Hazare demands may affect federal structure

Hazare demands may affect federal structure

The Congress-led UPA government is wary of the usurping the powers of the states and hence is treading cautiously on these contentious points. These three relate to bringing  the lower bureaucracy, the state Lokayuktas and citizens’ charter under the Lokpal. Hazare wants the three under the anti-corruption organisation.

For the last two days, the government is grappling over these points of difference.
The tug of war often led to breakdown in talks between the two sides but with an unrelenting anti-graft crusader, the government had no other option but to consider giving in to his demands.

According to BJP leader Arun Jaitley, the some aspects of Lokayukta fall under the Centre’s domain and others under states’ domain and Parliament’s legislation would only be an enabling one.

As regards lower bureaucracy, he said, BJP would be flexible for any mechanism that was proposed by the government in Parliament as he said the dispute related to accompanying mechanism but there can be an overarching legislation governing Lokpal.
 He said as regards citizens’ charter, there should not be any problem – states like Madhya Pradesh and Bihar have already put them into practice.

“These points should be constitutionally compatible and not violative of it. As for conduct of MPs inside the House [which Hazare wants to be included in Lokpal], it should be done within the parameters of Article 105 of Constitution [relating to powers, privileges and immunity of MPs,”he remarked.

Several other MPs stressed on preserving the Constitution’s federal structure. “It has to be respected,” one MP said declining to be quoted.

As for the lower bureaucracy in the states, he said: “You either leave it to the states or make an enabling law under Article 162 (executive powers of state).” As regards the Lokayukta, some MPs pointed out that though the subject is under the states’ domain, the Centre can use its power under Article 252 (power of Parliament to legislate for two or more states by consent and adoption of such legislation by any other state).”

One MP well-versed with Team Anna’s demands and is involved in the discussions, said the latter also wanted the Lokpal be vested with powers of tapping telephones of the prime minister. This was dismissed by all parties.

Observing that the government favoured only a ‘seminar’ and not debate in the House, Lok Sabha Opposition Leader Sushma Swaraj said she was informed at 2:10 pm that debate would start at 2:15 pm.

“Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal had said the discussion on the Lokpal bill will only take place on Monday. But to our utter surprise we got a call that Sandeep Dikshit (Congress MP) will initiate the debate on Lokpal in five minutes. The government wanted a casual debate on such an important and serious issue,” she said.

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