Civil society for referendum on Lokpal
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Last Updated: Sunday, July 17, 2011, 20:03
  
Bangalore: Civil society members of the joint committee on Lokpal will seek a referendum on the points of difference with government representatives including the issue of bringing the prime minister and the higher judiciary under the ambit of the anti-graft ombudsman.

The referendum on these issues will be sought in 10 constituencies including that of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal in Delhi and former Law Minister Veerappa Moily, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, one of the civil society members of the joint panel, said at a function here on Sunday.

He was speaking at a programme organised by an NGO Jana Sangrama Parishad as part of their campaign against illegal mining, illegal land acquisition and corruption in the state.

Rejecting the government's argument that PMO is so sensitive that it cannot be brought under the ambit of Lokpal, he said, "It is against the basic principles of Constitution.

They fail to understand that a corrupt Prime Minister is the greatest security threat to the country and it is necessary he be subjected to anti-corruption investigation."

He said the government's draft of the bill does not even agree to bringing the higher judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal. On the argument offered by the government members of the committee that judiciary can be investigated only by judges, he said it cannot be "unbiased".

The civil society's draft has suggested all public servants be covered under Lokpal, while government has said officers only above grade "A" will be covered, Bhushan said.

If government did not agree to these 'non-negotiable' proposals, except for inclusion of Prime Minister and judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal, which could be discussed before the standing committee, Anna Hazare, who is spearheading the movement against corruption will go on an indefinite fast from August 16, he said.

Later speaking to reporters, Bhushan warned that if the government tries to prevent Hazare from going on fast or arrests him as in the case of Ramedev, there will be a "great deal of resentment and mass upsurge in the country".

However, he said the government was unlikely to do so as the move would prove suicidal for it.

To a question on Lokpal himself not falling prey to corruption, Bhushan said, "We have made Lokpal accountable in multiple ways, including all members of Lokpal being accountable to the Supreme Court and all orders of Lokpal being subject to judicial review".

Bhushan said another point the government has not agreed to is Lokpal being given the power to protect whistleblowers from physical and administrative harassment.

The civil society members have suggested that while Lokpal be set up for central ministries and departments, Lokayukta be set up for each state government independent of government and institutions like Supreme Court and Election Commission.

This has not found favour with the government, which has entrusted state governments with the reponsibility to set up Lokayutas.

Bhushan also said moving towards a model of participatory democracy would be the biggest challenge for social crusaders in future.

"Apart from Lokpal, we need to have policies and laws in the interest of the people. For this we need to move towards participatory democracy. This will be the biggest challenge in future, the key to which will be their continued and increased involvement in campaigns like India Against Corruption.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, July 17, 2011, 20:03


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