Arvind Kejriwal faces tough task of bringing in his mentor to endorse his bill
GN Bureau | December 3, 2015
Former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan on Thursday took his fight against Arvind Kejriwal government’s Janlokpal Bill to veteran activist Anna Hazare and seems to have won over him. After meeting Hazare in his village Ralegan Siddhi, Bhushan tweeted that Anna wants the original lokpal bill of 2014 and not the bill prepared by Arvind Kejriwal’s government.
Both the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and Swaraj Abhiyan, a group led by expelled Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, are hoping to get Hazare on their side to get an upper hand in the ongoing tussle.
Met Anna. He says 2015 Lokpal bill has many defects, needs to be identical to 2014 bill, said the tweet.
It was reported that Hazare supports Kejriwal’s legislation, which has been tabled by the Delhi government in the Assembly, albeit with riders. Hazare has suggested changes in the selection panel and in the removal process, which the government is likely to incorporate.
Met Anna:He says 2015 Lokpal bill has many defects:Needs to be identical to 2014 bill;Ask Ak to bring that. Will agitate if Centre obstructs— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) December 3, 2015
But Bhushan has been maintaining that the current bill is a “diluted” version of the one that was tabled in 2014 in terms of several provisions including that in appointment, removal and jurisdiction of the ombudsman.
The activist-lawyer met Hazare at the latter’s residence in Ralegan Siddhi. They were a part of the India Against Corruption forum of the 2011 anti-corruption janklokpal movement.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia tabled Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill 2015 on Monday despite criticism.
The deputy CM said the Jan Lokpal would have powers to probe anyone accused of corruption in the city, thus extending its ambit to Union ministers, MPs and central government employees in Delhi and setting the ground for a face-off with the centre.
Bhushan’s Swaraj Abhiyan maintained that the Bill tabled in the Vidhan Sabha was a "diluted and poor" version of the draft of 2014, but Sisodia insisted it remained unchanged. He claimed it is the strongest Lokpal Bill in the country.
The proposed law provides for an ombudsman with po wers to act against any go vernment functionary--including those of the Centre--in the capital through its own prosecution wing. Sisodia called it the most "effective and independent" law in India's history.
A four-member selection committee chaired by the Delhi high court chief justice will select the three-member Lokpal, he said. The CM, Speaker and leader of the Opposition will be the other selectors.
Kejriwal told reporters, "this is perhaps the strongest anticorruption law in Independent India." Under the proposed law, the Lokpal may be removed only through a process of impeachment requiring at least two-thirds majority in the House. AAP has an unprecedented 67 MLAs in the 70-member Delhi Assembly.
Sisodia said BJP seemed unaware of the constitutional arrangement that impeachment can be done only by the Assembly, not the government. "They say we have removed the part about eminent persons being a part of the selection committee, but the Supreme Court has observed during the debate on NJAC that including such eminent persons will make the body prone to government influence."
The deputy CM said the bill provides for investigation and prosecution wings for the Lokpal, which will have the powers of civil courts and the authority to take up issues suo motu. Sisodia added the probe and prosecution will usually be finished within six months, and 12 months in rare cases.
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