With the pressure off on the government for setting up the lokpal, the law ministry has joined its various counterparts and departments in opposing many key provisions of the anti-graft bill, rendering its future uncertain.
Interestingly, the ministry had drafted and given legal clearance to the bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on December 27, 2011. It has conveyed its views to the Rajya Sabha select committee, which is examining the bill, HT has learnt.
The legal arm of the government has raised a red flag on the issue of providing 50% reservation for the minorities, women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes in the lokpal and also in its selection panel.
The law ministry has cited various Supreme Court judgments to state that extreme caution is required on the point that "not less than 50% of the lokpal members should be from among the minorities, women and the SC, ST and OBC categories".
"The ceiling imposed by the Supreme Court is that reservation should not exceed 50% … it may be possible only in exceptional circumstances and in doing so extreme caution is required," the ministry stated.
Stepping up its attack, the ministry has also questioned the constitutional validity of the government's efforts on trying to build a political consensus on the issue of whether Parliament can pass a bill on having lokayuktas, which are state equivalents of the lokpal.
"It appears that the proposal to provide for maximum flexibility to states on the issue of lokayuktas may not be in accordance with the constitutional scheme," it has informed the committee. It has also argued for bringing back the provision which says permission from the competent authority is mandatory before filing a chargesheet against any public servant.
"It (powers to grant prosecution sanction) must be retained to give enough protection to public servants," the ministry stated.
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