The rejection of the Lokpal committee’s recommendation on transfer of CBI officers had exposed the government’s intention of maintaining a grip on the investigating agency, senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat said at a press conference here on Friday.
“There is a question mark on the understanding of the ruling alliance on Lokpal. They forcibly passed the Bill in the Lok Sabha and when it was opposed in the Rajya Sabha, they constituted, under pressure, a committee that had representatives from all political parties. A Congress representative was the chairman of the select committee. A key recommendation of the committee was that the CBI officers deputed to work on cases referred by the Lokpal cannot be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal. This meant the Lokpal had administrative control over these officers for such cases. If you are removing that, your intentions are suspect. It is clear you do not want to cede control. You want to maintain the scope for intervention. So the government once again wants to weaken the Lokpal,” she said.
Terming the CBI’s practice of sending notices prior to raids “a big joke,” Ms. Karat said, “Even today you see, when the CBI wants to conduct raids, they first start questioning. Then they send a notice about the raid. This is a big joke. If the Lokpal finds prima facie evidence and calls for a probe, and if you are going to send intimation, then the evidence will be wiped off.”
Moreover, the deliberate exclusion of public-private-partnership projects from the Lokpal ambit was done to favour the corporate bodies.
“Our natural resources are being handed over to the corporates through the PPP model. There is huge corruption in this area. In government projects, where you have the involvement of corporates or their executives, why keep PPPs out of the Lokpal” she asked.
On the controversy over actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan’s film Vishwaroopam, she said once the Censor Board cleared the film, the makers had every right to screen it. “We have a special situation in Tamil Nadu. Hope there is a speedy resolution to the issue,” she said.
Ms. Karat welcomed the recommendations of the J.S. Verma Committee and called for their “wholehearted implementation.”
“The government did not provide any infrastructure or facilities to the committee. But the body worked very hard and within a month gave strong recommendations. It even put the government in the dock. It has clearly said, had the government implemented all the existing laws, things would not have come to such a pass,” she said.
Ms. Karat opposed popular demands for reducing the juvenile age following the Delhi gang rape incident. A lot of deliberation had gone into increasing the age from 16 to 18, taking into consideration various factors. However, she stressed need for “serious thought” on dealing with heinous crimes involving minors.
Returning from Madhubani and Darbhanga districts, Ms. Karat accused the Bihar government and the Opposition of carrying out a conspiracy of silence over the D. Bandyopadhyay Committee recommendations on land reforms.