New Delhi: Taking on the Opposition over their reservations about the Lokpal Bill passed by the Lok Sabha, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the Lokpal as conceived by them would be a mammoth that would not be in anybody’s control.
Putting forth the government’s defence in the Rajya Sabha where the bill was tabled today for discussion and vote, Singhvi asked the Opposition: “First answer the fundamental question, do you want to pass the bill or not?”
“Opposition must explain if it wants to pass the bill. BJP is trying to mislead the nation. They should clarify their stand…Please be honest in your conviction,” he quipped.
“You want to subsume the CBI, CVC, central govt charter under the Lokpal?...Thank god you didn’t say that give judgement by Lokpal!” Singhvi said.
The firebrand lawyer politician further slammed the Opposition for supporting the creation of mammoth that would not be in anybody’s control.
“Our conception is of mutual interlocking checks and balances between the holy trinity of CBI, CVC and Lokpal,” Singhvi stressed.
On the issue of investigative powers to the Lokpal, he said, “This bill for the first time abolishes prior sanction for investigation. This bill create a Chinese wall…on Lokpal referred cases, Lokpal will control the investigation.”
“The Lokpal has been given fully supervisory power over the CBI. We have given great control to Lokpal,” Singhvi said to back the bill.
On the selection procedure of the Lokpal, he questioned the Leader of Opposition’s view on the matter. “Can I ask him which selection committee in the country has he seen where the government doesn’t have a slight majority?”
Singhvi stressed that there has to be checks-and-balances and the political executive must have a say as it is answerable to the Parliament and said: “Please don’t destroy institutions. There is a method in the madness we have in India. These are the systems which have endured the test of time.”
“Do you want to destroy the bill on imaginary insinuations? My friend (Arun Jaitley) wants to play Narad Muni,” he added to the amusement of the House.
Singhvi also rejected the charge that the bill seeks to destroy the federal structure while asserting that ‘under Article 253 of the Constitution` the Parliament has the power to make a law for a part or whole of India’.
Making an important point, he said that the fundamental structures of governance can’t be altered for the sake of Lokpal, while also advising Jaitley to not make arguments for the sake of elections.
Hitting back at Jaitely for calling the government’s Lokpal Bill a constitutional cocktail, Singhvi said, “I know both me and my friend are teetotallers but your constitutional cocktail doesn’t have the punch.”
On the issue of reservation, Singhvi claimed that the bill doesn’t have any reservation at all.
“It is a statutory mandate to provide diverse representation considering the pluralistic diversity of the country. Reservation means there ‘shall’ be reservation but the bill only speaks of ‘someone or all’. The bill says that of the eight members on the Lokpal panel, not less than four must be ‘some or all’ of OBCs, minorities, women, SC and STs,” he pointed out.
Singhvi further said, “We (government) have the conviction. We have walked the entire mile…we are pioneers in social engineering. You (BJP) have given certificates of unconstitutionality in advance, perhaps because it doesn’t find favour with your 50-year-old idea on the diversity of India.”
“You don’t want the Lokpal be passed and you don’t want constitutional status for Lokpal and you want to pretend that you want a strong Lokpal?” He said cornering the BJP.
“Your definition of strong (Lokpal) is different from mine. History will not forgive you. We are making a new model and you are in search of the elusive perfect to deny the good,” Singhvi added.
Prodding the Opposition, especially the BJP to support the bill, Singhvi said, “It is easy to criticise and destroy but creation is difficult. It will take 30 seconds for you to pass the bill. If you don’t do it (pass the bill) then the cat will be out of the bag, which means that you don’t want to have a strong Lokpal Bill.”