New Delhi: Joint Drafting Committee (JDC) for Lokpal Bill has cleared the path to provide an autonomous status to Lokpal. In the important JDC meeting on Saturday, the government members and representatives of civil society agreed on the autonomous status, which enables the Lokpal to have the complete authority to initiate an inquiry or prosecution without seeking prior permission from the government.

Without any further discussion, the government members of JDC approved seven out of the 34 demands made by the civil society members. JDC members could not reach on common grounds over issues such as the inclusion of judiciary and Prime Minister under the jurisdiction of Lokpal Bill.

During the meeting at Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s office, the government members revealed their plans for the first time. This was the third meeting of the panel, which proposes to draft a bill by June 30. The next meeting is slated for May 23.

As soon as the meet commenced, Home Minister P Chidambaram, approved the seven points recommended by the civil society members, the most significant being that in any case of corruption, an FIR can be registered against senior civil servants and public representatives without permission from government.

It may be noted that in Mayawati’s Taj Corridor case and Mulayam Singh’s disproportionate assets case, permission for FIR was not granted.

Till date, anti-corruption mechanism was fully controlled by government but now Centre has agreed to grant an autonomous status to Lokpal.

Lokpal will decide its own proceedings and the designations of the appointed staff.

However, the Finance Minister has asked for a survey to decide on the model of the Lokpal Bill that whether it would function like the Supreme court, CAG or any other entity.

Although the members consented on several points but differences existed between the government and civil society members over the inclusion of judiciary and Prime Minister under the Lokpal’s umbrella. On, which the civil society members said that their demands are being seen incorrectly by the government.

“We want that if a Judge is named in a corruption case, there should be no binding to seek permission from Supreme Court or High Court,” civil society members said.

Citing an example, Committee member Prashant Bhushan reminded Chidambaram about the Calcutta High Court judge case where the Home Minister was denied permission after filing FIR against the judge. Later on the same judge was caught red-handed in a raid after he retired.

JPN/Bureau