Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday strongly defended the supremacy of the parliament in enacting laws even as he firmly rejected the demands from the civil rights activists and some opposition parties to bring the CBI under the administrative control of the Lokpal.
Intervening in the debate on the Lokpal and Lokayukktas Bill 2011 in the Lok Sabha, he said the CBI could not be brought under the Lokpal as that would create an executive structure outside the Parliament which was "accountable to none". It would be an "anathema to sound constitutional principles". The present Lokpal Bill contained a judicious blend of functional autonomy and accountability of the CBI.
"I am sure that the wisdom of this House will rise to support my Governmentâ€™s proposal as reflected in this Bill".
He stated that no entity should be created inconsistent with the constitutional framework and charged with onerous executive responsibilities without any accountability. In the ultimate analysis, all institutions within the framework of the Constitution were accountable to the Parliament and the Parliament alone. "In our enthusiasm to enact this law we must not falter. I believe that the CBI should function independently of the Lokpal. I also believe that the CBI should function independently of the Government. But independence does not mean absence of accountability. We have, therefore, proposed a process of appointment of the CBI Director which involves the PM, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. None should have doubts about the integrity of this process".
Dr. Singh said the decision to approve the Bill must rest with the Parliament. Members must rise to the occasion and look beyond politics while passing the law. His government would not end the fight against corruption with the passing of the legislation.
The discussion on the Lokpal Bill was one of the very special moments in the life of the nation. "The nation awaits with bated breath how the collective wisdom of this House will be reflected in the vote at the end of the debate (on the bill)."
The broad provision of the Bill had been vigorously debated both in the public domain and by the political parties and he believed that the Bill lived up to the promise that MPs had collectively made to the people by way of the sense of the House at the end of the debate on 27th August, 2011.
"The task of legislation is a very serious business and must eventually be performed by all of us who have been constitutionally assigned this duty. Others can persuade and have their voices heard. But the decision must rest with us. At the same time we must keep in mind the fact that corruption and its consequences eat into the body politics, we have seen public anger," he said.
On reservation expressed by some members that the Centre should not infringe on the State government's rights to enact Lokayukktas, Dr. singh said: "We must embrace a holistic approach in our fight against corruption. Our laws must be all pervasive if we are genuine in our endeavour. Legal sophistry cannot be used to argue that State Legislatures must not adopt the model law proposed or delay its enforcement".
"Corruption is corruption whether in the Union or in the States. It has no legislative colour. I urge leaders of all parties to rise above partisan politics to demonstrate to the people of India that this House means business in its effort to combat corruption".
Recalling the 'sense of House' (resolution) adopted by the members on Lokayukktas too, the PM warned it would be a "breach of the promise" made by this House to the nation if the 'mechanism of the Lokayuktas' is not provided simultaneously by taking recourse to legal arguments. The House should not "derail" its own 'sense of the House' promise.
The real problem of corruption, he said â€œlies in the domain of State Governmentsâ€ where the "aam aadmi feels the pinch of petty corruption on a daily basis". It was for this reason that Group C and Group D employees had been brought within the ambit of Lokayuktas in the States.
"Federalism cannot be an impediment in the war against corruption," he reminded.