M A I N   N E W S

Cabinet rejigs anti-graft Bill; delinks Lokayuktas in states
PM, CJI, LS Oppn leader to select CBI chief; no transfer powers with Lokpal
Tribune News Service

Decision on CBI

Government did not accept that transfer powers be vested in the Lokpal since it would affect the smooth functioning of the CBI

The Bill provides for selection of the CBI chief by a panel, including PM, the Leader of the Opposition in LS and the CJI

BJP flays Govt

While the government plans to bring the amended Bill in the budget session, the BJP attacked the government for not accepting suggestions of the panel, especially to make the CBI more transparent and autonomous.

Canít trust PM: Anna

Anna HazareBoth PM and Sonia Gandhi can no more be trusted to bring a stringent Lokpal Bill to root out corruption ... Had they been committed to the issue, it would not have taken two years to take a concrete decision in this regard. ó Anna Hazare

New Delhi, January 31
Setting the stage for the enactment of the anti-graft institution of Lokpal, the Union Cabinet today cleared amendments suggested by a select parliamentary panel to the proposed legislation and decided to delink setting up Lokayuktas in the state, as against the demand articulated by Anna Hazare.

Accepting 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha, set up to reconcile differences on various provisions of the Bill held up in the House since its passage by the Lok Sabha in December 2011, the Government agreed to exempt from the Bill bodies or authorities established under a Central of State Act providing for administration of public, religious or charitable trusts registered under Societies Registration Act. The Rajya Sabha panel had recommended exclusion of bodies and institutions receiving donations from the public from the purview of Lokpal.

Two recommendations of the panel that did not find favour of the Government included concurrence of the Lokpal for transferring an officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation probing cases referred to the premier investigation agency by the anti-graft body and not to seek views of the government official concerned against whom charges of corruption are made before a preliminary enquiry is initiated.

While the Government plans to bring the amended Bill for consideration and passage of the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session, the opposition BJP was quick to pounce on the opportunity attacking the Manmohan Singh Government for not accepting recommendations of the panel, especially to make the CBI more transparent and autonomous.

Technically, once the Bill is considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha, it will have to be sent to the Lok Sabha for passage since the proposed legislation as referred to the Upper House would be different from the one the Lower House passed on December 27, 2011.

On his part, Union Minister V Narayanasamy said the Government did not accept the transfer powers be vested in the Lokpal since it would affect the smoother functioning of the CBI that is an independent agency. The Bill provides for selection of the CBI chief by a panel, including the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

Among the recommendations accepted by the government is the one about delinking Lokayukta from the Lokpal Bill, an issue which was one of the most controversial provisions with several parties contending that it amounts to the Centre encroaching upon the rights of the States. The select committee suggested that the State will have one year to create Lokayuktas from the time the Lokpal Bill is passed by parliament.

Recently, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to Anna Hazare reiterating commitment in fighting graft and pledging support for early passage of the Lokpal legislation. However, reports from Patna quoted the anti-graft activist Hazare having rejected the amended Lokpal Bill, threatening to launch yet another agitation if the Manmohan Singh Government went ahead with it.





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