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Lokpal amendment bill sent to Standing Committee

A bill seeking to amend Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act to include leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha in a panel which will select chairperson and members of the anti-corruption body was on Monday referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu expressed government’s willingness to send the bill to the Standing Committee after Rabindra Kumar Jena (BJD) said there were several loopholes in the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in its present form, including on the issue of selection of CBI director.

The bill was taken up for discussion amid din created by opposition on the conversion issue.
The bill, introduced on December 18, has been brought to address the lacunae in the existing law which provides for inclusion of the Leader of the Opposition in the panel.

However, since there is no LoP in the current House, the amendment was necessitated.
Moving the bill for consideration, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said the amendments proposed to make provision for inclusion of the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha as a member of the selection committee when there is no LoP recognised.

In the present House, the amendment will pave the way for Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge to be the member of the committee which is headed by the Prime Minister and consists of the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him and an eminent jurist, who could be nominated by the President or any other member. .

The bill proposes that “no appointment of a Lokpal Chairperson, member or the eminent jurist will be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy of absence of a member in the selection committee.”
The bill also provides for qualifications for appointment of Director of Prosecution in CBI and for its functional independence.

The Director of Prosecution is appointed under provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which governs working of the CBI.

There shall be a Directorate of Prosecution headed by a Director who shall be an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of India, for conducting prosecution of cases, according to the DSPE Act.

Responding to members’ demand, Naidu said the government supports the demand that the CBI should be an independent body and if the House agrees it can be referred to the Standing Committee.

Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, who was on the Chair, then referred the bill to the Standing 
Committee.  
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