New Delhi: In the wake of the government not approving to include the Prime Minister and judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill, Team Anna on Thursday strongly refuted the concept of the present draft, in a press conference held here, with Anna reiterating his vow of starting the fast from August 16 at the Jantar Mantar.
Doubting the government’s intention to bring forth a strong Lokpal Bill, Anna accused the government of betraying the people of the nation by proposing a Lokpal which would not keep PM and the judiciary under its purview.
“This Lokpal Bill is a joke played on the nation … the govt has betrayed the nation. We will fight tooth and nail for it,” asserted Anna.
Terming the current version of the Lokpal Bill draft very weak and ineffective, the Gandhian activist said that corruption cannot be exterminated without a strong Lokayukta.
Eminent lawyer and one of the members of Team Anna, Prashant Bhushan also scathed the government’s draft of the Lokpal Bill complaining that the government did not pay any heed to the concerns raised by them and that the Lokpal was a “cruel joke on the nation.”
“Centre has not addressed any of our concerns… Major issues we raised are left out of the government’s Lokpal,” said Bhushan.
Slamming the Lokpal’s selection procedure, Bhushan said that the government is trying to fool the people and that the present Lokpal is government’s Lokpal and not the people’s Lokpal.
“Out of the nine ministers of the selection committee, five will be from the supervision. Hence, the Lokpal will be selected by the government. It will be a sarkari Lokpal,” said Bhushan.
Another prominent member of the team, Arvind Kejriwal also argued against the concept of the government’s Lokpal Bill, saying that most of the scams would be left out of the Lokpal Bill’s ambit and that the corruption would continue as besides the PM and the Judiciary, even the lower bureaucracy has been left out of the Lokpal’s ambit.
“Many scams including the CWG scam, Adarsh scam, the Karnataka land mining scam, etc will be rendered outside the jurisdiction of the Lokpal,” warned Kejriwal.
Arvind Kejriwal said if the government presents a Bill with faulty structures, then even the Parliamentary Standing Committee will not be able to do much.
Another staunch activist Kiran Bedi started with dubbibg the Lokpal Bill as “a non-starter” and “a deceit on the nation.”
The former IPS officer came down heavily upon the government’s Lokpal Bill and also countered their press conference saying that, “More info is hidden than the info given.”
She said that the Lokpal concept, Team Anna proposed was a comprehensive, single and an independent authority that would include myriad issues like corruption, vigilance and grievances redressal, but the government had fractured the bill into bits, one each for different actions.
“It is a fractured bill”, said Bedi.
Bedi repeated that the government had betrayed the people and that the Lokpal Bill was a “Jokepal Bill.”
The Union Cabinet has approved the anti-graft Lokpal Bill today, which will be introduced in parliament in the monsoon session that begins on Aug 01.
The nine-member Lokpal will be headed by a former Supreme Court or high court chief justice, according to the draft legislation.
Half the remaining members will be from the judiciary and the others should be persons of “impeccable integrity” and should have 25 years of experience in the anti-corruption field.
The Prime Minister won’t come under the purview of the Bill during his period in office, but will be covered by it after he leaves the post. The statute of limitations under the Bill is seven years.