Millennium Post

Lokpal Bill to face new roadblocks

Passage of Lokpal Bill in Parliament could face new roadblocks with BJP on Friday expressing disagreement on four points, including independence of CBI and keeping even organisations, except religious institutions, not funded by the government within the ambit of the ombudsman.

In a statement, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said after reading the recommendations of the Select Committee and government's amendments, BJP has found four areas on which there are differences.

Independence of CBI continues to be a sparring point between BJP and the UPA regime. Jaitley had proposed to the Select Committee that the transfer of CBI officials probing cases referred by the Lokpal to the agency should only be transferred with concurrence of the Lokpal.

‘However, the power as it stands today is vested in the government. The government can defeat the purpose of independent investigation by transferring an inconvenient officer. This requires a relook,’ Jaitley said.

BJP is also against the provision that before a preliminary inquiry is initiated against an official facing charges, the Lokpal should give him a hearing.

‘This would render the inquiry or investigation otiose. In cases involving bribery, accumulation of wealth, disproportionate assets, where an official has to be taken by surprise, searched and raided, the provision for grant of an opportunity for hearing before such action can be taken would defeat the purpose of evidence collection,’ Jaitley said.

He also insisted that not only religious institutions but other bodies which have ‘nothing to do with the government or instrumentality of the state’ should be exempted from the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
‘There cannot be a provision for a religion based reservation in the matter of jurisdiction of Lokpal,’ Jaitley said and insisted that the Select Committee’s view be adopted by the government. 

Jaitley alleged that a ‘revenge provision’ was included by the government on jurisdiction of Lokpal.
Under this, even bodies which receive donations from the government including all religious organisations, educational institutions, societies, cooperatives, clubs and associations or bodies engaged in charitable work would be covered under Lokpal.

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