Lok Sabha passes Lokpal Bill by voice vote, SP walks out

New Delhi, Dec.18 (ANI): The Lok Sabha, as expected, passed the amended version of the Lokpal Bill by a voice vote here on Wednesday afternoon, even as the Samajwadi Party opted to walk out of the House in protest over its passage.

The Lower House passed the Lokpal Bill a day after the Rajya Sabha had passed it, thus paving the way for the setting up of an ombudsman to battle corruption in the government and among public servants.

Wednesday's discussion and debate of the Bill lasted for about two hours. It was preceded by a nearly five-hour-long our-hour debate and discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Tuesday's debate took place in an atmosphere of rare political consensus.

Replying to five-hour long debate, Law Minister, Kapil Sibal urged the states to take up this bill as a model and pass the Lokayuktas Bill as early as possible. He said the Lokpal is supposed to investigate cases of corruption against elected representatives of the public and the public servants.

Earlier, initiating the discussion on the Bill, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said that his party is supporting the bill. Jaitley pointed out that there should not be religion-based reservations in the institution of the proposed Lokpal.

In Ralegaon Siddhi, anti-corruption crusader and social activist Anna Hazare welcomed the news of the passing of the Lokpal Bill in both Houses of Parliament, and said he would end his fast of nine-days.

Hazare thanked all political parties for ensuring the passage of the Lokpal Bill.

The government has agreed to incorporate a key amendment demanded by the opposition BJP, which allows searches or raids by the CBI or police on an officer accused of corruption without notice.

The proposed anti-graft law provides for a Lokpal or national ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries.

The Lok Sabha had passed the Lokpal Bill in 2011 to create a Central Lokayukta.

Transparency's landmark 2005 study of corruption in India found that as many as 62 percent of all citizens have had first-hand experience in paying bribes or using influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices. (ANI)