"Civil society members are not decision-makers"

Civil society members on the drafting committee for the Lokpal are “not decision makers but suggestion givers” and at this stage the Bharatiya Janata Party did not think it would be appropriate for it to give its views on the proposed Bill for setting up an independent Lokpal, BJP president Nitin Gadkari has said in a letter to chairman of the drafting committee Pranab Mukherkjee.

Responding to Mr. Mukherjee’s letter of May 31 asking the BJP to give its view on six issues concerning the draft Bill, Mr. Gadkari, in a two-page letter dated June 2, faulted the Government for not involving any of the political parties not part of the ruling coalition in the consultation process. The letter said the views of stake holders and interested groups (meaning civil society members) “must be placed in Parliament” to allow political parties to take a final view.

Mr. Gadkari noted it was less than fair to expect political parties to give their view at short notice – he mentioned that less than a week was given to the BJP to send its response. And “to expect political parties to give their views to a drafting committee for acceptance or rejection would be upsetting constitutional propriety,” Mr. Gadkari he added.

He made it plain that the BJP would give its considered view only after the drafting committee finalises its proposals and before the bill is introduced in Parliament. He complained that the Government had contacted the main opposition only after it was clear there were differences between ministers and civil society representatives on some crucial issues. In short, Mr. Gadkari criticised the Government for being expedient instead of taking the proper constitutional route.

On earlier occasions too senior BJP leaders had said there would be no need or occasion for the BJP to give its views before firm proposals are placed before it. It was the job of the Government to make a proposal and only at that stage would the opposition party say whether it agrees with the proposal or disagrees and on what points it differs, they averred.