New Delhi: The
much-awaited Lokpal bill was Monday sent to a select committee of
the Rajya Sabha soon after being taken up for debate after a gap
of more than four months.
The bill was last debated on Dec 29 last year, the last day of an
extended winter session, when the house functioned till midnight
but could not pass the bill.
It was taken up again on the second last day of the budget session
Monday, and has now been sent to a 15-member select committee
which will give its report on the first day of the last week of
the monsoon session in mid-August, pushing the bill to the
November-December winter session.
As soon as Minister of State for Personnel and Public Grievances
V. Narayanasamy introduced the bill around 5.40 p.m., Samajwadi
Party member Naresh Agarwal moved an amendment to send the bill to
a select committee.
This irked the opposition members. who accused the government of
using the SP member as a shield. Parliamentary Affairs Minister
Pawan Kumar Bansal however quoted from the rule book that any
member can move a motion for sending a bill to a select committee
by means of an amendment, which was backed by Deputy Chairman P.J.
The upper house then saw high voltage drama, with members from
both treasury and opposition benches quoting from the rule book,
arguing whether the SP member had the right to move the motion or
not. However, Narayanasamy soon moved another motion to send the
Lokpal bill to a select committee.
Opposition members then pointed out that no suggestion to send the
bill to a select committee was made earlier, with Leader of
Opposition Arun Jaitley even wondering whether the government
wanted a Lokpal at all.
"Let's answer one basic question... do we want Lokpal or we don't
want Lokpal...," Jaitley said.
"From the winter to the budget session, there was enough time to
consult every one," he said adding that the amendment sent by
government at the last moment brought provisions which could not
be accommodated in the constitutional structure.
"The country expects a straightforward answer instead of games
being played," the leader of opposition added.
The upper house later passed through a voice vote the motion to
send the bill to a select committee.