Parliament passes Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare thanks MPs

India on Wednesday took the historic step of enacting the Lokpal law by which an anti-corruption watchdog would be established.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 19, 2013, 00:43 AM IST

New Delhi: After eight unsuccessful attempts over the last five decades, India on Wednesday took the historic step of enacting the Lokpal law by which an anti-corruption watchdog would be established that will have in its purview even the office of the Prime Minister.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2013, was passed by voice vote amid din created by members from Seemandhra region who were protesting against division of Andhra Pradesh to create Telangana state.

Also Read: Lok Sabha passes Lokpal Bill: As it happened

The Bill was already passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2011 but it came to the House again as it underwent amendments before being approved by the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

The measure got support from all parties except Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena, whose members staged a walkout.

While batting for the measure, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said, "Lokpal Bill alone is not enough to fight corruption. What we need is a comprehensive anti-corruption code. The UPA government has prepared anti-corruption framework."

He suggested extension of the Winter Session to pass six more bills which were "part of the comprehensive anti- corruption framework".

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj supported the bill but attacked Congress for clamouring to take credit for it, saying "The people of this country and the old man (Anna Hazare) who has undertaken fast several times deserve the credit."

Later speaking to reporters outside Parliament house, Law
Minister Kapil Sibal said the passing of the Lokpal Bill demonstrated that voices of the people have been listened.

"What is most important is that the inter-generational gap between the youth of our country and us must be narrowed as quickly as possible. We must listen to their emotion, their dreams and we must listen to what they want and expect from us," he said.

Sibal said that it was important now to implement the bill in a manner which is consistent with the spirit.

He said that the UPA government had given a framework to fight corruption beginning with the RTI Act and said that legislations like amendment to the Prevention to Corruption Act are pending.

Rahul Gandhi had talked about a framework of laws to prevent corruption which showed that the UPA had taken these issues very seriously, Sibal said.

He thanked other parties for extending support to the Lokpal Bill including the BJP, other parties, Anna Hazare and congratulated the government for having gone an extra mile to create consensus.

"I must also thank the Samajwadi Party for having put forward its point of view and walked out of the house instead of disturbing the proceedings of the house. To that extent, they`ve also helped the house to pass this Bill," he said.
Responding to another question, Sibal said that BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had "very cleverly" sought to take credit by saying that they had rejected the original bill.

"She very cleverly sought to give the credit to herself by saying that we had rejected the original bill and very cleverly at the same time gave the credit to Anna Haazare. But Sushma is a very clever parliamentarian so all credit to her. But the fact of the matter is we all participated in this process," he said.