Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Govt's improved Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday

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Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee
This was conveyed by government to main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday along with the intention to have a three-day additional sitting of Parliament from December 27 to take up this crucial Bill. BJP gave its nod to this proposal.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held a meeting on Wednesday with Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and BJP leader L K Advani to discuss the issue.
Mukherjee conveyed to the BJP that the Lokpal Bill passed by the Cabinet on Tuesday night can be circulated to members of Parliament only on Wednesday evening, according to sources. He also said that the existing Lokpal Bill- introduced in the Monsoon Session of Parliament- will be withdrawn in Lok Sabha on Thursday and the new Bill introduced.

Mukherjee said that in this scenario, there was little option but to extend the Winter Session by three more days and discuss the Lokpal Bill from December 27 to 29. BJP agreed to the proposal after initial reluctance. Party sources said its opposition is to the content of the Bill rather than extension of this session.
The Business Advisory Committee will meet on Wednesday evening to decide on the extension. The government is keen to ensure passage of Lokpal along with two crucial legislations- Judicial Accountability Bill and Whistleblower Protection Bill -- during the current session.
But since only two days are left, it wants additional sitting after the Christmas break.

The BAC had on Tuesday decided to hold an additional three day sitting from December 27 but later several MPs opposed it, prompting the government to say it will have a rethink. Several MPs, including from the United Progressive Alliance coalition, are still opposed to the three day extension of the session.
Lokpal Bill was cleared on Tuesday night by the Union Cabinet. The new Bill will be a Constitution amendment Bill which will also bring the prime minister under the ambit of Lokpal with certain riders.
The Bill, however, keeps the Central Bureau of Investigation out of purview of Lokpal except on cases which are referred to it by the latter. The Lokpal will have its own wings for preliminary inquiries and prosecution. The Lokpal will be a nine-member body including the Chairperson.

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