NEW DELHI: A bill to amend the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, was passed by parliament on Thursday doing away with the time limit for public servants to furnish details of their assets and liabilities, which as per the original act was July 31 every year.
The Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, was passed by the upper house on Thursday.
It allows extension of the time given to public servants and trustees and board members of NGOs, receiving government funds of more than Rs 1 crore or foreign funding of more than Rs 10 lakh, to declare their assets and those of their spouses.
Speaking on the bill, Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh said the government had no intention to dilute the Lokpal bill.
"We have no intention to dilute or to deviate from the Lokpal bill. Government stands by Lokpal Act and is committed to implement it in letter and spirit," he said.
"The message should also not go out that members have joined together to get away from provision of stating their assets. It is also a fact under the Representation of People Act what we are declaring is much more than any other class or section of society," the minister said.
He added that the amendment is needed as the deadline for declaration was just two days away.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, participating in the short-duration debate on the bill, urged the government to fulfill the task of appointing Lokpal.
"This bill is being passed to have time to reach clarity and there is no intent to dilute the bill. It is important for the entire house to bear in mind this country has seen enough turbulence. There was agitation, there was demand and then this bill was brought. It is incumbent on the present government to complete the process and appoint Lokpal, so the purpose of law is achieved," Sharma said.
The Left parties refused to support the bill.
"The CPI-M and Left do not support the bill. Lokpal should be made more stringent," Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader T.K. Rangarajan said.
"Normally, the corrupt people put their money on (in the name of)their wife and their children. They have two-three wives... We cannot support all these corrupt people," he said.
The bill was later passed with voice vote.