Talks with Parliamentary panel positive: Team Anna

Team Anna on Thursday appeared before a Parliamentary panel scrutinising the Lokpal Bill and suggested a series of amendments to the govt bill.

Updated: Nov 03, 2011, 21:40 PM IST

New Delhi: Team Anna on Thursday appeared before a
Parliamentary panel scrutinising the Lokpal Bill and suggested
a series of amendments to the government bill to bring it in
line with the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill.

They said while Team Anna was open to bringing
constitutional amendments, it should not cause any delay in
implementing it in the states.

Team Anna members Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran
Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal appeared before the Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice and
suggested 34 amendments to the government`s version of the
measure.

"We had a very good and positive meeting with the
Standing Committee in which we explained the amendments we are
seeking in the government`s Lokpal Bill which are in order to
bring the government`s bill in line with the Jan Lokpal Bill
and in line with Uttarakhand`s Lokayukta Bill which was passed
yesterday," Prashant Bhushan told reporters after the meeting.

He said all the provisions that Team Anna had suggested
in the Lokayuktas, have been incorporated by the Uttarakhand assembly in their
bill.

"We explained all the reasons for seeking all the
amendments in the government`s bill," he said adding that they
will face questions from committee members tomorrow when Anna
Hazare is also expected to be present.

Kejriwal said that Team Anna suggested to the Committee
to make the Uttarakhand Lokayukta bill as a model and all the
states should have a Lokayukta on those lines. "The Centre
should also follow the same model," he said.

The Uttarakhand government tabled in the assembly the
Lokayukta Bill bringing under its purview the Chief Minister,
ministers and government servants, including IAS and IPS
officers, and with a provision for punishment extending up to
life imprisonment.

Referring to the recent statement of Law Minister Salman
Khurshid to make Lokpal into a constitutional body, Kejriwal
said while they "welcome" such a move, the amendment should be
so drafted that there is no need for the states to ratify it
or it will become an issue of delay. "We hope two-third
majority will pass it in Parliament as there is a broad
consensus for the bill."

Former Chief Justice of India Justice JS Verma had
recently said that such an amendment was possible.

"If a constitutional amendment is being made, then the
Law Commission`s recommendation of 2001 to amend Article 105
should be accepted. As per the recommendation, if MPs speak in
Parliament or vote on basis of bribery taken by them, then the
investigation should be held independently...We told this to
the Committee," Kejriwal said.

He said since there is a move to amend the Constitution,
Article 311 - which says that a bureaucrat`s punishment can be
decided by no less than the appointing authority - should also
be amended.

"...We suggested that the word Lokpal should be added
along with the term appointing authority," he said.

Among the major amendments mooted by Team Anna on the
lines of its Jan Lokpal Bill are bringing the office of the
Prime Minister and the judiciary under the ambit of the
proposed Lokpal, power to tap phones without the authorisation
of the Union Home Secretary and merging CBI with the
ombudsman.

Seeking to enhance the jurisdiction of Lokpal, Team Anna
said government bill`s position that PM could be investigated
only after he demits office violates constitution as he does
not enjoy any such immunity.

PTI