Justice Santosh Hegde on Saturday withdrew his threat to resign from the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee after meeting other civil society members of the panel. The meeting here was chaired by social activist Anna Hazare.
Apart from resolving to have Justice Hegde as an integral part of the panel, the civil society members also decided to write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia offering themselves to any high-level inquiry into any allegations against them.
The government, while endorsing the view to have Justice Hegde in the panel, ruled out any changes in the committee and said it is looking forward to receiving inputs on the bill from the noted former Supreme Court judge. “I value his (Hegde’s) contributions enormously and hold high respect for him. I hope he will be able to be with us. We want his contributions. We (government) are looking forward to having his inputs and we sincerely hope so,” Union minister Salman Khurshid, also a member of the committee, said.
Activist Kiran Bedi, a former IPS officer, said, “The committee recognised that the prime national duty of India Against Corruption has been to provide the country an independent and accountable Lokpal. The committee resolved that Justice Hegde will continue as a member. The committee has also decided to write to the PM and CJI to conduct any high-level inquiry into any allegations against any of our members.”
The meeting, attended by the five civil society representatives in the joint committee — Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Justice Hegde, Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal, took place against the backdrop of controversies over a CD, allotment of prized land to the Bhushans and alleged evasion of stamp duty by them in Allahabad.
Later, in a statement, the civil society members declared that they are “fully conscious of the urgency to have the right kind of Jan Lokpal Bill and have therefore decided to stay focused and not get distracted by malicious smear campaigns”.
On Saturday morning, Justice Hegde had indicated that he may not press his resignation in view of the statement made by committee chairman and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee that the government was keen on working with the civil society representatives in the committee.
Welcoming Mr Mukherjee’s statement, Mr Hazare, too, expressed the hope that the joint committee would expeditiously provide the country with an independent, effective and accountable anti-corruption authority.
Reacting to UP chief minister Mayawati’s demand to include a dalit representative in the drafting committee, Mr Kejriwal said if the government wants it can concede the demand. Asian Age