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Lokpal in LS on Dec 22, CBI still a sticking point

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New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government proposes to introduce the Lokpal Bill in Parliament on December 22 even as an independent panel for appointing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director has emerged as a sticking point in the meeting of senior UPA ministers on Monday, sources have said.
The UPA Cabinet will meet on Tuesday at 2 PM to discuss, finalise and clear the Lokpal Bill draft. The Cabinet meeting was earlier scheduled to take place on Monday evening, but it had to be postponed as there are over 60 amendments in the Lokpal Bill. So, a new Bill will have to be introduced in the Lok Sabha, sources said.
Parliament's winter session may also be extended by one day to discuss the Lokpal Bill. If the Cabinet clears the draft on Tuesday, the Government may waive the notice period and put the amendments in Lok Sabha on Wednesday giving three clear days to pass the Bill in both the Houses.
On Monday during the meeting between Home Minister P Chidambaram, Telecom and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy the draft could not be finalised as the procedure to appoint the CBI director remained a contentious issue.
As per the government proposal, the Lokpal, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition will choose the CBI director but Chidambaram has reservations about the proposal.
Sources said that Chidambaram objected to the proposal and asked whom the CBI director will report to as presently the investigative agency chief reports to the home ministry.
Sources say that the Government is unwilling to hand over administrative powers of CBI to Lokpal. Instead, the Lokpal will be allowed to supervise investigation of corruption cases it hands over to the CBI.
Also on CBI, one point of view was that CBI shouldn't be bifurcated and investigation and prosecution shouldn't be taken away from CBI, sources added.
Three drafts were prepared and now Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has to decide, they said.
Chidambaram, Sibal, Narayanswamy and Khurshid will meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in North block and discuss the Lokpal Bill draft. Mukherjee will hold separate talks with the Prime Minister before the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The government has proposed that there will be no separate directorate of prosecution wing in the CBI.
It also proposed that independent panel to appoint CBI director will consist of the Speaker, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Khurshid said that the Cabinet meeting on Lokpal Bill will not take place on Monday and it is also not necessary to extend the winter session of Parliament to have more time to debate and pass the anti-corruption Bill.
"It is not necessary that session will be extended. We will try to do so in this session," Khurshid said.
On the inclusion of CBI under Lokpal, he said, "CBI autonomy will be respected and if it can be institutionalised, it will be done."
After a high-level meeting of ministers chaired by Chidamabaram, Khurshid said, "We have finished the cleaning up of the draft. We had instructions to clean up the draft and we have cleaned up the draft".
He said the actual drafting and finishing of the drafting work is being done by officials and as soon as it is ready, the bill goes to Cabinet once the prime minister gives the signal.
"I hope it will be the last night they will have to stay awake (to work on the draft)," he said.
He said the draft changes would go to the Cabinet for approval before which the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister would have a look at it.
The Law Minister said the government would bring the Lokpal Bill in the current session. There may not be any need to extend it, he felt.
He said the final architecture of the changed Bill would be known only after the Cabinet approves it and sends it to Parliament for consideration.

Source : http://ibnlive.in.com/news/lokpal-panel-for-picking-cbi-chief-a-sticky-point/213324-37-64.html

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