'Legislation will not serve purpose'

'Legislation will not serve purpose'

Anti-graft draft: Lokpal will not probe offences committed 7 yrs ago

Civil Society members Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi address a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

The civil society members rejected the idea of keeping out the prime minister in office, lower bureaucracy and judiciary from the ambit of Lokpal bill. Team Anna also rejected the idea of separate bills for judicial accountability, whistle blowers and public grievance redressal.

Soon after the briefing on cabinet decisions was over on Thursday, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi appeared before the media to allege that the government did not fulfill the commitment of sending  civil society’s draft along with the government draft for the consideration of the cabinet.

Team Anna alleged that the immunity given to the prime minister in the draft Lokpal bill was unconstitutional and the provision may be struck down by the Supreme Court as it is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution.

Referring to the Supreme Court judgment of striking down the 39th Amendment of the Constitution, Prashant Bhusahn said on Thursday that the provision would not stand before the law as the prime minister cannot be immune to criminal investigation.

Attacking the provision, Bhushan referred to the 2G scam case and said Lokpal would not be able to investigate the role of the prime minister in such cases. “The Prime Minister allowed it to happen and did not stop Raja. It amounts to corruption,” said Bhushan. “The cabinet has approved the government draft with minor changes,” said Prashant Bhushan.
Team Anna alleged that the hope of a strong Lokpal bill had been dashed by the approval of this draft by the cabinet. “Parliament cannot change the structure and the scope of the bill. The Standing Committee also would not be able change it,” said Arvind Kejriwal.                      

It will be a government Lokpal because five members of the nine-member selection committee are to be selected by the government, said Bhushan.

However, Team Anna has expressed hope that MPs will not favor this bill because of the overwhelming support to the civil society’s draft by the people. “People have shown their preference in referendums conducted by us. MPs will certainly keep it in mind considering the 2014 Lok Sabha election is not far,” said Arvind Kejriwal.

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