Bowing to the demand of the Opposition parties who charged the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government with trying to disturb the federal structure and encroach upon the powers of the State governments, the Lokpal and the Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was amended in the Lok Sabha to allow the States to have their say in notifying the Lokayuktas.
Yet another amendment relates to applicability of the provisions of the anti-graft legislation to a State which has given its prior consent.
The government agreed to bring in as many as 16 amendments, some of them technical and minor in nature, in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the House intensely debated and passed the historic Lokpal Bill which seeks to establish a national ombudsman to curb corruption in the country. In all a dozen members had given notices to move 88 amendments, including those brought in by Minister of State for Personnel and Public Grievances V. Narayanasamy.
Notice for most number of amendments, as many as 20, was given by the CPI(M) leader Basudev Acharia. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta who had given notice for four amendments did not press for them as those relating to the Lokayuktas were adopted by the government. Similarly, RJD leader Lalu Prasad who had given notice for an amendment to keep the officers of the armed forces out of the purview of the Lokpal also did not press for it as the government had incorporated it.
Under an amendment adopted by the Lok Sabha to the Lokpal Bill, the consent of States will be necessary before setting up of the Lokayuktas. This was one of the key amendments moved by the government in the wake of protests by the Opposition parties and the Congress allies in the UPA which were of the view that the powers of the States were being encroached upon by the original provision.
Inclusion of PM
On the jurisdiction of the Lokpal to include the Prime Minister under its ambit, another amendment changed the requirement of three-fourth of the members of the Lokpal to agree to such an inquiry against the Prime Minister to two-thirds.
Among other amendments adopted by the Lok Sabha was the exemption given to the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard from the Lokpal.
An important amendment was to do away with Section 24 of the Bill which required presiding officers of legislatures to report to the Lokpal the Action Taken Reports compiled against their members. The provision was deleted through an amendment brought in by the government.