Chandigarh, June 13: To blunt the Opposition’s attack on corruption in the forthcoming Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, the Congress government is set to equip the institution of the Lokpal with powers to investigate offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, against the legislature, government officials and those holding public offices.
Throughout the day, back-to-back meetings were being held to give a final shape to the proposed amendments such as taking suo motu cognisance of acts of corruption by those holding public offices, powers to investigate, search and seizure, and powers to prosecute.
A committee constituted to suggest the amendments has forwarded its recommendations to the government. “If the amendments are approved by the Cabinet, a Bill would be tabled on the floor of the House in the Budget session,” said a government functionary.
Sources said there was difference of opinion among officials on whether to bring the vigilance under the ambit of the Lokpal or not. While Karnataka is the only state in India to have Lokpal with prosecution powers, the Punjab Lokpal Act has been “toothless.” A top government functionary said opinion of the Punjab Advocate General had been sought before amending the Act.
Anticipating trouble from the Opposition over the mining controversy, involving frontmen of Power and Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh, the government was keen to amend the Act in the coming session.Since Capt Amarinder Singh during his election campaign had announced to bring the office of the CM under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal. Hence, besides the CM, ministers, MLAs, IAS and IPS officers are expected to be brought under its ambit.