Civil society activists burn copies of Lokpal bill (Lead)

August 4th, 2011 - 8:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Ghaziabad, Aug 4 (IANS) Even as the government tabled the Lokpal bill in parliament Thursday, Team Anna members burnt copies of the government’s version of the proposed anti-graft law here, and appealed to people to replicate the protest across the country.

Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh and Prashant Bhushan were among the civil society representatives who participated in the protest in Kaushambhi locality here. Anna Hazare too burnt copies of the bill in Ralegan Siddhi in Maharastra.

Addressing reporters, Arvind Kejriwal said the government’s version of the Lokpal bill was anti-poor as grassroots level bodies like village panchayats and municipal bodies were kept out of the Lokpal’s ambit.

“When we raised these issues with the government, its ministers asked us to contact the members of parliament for any modification, but when we contacted them, they said the bill is presented for voting, not for modifications. We have limited options either to vote in favour or vote against,” Kejriwal said.

He added that the government misled the nation and asked countrymen to burn copies of the bill to register their protest.

Prashant Bhushan said: “It is a bogus Lokpal bill. Out of nine members, five are government nominated. The Lokpal can be removed only by a complaint lodged by the government.”

He also quoted from a statement issued by Shanti Bhushan Wednesday on the cash-for-votes scam, and said if a strong anti-graft law was in place, the prime minister could be prosecuted.

“The prime minister is an accused in buying MPs when the nuclear deal was passed in parliament. The Delhi government wrapped up the case after stating that the no politicians were found involved in wooing the MPs through money, not even Amar Singh. The police submitted the report only when the Supreme Court asked it, otherwise it was lying in the records,” he said.

“If an effective Lokpal would have been in force, the prime minister could have been prosecuted and a charge sheet could have been filed against him. But this country lacks an effective autonomous investigation agency,” Prashant Bhushan said, quoting from the statement.

Another Team Anna activist, Kiran Bedi said under the present bill, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will remain outside the Lokpal’s purview.

“Clause 18 of the Lokpal bill states the cases under investigation of CBI would not come under Lokpal and there is no provision of Lokayukta under this bill, so the chief ministers of several states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are beyond its control. Of course, the Delhi chief minister is under Lokayukta purview, but the chief secretary is not,” Kiran Bedi said.

Swami Agnivesh cited the example of the 2G scam, and said that after the statement of former communications minister A. Raja, the prime minister is an accused in the case, but there are no provisions to punish him.

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