Lokpal Bill update

The majority in the political class on Wednesday endorsed Team Anna’s stand on putting the prime minister and lower bureaucracy within the purview of the proposed Lokpal, but cautioned the government against acting in a hurry to meet the winter session deadline set by the anti-graft pressure group to putin place the country’s first independent anti-corruption watchdog. At the all-party meeting, the majority also did not seem to agree with Team Anna on reducing the CBI to an adjunct of the Lokpal in anti-corruption investigations, holding that the agency should be able to carry out investigations without having to constantly look over its shoulders to either the government or the Lokpal. An overwhelming majority, however, favoured eliminating the role of the government in deciding who heads the premier anti-corruption agency. It was strongly argued that the process for the appointment of the CBI chief should be the same as laid down for the CVC or the one proposed for the Lokpal itself. Many participants spoke about the “misuse” of the CBI. The consensus seemed to be that administrative control over the investigating agency should be exercised by the proposed Lokpal rather than the Centre. However, few agreed that the Lokpal should be empowered to monitor the CBI’s investigations, barring those it is asked to undertake by the watchdog itself. Neither the government nor the key UPA partners—Trinamool, DMK and NC—revealed their hand.
On PM : Left and right united on bringing PM’s office within Lokpal ambit
On Lower Bureaucracy : BJP and CPM want Group C & D employees included; CPI says Lokpal can’t handle crores of employees
On CBI : Majority against making CBI adjunct of Lokpal. Argue for administrative control of CBI by Lokpal, but reject suggestion that Lokpal should monitor CBI probes. All agree that govt must have no role in appointing CBI chief .
Barring BJP and CPM to some extent, all parties — even NDA allies — against rigid winter session deadline for passage of bill. Say while Lokpal is necessary, it shouldn’t be hurried.
"I am personally keen this momentous legislation should be passed on the basis of consensus among all parties as far as possible and that this should not be subjected to party politics in any way", Manmohan Singh.

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