The parliamentary panel examining the lokpal bill is likely to recommend that Parliament pass a law for creating the anti-graft watchdog at the Centre and also lokayuktas in states.
The panel will ask the government to move a bill to amend the Constitution along with the lokpal bill. “This will enable Parliament to pass a bill with two-thirds majority to provide a constitutional status for the lokpal and also for creation of lokayuktas in states,” said a panel member.
This move will help the government speed up the process of setting up the watchdog, as was demanded by social activist Anna Hazare in August, and also make the government’s job easier, as it won’t have to approach states individually to agree to setting up of the lokayuktas.
The parliamentary standing committee on law and justice — headed by Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress — which will circulate its draft report some time this week, concluded that there was no need to seek the consent of the states on the bill once it is passed by both Houses of Parliament.
The committee’s decision on Lokpal and Lokayuktas is based on the opinion former chief justice of India, JS Verma, who said Parliament had “the legislative competence… since India has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. This convention makes it obligatory for member states to establish bodies that prevent corruption”.
The panel is, however, set to leave the issue of whether the prime minister should be brought within the lokpal’s ambit to Parliament, following lack of unanimity among the panel members.
Earlier, Justice Verma also cited the constitution, which states: “Parliament has the power to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any international treaty, agreement or convention.”
He was asked by the committee whether it would be “constitutionally and legally feasible” to follow the models or previous laws which provided for setting up of human rights commissions at the national and state levels.
He replied: “The human rights commissions were set up for better implementation of the Paris Principles of 1991….
Similarly, for combating corruption in a more effective manner, the same Article of the constitution can be applied to provide for the Lokpal and Lokayuktas.”