After three long months of discussions the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice finally met on Wednesday to examine the various provisions of the Lokpal Bill. The Congress president Sonia Gandhi who was speaking at a National Conference in New Delhi on Tuesday had asserted that her party is taking all steps possible to overcome the ‘plague’ of corruption and has said that she seeks the help of the Opposition to pass the Lokpal Bill.
The Standing Committee after its meeting seems to have agreed to some of the recommendations made by the veteran social activist Anna Hazare and his team. Group C government employees will now be included under the Lokpal. On the issue of including the lower bureaucracy and the citizen’s charter, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the Standing Committee said that the Opposition does not agree to it and thus he has asked them to record their dissenting notes and submit to the committee.
Inclusion of the CBI under the Lokpal was also a point of contention put forward by Team Anna. The committee has agreed that the appointment of the CBI director be made independent of any government’s influence and a selection committee was suggested for the appointment of the CBI director. Kiran Bedi, a former Police Officer and a key aide of the anti corruption crusader Anna Hazare has expressed her disagreement on the Standing Committee not including the anti-corruption wing of the CBI under the Lokpal.
The committee seems to have achieved a consensus on the issue of the exclusion of the judiciary from the Lokpal. But no consensus has been reached on the issue of including the Prime Minister the anti-corruption bill. The debate still continues on this point. The committee members are divided on this issue. There are a few who believe that the PM must be included under the Lokpal.
The government had assured a strong Lokpal bill in the Parliament and this would not be achieved without bringing in the Prime Minister and other MP’s under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.
The Lokpal bill is to be passed in the winter session of the parliament as promised by the Prime Minister, failing which Anna Hazare and his team members have threatened to go on an indefinite strike.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee is said to be submitting its report before December 7th.