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Food bill stuck as cabinet seeks time

delhi Updated: Dec 14, 2011 01:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Cabinet

The Union cabinet cleared three key anti-corruption legislations including the Judicial Accountability Bill on Tuesday, deferring the flagship Food Security Bill.

The food bill will be taken up at a special cabinet meeting on Sunday, along with the Lokpal Bill.

Trinamool Congress leader, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking more time to formulate the party's views on the food bill.

The anti-graft legislations — the Whistleblowers' Bill, the Citizen's Grievance Redress Bill and the Judicial Accountability Bill — were passed amid a lot of questions raised by cabinet ministers.

Some ministers including home minister P Chidambaram questioned the clause in the judiciary bill that seeks to debar judges from maintaining close relations or close social interaction with lawyers practising in the same court. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/14-12-11-metro13.jpg

The government considers the bill important, as for the first time it allows citizens to file complaints against sitting judges on corruption charges.

Some ministers feared state governments might object to the grievance redress bill. Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal wanted it to be renamed as Services Bill.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad objected to the 15-day deadline given to officials to reply to citizens.

The cabinet finally decided to change it to 30 days.

While food security was the first on the agenda, it was taken up at the end as the Prime Minister wanted all ministers to express their opinion on it. However, only 15 members had spoken when time ran out.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee remarked, "We would like to discuss with the UPA allies otherwise like FDI, you will say we did not discuss."

"The discussion on the food bill remained inconclusive. We are trying our best to introduce the bill in this session," food minister KV Thomas said after the meeting.