Ahead of the first meeting of the newly-formed joint committee on the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill here, Anna Hazare-led members said here on Friday that they wanted the draft Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by the civil society as the “working or the base draft.”
The joint committee, chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and co-chaired by former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, is meeting here on Saturday. It is expected that in the first meeting the terms of reference and procedures would be set. The Bill is expected to be ready by June 30.
At a press conference here on Friday a list of the assets of the civil society members on the joint panel including Shanti Bhushan (co-chairman), Anna Hazare, Santosh Hegde, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, was released.
Appeal to parties
Besieged with questions on the various allegations flying fast and furious against the civil society members, Mr. Bhushan and Mr. Kejriwal appealed to all political parties and leaders to come together to prepare a strong anti-corruption bill and mechanism. “Our version of the Bill is not the issue. What is important to have a strong law against corruption. Let the process not be derailed by smear campaigns and selective leaks. If we have done anything wrong, have an inquiry against us but let the Bill come through.''
Addressing journalists jointly they said that they would want the proceedings of the committee to be videographed or at least taped in the interest of transparency. “When Parliament proceedings can be covered live, this can at least be audio-taped. In some countries even proceedings of parliamentary committees are shown live,” said Prashant Bhushan.
The members also decided that they would request the government to place the agreed draft proposal of the Bill in the public domain for inviting suggestions and comments. The government members would also be requested to prepare clause-wise objections to the draft Jan Lokpal Bill. This was decided at a meeting of the members held after Anna Hazare arrived here on Friday.
The members also agreed that not only the Supreme Court and High Court judges but even the Chief Justice of India should come under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.
On his part, Mr. Shanti Bhushan denied allegations made against him about undervaluation of a tenanted property sold to him in part in Allahabad in a statement, and said “to insinuate that there has been any undervaluation of property or underpayment of stamp duty, is absurd and scurrilous and just shows the desperation of those seeking to derail the Bill.”
He said: “Even more shocking is the circulation of a CD to sections of the media, containing a purported conversation between me and Amar Singh and (Samajwadi Party president) Mulayam Singh, which is clearly fabricated since I have never spoken to Mr. Amar Singh.”
Mr. Bhushan has lodged an FIR in the matter with the police who are investigating.
On Congress leader Digvijay Singh's charge that Anna Hazare was surrounded by people close to the BJP, Mr. Prashant Bhushan asked whether the Congress had given its approval to him to come up with such allegations. “If it is so, it is clear as to who is trying to derail the anti-corruption movement.”
Mr. Kejriwal appealed to Mr. Singh to join the movement against corruption and not to indulge in a smear campaign.
Earlier the members released an account of the donations received by them. In the past one year, they have received a donation of Rs. 82,87668.00, of which Rs. 32,69,900.00 have been spent.