''We are open to all views'': Parl panel chief on Lokpal

Posted By: Pti
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Abhishek Singhvi
New Delhi, Aug 20: The Parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal Bill is open to all kinds of views to formulate a strong legislation and has not pre-judged the issue, the panel chairman Abhishek Singhvi said today (Aug 20).

"I wish to reiterate again and again that we are open to all options and views. Every aspect process, input, draft, suggestion and consequence is completely open...No one should have any doubt that the Committee is having any kind of pre-judgement on any issue. We are at the beginning, not the end of the process," Singhvi, heading the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal, told reporters.

His remarks came in reply to questions on whether the Committee could also agree to some of provisions of the Jan Lokpal bill as being demanded by the Anna Hazare Team.

Singhvi insisted that there was a procedure that has to be followed indicating that meeting the deadline of Team Anna that the Lokpal Bill should be presented before the Parliament by end-August may not be possible.

"If we follow the detailed procedure as laid in the tradition and complete the job by August 31 and present the Bill, you will make fun of our Committee and say that you did work without seriously applying your mind," he said speaking on behalf of the Standing Committee and with a caveat that it was for the government to take decision in this regard.

"The Committee has invited views of diverse stakeholders. It will take them up clause by clause to take ideal elements of each proposal and try to create the best and strongest Bill," he added.

Singhvi's remarks are significant as the committee is contemplating inviting Anna Hazare team as well as some other some other civil society members for a meeting on the issue in the first week of September. 

Singhvi, who is also the spokesperson of the ruling Congress, made the remarks on a day when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh affirmed that there was a "lot of scope for give and take" on the Lokpal Bill and the government was open to "discussion and dialogue" on the issue.

After the last night meeting of Congress Core Group chaired by the Prime Minister, indications were available that the government was not averse to re-negotiating with Team Anna.

Singhvi said "the object of the large number of people (agitating against corruption) is same as that of Congress party to fight corruption" but held that there was a "slight difference" in the methodology of reaching the destination.

He found an "internal contradiction" between the sovereignty of Parliament and external or internal deadlines".

"If the country's Parliament is sovereign, there is an obvious contradiction between deadlines and this sovereignty," he said.

Refusing to comment on team Anna's criticism of the Standing Committee, Singhvi said, "we are only doing something that is not done yesterday. We are following a tradition that is 300 to 400 years old, where members irrespective of their differences try to discuss logically and decide by agreement and consensus."

He added, "we are carrying out our work on Lokpal Bill seriously. As per procedure laid, we have to first invite the views, hold meeting with stakeholders, and after hearing evidence and doing a clause by clause analysis, present a detailed report alongwith recommendations to the Parliament."

Singhvi refused to comment on earlier controversies over Congress seeing RSS or USA hand behind the agitation saying he was not interested in "digging old graves"


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