New Delhi : Reacting sharply to the government tweaking the Rajya Sabha Select Committee’s recommendations, Opposition leader Arun Jaitley on Friday asked why dilute the Lokpal Bill again.
He pointed out that a legitimate impression has already gone around that the political class of this country is not interested in seriously pursuing an effective and independent ombudsman.
On the government not accepting two of the select committee recommendations, Jaitley asserted that the government has no authority to amend the report. Like any member, the government can also propose amendments.
He said the select committee, in which he was also a member, had consciously deleted the provision of the Lokpal granting an opportunity of hearing to a public servant before embarking upon an inquiry against him. The government has, however, rejected it.
Though opportunity of hearing ostensibly appeared to meet principles of natural justice, Jaitley said it would only destruct any effective probe as a search and raid is necessary if a complaint is about demanding bribe and if the complaint is of amassing disproportionate assets, the prior notice will only enable him to remove the entire evidence.
“Suddenness and surprise are the essence of an investigation. A public servant is interrogated and investigated in a criminal probe. He cannot be given material collected against him prior to investigation. The right of the public servant to be heard is only at the stage of trial and not otherwise,” Jaitley said.
Similarly, he said the government should not have turned down the select committee recommendation to allow transfer of any CBI officer probing a case given by the Lokpal only with his approval.
Jaitley said two suggestions he and other colleagues had made in the select committee were that the outgoing CBI director should not be eligible for any government job as otherwise the desire of a future favour can influence him and that reservations in appointment of the Lokpals should not be based on religion but only what is constitutionally permissible. The committee, however, did not agree to these suggestions despite a strong rationale, he added.