Parliament clears historic Lokpal Bill
New Delhi, December 18
The move was facilitated by the walkout of Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena, who attacked the legislation as dangerous in that it would make the functioning of the governments ‘impossible’. Biju Janata Dal was the only party that walked out to protest the manner in which the Bill was tabled and rushed without a debate, its leader Bhatruhari Mahtab leading the MPs.
As soon as the House reconvened post adjournment at 11 am, Speaker Meira Kumar asked Law Minister Kapil Sibal to table the Bill as amended by the Rajya Sabha yesterday. Sibal urged MPs to pass it considering it had been debated significantly both “inside and outside the House”.
Within minutes of brief mentions by BJP’s Sushma Swaraj, Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, SP’s Mulayam Singh, BSP’s Dara Singh Chauhan, JDU’s Sharad Yadav and TMC’s Saugata Roy, the Bill was passed.
It provides for the establishment of an independent anti-graft ombudsman which will have the power to investigate public servants, including the PMO, for corruption.
The development signals an end to 45-year-old run of the controversial Bill initiated in 1968 by former Prime Minister Indira Gandh. It was not mere coincidence that the law was passed today under the watch of the Congress-led UPA coalition which pocketed its credit while other leaders cried foul.
The party worked overtime to pass the law pending since 2011 considering its mass appeal in the current atmosphere against corruption. Clearly, the party is aiming to reap political benefit from the move which got it accolades from Hazare who called off his fast in Ralegan Siddhi.
It is the Lokpal Bill’s political potential that explains Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s outburst in the Lok Sabha today against the Congress. She slammed the party for seeking praises for a Bill which, according to her, was thanks to “the fasting old man” (read Hazare). Her attack was countered by a reference by Rahul, who said the “House had a chance to make history by passing the Bill”.
Rahul also sought extension of the Parliament session to pass all eight pending anti-graft laws of the UPA.
The pending bills relate to the Prevention of Corruption Amendment; the Right of Citizens to Time bound Delivery of Services, Public procurement, Foreign bribery, Judicialstandards and Whistleblowers protection. “Why not extend the session to pass the pending Bills,” Rahul asked the chair which was not amused considering that the Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die within an hour of Rahul’s beseeching.
But his demand didn’t go unheeded and the government later said it would like to complete the unfinished anti-corruption agenda by reconvening the session.
“We have only adjourned the proceedings sine die and not prorogued the session. We can recall it at two days notice and we intend to do so to pass the pending anti-corruption Bills as mentioned by Rahul. We will discuss the issue with all parties,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said outside Parliament. Interestingly, it was only the third time today that Rahul spoke in the 15th Lok Sabha which commenced in June 2009.
One of his earlier mentions too came on the Lokpal Bill when he proposed a “game changing idea of giving it a constitutional status”. That idea was not to be heard in his reference today.
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