Lokpal: SP thwarts debate on amended Bill in RS

TDP MPs also raised slogans against the move to divide Andhra Pradesh and create Telangana state.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: December 14, 2013 1:04 am

In Spot over corruption allegations,the UPA government Friday brought back an amended version of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill,2011 to Rajya Sabha,almost two years after its earlier version was passed by Lok Sabha. But Samajwadi Party (SP) MPs,asserting that the party would not support the legislation in the current form as it would lead to “police raj”,didn’t allow any debate on the Bill.

As soon as Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy moved the amended Bill,MPs belonging to the SP,which supports the government from outside,trooped into the Well and started raising slogans. They also demanded a discussion on the issue of price rise,saying it is an issue of public importance that needs to be addressed first. TDP MPs also raised slogans against the move to divide Andhra Pradesh and create Telangana state.

Despite repeated efforts,the House was not allowed to function,with the Chair finally adjourning it for the day.

The BJP,which had Thursday declared its support for the Bill if the government accepted all the recommendations of the Select Committee in toto,Friday expressed disagreement on a few points,including independence of the CBI. It opposed keeping all organisations,except religious institutions,not funded by the government also within the ambit of the ombudsman.

In a statement,Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said his party wanted the concurrence of the Lokpal to be made mandatory before transferring CBI officials probing cases referred by the Lokpal to the agency. “However,the power as it stands today is vested in the government. The government can defeat the purpose of independent investigation by transferring an inconvenient officer. This requires a relook,” he said.

The party is also against the provision that before a preliminary inquiry is initiated against an official facing charges,the Lokpal should give him a hearing.

Among the key changes in the proposed Bill that the government has brought in after the report of the Select Committee of Parliament is the one that delinks Lokayukta from the Lokpal Bill,an issue which was one of the most controversial provisions,with several parties opposing it on the ground that it was against the federal structure of the Constitution. The amended Bill also gives the power to sanction prosecution against public servants to the Lokpal.

While it accepted 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the Select Committee,which was set up in May last year amid sharp differences among political parties,the government did not accept a recommendation wherein an accused public servant would get no chance to present his view before preliminary inquiry is initiated.

On the issue of Lokpal’s concurrence being taken before transfer of CBI officers assigned to investigate a case,the government said it would affect the smooth functioning of the CBI.

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