Monday, June 24, 2024

Lokpal report tabled in House


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New Delhi: The much-awaited report on Lokpal bill was tabled in parliament on Friday, recommending constitutional status for the ombudsman but leaving undecided the issue of the prime minister’s inclusion in its purview. Team Anna was quick to trash the report, signalling another showdown with the government.

The BJP too came out against the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had been mandated to work out a draft legislation aimed at combating corruption at all layers of public life.

Ten of the committee’s 30 members submitted dissent notes on various issues.

Team Anna’s ire is over the exclusion of the mass of Group C and D government staff as well as the Central Bueaau of Investigation (CBI) from the Lokpal’s ambit and the absence of Citizen’s Charter.

Congress MP and Standing Committee chief Abhishek Manu Singhvi defended the report, saying “our job was not to please anyone or everyone. We hope this report does some good for the country”.

The BJP said the report lacked “political reality”.

“I have no hesitation in saying this report looks like a lawyer’s draft devoid of political and administrative realties,” said party veteran Arun Jaitley.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid insisted that the government was committed to a strong Lokpal bill.

Singhvi said Group C staff had been placed under the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), a statutory body, while Group A and B had been put under Lokpal, a higher constitutional body.

He said the 286-page report dealt with 24 issues, and the panel, with representatives from 14 political parties, shared unanimity on 13 issues. The maximum dissent was on the exclusion of Group C staff.

The controversial issue of bringing the Prime Minister within the ombudsman’s purview was left for parliament to decide with three options: inclusion under Lokpal, non-inclusion, and deferred inclusion.

The panel also suggested keeping the conduct of MPs in the house out of the Lokpal. The report has brought corporates, NGOs and media within the Lokpal’s jurisdiction.

The judiciary too has been kept out on the plea that the issue be dealt with through the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill.

A separate grievance redressal bill has been suggested to address the demand of a Citizen’s Charter. (IANS)


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