Union Cabinet clears amended Lokpal Bill, delinks state Lokayuktas

Union Cabinet meet

The amended Lokpal Bill, which delinks the central government from creating state Lokayuktas, was approved today by the Union Cabinet, paving the way for its consideration in Parliament.

The government, however, has not accepted a key recommendation of the panel that an official facing an inquiry by the Lokpal should not be given an opportunity to be heard at the stage of the preliminary inquiry.

The Select Committee, to which the controversial Bill was referred in view of sharp differences between political parties, has recommended delinking of Lokayukta creation from the Lokpal Bill.

This was one of the most controversial provisions with several parties contending that it amounts to the central government encroaching upon the rights of the states.

The Bill had said state governments would have to set up Lokayuktas within one year of enactment of the Lokpal.

On the issue of giving opportunity to an official to present his or her view, the government feels such protection is required and depriving accused officials the opportunity to present their views was against the "principle of protection".

Another recommendation made by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee was that when a CBI officer investigating a case is sought to be transferred for any reason, prior approval of the Lokpal should be required.

The Cabinet has not favoured the proposal and has suggested an amendment saying transferring any official would remain the exclusive right of the government and the CBI chief as it was an administrative matter, sources said.

Another amendment to the select committee report approved by the Cabinet is that societies and trusts which receive government aid and not funds have been kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal.

But organisations which receive major funding from the government have been kept under the ambit of the proposed ombudsman.

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