‘PM, Group C employees may be brought under Lokpal ambit’

December 12th, 2011 - 11:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Keen to silence criticism by the opposition and Team Anna over its resolve to fight corruption, the government is likely to take up several anti-graft meassures at a cabinet meeting Tuesday and may accept the demand for including the prime minister within Lokpal’s ambit with some conditions, as also group C employees.

Official sources said that the cabinet is expected to consider the landmark food security bill and a slew of anti-corruption legislations Tuesday aimed at conveying government’s “determination” to fight graft.

They said the legislation likely to be considered by the cabinet include the whistleblowers protection bill, the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, the grievance redress bill and the electronic service delivery bill.

The sources said that cabinet will meet again after Wednesday’s all-party meeting to give a final shape to the Lokpal bill.

They said the cabinet meeting to finalise amendments to Lokpal bill will be held after return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from his visit to Russia and could be held Sunday or Monday morning.

The officials said the Lokpal bill is likely to be taken in the Lok Sabha Monday and in the Rajya Sabha over the next two days. They added that there is little possibility of the winter session being extended beyond Dec 22.

Congress sources said that government is likely to agree to demand for bringing lower bureaucracy in the ambit of Lokpal and may also agree to inclusion of prime minister with certain safeguards.

A Congress leader, who has been part of discussions on the bill, told IANS that the prime minister and group C central government employees could be included in the Lokpal ambit but the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is not likely to be in its purview.

“There is the possibility of including the prime minister in the Lokpal’s ambit with certain conditions, and also group C employees,” the source said.

However, many in the Congress are still opposed to bringing the post of prime minister in the ambit of Lokpal.

“It can lead to instability. In my personal view, the post should not be included (in the ambit of Lokpal),” a minister said on the condition of anonymity.

Asked if the government will agree to prime minister’s inclusion with certain safeguards, he said: “Perhaps”.

On the demand for inclusion of CBI in the purview of the Lokpal, the minister said there can be an arrangement where the ombudsman sends cases to CBI and may also send reminders but it cannot interfere in investigations.

Congress leaders also said the whistleblowers protection bill and the grievance redressal bill will be separately moved and would not be part of the Lokpal bill.

They said the government will wait for the outcome of Wednesday’s all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before giving final shape to the Lokpal bill.

Ahead of Wednesday’s all-party meeting, UPA allies will meet Tuesday to discuss the provisions of Lokpal Bill in view of the standing committee’s recommendations.

The government decided on the all-party meeting after a parliamentary standing committee’s report on the Lokpal bill evoked criticism from Team Anna and the opposition.

Several opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Sunday shared stage with Hazare and demanded a strong Lokpal bill.

A minister said that Team Anna had been “totally impatient” on the Lokpal bill and said it should have waited for the government to finalse its draft before mounthing criticism.

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