiction over the CBI, which will remain under the government’s watch.

Also, the administrative control of the CBI will remain with the government as a result of keeping the CBI out the Lokpal's ambit. However, the CBI will report to the Lokpal on probes ordered by the Lokpal himself. The Lokpal will only be able to oversee cases it refers to the CBI, which will be required to review those files within a decided timeframe.

But the Lokpal cannot initiate proceedings against an accused on its own without receiving a complaint. A complaint will have to be formally lodged with the Lokpal before it can order any probe.

However, after receiving any complaint, the Lokpal has the right to conduct preliminary inquiry through an inquiry wing, made up of police officers.

The Lokpal can set up an inquiry wing and Lokayuktas for conducting the preliminary inquiry and also an independent prosecution wing. A small bench will consider the inquiry report and could decide to recommend investigation, which will be passed over to the investigative bodies, or initiate disciplinary proceedings, or close the case.

Special courts will be constituted by the Centre as recommended by the Lokpal to decide on corruption cases

A selection committee which includes the leader of the opposition and CJI, will appoint the head of the CBI.

Lower bureaucracy, NGOs under Lokpal

The Lokpal will have some jurisdiction over members of the lower bureaucracy, but not directly. The agency will have to refer and oversee cases involving different levels of public servants to other investigative bodies.

The NGOs getting government and international funds will also be within the Lokpal's ambit.

The process to remove the Lokpal or any of its members can only be initiated if at least 100 MPs back it.

Judiciary out of Lokpal ambit

The judiciary has also been left out of the Lokpal's ambit as initially sought by the government.

The government believes there is sufficient existing bodies to oversee the judiciary and felt there is no need for the lokpal to have them under its ambit.

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