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Jan Lokpal Bill Offers Immunity Only To President: Santosh Hegde

Hyderabad, May 21: Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde on Friday said the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill offers immunity to no one except the President of India and the Governor."According to Jan Lokpal Bill there
PTI May 21, 2011 16:29 IST

Hyderabad, May 21: Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde on Friday said the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill offers immunity to no one except the President of India and the Governor.

"According to Jan Lokpal Bill there is no immunity except for those who have been given immunity under Constitution of India -- which is President of India and Governor in some cases... and I agree with this," said Hegde, who is a part of the 10-member Joint Drafting Committee, on the sidelines of a function here.

Hegde said even if there are allegations against the Lokpal, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court would hear the complaint, investigate it, and if found true, it would make a recommendation to the President to remove Lokpal.

Hegde said three meetings of the Committee, comprising representatives of government and civil society, have been held so far, and the fourth meeting would be held on Monday.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee even said that the meetings could be conducted on day-to-day basis, he added.

"The third meet was quite fruitful. The government opened up its mind with regard to certain sections of the Jan Lokpal Bill. We had discussions with regard to (brining under the ambit of the Jan Lokpal Bill) the Prime Minister and higher judiciary. But no final conclusion has been arrived yet. But we have started, now, going into the crux of the matter," Justice Hegde said.

"I'm of positive view that things would move in one direction."

The Karnataka Lokayukta said Anna Hazare's anti-graft movement had really gathered momentum now. "I feel that the government cannot go forward with its own "sarkari" Lokpal Bill, which has absolutely nothing in it. They (government) will have to agree (to our recommendations)...certainly they will have to accept some of our major suggestions," Hegde said.

The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill will bring under its ambit all the 70 lakh officers of the Government of India, including the Union Ministers and Prime Minister, Hegde said.

However, he said, every action of the Lokpal would be amenable to judicial review.

The Lokpal (when constituted) was going to be an institution of 11 officials under the Chief Lokpal, he said.

"When you take up cases (under the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill) against the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court... a bench of seven Lokpals will consider such complaints," he explained.

Reacting to the query if there were any fissures in Drafting Committee, Hegde said, "Absolutely not. It's only freedom of discussions."

Earlier, delivering a lecture on 'The Recent Challenges in Governance' at the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) here, Justice Hegde said, "Good governance can be provided by public servants only if they realise that they are not masters of the people."

"Our Constitution contemplated an independent legislature, executive and judiciary. Over the years, for the reasons well-known, legislature and bureaucracy seems to have merged into one group like conjoined twins, one supported by the other," he said.

"If there is corruption, as stated by the Prime Minister and I believe it to be true, then it is because of the collective greed of the elected representatives and bureaucracy," he said. PTI