In a softening of stand, social activist Anna Hazare on Friday told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice that it would be acceptable to his team if the government brought in strong legislation on a citizen's charter, grievance redress, whistle blowers' protection and judicial accountability to have a “strong legal system” to tackle corruption.
“We want a comprehensive Lokpal Bill and do not feel there is any need to split it into different legislation. But if the government can bring in strong enabling legislation there is no harm. However, so far what we have seen of the proposed citizen's charter and judicial accountability Bills, they are very weak. The Judicial Accountability Bill as proposed does not touch corruption issue at all and that is not acceptable to us,” Mr. Hazare told journalists after the four hour-long deliberations during which MPs sought clarifications from Team Anna on the amendments sought by them.
The 74-year-old activist who broke his 19-day-old “vow of silence” at the Gandhi Samadhi here, said, there was some “resolution of issues” at the meeting today — not full resolution but to some extent.” He was accompanied by Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia.
“We have been assured of a strong Bill on Lokpal and this has raised hope. We believe the chairman and members of the Standing Committee. After all they are not from England or Pakistan. They are from our country. If we come up with a strong Bill, other countries will follow suit. The impact of the Uttarakhand Lokayukta law, for instance, will be felt soon.”
In a conciliatory tone, he said there might have been use of strong words (against politicians) when there were some shortcomings, but there was nothing personal. “We are all working together for society and the country.” This was contrary to his statement earlier in the day about launching an agitation against the Congress-led UPA government if the Bill was not passed in the winter session of Parliament.
Asked about the response of the Committee to the 34 amendments Team Anna sought to the government's Lokpal Bill, Mr. Kejriwal said, it was not told about it.
Several MPs who participated in the deliberations questioned Team Anna on the absence in its Bill of corruption in the corporate sector, media and non-governmental organisations. “Anti-corruption Bill should be all-encompassing,” Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan is understood to have said. To this Team Anna said that if the government wanted to expand the definition of corruption, it could do so.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad took exception to Team Anna sharing the deliberations of the panel with the media.
Some of the MPs sought representation to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and others on the Lokpal. A few Congress MPs felt the Prevention of Corruption Act was enough to tackle corruption. It was the implementation of law that was required.