Withdraw “unconstitutional Lokpal”: BJP

The main opposition BJP on Thursday objected to the government’s move to give reservation to the members of the minority community in the Lokpal Bill.

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2011, 16:37 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The main opposition BJP on Thursday objected to the government’s move to give reservation to the members of the minority community in the Lokpal Bill, shortly after it was tabled on the floor of the Lok Sabha.

Making her party’s stand clear on the Lokpal Bill, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj objected to the government’s decision to give 50% reservation to the minority community in the Lokpal Bill.

Expressing her displeasure, Swaraj said, “Country has been waiting for so long for a strong Lokpal Bill to be introduced and passed. But the way in which the Bill has been brought to us is very disappointing. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that reservation cannot cross 50% .This bill sets apart quota for not less than 50% of its members for women, SC/STs, and OBCs. There are 9 members - so it suggests reservation for 5 members, so if we go with this Bill, it will be struck down in seconds as unconstitutional.”

“This language is not acceptable as it violates federal principles as well,” she added.

She also questioned why the Government was bringing the Lokpal Bill under Article 253.

The Opposition leader demanded the government to immediately withdraw the draft Lokpal Bill as it could be challenged in the courts in the long run.

However, she was countered by Union Finance Minister and Leader of the House in Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee, who asked the main opposition party not to sit in judgement.

The much-awaited bill was introduced in the Lower House by Minister of State (MoS) of Parliamentary Affairs, Prime Minister`s office, Personal, Public Grievances and Pension, V Narayaswamy.

After its tabling in the Lok Sabha, the anti-graft legislation will now be discussed during Parliament`s extended session on December 27.

The 64-page draft bill is set to become a law following Parliament’s nod to it as the 116th amendment to the Constitution.

The bill has solid backing of UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has urged the Opposition and the civil society to accept the anti-graft legislation drafted by the government.

The Winter Session, originally scheduled to end today, will now reconvene on December 27-29 to discuss the bill.
However, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, two parties supporting the ruling UPA from outside, have struck a discordant note, saying the bill would make the local police very powerful.

Meanwhile, Anna, who has already threatened to go on a three-day fast, has rejected the bill as a betrayal of the people and said the legislation would not provide for a strong anti-graft institution.

Taking on Anna, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi also said that there was a "deliberate and malicious misinformation" campaign that the Congress was not tackling corruption.

She listed bills on protection of whistleblowers, enhancing judicial accountability, the citizens right to grievance redressal, and the Lokpal bill which will be taken up for discussion from December 27-29.

Stating "she was ready to fight for the anti-graft Lokpal and women`s reservation bills in the Lok Sabha" Gandhi dismissed as "rumours" that there were differences between the government and the ruling party.
She urged Congress MPs to be prepared for the battle in the house.

Describing the Lokpal bill as a “pathbreaking" legislation, the UPA chairperson urged the opposition parties and anti-corruption activist Hazare to accept it.

The government draft bill brings the Prime Minister under Lokpal but leaves out two other key demands of the activist for inclusion of the CBI and the lower bureaucracy.