New Delhi: The much-anticipated Lokpal Bill, which aims at setting up an anti-corruption watchdog in the country, will be put for a debate in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
However, the chances are slim that the Lokpal Bill will get a smooth sailing in the Upper House as main opposition BJP and several other regional parties like Samajwadi Party and the RJD led by Lalu Prasad Yadav are strongly opposed to the current format of the bill.
Sources also claimed that main opposition BJP is likely to block the passage of the bill if the UPA government decides to table it at 5 pm this evening in the Rajya Sabha.
In order to ensure smooth passage of the bill, senior Congress leaders V Naraysamy and Rajiv Shukla met Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitly this morning. However the meeting ended inconclusive.
The tabling of the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha today is important since the Budget Session of Parliament is ending tomorrow. If the bill is tabled today it will give the Upper House at least two days to debate the Bill and then to put it to vote.
In case there is no consensus over the bill, the government may also decide to refer it to a Joint Select Committee seeking its suggestions on its key provisions.
The UPA government is trying hard to build consensus over the bill and, if the sources are to be believed, the controversial Lokayukta clause, which calls for setting up a Lokayukta in each state, may be dropped.
As per the key amendments moved by the government to win the support of the Opposition, the states will now have the right to pass the bill in their own Assemblies.
The move will help pacify critics like Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi and several others, who have alleged that the Lokpal Bill, in its present format, violates the principles of federalism if it is imposed upon states.
Secondly, the process of removing a member of the Lokpal will now be initiated only if 100 MPs sign a petition supporting the cause. Earlier, any citizen could appeal for action against a member of the Lokpal.
Thirdly, the role of the CBI in investigating complaints of corruption has been modified slightly. Once the Lokpal receives a complaint from the public and accepts the complaint, it will forward the complaint to the CBI, which will investigate the complaint and then file a charge-sheet or closure report before the court.
The agency will inform the ombudsman about what it determines. The closure report or the findings of the investigation, according to the government`s third amendment, will now be shared not just with the Lokpal but with the relevant court as well.
The equation between the CBI and the Lokpal has been one of the biggest bones of contention between the government and the Opposition. Parties like the BJP want the chief of the CBI to be picked by a committee, instead of by just the government - changes like this, they argue, will ensure the autonomy of the CBI.
With Agency Input