Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, expressed the hope on Sunday that Team Anna would give the committee a chance to study the Lokpal Bill and make its recommendations, saying it might well surprise all.
Talking to The Hindu, he, however, maintained that it would not be possible for the committee to complete the task before August 30 or September 8, the last day of the monsoon session, saying the process needed three months.
Next meet in September
He said the next meeting of the committee would be held in the first week of September. Team Anna would appreciate the different perspectives, he said, and the constitutional procedures allowed it several bites at the apple.
Pointing out that 40-50 per cent of Team Anna's suggestions had been accommodated in the government Bill, Mr. Singhvi said it was quite possible that “subject to consensus…another chunk of their suggestion may or may not be accepted.”
Stressing that there was no need for Team Anna to be pessimistic, Mr. Singhvi said that by the time the Bill was passed, it was quite possible that 70-80 per cent of their suggestions might be included.
As for the advertisement that angered Team Anna and the Opposition parties, Mr. Singhvi underlined the parliamentary process of the committee inviting the widest possible inputs and later collating and analysing them before submitting its report.
Mr. Singhvi said he had not received the formal copy of the Jan Lokpal Bill, though the committee had a two-hour deliberation with all five members of Team Anna within 24 hours of the Bill having been referred to the committee. Congress member Parveen Singh Aron has submitted a copy of the Jan Lokpal Bill to the committee for a meaningful discussion.
Asked about the attempt to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill in the form of a private Bill, Mr. Singhvi said such initiatives had nothing to do with the committee. While every member was entitled to move such a Bill, there was no precedent of a private Bill having become a law.
Asked about the scope of dialogue offered by the Prime Minister to resolve the issue, Mr. Singhvi said he would not want to comment on the government's initiative, but said the Bill was now the property of Parliament or the Standing Committee, and there was no better negotiating forum than the committee. “Obviously, this does not preclude other forms of negotiation if so desired by anyone.”