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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Team Anna writes to PM, seeks investigating powers for Lokpal

New Delhi: Team Anna, in an open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and parliamentarians Sunday, hoped the "best possible" anti-graft law will emerge from the debate in parliament and pitched for giving the Lokpal independent investigative powers.

"While we are on record with our displeasure over the current draft of the bill, we are also keen that the best possible law should now emerge from the debate in the people's Houses," Hazare's India Against Corruption (IAC) said in the letter.

It said the Lokpal and Lokayuktas should be able to carry out investigations through the anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which should be merged into the Lokpal, and the anti-corruption bureaus and vigilance departments in states should be merged into Lokayuktas.

Their second option was that Lokpal and Lokayuktas should have their own investigative wings which should have exclusive jurisdiction over cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The third option was that was to give Lokpal the administrative and financial control over CBI, the letter said.

It also demanded that the appointment of the CBI director should be independent of any political control.

"The anti-corruption bureaus and state vigilance departments in state governments should be merged into Lokayuktas," IAC added in the letter.

They also demanded that the Lokpal be picked through consensus of the selection panel and the committee should comprise the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, two judges to be nominated by the collegium of Supreme Court judges, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Chief Election Commissioner.

"Search committee to suggest nominees should consist of former chief justices, former CAG, former CVC and former CEC," the letter said.

Team Anna has also demanded that the lower bureaucracy should be under the ambit of the Lokpal.

The government, in its bill introduced Dec 22 in parliament, has stated that the Lokpal will direct complaints against Group C and D employees to the CVC.

"Without these provisions, the Lokpal bill will be just another law -- one among many that have proven ineffective so far," the letter said.

Team Anna also said that although its opposition to some portions of the Lokpal bill remains, it wants parliamentarians to also include some of their points.

IAC said it wants the Lokpal and Lokayuktas to suo motu initiate their investigations without a complaint or reference from anyone.

"It should also not be required to alert the accused through preliminary enquiry or hearing before filing an FIR (First Information Report)," they said, adding this was recommended by the parliamentary panel that examined the Lokpal bill.

The letter said: "The year-long people's campaign against corruption has brought us to the very edge of legislation that can tackle it powerfully."

"Sensing the national mood, parliament has also taken it upon itself to foster a significant debate on the issues within the Bill, and for this we thank our elected representatives."

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