Rajya Sabha passes Lokpal bill

New Delhi, Dec 17 : The Rajya Sabha Tuesday passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, which provides for creation of an anti-corruption ombudsman.

The most prominent of the group of anti-graft bills on the anvil, the Lokpal bill seeks to establish a Lokpal at the central level and asks states to establish Lokayuktas within a year's time from the date of notification of the law. The format of the Lokayukta will be left to the state assemblies to decide.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha at the fag end of the winter session of 2011, but not by the Rajya Sabha, where it was debated but the house was adjourned before voting on it.

A select committee of the Rajya Sabha later suggested changes in the bill which were incorporated and approved by the union cabinet.

Now the bill will again have to be sent again to the Lok Sabha for the lower house to approve the changes.

Replying to the debate on the bill, Law Minister Kapil Sibal called it a historic moment, but stressed that corruption could not be removed by the Lokpal alone.

"Law alone will not lead to elimination of corruption. Law will help deal with those who are corrupt, but it will not deal with the impetus to be corrupt. It will just be a deterrent," he said.

He also said that the government will also deal with the "supply side" of corruption, as pointed out by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), saying a bill amending Prevention of Corruption Act, pending with the Lok Sabha, provides for dealing with the source of bribe.

According to the bill passed Tuesday, the Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50 percent shall be judicial members. Fifty percent of the members of Lokpal shall be from amongst Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities and women.

After the bill was passed, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath thanked all parties for ensuring smooth passage of the bill in the upper house of parliament.

"Today is a historic day. I thank the parties for ensuring its smooth passage in Rajya Sabha. It was the need of the hour to address the growing lack of confidence in politics," he said.

Sibal, talking to reporters after the bill was passed, said it was a good bill, but it is to be seen how well it works.

Earlier, debating the bill, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said parliament should pass "an effective Lokpal" bill which meets expectations of people.

This comes even as Anna Hazare's fast demanding passage of the bill entered its eighth day Tuesday.

His supporter, former Delhi Police officer Kiran Bedi tweeted earlier in the day that he was keeping a close watch on the debate in parliament.

The bill will now be taken up in the Lok Sabha Wednesday.

--IANS (Posted on 17-12-2013)

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