Cabinet clears Lokpal Bill, Hazare team calls it a ‘cruel joke'

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 29, 2011 Published on July 29, 2011

The I&B Minister, Ms Ambika Soni, flanked by the Law Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid (left), and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr V. Narayanaswamy, briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting in the Capital on Thursday. – V. Sudershan   -  The Hindu

PM kept out of ambit; Hazare to go fast from Aug 16

The Prime Minister has been kept out of the ambit of the Lokpal Bill, the draft of which was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Thursday.

However, Mr Anna Hazare's team rejected the draft, terming it as a ‘distorted summary' of its views, saying “there is nothing in it for the common man”.

In protest, Mr Hazare reiterated his decision to go on fast from August 16, even as the Government shot back, saying that “anyone, who challenges this procedure is not challenging Government but Parliament of the country.”

The Bill will now be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament, which begins from August 1. The Bill will not include the Prime Minister, judiciary or the conduct of MPs inside the House.

Addressing a news conference earlier in the day, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ms Ambika Soni, said the Lokpal will have eight members, half of whom will be from the judiciary. The chairman will also belong to the judiciary.

“Overall, the task has been to ensure greater accountability and transparency in public life,” she said. The Government was also working on a Whistleblowers' Protection Bill, Chief Vigilance Commission Bill and the Judicial Accountability Bill, she added.

Senior lawyer, Mr Prashant Bhushan, termed the Bill as ‘cruel joke' on the people as it would not help in tackling corruption at the lower level, such as in scams related to the Public Distribution System or the MNREGA.

At a news conference, he said in case Parliament cleared the Bill without the Prime Minister in its ambit, it would be unconstitutional.

“If need be, we will challenge it,” he said, adding that they were yet to receive a copy of the cleared draft.

Industry body FICCI too, put forth its views suggesting creation of State Lokpals.

“It should have an independently constituted selection mechanism, be accountable to the public and be financially self-sufficient,” it said in a press release.

Published on July 29, 2011
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