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Amended Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha, debate thwarted

Last updated on: December 13, 2013 17:15 IST

The anti-corruption Lokpal Bill was brought back to the Rajya Sabha on Friday in an amended form but its consideration was thwarted by Samajwadi Party, an outside supporter of the UPA government, which disrupted proceedings.

Government brought the bill against the backdrop of a stunning performance by Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi Assembly elections over the plank of the Lokpal and the ongoing fast of Anna Hazare over the issue.

The amended bill delinks setting up of Lokayuktas in states, a highly controversial provision because of which many parties had opposed it in the House in December, 2011.

The new bill also grants powers to ombudsman to sanction prosecution against public servants.

As Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy moved the amended Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, and started speaking on it, Samajwadi Party members trooped into the Well and raised slogans.

SP, which provides outside support to the UPA government, maintained that it will not support the legislation in the current form fearing it would lead to "police raj".

However, in the House, the SP members disrupted proceedings by demanding a discussion on the issue of price rise, saying it is an issue of public importance that needs to be addressed first.

TDP members, meanwhile, kept shouting slogans against division of Andhra Pradesh and creation of Telangana state.

Soon after the House met at noon and Narayanasamy sought cooperation of the House in passage of the bill, BJP Deputy Leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said a discussion on the issue of price rise could be taken up on Monday.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the House has agreed for a discussion on the bill and the minister has started speaking, but SP and TDP members continued to create ruckus.

The Upper House could not function properly because of the din and saw three adjournments till 3.30 pm before being adjourned for the day.

When the House met at 3.30 pm, Naresh Agrawal (SP) rued that the government is not understanding the pulse of the nation and said, "If they want to eradicate corruption, they (government) should should first remove price rise."

Agarwal also raised a Point of Order to first discuss price rise as it was a matter of public importance, but Kurien refused to entertain him and threatened action against members creating ruckus.

"We gave notices on price rise. When notices are given, the decision needs to be taken. Chair should take cognisance of the notices," he said.

Rejecting his contention, Kurien said, "You can oppose, but don't try to stall the bill...There is no Point of Order."

BJP has said it will support the bill after amendments were brought in by the Select Committee, but questioned the sincerity of Congress in passing the bill as its outside ally was thwarting its passage in the Rajya Sabha.

On January 31 this year, the government had amended the controversial Lokpal Bill, delinking it from the setting up of Lokayuktas in the states and transferring powers of sanction of prosecution against public servant to the ombudsman.

The Union Cabinet had accepted 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, which was set up in May last year amid sharp differences among political parties because of which the legislation remained stuck in the Upper House since December 2011.

After getting a nod from the Upper House, the bill with amendments will go back for fresh approval to Lok Sabha where it has already been passed. 

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