Key UPA constituents want Lokayukta provision deleted

The contentious provision relating to Lokayuktas in the Lokpal Bill may undergo change as key UPA constituents joined the Opposition in demanding its deletion but differences still persist on some other provisions.

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2012, 18:01 PM IST

New Delhi: The contentious provision relating
to Lokayuktas in the Lokpal Bill may undergo change as key UPA
constituents joined the Opposition in demanding its deletion
but differences still persist on some other provisions.

At a meeting of leaders of over 20 parties convened by
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh it was agreed that the
legislation could be taken up during the second half of the
Budget Session after evolving a consensus during the
three-week intersession break beginning April.

Leader of the Opposition and BJP leader Arun Jaitley
said the consensus among the parties including some UPA
constituents was completely against the government that the
federal structure cannot be disturbed and the Lokayukta
provision be deleted.

Sharing this view, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury the
setting up of Lokayuktas in states should be delinked from the
Lokpal.

Interestingly, Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, leader of the
Trinamool Congress, which is strongly opposed to the Lokayukta
clause, said the parties were united in demanding "deletion"
of the provision.

Representatives of DMK, NCP and National Conference, who
are part of the government, also opposed the Lokayukta
provision.

In the face of strong opposition from within, the
government may consider deleting the provision related to the
anti-corruption body in states.

However, sources said differences persisted on the demand
to broadbase the appointment process of Lokpal, which the
Opposition feels is loaded in favour of the government, and
the government control over CBI.

The Opposition wants an independent investigation agency
under Lokpal or CBI not reporting to government on corruption
cases being investigated by it.

The meeting was called to evolve a consensus to break the
logjam over the bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha and got
stalled in the Rajya Sabha.

Jaitley and Yechury also said the government should not
have the sole say in the appointment and removal of Lokpal and
demanded more representation for the Opposition and indpendent
institutions.

They also said that the investigating agency for Lokpal
should be free of government control. "There was a deamnd that
the cases of corruption being probed by CBI should be under
the superintendence and control of Lokpal," Yechury said.

A suggestion was made to refer the bill to a select
committee of Rajya Sabha to discuss the amendments but it was
understood to have been shot down because of the view that it
would be a time consuming process.

On the existing provision to bring all NGOs under the
ambit of Lokpal, Jaitley said that while foreign funded NGOs
can be under its scanner, private NGOs and institutions like
schools and hospitals run by NGOs can be kept out. Yechury
wanted inclusion of corporate houses in the bill.

"The government along with major political parties will
come out with a consensus. The government is committed to
bring the Bill in this session. ...The actual wording of the
Lokpal Bill will be worked out during the intervening period
the Budget Session," Yechury said.

Roy said that the majority of political parties asked
for the deletion of Lokayukta because they felt that this bill
otherwise "affects the federal character of the Costitution
and the autonomy of the state".

DMK leader T Siva (DMK) said laws enacted by Parliament
should not undermine the rights of states. "The provision of
Lokayukta should be removed from the existing Lokpal bill. We
are opposing it as it will harm federal structure.

National Confernce, RJD and LJP opposed bringing Prime
Minister under the purview of Lokpal.

AIADMK leader V Maitreyan said there was "near unanimity"
among all parties on delinking Lokayukta from Lokpal bill.

Minister of State for PMO V Narayanasamy expressed
confidence that the government was hopeful of passing the bill
in this session itself.

"We have come to a stage where views of various political
parties have been heard...now Government will take a decision
on how to pass this Bill by consensus of all political
parties," Minister of State for PMO V Narayanasamy said.

PTI