Bill seeking amendment to Lokpal goes to panel

A bill seeking to amend Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for scrutiny after members pressed for it in the Lok Sabha when the draft legislation was moved for consideration of the House on Monday.

Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai referred the amendment bill to the panel as the government agreed to the members’ demand. “This bill was discussed by a committee earlier, too, and they made certain recommendations. Keeping that in mind, the government brought forward this legislation.

Now, the main Opposition party is not taking part in the discussion and then some of the other parties are also saying that it needs a thorough discussion and further debate. The government has no objection,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in Lok Sabha. He described the bill as “important” and the government was concerned because it wanted to remain “totally transparent” and make Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) “totally independent”.

This came after Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member Rabindra Kumar Jenam, while participating in the discussion on the amendment bill, suggested that it should be referred to a parliamentary standing committee.

He underlined that there were many loopholes in the draft legislation its the present form, including the provision for the selection of the CBI director. The government moved the bill for consideration of the Lower House when Opposition members were agitating and creating ruckus on the issue of religious conversion, storming the Well of the House.

The bill, which was introduced on December 18, aims at addressing various lacunae in the existing law which provides for inclusion of the Leader of the Opposition in the panel.

Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said one of the amendments proposed in the bill aimed at making provision for inclusion of the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha as a member of the selection committee when there is no LoP recognised. The bill also stipulates that no appointment of a Lokpal Chairperson, member or eminent jurist will become invalid merely by vacancy or absence of a member in the selection committee.

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