Lokpal bill may get cabinet nod Sunday (Lead)

December 15th, 2011 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) The Lokpal bill is likely to be discussed and approved at a special cabinet meeting to be held Sunday, official sources said.

The bill is then likely to be tabled in parliament Tuesday for urgent consideration and passage, the sources told IANS.

The cabinet meeting will be held after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh returns from Russia Saturday evening.

Sources said that while the government is all set to bring the prime minister under the anti-graft ombudsman, it has to work out a mechanism to keep the 57 lakh lower bureaucracy (Group C staff) under the Lokpal as well as finalise the role of the Central Bureau of Investigation under it.

A three-member team of the cabinet — comprising Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy — will hold discussions to finalise the clause by clause amendments to the bill, with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee overseeing the exercise, the sources said.

They said the proposed amendments would take into consideration the views expressed by the various political parties on the issue. The government would also consider the recommendations made by the parliamentary standing committee on the Lokpal bill, said sources.

“We will have to draft the amendments in such a way that they are acceptable to the political parties,” a cabinet minister said.

Sources said the government would also propose ways to remove the Lokpal, if there is a need, to make the anti-graft ombudsman accountable.

The consultations come in the wake of the meetings of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) leaders on Tuesday and the all-party meeting Wednesday on the contentious legislation.

Sources said during the all-party meet, divergent views were expressed on the role of the CBI. While some parties wondered how the Lokpal could supervise a CBI probe, others were of the opinion that the ombudsman would be toothless without the agency being fully under it.

Stating the government was committed to pass the Lokpal bill before the winter session ends Dec 22, the sources said parliament may be extended for a day for this.

Government sources said the opposition BJP has assured that no disruptions would take place in parliament next week and it was prepared to skip the lunch recess and work till late evening to pass the key legislation.

Social activist Anna Hazare has threatened a ‘jail bharo’ agitation from Jan 1 if a “strong Lokpal bill” is not passed by then.

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