Lokpal: Parl panel report likely in early December

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Salman Khurshid
Chandigarh, Nov 13: The Parliamentary panel scrutinising the Lokpal Bill is likely to submit its report early next month and the redrafted legislation will be "far superior" to anything that has been proposed so far, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said today (Nov 13).

"It is before the Standing Committee. We are waiting for the Committee to give report. He (Committee Chairman) has indicated that in the first week of December, they will be able to give the report," Khurshid said while speaking at North Zone Lawyers' Conference on Legal and Electoral Reforms organised by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee here.

Standing Committee Chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was among those present, said, "The speed and the direction of the committee are nothing short of a miracle.

"We are hoping to complete our work soon and fast but we refused to give any deadline as it would be unfair to the Committee and its members."

Khurshid said that once the Bill is made available by the Standing Committee, "We will be going around the country talking to all enlightened people saying this Bill is far superior to anything that has been proposed or suggested".

Singhvi said the Committee will start its own internal deliberations from tomorrow. "I hope we will be able to do our job in quickest possible time...but there are more than 15-17 issues like the inclusion of the Prime Minister (etc)..there are strong pro and con arguments and every argument is being looked at".

Singhvi said that majority of issues are those on which "there cannot be any major debate unless one wants to make it political".

The term of the committee was recently extended till December 7. Team Anna which has been campaigning for a strong Lokpal Bill has demanded that the Bill be brought in the Winter Session of Parliament which is scheduled to begin on November 22 and continue till December 23.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said he was hopeful that the Lokpal Bill will be passed in the coming winter session of Parliament.

While making it clear that Government was committed to rooting out corruption and bringing in reforms, the three senior Congress leaders launched a veiled attack on Team Anna, saying nobody can force his way in a democratic set up.

Team Anna had first appeared before the committee in August this year after a 13-day fast by Anna Hazare that month demanding that the Jan Lokpal Bill be passed in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

Khurshid said the UPA government is "very serious" about tackling the menace of corruption.
"I am not saying that we haven't faltered. I am not saying that we have not had some unpleasant and unhappy examples of people amongst us....Let us not blame only our alliance partners, some even in our own party have faltered and gone wrong. We are human beings and can make mistakes. But there is a system that makes us accountable," he said.

The Law Minister expressed his concern over the "trial by media" in some cases.
"You can ask someone (who is charged with doing some wrong) to step down from office, but you can't condemn them without a proper trial. Unfortunately, too much trials are taking place outside courts. A lawyer first argues the case inside the court room and then in front of the national media, which is unfair," he said.

He said this was continuing despite Supreme Court having warned the media against this.
"But I think sufficient amount of sanction has not been imposed upon the people who do that. Reputations are destroyed long before courts come to conclusion in the matter. As a mature nation and mature democracy, we must ensure this doesn't happen," he said.

"In some media programmes, a person is condemned even without having any chance to reply. Even worst of criminals have right to trial. We don't just shoot people for some wrong doing...," the Law Minister said.

PTI

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