Lok Sabha passes Lokpal Bill
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A landmark bill for creation of Lokpal was passed by the Lok Sabha tonight with the government making it clear that setting up of Lokayuktas by the states would not be mandatory, amending a contentious provision in view of opposition from allies and others.
The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011 was approved after the government moved a few other key amendments, including keeping the defence forces and coast guard personnel out of the purview of the anti-graft ombudsman and increasing the exemption time of former MPs from five to seven years.
A number of amendments moved by Opposition, including corporates, media and NGOs receiving donations, were defeated.
Samajwadi Party and BSP staged a walkout, protesting against their demands not being met.
During the animated over 10-hour debate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked parties to "rise above partisan politics" to demonstrate to the people of the country that "this House means business" in its effort to combat corruption.
He said a "holistic" approach was needed to deal with the "cancer" of corruption but rejected demands for bringing CBI under the purview of Lokpal as he warned that no entity should be created inconsistent with the Constitutional framework.
Capping the 10-hour animated debate during which several parties, including BJP, BJD, JDU, RJD, SP, TDP and Left said the bill was weak and wanted it withdrawn, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected the contention that the legislation had been brought in "haste" or under pressure.
Allaying fears of several parties, including UPA constituents Trinamool and DMK, that the provision for setting up Lokayuktas was an "attack" on federal structure, he said the government had made amendments stating that notification would not be issue without the consent of state governments.
The amendment, along with some others, was decided during an emergency meeting the Prime Minister held with party chief Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders ahead of the voting in view of opposition by allies.
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