NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha today referred to Parliament's Standing Commmittee a bill seeking to amend Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act to include leader of the largest opposition party in the House in a panel to select chairperson and members of the anti-corruption body.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu expressed the government's willingness to send the bill to the Standing Committee after Rabindra Kumar Jena (BJD) said there were several loopholes in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in its present form, including on the issue of selection of CBI director.
"As far as the government is concerned, we want to make CBI totally independent and we want to be totally transparent," he said, agreeing with Jena who said that the House should send the bill to the Standing Committee.
Referring to the bill, which was taken up for discussion amid din created by the opposition on the conversion issue, Jena said there was a bigger debate in the previous House after the Supreme Court went to the extent of saying that CBI had become a caged parrot in the hands of the government.
On the opposition by BJP members, Jena asked, "Are we again going back where CBI and a Director Prosecution again become a tool in the hands of the Ministry of Law and Justice? Can we afford to do that? Can we afford to allow that?
"Are we not compromising with the basic principle by which this independent agency is working? This is quite contrary to the finding of the Standing Committee Report on this particular issue," he said, appealing to the government to send the bill to the Standing Committee to closely examine the matter.
Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai referred to the bill to the Standing Committee after the government agreed with Jena's argument.
The bill, introduced on December 18, has been brought to address the lacunae in the existing law which provides for inclusion of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the panel. However, since there is no LoP in the current House, the amendment was necessitated.