Amendments to be introduced to Lokpal Bill in the RS on May 21 or 22

The government is expected to introduce a few amendments to the pending Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha either on Monday or Tuesday, when it is expected to be moved for consideration and passage. A key amendment pertains to de-linking of Lokayuktas from Lokpal. Regional parties are opposed to creation of Lokayukta as proposed by the government.

Another amendment seeks to modify the procedure for selection and removal of the Lokpal. Several Opposition parties had contended that the selection panel as envisaged in the bill ‘is loaded' in favour of the government. Under the amendment, Parliament alone would have the power to remove Lokpal.

Amendments approved

The Union Cabinet, which met here, is reported to have approved the amendments. Voting on the bill could not be held on the last day of the winter session of Parliament as the Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House amid pandemonium.

Opposition parties had charged the ruling party with running away from a vote in the House as did not have the numbers. Realising that the government could get the bill through in its current form, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held an all-party meeting on March 23 and set in motion the process for further consultations.

It is on the basis of these consultations that the government has agreed to make changes on some of the issues flagged by the Opposition parties. The amendments proposed by the government would help it ensure smooth passage of the Bill in the Upper House. Some of the contentious issues such as the jurisdiction of Lokpal over CBI remain.

Already passed in LS

The Bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha. If the Rajya Sabha approves the bill in its amended form, it would go back to the Lok Sabha. With the budget session of Parliament scheduled to end on May 22, the bill would have to wait till the monsoon session.

The Opposition wants the Central Bureau of Investigation be made autonomous but the government is opposed to the idea. Indications are that the government agreed with the opposition that the agency's Director should be appointed by a collegium to bring about transparency. On inclusion of NGOs within the ambit of Lokpal, the government might agree to the Opposition's suggestion that only government-funded NGOs be under it.

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