THE LAWFILE

Cabinet approves draft of Lokpal Bill; PM, judiciary kept out

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Arvind Kejriwal

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The Prime Minister and the judiciary have been excluded from the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.

According to this draft, the body will have a chairperson and eight members, including four judicial members.

Information minister Ambika Soni said the chairperson would be a serving or retired Supreme Court judge. She said the Cabinet had approved the draft with minor changes.

Civil society members have expressed their unhappiness with the draft. Kiran Bedi sais, the current government draft was fractured and unhealthy. She said the bill was not in favour of the common man.

The decision to review the Lokpal Bill comes as social activistcontinues to pitch for a stronger version of the law to be presented for consideration of Parliament, contending that the official version falls “far short” of people’s expectations.

“Congress claims ‘Congress ka haath, aam admi ke saath (Congress hand is with common man). We sincerely hope that aam admi’s corruption will also be addressed through Lokpal Bill,” the Times Now television channel quoted Hazare, as saying on Wednesday.

He said that the government is being given a rare opportunity to change the history of India and the nation would be indebted to it if they present a strong Lokpal Bill.

He reiterated that the current Lokpal Bill “falls far short” of the expectations of the people, and added that it was “too weak and ineffective and had a very narrow jurisdiction.”

Arvind Kejriwal, another activist opposed to the current Lokpal Bill, said there was “nothing for a common man and added that the issue of orruption has been completely left out of it.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said: “The government claims that it first wants to tackle high-level corruption. “However, none of the large scams of recent times like the Adarsh Housing scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, the Reddy brothers scam, mining scam, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha scam, Cash for vote scam, fodder scam, Taj corridor scam none of these scams are covered by government’s Lokpal. So, what is covered under Government’s Lokpal?”

Kejriwal argued if the government presents a Bill with faulty structures, then even the Standing Committee will not be able to do much.

“Parliament and the Standing Committee have their limitations. The Standing Committee may negate a law or it may suggest some amendments, but the standing committee does not have the jurisdiction to rewrite a law. It cannot completely replace a law. It cannot change the basic structure of a law,” said Kejriwal.

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