Lokpal Bill report shows panel split on most points

FP

The report of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice on the Lokpal Bill, which was tabled in Parliament Friday, obviously saw more divergence than convergence, with 17 of the 30 members recording their dissent.

In fact, the position of the dissenting three Congress members, Meenakshi Natarajan, P T Thomas and Deepa Dasmunsi, was closer to the Opposition on three important points they suggested that the Central Vigilance Commission be placed under the Lokpal and the state vigilance commissions under the Lokayukta, that investigations into corruption cases by the CBI be subjected to the control of Lokpal, and that Group C officers be brought under the jurisdiction of the Lokpal. Panel chief Abishek Singhvi has argued that a dissent note did not mean an MP was against the entire report.

Apart from the three Congress members, 14 advocated inclusion of Group C employees under the Lokpal. The six BJP members Kirti Azad, Harin Pathak, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Bal Apte, Madhusudan Yadav and D B Chandre Gowda maintained that "all public servants holding civil posts in government should be covered" and this was in consonance with their view and the "sense of the House".

Vijay Bahadur Singh of the BSP stated in his note that there was "no reason or logic" for exempting Group C employees. A Sampath of the CPM too was in favour of inclusion of lower bureaucracy, while RSP's Prasanta Majumdar said the common man experienced corruption when he came in contact with these officials. SP member Shailendra Kumar wondered at the utility of Lokpal if 95 per cent government employees were excluded.

The six BJP MPs, Sampath, Majumdar and Pinaki Misra (BJD) also backed bringing the prime minister under the purview of Lokpal.

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