Civil society upset over ’sarkari’ Lokpal (Lead)

July 28th, 2011 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Visibly upset members of the civil society Thursday described the draft Lokpal bill approved by the cabinet as a “sarkari” (government) bill and a “cruel joke” on the people of the country.

Social activist Anna Hazare, speaking in his Ralegan-Siddhi village in Maharashtra, accused the government of cheating him and the entire nation by clearing the draft of the Lokpal bill that excludes the clauses the civil society has been fighting for.

“We said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal bill. Also we discussed that all states should have Lokayukta (ombudsman). It was decided that all these things will be put forward while discussing the bill in the cabinet, but today we found that these were removed,” Hazare told reporters.

“This is cheating — not just with Anna Hazare but with the entire nation. If states don’t have Lokayukta, then corruption will never end. So, we will sit on a fast in Jantar Mantar from Aug 16 on… I will fast until my last breath,” Hazare added.

The union cabinet Thursday approved the draft of the anti-corruption Lokpal bill, to be presented in the monsoon session of parliament beginning Aug 1.

The draft bill excludes from its ambit the prime minister, the chief justice of India and members of parliament for their actions inside the house, informed sources said.

“The government wrote to every chief minister, asking for their opinion on the Lokpal bill and all Congress-led states said that whatever the high command says they will agree. So this is cheating,” Hazare alleged.

Drafting committee member Prashant Bhushan, meanwhile, described the bill as a “sarkari Lokpal”.

“They have distorted our bill totally… It will essentially be a sarkari Lokpal,” senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhusan, who was part of a 10-member panel set up by the government to draft the law, told a press conference.

“It is a cruel joke on the people of the country. The Lokpal will be selected by the government because five out of nine people in the selection panel are from the government,” Bhushan said.

The activists said the fact that the Lokpal does not cover lower bureaucracy will leave many scams uncovered by the anti-corruption institution.

“The corruption of PDS, MNREGA will not come under it. The state Lokayukta will not be under it, the Karnataka mining scam, Commonwealth, Adarsh will also not be under its ambit. Even 2G investigation will not be under it,” Bhushan said.

A visibly upset Kiran Bedi said it was a mere “jokepal”, which the government will boast about on the international platform.

“This Lokpal is only for corporates, it is only to show off to the world, it’s a jopkepal,” Bedi said.

“The government says they will bring a separate bill for other things like judiciary, protection of whistle blowers etc. If they took 40 years for Lokpal, they will take 400 years for other bills,” she said.

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