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Glad all parties stood together for passing Lokpal Bill: Sibal

New Delhi, Dec. 18, : Union Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill is a historic moment for the country and added that a message has been sent to the people that the government is with them in the fight against corruption.


"I think this is a very historic moment and the most important thing is we all stood together to give a message to the public and civil society that we are listening to all of you. We are sensitive to their concerns and we thank them for bringing them to our notice. We have responded positively to and have sent a message across to the country that we are with people in the fight against the corruption," Sibal told media here.

Responding to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's call for a proper framework to fight corruption, Sibal said, "The UPA Government has already given a larger framework in the form of various legislations that were brought. Starting with the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and after this, many legislations are still pending in Parliament. We must remember that Rajiv Gandhi started the fight against corruption in 1988, when the Prevent of Corruption Act was passed."

"We must thank all political parties for their support in the context of the Lokpal Bill. We should also thank the Samajwadi Party (SP) for putting forward their views, and, walking out of the house, rather than disturbing it," Sibal said.

"Sushma very cleverly sought to give credit for the bill to her party by saying that they rejected the original bill, and at the same time, gave credit to Anna Hazare. So, she is a very clever parliamentarian and all credit to her. The fact of the matter is we all participated in the process. I am happy that the BJP and other parties supported the government on this matter," Sibal added.

Earlier this morning, the Lok Sabha had passed the amended version of the Lokpal Bill by a voice vote after the Samajwadi Party opted to walk out of the House in protest over its passage.

On Tuesday, the Rajya Sabha had passed the Lokpal Bill, thus paving the way for the setting up of an ombudsman to battle corruption in the government and among public servants.

The discussion and debate of the Bill lasted for about two hours in the Lok Sabha. It was preceded by a nearly five-hour-long our-hour debate and discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Tuesday's debate took place in an atmosphere of rare political consensus.

Replying to five-hour long debate, Law Minister, Kapil Sibal urged the states to take up this bill as a model and pass the Lokayuktas Bill as early as possible. He said the Lokpal is supposed to investigate cases of corruption against elected representatives of the public and the public servants.

Earlier, initiating the discussion on the Bill, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said that his party is supporting the bill. Jaitley pointed out that there should not be religion-based reservations in the institution of the proposed Lokpal.

In Ralegaon Siddhi, anti-corruption crusader and social activist Anna Hazare welcomed the news of the passing of the Lokpal Bill in both Houses of Parliament, and said he would end his fast of nine-days.

Hazare thanked all political parties for ensuring the passage of the Lokpal Bill.

The government has agreed to incorporate a key amendment demanded by the opposition BJP, which allows searches or raids by the CBI or police on an officer accused of corruption without notice.

The proposed anti-graft law provides for a Lokpal or national ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries.

The Lok Sabha had passed the Lokpal Bill in 2011 to create a Central Lokayukta.

Transparency's landmark 2005 study of corruption in India found that as many as 62 percent of all citizens have had first-hand experience in paying bribes or using influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices.

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

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