Govt wants bill to set up anti-corruption ombudsman
The government on Wednesday said it wants to bring the bill to set up anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal, in Rajya Sabha during the first part of the current Budget session of Parliament.
Replying to a notice given by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley seeking suspension of the Question Hour to resume debate on the Lokpal bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal said the government has studied the 187 amendments moved by Opposition and allies in ruling alliance since debate on the bill was adjourned after the House was adjourned sine die on December 29.
"We want to bring the bill within this part of session itself," he said. His statement marked a change of stand by government as the minister on the session eve press conference had said it would be difficult to take up the bill in the first part due to financial business.
Bansal said the Lokpal and the Lokayukta Bills have been kept on top of the list of business to be conducted during the Budget session of Parliament.
Listing the priority for the government for first part of the Budget session which ends March 30, he said the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address will be taken up first, followed by passing of General and Rail Budget and Lokpal Bill will be taken up thereafter.
"Notwithstanding the primacy that is accorded to passing of financial business, the government wishes to bring the (Lokpal) bill for further discussion in this part of the session," he said.
"The government has studied the amendments and we have formulated our views," he said when Opposition members pressed for a response to the amendments moved.
The Government is committed to put in place a "strong mechanism to check corruption," Bansal said adding the UPA government wanted to hold consultations with the Opposition on the amendments moved and passing of the bill.
He disagreed with Jaitley who had cited rule 257 to state that discussion on Lokpal Bill has to be taken up since it remained inconclusive when the House was adjourned sine die.
"There are other bills which we deferred...which were not concluded. More consultations are necessary," Bansal said throwing a question at Jaitley if the Opposition parties were ready for discussion.
Jaitley countered Bansal saying the government did not deem it necessary to holds consultations for past two-and-half months and has suddenly realised the virtue of having talks.
Bansal said the government had extended the Winter session of the Parliament by three days in December. "Since there was no further extension sought by the government, there was no option left for the Presiding Offer other than to adjourn the House sine die," he said.
The Minister agreed that he could have stood up in the House on the night of December 29 to extend the House further.
But it is "not your right" of a member to summon a meeting of the House. The President will not summon a meeting of the House even if all the 275 member of Rajya Sabha and 545 members of Lok Sabha request. House will be summoned when the Government writes to the President for the same, he said.
Earlier, Jaitley quoted rule 257 to state that the Chairman if he deems necessary can adjourn the proceedings for the House for a time to be decided by him. "The debate cannot be indefinitely abandoned."
The Chair also has to state when the debate is to be resumed, he said adding that the House has since met and so the debate on the Lokpal bill, the last item on agenda before Rajya Sabha was adjourned minutes before midnight on December 29, should be taken up immediately.
"Since it was last discussed... the debate must deemed to continue when the House resumes," he said.