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Friday, 19 August 2011

Private bills can ensure Hazare version of Lokpal is discussed by Parliament

NEW DELHI: Two private members bills by BJP MP Varun Gandhi and Independent MP Rajiv Chandrasekhar can give Parliament an opportunity to discuss the Lokpal provisions that are being advocated by the Anna Hazare group.

The activists' grouse that their version is not being considered can be addressed if the private member's bills are debated. Chandrasekhar's bill incorporates some provisions contained in the Jan Lokpal bill while Varun has said he will move the Team Hazare version.

However, there are procedural hurdles as such bills need a month's notice before introduction and priority is decided by lottery.

Law minister Salman Khurshid said a private member's bill mirroring the version of Lokpal advocated by the Hazare group could be considered by Parliament if the MP moving the proposal feels he can generate sufficient cross-party support.

The law minister indicated that the passage of such a bill was unlikely as usually private member legislations are not put to vote. "What happens is that the concerned minister assures that the concerns of the private member's bill will be addressed and the proposal is withdrawn," Khurshid said. "Of course, a member can call for a vote if he or she feels that Parliament will support the bill," he added.

Sources in the parliamentary affairs ministry, however, pointed out that a month's notice was needed for the introduction of such a bill and it this may not be the case with Varun's proposal. If the notice was submitted this week, it would not come up before September 8, when the monsoon session ends.

There is one instance of a private member's bill being adopted by the government when Feroze Gandhi moved a proposal. In that case, the government replaced his private member's bill with an official version. The Lokpal bill, however, is already with the standing committee and there is no unanimity on the Hazare's group's version.

Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subash Kashyap said there was no provision for a private member's bill to be referred to the standing committee on law and personnel which is currently examining the Lokpal bill. He said a private bill on the same subject as under consideration of the committee could not be sent to the same panel.


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