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Lokpal panel plans report during winter session

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NEW DELHI: The parliamentary standing committee on law and justice examining the Lokpal issue plans to submit its recommendations to parliament during the month-long winter session that begins Nov 22.

Sources said that members cutting across parties are “concerned over the issue and want the panel to submit its recommendations to parliament during the winter session”.

“Everybody is for a strong Lokpal. I hope we will be able to submit our report in time,” a standing committee member told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The sense of timing in the panel, headed by Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, stems from the fact that parliament, through a sense of the house Aug 27, had assured Anna Hazare to address his concerns on the draft Lokpal bill.

Hazare has also threatened to campaign against the Congress in the assembly elections in five states scheduled next year if the Lokpal bill is not passed in the winter session.

The bill can be introduced by the government only after the standing committee submits its recommendations.

Sources said the standing committee would conclude the process of public consultations on the proposed legislation Nov 14-15. Around 90 percent of public consultation process is over.

After that, the panel will take up the sticking points, like inclusion of the Prime Minister’s Office under the Lokpal, setting up Lokayuktas in states, whether or not to bring the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Commission under it. Besides these, there will be sides discussing qualifications of the Lokpal and issues like who all should be in the search committee, to shortlist names.

The panel has received six drafts of the bill. The standing committee will go through the various drafts of the Lokpal bill, including the Jan Lokpal bill of Team Anna and one by Aruna Roy-led National Campaign for People’s Right to Information.

The panel will also consider suggestions by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and former chief election commissioner T.N. Seshan besides the drafts submitted by the citizens.

Sources said there is a general consensus in the committee that the proposed anti-corruption ombudsman should have a constitutional framework to make it a strong and independent body.

So far, the panel has heard views of around 50 groups including former judges, lawyers, officials, activists, NGOs and individuals on the issue.

CVC Pradeep Kumar and CBI director A.P. Singh have already expressed their reservations before the panel on bifurcating the agencies. (IANS)

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