Lokpal: govt accepts civil society demands

Sibal assures the draft bill will be ready by June 30

danish

Danish Raza | May 23, 2011



The representatives from the government and civil society drafting the Lokpal bill have arrived at a broad agreement on including several important clauses of the Jan Lokpal draft in the proposed legislation, union minister Kapil Sibal said here on Monday after the fourth meeting of the joint drafting committee.

Lokpal, the proposed anti-corruption body, will be appointed as per the procedure mentioned in civil society’s version of the Jan lokpal bill.

Every complaint shall have to be compulsorily disposed of by the Lokpal. The status of the complaints with the Lokpal shall be published every month on its website. Any complaint against a staff of the institution of the Lokpal shall be enquired into within a month of its receipt and if found correct, the staff shall be summarily dismissed from the job.

These are some of the clauses in the Lokapal bill on which the government has agreed.

“I am happy with the progress of the meetings. If we carry on like this, we will surely finalise the draft by June 30,” said Kapil Sibal, union minister for HRD and IT and a member of the committee.

There are 40 basic principles in the Jan Lokpal bill. Out of these, seven were discussed in the panel’s meeting on May 7. In Monday’s meeting, which lasted for three hours, the panel discussed the remaining points.

“The government has not rejected even a single principle of the Jan Lokpal bill. It has either fully agreed to the principles or has given an in-principle agreement,” said Prashant Bhushan, a member of the committee.

Bhushan said that the government has agreed in principle on the clauses of ‘punishment and recovery of losses to the government’ and ‘whistleblower protection’.

The first clause says that at the time of conviction, the court shall make an assessment of the loss caused by the accused, which shall be recovered from them. The minimum punishment shall be one year of rigorous imprisonment and maximum will be life imprisonment. If the beneficiary is a business entity, five times the loss caused to the government shall be recovered. The recovery may be done from the assets of that entity or the personal assets of its directors.

According to the provision on whistleblower protection, the Lokpal shall be responsible for providing protection against professional or physical threat or victimisation to whistleblowers, whether within or outside the government.

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