Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Justice Santosh Hegde's take on Govt's Lokpal Bill (rediff)

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Justice Santosh Hegde, who was part of the drafting committee of the Jan Lokpal Bill, says that his biggest complaint with regard to the new government draft of the Bill was that no independent probing agency had been provided for the Lokpal.

Talking to, Justice Hegde said: "I was first told that in case the Lokpal gets a complaint he would first look into it and then the matter would be referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. This would mean that the Lokpal would have no say in the matter."

"If this is really the case then it would be a disgrace and I very strongly condemn it. It has always been the case that the CBI has been under the clutches of the ruling party. This would mean that we are back to square one and the government would continue to enjoy complete control over every corruption case."
"However, now I am getting to hear that there are some changes to this part of the bill. I hear that the preliminary power to examine the complaint would rest with the Lokpal following which it would be handed over to the CBI for investigation. The interesting part is that once the CBI starts investigating the case, it would be supervised by the Lokpal."

"Now if this is a reality then it would be a very huge step forward. Not only will the Lokpal be a watch dog but it would also have the power to bite."
"As an individual I welcome this move. I do agree that it is not possible to bring the entire CBI under the ambit of the Lokpal, as it has many wings. However, the above mentioned change or inclusion would be a big step forward. As of now there is a great deal of confusion."

Asked if Hazare was being too adamant and was not giving the government a chance to put forth the bill, the former Karnataka Lokayukta said: "I would like to point out that he has his views and at no point in time am I even suggesting that the government is acting as an angel. Everything is not as straight as it may seem."
Regarding the inclusion of the prime minister, he said: "I do welcome the move although it comes with certain restrictions. I do agree that the Lokpal cannot have the entire power to look into every move of his."
"The biggest complaint that I have is the transferring of the Group C to the Central Vigilance Commission. Now I do not understand why this has been done considering the CVC has hardly any infrastructure. Ideally this should lie with the Lokpal. I personally feel that matters of corruption pertaining to Group C should be probed by the local police in the rank of a Superintendent of Police and a report then sent to the Lokpal. I feel this would make more sense rather than handing over this power to the CVC."

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