M A I N   N E W S

Split wide open over Lokpal Bill
Lokpal draft by June 30 n Anna Hazare threatens another stir
Faraz Ahmad & Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

We are ready to face lathis and bullets. I am ready to sacrifice my life for the sake of the country.
— Anna Hazare


n The Lokpal must have the authority to look into complaints of corruption against the Prime Minister, the judiciary and Members of Parliament
n Government servants found corrupt to be summarily dismissed
n The Central Bureau of Investigation should be freed from government-control and brought under the Lokpal
n The Lokpal Bill must be passed by Parliament by August 15, 2011


n Adequate safeguards exist and while the PM and the MPs are answerable to the Parliament, independence of judiciary cannot be interfered with.
n Summary dismissals will be draconian and require amendment of the Constitution
n The Executive cannot give up its authority to fight graft
n The Bill will require consultations with ministries, states, political parties and must necessarily be sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for deliberations before it is passed.

New Delhi, June 16
Notwithstanding the threat and ridicule heaped by Anna Hazare and his Civil Society on the ministers in the Joint Drafting Committee (JDC) of the Lokpal Bill, the latter reiterated their commitment to finalising the draft Bill by June 30.

Home Minister P Chidambaram also sought to close the controversy about bringing the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal and contesting Civil Society claims saying: “Six different proposals are on the table: (a) bring the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal; (b) don’t bring the PM under the purview of Lokpal; (c) bring the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal but with some checks and balances; (d) do it only after he demits office.”

Reacting to Anna’s tirade against the ministers, who debunked all discussions as pointless and threatened to go on a hunger strike, Chidambaram, accompanied by the other two JDC members - Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid - declared: “We will not be diverted from the task of drafting the Lokpal Bill by June 30,” the deadline set by Anna in April when he decided to end his fast and join negotiations with the government.

“We hope to do it along with the members of draft Lokpal Bill committee,” Chidambaram said, adding: “We continued with the work even when they stayed away. It is an indication of our resolve and intention of what we want to do.” The ministers also clarified that only one Draft Bill will be sent up to the Cabinet for consideration. “But wherever there is any divergence of views, two alternatives will be mentioned alongside,” they said.

Dismissing Anna’s threat, Chidambaram said: “The process of drafting a law is very complex and meticulous, but I can’t recall anywhere in the world laws being drafted by sitting on hunger strikes and dharnas.” Sibal said, “You either negotiate or issue threats. You don’t do both,” adding, “Inside they speak a different language.”

Highlighting the divergence, Sibal said: “They wanted all the Central Government employees to be covered by the Lokpal. That’s about 40 lakh Central Government and another 1.2 crore state government employees. We asked them what kind of machinery would that entail and where would you get the people for that. Will the same CBI officer or excise inspector suddenly turn snowhite, after he comes under the Lokpal . There was also the question of the accountability of the Lokpal. All these issues were discussed and have to be addressed. Laws are made in accordance with the Constitution. What they are demanding would require a major amendment to the Constitution. This is a coalition government and we are not the only party. The law has to pass the muster of Parliament,” Sibal said.

Earlier Team Anna, including Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, debunked the ministers as corrupt and, therefore, not interested in the Lokpal Bill and punning on Lokpal, Kejriwal called the government’s suggestions as ‘Jokepal.”

They dismissed the seven meetings of the committee as a waste of time and accused the government of lacking sincerity to fight corruption. He warned of fasts, going to jail and facing lathi-charge to force the government. He said, “We are ready to start a fresh round of nationwide protests and “face lathi-charge or even bullets, if necessary."





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | E-mail |