Under pressure, PM appeals to MPs to pass Lokpal bill (Second Lead)December 27th, 2011 - 9:07 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) Under pressure from Team Anna and the opposition for a strong anti-graft legislation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday made a strong pitch for parliament to pass without delay the Lokpal bill as proposed by the government, even as he warned of the pitfalls of having an institution for an uncertain future.
In a lengthy intervention during the debate on the Lokpal bill in the Lok Sabha, Manmohan Singh also put his weight behind demands for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) being independent of government interference, but not without the accountability rider.
“…we must keep in mind the fact that corruption and its consequences eat into the body politic. We have seen how public anger has manifested itself in the last one year. Let us, therefore, endorse this bill as proposed,” he said.
He also responded to criticism that the present legislation allegedly interfers with states’ powers, and noted that federalism cannot be “an impediment” in the anti-graft fight.
The prime minister said it was his “honest belief” that the present Lokpal bill lived up to the collective “sense of the house” at the end of the Aug 27 debate.
In a strong message to fasting Anna Hazare, the prime minister said: “The task of legislation is very serious business and must eventually be performed by all of us who have been constitutionally assigned this duty. Others can persuade and their voices heard, but the decision must rest with us.”
Manmohan Singh said parliament was now creating something for the future in response to the inadequacies of the present.
“We have to be mindful of the pitfalls when we look into the future. Let us not create something that will destroy all that we cherish — all in the name of combating corruption. Let us remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
On the CBI, the prime minister said: “We believe that the CBI should function without interference through any government diktat. But no institution and no individual, howsoever high he may be, should be free from accountability. All institutional structures must be consistent with our constitution. Independence does not mean absence of accountability.”
Referring to the proposed framework for appointment of the CBI director involving the prime minister, the chief justice of India or his nominee, and the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, he said: “None should have doubts about the integrity of this process.”
As far as the CBI working under the Lokpal, he said, the government believed this would create an executive structure outside parliament which is “accountable to none”.
“This is anathema to sound constitutional principles. I believe that this bill…contains a judicious blend of functional autonomy and accountability of the CBI,” he added.
Manmohan Singh remarked that bureaucracy has been “at the receiving end” and all bureaucrats and politicians should not be perceived as corrupt.
“I don’t think that all public functionaries need to be painted with the same brush just as all politicians should not be presumed to be corrupt,” he said, receiving thunderous response from MPs.
Alluding to pressures on government servants, he said very often they have to take decisions under conditions of uncertainty. “The future being inherently uncertain, it is possible that an action which ex ante appears to be rational may ex post turn out to be faulty.”
He asked parliament not to supplant the system with one in which public servants will hesitate to fearlessly record what they think and in that process endanger the very soul of good governance. “We must not throw the baby out with the bath water.”
On the attack that the Lokpal bill was against the federal structure, he said: “Legal sophistry cannot be used to argue that state legislatures must not adopt the model law proposed or delay its enforcement.”
“Corruption is corruption, whether in the Union (of India) or its states. It has no legislative colour,” he added.
Manmohan Singh also promised the house and the nation that the government will not end the fight against corruption with the Lokpal bill alone.
- Text of PM's statement in parliament - Dec 27, 2011
- CBI should be independent of Lokpal: PM (Lead) - Dec 27, 2011
- Leave it to states to set up Lokayuktas: Trinamool - Dec 27, 2011
- PM's all-party meet fails to break Lokpal jam (Lead) - Mar 23, 2012
- War of words: Stormy opposition tears into Lokpal bill (Roundup) - Dec 27, 2011
- BJP wants PM, CBI, lower bureaucracy under Lokpal - Dec 11, 2011
- As Anna fasts, parliament divided over Lokpal (Night Lead) - Dec 27, 2011
- Team Anna writes to PM, wants CBI under Lokpal (Lead) - Dec 25, 2011
- Lok Sabha passes Lokpal bill but no constitutional status (Second Lead) - Dec 28, 2011
- 'PM, Group C employees may be brought under Lokpal ambit' - Dec 12, 2011
- Cabinet to discuss Lokpal bill Tuesday, Hazare calls it worthless (Roundup) - Dec 19, 2011
- PM promises Lokpal bill in monsoon session (Lead) - Jul 03, 2011
- PM will be the best Lokpal: Lalu Prasad (Lead) - Dec 27, 2011
- BJP asks government to dump present Lokpal bill - Aug 23, 2011
- This Lokpal bill is useless, says Bhushan - Aug 04, 2011
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