BJP, CPI-M oppose UPA's Lokpal amendments

New Delhi/Patna, Feb. 1 (ANI): A day after the Union Cabinet approved amendments to the Lokpal Bill, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday took the Congress-led UPA Government to task over its failure to formulate an effective anti-graft bill, which would help in the eradication of graft from the country.

BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the country wants an effective Lokpal Bill and not a weak one.

"You (the government) have not made your stand clear on the issue of providing autonomy to the CBI. The rights are incomplete. There is a need for an effective Lokpal Bill to root out corruption from the country. We will raise the issue with fill vigour in the Parliament and will propose suggestions and amendments," he added.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat also lashed out at the government for making a mockery of the Lokpal Bill.

"Today, also will CBI first conduct an enquiry if it has to conduct a raid at that place or will they issue a notice to that company that they will conduct a raid? It is sheer mockery. When you have prima-facie evidence and when Lokpal has decided that prima-facie evidence is there and an enquiry should be made, so, if you will inform before conducting probe then there is no importance of that evidence," Karat told the media in Patna.

"The government has not accepted the suggestions of the select committee on the basis of these questions. This clearly indicates that malafide intention of the government," she added.

The Union Cabinet yesterday delinked the Lokpal from the Lokayuktas or anti-graft ombudsmen in states as it gave its nod to the Lokpal Bill amendments.

The cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, accepted 14 out of the 16 amendments recommended by a select panel of the Rajya Sabha on the proposed Lokpal bill.

The government turned down two amendments, saying that now officials facing a preliminary probe will be given a hearing, and the Lokpal will have no power to transfer Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials investigating a case referred by it.

"CBI is an independent organisation, the government cannot transfer an officer; it is only within the system they do it. So, therefore the Lokpal should not be given that authority. If they want to transfer officer, demand an efficient officer to come it is for them to decide," Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) V. Narayanasamy told the media yesterday.

"Therefore out of 16 amendments, 14 have been accepted by us. The two we did not agree and now we will go to the Rajya Sabha with the amended provision, requesting the Chairman Rajya Sabha to take up the matter and pass it in the Rajya Sabha," he added.

Narayanasamy further said that a person 'affiliated with any political party' would not qualify to be a member of the proposed Lokpal.

"The person who wanted to be a member of the Lokpal- earlier we mentioned that he should not be connected to any political party, now little modification has been made in that by way of amendment saying that they should not be affiliated to any political party - to bring a legal phraseology," he said.

The Lok Sabha had approved the Lokpal bill in 2011, but it got stuck in the upper house. In May 2012, it was referred to the select panel.

The select panel had recommended delinking of the creation of Lokayuktas from the Lokpal Bill, with several parties contending this would lead to encroachment on the rights of states.

The earlier bill had said that the states have to set up Lokayuktas within one year of enactment of Lokpal. (ANI)