New Delhi, Nov 27: The Parliamentary Panel on Lokpal Bill, which is divided on inclusion of Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog, will take a call on the issue at its meeting this week, its chairman Abhishek Singhvi said today.
“We have to discuss the issue at the next meeting,” Singhvi told PTI adding, ”we are now at the stage of report adoption and we hope to complete the work within this week”. A consensus on the inclusion of the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal has so far eluded the panel with members sharply divided on the issue.
Congress members backed the Government version that any case against the Prime Minister should be investigated by Lokpal seven years after he demits office. They felt that if a serving PM was brought under Lokpal, he may face frivolous complaints.
BJP members felt that the Prevention of Corruption Act was not enough to deal with graft charges against the Prime Minister who should be brought under Lokpal with certain safeguards like excluding issues relating to internal security and foreign affairs. BSP, RJD and LJP are totally against such inclusion of the Prime Minister.
Singhvi said that the committee has prepared a very substantive report in which it was in favour of giving constitutional status to the Lokpal, a suggestion mooted by Rahul Gandhi in Parliament during the Monsoon session. Gandhi had said that it was a “game changing idea”. Singhvi also said the panel was in favour of maintaining independence of judiciary.
Team Anna has been insisting the inclusion of higher judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal saying that the Judicial Accountability Bill proposed by the Government does not deal with corruption of judges.
Singhvi said 25 issues including those concerning media, corporates, NGOs, lower bureaucracy and citizens grievances have been “comprehensively dealt with” in the report.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice scrutinising the Lokpal Bill had on November 24 ended its internal deliberations with “broad consensus” on most of the issues including giving constitutional status to Lokpal.
Asked whether the report will satisfy everyone, Singhvi said “we are not here to satisfy everyone or anyone. We are here to satisfy our conscience and the nation”.
The panel has been asked to give its report by December 7.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kuman Bansal has already indicated that the government plans to bring the bill in the last week of the current session of Parliament which concludes on December 21.
The panel is preparing to circulate the draft report of its recommendations to the members in the next few days.
Team Anna had earlier expressed surprise at the move to exclude Citizen's Charter and lower bureaucracy from the ambit of the ombudsman, saying it was contrary to a Parliament resolution.