30 Dec 2011

Chaos in Indian upper house over anti-corruption bill

4:28 pm on 30 December 2011

India's upper house of parliament has adjourned amid chaos without a vote on a controversial anti-corruption bill.

Heated debate on the legislation - konwn as the Lokpal bill - continued through until midnight on Thursday with hundreds of amendments put forward.

The BBC reports that, at one stage during the 10-hour session, one MP snatched the bill from the minister and tore it up.

Under the proposed legislation, an independent ombudsman would be appointed to prosecute politicians and civil servants.

The Bharatiya Janata Party immediately called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resign.

However, the government said the people of India would know who was responsible for the failure to reach a vote.

The bill will now have to be revised and presented again.

According to the BBC reports the government had been hoping the upper house would make the bill law.

The house has 243 members and a simple majority of 122 MPs was needed to ensure the passage of the bill. The ruling alliance has 94 members.

Anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare has called the bill "useless".

He and his supporters say tougher measures are required if the bill is to prove effective at reducing the level of corruption.

In August, Mr Hazare fasted for 13 days in a bid to force parliament to pass tougher legislation against corruption.

The 74-year-old's action caught the imagination of millions of Indians, especially among a new middle class who are angry at having to constantly pay bribes for everything from getting a driving licence to winning a university place.