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India upper parliament house fails to pass anti-corruption bill

The Indian upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha [official website], on Thursday failed to pass an anti-corruption bill [text, PDF] that proposed the creation of an official anti-corruption agency known as Lokpal. The upper house met in an extended session of parliament intended to allow for passage of the Lokpal bill, but adjourned at midnight after 14 hours of acrimonious debate [AFP report]. The bill was torpedoed by a ruling-coalition party member, the Trinamool Congress, in an abrupt reversal. Opposition parties have accused the government of deliberately avoiding a vote [VOA report] because it lacked the votes. The future of the bill is unsure. Parliament is scheduled to reconvene early next year [AP report], but the date is unclear. Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has criticized the Lokpal bill, demanding a more powerful ombudsman while the opposition demanded independent investigatory powers.

Corruption has been a major issue recently in Indian politics. Earlier this week, the Lok Sabha [official website], the Indian lower house of parliament, passed the Lokpal bill [JURIST report]. The bill was proposed in response to many corruption scandals that have occurred in India recently including a high court judge embezzling funds [JURIST report]. Also, Indian activist Anna Hazare's twelve day fast in August prompted the Indian government to address the issue of corruption. Earlier this month, the Transparency Index (TI) released its Corruptions Perceptions Index in which it named India as one of the countries whose corruption perception had deteriorated [JURIST report] since last year. In August, addressing both houses of parliament, Indian president Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil indicated that the Indian government would work to eradicate corruption [JURIST report] and take measures to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption and that it will take other legislative and administrative measures necessary to improve transparency.

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