New Delhi: At a time when the civil society members of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee are threatening to pull out of the talks, the government on Tuesday went into damage control mode by asserting that the panel is treading “the right path” and it will complete its work by June 30.
As a part of the effort to build consensus, Chairman of the Joint Draft Committee Pranab Mukherjee has written to chief ministers of all states as well as the leaders of all political parties seeking their views on the six most important issues concerning the Lokpal Bill.
The six issues on which their opinion has been sought are:
1. Should one single act provide for both Lokpal in the Centre and Lokayukta in the states and whether their governments would be willing to accept a draft provision for the Lokayukta on the same lines as that of Lokpal.
2. Should the PM be brought under the purview of Lokpal and if so, should there be a qualified inclusion.
3. Should the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts also be under the ambit of the proposed law.
4. Whether the conduct of MPs inside Parliament - speaking or voting in the House – be brought under the purview of Lokpal as they are protected under the Constitution.
5. Whether or not civil servants in states or Centre be subjected to enquiry and disciplinary action including dismissal by Lokpal and Lokayukta.
6. What should be the definition of Lokpal and should it exercise quasi-judicial powers or delegate them to subordinate officials.
The CMs and leaders of the political parties have been requested to send their replies before June 6, when the Lokpal panel meets next.
Briefing the media about the government’s stand on the issue after yesterday’s fifth round of confabulations by the 10-member drafting committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “There is no unanimity of opinion on these issues and hence opinion is being sought from all stakeholders.”
“There are many views and all views will be considered…the Joint Drafting Committee is on the right path. It involves enquiry, discussion, consultation, consensus and decision. We hope to complete our work by June 30.”
About what transpired during yesterday’s meeting, he said, “Yesterday potentially contentious issues were discussed at the drafting committee. Constructive discussions were held. No final view was expressed on anything; many points of view were brought to the table. For example issue like should the PM be brought under the purview. The choice can’t be binary. The choices can be yes, no and yes with qualifications.”
“There was a very constructive discussion, that’s how we take it,” he added.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, another member of the committee, was also present and he chipped in by saying, “No one should doubt government’s intention.”
"We are against any change in the Constitution provision relating to this", he said.
On the government`s promise of the proceedings of the committee being audiographed and released to the public, Sibal said that a view would be taken at a later stage.
With PTI inputs