Civil society tweaks Lokpal draft

New Delhi, April 16 (PTI): The revised draft of the ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ has amendments to the original bill to provide for inclusion of Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha in the committee to select Lokpal and its members and significantly the power to intercept telephones and internet communication. The new draft aimed at checking political and administrative corruption, which was presented to the government at the joint drafting committee meeting on Lokpal, retained the original provision to bring judges of the higher judiciary within the ambit of the Lokpal, notwithstanding the reservations of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. Hazare had suggested keeping out judges of the higher judiciary from the Lokpal on the ground that there has to be an authority to deliver verdict on the cases that will come up and that authority cannot be subservient to Lokpal. It also INSERT IGNOREs a new clause providing for a search committee to recommend names for Lokpal and other members to the selection committee.
A significant amendment in the new draft is the inclusion of Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha in the place of Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker in the selection committee. Two other categories have also been removed from the selection panel -- Chairperson of NHRC and retired army personnel in the rank of five-star Generals. New section 13C INSERT IGNOREed in the fresh draft provides for an appropriate bench of Lokpal to be designated as an authority under section 5 of Indian Telegraph Act. “Such bench would be empowered to approve interception and monitoring of messages of data or voice transmitted through telephones, internet or any other medium as covered under India Telegraph Act, read with Information and Technology Act 2000 and as per rules and provisions made under Indian telegraph Act 1885,” the provision reads.