Government can't amend Lokpal bill panel report: Jaitley

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 01, 2013 15:33 hrs

New Delhi: BJP leader Arun Jaitey Friday took exception to the government deciding to drop two recommendations of the Rajya Sabha select committee on the Lokpal bill, saying it had no right to amend the report which was the "property" of the house.

In an article posted on the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) website, Jaitley, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said the report of the select committee is the property of the upper house under its rules of procedure for conduct of business.

"Once a report is presented to the House by a select committee, the government has no authority to amend the report. When the report is taken up for consideration, any member can propose amendments to the said bill," he said.

He, however, added that the government can propose final amendments to the bill, as passed by the Lok Sabha.

Jaitley, who was a member of the select committee appointed by the Rajya Sabha chairman to look into the Lokpal bill, said he had different views on at least two of the suggestions made by the panel and also disagreed with changes and deletions made by the cabinet Thursday.

Referring to the cabinet decision that notice should be given to a public servant by the Lokpal before an investigation was ordered, Jaitley said the select committee had consciously called for deletion of such a provision in the bill.

"Such an inquiry, though ostensibly appears to be in compliance of the principles of natural justice, would be destructive of any effective probe against a delinquent public servant," he said, contending this could help any such official hide evidence of any wrongdoing.

On the government move concerning change of officers of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) without the approval of Lokpal, he said the officials must function without fear or favour.

"An investigating officer may prove inconvenient for the powers that be. Removing him and replacing him with a pliable officer cannot be the discretion of the government," he contended, adding that there was "no plausible reason" why this recommendation "which would have strengthened the institution of Lokpal" was axed.

On re-employment of a retiring CBI director by the government, Jaitley said he had suggested against this as the "desire of a future favour" can influence the CBI chief in conduct of his duty.

Referring to "reservation based on religion" in appointing members of Lokpal, he said the select committee did not favour the suggestion of BJP members.

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