Lokpal review panel debates inclusion of PMO


New Delhi: The parliamentary committee examining the Lokpal bill Tuesday deferred a decision to include the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) within the ambit of the anti-graft ombudsman as members were divided on the issue, sources said.

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While some members do not want the PMO to be under the Lokpal, others want it with some caveats, especially in matters related to defence and national security.

Some members expressed hope the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice that is examining the bill would be able to submit its report during the coming winter session of parliament starting Nov 22.

However, sources said the panel is in general agreement on the formation of a committee to select suitable candidates for the Lokpal.

The selection panel could include the prime minister, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, speaker, chief justice of India, chief election commissioner and chairman of the union public service commission.

The panel is in broad agreement that Group A and B officers would fall under the Lokpal’s ambit, while those in Group C and D would be excluded.

According to sources, the panel may recommend that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) should not come under the Lokpal and a separate body be set up to which both the agencies could report.

Activist Anna Hazare had demanded bringing the CBI and the CVC under the anti-graft ombudsman.