Centre, Anna team on collision course

Centre, Anna team on collision course

Civil society members boycott Lokpal meeting

Centre, Anna team on collision course

There was a question mark on the civil society members continuing on the bill drafting panel as one of the members, Arvind Kejriwal said the team would resume attending meetings of the committee only if the government’s views on all the contentious issues were made public. Panel co-chairman and leading lawyer Shanti Bhushan demanded answers from the government on some of the contentious issues such as inclusion of the prime minister and higher judiciary and MPs’ role inside Parliament in the ambit of the bill.

In a letter to finance minister and panel chairman Pranab Mukherjee, he criticised the “casual manner” in which the government sent out “questionnaire” to the political parties and chief ministers on these sensitive issues.

Alluding to the government’s hardened stance on the matter, Union minister Kapil Sibal who is one of the five ministers on the drafting panel,  told media persons that the government would have the bill ready by June 30 – the agreed deadline – and table it in Parliament in the monsoon session.

 “We are committed to this deadline – whether some members come or not, we will have our bill ready and submit it in monsoon session”.

Notwithstanding the boycott by the five non-official members, the government members on the panel continued work on the draft bill and finalised some of the provisions of the bill. “There are some differences of opinion, we could have discussed these issues at today’s meeting. But for some extraneous reasons, they did not come and we could not discuss them,” he said.

Sibal alleged that the civil society members on the panel have called the government by names such as cheats, liars and conspirators. “We are called names but we did not react. This is the discourse by Anna Hazare and his team, not that of civil society. We reject in strongest possible way these kinds of allegations”.

Kejriwal, however, denied making any such comments against the government.
Sibal also rejected the demand of Bhushan that the committee meetings should be televised. On the demand that the government’s views should be made public, he said: “Our mandate was for making a draft. No point in raising these issues. We hope and pray that seriousness is shown by the civil society representatives”.

Noting that some of states and political parties have replied to the questionnaire on Lokpal, the minister said: “The BJP has said supremacy of the Constitution has to be maintained, the institution of democracy cannot be undermined…It has also said laws have to be made by parliamentarians and not by few nominated members of drafting committee”.

The next meeting of the Lokpal bill committee will beheld on June 15 next as against the scheduled June 10 following the request of Anna Hazare that he was preoccupied on that day.