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Lokpal Bill: Govt to bring in new Bill on Dec 19 with quota sops

UPA managers were racing against time to bring the new Bill before the cabinet on Monday to pave the way for its introduction and passage in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Kay Benedict   New Delhi     Last Updated: December 17, 2011  | 09:57 IST

The UPA government appears to have embarked on a new course of action to establish the contentious anti-corruption ombudsman.

In view of the massive dissent within the parliamentary standing committee and consensus eluding the all-party meeting, it plans to bring in a fresh Lokpal Bill by harmonising key issues instead of moving amendments to the original proposed legislation.

The new Bill is likely to be cleared by the Union cabinet on Monday morning. Bowing to pressure from regional satraps, the government has agreed to give 50 per cent representation to the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities and women in the Lokpal.

Sources said the Congress as well as other UPA constituents had also agreed to bring the Prime Minister in the ambit of the anti-graft law-in-the-works after reaching an understanding with Opposition parties.

But the rider was that all decisions taken by the PM on nuclear issues, energy, security and foreign policy would be excluded from its scrutiny to safeguard "national interest".

There was a convergence of views on the lower bureaucracy, too. Sources said a proposal was being considered to bring Group C officials indirectly under the Lokpal with a provision that the CVC would screen complaints first.

While the lack of unanimity on bringing the investigative wing of the CBI under the ombudsman remained, the government was expected to agree to change the selection criteria for the agency's director to lend it more autonomy.

UPA managers were racing against time to bring the new Bill before the cabinet on Monday to pave the way for its introduction and passage in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Sources revealed that the Bill may also be given statutory status as suggested by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Salman Khurshid
A crack team, comprising finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, home minister P. Chidambaram, law minister Salman Khurshid, parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and minister of state in the PMO V. Narayanaswamy, is currently working overtime to reconcile differences.

Sources said several leaders, including Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD) and Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal United), had demanded reservation for the OBCs.

But there were fears that introducing a quota in the Lokpal could be challenged in court because there is no reservation in any constitutional body in the country.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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