Lokpal bill referred to RS committee

Lokpal bill referred to RS committee

Lokpal bill referred to RS committee

Setting up of an anti-graft ombudsman will be delayed further as the controversial Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill was on Monday referred to the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha amidst high drama.

The bill, on which debate had remained inconclusive in the Rajya Sabha during the winter session, was referred to the Select Committee through a motion soon after Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy moved it for consideration and passage.

The minister said the 15-member committee would have to submit its report by the first day of the last week of the monsoon session. This means, constituting the much-awaited Lokpal, which was hanging in balance for the past 42 years, will be delayed further.

The House witnessed high drama when the bill was introduced. Interestingly, the motion for referring the bill to the Select Committee was initially  moved by Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal instead of the government, which was strongly objected by the BJP, Left parties and BSP.

Opposition members argued that only the minister concerned could move such a motion and accusing the ruling coalition of “using the shoulder” of “friendly opposition” party.As the Elders’ House witnessed heated arguments and counter-arguments over whether rules permitted any other member to move such a motion, the government yielded and the motion was moved by Narayanasamy which was immediately passed by voice vote.

The minister said the government proposed to bring lower bureaucracy under the purview of Lokpal which will have investigating and prosecution wing. Besides, the CVC will monitor investigations by the CBI referred to it by the Lokpal. There will be provisions for attachment of properties and time-frame for investigations.

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was witnessing the proceedings, opposition parties attacked the government alleging that it was not serious about setting up of Lokpal.
When the uncertainty of introducing the bill was looming till it was introduced, opposition members criticised the way it was introduced saying the bill was circulated on Sunday night and suddenly introduced in the House in the afternoon by including it in the supplementary list of business.

Questioning the sincerity of the government, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said: “I urge the prime minister and the government to be upfront and forthright and say do we want a Lokpal or we don’t.”