In yet another twist,the controversial Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was today referred to the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha,further delaying the anti-graft ombudsman which has been hanging fire for 42 years.
The Bill,on which debate had remained inconclusive in the Rajya Sabha during the last winter session,was referred to the Select Committee through a motion soon after Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy moved it for consideration.
Interestingly,the motion for referring the Bill to the Select Committee was moved initially by Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal.
This was strongly objected to by the BJP,Left parties and the BSP,with their members arguing that only the minister concerned could move such a motion and accusing the ruling coalition of “using the shoulder” of “friendly opposition” party.
After high drama marked by 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.
He said the 15-member committee would have to submit its report by the first day of the last week of Monsoon Session.
While moving the Bill,the minister said differences on it had been narrowed down after consultations with various parties.
He said the government proposed to bring lower bureaucracy under the purview of Lokpal which will have investigating and prosecution wing. Besides,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.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was witness to the high drama ahead of the Bill being referred to the Select Committee of the Upper House.
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 if we want a Lokpal.”
He also questioned the government’s intentions in bringing the Bill a day before the session ends,even when it had enough time to consult the Opposition. “We have given our views formally at the all-party meeting and even informally,” he said.
Saying “the credibility of Parliamentary institution now is at stake,” Jaitley said the whole nation was looking at them. “We want and the country wants that the government comes out clearly on this issue.”
The government also came under sharp attack from the BSP,with Mayawati agreeing with the Leader of Opposition on the government’s intention and asked it to come out with a proper proposal for passing the Bill.
“This is your weakness and you are shirking your responsibility,” she said.
She said the Bill must not be passed in haste and be done only after proper discussion with all parties.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) also questioned the amendment motion to send the Bill to the Select Committee coming from a Samajwadi Party member instead of the minister in-charge.
Yechury,however,asked the government to include private corporates under the purview of Lokpal saying,”You are not putting a check on the demand side of corruption and you are not putting a check on the supply side of corruption.”