New Delhi: An All-party meet on Lokpal on Sunday agreed that a "strong and effective" bill should be brought in the Monsoon session of Parliament with consensus on maintaining the supremacy of Parliament and established procedures. RJD, BJD, JD (U) and Samajwadi Party were sharply critical of the government engaging the Civil Society first on drafting the bill. Responding to criticism, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government had under no circumstances wanted to tamper with the established procedures to enact a law. (JPN/ Agencies)
However, there were differences on various provisions of the proposed legislation with a number of small parties, except AIADMK, favouring inclusion of Prime Minister but not higher judiciary in the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
Main Opposition BJP, which kept cards close to its chest on the contentious issues, said it has serious differences over the draft prepared by the five ministers of the joint drafting committee with regard to jurisdiction and process of selection and removal of the Lokpal.
"The All-party meeting agreed that government should bring before the next session of Parliament a strong and effective Lokpal Bill following the established procedures," said a resolution passed after the three-hour meeting at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
At the meeting, there was consensus that setting up of the institution of Lokpal should not undermine the established Parliamentary processes of enacting a law.
The government held consultations with political parties two months after it engaged with civil society led by Anna Hazare whose draft demands inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary, MPs' conduct inside Parliament in the bill.
Setting the tone for the meeting, Singh said the government was committed to bringing a bill that will provide for "strong and effective way to tackle corruption in higher places" but such an institution will have to work within the framework of Constitution. The Prime Minister said the Lokpal will have "to add to and not detract from the legitimate role and authority of other institutions in our democratic structure."
Underlining that the Constitution provides for an "intricate system of checks and balances", he said the new institution of Lokpal has to find an appropriate place in that matrix."
BJP demands strong Lokpal
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told the meeting that government should stick to established Parliamentary processes while bringing a strong Lokpal bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
"We clearly said that BJP wants a strong and effective Lokpal who is selected transparently and be able to function independently," the BJP leader said emerging from the meeting.
She said the bill should be referred to the Parliament's Standing Committee so that all political parties, state governments and members of civil society are able to present their views. After due consultations, the bill may be passed in the Winter Session, she said.
Swaraj and her party colleague Arun Jaitley, who is the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said they have serious differences over several provisions of the draft prepared by the ministers.
"We have serious differences on who should come within the purview of the Lokpal, the appointment mechanism, who is eligible to be appointed and who should initiate removal of Lokpal, among other issues," Jaitley said.
However, the BJP leaders declined to specify their views on the major points like inclusion of PM, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament. At the meeting, the government came under attack for engaging with civil society in drafting of Lokpal bill before consulting political parties.
Swaraj said the government had set aside Constitutional and political processes and tried to draft the bill with civil society. "It is only when you got stuck, you remembered us," she told the government.
Criticism from parties
Ram Gopal Yadav of Samjawadi Party said he did not want to even see or discuss the draft prepared by Hazare's team.
He said the government's engagement with civil society was an "extra layer" of consultations and "a new experiment".
When the bill is tabled in Parliament, it is the property of Parliament, Mukherjee said.
Key UPA constituent DMK and a number of other smaller parties like AGP, INLD, TDP and CPI(M) favoured inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal. DMK even wanted higher judiciary to be brought under it.
AGP felt judiciary should be brought under scrutiny of national judicial commission.
AIADMK was of the view that bringing Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal would encourage frivolous complaints and derail the process.
PM should be under Lokpal's ambit: RSS
Coming in support of the Lokpal Bill, RSS on Sunday said that even the Prime Minister and higher judiciary should be brought under the purview of Lokpal.
Addressing members of the Sangh here, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav observed that the Lokpal bill is the need of the hour.
"Even the Prime Minister and higher judiciary should be under the purview of Lokpal" he said.
Talking about RSS's support to Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, he clarified that the organisation was supporting them but not directing them.
Everyone should fight against corruption and so the RSS is supporting the movement led by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. RSS is not directing them but only supporting them and has asked its members and student wings like the ABVP to support all those who have launched movements against corruption.
Maintaining that the RSS never instigates violence, Ram Madhav regretted that the ruling party was branding RSS members as religious fundamentalists.
New Delhi: An All-party meet on Lokpal on Sunday agreed that a "strong and effective" bill should be brought in the Monsoon session of Parliament with consensus on maintaining the supremacy of Parliament and established procedures.
RJD, BJD, JD (U) and Samajwadi Party were sharply critical of the government engaging the Civil Society first on drafting the bill.
Responding to criticism, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government had under no circumstances wanted to tamper with the established procedures to enact a law.