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Updated: December 29, 2011 15:23 IST

Lokpal Bill can lead to constitutional havoc: Jaitley

PTI
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Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley on Thursday said his party was for a strong and independent Lokpal but opposed a “weak and phoney” anti-graft ombudsman. File photo
Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley on Thursday said his party was for a strong and independent Lokpal but opposed a “weak and phoney” anti-graft ombudsman. File photo

The Opposition on Thursday slammed the Lokpal Bill saying it would lead to “constitutional havoc” as the Centre would be encouraged to “usurp” rights of states through the provision of setting up of Lokayuktas.

Initiating the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley also opposed minority quota in the Lokpal bench, inclusion of NGOs and keeping CBI out of the purview of the ombudsman.

“If you are creating history, let us not create bad history. We will be leaving a lot of task for the next generation to do,” he said.

He made it clear the BJP would not support the Bill in the present form. “Please accept amendments that the colleagues have moved,” he said.

Going clause-by-clause in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, Mr. Jaitley said the ombudsman was “designed to be vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Let us create an institution which is constitutionally possible.”

Referring to the provision on the setting up of Lokayuktas in the state, the BJP leader and noted lawyer said it would lead to creating “a grey area” by which the Centre can usurp powers of states. “Why are you creating a constitutional havoc? The government is trying to make constitutional cocktail,” he said.

Mr. Jaitley said the government wants to subvert an institution even before its creation. “You want to kill it in the womb,” he alleged.

“You wanted to create a phoney Lokpal and create a smokescreen that you are giving a constitutional status,” he said taking a jibe at the proposal that was included at the instance of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Jaitley said his party objected to three “absurd and unworkable” provisions of the bill.

With regard to CBI, Mr. Jaitely wanted it to be under the purview of Lokpal with a directorate of prosecution. “An effective Lokpal needs an effective investigating agency like the CBI. You are creating a Lokpal so that it becomes a rudderless institution,” he charged.

He also opposed inclusion of NGOs and trusts within the purview of Lokpal, saying it was “revenge provision” and would create a system which would be intrusive in the private life.

“I don’t think members of this House will support you on this,” the BJP leader said.

On the provision for quota of “at least” 50 per cent for minorities in the 9-member Lokpal bench, he said it was to designed to make the law “vulnerable to constitutional challenge”, as somebody could move court.

The government has majority in the 5-member panel that would appoint the Lokpal. And then the power to remove is vested with the Supreme Court, which can be approached by only the government.

“If Lokpal is biased in favour of the government, the beneficiary of the bias will decide if an appeal can be filed against the appointment,” he said.

Mr. Jaitley said his party was for a strong and independent Lokpal but opposed a “weak and phoney” anti-graft ombudsman.

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