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Standing Committee Summons CVC, CBI Director Over Lokpal Bill

PTI 28 Aug 2011, 8:55:25 IST
PTI

New Delhi, Aug 28: THE central vigilance commissioner ( CVC) and the CBI director have been asked to depose before a parliamentary committee to give their views on a provision in the draft Lokpal Bill that seeks to take over the powers of investigation and prosecution in corruption cases. 

Though the standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice wanted CVC Pradeep Kumar and CBI director A. P. Singh to appear before the members earlier, it decided to postpone the deposition to September 7 since the Lokpal Bill is still in an amorphous state.

Apart from Kumar and Singh, three more persons — a representative of Team Anna, activist Aruna Roy and additional solicitor general Amarjeet Singh Chandhiok — have been asked to appear before the standing committee, headed by Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi. A senior CBI officer confirmed the report, but refused to disclose the agency's likely stand, saying: “ Let something concrete emerge first.”

The government's and Team Anna's versions of the Bill provide for a separate and independent investigation wing for probing an offence committed by a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

While the government draft states that officers from ministries and departments can be sent on deputation to the proposed anti- corruption ombudsman before it constitutes its own team, the Jan Lokpal Bill says services of officers or investigating agency, whether of states or the centre, should altogether be brought under their ambit.

This means the CBI's anti- corruption wing shall have to be merged with the proposed Lokpal, leaving the investigating agency with little work. Its powers to probe terror cases have already been handed over to the National Investigation Agency ( NIA).

If the final Lokpal Bill does include the provision suggested by Team Anna, the CBI, sources said, will be “ converted into an all- India police station”, handling crimes including murder, kidnapping, extortion, sedition and economic offences committed by private individuals. Similarly, the CVC will be replaced if Team Anna's proposal prevails. As of now, the CVC supervises the CBI, monitors vigilance cases in Union ministries, departments and PSUs through respective chief vigilance officers ( CVOs), and vets bigticket government purchases.

After the legislation is enacted, the Lokpal would be the sole body handling corruption matters. The Jan Lokpal Bill also seeks to do away with the requirement of seeking sanction before prosecuting a public servant.This proposal, if accepted, would also end CVC's supervisory role, as it keeps a tab on the sanctions of prosecution sought against civil servants.

The Jan Lokpal draft states that private persons of repute and having expertise in handling corruption matters can be drafted into the proposed anti- corruption watchdog.

At present, only government officials drawn mainly from the IAS, IPS and the Indian Revenue Service are taken into the CBI or the CVC.

Interestingly, it also suggests that investigating officers draw equivalent or higher salaries than government servants, in order to attract honest and efficient officials. House panel seeks their views on a provision in the draft Lokpal Bill that may compromise the authority of the CVC & CBI