Union Cabinet clears ‘revised’ Lokpal Bill
New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the key recommendations made by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha to the Lokpal Bill.
Confirming the development, Union Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy said, “Today the Union Cabinet accepted 14 out of 16 recommendations made by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The revised Lokpal Bill draft will now be introduced to the Rajya Sabha for vote.”
Addressing a joint press briefing with I&B Minister Manish Tewari, Narayanasamy said, “The revised bill incorporates a number of changes recommended by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, including appointment of the Director of Prosecution by the CVC.”
“The amended Lokpal bill will make it mandatory for the states to set up their own lokayuktas, or anti-corruption ombudsmen, within a year of the bill coming into effect,” he said.
After the recommendations, political parties will be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal. “Religious and charitable institutions, including non-governmental organisations partially aided by the government, will be exempted,” he added.
The minister agreed that despite accepting major recommendations of the select panel, differences remain on several issues.
“The government has disagreed with the select committee's view that the power to transfer CBI officials should rest with the Lokpal and not the investigative agency,” Narayanasamy said.
The government also doesn't favour the committee's recommendation that officials facing an inquiry from the Lokpal should not be heard during the preliminary stage of the probe.
On the issue of giving opportunity to an official to present his or her view, the government feels that a protection is required for such a person and depriving the officials facing allegations the opportunity to present their views will be against the "principle of protection,” he said.
The Centre also agreed to a proposal of the Department of Personnel (DoPT) over the appointment of the CBI chief by an independent collegium comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
The Select Committee was formed to look into the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha members for the Lokpall Bill.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi recently gave an assurance to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare that the Lokpal Bill will be passed in the upcoming Budget Session.
Sonia's assurance came two days before Anna Hazare began his nationwide tour for strengthening the organisation of farmers.
The Lokpal Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in December 2011, but could not be put to vote in the Rajya Sabha due to shortage of time. Since then the government has not brought the Lokpal Bill to Parliament.
The bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha but the government's efforts to provide Lokpal with Constitutional status did not succeed in the Lower House.