Parliament Panel on Lokpal Bill to seek 2nd extension

Sunday, 19 July New Delhi : The 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress MP E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, is examining the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 18 last year. “We have time till July 30 to give our report. But there are very important and tricky issues that need to be discussed. That is why there is a necessity for the committee to seek more time. We will write to Rajya Sabha chairman seeking more time,” Natchiappan told PTI.

If approved, it will be a second extension for Committee, which was asked to submit its report by March 25. “Time is needed to make wider consultation with all the stakeholders. The acceptability of the law will be faster if there are wider consultations. It has to be made friendly with the people,” he said. The panel had on Thursday heard the views of CBI Director Anil Sinha, CVC Secretary Nilam Sawhney, Enforcement Directorate’s Director Rajan Katoch and Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Anita Kapur on various provisions of the Lokpal Bill.

“All of them have given their views on the Bill. They have spoken on the multiplicity of anti-corruption agencies like CVC and Lokpal for conducting enquiries and on other issues,” Natchiappan said. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act provides for establishment of an anti-corruption watchdog Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into graft charges against public functionaries.

The amendments include the one for allowing the leader of the largest Opposition party in Lok Sabha, in the event there is no Leader of Opposition in the House, to be present on the selection panel for appointment of the chairperson and members of Lokpal. The Lokpal selection committee headed by the Prime Minister has as its members the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.

The bill also aims at laying down qualifications for appointment of Director of Prosecution in the CBI for the sake of its functional independence. It also seeks to lay down the tenure of the eminent jurist nominated as member of the Lokpal.