Withdraw Lokpal Bill, team Anna tells Parl panel

The meeting between team Anna and the Parliamentary Standing Committee ended with the parliamentary panel assuring civil society members that they would go through their version of the draft as well.

Updated: Aug 11, 2011, 00:25 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Stressing that the government version of Lokpal Bill will increase the menace of corruption instead of decreasing it, the civil society members of Lokpal Bill drafting committee led by Anna Hazare on Wednesday demanded that the Bill in its present form be withdrawn and the govt should come out with a fresh measure.

"The bill is designed to deter complainants from making complaints against corruption. It is designed to harass NGOs which are raising voice against corruption in government," senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, also a civil society member of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee said.
In the meeting between team Anna and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal, the Parliamentary panel assured the civil society members that they would go through their version of the draft as well.

Hazare is set to sit on an indefinite fast beginning August 16 in New Delhi in protest against the govt version of Lokpal. Hazare, though said the decision of the Parliamentary Committee to study the civil society version along with the government version was a "step towards a positive direction", but made it clear that he would continue with his proposed August 16 indefinite fast if the government panel did not take a decision by that date.

"My fast is against the government and not against the Parliament," he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police offered Jai Prakash Narain National Park near Firoz Shah Kotla Ground as venue for Anna Hazare`s protest subject to permission from land-owning agency. Responding to the Delhi police offer, team Anna said they will take a call after doing a recce of the venue. Hazare had declared to hold his fast at Jantar Mantar but was denied permission by Delhi police.

The Lokpal Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha on August 4, has been referred to the Standing Committee on August 8 by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari who has given it three months to give recommendations.

The civil society led by Anna Hazare have been demanding inclusion of the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of Lokpal.

The Hazare team is also demanding a strong public grievance redressal mechanism, Lokayuktas at state-level and independent selection, funding and removal mechanism to ensure autonomy of function.

The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.

The Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the Ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude the higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside the Parliament.