Parl panel on Lokpal divided on PM inclusion

New Delhi: The Parliamentary Committee on Lokpal Bill was on Wednesday sharply divided with members from BJP and the Left demanding inclusion of the Prime Minister within its ambit while those from Congress favoured coverage of the Prime Minister after he demits office.

There are some members, including those from smaller groups like BSP, SP and AIADMK who opposed the inclusion of the Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal.

Chairman of the Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice Abhishek Singhvi said after the meeting that the report has been "adopted" by the committee but opposition members contested this saying it cannot be considered as adopted till the time their dissent notes are submitted.

With Wednesday`s meeting, the Committee concluded its deliberations on the Lokpal Bill that was referred to it in August during the last session of Parliament that saw Anna Hazare calling off his fast at the Ramlila Maidan.

During over 15 sittings lasting 40 hours, the Committee deliberated on various issues including bringing the office of the Prime Minister under Lokpal, citizens` charter, public grievances mechanism and inclusion of the entire bureaucracy under its ambit.

Members from BJP wanted inclusion of the Prime Minister with some safeguards and citizens` charter to be a part of the Lokpal institution. They also demanded the inclusion of the entire bureaucracy under the ambit of the ombudsman.

Congress members strongly opposed inclusion of the incumbent Prime Minister saying he could be covered after he demits office. Samajwadi Party`s main demand was to make the citizen`s charter to be a part of the Lokpal.

Singhvi said the report to be tabled in Parliament will reflect dissent notes of members who have divergent views on "some" issues. Members from CPI-M and AIADMK are also learnt to have differed on various aspects of the Bill.

In the 30-member Committee, there are nine members from Congress, one each from Trinamool Congress, RJD and LJP. BJP has seven members while CPI-M, AIADMK and SP have one member each. BJD and BSP also have one member each in the Committee which also has two Independents and as many nominated members.

RSP and SDF also have one member each. AIADMK is learnt to have insisted that creation of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states should not be done though a single act. It should be left to states to create the institution of Lokayukta.

The party opposed the inclusion of the Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal. BJP member in the Committee Kirti Azad said the bill does not reflect the `sense of the House` adopted in August this year.

"The sense of the House was inclusion of the lower bureaucracy, the citizens` charter and public grievances," he said after the meeting.

He said all the seven members of BJP in the committee would give their dissent note to Chairman Singhvi after talking to the party leadership.

"There is law, there is politics. There are also various views…a decision will be taken keeping in view these people people who have some disagreement on some issues," Singhvi told reporters adding there was was a large measure of consensus and convergence.

On the issue of inclusion of the Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal, he said the various views on the subject have some logic. "What the Committee agrees to, you will find in the report."

He said while one view is to keep the Prime Minister out of the purview of Lokpal, the other view is to keep him within the ambit of the institution but with some safeguards.

Another view, he said, was to cover the PM under the ombudsman but to keep the prosecution and legal process suspended till he was in office. He called it the "deferment model".