Paving the way for the appointment of country’s first national anti-corruption ombudsman, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday gave assent to the much-awaited Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013.
The Lokpal Bill was passed by Parliament during the just concluded winter session by a voice vote with several amendments suggested by a select committee of the Rajya Sabha by which the Prime Minister was brought under the ambit of Lokpal with certain safeguards.
The redrafted Bill also partially brought the CBI under the Lokpal in so far as investigations of corruption cases that would be referred to it by the anti-corruption ombudsman.
It is no less ironical that the motley group of activists who spearheaded the Lokpal movement, forcing Parliament to pass the Lokpal Bill pending since 2011, is now a political outfit in power in the national capital with its leader Arvind Kejriwal assuming the Chief Minister’s office.
With the presidential assent, it will be mandatory for all state governments to adopt and pass a Lokayukta Bill within a year’s time and also will have to follow the format of the Central law.
The Bill was thus referred to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha headed by Satyabrata Chathurvedi. Most of the amendments were accepted by the Centre and the amended Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on December 17.
The Lok Sabha passed the Bill the next day with a voice vote. After the assent of President, the Bill will become law, Lokpal Act, 2013 after certain legal procedures.
The Bill aims at setting up institution of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states by law enacted by respective legislatures within one year of coming into force of the Act.
The Lokpal will be appointed by the five-member committee, including Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Lok Sabha Speaker, Chief Justice of India and eminent jurist and Lokpal Chairperson should not be affiliated with any political party.
Though the main Opposition, the BJP, and the ruling Congress came together to get the Bill passed, the Samajwadi Party and the Shiv Sena opposed the Bill.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was vociferous in his opposition and said a strong Lokpal would bring government work to a grinding halt as bureaucrats and ministers would be afraid of carrying out their duties fearing action against them.