Every effort to bring Lokpal bill in winter session: Khurshid

November 18th, 2011 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) Law Minister Salman Khurshid Friday said that every endeavour was being made to bring a strong Lokpal bill in the winter session of parliament that begins Tuesday.

Khurshid said the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice examining the bill would first table its recommendations in parliament, and these would then be placed before the cabinet.

During an hour-long press conference, Khurshid said that besides the Lokpal bill, the Judicial Standards and Accountability bill, Whistle Blower Bill and the Right to Citizens Grievances Redress Bill would be introduced in the winter session of parliament.

Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanasamy, who also addressed the media conference, said: “The standing committee has examined the Lokpal bill. It is in the final stages of making recommendations. It is our commitment to bring it in the winter session of parliament.”

“We seek the support of all the political parties and MPs for the bill,” Narayanasamy added.

The Judicial Standards and Accountability bill would replace the existing Judges (Inquiry) Act and incorporate the experiences that the lawmakers had involving the actual inquiry and subsequent procedure in an impeachment proceedings against a judge, Khurshid said.

The law minister said the Judicial Standards and Accountability bill provides for the code of conduct mandating the judges to declare their assets and liabilities and laying down the judicial standards to be followed by the judges.

“All these measures will increase the accountability of judges of higher judiciary thereby further strengthening the independence of the judiciary,” Khurshid said. There would be distinction between the action of judges as a judge and as a common citizen. He said earlier there was dispute between the apex court and high court judges on the code of conduct.

The law minister said that retirement age of the high court judges would be increased to 65 years from the present 62 years. Khurshid said the objective of this was to provide judges of seniority in the high courts.

The minister said the bill on electoral reforms, though on the government’s agenda, would have to await as it can “move forward only after consensus among the political parties”. Khurshid said the object of electoral reforms is “decriminalization of politics” which would exclude some category of criminals from participating in the political process.

On the appointment of judges, Khurshid said the entire system needed to be overhauled and even judges agreed to it. “Short comings in the present system are too apparent,” he pointed out.

The law minister said Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati would give his opinion on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and its application in Jammu and Kashmir.

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