Cabinet clears Lokpal changes, Lokayuktas clause dropped
The Cabinet Thursday cleared the amendments the government proposes to make in the controversial Lokpal Bill when it is tabled for consideration in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session, including dropping the contentious provision about setting up Lokayuktas in the states, hoping that this would clear the way for its passage.
The amendments include doing away with the requirement - under Section 6A of the Delhi (Special Police) Establishment Act - of prior sanction to launch a preliminary enquiry and prosecution against any government of India official of the rank of joint secretary and above. The only safeguard which will be put in place is that the official concerned would be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
"Lokpal can order investigation against a public servant, in case a prima facie case exists, after calling for explanation from the public servant. Opportunity to be given to public servant to be heard. Lokpal to have power to grant sanction for prosecution of public servants," an official statement said.
V Narayanasamy, minister of state for personnel and training, said the government has accepted 14 of the amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha select committee, which was set up last year after differences between the government and opposition parties resulted in the legislation getting stuck in the upper house after being cleared by the Lok Sabha in December 2011.
While agreeing to delete the contentious Part III of the legislation, the Centre will propose putting in place a new section which will provide for setting up of Lokayuktas in states by enacting a law within 365 days from the date the Central legislation becomes effective.
Narayanasamy said the government has also decided to propose modification of the clause which says members of the Lokpal should not be connected with any political party, to say "affiliated" with political party.