PM, higher judiciary out of Lokpal ambit: Assocham

New Delhi: The Prime Minister and the higher judiciary should be kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal, according to leading business chambers body Assocham which will launch a media campaign on the issue from tomorrow.

With the Lokpal bill a priority agenda of the government in the winter session of Parliament, the industry body has suggested "the Prime Minister be kept outside the purview of the Lokpal."

Assocham is the first chamber to launch the initiative while all other industry bodies had generally hailed the anti- corruption agitation launched by Anna Hazare seeking a strong Lokpal bill.

However, Assocham said, a mechanism could be devised to scrutinise the PMO`s discretionary or commercial decisions without undermining the independence of the institution.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee is currently debating the Bill. The government has said it is hopeful of the passage of the Bill in the winter session of Parliament beginning Tuesday.

Appreciating the government`s initiative on the issue, Assocham also suggested that the Supreme Court and High Courts` judges be kept outside the purview of the Lokpal. "A Comprehensive Judicial Standard and Accountability Bill should deal with professional misconduct or corruption cases," it said.

Assocham said the appointment and initiating disciplinary action in respect of Lokpal be vested with a high-powered committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, the leaders of ruling and opposition parties in Rajya Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

It suggested relevant clauses of the Prevention of Corruption Act and other similar statues be incorporated in Lokpal Bill to have a comprehensive and codified law. Besides, a mechanism should be be put in place to protect and safeguard the whistle blower, the chamber said.

The coming session of Parliament concludes on December 21 and Anna Hazare and his team, who have been agitating on the Lokpal issue, are demanding that the bill be passed in this session.