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Lokpal Bill likely to be taken up Monday

Delhi,Politics, Thu, 12 Dec 2013 IANS

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) The Lokpal Bill is likely to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha Monday, said Satyavrat Chaturvedi, who chaired the select committee that looked into the anti-corruption bill.

His statement came as Gandhian activist Anna Hazare's indefinite fast in his village Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra demanding passage of the Lokpal bill entered its third day.

"The government has proposed a discussion on Lokpal bill on Monday," Chaturvedi told reporters here. Six hours have been allotted for the discussion, he added.

Hazare Thursday said he would continue the fast till the bill is passed.

"It is a matter of three days (before Monday)... it will not make any difference," he said.

"At the most I will lose 500-600 gms of weight. I will fast as long as parliament session goes on," he said.

Hazare also added that he will see the version of the Lokpal bill once it is passed and whether it is strong or not.

The BJP meanwhile offered to pass the bill without debate if it is brought exactly as the select committee of Rajya Sabha amended it.

"We don't want any more discussions on the Lokpal bill, pass it in Rajya Sabha, and then in Lok Sabha," Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said but stressed that the bill should come as it was amended by the select committee of Rajya Sabha.

"Cabinet has no right to amend the bill, it is a property of Rajya Sabha. The bill should come as it was amended by the select committee," he said.

Earlier, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that a notice for taking up the bill has already been given to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Hamid Ansari.

"Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy has already sent a notice that the (Lokpal) bill be immediately taken up in the Rajya Sabha," he told reporters here.

"The select committee in the Rajya Sabha had recommended 13 amendments to the bill and that were also considered by the government," said Shinde.

The Lokpal bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in the winter session last year, has been majorly amended by the select committee. The government said it has accepted some of the amendments.

Once passed by the Rajya Sabha, the amended bill will have to be returned to the Lok Sabha for approval before it becomes law.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, meanwhile, refuted reports of parliament heading for an early adjournment.

"At the moment all the speculations and the media reports are not true. There is no plan at the moment to curtail the session," he said.

"Our priority is to pass the Lokpal Bill. The Lokpal Bill has to be taken in Rajya Sabha, then it will come to Lok Sabha."

The most prominent of the group of anti-graft bills on the anvil, the Lokpal bill establishes an ombudsman Lokpal at the central level and asks states to establish Lokayuktas.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha at the fag end of the winter session of 2012.

A select committee of the Rajya Sabha however suggested changes in the bill which were incorporated and approved by the union cabinet. It will now be presented to the Rajya Sabha and once approved by the upper house it will have to be sent again to the Lok Sabha for approval of the changes.

Among its recommendations, the select committee has suggested that the prime minister should be brought under the Lokpal's purview, except for matters related to external affairs, internal security, atomic energy and international relations.

On the much debated point of the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) independence, the committee says CBI will have a separate director of prosecution appointed by the Central Vigilance Commissioner. Both the CBI director and director of prosecution will have fixed two-year terms.

The Lokpal will have superintendence over and direction to CBI in cases referred by it. CBI officers investigating cases referred by Lokpal will not be transferred without the Lokpal's consent. The CBI will have a panel of non-government advocates.

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