New Delhi: A Parliamentary Committee on Wednesday adopted its report on the contentious Lokpal Bill leaving it to the wisdom of Parliament to decide on inclusion of Prime Minister in its ambit while Congress members gave dissenting notes demanding inclusion of Group C officials within its purview.

BJP, BJD and Left members gave dissenting notes demanding inclusion of Prime Minister with some safeguards.

Three Congress members Deepa Dasmunshi, P T Thomas and Meenakshi Natarajan gave their dissent notes during Wednesday's final meeting demanding inclusion of Group C employees under Lokpal's purview and making CVC accountable to the ombudsman.

The final report keeps out Group C employees from the ambit of Lokpal. The report, without taking a position, also recommended three options on the issue of Prime Minister: his inclusion without exception and qualifications, inclusion with no exclusionary caveats but after demitting office and inclusion of the PM with exclusions on issues like national security and foreign affairs.

In all, a total of 16 notes of dissent are believed to have been submitted to the Committee by members of BJP, BJD, SP, Congress, LJP, RJD and Left parties.

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice Abhishek Manu Singhvi said after the meeting that the report is likely to be tabled in Parliament on December 9.

Sources in the government indicated that the Lokpal Bill could be passed by Parliament in the ongoing Winter session. The sources said if the report is tabled in Parliament on December 9, a fresh bill with government amendments could come before Lok Sabha for consideration on December 19 and reach the Rajya Sabha on December 21.

They also maintained that Congress members in the Committee had only given their point-of-view and not dissent notes.

In their notes of dissent, members from SP, RJD and LJP have demanded reservation in Lokpal "at all levels" for SCs, STs, OBCs, women and minorities.

"The reservation in Search Committee is not enough. Its role will end once a Lokpal is selected," SP member Shailendra Kumar told reporters after the meeting.

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad said THAT in his dissent note he has also opposed granting Constitutional status to Lokpal.

Seven BJP members have submitted their notes of dissent demanding inclusion of the Prime Minister with some safeguards, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and making citizen's charter and grievance redressal mechanism a part of the Lokpal institution.

While CPI(M) said it wanted inclusion of Prime Minister and lower bureaucracy under the ambit of Lokpal, RSP said the PM should be covered under the ombudsman without any safeguards.

"The Committee considered 25 issues with convergence on a large number of subjects and some divergence on different issues by different members," Singhvi said.

He said the notes of dissent will be reflected in the report when it is presented to Parliament. After 17 sittings of the Committee, the final report has kept out judiciary and MPs' conduct in House out of Lokpal's purview.

The 30-member panel has also recommended conferring constitutional status on the Lokpal and setting up of Lokpal and Lokayuktas in states under one legislation.

In its 199-page report, the Committee has decided not to tinker with the present system of appointment of CBI Director.

In a new recommendation, the Committee has favoured 50 per cent reservation to members of SC/ST, OBC, minorities and women in the seven-member Search Panel for choosing a Lokpal and to make the Search Panel mandatory. This was not part of the draft report circulated to members a week ago.

It also favours inclusion of Chief Ministers under the state Lokayuktas and if the report is accepted then the Bill should be named as Lokpal/Lokayukta Bill, 2011.

It recommended that Group C and D category officials in the Centre "shall be brought specifically under the jurisdiction of the CVC".

It said the CVC should be made to exercise powers identical or at least largely analogous, in respect of class C and D officials as the Lokpal will do for group A and B category officials.

The panel had earlier decided to include Group C employees under Lokpal's ambit but did a U-turn the very next day following stiff opposition from Congress members in the panel.

In the final draft, the Committee has recommended that officials in the state government who are equivalent to Group C and D at the Centre should be included within the jurisdiction of state Lokayuktas "with no exclusion".

The report said employees of state-owned or controlled entities should also be covered.

Vis-a-vis Team Anna's demand for scrapping Article 311 of the Constitution that gives protection to government servants against summary dismissal, the draft report favours a "close and careful relook" to ensure major obstacles in taking legitimate departmental action against delinquent officials are eliminated.

The report said bureaucratic corruption has been relatively ignored in the context of excessive media and civil society focus on political corruption, coupled with the doctrine of civil service anonymity, which India imported from the colonial rule.

Referring to the media, NGOs and corporates, the draft report said if the domestic and foreign funds are above Rs 10 lakh per annum, such organisations - whether controlled by
government or not - should be covered under Lokpal.

"It is thus clear that corporates, media or NGOs should and would be covered only to the above extent and not otherwise," the report said.

On the role of CBI and CVC vis-a-vis Lokpal, the report recommends a five-stage mechanism.

In the first stage, a complaint must be received by the Lokpal who would hold a preliminary inquiry in stage 2.

If a case is made out, it would be referred to CBI in stage 3 which will investigate independently of the Lokpal or ministries.

In stage 4, the case would go to the Directorate of Prosecution which will be under the superintendence of Lokpal. In the 5th and last stage, the case would go to a special judge or a Lokpal Judge.

Team Anna irked over exclusion of Group C

Lashing out at Abhishek Singhvi on the draft Lokpal Bill, Team Anna on Wednesday accused the Congress leader of disrespecting Parliament by going against its commitment of including lower bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter in the ambit of the ombudsman.

Activist Arvind Kejriwal said Singhvi, the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill, was disrespecting Parliament by not abiding by the assurances given in a resolution passed by Parliament during Anna Hazare's fast to include lower bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter in Lokpal.

"Parliament passed resolution during Anna's fast to include lower bureaucracy and Citzens' Charter in Lokpal. Now, Abhishek Manu Singhvi is disrespecting Parliament by violating it," Kejriwal said. The panel has recommended exclusion of lower bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter from Lokpal Bill.

Claiming that the Standing Committee proposes to divide CBI into three parts, Kejriwal said the move will cripple the investigating agency.

"So by taking excuse of Anna andolan rather than strengthening the anti-corruption system, they seem to further weaken whatever exists. We are disappointed," he said.

However, he was of the view that it was "extremely difficult" at this stage to say anything because Standing Committee's recommendations were not final. "The government can accept or go further than that. So let's wait and watch and only then we will be able to tell what form," Kejriwal said.

He said that citizen's charter and lower bureaucracy both would not be part of Lokpal. "We have learnt that many parties within Standing Committee have protested over it but even such recommendations are still made," he said.

Asked whether Hazare will go ahead with his proposed fast, he said it was for the Gandhian to take a call. "As far as fast is concerned, it is Anna who is going to decide." "All that I can say is we are committed till the end for a strong Lokpal Bill," he added.

On the panel's recommendation that Group C and D employees would be covered under CVC, he said, "CVC has only 230 employees. How can these 230 employees keep a track of 57 lakh employees. You need to have at least 28,000 employees."

Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said opposition parties should come together on Lokpal issue the way in which they did so on FDI issue.

She also indicated that inclusion of Prime Minister under Lokpal may not remain their priority, saying bringing CBI under the ombudsman will make anti-corruption efforts more effective than any other measure.

Bedi said Lokpal without CBI is a "sabotaged Lokpal" which will defeat the very purpose of setting up such a mechanism.

"More than the Prime Minister, it is the CBI in Lokpal which will make it effective. Let's not get distracted. A united Opposition can call the bluff," she said.

She said CBI under Lokpal means all corruption exposed and "many embarrassed, losing false images. Will they vote against themselves?" She said Lokpal was supposed to be
replacing government control over CBI.