Presidential assent to Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2013
President of India Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013. This approval renders the Bill to turn into an Act. The Bill provides for setting up an anti-graft watchdog that will bring within its ambit even the office of the Prime Minister with certain safeguards. As per the Bill, an institution of Lokpal at Centre and Lokayuktas in the states will be established within 1 year from the date of its coming into effect.
Key features of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013:
Provision of an institution of Lokpal at the centre level and Lokayuktas at the states levels.
- A Lokpal consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of 8 members, of which 50% should be of judicial members.
- 50% of the total members of the Lokpal should be from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
For the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the Lokpal, there will be a selection panel which will include the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Lok Sabha’s leader of opposition, the Chief Justice of India or the Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice. Then the President of India will nominate the eminent Jurist on the basis of the suggestions of the first four members of the selection panel.
- Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal
- All categories of the public servants will be under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal
- Any/all entities receiving donations from a foreign source more than Rs. 10 lakh will be covered under this act in terms of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
- Honest and upright public servants will be given protection.
- Lokpal will have the right to supervise and direct any investigation agency including the CBI on the cases, which will be referred to them from the Lokpal itself.
- The high power committee headed by the Prime Minister of India will recommend the Director of the CBI.
- The Director of Prosecution, CBI will be recommended by the Central Vigilance Commission.
- Transfer/s of the officer/s of CBI, who are investigating the cases referred by the Lokpal will need prior approval from the Lokpal.
- Property gained by corrupt means is liable to be attached and confiscated even if the prosecution of the case remains pending.
- Time-bound preliminary enquiry and trial. Besides, special courts may be set up towards the end of the legal proceedings.
- States must set up Lokayukta institution through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within 365 days from the date on which the Act comes into effect.