Friday, 15 April 2011

Lok Pal legislation: Prime Minister should be excluded, says Dr PC Rao, former union law secretary

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 9: The office of the Prime Minister should be excluded from the purview of the Lok Pal legislation in the larger interests of smooth functioning of the administration in the country, argues International Court judge Dr P Chandrasekhara Rao.
Dr Chandrasekhara Rao, who served as the Union law secretary for eight years and closely dealt with the earlier drafts of Lok Pal Bill, said if the Prime Minister were to be brought under the ambit of the Lok Pal, there would be utter chaos in the administration and the entire administrative machinery would collapse.
"Prime Minister is not above law, but the Lok Pal should not have powers to deal with the office of the prime minister. Let a joint parliamentary committee deal with complaints of corruption against the prime minister, as is now being done in the 2G spectrum issue. But giving enormous powers to the Lok Pal will only further complicate the matters rather than solving the problem of corruption in high public office," he cautioned.
Dr Chandrasekhara Rao, a judge in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, is currently in the city. He suggested that instead of vesting supreme powers with one individual, the institution of Lok Pal should be designed on the lines of the Election Commission of India. There should be three-member Lok Pal.
The government should have included Opposition leaders too in the 50:50 committee to draft the new Lok Pal Bill. "Creation of co-chairman post will only delay the issue as the committee will never arrive at a consensus. The committee is just advisory in nature and is not a statutory body," he told this correspondent.
Stating that the Lok Pal will have to depend heavily on existing investigation agencies, Dr Chandrasekhara Rao wondered how he would get fair reports when political parties in Opposition had always cast aspersions even on the highest investigation body in the country, the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"The question is who is qualify as the Lok Pal. There have been instances of severe allegations against the chief vigilance commissioner, the chairman of the national human rights commission, and some judges of Supreme Court and high courts. Even the collegium of Supreme Court has come under stress. In such circumstances, there's no guarantee that the person appointed as Lok Pal will not misuse his powers," he said.
If the Lok Pal takes up investigation suo moto and on every petition it gets, the institution will only throw up fresh petitions while the corrupt will remain unpunished. At the State-level the institution of Lok Ayukta has failed to prosecute senior officials, leave alone ministers. The same situation will prevail at the national level 
with the Lok Pal.
There should be a doctrine of balances and checks for the LP institution. "If the Opposition manipulates the LP, the entire government is gone. Lok Pal is the not the solution to the problem of corruption. "Corruption is inter-linked to a number of factors including elections. Unless basic issues are addressed, the LP will turn out to be just another addition to the list of government institutions," Dr Chandrasekhara Rao warned.

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