The drafting committee comprising five Union ministers and social activist Anna Hazare’s representatives will meet here on Monday to discuss the latest version of the Jan Lokpal Bill , the anti-corruption law being planned.
The government, which has examined the Hazare team’s bill, has asked the Law Ministry to make a presentation on the feasible and non-feasible provisions of the bill. Ahead of the meeting, committee chairman Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will hold a strategy session with government representatives to firm up the Centre’s stand on the latest draft of the Jan Lokpal.
The government seems to be against the provision that empowers the office of the Lokpal to intercept telephone conversations.
The latest version has a clause – Clause 13 (C) – which gives wide powers to “an appropriate bench of the Lokpal” to “approve interception and monitoring of messages or data or voice transmitted through telephones, internet or any other medium as covered under the Indian Telegraph Act, read with Information and Technology Act, 2000.”
As of now, the power to grant a few government agencies the permission to intercept telephonic communications is vested with the Home Ministry.
Another new provision in this draft is for setting up of a separate “prosecution wing” for the office of Lokpal, which is already envisaged to have powers to investigate. The draft was circulated to government representatives during the committee’s first meeting on April 16.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of differences on the inclusion of judiciary in the anti-graft legislation. At a round-table organised recently, two former Chief Justices of India – JS Verma and MN Venkatachalaiah – had opposed inclusion of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts in the proposed legislation.
On the issue of whether or not the Prime Minister should be under the purview of the Lokpal, participants at the round table were of the view that the Prime Minister shouldn’t be open to any investigation by the Lokpal in the interest of political stability. Economic Times