New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare
has refused to meet a panel of union ministers set up to take
on board suggestions of the civil society to give more teeth
to the Lokpal Bill, saying a different mechanism should be
adopted to draft the bill which was acceptable to all.
Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy had
invited Hazare to meet the panel headed by Defence Minister A
K Antony on Monday. Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, HRD
Minister Kapil Sibal and Narayanaswamy are other members of
Antony`s sub-group is part of the larger Group of
Ministers (GoM) formed to find ways to tackle corruption.
The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,
had decided to set up the sub-group to take on board the
suggestions of the civil society before finalising the Lokpal
(anti-corruption body) Bill.
In a letter to Narayanasamy, Hazare said the
"sub-committee of Ministers will submit its report to the
Group of Ministers, which will finally decide what kind of
Lokpal Bill should be enacted. We had objected to this process
in our meeting with the Prime Minister also..."
Instead, the social activist suggested that a "joint
committee" with half of members from the civil society should
discuss clause-wise objections of the government to the `Jan
Lokpal Bill` submitted by him to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
He said his colleagues who are supporting his campaign
would meet the sub-group tomorrow to discuss these issues.
The Prime Minister had met Hazare recently to discuss
their suggestions on anti-corruption legislation.
One of the criticisms is that the Lokpal will not have
any power to either initiate action suo motu in any case or
even receive complaints of corruption from general public.
The public will make complaints to Lok Sabha Speaker
or to Rajya Sabha Chairperson. Only those complaints forwarded
by them would be investigated by the Lokpal. This, some opine,
will severely restrict the functioning of the Lokpal.
Some NGOs have also objected to the restriction of the
three-member panel of Lokpal to retired judges and want
eminent people from other walks of life to be a part of it.