Friday, March 1, 2024

Lokpal bill may be referred to Committee

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New Delhi: With the Budget session set to conclude on Tuesday, the much debated Lokpal Bill, instead of being brought in the Rajya Sabha, could be referred to a Joint Select Committee amid lack of consensus on its key provisions.

“A decision will be taken tomorrow”, a Union minister involved in the process said when asked whether the bill would go to a Joint Select Committee or Select Committee.

When a Bill comes up before a House for discussion, it may be referred to a Select Committee of the House or a Joint Committee of the two Houses.

The Select or the Joint Select Committee considers the Bill clause by clause just as the two Houses do.

A senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, said the possibility of the bill being referred to a Joint Select Committee, cannot be ruled out.

Reports said that in the absence of consensus on key provisions of the legislation including the one dealing with Lokpal’s superintendence over CBI appears to be deterring the government from bringing the bill in the Rajya Sabha this week.

The bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

Uncertainty hung over the bill coming up in the Upper House in the current session with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee saying on Saturday that the Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha will take a decision.

The original plan was to move official amendments to the Lokpal Bill and bring it for passage in the Rajya Sabha on May 21, the penultimate day of the current session.

But, the reluctance of BJP and other parties to soften their stand on other amendments sought by them seems to have come in the way of government’s consensus-building exercise.

BJP has been insisting that the legislation should be passed before the end of the current session, criticising the Union government over the delay in the passage of the Bill for creating an anti-corruption ombudsman.

Congress MP Abhishek Singhvi, who had headed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel, that went into the Lokpal Bill, however, downplayed any possible move to refer it to the Joint Select Committee.

There have been indications of the government having second thoughts on bringing the bill in this session as differences still persist on some of the issues despite the government holding consultations with leaders of a number of political parties.

On Wednesday last, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy had said the government stands by the commitment to bring the bill in the present session.

The amended form of the bill includes deletion of the controversial provision for appointment of Lokayuktas and bringing more transparency in the appointment of CBI chief. (PTI)

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