New Delhi: The Parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal Bill on Friday submitted its report on the legislation to set up an anti-corruption ombudsman to the Parliament.
The report on the Lokpal Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, Public Grievances and Personnel.

In the Lok Sabha, Committee member Pinaki Misra tabled the report and the evidence tendered before the panel during the deliberations.

Addressing a press conference outside the Parliament, Singhvi said statutory status had been recommended for the Lokpal while the issue of bringing the Prime Minister under its ambit had been left to the Parliament.  There had been three suggestions - inclusion of the Prime Minister under Lokpal, non-inclusion and deferred inclusion, he added.    The bill will be scrutinised by the law ministry and the home ministry and brought for discussion and passage in the winter session before it ends December 22.

Meanwhile the committee allayed fears that making it a constitutional body would delay its passage and maintained that the process can be completed in a single day.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice, which tabled its report in both Houses of the Parliament on Friday, said apprehensions regarding delay in granting constitutional status to the institution of Lokpal are "misplaced" as the amendment bill in this regard would be much shorter than the statutory bill.

"It can be passed on the same day and at the same time as the latter though by a different majority," Singhvi told reporters.

The report states that it is "inconceivable that while parties are in favour of the institution of Lokpal in principle, as a statutory body, parties would not agree with equal alacrity for the passage of a constitutional amendment bill".

Singhvi further said the proposed amendment bill to grant constitutional status will not have more than seven paragraphs.

He was hopeful that the Cabinet would clear the Bill and place the amended version before the Parliament for its passage.

"Intentions are very clear that this Bill has to be brought in this session of the Parliament," Singhvi said, adding there were nine more days in the Winter Session to pass the legislation.

Anna Hazare has threatened to go on another fast if the Bill is not passed in this session thus setting a deadline for the government.

Team Anna questions Committee's credibility
   
Two days ahead of Anna Hazare's fast for a strong Lokpal Bill, his team stepped up attack on government questioning the "credibility" of the Standing Committee report on the issue saying it has only the support of 12 members.
   
Team Anna also said they will oppose "tooth and nail" the Standing Committee proposals on the ombudsman which they claimed is taking the anti-corruption systems in the country two steps backward.
   
"Standing Committee had 30 members. Two never attended. Sixteen dissented. So this report is supported by balance 12. Seven are from Congress, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Amar Singh and rest from Mayawati's BSP.
   
"So much for credibility of this report," prominent Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said.
   
Claiming that the committee recommendations, if implemented, would increase corruption and disintegrate CBI's functioning, Kejriwal said, "This report takes our anti- corruption systems two steps back. We must oppose this report tooth and nail".
   
His comments came even as Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman Abishek Singhvi sought to allay fears that making Lokpal a constitutional body would delay its passage and maintained that the process can be completed in a single day.
   
Hazare will go on a one-day fast on Sunday in protest against the Standing Committee proposals, which excludes his key demands like bringing lower bureaucracy under the ambit of the ombudsman besides provisions for Citizen's Charter.
   
Activist Kiran Bedi also echoed Kejriwal and said, "Damage is done by keeping CBI's investigation powers out of Lokpal- whole reason for the Lokpal? Will Parliament undo?"

Bedi said the fears about diluting the Lokpal have been "not unfounded".
   
"People must know why CBI's investigating powers are a must be with Lokpal. Country now needs united opposition to undo. And once for all bring CBI under Lokpal. Or else we have weakened even what we have," she said.
   
She said the reason for having Lokpal was to give CBI investigation team insulation from political influences.
   
"Lokpal has not been given any investigative powers. It has been giving power to inquire which is not needed. CBI needs to conduct preliminary enquiry to proceed with investigations.
   
"How can you separate the preliminary enquiry from investigations? So in a way the Lokpal Bill has also weakened CBI by taking away its powers to conduct preliminary enquiry," she said.
   
Bedi expressed hope that Parliament will reverse the Standing Committee proposal.
   
"Parliament can overrule the Standing Committee, so we hope that Parliament in unanimity sets the CBI free," she said.

(JPN/Agencies)