The report of the Select Committee on Lokpal Bill tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday makes it mandatory for the states to have a Lokayukta within one year of the Lokpal Act coming into force, but gives them freedom in creating their own laws to set up ombudsman at their level.
The Select Committee also tabled a Lokpal Bill as amended by it and panel chief Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the same legislation will be discussed by the upper house.
He said the government will not have to consider the amendments proposed by the Committee and the bill “as amended” by the panel will come up for discussion.
Chaturvedi said the bill passed by Parliament will be a “model legislation” for the states to follow.
In reply to a poser, he said it will be upto the state legislatures to place the Chief Minister under the ambit of the state ombudsman.
The report was tabled on Friday by Committee member Shantaram Naik amid pandemonium created by members of Samajwadi Party and BSP over reservation for SCs and STs in government job promotions.
The controversial bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha last year, faced opposition hurdle in the Rajya Sabha on various provisions, including the one making it mandatory for states to set up Lokayuktas.
In view of the sharp divide, the bill was referred to the Select Committee. The panel, which was to submit its report during the Monsoon Session, adopted it on 19th November.
Earlier, sources in the Law Ministry had suggested that the bill, along with the Select Committee’s recommendations, will have to be considered by the Union Cabinet.
Once the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha, it will travel back to the Lok Sabha for approval of the amended version.
The Prime Minister has been exempted from the ambit of Lokpal on issues of external and internal security, atomic energy, international relations and public order.
Despite suggestions by the Law Ministry during depositions before the Committee suggesting ‘insulation’ to officials of the PMO, the Committee, headed by Satyavrat Chaturvedi, has not recommended any changes.
The Select Committee has also not suggested any change in the provision relating to reservation.
The original provision said not less than 50 percent of the members of Lokpal would be from SC, ST, OBC, minorities and women.
The Committee’s report said, “These provisions merely aim at providing representation to diverse sections of the society in the institution of Lokpal” and only indicates “the quantum of representation and not reservation”.
While the bill passed by the Lok Sabha provides for an eminent person in the Selection Committee to be appointed by the President, the panel has recommended appointed of such a person based on the recommendations of the first four members of the committee – Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
The Committee has also recommended streamlining the procedure for conduct of preliminary inquiry and investigation by the Lokpal.
It said the ombudsman, on receipt of a complaint, is authorised to directly order investigation where there exists a prima facie case.
It has suggested doing away with giving an opportunity to a public servant to be heard as it is not in consonance with the accepted criminal procedure.