Lokpal Bill to be placed before Cabinet

New Delhi: The Government on Friday said the Lokpal Bill is ready and will be placed before the Union Cabinet for approval in its next meeting where a decision on whether to put the Prime Minister in its purview would also be taken.

“The Lokpal Bill is now ready and it will be moved to the Cabinet. It will be placed before the Cabinet in the next meeting. As promised by UPA-II, by this government, we shall introduce this Bill as soon as possible in the Monsoon session of Parliament,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.

He maintained that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had made a promise to the nation on the Lokpal Bill and the government will deliver on that promise.

Asked if the Prime Minister would come within the ambit of the Lokpal as demanded by some political parties and civil society activists led by Anna Hazare, Mr. Sibal said, “Some suggestions were given during the all—party meeting. When the matter comes up before the Cabinet, the government will decide.”

He, however, clarified that the five ministers, including him, in the Joint Drafting Committee were still of the opinion that the Prime Minister should be kept out of the purview of the Lokpal.

Mr. Sibal stated that the Lokpal Bill has provisions whereby any matter not being investigated by any agency like the CBI can go to the Lokpal.

“The Lokpal Bill is coming and we all want that a strong legislation should come in Parliament so that all these issues being raised are handed over to the Lokpal. BJP also wants this and we too want it,” he said.

Asked about suggestions made by the civil society members in the Jan Lokpal Bill, Mr. Sibal said some points had been accepted and some rejected by the government.

“There is no provision for an individual to bring a Bill… If Anna Hazare wants to say something he can go to the Standing Committee later,” Mr. Sibal said.

Making light of the “referendum” being conducted by the civil society activists on the Lokpal Bill, the Minister said it was neither a referendum nor a survey.

Mr. Sibal insisted that corruption was a serious issue and referred to the recent controversy over the Karnataka Lokayukta report on illegal mining which indicts Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

“It appears BJP will have to decide after introspection that it will have to accept the truth and whatever decision the Lokayukta has taken, BJP should take steps on it based on morality. This is a matter of corruption and is serious,” he said.

The Minister evaded a question on whether Mr. Yeddyurappa should resign and maintained that what he was saying makes things obvious.

He also took digs at the BJP for demanding resignations of union ministers based on the CAG report (in the 2G spectrum scam) and disrupting functioning of Parliament while not following the same norm for its chief minister.

“I think that some national parties must move away from the amoral position that they had before and travel to the moral position that they need to take on issues like these so that the doublespeak must end,” Mr. Sibal said.

He asked the BJP to stop being in “denial mode” about Mr. Yeddyurappa’s involvement in corruption. He said BJP’s ideology itself is one of “double-standards”