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HONEST OR CORRUPT, DON’T STEP OUT OF HOME WITHOUT READING THIS

The Lokpal bill has been passed. It will become a law after presidential assent. Answers to your questions

What will the law do?

It will create an anti- corruption watchdog called the Lokpal. It will have a chairperson and eight other members

What will the Lokpal do?

It will probe charges levelled mainly against public servants. But the Lokpal can also look into allegations against any person if it concludes that the suspect gave or took bribe or conspired or abetted in relation to any offence that falls under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Can I become the Lokpal chairperson?

Yes, if you had been a Chief Justice of India or are/were a judge of the Supreme Court or an eminent person

I am none of the above. Can I become a Lokpal member then?

You can, if you fall in any of the following categories.

• Of the eight other members, 50 per cent (or four members) shall be from the judiciary

• The remaining four should be persons of impeccable integrity and have special knowledge and expertise of not less than 25 years in matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance and finance

• Half the members shall be from among the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women

I am an MP. Can I become a member?

You can’t. MPs and MLAs are not eligible. Neither are panchayat and municipality members

Who else is ineligible?

The ineligible list covers persons convicted of any offence, including moral turpitude, a person who has been removed or dismissed from the service of the Union or a state

I am young and I worship Anna Hazare. Can I become a member?

Devotion to Anna does not disqualify you. But age does. Anyone below 45 cannot become a member

Who appoints the Lokpal?

The President appoints the chairperson and the members on the basis of recommendations by a selection committee

Who will be in the selection committee?

The Prime Minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist recommended by the four mentioned above and nominated by the President.

LOKPAL questions

Can the Lokpal investigate a corruption allegation against me?

Yes, if you fall in any of the following groups

• Any person who is or was Prime Minister. But there are some exemptions and stipulations. The Lokpal shall not inquire into matters relating to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space. On other matters, an inquiry will require the approval of two-thirds of the members of the full bench of the Lokpal. The inquiry against the Prime Minister will be held in-camera. If the Lokpal concludes that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the record of the inquiry shall not be published or made available to anyone

• Any person who has been a minister of the Union

• Any person who has been a member of either House of Parliament

• Any Group A, B, C and D officer

• Any person who has been a chairperson or member or officer or employee in any public body or board or corporation or authority or autonomous body

• Among those exempt are private employees, NGOs, charitable trusts and religious bodies. But, as mentioned earlier, anyone can be probed if the situation demands so

Can I file a complaint?

Yes. Anyone can complain to the Lokpal. The address and other details will be publicised once the formalities are taken care of

What will the Lokpal do after I file a complaint?

The Lokpal may order a preliminary inquiry if it is convinced that there is some merit in the complaint. The preliminary inquiry will have to be completed in 90 days. The Lokpal’s inquiry wing or the CBI will ascertain whether prima facie a case exists. If the complaint clears the first test, the Lokpal will direct the CBI or any other agency to investigate.

The investigation will be completed in six months with an extension of another six months, if required

What will happen after the investigation?

The Lokpal will have a prosecution wing headed by a director. In line with the findings of the investigation, the director will file a case before a special court, which will be set up by the Centre

Can the Lokpal supervise the CBI?

Yes, but not in all cases. The Lokpal can give directives to the CBI in cases the watchdog had referred to the investigative agency. Any CBI officer investigating a referred case cannot be transferred without the Lokpal’s approval

What else can the Lokpal do?

• It can direct search and seizure of documents

• The Lokpal or any officer authorised by it can attach and confiscate property of any person

• It can recommend transfer or suspension of public servants connected with allegations of corruption

Can action be taken against the Lokpal?

Yes, but the process is complex.The chairperson or any member can be removed by the President for misbehaviour on the basis of a Supreme Court recommendation. The apex court will conduct an inquiry on a reference made by the President. But the President can make a reference only after at least 100 members of Parliament petition Rashtrapati Bhavan.

COMPILED BY BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY


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