NEW DELHI, Aug 4 (IANS): The Lokpal Bill which seeks to combat corruption was Thursday introduced in parliament amid strong protests from the opposition.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly opposed the introduction of the bill, demanding that the prime minister should be brought within its ambit.
The proposed legislation's purview does not bring under it the prime minister during his or her term in office. But once the prime minister demits office, he or she can be investigated for any wrongdoing during the term, according to the bill's provisions.
It also excludes from the Lokpal's ambit the judiciary and any action of an MP in parliament or any parliamentary committee.
"I cannot understand how anyone, sitting in any position, be a holy cow? In this Lokpal why is the prime minister out of it?" Swaraj asked in the house.
"I am happy that the prime minister himself had said that it is okay if he is brought within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill. Then, why is the cabinet not paying heed to it?" she added.
Narayansamy defended the introduction of the bill, saying it has become the property of the house and it will immediately go to the parliamentary standing committee. "Parliament is supreme so the opposition by Swaraj cannot be sustained."
Replying to Swaraj's statement that former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee had accepted to be within the ambit of anti-corruption law, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: "I was chairing the parliamentary standing committee on anti-corruption bill in 2001."
"I placed it before parliament for two consecutive years. Why wasn't it cleared then?" he asked.
To mark their protest, the civil society representatives led by social activist Anna Hazare burnt copies of the government's version of the bill at several places in the country and asked the nation to do the same.