Public opinion sought on Lokpal, Team Anna terms it diversion (Second lead)

August 20th, 2011 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) As Anna Hazare continued his protest fast against the government’s Lokpal bill, the chairman of a parliamentary standing committee examining the bill Saturday said the panel was not closed to any proposals, including those from the Jan Lokpal bill. Team Anna, however, dismissed it as an attention-diverting tactic.

Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, and law and justice told reporters here that the committee was open to all suggestions, but the processes need to be followed.

Asked if the standing committee will consider the provisions in team Anna’s Jan Lokpal bill, Singhvi said: “I want to make it clear a second, third and fourth time. Every possible process, input, draft, suggestion, result, consequence is completely open.”

“We are at the beginning, not at the end of the process. No one should have the slightest doubt or agitation or any prejudgement on any issue,” he said.

The standing committee Saturday invited public suggestions on the Lokpal Bill, publishing advertisements in leading newspapers, seeking ideas and suggestions on the bill.

“The committee has decided to invite memoranda containing views/suggestions from individuals, organisations interested in the subject matter of the bill and also hear select oral evidence on the subject matter of the bill,” the advertisement said.

A time limit of 15 days starting Saturday has been given to send suggestions.

“We already had a very positive detailed discussion with the civil society. We have now invited views of diverse stakeholders. It would be followed by witness hearing and then clause by clause we see the bill and take all ideal elements from these proposals, the Lokpal or Jan Lokpal, and try to make the strongest bill according to our understanding,” Singhhvi said.

The step is being seen as an attempt to counter the protesting activists who have claimed that public opinion is against the Lokpal Bill introduced by the government.

Team Anna, however, rejected the initiative.

“As far as calling the feedback is concerned, it is not a referendum also. If the government does any referendum, the government bill will be totally trashed by the people. This is simply diverting attention,” activist Arvind Kejriwal told IANS.

The civil society representatives have urged the parliamentary standing committee to reject the bill.

“We requested the standing committee to completely reject the bill and send it back to the government because there is no time for the standing committee and parliament to waste their precious time in discussing a totally wrong bill,” he said.

Singhvi, however, refused to react to Kejriwal’s statement, saying: “I will not comment on any one’s comment. We are following a procedure which is the foundation stone of parliamentary system.”

He, however, rejected Team Anna’s comment that the bill could be tabled by end of August if the government wanted.

“All I can say is let us be very clear, the detailed procedure I just outlined to you, invitation of views, meeting with diverse stakeholders, collecting evidence, doing a clause by clause analysis, then giving a detailed report and recommendations (if it) is done by August 30, you will laugh at us and accuse the committee of not applying its mind,” he said.

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