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Government extends Parliament session to clear Lokpal Bill

Last updated on: December 20, 2011 16:38 IST

Government extends Parliament session to clear Lokpal Bill

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A Delhi Correspondent

The United Progressive Alliance government on Tuesday extended the Winter session Parliament to pass four crucial anti-corruption bills -- the Lokpal Bill, the Citizens' Charter Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill and the Whistleblowers' Bill.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal moved the Chair in both the Houses of Parliament to have three additional sittings from December 27 to 29 instead of concluding the Winter session on Thursday to ensure the passage of the Lokpal Bill after proper discussion.

 

The Whistle Blower Bill and Judicial Accountability Bill will also be discussed and passed then in both Houses.

The government had initially proposed to hold a special sitting on December 23. But the Opposition was not agreeable to passing these bills in a hurry without studying them.

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Hence, there a 4-day break from December 23 to 26 was announced.

 

Besides, Christian members of Parliament expressed their reservations about convening an additional sitting on December 23. They wanted to reach home to attend the ceremonial mass on the eve of the Christmas.

The Opposition parties had sought discussion on the three key legislations that are part of the government's strategy to tackle corruption.

 

Among the major amendments in the Lokpal Bill are bringing the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal with certain conditions, providing supervisory powers to Lokpal over CBI in corruption cases referred by it and changing the selection process of CBI chief.

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Government extends Parliament session to clear Lokpal Bill

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A separate mechanism for dealing with corruption in Group C and D is also being evolved.

 

The government has been racing against time to firm up the anti-graft Bill in view of the looming threat of Anna Hazare to go on hunger strike from December 27 if Parliament fails to pass a strong Lokpal Bill.

 

The draft note on the bill has been cleared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will be taken up by the Cabinet tonight.

 

"The Winter Session of Parliament has been extended by three days from December 27," a senior minister said in New Delhi.

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Government extends Parliament session to clear Lokpal Bill

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The Lokpal Bill, Judicial Accountability Bill and Whistleblowers' Bill will be taken up for consideration and passing during the extended Winter Session, he said.

 

The Citizens' Charter Bill was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, even as Team Anna wanted the Citizens' Charter to be a part of the Lokpal Bill. The bill will spell out a citizens' charter containing a category of goods and services to be delivered in a time-bound manner and setting up a public grievance redressal panel.

Another important bill that the UPA government hopes, will be passed, is the Judicial Accountability Bill. Under this bill, judges will have to declare their assets and liabilities, and also that of their spouse and children.

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The government also hopes to get the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosures Bill (Whistleblower's Bill) passed in the extended winter session. Under this bill, anybody who reveals the identity of whistleblowers would be punished with three years jail or fine up to Rs 50,000 for revealing whistleblowers.

However, the most crucial of the bills remains the Lokpal Bill

 

BJP leaders state that the government has not yet unveiled the Lokpal Bill and as such the Opposition cannot be taken for granted to agree on whatever Bill it brings before Parliament.

"We need time to study it and move necessary amendments as it is no ordinary legislation and is bound to have long-time repercussions," a senior leader said.

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