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Kiran Bedi lauds Parliament-approved Lokpal Bill

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 - 6:37pm IST | Place: Ralegan Siddhi | Agency: ANI

Kiran Bedi, a close aide of anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare and a former senior police officer, on Wednesday praised the Parliament-approved Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, and clarified that there is no political motive behind Hazare supporting it.

Under the new law, the prime minister's office and all top government servants and departments will come under the purview of the Lokpal.

The bill's progress came as Hazare continued his hunger strike for an eighth day on Tuesday to put pressure on politicians to act on the measures proposed 46 years ago.

Hazare's fast in 2011 and massive public protests forced the government to introduce the legislation in Parliament.

Supporting the veteran crusader’s hunger strike in his village, Ralegan Siddhi in western India, Bedi sought clearance for the controversial bill in the lower house of the Parliament too.

The ruling Congress party which suffered big losses in state elections over the past month in part over allegations of a pervasive culture of corruption, rushed through the Lokpal or Ombudsman bill in the Rajya Sabha.

An associate of Hazare's later set up a political group called the Common Man's Party that finished second in a stunning debut in elections to the Delhi assembly this month, underlining public support for more accountability in governance.

Only the regional Samajwadi Party opposed the bill on Tuesday saying it would further paralyse government decision-making as officials would be too scared to take decisions for fear of investigation.

Meanwhile, Bedi clarified that Hazare did not enter into any political negotiation and supported the bill on basis of the clauses mentioned in it that would act against corrupt persons.

“There is a lot of misinformation that this anti-graft bill is not appropriate and that we have played.

tricks. Some sections are also blaming Anna Hazare for negotiating with political parties and giving his support to the bill. I want to clarify that this is not the case. The bill is strong and is based on truth. We all have sacrificed a lot for this bill and Anna also wanted that a strong anti-graft bill should be enacted,” added Bedi.

The Ombudsman will be appointed by an independent committee comprising the Prime Minister, the head of the Supreme Court, the leader of the opposition and an eminent jurist.

India has existing laws to tackle corruption but civil rights activists have argued that these are not enough in the light of the large number and scale of scandals in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

India is ranked 94th in a list of 177 countries on Transparency International's 2013 global corruption index, rated as worse than China, South Africa and Brazil in terms of graft.

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