Union cabinet has approved several amendments to the Lokpal bill as suggested by a select committee of the Rajya Sabha. The Bill has already been passed in Loksabha.
“I am happy to say the cabinet has given the seal of approval. The select committee recommendations have broadly been accepted,” Law Minister Ashwani Kumar told reporters after the cabinet meeting.
The bill, passed by the Lok Sabha, is pending in the Rajya Sabha. It was referred to a select committee of the upper house, which suggested several amendments to the bill.
The bill will now be put to vote in the upper house.
Earlier this week, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi wrote to social activist Anna Hazare assuring him that the legislation would be passed in the coming budget session of parliament.
According to informed sources, while the government has agreed to separate the Lokpal office from Lokayuktas in states, it has not agreed to the panel’s proposal on the appointment of the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The bill also proposes to create a prosecution wing of the CBI to fast-track corruption cases.
The sources further said the government had not favoured the suggestion of the select committee that an official facing an inquiry from the Lokpal should not be heard during the preliminary probe.
Meanwhile, Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal criticised the UPA government for not coming out with a “strong” Lokpal bill, asserting that the proposed law would not check corruption.
“Why should you have any Lokpal? If an agency is created which will not stop corruption, will lead to increased corruption and provide protection to ministers, then what is the point,” he told reporters here.
“We were not interested in just the word Lokpal. You can name it anything. The government has not done a favour to the people of the country (by the bill). It is the government’s constitutional duty to give a corruption-free regime,” he said.
“Some people are saying they are happy that a beginning has been made, but has the government done us a favour?” asked Kejriwal, saying the people of the country were suffering due to corruption and price rise.
He sought to know why cannot the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government come out with changes in the law to make it stronger now.
“Why can’t the changes and amendments be made now? This means that the government thinks if a strict law is passed, all of them will go to jail,” he said.
“Half of the ministers of the same cabinet, which passed the bill today, will be in jail if a strong Lokpal comes,” alleged Kejriwal.
Veteran Activist Anna Hazare also rejected the new draft of the Lokpal Bill with amendments proposed by the central government and announced that he would continue his fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
“The proposed new draft of the Lokpal Bill is useless. We will continue our fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill and force the government to pass it,” Hazare told reporters here.
Hazare added that the proposed bill would not help fight corruption. “Such a bill will not benefit the people,” he said.