Team Anna flays exclusion of judiciary from Lokpal

New Delhi, Nov 29: Disappointed over Parliamentary Standing Committee's draft report on Lokpal Bill, Team Anna today (Nov 29) criticised the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of the ombudsman while opposing inclusion of NGOs and media in it.

Reacting to the panel's draft report, Arvind Kejriwal sought to remind the government of the Parliamentary resolution that led to Anna Hazare ending his fast on August 28, saying he hoped it would be respected.

"When Anna ended his fast, Parliament agreed to a resolution that stated clearly on lower bureaucracy and Citizen's Charter. We just hope that resolution is respected," Kejriwal said.

Opposing the decision to exclude judiciary from the ambit of Lokpal, he said, "We were told that the corruption by judges will be handled in the Judicial Accountability Bill (JAB). It is not in the JAB. It is not in the Lokpal bill."

Another activist Kiran Bedi called the exclusion of judiciary a setback as people "overwhelmingly" wanted judiciary in. "By this, corruption in judiciary is covered nowhere, neither in JAB nor in Lokpal," she told PTI.

Expressing apprehension over the inclusion of NGOs and media under the Lokpal's purview, he said this would make matters "more confusing".

"We fully agree that there is a lot of corruption in NGOs as well as in the media, but Lokpal as it was envisioned since 1968 is meant to be an agency that will cover corruption as defined by the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).

"To deal with NGOs there is a Registrar of Society and Trust Act. We need to strengthen it but we demand inclusion of government-funded NGOs as they come under the purview of PCA. For media, Press Council should be strengthened," he said.

However, Bedi welcomed the proposal to bring corporates, media and NGOs under the ambit of Lokpal.

Kejriwal said other laws are needed to be strengthened to deal with corruption in media and NGOs as bringing a huge number of NGOs under it "would make things confusing".

On the issue of excluding lower bureaucracy, he said Group C and D employees were "responsible for a lot of corruption" affecting common man and excluding them from the anti-corruption agency's purview will render it meaningless.

Bedi said, "This is going back on the commitment and will call for a mass movement again."

Kejriwal also did not agree to the draft report's recommendation on the Citizen's Charter, which has been one of the main demands of Team Anna's Lokpal movement.

"Having only five members in the state capital to look into the complaints of an entire state instead of officials at each block level, as demanded by us, will lead to the system collapsing in four days," he said.

Kejriwal also came down heavily on the move to keep CBI out of the purview of the Lokpal, saying without the government relinquishing its control of the investigating agency, the Lokpal would be like an "empty tin".

"The nation knows that every government has misused the CBI for its benefit," he said while also expressing disappointment over leaving out of the judiciary.

Asked if these disagreements meant that the situation was back to square one, Kejriwal said his team was still adopting the "wait and watch" approach.

"It would be premature to comment on this. Many processes still remain, lets wait and watch," he said.

Reacting to members unanimously recommending conferring constitutional status on Lokpal, Bedi expressed apprehension that "this may become the reason for not having it".

"For the government in power does not have a two thirds majority in Parliament. It will be used to not pass the bill," she said.


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