Govt announces judicial inquiry into lobbying by Walmart

Walmart

Yielding to pressure from political parties, government today announced a time-bound inquiry by a retired judge into reports of lobbying by retail giant Walmart to gain entry into India and inform the House "as fast as possible".

"Today, I would like to inform the House that the government will appoint a retired judge to hold an inquiry into the media reports concerning Walmart," Parliamentary

Affairs Minister Kamal Nath announced in the Lok Sabha as soon as it assembled for the day.

Nath said the inquiry would be time-bound so that "as fast as possible, the House is informed of its results."

As soon as the announcement was made, opposition members, including those of Trinamool Congress and the SP wanted the government to clarify whether it would be a retired judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court.

"I have heard your suggestions, we have no hesitation in having an inquiry by a retired judge," Nath said.

The issue of retail giant Walmart lobbying in the US for access to Indian markets created storm in Parliament during the past two days with parties demanding time-bound probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a judicial panel to ascertain

if bribe was paid here.

UPA's outside supporters RJD and SP, which had last week bailed out the ruling coalition during a vote in Parliament on the FDI in retail issue, were among those demanding a thorough probe into reports that money was spent in India.

Through the announcement, the government has also made it clear that it was not keen on a JPC probe, a demand for which was made by JD(U), AIADMK, Trinamool Congress, RJD and CPI in the Lok Sabha yesterday.

Walmart had, in its disclosures to the US Senate, said it had spent USD 25 million over four years for various lobbying activities, including for gaining access to Indian markets.

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