India

Govt Says Lokpal Bill Draft Will Be Ready Without Consulting Hazare Team If it Boycott Next Meeting

BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter

New Delhi: Reacting strongly on the Anna Hazare-led civil society members announcement to boycott the next meeting of the drafting committe of the Lopal Bill, the government has said that it will prepare the legislation for Parliament’s monsoon session with or without Hazare’s team.

Human Resource Minister (HRD) Kapil Sibal, who is one of the five ministers on the joint drafting panel, criticised civil society members, saying calling ministers “cheats, liars and tricksters” was “unacceptable.”

“The kind of language and discourse that the civil society members, led by Anna Hazare, are indulging in against the government, calling the ministers cheats, liars and tricksters is unacceptable. We reject in strongest possible terms this load of allegations laid by Anna Hazare that the government is telling lies and the ministers are cheats,” Sibal said.

Reacting to a letter written by committee joint chairperson Shanti Bhushan that raised doubts over the government’s intentions in drafting the anti-graft law, Sibal said civil society members were raising ‘extraneous’ issues not connected with the drafting of Lokpal. “Even in their absence, we discussed and passed several sections of the draft bill. We have a commitment to the people of India and we are bound by it. We will continue to discuss the draft bill and ensure it is before Parliament in the monsoon session,” Sibal told a press conference here.

He also appealed to the members of the civil society to join the committee meetings. “I can only request them to come. There is no connection between what happened in Ramlila Ground and the drafting of the bill,” he said. Sibal said the panel’s mandate was to draft the bill, but it will have to go to the Cabinet for approval and finally to Parliament for passing.

Shanti Bhushan had, in a letter to joint chairperson of the drafting panel and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the five civil society members led by Anna Hazare were keeping away from the day’s meeting as the police crackdown on Baba Ramdev at Ramlila Ground had “strengthened the doubts a strong anti-corruption body.

“Recent events since our last meeting don’t inspire any confidence that the government is serious enough about the Lokpal bill. Further, what happened in the Ramlila Ground strengthened our doubts,” Shanti Bhushan said in the letter. He also sought rescheduling of the next meeting of the committee on Friday to some other date because of Hazare’s prior engagements. Activists have demanded that the government make public its stand on key issues relating to the proposed Lokpal bill, including the ombudsman’s ambit.

The question of the Lokpal’s ambit has been a bone of contention between the government and civil society. The letter amplifies on the issue. The civil society representatives argue that the government wants to keep “practically everyone out of the Lokpal’s ambit -Prime Minister, horse trading of MPs, middle and lower bureaucracy, judiciary.” The civil society has been pushing for santri to mantri model, which would bring everyone under the purview of the proposed ombudsman.

 

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