Govt to bring Ordinance on corruption, may set up Lokpal

Govt to bring Ordinance on corruption, may set up Lokpal

New Delhi: Hemmed in by attacks on several scams, the government has decided to come out with an Ordinance that is most likely to set up a Lokpal to inquire into corruption charges against public servants, including the Prime Minister.

The government wants to bring the Ordinance before 25 January so that it could become part of the President’s address to the Nation, sources said, adding it could be done even as early as tomorrow at the Cabinet meeting.

The Ordinance will “draw heavily" from the Lokpal Bill that is being vetted by the Law Ministry and provide for filing of complaints of allegations of corruption against the Prime Minister, Ministers and MPs with the Lokpal, the sources said.

According to the Bill, the Lokpal shall consist of a chairperson who is or has been a chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court. It will also have two members who have either been the judges of the Supreme Court or the chief justices of the high courts.

The government move comes at a time when it is under severe attack from the Opposition over various major scams like that involving 2G spectrum allocation and CWG.

The decision to bring the Ordinance is in pursuance to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s assertion at the AICC Plenary last month that corruption will taken “head-on" without showing any tolerance to it.

The issue was discussed at the Congress Core Group meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence on 31 December last year.

The meeting discussed a note prepared by the Prime Minister’s office in the light of Sonia Gandhi’s five-point action plan to fight corruption suggested in her address to the Congress Plenary.

Congress President’s plan included among other things institution of a new system of fast-tracking of all cases that concern corruption by public servants including politicians and to bring closure to such cases in a well-defined time-frame.

In his address to the Plenary, the Prime Minister referred to Gandhi’s five-point action plan and said the government would pay careful attention to the agenda set out by Gandhi.

The draft Lokpal bill also provides that complaints against ministers and MPs should be routed through either the Lok Sabha Speaker or the Rajya Sabha Chairman and be heard only if they are referred by the presiding officers to it.

The Lokpal can also enquire into act or conduct of any person other than a public functionary if it is necessary for the purpose of inquiry into any allegation of corruption.