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Cabinet makes some key changes in Lokpal Bill

January 31, 2013 20:21 IST

The government on Thursday amended the controversial Lokpal Bill, de-inking 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 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 has been stuck in the Upper House since December 2011.

The approval of the official amendments paves the way for consideration of the bill afresh by the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session expected to begin towards the end of February.

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.

The government did not accept the recommendation wherein an accused public servant would get no chance to present his view before the preliminary inquiry is initiated.

It also did not accept the recommendation that transfer of Central Bureau of Investigation’s officers -- assigned by the Lokpal to investigate a case -- cannot be transferred without the approval of the anti-graft watchdog, saying it will affect the smooth functioning of the CBI.

Among the recommendations accepted by the government is the one about de-linking Lokayukta from the Lokpal Bill, an issue which was one of the most controversial provisions, with several parties contending that it amounts to the central government encroaching upon the rights of the states.

The Select Committee had recommended that the state governments will have to set up Lokayuktas within one year of the enactment of Lokpal.

The bill will have the provision of appointment of the CBI director by a three-member collegium comprising the prime minister, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha and the chief justice of India.

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