Powers to tap phones, issuance of letters rogatory and recommendations for changes in work practices to reduce scope for corruption are among the proposals made by the Anna Hazare team in their Jan Lokpal Bill which do not find a mention in the government draft.
The draft submitted to the joint committee on Lokpal bill by the Hazare team also seeks power to the proposed ombudsman to acquire modern equipment necessary for proper investigation and inquire into the assets declaration statements filed by all MPs.
According to the Jan Lokpal Bill, an approporiate bench of Lokpal shall be deemed to be “designated authority under Section V of the Indian Telegraph Act empowered to approve interception and monitoring of messages of data or voice transmitted through telephones, Internet or any other medium…”
In the powers and functions of the Lokpal and its officers section of the civil society’s draft, the ombudsman can authorise a bench of the Lokpal to issue letters rogatory in relation to any case pending investigation.
This provision is in contrast to the stand taken by the Hazare team in the fourth meeting of the joint drafting committee held on May 23 when lawyer Shanti Bhushan clarified that the intent was to allow Lokpal to directly approach the court for letters rogatory and not to route such requests through the government.
Bhushan’s comment came after Home Minister P Chidambaram pointed out that the powers of issuance of letters rogatory was within the domain of the courts. A letter rogatory is a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance. Economic Times