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Updated: December 23, 2011 10:17 IST

Lokpal Bill tabled amid protests

Vinay Kumar
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A TV grab of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaking in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
A TV grab of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaking in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Amidst objections from the Opposition, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was finally tabled in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with House leader Pranab Mukherjee appealing to members to allow the historic draft to be introduced as the first step towards collectively discussing, amending or changing it.

The draft and a parallel constitutional Amendment Bill introduced at the same time propose to create an anti-graft ombudsman with constitutional status whose ambit will include looking at complaints of corruption against all government employees, including the Prime Minister, though with some carve-outs.

The Lokpal, as proposed by the new draft, differs from the one envisaged by the government's previous Bill on the subject, which was simultaneously withdrawn on Thursday. The new Bill's salient points include:

* The Lokpal's writ will extend to the Prime Minister (with some exclusions), Ministers, current and former MPs (except in respect of what they say or how they vote in the House), and group A, B, C, and D officers and officials of the Central government.

* Fifty per cent of the members of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas shall be from amongst SCs/STs, OBCs and women. “Minorities” was added to this quota in the corrigenda circulated to MPs shortly before the introduction.

* NGOs and institutions receiving donations of more than Rs. 10 lakhs per annum from foreign sources will also be covered.

* Lokpal to have constitutional status and be accountable to Parliament

Though some of the suggestions made by social activist Anna Hazare and his supporters find reflection in the new draft, the UPA government's Lokpal continues to differ on several key points from Team Anna's version:

* Government nominees have a majority of one on the selection committee, which will choose the Lokpal's chairperson and eight members

* The CBI will continue to remain under the administrative control of the government and not the Lokpal.

* The judiciary and the citizens' charter are not part of the Lokpal but will be covered by other laws

“Undue haste”

When the Bill was being introduced, some MPs criticised the “undue haste” shown. Some parties asserted the supremacy of Parliament and urged the UPA government not to “succumb” to threats of agitation.

Mr. Mukherjee rejected the allegation that the government was acting “under duress.” He said it was up to MPs to debate each and every clause and then decide the fate of the Bill. An institution like the Lokpal to deal with corruption in high places had been under discussion in the government since April and the views of various political parties were taken on August 27. “Where is the question of [the government] acting under duress,” he asked.

Rejecting the BJP's charge that the Bill was “constitutionally untenable,” Mr. Mukherjee said, “let [the] judiciary decide'' if it was so. Hitting out at the Opposition, he said that such an important piece of legislation was not decided by sitting on a “dharna manch” or on the streets.

Several parties, including the main Opposition BJP and the Shiv Sena, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the AIADMK opposed introduction of the Bill in the current form. The RJD, the SP and the AIADMK were also opposed to bringing the Prime Minister within the purview of the Lokpal which, they contended, would not be “accountable” to anyone. They were also vociferous in their opposition to a provision which made it mandatory for States to set up Lokayuktas, contending it was an infringement on the “federal structure” and encroachment on the powers of a State government.

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What a scene these politicians are creating over the years from months back.Why these people need reservations for 8-9 members of Lokpal ,CBI should be under their control are all the demands which aim to weaken the concepts of Lokpal. I urge to team Anna that don't fed up with these bad politics,we are there with you.

from:  Alisha
Posted on: Dec 25, 2011 at 12:20 IST

Congress Party Leader now saying that the tabled Lokpal Bill is very good , not a single Congress MP will allow a single good amendment!... We may, therefore, get the Government Lokpal Bill without any amendment or NO Bill.

from:  Pravinchandra Tailor
Posted on: Dec 25, 2011 at 10:59 IST

I dont think that it is a proud day for India. Why have we come to this position, to create some kind of draconian measure to fight corruption? It is in some ways, creating a kind of communistic government, which could have been avoided, if everybody had just followed the laws and rules of the land. The lack of following simple things like, coming on time for work, not charging excess fare, refusing to pay a bribe, have brought us this far. I only pray we get a good Lokpal, but one that would follow democratic norms. Like the old saying goes (approximately) " in trying to fight monsters, one should not become a monster oneself".

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Dec 24, 2011 at 00:33 IST

The tabling of the bill is a welcome step but the Govt did so only
under pressure from civil society; it has been forced to bow before
public sentiments specially as elections in some States are round the
corner. Congress cannot deny this fact. All activities preceding the
introduction of the bill has confirmed another fact that our PM is an
inept leader & he had to rely on Sonia Gandhi to take upon/counter
Team Anna & the opposition. While watching the meaningless lengthy
speech by RJD leader in LS was monotonous when he have an impression
he was for CBI under Govt control, it was comic to listen to his
interviews over tv channels wherein he, unhesitatingly, pitched for
CBI's autonomy. When congressmen & its allies talk of Parliament's
supremacy to make laws etc., it is pathetic that we elect persons who
do not know what they talk & are not clear what are their exact views
on matters. They forget that Parliament is superior than these
individuals who do not have any conviction.

from:  SR Sankaran
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 19:44 IST

It is great to see the pinch that felt by the parliamentarians They themselves have felt that somebody is questioning their integrity. Hats off to 'India Against Corruption'. Let us hope this will bring some sense of responsibility to these gentlemen who otherwise make the institution a market place. The virtual disruption of parliament sittings, whatever be the sanity they may attempt to give (irrespective of ruling/opposition groups), pinches the common men in India and makes them to think 'is it for this circus we spent crores and crores of rupees and used our voting right?'. And this forces him to listen to Anna Hazares and come to the road to protest. Sirs, Anna, I don't think, projects himself as the 'second father of nation' or he is trying to become, but you all are giving a room for him to become. Had you all shown THE GREAT SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY AS PARLIAMENTARIANS, there would not have been such a situation! Hope good sense will prevail

from:  M K Narayanan
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 15:44 IST

"lokpal", is the most burning issue in the country, even it has hide the joyous of Chritmas. Each political party want to wash its hands for political campaign in the coming election, in any manner. As most of groundwork related to drafting the regulations for LOkpal has been done, political maesteros are only left with issues such as reservation, compensation etc. It can't be resolved as it has now become pride of communities or religion. Any party, who will opt to withdraw from reservation, is bound to suffer political losses. No one can do anything about it now.

from:  Rahul Sharma
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 13:10 IST

The Government has tabled the Lokpal Bill with many loopholes and defects. It appears that those who parented the bill secretely wish that it is not carried through and is defeated in the parliament!

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 13:02 IST

What happened in parliament yesterday leaves a lot to be desired. You had the speaker giving 25 minutes time to speak for the most corrupt politician Lalu. He opposed Anna and it is nothing surprising. If a strong lok pal bill comes, corrupt people like him cannot survive. For rest of the speakers there was hardly any time allowed. Yashwant Sinha was right in pointing out. As mentioned by Arun Jaitely some time back this government has ministers with full of arrogance. Shameful to have minority quota in this bill. Congress will never change. God only can save India from them.

from:  R. Venkataraman
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 12:54 IST

2 things: 1) It is good to have reservation in Lokpal as the lower caste people are still the weakest, most illiterate and unable to get their dues unlike the other classes. I support reservation in such institutions untill we have a society where people of higher castes do not have objections on lower caste people, during marriages, in jobs, in education and in everywhere. Basically the mentality has to change for which we all should support the weaker sections of the society through reservation.
2) Opposition parties shamelessly sat with Anna during his recent 1 day fast and now oppose it basically on one main thing - it is the Lokayukta. Is it good for central govt to be questioned for irregularities and not the state? We as citizens face corruption 90% with state govt authorities/agencies and only in a few cases we need to face central authorities. People should think about the ugly face of opposition... BJP/ADMK/.......

from:  James
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 12:50 IST

There are likely high chances of weaker persons who rely upon others for all their decisions will be selected for the Lokpal committee. Finally, lokpal becomes a doll like any other bill in the hands of politicians.

from:  Pranav
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 12:20 IST

reservation in anti-corruption bill is not good sign of gov. intention. why are they trying to include one more hindrance in it rather than discussing at its important issues.

from:  vinay
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 12:14 IST

The purpose of reservation is to improve the quality of living of depressed classes which have not got chance to improve, and now cannot compete with rest of the society. It is in accordance with the principle of equity.But one wonders how Lokpal is going to serve this purpose, is it a college or job that would improve living conditions of marginalized classes in the long run ? Impeccable record integrity and not the caste should be criterion of members of Lokpal.

from:  Brijesh Rajak
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 12:01 IST

I feel depressed seeing that Congress and its Ministers are hell bent on
destroying what little is left of the country. They will make sure
reservation is part of the bill. They make every attempt to reduce the
bill to a bare minimum.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 11:22 IST

Provision for reservation based on caste is really a shamefull act from the government. Since it is proposed to be a constitutional body, what is the importance of cast?. The political parties those who believe in the secularism of the nation shall ensure that this provision is removed when the bill is enacted. That is the wish of each and evry citizen.

from:  madhusuthan
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 10:52 IST

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from:  shantanu chouhan
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 10:34 IST

Congress is sure that they will lose next election but it seems from their
desperate resistance to 'strong lokpal' that they fear much more about their
sinned leaders going to jail if such a lokpal is passed in its objective
form. Any party or political alliance become successful in the next election
is a less concerned issue to congress because they will be the other side of
the same coin in our political tradition. This is the reason for
inevitability of a strong lokpal, it has no substitute. Whatever be the short
coming and inherent existence of danger in it, it is that issue to be mooted
and resolved not abandoning the only available solution. All propaganda
against Anna are attempts to dodge away from the main issue by the desperate
politicians disturbed by nightmare of jail

from:  Pothan Chandran
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 10:32 IST

Now that the bill has been introduced in the House let the members debate and decide on this. I appeal to Team ANNA to allow Parliament to deal with this. I am sure the Parliamentarians are sane enough to understand the feeling of the people and give the Nation a strong and effective Lokpal. And I would love to see Team Anna members fight the next elections and bring a change to the functioning of our Parliamentary democracy.

from:  Subir Poddar
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 10:32 IST

//The 'handpicked' persons will be eternally 'grateful'to the masters//; any apex authority without commitment to report to people of India, may resort to political machinations against elected Govt., paving way for fundamendalist dictatorship. All those for free democracy shall oppose such empowerment. Parliments supremacy to be ensured. Otherwise , we have to live with ayothya like verdicts and hindutva groups upperhand over elected representatives of common people! Reservation to all sections are must, otherwise monopoly occupation by upper castes can not be controlled.

from:  Ajaathasathru
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 10:07 IST

Good to see that the parliament has begun to seriously discuss the
pros and cons of the provisions of a bill before it. (In recent
times the practice has been generally to dispose of all legislative
business of a session towards the very end of the session after it is
much truncated by pointless stalling or irrelevant grandiloquence.)
The deliberation in parliament yesterday,though, seems to throw up
consensus among political parties on only two things: one, that
corruption is an important issue and two, that the Lokpal bill before
parliament is certainly not the right way to go about tackling it. The
bill needs to be discussed thoroughly and meaningfully,specially in
view of the widespread perception that it has been drafted and
introduced under pressure.

from:  M.H.Rao
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 09:59 IST

At the outset,Our existing State and Central politicians do not want to set up the equal Institutional body to monitor their daily job. As Requested by Hazara , If CBI goes under the control of Lokayukta , It would be really strong and would restrain the scam,scandal and corruption in India. The state parties like ADMK, SP, Bahujan Samzwadi are very strong in their state polital era. They will deliberately refuse to implement at state level as it would act as monitoing work on them.I am in accord with Anna's all proposals. If we dont bring the strong body , It will continue to deteriorating the corruption in India.

from:  Vijayasankar R
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 09:57 IST

Reservation for SC, ST, OBC, women and minorities in Lokpal committee is a right step in the side of government because, when we talk about corruption, the mejority of victims. We have been reading in news papers that people from rural and tribal areas has to suffer a lot by the irresponsibility and unlawful actions of government functionaries.If such kind of step has not been taken by the government, again Lokpal commitee woul be a group of well to do and members of upper caste. So in all aspect reservation is a right step in Lokpal commitee also.

from:  Rajeevan.A.K
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 09:40 IST

The parliamentarians have double standards. They are trying to create hurdles by bringing in issues like reservation and minorities and quota for women, something thay have been opposing tooth and nail when it comes to reservation for seats in parliament.The more they act like this the more people will stop trusting them.It is high time we start boycotting them and make them do what is truly in the peoples' interest

from:  krishnan
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 08:39 IST

I think a discussion must begin and the small regional parties need to
be shown their place by the big 2/3 by developing a consensus in passing
the bill. Team Anna can be brought on board if CBI 's control is made
more transparant and govt influence is significantly reduced.

from:  Ajay
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 08:03 IST

The bill is a feeble attempt to pacify the public outraged by excessive corruption. But it will achieve little in practice. The CBI is still under government control and there is no time limit prescribed for completion of investigations that could drag on for decades. The opposition to Lokayuktas by regional parties is even more laughable. But it is not surprising since the
regional parties opposing this provision have been accused of massive coruption in the past.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 07:50 IST

The government has ensured that every political party has a reason to oppose the bill. This bill will meet the same fate as the reservation for women in legislative bodies. It is good as dead. Long live democracy.

from:  Philip Dhinakar
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 07:42 IST

reservation is needed. otherwise the body would become a citadel of
higher caste persons which would not augur well for a democratic

from:  R Venkatachalam
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 07:24 IST

This lokpal bill will flop. What is the need for reservation in lokpal ? The best and honest should be in it, be they of any caste, religion or creed.Let it be 100% from the reserved class if there are people who can be its members. Also, can lokhpal be a super body that will control all in India ? Who will watch the corruption in this Lokhpal knowing well that there are not so many saints to occupy the Lokhpal . Anna's dream will go sour soon.

from:  P.Tauro
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 07:19 IST

Reservation for minorities in the Lok Pal Bill is unconstitutional - It is a deliberate attempt by the UPA, to have the Bill struck down by the Supreme Court later on.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 06:47 IST

Govt aided by Lalu have once again diluted and tried to maintain status quo by making a toothless Lokpal under the investigation by the Govt owned CBI. Congress still refuses to listen to the people and wants poeple to go by what suits their family party No naming the black money holders nor action against party's ministers who were involved in 2G scam. UPA 2 so far seems to be the worst government, India ever had this despite MMS. God (Anna) save India.

from:  Sendhil
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 06:44 IST

Govt and politicians' intentions behind their so called strong lokpal are very clear, they do not want a strong lokpal, don't want to give powers over CBI, playing minority card like they do in every elections. One thing for sure Indian politicians do not want to see a strong corruption free society and its just not about corruptions, it's about where our democracy is heading to. Feel ashamed to be a part of such a ridiculous democracy VERY ASHAMED.

from:  varun sharma
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 06:28 IST

I simply don't understand the point of 50% people should be from SC/ST and Womens etc. This is not like education or employment sector. This should be purely on merit and merit only. If we have these restrictions to start with I don;t think it will function efficiently. The whole pupose is to catch the corrupt people from all walks of life whether a Hindu or minority.

from:  b ravindran
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 04:08 IST

The government is keen to garner political mileage out of such a milestone issue, by pushing needless reservation and quota into the committee. Also, this seems more like a move to add a point to their "achievements" by saying that they brought the "lokpal"in the house. This lokpal is more of a toothless tiger.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 03:28 IST

So once getting elected by people, these MPs start thinking that they are above the Indian public. They should realise that they are hired by people for five years as their servants. So the MPs are public servants, not masters. It is a privilege that we give them to represent them. They should NOT take this privilege as their divine right.

from:  gurbally seth
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 03:27 IST

Dear Annaji don’t become fed up and left this all to people fate, I am back word community man but I don’t support reservation on this 5 or 9 members of janlokpal team, this is not a college admission so whether from any back ground ombudsman members should be good for it. The existing MPs don’t like to allow the people’s will on this issue, because they didn’t experience this, you start the motivation in this matter so people vigilant, keep the motivation up on them up to the next election, people believe on your good will so fundraising may not be a matter, allow socially committed MPs to join in your team, now scan each constituency for good social workers, you and your team come forward to lead our nation at least convinced in parliament there is another agent to watch and catch them. Then that will be a new era of our nation.

from:  Rajeev
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 02:53 IST

Lokpal in itself cannot and will not eliminate corruption. It is the will of the people at the grass roots level who will eradicate corruption. What we see in TV screens is a serial drama being played out day in and day out with the help of the TV channels. We are being bombarded with spin to show this or that bill is good for people. It is high time Anna should cease his crusade and let the parlimentarians battle with thier conscince to bring into rule a law which will tackle the scourge of corruption.

from:  snaqeeb
Posted on: Dec 23, 2011 at 02:49 IST

Why do we need reservations here? Government is just trying to ensure that Lokpal is under its strict control and make and break anything as they are doing currently with the CBI and other judicial institutions. This is bad.

from:  Pankaj
Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 at 23:49 IST

It is too obvious - which politician would want Lokpal? Only a revolution can fix this problem. Parliamentarians think that they are the sole authority on the law. They simply forgot their filial responsibility to the constituency that sent them to Delhi.

from:  Kasimani Baskaran
Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 at 23:39 IST

The very fact that the Fifty percent reservation clause for “Minorities” SCs/STs, OBCs and women is added to Lock Pall Bill in the corrigenda shortly before it is circulated to MPs at the time of the introduction of the bill in the parliament, reflects that it is done under duress and haste. Mr. Mukherjee’s rejecting this allegation stands exposed as face saving statement.

from:  Prem Anand
Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 at 23:04 IST

If the govt nominees are in majority in the selection committee,we can
easily imagine the situation.The 'handpicked' persons will be eternally
'grateful'to the masters.Such a Lokpal will be no better than the CBI as
it is now functioning.It will be one more tool in the hands of the
ruling coterie to decimate the opposition.Democracy and country's
integrity are in real danger.

from:  S.Srinivasan
Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 at 22:36 IST

the Lokpal is supposed to be an anticorruption body, its not something dealing with education or jobs, then what is the need for reservation for such a body with a commitee of only nine members.the people of india are not divided by caste or religion, but by pulling reservation into lokpal ,the government is doing its best to create a sense of separation between communities.they are certain that the BJP will protest against this and the lokpal will be further delayed. shameful to see the government scheming against the same people who voted them to power.

from:  vishrut sharma
Posted on: Dec 22, 2011 at 22:22 IST
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