Lokpal bill in parliament by Wednesday: Bansal (Lead)

July 29th, 2011 - 5:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The anti-graft Lokpal bill is scheduled to be introduced in
parliament within the first three days of its month-long monsoon session that begins Monday and will “forthwith” be referred to a standing committee for its consideration, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said Friday.

At his customary pre-session press conference here, Bansal said the government was hopeful the standing committee will study the bill and come with its report in August itself so that the draft legislation could be passed by parliament in the monsoon session that is scheduled to end Sept 8.

The draft bill, approved by the cabinet Thursday, has already run into rough weather with civil society activists, led by Gandhian Anna Hazare, vehemently opposing it in the present form, as the government draft has kept the prime minister and judiciary out of the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

“The Lokpal bill is listed for introduction by Wednesday. We (government) want the bill to be forthwith sent to a standing committee,” Bansal said when asked about the plans for passing the bill.

“We hope the standing committee will study the draft legislation and submit its report within August so that the bill could be passed before the monsoon session of parliament ends Sept 8.

“But the government cannot dictate terms to the standing committee on when it should submit its report,” he added.

On civil society members rubbishing the cabinet-approved draft bill, Bansal said they have their rights to have a view on the issue, but they should also respect others’ rights to have contrary opinions.

Hazare had gone on a five-day fast at Jantar Mantar in April pressing for the Jan Lokpal law, following which he and four other members of civil society, along with five central ministers, were named members of a 10-member committee constituted for drafting of the bill.

The two sides had major differences of opinion on the contours of the ombudsman law and had presented two different drafts of the bill.

On the issue of a law for protection of anti-graft whistle-blowers, Bansal said a standing committee had considered the bill and it was yet to returned for consideration of the parliament.

The session, with 26 sittings scheduled over 39 days, will mainly be devoted to essential government legislative and other business including financial business relating to the supplementary demands for grants for 2011-12 of the railways and general budgets.

Apart from 32 new bills that are “tentatively” listed for introduction in the session, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, between them, would take another 35 bills, previously introduced, for passing, apart from two ordinances that will be introduced as bills for consideration and passing.

Among the important draft legislations to be taken up for introduction including the National Food Security bill championed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) that envisages providing food grains to the poor at subsidised rates.

“I have been informed by the concerned (consumer affairs and food supplies) ministry it is ready to introduce the bill in this session of parliament,” Bansal said to a query.

Another controversial piece of legislation is the one on land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement that has been listed for introduction.

“The bill is being redone to include both land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement. The ministry (rural development) has informed that it will be ready to introduce the bill in this session. I have sanguine hope that it will be brought to the house before the end of this session,” the minister added.

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