New Delhi, Dec 27: UPA partners, Trinamool Congress and DMK, today struck a discordant note saying the Lokpal Bill provisions to create Lokayuktas would encroach upon the rights of the states.
“Don't undermine the rights of the state legislatures. Does the present legislation not take away the rights of the states?” Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee asked.
He was participating in a debate in the Lok Sabha on the Lokpal Bill.
Banerjee said creation of Lokayuktas under Article 253 of the Constitution would make the central law mandatory for all states. This article provides for laws to give effect to international agreements and gives Parliament the power to make any law for the whole or any part of India.
DMK leader T K S Elangovan asked the Centre to keep the law-making powers of the states with them and protect their rights. “Please ensure that the law-making power to create the Lokayuktas remain with the states,” he said.
Their comments, which were in line with other opposition and regional parties, came even as the Lokpal legislation tabled by the government in Parliament calls for creation of Lokayuktas in states.
Maintaining that through this bill, the Lokpal would become a “super-investigating agency”, Banerjee also demanded inclusion of corruption by corporates, bankers and the media within the jurisdiction of the Lokpal.
The Trinamool MP also said that the bill had been brought and asked “why should it be passed within December 27? Is it because of hunger-strike by somebody? Dignity of the House should be maintained. No one can put it under pressure. It sends a wrong signal.”
Supriya Sule (NCP) said also maintained that bills should not be passed under pressure. She also said “I agree with the Shiv Sena that the Prime Minister should not be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal.”
Kalyan Banerjee (TC) said it would be ironical that the fate of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would be in the hands of the Lokpal - the same person the two will select.
He also questioned the inclusion of the Chief Justice of India in the selection panel saying that the collegium system to select members of the higher judiciary was itself not transparent.
“If face is good, the person is selected as judge, and if the face is not good, the person is not selected,” he said referring to the present collegium system.
Banerjee said if the Lokpal is removed following allegations, then there is no provision in the Bill to send him behind bars or seize his pensionary benefits.
He also suggested that the House be allowed to select Lokpal on lines of appointment of judges in the United States where the Senate is involved in the process.
The Trinamool Congress members also spoke against making it obligatory for the states to adopt the Lokayukta Bill.
He suggested that the Prevention of Corruption Act should be implemented properly so that people sitting in far flung areas feel free to register complaints against corrupt practices.
Jayant Chaudhury (RLD) termed the legislation as a positive step but said proper implementation of present laws was better than framing new ones. He said the tendency to “over-legislate” needed to be checked.
He also suggested a separate cadre for CBI and said officials from state police organisations on deputation to the agency could have bias.
On the issue of inclusion of group C and D employees under the ambit of the ombudsman, he said such a move will flood the institution with complaints and affect its working.
Lalu Prasad (RJD) said while no one was against a strong Lokpal, people know that the present bill has been brought in a haste.
He said the bill should once again be referred to the Standing Committee and the government should not pass it ignoring the amendments suggested by political parties.
Referring to Lokpal's powers of superintendence over CBI in cases referred to it by the ombudsman, he said while Draupadi had five husbands, the CBI will now have nine husbands.
He said any wrong move on the legislation could damage the structure enshrined by the Constitution.
The RJD leader also slammed the idea of right to recall and right to reject, saying if such options are introduced, the politicians will be caught in a perpetual problem.
Maintaining that all officials are not corrupt, he said the fear of Lokpal could also result in a situation where people stop working out of fear of being accused of corruption.