Don`t break Lokpal Bill, Team Anna to Parl panel

Team Anna opposed enacting separate laws on judicial accountability and public grievances when they can be brought in the ambit of the Lopkal Bill.

New Delhi: Team Anna on Friday opposed enacting
separate laws on judicial accountability, whistle-blowers and
public grievances when they can be brought in the ambit of the
Lopkal Bill even as they faced questions from Parliamentary
committee members on "pressure tactics" adopted by the
activists for early passage of the anti-graft measure.

During a four-hour-long meeting of the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel, activists
led by Anna Hazare strongly opposed "breaking" the Lokpal Bill
into several measures.

"We said there was no need to divide the Lokpal Bill into
various measures," Hazare told reporters after the meeting.
"But if these measures are strong, we have no problem. At
the same time the (draft) bill on citizens charter and the
Judicial Standards and Accountability bill are weak drafts.
Such weak bills will make Lokpal weak," the Gandhian said.

He said several members of the Committee have assured
that a "strong" bill will be introduced in the Winter session
of Parliament.

"Several goods points were raised. We found some
solution, but not a complete solution.... We now believe that
a strong bill will be introduced," he said.

During the meeting, Team Anna faced some tough questions
from the members who took exception to the activists` threat
to launch a fresh agitation if the measure was not passed in
the Winter Session.

"We said that the process of law making should be allowed
to be completed. If you don`t like the final outcome, then you
are free to protest," a member told PTI after the meeting.
Some members also wondered what will happen if the
institution of Lokpal also got embroiled in corruption.

"We said that you want to break old institutions like
the CBI and CVC and create Lokpal. Do you know the time it
will take to make Lokpal into a strong body...the investment
involved and the manpower required to allow the institution
have a pan India presence," another member said.

Referring to certain strong statements made against the
government and Parliamentarians in the recent past, Hazare
said in the interest of nation and society such words have to
be used.

"...But we have no personal motive behind using strong
words," he said.

He said if strong anti-corruption measures are passed and
implemented in true spirit, then it will only help the country
develop.

Hazare also said the government should clearly explain
the clauses it cannot accept in the Jan Lokpal Bill created by
his team.

The activists were also asked by members as to why they
are opposed to inclusion of NGOs in the anti-graft measure and
Team Anna reportedly said it was open to expanding Lokpal`s
ambit.

Besides Hazare, Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, Arvind
Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia were also present in
the meeting.

Committee Chairman Abhishek Singhvi said after listening
to Team Anna, the panel has come a "full circle" as far as the
witnesses were concerned and now it will begin its internal
discussions before finalising the report.

Team Anna had first appeared before the committee in
August this year after Hazare undertook a 13-day fast in
August demanding that the Jan Lokpal Bill be passed in the
Monsoon Session of Parliament.

PTI

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