The Aruna Roy-led Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghtan (MKSS) has asked for “broad public consultation, across groups and regions” to precede the joint drafting of the Lokpal Bill by civil society and United Progressive Alliance Ministers.
In a signed statement, Ms. Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh of the MKSS congratulated Anna Hazare and his group on the “large scale mobilisation of people against corruption” and on the creation of “space for civil society participation” in formulating the legislation, but at the same time stressed the importance of broadbasing consultations so that the final draft placed before Parliament was “effective and comprehensive” in all respects.
Ever since the agitation started, it has been clear that there are subtle differences between the Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal group, which wanted its version of the Lokpal Bill – or the Jan Lokpal Bill – to be the basis of discussion with the government and civil society activists such as Ms. Roy who have sought the widest possible consultations for the Bill, regardless of which version finally found favour with the stakeholders. As a member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, Ms. Roy also heads the NAC's Working Group on Transparency, Accountability and Governance (WG on TA &G) which studied the Jan Lokpal Bill in some detail. Though broadly supportive of the Jan Lokpal Bill, the WG found itself disagreeing with some of its clauses.
As the NAC Working Group noted later in a statement: “… it was felt that there were many other issues which needed to be revisited and which needed greater discussion on the finer points both of law and of content. Some aspects of the draft Lokpal Bill, yet to be looked at in detail may be considered in the course of the discussions.
“The Lokpal Bill is a very important piece of legislation, which will need wider and more geographically spread consultations than has hitherto occurred. It is only the beginning of a discussion and debate on a seminal legislation, which is the basis of people hoping to build a more ethical and accountable country. In a democratic process, discussions do not often progress in a linear trajectory, particularly if it believes in an inclusive process necessary for a mature piece of legislation.”