Lok Sabha passes Lokpal bill but no constitutional status (Second Lead)December 28th, 2011 - 1:35 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 28 (IANS) The Lok Sabha Tuesday gave its assent to the historic Lokpal bill after the government agreed to bring official amendments at the end of marathon 10-hour debate which saw the opposition tearing into the legislation.
However, the government suffered a major embarrassment as it could not pass the bill to give constitutional status to the Lokpal.
The Lokpal bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha where the government does not have a majority.
The day saw hectic deliberations within the government as some United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies of the Congress joined the opposition in slamming some provisions of the draft legislation.
The Congress core group met in the evening to finalise amendments which were spelled out by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his reply to the debate in his capacity as Leader of Hosue in the Lok Sabha. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party staged a walk out before voting on the Lokpal bill.
Amendments pressed by the opposition to the Lokpal bill were negated either by voice vote or by division. Speaker Meira Kumar said that the first division had been negatived by 247-69.
Mukherjee, in his reply to the debate, sought cross-party support and reminded members that the discussion had been taking place on the crucial legislation for over six months.
“Let us pass this bill because people are waiting… We are determined to curb the menace of corruption. We shall convey this message by passing the bills unanimously,” Mukherjee said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy had in the morning moved the Lokpal bill for consideration and passage. He also moved the bill to give constitutional status to Lokpal and the whistleblowers protection bill.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who intervened in the discussion, urged MPs to rise above party politics and pass the new laws.
Earlier, opposition members demanded withdrawal of the Lokpal bill introduced in the house last week citing “deficiencies”, but the government asserted it should be passed as it reflected the sense of the house passed in the form of a resolution in August.
“I urge my colleagues in parliament to rise to the occasion and look beyond politics to pass this law,” said Manmohan Singh.
The Lok Sabha discussed the contentious bill even as social activist Anna Hazare and hundreds of his supporters gathered at a ground in Mumbai for a three-day hunger strike to force the government to enact his version of the law that he says is key to setting up a strong ombudsman to fight rampant graft in the country.
Parliament is meeting Dec 27-29 in an extended session to debate the proposed laws that would be put to vote at the end of the debate.
Opposition parties proposed many amendments to the Lokpal bill which include giving the Lokpal an investigative wing, setting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) free from the government’s administrative and financial control, and making it optional for states to set up their own anti-graft Lokayuktas.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, punched holes in the Lokpal bill, saying it was anything but a strong and effective law to deal with corruption in the country.
“It is patently unconstitutional (bill)… deeply flawed and tampers with the basic structure of our constitution,” she said.
Communication Minister Kapil Sibal led the government’s counter-charge.
He lashed out at the BJP for indulging in grandstanding but not wanting the bill to be passed. “Their politics is not to allow Lokpal, but just to criticise the government. They have not given a single positive suggestion on it.”
Left parties also opposed the bill, saying it was too weak to fight corruption in the country.
“With the current bill, we do not expect a strong Lokpal,” Basudeb Acharia of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said.
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- PM's all-party meet fails to break Lokpal jam (Lead) - Mar 23, 2012
- War of words: Stormy opposition tears into Lokpal bill (Roundup) - Dec 27, 2011
- War of words as Rajya Sabha debates Lokpal (Evening Lead) - Dec 29, 2011
- Bansal appeals to Lok Sabha to pass Lokpal bill - Dec 26, 2011
- Lokpal bill passed amid Anna fast, but Congress stumped (Intro Roundup) - Dec 28, 2011
- Government creating subservient Lokpal: Jaitley (Lead) - Dec 29, 2011
- Lokpal bill not well thought out: Amartya Sen - Jan 03, 2012
- Lokpal bill is well thought out: Amartya Sen (Lead, superseding earlier story) - Jan 03, 2012
- Government seeks support on Lokpal, opposition for changes (Second Lead) - Dec 26, 2011
- Lokpal debate for 7 hours, can be extended: Speaker - Aug 27, 2011
- As Anna fasts, parliament divided over Lokpal (Night Lead) - Dec 27, 2011
- Amendments to Lokpal bill being considered, says Narayanasamy - Feb 11, 2012
- Government moves amendments, Mukherjee calls for unanimity - Dec 28, 2011
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