Joint drafting committee a transparent body: Shanti Bhushan

Veteran lawyer-activist responds to reservations raised by civil society

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Danish Raza | May 23, 2011



Shanti Bhushan, co-chairperson of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal bill, has countered the scepticism on the committee’s functioning raised by the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) - a campaign that has got the support of NAC member Aruna Roy.

Responding to the letter written by the NCPRI questioning the transparency of the committee, Bhushan has said that the minutes of the committee’s meetings were put on a website for the public to see.

“After each meeting, we prepare our own details of discussions (from our notes) and put them up on the website for general information of the public,” Bhushan said in a letter written on Sunday addressed to the NCPRI.

Regarding public consultation, Bhushan said the civil society members had started a website called lokpalbillconsultation.org which had received more than 1,500 comments/ suggestions.

According to him, civil society had been asking the government to set up an official website of the joint drafting committee for receiving public comments and suggestions on the bill. “However, they (government) have been saying that that occasion would arise after we have agreed upon the basic principles of the bill.”

On holding public consultations, Bhushan wrote that the civil society had been pushing for at least five regional public consultations in the country on the bill. But the government, said the eminent lawyer, had been delaying this recommendation also on the pretext that a consensus on basic principles was yet to emerge. “I have recently written to the committee chairman Mr Pranab Mukherjee that they must tell us by the next meeting on the 23rd which of the basic principles of the bill they agree upon and which they do not,” wrote Bhsuan.

On Saturday, the NCPRI had written to Mukherjee and Bhushan, expressing its reservations about the lack of transparency in the functioning of the joint drafting committee. Among other things, NCPRI had asked about the process of public consultation followed by the committee.

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