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Lokpal still birth

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Deccan Herald reports on the predictable impasse in the joint committee set up to draft a Lokpal Bill following the fast by Anna Hazare:

The drafting of the Lokpal bill by a joint government-civil society committee virtually hit a dead end on Wednesday as members from both sides decided to forward their respective drafts to the Cabinet in the absence of a consensus on some of the contentious provisions.

With serious differences continuing to dominate the seventh meeting of the joint bill drafting committee, the members decided to meet on two other occasions—on June 20 and 21—as a last bid to arrive at some consensus which has so far eluded the panel. The two separate drafts of the bill will be sent to the Cabinet on June 30.

As there was no meeting point at the more than two-hour-long deliberation We­dnesday evening, civil society representatives accused the government of being pre-determined and adamant in its approach while the Centre conceded that on major issues there was no consensus. Briefing journalists after the discussions, committee member and minister Kapil Sibal said: “Consensus eluded us on some major issues. We will meet again on June 20 and if there is no consensus, then civil society members will give us the final Jan Lokpal draft Bill which we will forward to the Cabinet along with our draft. The Cabinet will take the final decision which will enable the government to place the draft Bill before Parliament.” The government, he said, would continue to consult parties on the Bill.

Charging that the government was deliberately adopting a hardline, Arvind Kejriwal, one of the five civil society representatives on the committee, said: “There was no discussion on any issue today. Rather, it seemed to us that the government members wanted to tell us their decisions. The government is trying to kill the Lokpal.” Another non-official committee member Prashant Bhushan said: “There are too many fundamental differences between our concept of Lokpal and theirs. It will be up to the Cabinet and Parliament to decide on the modifications in the bill.”

Kejriwal said “nothing could be achieved at the meeting. The government is in no mood to fight corruption and is proposing such a Lokpal which will die even before its birth”. The two sides have been at loggerheads ever since civil society members demanded that the prime minister, higher judiciary and the role of MPs in Parliament be brought under the Lokpal’s ambit, a move the government has opposed.

If there are two drafts to pick from, any guesses about which the cabinet will pick?

The situation was predictable, since there was utter disagreement between the government and the “civil society representatives” even on the purpose of the bill. As we see clearly in this development, the power structure is skewed towards the government: no matter what the preamble to the constitution says. The cabinet will decide on the final form of the bill and take it to parliament. No political party really has the will to reform the system.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

June 16, 2011 at 9:26 am

2 Responses

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  1. The meeting just being cordial is not enough – they need to agree on the crucial issue of bringing the PM and the CJI under the Jan Lokpal Bill. While Sibal claims that the two sides agreed on ’80-85 percent of the clauses’ in the bill. However, the civil society members denied this. The Government does not seem to be sincerely in its efforts towards a mutually acceptable draft.

    kukkumol

    June 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

  2. […] all-party meeting on the contentious issue of the Lokpal [1, 2, 3] seems to have ended with the politically correct consensus on broad issues, but predictable […]


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