Under attack from Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad and other parties, the government on Thursday decided to bring back the provision of reservation for minorities in the Lokpal Bill.
The decision to include the provision for inclusion of candidates from minorities in the Lokpal Bench and in the Search Committee came at a meeting of the Congress Core Group chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior Ministers.
The Core Group meeting came after Mr. Prasad raked up the issue of dropping of the provision for minorities from the original proposal that was contained in the Cabinet note during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha.
He accused the Congress and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party combine of having conspired to exclude the minorities after having orignally provided for it.
Several other small parties, including the Samajwadi Party, the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and the Lok Janshakti Party also supported the demand for inclusion of minorities.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned following an uproar and the interregnum was used by the Congress and government in restoring the provision.
Congress sources said that the provision for minorities was dropped last night after a BJP delegation led by L.K. Advani told Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee that the provision could encounter legal problems because Constitution does not provide for quota for minorities.
The government has dropped the term ’minorities’ from new Lokpal Bill with regard to 50 per cent quota in the Lokpal Bench and the Search Committee while opting against splitting CBI’s prosecution and investigation wings.
In the revised 64-page Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, it is proposed that 50 per cent of members of Lokpal and Lokayuktas shall be from among SC, ST, OBC and women but skipped any mention of minorities.
Similar reservation is being provided in the Search Committee of the Lokpal.
In the Bill circulated on Thursday to MPs, it has been proposed that the CBI director will be selected by a three-member committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him.
The changes in the appointment process will be made by amending the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, according to the Bill which has kept CBI out of the Lokpal’s full control.
However, Lokpal will have provision for superintendence over CBI in corruption cases referred by it to the investigation agency.
The Lokpal brings Prime Minister under its purview with certain safeguards like excluding issues relating to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
The Chairperson and members of the Lokpal will be selected by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist nominated by the President of India.
In the case of Lokayuktas, the selection committee will have the Chief Minister, Speaker of assembly, Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice or Judge of the High Court and an eminent jurist nominated by the Governor.