Par Panel Report On Lokpal Legally Complicated : BJP

New Delhi, Dec 9: BJP today expressed strong disasgreement with the Parliamentary Committee report on Lokpal Bill, alleging that it has been unnecessarily made legally complex and wondered if this was an attempt to make
par panel report on lokpal legally complicated...
India TV News Desk December 09, 2011 19:56 IST

New Delhi, Dec 9: BJP today expressed strong disasgreement with the Parliamentary Committee report on Lokpal Bill, alleging that it has been unnecessarily made legally complex and wondered if this was an attempt to make passage of the legislation difficult.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley pointed out that the Lokpal Bill report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel and Law and Justice had faced as many as 17 dissent notes on various occasions when the norm is that it should be passed with consensus as far as possible.

“There seems to be an attempt to make the report so complicated that passage of the Bill becomes difficult. I feel this is the intention behind some of the proposals in the report. It has ignored the political and social wisdoms and got involved in legalisms,” he said.

Asked why the government would do so as failure to pass the Bill would mean facing the wrath of Anna Hazare, who has threatened to go on a fast, Jaitley said the reason could be the differences within the Manmohan Singh dispensation.

“This is a government of sulking individuals. Its depleting moral fabric will be further weakened,” he said.

BJP will stick to its notes of dissent both inside and outside Parliament. It is opposed to complete exclusion of the Prime Minister, Citizens' Charter and lower bureaucracy within the ambit of the Lokpal.

“This report will hurt the credibility of the government. It has given an additional tool in the hands of those who feel that this government does not keep its word,” Jaitley said.

He alleged that the government has gone against the “sense of the House” expressed in the last session of Parliament on the Lokpal Bill.

“When Anna Hazare broke his fast, the sense of the House was that the lower bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter should be under the Lokpal,” Jaitley said.

BJP wants that the Prime Minister should be included in Lokpal's ambit with two caveats- that he should be exempted on issues related to public order and national security.

The Standing Committee report has left it to Parliament to decide on inclusion of the Prime Minister, put the lower bureaucracy under the CVC and stated that the government can take a call on the Citizens' Charter.

“The promise and commitment made to Parliament cannot be broken though there can be flexibility in how you bring the lower bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter under the Lokpal,” Jaitley said.

The main opposition is also unhappy with the report not making the CBI independent and autonomous.

As stated in the dissent note of its MPs, BJP wants that the CBI director be appointed not by the government but by a collegium comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chairperson, Lokpal; and delinking the investigative and prosecution wings of the agency.

“Nobody has the right to interfere in the investigations of the CBI. It should be completely independent. Similarly, the director of prosecution should be an independent official,” Jaitley said.

All the seven BJP members in the Standing Committee had given their dissent on these issues.

“Simple subjects have been complicated through legalisms. This looks like a lawyer's draft which is devoid of political and social realities,” Jaitley said.

BJP maintained that the suggestion of deferred punishment to the Prime Minister was flawed.

“Why should the country continue to suffer till such a Prime Minister goes out of office.... He can be prosecuted under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC. Both do not give immunity to the PM,” Jaitley said.

The principal opposition, however, is in agreement with the government on keeping conduct of MPs inside Parliament sacrosanct as per Article 105 but they can be held accountable for their conduct outside.

Similarly, the judiciary would not be under the Lokpal but would be held accountable to the National Judicial Commission and the proposed Judicial Accountability Act.

However, keeping Group C out of the purview of Lokpal has not gone down well with the BJP which felt this was not “an honest suggestion” by the Standing Committee.

“Instrumentalities of the state should be covered by the Lokpal,” Jaitley said.

On NGOs and private companies, the BJP felt that Lokpal should have jurisdiction over all such bodies which receive sizable funding from the government.

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