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Select Committee report on Lokpal Bill likely in Rajya Sabha today

Press Trust of India
Nov 23, 2012 at 04:45am IST

New Delhi: The report of the Select Committee on Lokpal Bill, which has recommended delinking creation of Lokayuktas in states from the central bill, is scheduled to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

According to the revised list of business of Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley will table the report along with Shantaram Naik of Congress who is also the Chairman of the Department-related Standing Committee on Law and Personnel.

After its passage in the Lok Sabha in 2011, the bill faced opposition hurdles in the Rajya Sabha on various provisions, following which it was referred to the Select Committee. The panel, which was to submit its report during the monsoon session, adopted it on November 19.

Panel report on Lokpal Bill likely in RS today

After its passage in the Lok Sabha last year, the bill faced opposition hurdles in the Rajya Sabha on various provisions.

The Department of Personnel and Training, which piloted the bill, will have to approach the Union Cabinet on the recommendations made by the committee. Once the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha, it will travel back to the Lok Sabha for approval of the amended version.

Despite suggestions by the Law Ministry during depositions before the Committee suggesting 'insulation' to officials of the PMO, the Committee, headed by Satyavrat Chaturvedi, has not recommended any changes.

The Prime Minister, who is sought to be covered by the proposed law, is, however, exempted from the ambit of Lokpal on issues of external and internal security, atomic energy, international relations and public order. The Select Committee is learnt to have not recommended any change in the provision relating to "reservation". The original provision said 'not less than 50 per cent of the members of Lokpal would be from SC, ST, OBC, minorities and women.

The Committee's report said "these provisions merely aim at providing representation to the diverse sections of the society in the institution of Lokpal..."and only indicates "the quantum of representation and not reservation".

BJP has strong reservations about the provision and is understood to have given a "suggestion note" opposing reservation in the measure. There was a strong view in the Committee that such a provision does not have a constitutional basis. However, considering the Articles in the Constitution that provide for reservation, the Committee said the provisions in the bill merely aim at providing representation to diverse sections of society in the institution of Lokpal and the rules of reservation are not involved in this case.

"Accordingly, the Committee does not not recommend any change in the proviso to Clause 3(2)(b)...," the report said. While delinking the creation of Lokayuktas at the national and state levels, the panel has said state governments will have to set up their own ombudsman through enactment of law by state legislatures within one year of of this law going into force. The Committee's recommendation is seen as a major concession to opposition parties and UPA allies which had termed the original provision as an attack on the federal structure saying state governments should be free to enact their own law regarding state-level ombudsman.

Partially accepting suggestions made by parties like BJP and JD(U) on making CBI independent of government control, the Select Committee is learnt to have recommended that its chief be appointed by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

It also recommended that CBI should have a separate Directorate of Prosecution under a Director who should function under the agency chief. It said the Director of Prosecution should be appointed by the CVC.

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