With President’s assent, Lokpal becomes law

President Pranab Mukherjee signed on Lokpal Bill making it a law of the land on new year’s day.

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill recently passed by the parliament making it a law of the land. He signed the documents containing authentic copy of Lokpal Bill and amendments to it sent to him by the law ministry on new year’s day.

The Lok Sabha secretariat had sent the copy of the bill to the law ministry on Tuesday evening with the signature of Speaker Meira Kumar. It was then forwarded to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the president’s signature.

The movement for a Lokpal bill got steam after the agitation launched by social activist Anna Hazare in 2011. The initial draft of the bill was disapproved by him. But Hazare gave his thumbs up to the amended Bill during his recent fast in Ralegan-Siddhi in Maharashtra.

The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in 2011 and was taken up in the Rajya Sabha but could not be voted upon as the house was adjourned sin die by the speaker at the midnight. It was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Later the Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha and referred to the select committee. The amended Bill was again tabled in the Rajya Sabha on December 16 and passed by voice vote. The following day, it was passed by the Lok Sabha without debate.

The Bill provides for creation of anti-graft ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries including prime minister, ministers and members of parliament. Among other provisions, the Bill makes it incumbent upon states to make within a year their own law for setting up Lokayuktas on the lines of the Lokpal Bill.

The ruling Congress had made a fervent appeal to political parties to pass the bill during the winter session of parliament projecting its vice president Rahul Gandhi the hero for taking steps for the same. This appeal had come after Congress lost in four state elections and was looking for a save.

The BJP had not debated Lokpal and let it pass in the winter session but had questioned the timing of passing the Bill, while Samajwadi Party had staged a walk out from the both houses of the parliament.

The Aam Aadmi Party had vehemently opposed the Bill in it amended form too saying that it had defective provisions on how a Lokpal should be appointed. “Of the five-member committee, four are controlled by politicians. Then again the CBI officers are under the administrative control of the government and hence cannot function properly for Lokpal. Why should politicians insist on having an upper hand on appointing Lokpal?” AAP member Prashant Bhushan had asked.

The AAP was also targeted by various political parties for opposing Lokpal who saw it as loss of an agenda for the party if the Bill was passed.

-with inputs from IANS

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