Opposition finally remembers Lokpal bill, Government moves on

New Delhi:  A day before the winter session of parliament is scheduled to end, members in the upper house today questioned the government over tabling of the Lokpal bill.

Shortly after the Question Hour, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader K.N. Balagopal asked why has the Lokpal bill not been brought before the house even after the select committee looking into the legislation submitted its report.

He was backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other opposition parties that too demanded the government to explain why the bill was not tabled in the house.

“The Lokpal bill was not sent to a standing committee; it was sent to a select committee. The bill with its amendment is a property of the house,” Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley of the BJP said.

“Even the minister can only move amendments to the bill,” he said.

K.N. Balagopal and P. Rajeev of the CPI-M walked towards the chairman’s podium, but stopped halfway when Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked them why did they not take up the issue during the meeting of the business advisory committee.

A reply from the government was assured and the upper house then went ahead with a calling attention motion on the Indian Olympic Association.

Soon after that, Minister for Personal V. Narayanasamy said the bill has been referred to the union cabinet.

“After that the government considered the recommendations given by the committee, law ministry has given approval. Majority of the recommendations have been accepted and we are now taking it to cabinet for the purpose of getting amendments approved,” Narayanasamy informed the house.

However, this agitated the opposition members.

“This report is property of the house; please don’t consider it your prerogative to accept amendments to the bill,” Jaitley said.

Naranyanasamy, however, said he “needed to take cabinet in confidence”.

The upper house was then adjourned for lunch.

As per the rules, a bill amended by a select committee goes directly to the house to which the select committee belongs. But when a standing committee gives recommendations to a bill, it goes back to government and needs to be approved by the cabinet.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha at the end of the winter session last year. It was sent to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha in the budget session after several objections were raised on its present form.

The select committee gave its report on the bill at the beginning of the current winter session.


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