New Delhi: A bill to amend a law on appointment of CBI chief was passed in the Lok Sabha today amid stiff resistance with Congress alleging that it was aimed at keeping the largest opposition party out of the selection process, a charge denied by the government.
Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, while moving the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2014, for consideration, insisted that there was "no ulterior motive" and the amendment was aimed only to "smoothen" the process of selecting the CBI Director.
The bill provides for inclusion of leader of the single largest opposition party in the three-member committee that selects the CBI Director since there is no recognised Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. The Committee has Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India as other members.
The amendment bill also provides that "No appointment of a Director shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy or absence of a member in the committee." The bill was passed by voice vote but not before a division of votes on its consideration as well as an amendment moved by BJD member Tathagat Satpathy, which was rejected.
Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge made a strong plea to the government to withdraw the measure even at this late stage and bring forward a comprehensive amendment. He was supported by BJD members Tathagat Satpathy and Bhartruhari Mahtab. He alleged that the amendments have been brought by the government deliberately in order to "humiliate" the opposition.
"The bill has been brought exclusively to keep out the single largest opposition party," Kharge said, adding that since the Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India are the only other two members, it is believed that the vacancy will arise only of the opposition leader and they can go ahead with the appointment.
"If that is the intention, that is not good. Purposely it has been done...We are ready to be beheaded, but we will not bend (Sar kat jayega, per zukanewale nahi). Our opposition is valid. It poses a big danger. It is a double edged sword," he said.
His contention was countered by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who remarked that no one was going to be beheaded. "It is the job of the people whether or not to strengthen the opposition. We have brought forward the amendments taking into consideration the spirit of democracy," he said.
In lighter comments, he said that there was no question of Kharge being absent as he is in Parliament before it assembles for the day and leaves only after it is adjourned for the day.