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Constitutional Lokpal gets Cabinet clearance

After two days of intense drafting by a group of ministers and officials, the new draft of the Lokpal Bill along with the Constitution (Amendment) Bill was cleared at a special Cabinet meeting that lasted 70 minutes. The bill will be introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday and the existing one, introduced in August, would be withdrawn

New Delhi: The Cabinet late Tuesday approved a historic bill for creation a Lokpal with Constitutional status that will have no control over Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) but brings within its purview the prime minister with a number of safeguards, reports PTI.

Not succumbing to Anna Hazare’s demand for inclusion of CBI under Lokpal, the government also decided against hiving off of the prosecution wing of the CBI.

After two days of intense drafting by a group of ministers and officials, the new draft of the Lokpal Bill along with the Constitution (Amendment) Bill was cleared at a special Cabinet meeting that lasted 70 minutes.

The bill will be introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday and the existing one, introduced in August, would be withdrawn.

The Lokpal will be a nine-member body, whose chairman will be selected by a four-member panel consisting of prime minister, Lok Sabha speaker, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or his nominee from among the Supreme Court judges, sources told PTI.

The bill provides for the prime minister to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal with certain safeguards that keep out aspects like international relations, public order, atomic energy, space, internal and external security from inquiry.

Probe on any complaint against the prime minister will be decided by the full bench, of which at least three-fourth should agree. The probe will be in-camera and if a complaint is dismissed, the records on it should not be made public.

Though the Lokpal will have no control over CBI, a demand strongly pursued by Mr Hazare, an important provision has been added under which the CBI director will be selected by a committee of the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge, they said.

Another major demand of the Team Anna which has not be accepted relates to inclusion of Group ‘C’ employees under the Lokpal.

They will be out of direct ambit of Lokpal but under the supervision of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which will have to report to the Lokpal.

The Lokpal will have superintendence over the cases referred to CBI by the anti-graft ombudsman.

The watchdog will have the powers to carry out preliminary inquiry to be headed by a ‘Director of Inquiry’ and will have a prosecution wing under a director.

Appointment of SPs and above in CBI will be done by a committee consisting of CVC, vigilance commissioners, home secretary and secretary, DoPT.

The Lokpal cannot initiate any inquiry suo motu and a complaint will be required.

The inquiry wing will be headed by a director for preliminary inquiry. The Lokpal can also ask the CBI to conduct the preliminary inquiry, which should be completed within 180 days.

Ideally, the preliminary inquiry should be completed within 90 days and extension if necessary should be sought in writing.

In the cases referred to the CBI, the investigating agency will submit report to Lokpal. At least three members of the Lokpal bench will go through the report to decide whether to file a charge-sheet or a closure report or to recommend a departmental inquiry.

If a charge-sheet is filed, the prosecution wing of Lokpal will initiate proceedings in a special court.

No sanction or approval of any authority will be required under directions of Lokpal.

Departing from the original bill, the government has now proposed 50% reservation for SC/ST, OBCs, minorities and women in the Lokpal bench and in the search committee.

Half of the bench would be members from judicial background.

It will have a five-year term and its chairman or a member can be impeached only after at least 100 MPs make a representation.

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RBI penalises 19 banks for flouting derivative norms: Govt

The RBI had imposed penalties on 19 commercial banks for contravention of various instructions issued by the central bank in respect of derivatives such as failure to carry out due diligence in regard to suitability of products and selling derivatives products to users not having risk management policies

New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed penalties on 19 commercial banks, including SBI, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Citibank, for violating norms on derivatives, reports PTI.

The RBI has informed that it had imposed penalties on 19 commercial banks on 26 April 2011, for contravention of various instructions issued by RBI in respect of derivatives such as failure to carryout due diligence in regard to suitability of products and selling derivatives products to users not having risk management policies, minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

RBI has issued show-cause notices to banks. In response to this, banks submitted their written replies, he said.

“On a careful examination of the banks’ written replies and the oral submissions made during the personal hearings, the RBI found that the violations were established and the penalties were thus imposed,” he said.

While a fine of Rs15 lakh each was slapped on Axis Bank, Barclays, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra and Yes Bank, Rs10 lakh each was imposed on Citibank, BNP Paribas, SBI, Credit Agricole -CIB, Development Credit Bank, ING Vysya Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered Bank, he said.

Besides, a fine of Rs5 lakh each was slapped on Bank of America, DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and J P Morgan Chase Bank, he added.

Mr Meena also said that RBI has informed that the estimated loss of Rs33,000 crore in the foreign exchange derivative transaction may not be the actual losses but the gross Market to Market (MTM) gains or losses to the customers.

MTM gains or losses are basically an accounting concept wherein the financial institutions would record the value of outstanding financial contracts at fair value while preparing financial statements, he added.

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