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Cabinet approves key amendments to Lokpal Bill Last Updated : 31 Jan 2013 03:55:46 PM IST Cabinet approves key amendments to Lokpal Bill
The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved major amendments to the Lokpal bill. The Bill is likely to be tabled in Rajya Sabha in the budget session.
1.The amended Lokpal bill has made it mandatory for the states to set up their own lokayuktas or anti-corruption ombudsmen within a year of the central bill coming into effect.
2. The government is learnt to have disagreed with the select committee's view that the power to transfer CBI officials should rest with the Lokpal and not the investigative agency.
3. Religious and charitable institutions, including non-governmental organisations aided by the government, have been exempted.
4. Political parties too will be kept out of Lokpal.
5. Today's clearance has made in clear that the amended version will be presented before the Rajya Sabha in Budget Session.
6. Mere clearance of the draft in the Cabinet is not a guarantee that Lokpal will become a legislation after the Budget Session.
7. Lokpal has several obstacles in its way, like proper functioning of the Budget Session which doesn't seem to happen as of now.
8. Also, Left and BJP may strongly object to government rejecting Select Committee recommendations on independence of the CBI.
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.
Political parties will be brought under the Lokpal.
Congress has confirmed that it favoured passage of the Lok Pal Bill in the Budget Session of Parliament starting next month. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had written to social activist Anna Hazare assuring him that the legislation would be passed in the coming budget session of parliament. If passed by the Cabinet, the Bill will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passing.
Govt agrees to delink state lokayukta from central legislation
The government has agreed to delink the state lokayukta from the central legislation and to the appointment of the Director of Prosecution by the CVC, accepting some key recommendations of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on anti-corruption ombudsman.
However, it has not favoured another key recommendation of the panel that an official facing an inquiry from the Lokpal not be given an opportunity to be heard at the stage of the preliminary enquiry.
Law ministry opposed to amendments
Law Ministry has objections to the draft which suggested the appointment of Lokayuktas to the states. The earlier bill had given this power to the Centre. The government has also rejected a key select committee recommendation of the CBI chief being appointed by collegium.
The government on Tuesday had agreed to the committee's two key recommendations of delinking state Lokayukta from Central legislation and the appointment of the Director of Prosecution by the Central Vigilance Commission or CVC.
Changes in the CBI chief's appointment procedure are central to the recommendations of the select committee that examined the Lokpal bill after it was withdrawn at the last minute in Rajya Sabha are an important part of the panel's report.
The new draft also has extra protection for public servants giving them the right to present their view to the Lokpal. The Law Ministry believes that bureaucrats should not have the right to be heard first.
The Rajya Sabha select committee had said that the Lokpal could order a probe straight away. NGOs, except religious organisations, will come under the purview of the Lokpal.
Lokpal Bill in Budget session
"The Congress Party is in favour of passing the Lok Pal Bill in the ensuring session of Parliament. We have to take views of the other parties too as there are conflicting views on Lok Pal Bill and Lokayukt," party spokesperson PC Chacko told reporters here.
To a question that there was no crowd of supporters with Anna Hazare now, he said "crowd or no crowd what matters is whether argument is right or wrong." "We are not negative to suggestions raised by anyone.
congress is responding positively. Our President has also written a letter to Anna Hazare and the Government is open and the Government wants to pass the legislation. There is no ambiguity on that," Chacko said.
The bill has been passed by Lok Sabha amid opposition from some parties including the then UPA ally Trinamool Congress. However, it could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha.
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