Team Anna rejects Parl panel’s Lokpal draft

Team Anna criticised the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of the ombudsman while opposing inclusion of NGOs and media in it.

Updated: Nov 29, 2011, 23:47 PM IST

New Delhi: Disappointed over Parliamentary
Standing Committee`s draft report on Lokpal Bill, Team Anna
on Tuesday criticised the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of
the ombudsman while opposing inclusion of NGOs and media in
it.

Reacting to the panel`s draft report, Arvind Kejriwal
sought to remind the government of the Parliamentary
resolution that led to Anna Hazare ending his fast on August
28, saying he hoped it would be respected.

"When Anna ended his fast, Parliament agreed to a
resolution that stated clearly on lower bureaucracy and
Citizen`s Charter. We just hope that resolution is respected,"
Kejriwal said.
Opposing the decision to exclude judiciary from the ambit
of Lokpal, he said, "We were told that the corruption by
judges will be handled in the Judicial Accountability Bill
(JAB). It is not in the JAB. It is not in the Lokpal bill."

Another activist Kiran Bedi called the exclusion of
judiciary a setback as people "overwhelmingly" wanted
judiciary in. "By this, corruption in judiciary is covered
nowhere, neither in JAB nor in Lokpal," she told PTI.

Expressing apprehension over the inclusion of NGOs and
media under the Lokpal`s purview, he said this would make
matters "more confusing".
"We fully agree that there is a lot of corruption in NGOs
as well as in the media, but Lokpal as it was envisioned since
1968 is meant to be an agency that will cover corruption as
defined by the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

"To deal with NGOs there is a Registrar of Society and
Trust Act. We need to strengthen it but we demand inclusion of
government-funded NGOs as they come under the purview of PCA.
For media, Press Council should be strengthened," he said.

However, Bedi welcomed the proposal to bring corporates,
media and NGOs under the ambit of Lokpal.

Kejriwal said other laws are needed to be strengthened to
deal with corruption in media and NGOs as bringing a huge
number of NGOs under it "would make things confusing".

On the issue of excluding lower bureaucracy, he said
Group
C and D employees were "responsible for a lot of corruption"
affecting common man and excluding them from the
anti-corruption agency`s purview will render it meaningless.

Bedi said, "This is going back on the commitment and will
call for a mass movement again."

Kejriwal also did not agree to the draft report`s
recommendation on the Citizen`s Charter, which has been one of
the main demands of Team Anna`s Lokpal movement.

"Having only five members in the state capital to look
into the complaints of an entire state instead of officials at
each block level, as demanded by us, will lead to the system
collapsing in four days," he said.

Kejriwal also came down heavily on the move to keep CBI
out of the purview of the Lokpal, saying without the
government relinquishing its control of the investigating
agency, the Lokpal would be like an "empty tin".

"The nation knows that every government has misused the
CBI for its benefit," he said while also expressing
disappointment over leaving out of the judiciary.

Asked if these disagreements meant that the situation was
back to square one, Kejriwal said his team was still adopting
the "wait and watch" approach.
"It would be premature to comment on this. Many processes
still remain, lets wait and watch," he said.

Reacting to members unanimously recommending conferring
constitutional status on Lokpal, Bedi expressed apprehension
that "this may become the reason for not having it".

"For the government in power does not have a two thirds
majority in Parliament. It will be used to not pass the bill,"
she said.

PTI