Lokpal Legislation Yet to Reach Pranab - The New Indian Express

Lokpal Legislation Yet to Reach Pranab

Published: 29th December 2013 09:24 AM

Last Updated: 29th December 2013 09:24 AM

The Lokpal is unlikely to be a reality in 2013. Despite the UPA government pushing for the amended Lokpal Bill and the new-found bonhomie between the Congress and the Opposition BJP, it is yet to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan for President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent.

Sources said the bill is still making bureaucratic rounds due to internal procedural wrangles.

After the Lok Sabha passed the bill on December 18, it was sent to the Law Ministry for final vetting.

Once the ministry returns the Lokpal Bill to the Lok Sabha and Speaker Meira Kumar finally signs on every clause of the Amended Bill, it will go to Rashtrapati Bhavan. The process is likely to take more than a week’s time.

Normally, the President takes two days to go through, the bill before giving his assent. Once the President gives his assent, the bill becomes law, Lokpal Act 2013.

With the announcement of the general elections likely to be made in the last week of February and Model Code of Conduct coming into force immediately, in all probability the incoming government, after formation of the 16th Lok Sabha in May 2014, will be able to take the credit for appointing independent India’s first national anti-corruption ombudsman, the Lokpal.

Meanwhile, the UPA Government is contemplating extending the Winter session and convene Parliament in the first week of February.

Though the UPA-1 had convened the winter session of 14th Lok Sabha from February 12, 2009 and adjourned sine die on February 26, 2009, this time the government wants to extend the Winter session till February 2014. Both the Houses of Parliament have adjourned sine die and are yet to be prorogued.

Sources said with the Election Commission (EC) wanting to conduct the 16th Lok Sabha elections in over five phases and advance the announcement of general elections by a week to the last week of February, the Centre wants to convene Parliament from the first to the third week of February.

Though the Centre was initially planning to hold the session in January last week, it decided against it in view of the Republic Day celebrations and visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Taking a cue from the Delhi Assembly poll result and emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party, the UPA wanted to push through the anti-corruption bills such as Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, the Public Procurement Bill and Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill. After passing the Lokpal Bill, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made a strong pitch for more legislation to weed out corruption and sought the cooperation of all political parties to pass the Bill during this session.

Sources said the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2013, meant to create a separate Telangana state, is likely to be returned by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in the last week of January so that it can be introduced in the session, besides going for a Vote-on-Account for 2014-15 instead of a regular Budget.

The term of the 15th Lok Sabha comes to an end on May 31, 2014. Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath has already announced that the next general elections would be held in multiple phases and the process will be completed on time to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha by June 1, 2014. The EC will also hold Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim along with the general elections.

The tenure of the 294-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly comes to an end on June 2, while those of the 147-member Odisha Assembly and the 32-member Sikkim Assembly end on June 7 and May 21 respectively.

The EC has already began preparations for the Lok Sabha elections in which 78 crore people are likely to cast their vote at over eight lakh polling booths using over 11.8 lakh electronic voting machines. For the first time, the Lok Sabha polls will see the use of the ‘None of the Above’ option.

From Around the Web