Prashant Bhushan meets Anna to press for changes
GN Staff | December 4, 2015
The Delhi government on Thursday approved two amendments in the appointment and removal clauses in the draft janlokpal legislation as suggested by veteran social activist Anna Hazare during his recent meeting with Aam Aadmi Party leaders. The bill that has already been tabled is scheduled to be debated upon in the assembly today (Friday).
The decision to incorporate Hazare’s points was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Accordingly, there will be a provision for one more high court judge and one eminent person in the selection panel while the impeachment process for removal will begin only after a higher court monitored probe of any allegation against the lokpal.
These were among the points over which former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan has targeted Kejriwal saying he had "diluted" key provisions of the original draft, a product of the 2011 anti-graft movement.
But the government had dismissed the criticism earlier saying that Supreme Court had argued against inclusion of eminent persons in such positions during deliberations over NJAC and had argued that impeachment was the best possible removal clause.
Yesterday, Hazare and Bhushan had announced that they will firmly back Kejriwal only if he adhered to the 2014 lokpal bill draft.
Both Hazare and Bhushan said the bill that Kejriwal has brought in was a diluted version of the 2014 draft. It was not transparent and left room for political interference in key aspects like appointment and removal of the lokpal, they said.
Bhushan was in Anna’s Ralegan Siddhi on Thursday, a day after the visit of AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh. This was following Bhushan's scathing criticism of it being a "jokepal bill".
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Hazare said he will support Kejriwal only if he stuck to the 2014 draft which was on the lines of the draft passed by the Uttarakhand government. "After all, it was Arvind who had drafted it. If he sticks to the draft, Team Anna will support him. If the Union government creates obstacles in the passage of the bill, we will side with Arvind," both Hazare and Bhushan said.
Hazare reiterated that he neither wanted political interference in the selection committee that will shortlist the candidates for the lokpal post nor did he want the state assembly to have the power to remove the lokpal by a two-thirds majority, as the Delhi government's bill suggests. It should be a judge of the supreme court or high court who should decide if the lokpal needs to be removed, Hazare and Bhushan said.
Hazare said he would convey his feelings and the objections raised by Bhushan to Kejriwal. "After that, I will see what he does," he said. He said if Kejriwal stuck to the 2014 draft, he will put pressure on the union government to follow the same draft and launch an agitation if required.
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