Sunday, June 19, 2011

PM under Lokpal: Hegde opposes govt. stand


Lokpal panel member Santosh Hegde (right) on Sunday criticised the government view expressed by Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal that PM should be kept out of Lokpal till he demits office. File photoKarnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde on Sunday flayed the government’s stand to keep the Prime Minister out of the purview of Lokpal till he demits office, pointing to the possibilities of evidences being destroyed and also wriggling out by citing “error of judgement” in such cases.
“That (keeping PM out of Lokpal) will not serve the purpose of having an effective investigation because there will not be any trails of the misconduct,” Mr. Hegde, a member of the Lokpal drafting committee, told PTI in an interview.

If Lokpal were to conduct investigation after Prime Minister demitted office, there are possibilities of evidences being “swept clean” before that and there could be arguments that it was “error of judgement” (on the part of PM) and it is not a case of corruption, he said.

Mr. Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge, was responding to questions on the government making clear its opposition to bringing the post of Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal till he demitted office.

“Prime Minister was never out of it (Lokpal). Constitution never contemplated Prime Minister to be out of it,” Mr. Hegde said, adding that the Constitution never contemplated anybody in the country, except the President, out of the purview of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On Saturday, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and joint drafting committee member said, “Within the government, we feel prima facie, the Prime Minister should not be covered (under the Lokpal). But at the same time we want to make sure that if he demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution.”

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