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Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 23, 2013
Weeks after an angry Opposition stalled parliamentary proceedings with its demand for a probe into the Walmart lobbying charges, the Union cabinet on Thursday is set to clear a proposal to set up a one-man enquiry committee to look into the matter. The panel will investigate, among other issues, if the international retail giant undertook any activities in India in  “contravention of any Indian law”.

According to the proposal of the corporate affairs ministry to the cabinet, the committee would be set up outside the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, which means it will not enjoy any legal backing to summon witnesses.

In December 2012, Walmart revealed to the US senate that since 2008 it had spent R125 crore on lobbying for various projects, including “enhanced market access for investment in India”.

The UPA government, which had already faced the wrath of opposition parties over FDI in multi-brand retail and Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) amendments in Lok Sabha, had assured Parliament that something would be done about Walmart.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath had spoken of “a time-bound enquiry by a retired judge”.

In all likelihood, the new panel, will get three months to submit its report.