Thursday, 08 November 2012 10:12



The Lokpal Bill is likely to be introduced in Rajya Sabha on November 29, according to a highly-placed source.

The Congress Party's confident manner towards the approaching winter session indicates the party's decision to use the bill as a political weapon to ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party refrains from disrupting Parliament sessions.
The Lokpal draft bill is expected to be approved on November 9 by the Joint Select Committee of Parliament headed by Satyavrat Chaturvedi.

In a related development, new Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has started holding meetings with Union ministers and leaders of opposition parties to discuss the Lokpal Bill.

The Lokpal Bill may be finally passed in the winter session, said the source.

All contentious issues -- like the appointment/removal of Lokpals or the creation of an independent investigation agency/wing to probe charges of corruption -- seem to have been resolved. The Joint Select Committee of the Parliament has almost succeeded in evolving a consensus on the final draft of the Lokpal Bill.

Senior leaders of all political parties have been burning the midnight oil to pass the Lokpal Bill, as they sense the increasingly restless and intolerant mood of the nation due to extreme levels of corruption. Committee chairman Satyavrat Chaturvedi has already held several informal parleys with BJP leader Arun Jaitley, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Mishra, Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Dr V Maitreyan, among others.

The Lokpal Bill couldn't be passed in Rajya Sabha after 190 amendments were moved in by Members of Parliament, forcing the formation of a Joint Select Committee.

It has been agreed that the collegiums that will select the Lokpal will comprise the prime minister, the chief justice, leaders of the opposition in the two Houses, the Lok Sabha speaker and the Rajya Sabha chairman. Once appointed, the Lokpal will be an independent body like the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Chief Election Commissioner.

While the BJP is still insistent on the Central Bureau of Investigation being put under the purview of the Lokpal in corruption related cases, others want a separate wing/agency under the Lokpal without touching the CBI's existing structure. Though BJP continues to have some reservations on the issue, those are likely to be addressed and resolved in Friday's meeting.

All NGOs -- funded by the government as well as foreign organisations -- will fall under the ambit of the Lokpal. The final bill will also drop the reference to Lokayuktas which might have encroached upon the powers of the states.

The Lokpal will be empowered "to take immediate action, which may include raid/seizure of incriminating documents immediately after it receives a complaint, without getting into technicalities of seeking comments of those against whom complaints have been received wherever necessary by the entire collegiums of the Lokpal."

Officials of the Prime Minister's Office who handle issues of national security -- both internal and external -- will be kept out of the purview of the Lokpal Bill.

A member of the Joint Select Committee said the members had reached almost "90 per cent unanimity."
Jaitley echoed similar sentiments, adding that although a few irritants persisted, they would be overcome shortly.

(Another feather in the cap of Lok Satta Party as they were one of the parties invited to submit their views/suggestions/comments by the Rajya Sabha Select committee)