New Delhi: The much-debated Lokpal Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid objections from the BJP and its NDA partners over exclusion of the Prime Minister from the purview of the proposed legislation.

Just before introduction of the Bill, Speaker Meira Kumar gave permission to Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj to express her views as a special case under Rule 72.

Swaraj said when the Prime Minister does not enjoy immunity from prosecution under the criminal law and Prevention of Corruption Act, why is he being kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal.

She maintained that as per the Constitution, everybody was equal and there is no immunity from IPC, CrPC or the Prevention of Corruption Act.

"It is for the first time that under Clause 2 of the Lokpal Bill, all Union ministers are included except the Prime Minister. I don't understand why. How can anybody occupying any position be a holy cow? Why is the Prime Minister being kept out of its purview?" Swaraj posed.

She stated that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had put the debate to rest during the NDA rule by saying that if he is not under its purview it will have no meaning. She was referring to the Lokpal Bill proposed by the NDA government which was ultimately not introduced in the Parliament.

"As chairperson of the then Standing Committee on Home, Pranab Mukherjee had accepted that the Prime Minister should be within the purview of the Lokpal. The Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) has himself said he wants to be within its ambit. Why is the Cabinet not paying heed to his views?" she asked.

Swaraj said the BJP had several objections to the proposed Bill but would, for the moment, confine herself to only the exclusion of the PM.

"We will object to introduction of the Lokpal Bill," she said.

Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy, who introduced the Bill, said the Prime Minister had offered to be within the purview of the Lokpal but the Cabinet did not agree.

"Ultimately this bill will go to the Standing Committee. Your objection cannot be sustained," he told the Opposition benches.


Mukherjee told the House that Swaraj's contention that he gave his nod to the NDA's Lokpal Bill is true.

"On February 16, 2002 as Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Home, I had placed that Bill on the table of the House. NDA had two full years after that. Why did they not bring the Bill," Mukherjee said.

When Narayanasamy introduced the Bill, the BJP and NDA members objected to it.

Earlier, in his reply to the motion on price rise, Mukherjee said the government has taken views of the civil society but "there was no question of diluting the authority of Parliament in making the legislation."

He said that in the case of Lokpal Bill, normal legislative process will be followed.

Team Anna burns copies of Bill

Meanwhile, Anna Hazare and his team members burnt copies of the "anti-poor, anti-Dalit" law with the Gandhian asserting that he would go ahead with his fast beginning August 16 till a strong law is brought in.

Hazare and his supporters burnt copies of the Bill in Maharashtra's Ralegaon Siddhi while his supporters Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi led the protest in Uttar Pradesh's Kaushambi area in Ghaziabad.

Amidst sloganeering against the government, Hazare said it was the last chance to eradicate corruption from the country and that the protest should be organised all over to ensure that a strong Lokpal Bill is brought in.

"This is a bad and weak Bill which is introduced in Parliament. We need a new and strong Bill. I trusted them when they said they will bring a strong law and ended my fast in April. They cheated me,’ he said.

He claimed the government would have fallen if he had continued his fast then for another three days. The government does not fear fast or protests but they fear the voice of people, he said, adding that people should acquire this power to overthrow governments.

Alleging that it was an insult to Parliament and people, Kejriwal described the Bill as "anti-poor and anti- Dalit" which does not help the poor in fighting corruption.

Countering suggestions that the Bill can be further debated in the Standing Committee, Kejriwal said the panel cannot alter or change the provisions as it can only give suggestions.

"Parliament has been given a fait accompli. This is insult of the people and the Parliament," he added.

Bhushan and Bedi said what they were demanding was an independent agency which could probe corruption.

Team Anna's actions insult to Parliament: Govt

Slamming Team Anna for burning copies of the Lokpal Bill, government on Wednesday said actions of the civil society members was an insult to Parliament and posed a danger to democracy.

"Today, this Bill is a property of Parliament and to burn this Bill publicly is an insult to Parliament. If our democracy continues to function in this fashion, then I feel it poses a danger to democracy," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said.

He said if Anna Hazare and his colleagues wanted to put across their views on the Bill, they should approach the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

"The Bill is Parliament's property, there are Parliamentary procedures. If Mr Hazare wants to put his point of view he is entitled to do so by moving to the Standing Committee and saying that the provisions of my Bill be taken into account," Sibal said.

Asked whether any action would be taken against Hazare and his colleagues for burning copies of the Lokpal Bill, he said this issue would be decided by someone else.

"Whether to take action or not will be decided by someone else. We have said this is against democracy and against the Constitution and it is an insult to Parliament," he said.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid asked team Anna to come clean on whether they have faith in Parliamentary democracy.

"You should ask them (Team Anna) about this as the Lokpal Bill is now the property of Parliament. They claim that they have full faith in Parliament," he said.

"Those who express faith in Parliament are themselves burning the copy of the Bill. You should ask them what kind of belief is this," he said.

Govt charges BJP with double-speak

Government on Thursday dubbed as "political opportunism and double speak" the BJP's objection to exclusion of the office of Prime Minister from the ambit of Lokpal, pointing out that the Lokayukta Act in states ruled by the party did not cover the chief ministers.

"The statement of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha is a classic example of political opportunism. If the BJP is so concerned about Lokpal, the states they are in power would have had a Lokpal," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj made the statement objecting to provisions of the Lokpal Bill to make a political point.

On Swaraj's argument that Pranab Mukherjee, as chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, had included Prime Minister in the ambit of the Lokpal, Chidambaram said the NDA, which was in power for two years after the report was submitted, should have got the Bill passed in Parliament.

"Mukherjee had submitted the report of the Standing Committee on February 16, 2002. The NDA had two years and two months to get the Bill passed in Parliament. They did not," he said.

Sibal questioned why there was no Lokayukta in Gujarat from 2003 to 2011. He said the then Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had appointed a Lokayukta in the state in 1998 and the term of the ombudsman ended in 2003.

"From 2003 to 2011, there has been no Lokayukta in Gujarat. If the Leader of the Opposition is so concerned that the people's grievances be addressed, the BJP should have asked the Chief Minister to appoint a Lokayukta," Sibal said.

No compromise on basic structure of the Constitution: Congress

Amid protests over tabling of the government version of the Lokpal Bill in Parliament, Congress on Thursday said there could be no compromise on the basic structure of the Constitution and wondered why Anna and his friends do not understand a fact even a school child can.

"There is a Constitutional structure in the country and this structure has not fallen from above but has been put in place by people of the country through their elected representatives," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

"In India's democratic structure, everybody can give an advice but it is only people's representatives, who can introduce a bill in Parliament and enact a law. This basic fact is understood by even a school child. Either Anna and his friends do not understand or do not want to understand. The question is why they do not want to understand it," he said.

When told that team Anna has burnt copies of the Lokpal Bill of the government, Tewari said the country has seen people and parties burning even the Indian Constitution and then finally agreeing to work within its framework.

"Akali leader Prakash Singh Badal had burnt Indian Constitution in Rakabaganj. Now he is Punjab's Chief Minister.

"Similar unfortunate incidents had also happened in Assam. Even those, who burnt the Constitution of India realized the futility of such exercises and finally reconciled to work within the parameters of the same. Why the Anna team is refusing to recognize this reality," Tewari asked.

(Agencies)