Lokpal panel finalises report, Team Anna rejects it

December 7th, 2011 - 10:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) The Parliamentary Standing Committee examining the Lokpal bill finalised its draft report Wednesday amidst increased dissent from members, including those of the Congress, over various provisions but Anna Hazare rejected the proposed legislation as unlikely to check corruption.

Panel chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the report, carrying dissent notes, is likely to be presented in parliament Dec 9.

“We have adopted the draft report. It is likely to be presented to parliament Friday,” Singhvi told IANS, adding that the final report will comprise the points of dissent.

Singhvi said the panel examined around 25 issues and agreed on most of them. “But there are differences on some issues,” he said.

Sources said of around 15 dissent notes on various issues, most relate to exclusion of around 5.7 million Group C staff, the largest chunk of government employees, from the Lokpal’s ambit.

While members from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Left parties and the Samajwadi Party have already submitted their dissent notes over the point, three Congress members — Deepa Dasmunsi, P.T. Thomas and Meenakshi Natrajan — joined them Wednesday.

The three Congress members also want the Chief Vigilance Commissioner under the Lokpal.

Another contentious issue was whether the prime minister should come under the purview of the ombudsman.

Singhvi said the controversial issues have been left for parliament to debate and resolve.

Opposing constitutional status for the Lokpal, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav demanded reservation for Dalits, backward castes and the minorities in all the panels under the Lokpal.

Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan has made a similar demand.

But sources said there is general agreement in the panel that the Lokpal should have a constitutional status.

The BJP and the Left parties have also given dissent notes on this issue as well as on the absence of a citizen’s charter and the manner of appointing the Central Bureau of Investigation chief.

Sources said the draft has also recommended bringing corporates, media and NGOs within the Lokpal’s ambit.

However, the response from the Anna hazare camp was not favourable.

Hazare said it seemed that the government is not committed to a strong Lokpal bill.

“The government is not serious about fighting corruption,” he told reporters at his village, Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra.

“There is rampant corruption in lower bureaucracy. To check the corruption, there is a pressing need to bring the Group C and D employees under Lokpal,” he said.

He threatened to go on an indefinite fast from Dec 27 if a strong bill was not passed in parliament during the winter session, which ends Dec 22.

Hazare said that during the fast, he would request voters in seven states going to polls next year not to support the Congress.

Key Hazare aide, Arvind Kejriwal also rejected the recommendations made by the parliamentary panel and said these will not have “any impact on corruption”.

“I think the recommendations of the standing committee, whatever they are, on the Lokpal which is coming, I don’t think this will have any impact on corruption,” he told reporters here.

“On the contrary, it is likely to dismantle whatever exists in the name of anti-corruption in this country,” said Kejriwal.

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