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Updated: August 11, 2011 16:06 IST

Lokpal: no consensus on fundamental issues

K. Balchand
Comment (15)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal on their way to attend the meeting of the joint committee to draft Lokpal Bill, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: Kamal Narang
Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal on their way to attend the meeting of the joint committee to draft Lokpal Bill, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: Kamal Narang

In the absence of any convergence of opinion on fundamental issues, government representatives and civil society members decided on Wednesday to conclude the deliberations and present their separate Bills on the structure and provisions of the Lokpal to the Union government.

Emerging from the seventh meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on the Lokpal Bill, the two sides admitted to fundamental differences on crucial issues and their inability to break the deadlock and conclude the proceedings ahead of the June 30 deadline set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The committee will meet, perhaps for the last time, on June 20 and 21 when the civil society members as well as the government representatives will come up with their draft Bills and make the last effort at building a consensus on the contentious issues.

Strong divergence

Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said there were areas of strong divergence of opinions, so it was decided to get the version of social activist Anna Hazare and his team for a discussion at the next meeting, where the government, too, would place its version of the Bill. If no consensus emerged, he said, both versions would be placed before the Union Cabinet.

RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, the other civil society members of the committee, said the two draft Bills would be presented to the Cabinet, which would decide on accepting either of the two or to make modifications as it might deem suitable before presenting it to Parliament, which the government promised to do during the monsoon session starting in July.

Significantly, none of the six contentious issues, which had created an impasse at the May 30 meeting, figured at Wednesday's talks.

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I don't know why government is trying to ignore a strong lokpal bill. If government make such a strong bill , it will give the government a big support of those people who are with Anna Hazare, perhaps the whole population. But unfortunately they are not intended to get such a big support for what reasons :: because they too are responsible for this corruption

from:  Om Mishra
Posted on: Jun 17, 2011 at 07:33 IST

What is the need for an independent Lok Pal? Adding more layers to an already corrupt system. Make the existing system efficient and workable not add more constitutional authority.There are already a judiciary, parliament and executive. These are not working well make these system work not add one more without any political oversight. The whole idea of independant Lok Pal is not a rational idea in a complex country like ours. Judiciary - There are more that 3 crores of cases pending in judiciary what about that. Supreme court should show activism in clearing out these case rather taking vacation(summer,winter,spring) we are not the British and we dont need to follow stupid British system anymore.
Parliament - Who talks in the parliament only the front benches(please note carefully). All agenda is dictated by the front row. There is no intellectual debate,there is acrimonious, uncivilized talk.Shameful behaviour by the legislators. Make strict rules,implement the rules and force people to participate. This is important. We are not doing this. Executive - Where is the storage system for the millions of tons of food grains that will be sent to the granaries? Where is the system to provide basic sanitation to the whole country? Where is process to streamlining the railways(have you visited Chennai Central...people cannot stand next to the tracks and you know why)What is the plan to regulate population and education. What is plan for energy for long term? These are the issues to be focussed. Press - This is very important. We are very proud of our freedom of press but where are checks and balances on the over exagerrated news, paid news, collution with power brokers? Who is streamlining the media. Control of unconfirmed news.
These are the issues that our population need to be worried about not about creating an independent body that will stall all decisions by the executive. Any constitutional body must be under the people's mandate not with any draconian powers. This will create a constitutional crisis.
I am not proponent of this government. At the same time I cannot tolerate anarchy in my country with these so called social activists riding the limelight. Accusing is easy proving is not..people have to keep it in mind. Nobody has the authority to blackmail an elected government.I hope common sense and intellect prevails over this whole corruption issue.

from:  Prem
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 23:07 IST

Sooner or latter this failure was inevitable. Divergence of views in the Lokpal Bill Panel was a healthy sign but, consensus on issue could come only through wisdom. Government representatives were hell bent to reduce the whole exercise look like a TAMASHA. Call Anna a Blackmailer! Was he fasting to remove or destabilize duly elected Government or, was it a fight against corruption and make the Government to establish a system to remove corruption from high places. They will make sure that it is only their version that goes to parliament for approval. Why should they prejudge issues and approach serious discussion on corruption, with pre-conceived notions. And still expect to have consensus on draft lokpal bill ! What a joke.

from:  Umesh Chandra
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 20:04 IST

The Government has shown the highest degree of irreponsibility and insensitiveness on such an important subject of dealing with measures to tackle corruption, an issue which the whole country is afflicted with. They are really going to regret this. They have made a tamasha of this joint drafting comittee affair. They cannot hide their true intent, which has become quite clear in the way they have handled this affair. People are not idiots not to see through their intrinsic desire to perpetuate the present corruption enabling system while outwardly playing the drama of favoring introduction of Lok Pal Bill. They cant fool people by diverting the subject and bickering about Constitution, parliamentary democracy etc etc. on the one hand and making derogatory statements about the Anna Hazare team. It is nothing but myopia not to see the reality that Anna Hazare team is just a manifestation of the frustration and intolerence of the public to the gross negligence on the part of the Government to curb proliferation of curruption. It's an illusion to think that if Anna team is curbed the problem is over. They dont realise the problem has just begun. The Government is fostering the germination of seeds of revolution through such gross irresponsible behaviour and history is bound to hold them culpabile for the dire outcomes that will cripple the country.
The way Government is dealing with Anna Hazare Issue exposes the degeneration of character and scruples way below the threshold level which is minimum required for parliamentary democracy as a system to function. After all any system has boundary conditions within which it is designed to operate and when things go outside of this Anna Hazare type revolutions are essential natural correction mechanisms that force an upliftment from the abysmal degeneration. While most of the members of the process are rank criminals working as lawmakers, those with any kind of stuff have shamelessly mortgaged their scruples to sustain the degenerated system for their benifit. Its nauseating to hear the hollow roadside bikkering mentality evident whenever they speak about profound subjects like lokpal and anti-curruption, that they take people to be a bunch of idiots and pervertedly assume legitimacy of authority and run down the people just because they are elected. Nothing else can explain the blatant remarks about AnnaHazare by these despots. They forget that one uses the provisions of constitution to protect the affected from acts of harm or crime and not for the previlaged to further strangulate the deprived. There are both stated and implied qualities of the lawmakers to be eligible to take cover of the constitutional processes to govern. Not having this fundamental qualification of virtue, these lawmakers are unconstitunal and any peaceful revolution to rectify is a must-inevitable.

from:  S.Balasubramanian
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 17:15 IST

The intentions of the government on the Lokpal bill has never been any clearer than this: just think what happens when both the drafts go to the cabinet for review. The same 5 Congress leaders, who are part of the joint drafting committee, will be in the cabinet committee. Are we to believe that they will not exercise their franchise and, worst still, vote against 'their' version of the draft? Even the dumbest on the earth won't believe that. In politics, in India, when it comes to tackling corruption in its entirety, there is no color other than the 'political' color, as opposed to saffron or white or green. See the stand taken by the main opposition party, the BJP. In fact, they are not taking any stand on fundamental issues. OK, agreed, the public will throw away the incumbent government; but who will replace them? Another party which is no better. The citizens have got this only opportunity to clear the rot. Once a lame Lokpal bill gets passed by the parliament, it will be too difficult to bring in amendments. For that matter, if two drafts, as suggested by Mr. Sibal, are forwarded to the cabinet, the whole movement against corruption will gets watered down and that's exactly what the government wants. In all this, the one person who is conspicuous by his absence is Mr. Rahul Gandhi. He showed promise to be a champion of the masses. He does not seem to have been appraised about the problems a common man faces due to the corrupt officials. Or, he does not care, because he is not getting affected: he does not have to go the municipality office to get a water supply connection. Leaves me totally distraught, hopeless and helpless. As it has been happening, we will have doctors in the government hospitals taking money to provide a bed, we will have contractors constructing poor quality bridges without accountability, we will drive our vehicles on roads wishing they were not there and so on.

from:  S M Sahoo
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 11:33 IST

Respected ANNA HAZARE, You are a representative of all Indians including parliament.So be strict toward the LOKPAL. We are with you.

from:  Tripurari Roy
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 10:36 IST

Time is running out for the civil society memebers to conclude the deliberations and arrive at a consensus on the fundamental issues. I personally believe, the PM should be included under the ambit of the Lokapl but the Judiciary should be left untouched. Once the PM comes under the ambit it will send the right signals to his fellow cabinet collegues and other ministers and members of the parliament which should collectively do good for the country.

from:  Bharath
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 10:05 IST

It seems the government is not ready to accept the demands of civil society on certain issues of the Lokpal bill. The civil society must realise that corruption can not be eradicated in a day or year.I salute the efforts of civil society for their continual efforts for the lokpal bill. I would like to add here that true power of democracy lies in the people of the nation. No lokpal bill is going to help until the people of india understand their powers to elect and their responsibilities as a citizen. Anna and his team should focus on the real issue of educating people of their rights and duties as a citizen. Discussing a bill with the government is simply waste of time. The draft may be made and tabled in the parliament, even if it is passed it will never be close to the original draft. Why should the Government or the opposition would like to come under the scanner of some independent body. No one wants to give away the privacy, freedom and authority, how can we expect the government to pass such a bill,I doubt.

from:  Rahul R Joshi
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 09:31 IST

Pranab Mukehrjee says "If someone dictates terms from outside to the government, does it not weaken or subvert democracy? It is a big question... We are all civil society, no one is uncivil."
What about the fact when UPA coalition parties try to arm twist the government for fulfilling there ill demands? Then what is the harm if Anna Hajare demands steps against corruption? If a government can be lead by a person (Mr. Manmohan Singh) who is not directly elected by its own people then how can Pranab Mukherjee ask civil society members to keep there mouth shut? Does Congress truly have the mandate to rule India? As per information available on 'Election Commission Of India' website Congress party (Indian National Congress) secured total 11.91 crore (119111019) votes in General Election 2009. Total number of electors in the country is 71.69 crores. So Congress party represents less than 17% of total electors in India. Then what is the moral authority of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to advise Team Anna Hajare to keep themselves away from governance issues (Corruption, Black money and all sorts of scam)? Another important thing to recall here, less than 17% of votes that Congress has is with all sort of pre-poll arrangements with other parties.
Anna Hajare's deadline of 16th August for passing Lokpal bill is not only for Congress but applicable for all political parties. Instead of hitting hard on corruption & scams, Mr. Manmohan Singh is showing weakness. This is very much evident from his statement that "he doesn't have a magic stick to make this society corruption free". I feel this is indirectly giving a message to A. Raja, Kanimozhi and others that nothing will happen to them just wait to pass over this tide. Such kind of message from highest executive office is nothing but disgusting.
Instead of showing commitment to passing of Lokpal Bill in forthcoming Monsoon Session of Loksabha, senior minister of PM's cabinet is hitting Team Anna Hajare. It is very much evident that this government is failing miserably to gauge the mood of nation & instead is guided by shrewd politicians and like Kapil Sibal, Digvijay Singh, Manish Tewari and few others. Few months back our PM compared 2G scam losses with subsidies. His argument was subsidy does impact exchequer. This was said to deny forming JPC for 2G scam. Similarly Mr. Kapil Sibal said there is no loss at all to government exchequer due to 2G spectrum allocation by A. Raja. Initially instead of taking appropriate steps government started attacking CAG. Why our central government is so confused?

from:  Pranav Kumar Das
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 09:23 IST

over 42 yrs,it is said,a lokpal bill has not been passed. Obviously vested political interests have been behind the very very long delay. The general public are very realy angry with the politics in the government on this burning/cancerous problem. Congress may have to pay a heavy price if they miss this opportunity. Beware of 2014 Elections when citizens will excercise their valuable

from:  N A Sundaram.
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 09:20 IST

What would you expect after constituting a committee with an even total membership and 'equal' membership to two contending parties . From the beginning, this has been constituted to fail!

from:  Ramdas
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 09:19 IST

I am a senior citizen who participated in freedom struggle during my High scholl days. At that time were shouting 'SHANTHI. SHISTU & Nyaya'. Now we are facing all the three with the prefix 'A', and the gap between Rich and poor is increasing. In fact people are the persons who can dictate the government what is necessary and their leaders have to obey. Now in our country Coruption is grown beyond lmits by our politicians for their growth and this is to be attacked. Hence politicians in power are reluctant and refuse and say they are LAW MAKERS and their right to do what they like. This saying is against the principles of democracy.

from:  B S Ganesh
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 07:46 IST

15th June was a sad day for those rooting for a strong anti-corruption Bill. But today was also a rather auspicious day for many people. So l propose to look at some of the positive outcomes of today's meeting. At least it is now clear that: (a) the Govt proposal is for an Ombudsman type organisation, not an independent investigative organisation empowered to make rulings or recommend disciplinary actions. (b) there will be two Bills put up to the cabinet, because it is felt that there will be many and important points of divergence amongst the two groups of members. (c) now it is up to the citizens to make their preferences clearly known to the elected legislative members, and to persuade them to incorporate what they want into the final Bill / Act, should the version recommended by the cabinet need enhancing. A large number of issues flow from the above outcomes:
(1) It will test the mettle of all citizens supporting a strong anti-corruption Bill:- (i) do they fully appreciate the benefits to them and the future generations of a more moral, less stressful, and more civilised society? (ii) do they really understand the cost of giving up a system that facilitates, even encourages malpractice, bribery and corruption? (iii) can they weigh up the value of future benefits vis a vis current opportunities for gaining illegal benefits? (iv) do they really want a corruption free society for themselves and their future generations? (v) can they rise above their self-interest to do something good for everyone in society? 2) It will test the capabilities of the anti-corruption supporters:- (i) can the part-time volunteers with strictly limited resources (time, money, organisational support and skills, public communication specialists, policy/strategy advisors etc) effectively cope and manage what is required to disseminate information and harness support? (ii) can they reach out to 900m adults (say 70% of 1.2 billion) – via local meetings, TV coverage, other media? (iii) can they establish two-way communications with these citizens? (iv) can they channel their support and energy in a non-violent and positive manner? (v) can they conduct a Satyagraha, and train and maintain the discipline of Satyagrahis? (3) It will test the character of opposition political party leaders and elected members:- (i) can they rise above short-term party political interests to serve the nation? (ii) will they join forces in a non-partisan way, at least on this single issue, for the good of all citizens - born and unborn? (iii) will they stand shoulder to shoulder with the ordinary citizen, who at present appear to have only weak political or establishment backing? (4) It will test the moral and social conscience of the media (of every type including TV, radio, newspapers, internet channels): - (i) can they (and their owners and sponsors) take a non-partisan view to protect the future of the country, protect social morality, democracy and hard won freedoms? (5) It will test the fairness of every democratic institution/system in India (including governance, parliamentary processes, judicial system and the judiciary, law and order enforcers etc). In the coming months there will be a great test of (i) human nature (ii) true benefits of a democratic system (say over another form of government) (iii) the true character of Indians, and (iv) the strength and maturity of India’s democratic system. In that sense this experiment is not only a second freedom struggle for India, but also the outcome may be as significant as the promulgation of Magna Carta, or Cromwell’s Parliamentary reforms, or the Boston Tea Party. People in non-democratic countries may also be watching to assess the true benefits of a democracy, while other democratic governments would be keen to learn any lessons arising. All of the above will be played out in public glare with the entire world watching.

from:  D Mahapatra
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 04:17 IST

If the PM and his cabinet have their final say in what is presented as a bill, although the cabinet gets to see both versions, what further role can the civil society play? This whole joint effort is a big joke by the government on the people. Next best thing for Anna Hazare team is to take it to the masses and start a satyagraha movement until the next elections. We need to throw the Congress out for stalling this bill.

from:  Raj M
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 01:50 IST

It would be interesting to know what were the fundamental differences. Public statements made by some prominent Congress leaders have given the impression that they were trying to water down the Lokpal Bill. Many politicians (both ruling and in the opposition) are less than eager to have a strong Lokbill Bill.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Jun 16, 2011 at 00:30 IST
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