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RS passes Lokpal Bill, Anna, team celebrate

Having been delayed for long, the bill was discussed in Rajya Sabha with most parties agreeing to pass the legislation, except Samajwadi Party which staged a walkout. Initiating the discussion on the bill, law minister Kapil Sibal said it was a ‘historic’ day and it was time to celebrate the consensus that had been reached on the issue. He said the law alone would not eliminate corruption but it could help deal with those who are corrupt.

Sibal sought to allay any apprehension over the new measure, saying there will be no element of government interference in investigation that would be carried out against corruption under the Lokpal.  ‘I don’t think it is time to laugh or snigger. It is time for us to rise to the occasion,’ said Sibal.

‘Law alone will not lead to elimination of corruption. Law will help deal with those who are corrupt, but it will not deal with the impetus to be corrupt. It will just be a deterrent,’ he said.

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, while supporting the bill, said he was happy that the government had accepted all the changes in ‘this changed environment.’

Among the amendments accepted by the government are delinking of the mandatory creation of Lokayuktas by the state governments, one of the provisions which had stalled the passage of the bill in December 2011. The bill was brought back after being referred to the parliamentary select committee that recommended a number of amendments to make it widely acceptable among the political parties. The bill is all set for passage as most of the parties, including main opposition BJP, BSP and Left, expressed their support to the measure.

Soon after the bill was passed anti-graft activist Anna Hazare in Ralegan Siddhi thanked the MPs for clearing the legislation. ‘I thank on behalf of all citizens of this country all MPs sitting in the Rajya Sabha, except the Samajwadi Party members, for passing the Lokpal Bill,’ said Hazare. He has been fasting for over a week now demanding the passage of the bill. With the Lok Sabha set to take up the legislation on Wednesday, Hazare expressed hope it will get passed in the lower house as well.
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