Parliament passes Lokpal bill

New Delhi, Dec 18 : Parliament Wednesday passed the Lokpal bill that provides for formation of an anti-graft ombudsman.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011, was passed Wednesday amid din in the Lok Sabha after amendments to the legislation were adopted by the Rajya Sabha Tuesday.

Opposing the bill, the Samajwadi Party members walked out in protest as they did in the upper house Tuesday.

Urging Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to withdraw the bill, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav said: "The bill is dangerous. There will be chaos in the country."

The most prominent of a clutch of anti-graft legislations 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 first 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. Following the amendments, the Rajya Sabha passed the bill Tuesday.

After the Lok Sabha reassembled at 12 noon Wednesday after an hour's adjournment, Law Minister Kapil Sibal moved the bill as amended by the Rajya Sabha to be taken up for consideration by the Lok Sabha.

Opening the debate from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the government should not make any attempts to take credit for the passage of the bill.

"If at all anybody should be given credit for the bill, it is the old man who has been fasting (Anna Hazare)."

Swaraj said her party had opposed the earlier Lokpal bill as it was a weak legislation, but she said she was happy that the Rajya Sabha - where the opposition is in majority - amended it suitably.

She accused the government of delaying the bill despite the select committee of the Rajya Sabha having cleared it a year back.

From the treasury benches, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi urged all parties to pass the bill. "We have the chance to make history."

"Lokpal bill alone is not enough to fight corruption. What we need is a comprehensive anti-corruption code. The UPA government has prepared an anti-corruption framework. Eight new central laws have been brought...we should complete the unfinished work of fighting corruption...six anti-corruption bills are pending. If necessary, can we not extend this session of parliament?" Gandhi said.

Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav supported the bill but expressed apprehension that it would stall development in the country.

Bahujan Samaj Party leader Dara Singh Chauhan also supported the bill but said there were enough laws to deal with corruption in the country. "What we need is a clear intent and not a strong law".

Mulayam Singh Yadav said: "This is a dangerous bill. It will lead to anarchy. You must withdraw it."

The Samajwadi Party chief also appealed to BJP veteran L.K Advani and asked him why the BJP supported the bill. "You must think will be a blot on the nation," he said.

He accused both the Congress and the BJP of joining hands to pass a bill which "would take the country 10 years back".

"The BJP is supporting the Congress. Are these two parties only clean and the rest are not?" he said.

--IANS (Posted on 18-12-2013)

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