New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday night passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 with amendments by a voice vote following a day-long stormy debate in Parliament.
The bill obtained the “nod” of the Lok Sabha after the government moved a few key amendments to it.
Of the ten amendments moved by the government, seven have been accepted by Lok Sabha.
The amendment was decided during an emergency meeting the Prime Minister held with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and other senior party leaders ahead of the voting in view of opposition by allies.
The amendment includes keeping the defence forces and coast guard personnel out of the purview of the anti-graft ombudsman and increasing the exemption time of former MPs from five to seven years.
However, Constitutional Amendment Bill on Lokpal was defeated. In addition, a number of amendments moved by Opposition, including corporates, media and NGOs receiving donations, were defeated.
The Lokpal Bill now needs the nod from the Rajya Sabha before being enacted as a law. The Rajya Sabha will be debating the contentious issue Wednesday.
This is the ninth Lokpal Bill introduced by the government in a series that started as early as 1968 and ended in 2001.
Seven of them lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha while one was withdrawn.
Ahead of the vote on the bill, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party staged a walkout, saying that the bill was not "strong" enough and was passed by Parliament in haste.
The Lokpal Bill was passed after its pros and cons were debated in the Lok Sabha for ten long hours.
Participating in the debate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked parties to "rise above partisan politics" to demonstrate to the people of the country that "this House means business" in its effort to combat corruption.
Earlier in the day, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said that the bill was anything but a strong and effective law to deal with corruption in the country.
"It is patently unconstitutional (bill)… deeply flawed and tampers with the basics of our Constitution," she said.
The firebrand speaker attacked the government point-by-point on important points of disagreement between the government and her party.
She accused the government of trying to target the federal structure of the government by making it mandatory for the states to implement the Lokayukta Bill as being proposed by the government.
Swaraj further slammed the government’s move to bring in reservation – especially minority quota – in the Lokpal Bill. She said that giving reservation based on religion is against the basic tenets of the Constitution and that the move holds the potential of acting as a trigger for the second partition of India.
Several parties, including BJP, BJD, JDU, RJD, SP, TDP and Left said that the bill was weak and wanted it withdrawn. However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected the contention that the legislation had been brought in "haste" or under pressure.
UPA partners, Trinamool Congress and DMK, today struck a discordant note saying the Lokpal Bill provisions to create Lokayuktas would encroach upon the rights of the states.
"Don`t undermine the rights of the state legislatures. Does the present legislation not take away the rights of the states?" Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee asked.
DMK leader TKS Elangovan asked the Centre to keep the law-making powers of the states with them and protect their rights. "Please ensure that the law-making power to create the Lokayuktas remain with the states," he said.
With Agencies inputs