Select panel report on Lokpal bill tabled in upper house

The report of the select committee on the Lokpal bill was placed in the Rajya Sabha by Shantaram Naik, a member of the panel, in the midst of a pandemonium in the house.

Satyavrat Chaturvedi, chairman of the committee, and a senior Congress leader, said the Lokpal bill will be discussed in the upper house. The bill, which was passed in the lower house last year, faced obstacles in the Rajya Sabha, with the opposition objecting to various provisions, including the one that made it mandatory for states to set up Lokayuktas.

A select committee of elders was then set up to amend the bill. But even after the proposed changes, it would become mandatory for states to set up Lokayuktas within a year of the enactment of the Lokpal legislation. However, state legislatures can decide whether the chief minister is to be brought under the ambit of the ombudsman.

Though the prime minister has been brought under the Lokpal, he has been exempt from its provisions on issues relating to external affairs, internal security, public order and atomic energy.

Speaking to reporters, Chaturvedi said all parties on the panel were in agreement on the proposed provisions in the bill. He also praised BJP leader and leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, for the guidance he gave to the committee. ''Without his help the committee could not have reached a conclusion,'' said Chaturvedi. ''Members rose above politics and took decisions.''

The bill, along with the recommendations of the select committee, will go before the union cabinet. It will then have to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and then sent back to the lower house for its approval.