Government and civil society exercise to work out an agreed draft of the Lokpal Bill ended in failure tonight after which Anna Hazare announced that he will go ahead with his fast from August 16 to “teach the government a lesson”.
After nine meetings spread over two months, the joint drafting committee of the two sides concluded its deliberations on a note of disagreement with the government asserting that it could not allow creation of a parallel structure which would be “answerable to nobody”.
The government draft ruled out scrutiny of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs in Parliament by the Lokpal.
However, the government draft proposes several critical powers conferring quasi-judicial status to Lokpal besides powers to attach assets, independent prosecution and investigation machinery with full police powers under the proposed ombudsman.
Hazare team disappointed
Expressing “deep disappointment” over the government draft, the Anna Hazare team said the model proposed by it was just a “symbolic attempt” to install an authority in the name of Lokpal rather than a “comprehensive, independent, empowered” institution to fight corruption.
Maintaining that they “agreed to disagree”, Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after an hour-long meeting that differences could not be resolved on around eight key issues.
“We agreed to disagree,” he said adding, the differences related to changing the existing system of governance.
“There are two—three days. If they (Hazare team) wish to give comments on our drafts, they can do so…we hope the differences are resolved,” Mr. Sibal said.
Both the drafts will be circulated among political parties in a meeting next month before being taken up by the Cabinet, he said.
The HRD Minister, who was one of the five ministers in the joint committee, insisted that the government would bring a “strong” anti-corruption bill as “we had promised”.
Hazare aides Prshant Bhushan and Mr. Kejriwal said the government draft made it clear that the ruling party will have control over the Lokpal as five of the seven political members of the selection committee will be from the party in power.
“I must say I am deeply disappointed by the model of Lokpal that the government has proposed,” Mr. Bhushan said.
Criticising the government, Mr. Kejriwal said that the earlier draft had at least proposed to bring the PM in the purview of Lokpal but the present one does not have this provision.
However, Mr. Bhushan said “some gains” have been made in the long exercise. Hindu