Terming the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill “cent per cent” identical to the Jan Lokpal Bill, Team Anna on Wednesday said it was now waiting to see whether the Centre would “supersede” it by enacting a “weak” law.
Congratulating lawmakers in Uttarakhand Assembly for passing the Bill, Team Anna said the Lokayukta Bill would form the baseline for Centre’s Lokpal Bill.
“When the Centre passes the Lokpal bill, it will have provisions to constitute Lokayukta in states. So, if it passes a law weaker than that of Uttarakhand’s Bill, it would supersede the State law. We have to see whether the Centre weakens the Uttarakhand law or it strengthens it,” activist Arvind Kejriwal told reporters here.
He said the Centre will have to do at least what the Uttarakhand government has done. “If the Centre weakens the bill passed by Uttarakhand, then they must know that people will not tolerate such a government,” he said.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill was “cent per cent” identical to the one they proposed as Jan Lokpal bill.
Mr. Kejriwal said another Team Anna member Kumar Vishwas had contacted the Uttarakhand government from their side and in three meetings in a span of a month the bill was drafted.
“But in the case of the central government, despite nine meetings in a span of 2 and half months of 2-3 hours long duration, the bill that came in August was more to protect the corrupt than punish them,” he said.
“The bill formulated by Uttarakhand government has to be now approved by the Centre. So, it now remains to be seen if the Centre gives the approval or not and if it does, then the question is when?” he said.
“On one hand, the central government is not yet passed the Jan Lokpal bill and on the other hand if it also does not approve the Uttarakhand Bill, it will be a very negative thing,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
“What would be most unfortunate and an affront to the people of India would be any attempt to dilute the bill passed in Uttarakhand,” he said.
Noting that the bill has certain clauses that require the Centre’s approval before it becomes effective, he said they urge the government to “not to let go this opportunity”.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said only a day ago that this was the right time to take action against corruption. Truer words have never been spoken. Here is a chance in black and white presenting itself to him and his government,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
Team Anna cited many instances where the Uttarakhand government had taken the recommendations of their Bill in Toto. “We believe this is a great step forward in the people’s movement to tackle corruption,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
Team Anna alleged the Centre has been hesitant in including the judiciary in Lokpal but the Uttarakhand bill includes the lower judiciary as well as lower bureaucracy.
“The Chief Minister, all ministers and all MLAs are covered by the state Lokayukta Act. The Centre is reluctant to include MPs and the PM under the Janlokpal Bill,” they said.
Claiming that the Centre is reluctant to have a citizen’s charter as part of the central law, they said a violation of the citizen’s charter forces the common man to pay bribes and this violation has been treated as an act of corruption by Uttarakhand and leads to automatic penalty.