Lokpal Bill referred to RS Select Committee

New Delhi: In yet another twist, the controversial Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was today referred to the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha, further delaying the setting up of the anti-graft ombudsman which has been hanging fire for 42 years.

The Bill, on which debate had remained inconclusive in the Rajya Sabha during the last Winter Session, was referred to the Select Committee through a motion soon after Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy moved it for consideration and passage.

Interestingly, the motion for referring the bill to the Select Committee was moved initially by Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agrawal. This was strongly objected to by BJP, Left parties and BSP, with their members arguing that only the minister concerned could move such a motion and accusing the ruling coalition of "using the shoulder" of "friendly opposition" party.

After high drama marked by arguments and counter-arguments over whether rules permitted any other member to move such a motion, the government yielded and the motion was moved by Narayanasamy which was immediately passed by voice vote. He said the 15-member committee would have to submit its report by the first day of the last week of Monsoon Session.

While moving the bill, the Minister said differences on it had been narrowed down after consultations with various parties. He said the government proposed to bring lower bureaucracy under the purview of Lokpal which will have investigating and prosecution wing. Besides, CVC will monitor investigations by the CBI referred to it by the Lokpal. There will be provisions for attachment of properties and time-frame for investigations.