HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Govt agrees to judicial probe in Walmart row

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 12, 2012
First Published: 12:23 IST(12/12/2012) | Last Updated: 01:35 IST(13/12/2012)

In a bid to secure a smooth run of the winter session, the government on Wednesday agreed to a judicial probe into the issue of Walmart’s lobbying in India.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath told the Lok Sabha that a retired judge will inquire into the matter.

The minister, however, didn’t specify if it would be a retired Supreme Court or a high court judge but sought suggestions from members.

“Yesterday I shared the concern of members on the press reports concerning Walmart. I had also informed that the government had no hesitation to hold an inquiry.

Today, I would like to inform that the government will appoint a retired judge to hold an inquiry into the media reports concerning Walmart,” Kamal Nath said in the Lower House.

The minister’s assurance, however, failed to cut ice, particularly with the BSP, and the Lok Sabha again witnessed uproar over the demand to bring the SC/ST Bill in Parliament.

The government also accepted the opposition’s demand to have a time-bound probe.

In a disclosure to the US Senate, Walmart had said that it had spent $25 million (around R125 crore) over four years for its lobbying activities that included efforts to gain enhanced market access in India.

Top sources in the government indicated that the UPA floor managers will now focus on negotiating with the SP and the BSP. The two Uttar Pradesh-based parties are at loggerheads over the SC/ST Bill that seeks to provide quota in promotion in government jobs.

Kamal Nath expressed hope that a solution will be found. "All solutions will be found. We are slowly moving ahead.” He, however, refused to divulge the government’s strategy to end the logjam. “I certainly can't resolve it through the cameras,” Nath quipped to reporters.

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