Drafting committee members boycott Lokpal meeting

Lokpal bill drafting committee members
New Delhi, June 6: Civil society activists led by Anna Hazare today boycotted the meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal bill saying government's intentions raised serious doubts about having a strong anti-corruption watchdog and protesting against the police crackdown on Ramdev.

The activists have also sought rescheduling of the next meeting of the JDC on June 10 to some other date because of some prior engagements of Hazare.

After a meeting of the activists, Prashant Bhushan, one of the non-official members wrote a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Chairman of JDC, saying the government desires to practically leave everyone out of Lokpal's ambit--Prime Minister, horse trading of MPs, middle and lower bureaucracy judiciary.

He said there was divergence even on the vision of Lokpal and if the government's stand is accepted, Lokpal would be left to investigate the corruption of only 300-odd officers and ministers.

"This is government's vision for Lokpal," the letter said. 

The letter criticised the "casual and frivolous" manner in which the government had prepared the questionnaire to the chief ministers and the political parties which has been commented upon by them also.

Referring to the mid-night crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his followers and other issues, Bhushan said "all these developments have raised doubts in our mind whether the government was at all interested in containing corruption and having a strong Lokpal bill.

"However, what happened on Saturday night in Ramlila Maidan have strengthened our doubts. All these developments have raised doubts about government's intention and so we are not attending today's meeting."

The next meeting is scheduled on June 10. Hazare has prior engagements from June 9-11. "So we request rescheduling of that meeting," Bhushan said.

While waiting for government's response, he cautioned that time was running out and the committee was yet to finalise the basic principles behind the bill.


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