Saturday, April 16, 2011

Base draft must be ours, says Jan Lokpal camp

NEW DELHI: A day before the first meeting of the joint committee on the Lokpal bill, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and lawyer Prasant Bhusan said civil society activists would go into the meeting with three major things on their minds — accepting the Jan Lokpal bill as the base draft for the new legislation, videography of the proceedings and also to devise a way of effective public consultation. 

With allegations of Lokpal being a "supercop" being bandied around, the activists also released a detailed statement explaining the functioning of Lokpal. 

Law minister Veerappa Moily, meanwhile, said the government was going into the meeting with an open mind. He also refused to go into any of the allegations against civil society members, even as Kejriwal maintained that the allegations were the government's way of shifting focus from the real issue of corruption in public office. 
Kejriwal also called upon the government to come up with a clause-by-clause objection to their draft so that they 

could know "which are the points of difference and which the points of convergence. "That would then lead to a constructive dialogue. We are insisting on videography – we do not have a problem if it is telecast but that may not be possible – to ensure transparency in the proceedings of the committee," he said. 

On public consultations, he said the website they were preparing would be up by Monday where people could send their comments. "We will be very happy if the government invites feedback on its own site otherwise people can do so on this site," he added. 

On the issue of supercop, Kejriwal explained that Lokpal was just an effort to mend the problems faced by the CBI or the CVC. "We are proposing that that part of CBI which deals with anti-corruption cases should be taken away from it and merged into the proposed Lokpal. This will form the investigation wing of the Lokpal. It will directly report to the Lokpal. This will ensure independence of investigations and prosecutions," the statement said. "A wrong impression is sought to be created that Lokpal will announce judgments. Lokpal will not announce judgments," it added. 

It also clarified how Lokpal would have jurisdiction over politicians, bureaucrats and judges but would not have powers to award punishment. Lokpal, the statement added, would not make the Judicial Accountability Bill redundant as it would only deal with criminal misconduct and not professional misconduct of judges. It also said that apprehensions that Lokpal would be flooded with complaints was unfounded as complaints would not directly reach the Lokpal members.

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