24 May 2011

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Complete details of 4th Meeting of Lokpal bill panel held on 23rd May 2011

Complete details of 4th Meeting of Lokpal bill panel held
on 23rd May 2011

In the fourth meeting of the 10-member joint panel chaired by the finance mini
ster Pranab Mukherjee, which lasted over three hours, the two sides agreed "in-principle" on half of the 40 basic principles for the anti-graft Lokpal bill proposed by civil society members.


The joint panel agreed on the issue of empowering the Lokpal to order preparation of a list of the movable and immovable assets of the accused in cases of corruption, in case during the investigation its officers found that there was sufficient evidence to book them.

the proposal stated that "Once a list would be ready, their assets would be frozen. The loss to the exchequer would be calculated in case the accused were to be convicted and this amount would be recovered from the sale of these assets,"

the government members agreed to the proposal in-principle, but left the stage of determining the losses open ended for further discussions.

The joint panel also agreed to treat any asset not declared by a public servant “to have been obtained through corrupt means.”

Issues – and on which point government what said and agreed
40 points were discussed today i.e. on 23rd May.
On the rest of the points, brief discussions took place, and the issues were postponed for further examination.

1 –
Powers of contempt to get its orders implemented and power to summon
Answer - Government agreed

2.
It shall have the powers to recommend, on an annual basis, the number
of special courts required under section 4 of Prevention of Corruption Act,
to ensure that the trial in any case is completed in less than a year. The
recommendations shall be binding on the government.

Government’s response/decision
Government agreed that Lokpal may recommend but recommendation should
not be binding. We asked them why it could not be made binding? We were told
that it was due to three reasons: because Parliament may or may not agree to
sanction expenditure, High Courts may not appoint judges and there could be
lack of infrastructure. We said that we could examine how to overcome these
issues but we would not agree to making it advisory.

3.
Notify list of moveable and immoveable assets of accused, if during
or at the time of conclusion of investigations, Lokpal believes that
prosecution is likely to be initiated. These assets cannot be transferred
after such notification. Loss to exchequer quantified at the time of
conviction, could be recovered from sale of these assets.

Government’s response/decision
Government agreed. But at what point should notification be issued,
this would be decided after studying Bihar Special Courts Act. Also, some
principles may be laid down on how the loss would be assessed by the court.

4.
Recommend stay of any activity, if during investigations, Lokpal is
satisfied that the allegations against such activity are likely to be
sustained. If Government does not accept it within 30 days, Lokpal may get a
stay order from HC against that activity.

Government’s response/decision
In principle, government agreed. However, this needs to be
appropriately formulated.

5.
Direct transfer of any official, if his continuance is likely to
adversely affect investigations.

Government’s response/decision
Government agreed to make this power advisory. However, we are in
favor of making it binding.

6.
Powers to issue appropriate directions to prevent destruction of
records during investigations, or to prevent the public servant from
secreting the assets allegedly acquired by him through corrupt means.
If the allegations against any minister are substantiated after any
enquiry or investigations, then for non-criminal misconduct, Lokpal would
submit its report to the President with its recommendations.

Government’s response/decision
Agreed

7.
Lokpal shall have powers to delegate any of its powers and functions
barring those which are specifically to be performed by the benches of
Lokpal.

Government’s response/decision –
There was a long discussion on this issue. Government’s vision of
Lokpal is an 11 member body, which will have quasi judicial powers and that
body will pass all orders. That is very different from our vision. Such a
model would create problems as that would overburden Lokpal with immense
workload and make Lokpal unwieldy. Our vision of Lokpal – an institution headed
by 11 member body. This body would have quasi judicial powers but primarily
be a supervisory body. There will be many officers under that body, who would
be designated authorities under this Act and would themselves also have quasi
judicial powers under this Act. Government would examine it and revert.

8.
Every complaint shall have to be compulsorily disposed by Lokpal. No
complaint could be disposed without giving an opportunity of being hear to the complainant. If any
case is closed, all records related thereto shall be made public.
There shall be complete transparency during investigations also.
However, such records, which could impede the process of investigations,
would not be disclosed. But after the completion of any investigation or
enquiry, all records related to a case, shall be made public.
Lokpal shall publish, every month on its website, the status of
cases, received, disposed, closed, reasons for closure and list of cases
pending.
Any complaint against a staff of Lokpal shall be enquired into within
a month of its receipt and if found correct, the staff shall be summarily
dismissed from the job. If any criminal case is made out, the same shall be
pursued.

Government’s response/decision –
Agreed

9.
The minimum punishment shall be raised to one year of rigorous
imprisonment and maximum should be raised to life imprisonment.

Government’s response/decision –
No agreement on life imprisonment

10.
Punishment shall be higher if the status or rank of accused is higher.

Government’s response/decision –
No agreement

11.
Lokpal shall be responsible for providing protection against
professional or physical threat or victimization to whistleblowers, victims
of corruption and witnesses whether within or outside the government.

Government’s response/decision –
Agreed in principle that Lokpal should be nodal agency. However, it
would be examined at what stage is the pending whistleblower Bill of the
government. It would be examined whether whistleblower protection should be
provided in this Act or in the other Act. If it is provided in the other Act,
that Act would also be discussed and finalized by this committee only.

12.
If any asset is subsequently found to be owned by a public servant, which
was not declared, it would be deemed to have been obtained through corrupt means unless he proves otherwise.
If any asset is subsequently found to be in possession of any public
servant, it shall be deemed to be owned by him/her unless he proves
otherwise.
No rules shall be made without the approval of Lokpal. Lokpal shall
have power to make rules and regulations with respect to its own functioning.

Government’s response/decision –
Agreed

13.
After each election, the Lokpal shall
verify the assets declared by each candidate with his declared sources of
income in his tax returns. Those undeclared shall be investigated against.

Government’s response/decision –
Only elected representatives and not all candidates. Agreed.

14.
All records of Lokpal shall be open barring the following:

1. Such portions of any records which if released during any ongoing investigations, could impede the process
of investigations. However, after completion of investigations, they would be disclosed.

2. Such records which could affect national security or

3. Such records which would disclose the identity of a whistleblower and could compromise his/her security.

Government’s response/decision –
Agreed

15.
If anyone makes a complaint which lacks any evidence or basis and is
held by Lokpal to be meant only to harass someone, the complainant shall be
fined. However, merely closure of a case due to lack of evidence shall not be
held against a complainant.

Government’s response/decision –
Agreed

On May 30 the next meeting will be held and important points like bringing the higher judiciary and the Prime Minister's Office in the ambit of the Lokpal will be discussed.

Reality views by sm –
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keyword Tag – Lokpal bill drafting committee 4th meeting details

6 comments:

Anonymous,  May 25, 2011  

Lokpal issue is beginning to smell like a bad fart.

sm,  May 25, 2011  

Anonymous,,
thanks.
Do not understand what you are trying to say.

A May 26, 2011  

Lokpal or Lokdal bill...too complicated

Anonymous,  May 26, 2011  

I expected a broader guidelines only for Lokpal and not such a detailed material of thoughts.

There seems to be an effort to completely foresee all the issues.

This will not give freedom from corruption because the government also knows what is being planned and they will easily circumvent it. Eg. Immovable property purchased in a trustworthy benami name.

sm May 26, 2011  

Anonymous,,
thanks.
This the way a law is made and developed.
after that with experience new amendments are made time to time.