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Lokpal Bill gets RS nod; LS to consider it today
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 17
Sending out a clear message against corruption in high places ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Rajya Sabha today passed by voice vote a Bill for setting up a Lokpal with vast powers to look into complaints against the Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and Central Government officials, conduct searches, attach property and supervise the CBI and the CVC.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, piloted by Law Minister Kapil Sibal, was approved by the House after a six-hour debate in which members cutting across party lines favoured strong measures to combat graft.

The Samajwadi Party, which was opposed to the legislation, walked out just before the debate started after registering its protest.

The historic legislation with fresh amendments approved by the Upper House will now go to the Lok Sabha for debate and approval tomorrow. The Lower House had passed the original Bill in December 2011. The Rajya Sabha had not been able to pass it then. The legislation was brought back to the Upper House after being considered by a Parliamentary Select Committee which recommended several amendments to make it more acceptable.

The Aam Admi Party (AAP) was not enthused over the passage of the legislation in the Upper House, saying its three major demands, including keeping the CBI out of the administrative control of the government, had not been met.

The Lokpal will have a chairperson, who is/has been a Chief Justice of India, a judge of the Supreme Court or an eminent person. It will have a maximum of eight members, half of whom will be judicial members. The chairperson and the members will be appointed by the President on the recommendations of a five-member selection committee, headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee and one eminent jurist.

The chairperson and the members can be removed only on a petition signed by at least 100 MPs and on an inquiry conducted by the Supreme Court.

Relenting from its earlier stand against handing over the superintendence of the CBI to the apex anti-corruption body, the government has included this provision in the modified Bill.

The Lokpal will have powers to give direction to the Delhi Special Police Establishment in respect of matters referred to it for preliminary inquiry, summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine him on oath, utilise the services of any officer, organisation or investigating agency of the Central Government or any state government and provisionally attach assets of any proceeds of corruption. At the recommendations of the Lokpal, the Central Government shall constitute special courts to hear and decide the cases arising out of the Prevention of corruption Act.

Replying to the debate, the Law Minister said it was a ‘historic’ and hoped that all states would pass similar legislations to set up Lokayuktas modelled on the Bill. “The Centre can’t give directions to the state,” he said allaying apprehensions that the Union Government was dictating.

Initiating the debate, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said he was happy that the government had accepted all major changes in this ‘changed environment’, obviously referring to the drubbing received by the Congress in the Assembly elections. 

Tackling corruption

* The Bill, aimed at tackling the menace of corruption, brings under its purview the PM with certain safeguards, ministers and MPs besides government servants

* The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill-2011, which has been pending in the House for the last two years, was approved by voice vote after a five-hour debate

* The government push to the Bill, which got support from the main opposition BJP, came close on the heels of the Congress drubbing in the Assembly polls, rise of the AAP and the ongoing fast by Anna Hazare

* The SP, a strong opponent to the creation of Lokpal, boycotted the House proceedings after staging a walkout soon after it took up the Bill for consideration 

Rahul, Anna exchange letters, pat each other

Anna Hazare has praised Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s "commitment" to the Lokpal Bill. In his letter to Rahul, Hazare said: "I welcome your commitment towards passing the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill in Parliament.“ The Congress leader responded by saying he was "very grateful" for the Gandhian's support and respected his role on the issue 





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