Lokpal bill in parliament — amid protests (Second Lead)

August 4th, 2011 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) As promised, the government Thursday introduced the Lokpal bill in the Lok Sabha amid protests from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which insisted on including the prime minister in its ambit.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy introduced the bill soon after the government rejected BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s opposition.

Sushma Swaraj demanded that the prime minister be brought within the anti-corruption law’s ambit even while he or she held office.

“While all other laws such as the penal code and Prevention of Corruption Act are applicable to all, why should the Lokpal bill exclude the prime minister? Also, when the bill covers the council of ministers, how is the prime minister different?” Sushma Swaraj wanted to know.

“I cannot understand how anyone, sitting in any position, be a holy cow? Why is the prime minister out of it?” she asked in the house.

The proposed legislation does not bring under its purview the prime minister when he holds office. But once he demits office, he or she can be investigated for any wrongdoing as prime minister.

It also excludes from the Lokpal’s ambit the judiciary and any action of an MP in parliament or any parliamentary committee.

“I am happy the prime minister himself said that it is okay if he is brought within the ambit of the Lokpal bill. Then why is the cabinet not paying heed to him, and his colleagues are opposing it?” she added.

The BJP leader asked the government to amend the draft legislation to include the prime minister under the draft law’s purview and bring it back to the house.

“Then, we will support it and get it passed by the house,” she said.

Narayansamy defended the introduction of the bill, saying it has become the property of the house now.

He also said the draft law will be immediately sent to the parliamentary standing committee. “Parliament is supreme, so the opposition by Sushma Swaraj cannot be sustained,” he said.

Replying to the BJP statement that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had agreed to be within the anti-corruption law’s ambit, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said it was placed in parliament in 2002.

“You had two years… Why did you not get this bill passed for two years?” he asked Sushma Swaraj.

Outside parliament, civil society representatives led by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare protested the introduction of the Lokpal bill in its present form.

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