Lokpal Bill demonstrates Govt. commitment in bringing transparency, says Tewari

New Delhi, Dec. 18, : Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Wednesday said the passing of the Lokpal Bill demonstrates the commitment of the UPA Government to bring in transparency in administration.

"I think that the journey which started with the passing of Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2005, has taken a step forward after the passing of Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill today," Tewari said.

"The larger question is that it demonstrates the commitment and conviction of the UPA Government to bring in transparency in the administration. Over the past 3 years, we have endeavored and have been steadfast in our commitment to try and see that this particular bill is enacted into a law. Finally it has been cleared by both the houses of parliament," he added.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, "I think as the main opposition in Parliament, the BJP has played an important role in the passing of this anti graft bill, which also covers the Prime Minister."

"In this environment against corruption in India, all political parties have contributed prominently," he added.

Samajwadi Party (SP) who was staunchly opposing the Lokpal Bill said there would be a state of indecision in the country after the bill becomes law.

Party leader Ramgopal Yadav said, "Corruption will increase and no work will be done. People will not sign any document fearing investigation. There will be a state of indecision in this country."

"After the Bofors scam, India haven't got any new artillery weapon. The ongoing defence deals are delayed because the governement has refused to sign the files. This is the state of affairs," he added.

"Everybody was more concerned about votes but we are concerned about the people," he said.

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, paving the way for 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 debate 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 Lokayukta 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 Ralegan 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% 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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