No two drafts on Lokpal Bill: Moily

Last Updated: Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 19:00

New Delhi: Government on Thursday ruled out sending two drafts of Lokpal Bill to the Union Cabinet in the wake of strong differences with the civil society which it accused of "obstructing" the fight against corruption.

Addressing a press conference here, Law Minister Veerappa Moily, who is also the convener of the joint Lokpal drafting committee, said if the representatives from both the sides fail to iron out differences during the next meeting on June 20, then their respective views would be sent to the Cabinet.

"But there will be no two drafts," he said, contradicting civil society representative Arvind Kejriwal`s statement yesterday that two separate drafts -- one prepared by the Government representatives and the other by civil society members -- would be sent to the Cabinet.

Accusing the civil society representatives of "changing their demands", Moily said "it will not help. We have to confine ourselves to the mandate of a joint drafting committee."

He said the government has agreed to 34 out of 40 principles laid down by the civil society for a strong Lokpal Bill.

Moily also said that there is no final word yet on the inclusion of the Prime Minister in the anti-corruption legislation.

The minister said while the UPA was committed to storm out corruption, BJP and members of the civil society were trying to obstruct its effort.

"My intention is not to hurt sentiments of people including both from the civil society and the BJP. They are obstructing UPA`s war against corruption," he said.

Moily said claims of some members of the civil society of differences in large areas "falls flat on ground as out of 40 principles laid down by the civil society, we have convergence on 34."

He said the Joint Drafting Committee has been mandated with preparing a legislation and not amending the Constitution.

"We had asked the members (of the civil society) whether they wanted to amend the Constitution. They said they wanted a legislation...only one member supported a constitutional amendment," Moily said.

He claimed that the committee cannot suggest issues like inclusion of judiciary, conduct of Members of Parliament inside Parliament and summary dismissal of government servants which entailed constitutional amendments.

These issues, and the inclusion of the Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal are the key issues on which the government and the civil society continue to have differences.

To a question on the threat of Gandhian Anna Hazare to go on a fast again, Moily said: "Nobody can prevent anybody in a democratic country to go on a fast. But for what?

"For government having agreed to form a joint committee (on Lokpal), government having agreed to having a dialogue (with the civil society). That means he appears to be predetermined to go on a fast despite this...That is not democratic reflection on democratic expression on the part of the citizen of this country."

Moily also indicated a lack of transparency on part of the Hazare-led civil society in seeking public opinion on Lokpal Bill.

"After every meeting they go out on campaign to get views of others...The civil society members produce something out of their pocket. On the other hand we (government) have put agenda and other related documents on our website," he said.

Asserting that government was in favour of finalising the draft bill by June 30, he said it was the "genuine and honest intention" to introduce the bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament. "We have not changed our mind," he said seeking Hazare camp`s "cooperation".

He said the draft bill has to be referred to various ministries for consultation before it comes up before the Cabinet. In Parliament, after introduction, the bill has to go to the Standing Committee for further scrutiny, he said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 19:00

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