Shanti Bhushan wanted to rewrite the Constitution: Khurshid

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Salman Khursheed
New Delhi, Jun 18: Salman Khurshid, the Union Water Resources Minister, on Jun 17 said that certain members of the civil society, especially, Shanti Bhushan were under the false notion that they were in the joint committee to rewrite the Indian Constitution.

The Congress leader was speaking at the Idea Exchange, an interaction with journalists at The Indian Express.

Khurshid said, “Shanti Bhushan is a sort of...like being in the Constituent Assembly...He is sitting there with this utopian idea of what kind of Constitution we are going to write for this country... in a sense that all the minor things can be given to the elected government to do, but the major things, we in the civil society will be doing."

He added, "On the first day, when it was pointed out some of the demands raised by them were not in accordance with the Constitution, Shanti Bhushan said, 'I think, you haven"t got it yet. We are here writing the Constitution afresh". Moily(Law Minister) then pointed out that the committee did not have the mandate to change the Constitution"

Revealing that the civil society, even before the composition of the joint committee to draft the bill was decided, had named one particular minister whom they wanted in the panel. Khurseed said, “Kapil Sibal told them that he will convey their wish to the Prime Minister but they cannot dictate which minister the government must select. And he told them that the government would also not say which people the civil society should nominate to the panel."

Explaining the government's stance against bringing the Prime Minister or the higher judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal, the minister said, “Why should judiciary not be there? For this simple reason that the judiciary is involved in appointment of Lokpal. It is involved in questioning any order (of the Lokpal) that people are dissatisfied with. Judiciary is also involved in prosecuting a person sent for prosecution by the Lokpal."

He added, "Lokpal looks at judiciary"s wrongdoing. Judiciary looks after Lokpal"s wrongdoing. Will that be a good system? When you send a prosecution to judiciary, will they feel that if we do not agree to this prosecution, we will get prosecuted ourselves? Is that a good thing? I don"t think this is a good thing."

Clearing the air about the increasing notion that the government was opposing everything proposed by the civil society, the minister said, “We have agreed that the Lokpal would not need sanction from higher authorities to investigate an official. We have agreed that there will be an investigating branch, reporting only to the Lokpal. We have agreed that the funding for the Lokpal would be independent of the Finance Ministry and budget. It would be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India. We have agreed to make the appointment of Lokpal a more broadbased and robust process. These are much, much better provisions that what they were in the 2010 draft Bill and we are happy that they are better than the 2010 version." 

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