Govt ready to fast-track Lokpal Bill: Pranab

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday urged civil rights activist, Anna Hazare, to end his fast.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday kick-started a debate in Parliament on the contentious Lokpal issue, while appealing to Anna Hazare to end his fast.

Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee said the government has consented to refer the Jan Lokpal Bill as well as other drafts on the issue to the Parliamentary Standing Committee examining the government’s draft Lokpal Bill.

He added that the government was willing to request the Standing Committee to expedite the process of bringing the Lokpal Bill.

Mukherjee further stated that “the government followed established procedures in introducing Lokpal Bill in Parliament”.

Mukherjee also appealed to Anna Hazare’s team, saying Parliament should be given space to legislate. He added that supremacy of the Parliament to form legislation should be maintained.

”Laws have to be made by Parliamentarians,” he said. “It’s our duty to abide by the Constitution and uphold its principles,” he added.

Mukherjee said during deliberations with Team Anna’s members the government had told them that Lokpal alone cannot root out corruption and that the government was willing to strengthen judicial accountability.

He said the government was also working on Judicial Accountability Bill and Grievance Redressal Bill to tackle corruption at local level.

Mukherjee said Anna’s representatives had at a meeting with put forth several conditions: the Jan Lokpal Bill should not be referred to the Standing Committee, should be passed with minor changes, and that to during the Monsoon Session even if it has to be extended.

The minister said the government had told Anna’s colleagues that such conditions could not be accepted.

“We are at crossroads, let us try to find solution within constitutional framework without violating supremacy of Parliament,” Mukherjee said.

“This is one of the rare occasions when the attention of the entire nation and outside is drawn to proceedings of Lok Sabha,” he added.

“The largest democracy is at a very crucial stage,” he stated further.

In his speech Mukherjee said he wanted the Lok Sabha to consider whether Lokpal should have power to punish those who violate `grievance redressal mechanism`.

The House should also consider whether Lokpal will be applicable through the institution of the Lokayukta in all states, he said.

The minister further said the House should consider whether jurisdiction of
the Lokpal should cover all central government employees.

In his speech, Mukherjee also recounted the events of the past few months and the meetings between the government and Team Anna, including those of the joint drafting committee.

He stated there were six major issues of divergence between the two sides, namely:

  • One single act be provided for both Lokpal in Centre and Lokayukta in states. Will state governments be willing to accept draft provisions for Lokayukta on same lines as Lokpal?
  • Should PM fall under the ambit of Lokpal?
  • Should judges of High Courts and Supreme Court be brought within ambit of Lokpal?
  • Should conduct of MPs inside Parliament be brought within purview of the Lokpal?
  • Should Lokpal have quasi-judicial powers?
  • Can all civil servants be punished and dismissed by Lokpal and Lokayuktas?
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